Mar 13

Pelfrey ripped again; Tejada injured.

Mike Pelfrey said he felt he was better today against the Cardinals than in his last start. Can you imagine what would have happened if he felt worse?

Pelfrey gave up four runs on six hits – including two homers – in 4 1/3 innings this afternoon. Once again, Pelfrey’s problem was a flat sinker. One of his problems last season was a lack of movement on his pitches, and movement is far more important than velocity.

Another down note was Ruben Tejada scratched with a groin injury. He’ll miss tomorrow’s game, also.

Terry Collins got testy after learning of Tejada’s injury. I brought this up yesterday and it is worthy of another mention … the Mets need to re-evaluate their off-season and pre-game conditioning and warm-up programs.

MLB.com reported 14 of 55 Mets have been on an injury report this spring, which is roughly 25 percent, an unusually high number.

 

Feb 29

It’s not going to end here

They are still talking about adding an extra wild card , but it won’t end there. The one-game playoff is bound to drag on to three games, then five ….

I realize the old format will never be again, but the more you add to the playoff format the more the sport is diluted. The season drags on long enough as it is and this won’t help matters. What if there’s two teams vying for the final seed? Do you add another game?

The suggested format would allow the three division winners first-round byes, but what if one of the wild cards has a superior record to a division winner.  That’s not entirely fair, either.

As it is, the integrity of the regular season is compromised because of interleague play the unbalanced schedule as not every team runs the same race to October. Unfortunately, I never see them doing away with interleague play although it is not nearly the success Major League Baseball portrays it to be. Interleauge play is compelling in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but other than that, who really cares?

Yes, they’ll show up in Pittsburgh when the Yankees are in town, but there’s nothing exciting about seeing the Royals or Mariners come in. There’s just not the draw MLB executives believe.

Sadly, as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, interleague play is here to stay.

If they really want to do something about the integrity of the regular season, and by extension, the playoffs, here’s a system that could work.

I’d do away with the division format and simply have the two leagues. If they insist on interleague play, they could structure it where every team plays the same schedule. The same schedule promotes fairness.

From there, I’d take the top four teams and seed them so one plays four and two plays three. That would  be a fairer and more equitable solution.

 

 

 

Feb 20

Welcome back

I always loved this day, when pitchers and catchers report. Actually, the first day of spring training has become blurred with players reporting earlier each spring. It seems the week after the Super Bowl is when  players begin to trickle in. David Wright has been working out in PSL for over a week now.

This is the day when enthusiasm and optimism run high for the summer ahead. This spring that has been tempered for the Mets with the Wilpon’s financial crisis and the passing of Gary Carter. Incidentally, of all the tributes to Carter, the one by the Montreal Canadiens was my favorite. Their players wearing No. 8 and Carter’s image on the ice were truly memorable.

I digress for a moment, but it reminds me how much I miss Montreal as a stop on the tour. I always used to like visiting that city. Historical town, great places to eat and the obvious European flavor.

I always thought Montreal got a raw deal from MLB. Yes, attendance was dwindling, but how could that have been avoided with MLB threatening to leave for years until the city built a new stadium. Just shabby.

The Mets, you’ll recall ponied up most of the money for Citi Field, and despite getting $20 million a year in naming rights, the new stadium hasn’t provided either the payday or the home field advantage the team sought.

Attendance was just over 2 million last season, and that is the first of my top issues facing the Mets as their 50th year in existence begins:

Q1. Will the Mets draw over 2 million?

A. The debate isn’t whether the Mets have enough to contend with the Phillies and Braves, but if they have the talent to keep pace with the Nationals and Marlins? They don’t on paper or the field and are projected to finish fifth in the NL East. With a brutal April schedule, they could be trailing by double digits before the weather warms. If the Mets aren’t competitive, there’s no reason to head out to Citi Field and the attendance will drop, and with it will come a further drain on their finances. Never mind winning, but the Mets need a competitive, exciting team for the turnstiles to keep clicking.

Q2. Will the Mets win their court case?

A. Seventeen days prior to Opening Day we should get an idea how much the Mets could be on the hook for because of the Ponzi scandal. Win or lose, there will be an appeal, but should they win there’s a sliver of hope the Mets might be able to add talent at the trade deadline if they are competitive.

Q3. Will David Wright be traded?

A. I don’t believe GM Sandy Alderson for a second when he says how good the team the Mets are will have no bearing on whether Wright is dealt. If they are playing beyond expectations and people are coming out, the Mets can’t afford to trade Wright and expect fans to keep showing up. If they are stinking, who can’t envision Wright not being traded?

Q4. What’s to become of Johan Santana?

A. He’s throwing in PSL, but there’s still no timetable for his return. If he comes back or not, he’ll still cost the Mets close to $25 million. It’s a pipe dream to hope for Santana being able to pitch and be healthy enough for the Mets to trade him. The odds don’t favor a complete recovery from his type of shoulder surgery. It’s a long shot, but the Mets are hoping he’s good enough physically to give them enough starts to create interest.

Q5. Will they get anything out of Jason Bay?

