Feb 17

A Look At A Spring Training Day; On Tap For Today

The New York Mets are holding their first workouts of spring training today and could be coming off the field shortly. After all, with just pitchers and catchers, there’s not much you can do.

The pitchers are divided into two groups, with one throwing today and another tomorrow. There could be a few pitching fielding drills, but not much else, certainly not throwing to hitters.

The position players in camp will be throwing outside, but full-scale fielding drills won’t take place until later in the week. The Mets have enclosed batting cages and are hitting off tees and pitching machines. There could be batting practice from coaches, but not off any of the other pitchers.

While most position players on the major league level are already in camp, they don’t have to be in Port St. Lucie until Feb. 20, with physicals the following day.

The first full-squad workouts won’t take place until next weekend and the exhibition schedule starts Feb. 28. Until then, the days begin early with meetings, fielding drills – including pitchers – base running drills, and plenty of batting practice.

The days break up in the early afternoon, with the players spending time on the golf course or with their families.

A spring training camp is highly organized, with every player knowing where he’s supposed to be at any of the Mets’ over half-dozen fields.

Today I’ll have the following:

* Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon from a MLB.com report on several of the club’s key financial issues.

* Matt Harvey finally acknowledging he won’t pitch this year.

* Curtis Granderson on what he brings to the Mets.

* A wrap of today’s events.

 

Jan 16

Expanded Instant Replay Is Approved By Owners

A new era in baseball is upon us after the owners today unanimously approved expansion of instant replay at their meetings in Arizona. Considering the constant criticism of umpiring today, I’m all for this decision.

It might have to be modified somewhat in the number of challenges allowed to managers, or even if the decision to review might come from an umpire in the replay center, similar to how replays are automatically reviewed in the NFL after scoring plays and turnovers.

Currently managers are allowed only one challenge through the first six innings. After that, the umpires would initiate the challenges. If the umpires can challenge after the seventh inning, then why not before then?

Of all sports, baseball might be the most conducive to replay because much of the action is located at fixed positions, such as the bases and plate, the outfield fences and foul lines.

In addition to home runs, replay will be applied to:
• Ground-rule double

• Fan interference

• Stadium boundary calls

• Force play*

• Tag play

• Fair/foul in outfield only

• Trap play in outfield only

• Batter hit by pitch

• Timing play

• Touching a base (requires appeal)

• Passing runners

• Record keeping

What won’t be reviewable is the “neighborhood plays’’ at second base, which really would be the easiest to review.

MLB executive and former manager Tony LaRussa, who helped design the new system, estimated up to 90 percent of potential calls are reviewable.

“We’re really [targeting] the dramatic miss,’’ La Russa said, “not all misses.’’

One of the potential flaws in this system is managers could use challenges as a way to stall for time to allow a reliever to get ready in the bullpen. However, managers have found ways to stall for over 100 years, so perhaps that’s not such a big deal in the long run.

What I’m not crazy about is limiting the number of challenges, because after all, there could be more than one play that is close enough to be reviewed.

Given that, I wouldn’t mind having the umpire crew in the replay center in New York, buzzing the crew chief to say a play is under review.

However, this is better than what we’ve had in recent years.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

Jan 12

How Can Ike Davis Not Be Upset By The Trade Talk?

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently told MLB.com Ike Davis was not annoyed by the persistent trade talk since the end of the season.

“I don’t think any of this talk over the winter has bothered him,’’ Alderson said. “I think he’s anxious to get to spring training and show what he can do.’’

I can buy him being anxious for spring training, if for no other reason, than to prove he can play so he can get out of Dodge.

If you’re the Mets and think Davis isn’t bothered by the talk of him being a bust and of him being traded, then do you really want him back? If you’re the Mets, you don’t want to hear Davis is in a good mood as Alderson said, but royally hacked off.

What Alderson said and what Davis told the New York Daily News are two different things. Davis sounded hurt, which should be construed as a positive.

“I want to go back,’’ Davis said. “I want to have another chance. I want to win with the Mets. I don’t want to leave on this kind of note.’’

But, he seems resigned to the possibility of him leaving.

I’m no longer thinking the Mets will work a deal with Milwaukee, or to anybody else for that matter, before the start of spring training, which is little more than a month away.

If the Mets are to trade Davis, it will be closer to the start of the season, after teams have gone through spring training and know what holes they have in their line-up.

Until then, Davis isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the asking price for those on the line with Alderson.

“We’re not going to move Ike just to move Ike – or any other player for that matter,’’ Alderson said. “This is a trade market, not a yard sale, and right now we’re perfectly happy to go into spring training with Davis and [Lucas] Duda both on the team.’’

Alderson insists the Mets aren’t actively talking with anybody about Davis, and such discussions would come suddenly; say after an injury strikes down somebody else’s first baseman.

While the Brewers have been most prominently mentioned, the call could come from anywhere.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 11

Rodriguez Suspension Reduced; Case Not Closed

As usually is the case with Alex Rodriguez, there is no last word. Just because arbitrator Frederic Horowitz reduced his unprecedented 211-game suspension for violation of MLB’s drug policy to 162 games.

