Feb 12

Players Association Not As Strong As They Think

As much as blaming the Mets is the popular thing to do, I can’t in the case of Michael Bourn signing with Cleveland. The Mets made it clear they coveted their first-round (11th overall) pick rather then surrender it as compensation.

Make no mistake, there is no true free-agency in baseball with compensation picks. A team is giving up something and it does limit a player’s option. In this case, Bourn’s desire to play for the Mets. That’s all part of the collective bargaining agreement. The Players Association used to be exceedingly powerful and undefeated in court, but not any more.

Nonetheless, it has slowly given away things they once refused to cave on. Things such as revenue sharing and the soon-to-be-coming stringent luxury tax which is akin to a salary cap. The revenues have proven to be so large, and Major League Baseball’s willingness to share a greater slice of the pie have proven to make the two real partners.

Both have the common goal as money, and there’s too much of it now to squabble.

In the end, the Mets get to keep their pick and are saved from paying nearly $50 million for a .270 hitter. The Mets are building for the future and have made strides, but they are still not where they need to be. And, Bourn wasn’t going to take them there.

Nobody knows who will be that 11th pick, so we can’t justify claiming the Mets blew it. As far as Bourn goes, maybe he preferred the Mets, but with $48 million, he can visit New York any time he wants.

Feb 02

Jordany Valdespin Throwing Away Career

The Mets are bringing Marlon Byrd, he of the PED suspension, to spring training. Byrd is 35 and hit .210 with one homer and nine RBI.

My first reaction was a yawn and my second was thinking how badly Jordany Valdespin is throwing away his career. The Mets have a huge hole in their outfield, but you never hear Valdespin’s name mentioned. And, here’s a guy with speed and came off the bench last year to hit a handful of pinch-hit homers. This is a guy with the potential to make an impact and he’s a virtual non-entity.

Valdespin began to shoot himself in the foot at the end of the season with a sour, combative attitude which included not hustling. What does it tell you when a bench player doesn’t hustle?

What does he do next?

With a chance to redeem himself to make an impression for the future, he’s suspended for insubordination.

What is wrong with this guy? He has a chance to be a major league player and be set for life financially. He has a chance to earn a starting outfield job in New York. It isn’t hard to be a popular player in this city. Hustle, play hard, be enthusiastic and demonstrate some success and the fans will love you. Just look at Lenny Dykstra and Wally Backman. Neither were great players, but were productive and played hard.

Valdespin had a chance to be a player like them.

Maybe he’s not another Carl Everett or Milton Bradley, but he’s headed in that direction. Valdespin has a chance to be a major leaguer and he’s throwing it all away.

His loss, not ours.


Jan 07

Mets Should Say NO To Pavano

I keep hearing rumblings the Mets are interested in Carl Pavano, who made $8.5 million last year with Minnesota at age 36.


While the pressures pitching for the Yankees are different than they are the Mets – the expectations in the Bronx are always greater – this is not a move they should be making.

I wouldn’t want Pavano in the Mets’ rotation if he were willing to pitch for the major league minimum.

Pavano’s New York track record was mostly a long line of injuries – including not reporting being in an auto accident – and coming up small in big moments. At the time, his nickname was “The American Idle,’’ for all the time spent on the disabled list.

As much as I want the Mets to make a move to show they have a pulse, let alone the desire to prove they want to be competitive, Pavano is notoriously thin skinned and not a good fit for New York. It was tough enough for him with the Marlins and Twins, so I wouldn’t expect much in Flushing.

After all, after 14 major league seasons, he is 108-107 with a 4.39 ERA, so why should this year be different? How much of a pay cut he would be willing to take, I don’t know, but can’t they get a win-one, lose-one pitcher for half the price? I would think so.

Covering Pavano in the Yankees clubhouse was frustrating. He was short-fused, testy and without humor, and this was with a winning franchise. I can’t imagine him being a day at the beach in Queens with a losing franchise.

I listed several pitchers still on the market yesterday, with several being a better fit than Pavano.

I also keep hearing the Mets have money to spend, but there aren’t many signs showing that inclination. If it is the same media sources doing the shouting, one has to wonder the motivation. Is it real news or somebody doing a PR favor for ownership? It wouldn’t be a stretch for it to be the latter.