A. With the fences moved in 15 feet, perhaps Bay can’t help but hit for some more power. Bay has done nothing to warrant his contract and outside the fences, there’s no reason to believe anything has changed this season.

 

On the first day of spring training, you’d like to see the team’s primary questions divorced from the Mets’ financial problems, but that’s being naive. What happens on the field is directly linked to the Wilpon’s bank accounts. That’s just the way it is.

I’ll be back later with more baseball specific questions surrounding the team.

 

Jan 10

Larkin one of the last non-controversial inductees?

Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin could be one of the last non-controversial Hall of Fame inductees. With 85 percent of the vote, he entered without the shadow of PEDs. For the near future, those on the ballot will have been linked to PEDs, or might have their induction chances enhanced because they will be going up against the scorned.

Larkin had a stellar career, one without suspicion. He was deserving in every sense.

In Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, we have our test cases for those linked to steroids for the Hall voters, of which I am one. If a player tests positive for steroids or other PEDs, or has been linked to the drugs, he won’t get my vote.

My thinking for guys under suspicion is to withhold my vote until there is more information. Is it fair? No, but I’d rather hold the vote and give it to the player later because once the vote is cast and he’s inducted it can’t be rescinded.

Next year’s ballot is disturbingly loaded with those accused of steroid use or suspected. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza among them.

For Bonds, Clemens and Piazza, it is argued they compiled Hall of Fame numbers before being linked to steroids. For Sosa, it is suggested the stretch of his career where his noteworthy stats were compiled was all steroid related. In addition, not only did Sosa cheat with drugs, but also used a corked bat.

The simple take on steroids is it enables a hitter to hit the ball further. In reality, the issue isn’t whether PEDs add an additional 50 feet to a fly ball, but the extra five that enables it to clear the wall.

Steroids enable the user to continue training during the long, hot days of summer when he otherwise might not. This continued training didn’t make the hitter stronger as much as it increases his bat speed, and this is what generates the power.

Some argue the player still has to hit the ball, which is true, but increased bat speed can turn a normal fly ball into one that barely clears the wall. It is an unfair advantage. It is cheating.

Some apologists for the steroid user claim baseball didn’t have a defined anti-drug policy until recently. While this is true, use without a doctor’s prescription is against the law. It doesn’t matter MLB didn’t have a policy in place at the time Bonds was torching National League pitching.

With the holdovers from this year’s ballot, coupled with those next year who are clean, the pickings are slim, both in terms of PEDs and career numbers, of those qualified who’ll get in as did Larkin.

I have not, and will not vote for a player connected to PEDs. It is cheating and I don’t believe that should be rewarded. Fans should watch games confident in the knowledge what they are seeing to real, but that isn’t the case with drugs.

Not only won’t they get my vote, but I believe their statistics should come with an asterisk they were compiled under suspicion of PED use. This should also be noted on their plaque if they get the necessary votes.

Under the present voting guidelines, I can’t see it any other way.

 

 

 

 

Dec 14

Alderson Appears On FOX Business News

Sandy Alderson appeared today on Fox Business to discuss a myriad of Mets financial and offseason issues.

CLAMAN: Well, you say you’re in charge of looking at everything that’s on the field. David Wright’s on the field. Will you fight to keep him, at least?

ALDERSON: Yes, I think David’s going to be with us for a while, so I wouldn’t worry about losing David and Jose in the same year.

CLAMAN: OK.  And I know it’s inside baseball, so to speak, when you talk about the players.  But this all leads to big questions that come out in that movie, “Moneyball,” for example, that you can build a winning team with less expensive players.  I don’t want to say cheaper, but less expensive players. Is that going to be what the Mets have to do?

ALDERSON: Well, I think, first of all, that “Moneyball” was about finding value.  And whether that was finding value at lower prices, or finding value in players that command higher salaries, the same point is made.  You know, we need to make good decisions with respect to players that don’t make a lot of money, but we need to make good decisions with respect to players who do.

And if we invest lots of money in high-salary players, we need to be right most of the time, just as we need to be right when we spend fewer dollars.

CLAMAN: Well, all of this money that’s thrown around tends to sometimes destabilize a team, because they don’t have enough money to actually run the operations, and people look at these loans that the Mets have taken out.  And I think that there’s a fair question being thrown around, and that is are the Mets in peril of not meeting payroll?

ALDERSON: Oh, no.  That’s not an issue.

CLAMAN: That is not an issue?

ALDERSON: No, absolutely…

CLAMAN: 100 percent?

ALDERSON: No.

CLAMAN: Is this the World Series team in 2012?  Or is this a rebuilding year, as (inaudible)?

ALDERSON: Well, 2012, we won’t be favored in the National League East.  The National League East is pretty stacked, and probably the toughest division in baseball at this point.

But we’re going to be fun to watch, and you know, the nice thing about baseball is that anything can happen.  It’s not necessarily the highest payroll that wins.  It’s very often somebody who’s put together a team, based on not just resources but also quality decisions.  Teams like Tampa Bay are a good example of that, and certainly it can happen here, too.

Click here for the entire video segment or go to MLB.com for the full transcript.