Up next is a date in federal court. After that, who knows? Could this go to the Supreme Court?

Rodriguez won’t let this thing go, and he says it is more than about the $25 million missing 2014 will cost him.

While how Rodriguez has handled himself hasn’t endeared himself to many, and because he previously admitted using steroids prior to MLB’s PED policy, there’s little reason to believe he hasn’t used them since.

That’s not the issue.

The issue, says Rodriguez, is about fairness and his legacy. There is some degree of truth to the fairness argument.

According to the drug policy, Rodriguez’s admission wouldn’t be used against him. And, since there was no failed drug test, where did Bud Selig get the original 211 games. Seems like an arbitrary figure only because it is.

The first offense is 50 games, followed by 100. The first offense doesn’t have to be a failed test, but could be something like being linked to steroids, such as appearing on the Biogenesis list.

Even so, 13 other players, including Ryan Braun, were also on the Biogenesis list as supplied by founder Anthony Bosch. Braun failed a drug test last year, but got off on a technicality. According to the agreement, Braun would get 100 games, but was only tagged for 65.

Everybody else got 50. But, Rodriguez? He got 211.

Selig never explained his reasoning, nor did he seem fit to explain in during the arbitration process. Selig wasn’t obligated to appear, but if he felt so strongly about his decision, he should have been there to tell his story.

Part of that story, undoubtedly, would have been to explain how Selig and Major League Baseball obtained its evidence, which was purchased from Bosch after he refused to relinquish his materials.

Part of MLB’s grievance against Rodriguez was he attempted to do the same, but with the intent of destroying the documents.

So, MLB is punishing Rodriguez for trying to do what it did. Seems highly hypocritical.

How Selig arrived at 211 games is arbitrary and smells of the witch-hunt Rodriguez asserts.

We know the steroid era was borne out of MLB turning its head to what was going on in the game – giving tacit approval to the needle, the clear and the cream – as to put fannies in the seats to watch phony home run races.

It seemed like every time Rodriguez flaunted Selig’s authority it cost him games. There was nothing consistent to how Selig dealt with Rodriguez as opposed to the others given up by Bosch.

This inconsistency, coupled with MLB’s buying out of Bosch, smacks of bias and unfairness. That the arbitrator cut into Selig’s 211 games indicates he felt the original penalty was over the top.

Look, I want steroids out of the game as much as anybody. More than most. But, I want it done the right way and I don’t believe MLB has handled the Rodriguez case the right way.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Nov 18

Ruben Tejada Has Grievance With Mets

I have no idea whether the New York Mets deliberately delayed recalling shortstop Ruben Tejada last September, nor do I care. ESPN reported Tejada’s agents are considering filing a grievance against the Mets because the move delays Tejada’s free-agency eligibility until after the 2017.

That’s three years from now, and there’s a better than reasonable chance Tejada won’t be with the team by then. The advantage in delaying Tejada’s eligibility is it could make him easier to trade, something the Mets would do faster than it takes the moody shortstop to sometimes run to first base.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

That Tejada would rather spend his energy fighting with the Mets on something they had a right to do instead of trying to improve his game, shows where his head is. Actually, the Mets could hasten his free agency by releasing him now, but they are holding out somebody might bite.

The bottom line is Tejada has been a disappointment, both in the field and at the plate. Tejada has been a thorn to manager Terry Collins by his lackadaisical attitude, which included not reporting to spring training earlier than he hoped two springs ago. Tejada had no obligation to do so, but considering he went into spring training with the inside track on the job vacated by Jose Reyes.

It showed disinterest on Tejada’s part. Luckily for him, he salvaged his season by hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. It appeared Tejada could fill the void, but last year he had miserable start defensively and at the plate. He was later injured and went to the minor leagues. Tejada was activated, but showed little signs of improvement and ended the season breaking his leg.

If any party has a grievance here, it is the Mets for how Tejada has performed.

The Mets are attempting to upgrade at shortstop, but are out of it financially with Stephen Drew. The Yankees re-signed Brendan Ryan Monday, which takes a reasonably priced defender off the market.

Reportedly, the Mets are targeting Jhonny Peralta, who served a 50-game suspension for failing the MLB’s drug policy. Peralta is a lifetime .268 hitter with a .330 on-base percentage and has averaged 18 homers and 82 RBI during is 12-year career with Cleveland and Detroit. In seven of those seasons he struck out more than 100 times, and had two more years with 95 or more.

However, those numbers are suspect because of the PED infraction, and must also be looked at skeptically when considering what he might hit at spacious Citi Field.

The two-time All-Star made $6-million last year with the Tigers.

Peralta, if his numbers weren’t a fluke, would instantly upgrade the Mets’ at-times anemic offense. His defense isn’t as good as Tejada’s, but when Tejada is playing with his head in the clouds, his defense isn’t red hot, either.