Mar 22

Chipper Jones – Mets Killer – to retire.

Some opponents you loathe. You watch with venom in your heart for how they destroy your team. Or you despise their arrogance and swagger.

Other opponents you respect and admire, and salute for their longevity and talent. Such is the case with the Braves’ Chipper Jones.

JONES: His Topps' Rookie Card.

You figured it was coming soon, but it became official this morning when Jones announced this would be his final season playing third base for Atlanta and tormenting the Mets.

Jones will be one of the rare players, something I hoped would be the case with David Wright and Jose Reyes, to play his entire career with one team.

I covered Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter through the prime of their careers, and respected what they accomplished. Both had opportunities to leave for more money, but recognized the importance they represented to their team and cities. They are special players.

Don Mattingly and Kirby Puckett were that way, too. It was a shame it wasn’t the case with Tom Seaver and Reyes. I hope it isn’t that way with Wright.

Jones thought about retirement two years ago, but changed his mind. Now, after 18 years and a string of injuries the past two seasons, there’s no longer fighting time.

Early in camp, Jones told reporters: “Never in my mid-20s would I have given myself a snowball’s chance to be in camp and have a job at 40 years old.  But I like to think I’ve kept myself in pretty good shape over the years. The skills are still there to go out and get it done. I don’t know for how much longer, but we’re gonna ride it as long as we can.’’

I wish for him a full and healthy season, one with numbers that will have him leaving with pride and not frustration.

It was obvious watching Jones the past two years that he slowed. You could tell his range was declining and he wasn’t the same on the bases. Still, when he came to the plate in the late innings, he was showed respect from the Mets’ pitchers.

Since 2004, Jones underwent two knee operations and dealt with several other nagging issues that deprived him of 500 homers – he would have been the third Brave to reach the milestone, joining Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews – which has been an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame.

Jones, the 1999 NL MVP, joins Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray as among the games’ greatest switch hitter, which is an unappreciated skill. Jones takes a .304 career average, 454 homers and 1,561 RBI into this season.

Of his 454 homers, 91 came in August and 74 in September, during the heat of the pennant race; 213 were hit in the seventh inning with the Braves tied, ahead by one, or had the tying run on deck.

And, against the Mets, Jones’ numbers would represent a MVP season: He hit 48 homers, with 154 RBI and a .318 career average.

He hit 19 homers at Shea, which is what he named his son. Any player who would name his child after Shea Stadium is worthy of a salute.

I’ve covered well over a two thousand baseball games, and as a reporter found Jones to be accommodating and thoughtful. His appreciation for the fundamentals and ability to perform under pressure made him a privilege to watch.

Some day, I’ll get to say I saw Chipper Jones, Hall of Famer. He’ll get my vote.


Sep 05

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver wins 20th.

The Mets made several runs at the Chicago Cubs in 1969 before they finally overtook, then lapped them en route to their Amazin’ championship season.

SEAVER: First Met to win 20 on this date.

Gil Hodges said in spring training he had a feeling for his team. Not that they would win it all, but he believed their pitching would be good enough to be a factor.

That pitching was highlighted by Tom Seaver, who on this date in 1969, became the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia in the first game of a doubleheader.

It was a typical, efficient, workmanlike effort from Seaver, who went nine innings, and gave up one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

With the victory, the Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs. The Mets lost the second game, 4-2.



Seaver was incredible that season, winning the Cy Young Award and finishing second in the MVP voting.

Going 25-7 was one thing, but he had a 2.21 ERA with 18 complete games, including five shutouts.  Seaver also worked 273.1 innings (which didn’t lead the NL) – unheard of today – with 208 strikeouts, averaging just under seven per nine innings.


Sep 17

New Chat Room; (yawn) the Braves are in.

Game #148 vs. Braves

To access the New Chat Room, click onto the Mets Chat icon to the left.

The Braves in town in late September was supposed to mean something. For the Mets, beating their long-time foe and finishing the over .500 could help salvage what has become a disappointing season. For the struggling Braves, they need to wake-up if they are to make the playoffs in Bobby Cox’s last season.

As the Mets seek to rebuild next season, one of the cornerstones will be outfielder Angel Pagan. For those who are waiting for Pagan to stumble, keep waiting because it doesn’t look as if it would happen. Pagan did have a poor stretch, but has rebounded and is finishing strong and is the Mets’ MVP.

Feb 08

Feb. 8.10: Let’s not get carried away.

The Mets got some positive news when 21–year-old outfield prospect Fernando Martinez was named MVP of the Caribbean Series. They should, however, resist the temptation to say he’s ready because it was a 23-at-bat sampling in which he hit .348 with two home runs. The Mets have rushed prospects before and I don’t want to see them toy with Martinez’s confidence.

Assuming the best on Carlos Beltran, I’m sure center field will be safe with Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr., in the interim, which should be a couple of months. Martinez wouldn’t get regular at-bats and would only be sent down once Beltran is ready.

I’m still thinking the prudent decision would be for him to get regular playing time in Triple-A and then make an evaluation around the All-Star break whether he should be promoted for the second half.

Sep 29

Would you extend Beltran’s contract now?

One of the core wants to stay. Carlos Beltran, 32, who returned from the disabled list earlier this month in an attempt to salvage part of his season, said he wants to finish his career with the Mets and told his agent to approach the team for an extension after the season.

That would be Scott Boras, who prefers to test the FA market.

Beltran, although not a great crowd favorite, has more than done his job with the Mets. He’s been productive and played hurt. He’s also performed in the clutch and has been an All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger winner.

BELTRAN: Plenty of expectations with his contract.

BELTRAN: Plenty of expectations with his contract.

His best season, by far, was 2006, when he finished fourth in the MVP voting. Beltran tied a club record with 41 homers, including walk-offs against the Phillies and Cardinals. Beltran also homered three times in the NLCS against the Cardinals, but will always be remembered for taking a third strike from Adam Wainwright to end the series.

That strikeout could be why he’s never been as appreciated as he should be.

What I like about Beltran, is with the season over from a competitive standpoint, he worked hard to come back from the DLwhen it would have been easy to shut down.

“Why not?’’ Beltran said. “I don’t feel obligated. This is my job.’’

Beltran is at an age where an extension wouldn’t be a terrible idea, because by the end of his current deal he’d be 34, and still a productive player.

BELTRAN: He's produced.

BELTRAN: He's produced.

However, if the Mets do this, I see it happening after next season and not this year.

My thinking is the Mets should be wary because of Beltran’s injury history the past two years. In addition, the Mets have so many holes to fill that their attention will be elsewhere.

However, there’s another reason why I see the Mets waiting, and that’s because they really don’t know what direction they are heading. Do they need a tweaking or an overhaul?

The story of this season has been the injuries, and if they return healthy and productive next year, then a case can be made that the Mets are not as bad as they appear. In that case, they’d be wise to bring back Beltran.

Of course, that includes Beltran having a good and healthy season.

However, if the Mets continue their downward spiral, and Beltran has another off-year, then it would be time to start over.

I like Beltran, but I’m not extending him this winter. There are too many variables.