That being said, if the Mets genuinely have dollars, they would be better spent on the mound on a fifth starter than in the outfield. Should the Mets land a legitimate starter, it could help in two categories in that he could take some of the load off the bullpen.

Conversely, unless they acquire a stud bat – and they don’t have the money for that – a middle-tier outfielder won’t improve the Mets significantly.

Dec 25

Merry Christmas; R.I.P. Jack Klugman

I woke up this morning all set to write you a Christmas and holiday wish, but as it always does, life intruded with the sad news of Jack Klugman’s passing last night in Los Angeles. I hope you’ll spend a moment and read one of his many obit’s on the Internet.

One of my favorite programs growing up was “The Odd Couple,” and a dream was to be a sportswriter in New York. I started writing prep sports for the local paper when I was in high school and my nickname was Oscar. In part, because of the sportswriting and also in part because I was voted “messiest locker.”

I loved that show and several years ago was given a DVD set for Christmas. I didn’t watch “Quincy,” because he was always Oscar to me, but I appreciated the depth of his talents when I caught him in “Twelve Angry Men,” and several episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” I especially remember the one in which he was a pool shark.

It was a sad good morning to read about his passing, but it does tie in to my “It’s A Wonderful Life” post. Klugman was 90, and his son said he had a full and meaningful life. Part of his life, one he never knew, was his influence on a young kid growing up in Ohio who wanted to be a sportswriter.

I miss him already.

I hope you all enjoy today with your families and have a very Merry Christmas and celebrate today with your own traditions. My best wishes to you all.






Dec 23

R. A. Dickey Says Farewell


The thing I admired most about R.A. Dickey, and what the Mets apparently forgot, is his connection to the fans. He is every man whoever was faced with an uphill battle and persevered and won.

In today’s edition of The Daily News is said farewell to the fans who cheered him.

Here are his words:

A little over a year ago I was knocking around book titles with my publisher when we finally found a keeper. The minute I heard the words, “Wherever I Wind Up,” I liked the cadence of them. I liked the mystery of them.

Most of all, I liked the way they captured the essence of my nomadic pitching life — which has now taken another completely unforeseen turn.

I never expected to be writing a farewell “holiday card” to Mets fans. I never expected to be doing anything but celebrating the joy of the season with my wife and kids and looking toward the spring, and the start of my fourth season with an organization that gave me maybe the greatest gift an athlete can get:

A chance.

A chance for a fresh start. A chance to prove that maybe I could be somebody on a big league mound, an authentic and trustworthy pitcher, not just a retread with a weird name and an even weirder pitch — a man who was so in need of financial stability that he had to get talked out of taking a guaranteed contract to go pitch in Korea.

The Mets gave me that chance almost exactly three years ago, and I will always be grateful to them for that. Only God could’ve written the narrative that has played out in the three years since. That is what I want to focus on, and what I want to hold in my heart.

I am not going to lie to you, though. The trade was hard for me at first. This is where my heart was, where I wanted to be, where I lived out a story of redemption and felt that every one of you shared it with me in some form or fashion. I loved pitching for you. I loved your passion, the way you embraced me from the start, and the way you seemed to appreciate the effort I was putting forth. Every time I’d walk off the mound after an outing, I’d look in your faces, the people behind the dugout, and felt as if all your energy and support was pouring right into me — even when I was lousy. It gives me chill bumps thinking about it even now.

Every organization has to do what it feels is in its best interest, and I have no doubt that that’s what the Mets did by trading Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and me for two young players who, by all accounts, are terrific prospects. It doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier.

From the beginning of last season to the end — when you cheered with all you had that Thursday afternoon when I won my 20th game — I felt that this was a shared journey, that we were all in it together. What a great way for an athlete to feel.

There were so many special relationships I formed that made my time with the Mets so much richer. Not just in the clubhouse, either. I enjoyed talking with Bill Deacon, the head groundskeeper, about his craft, and all that went into it. The security people who helped my wife and kids get in and out of the family lounge, the policemen who helped me get out of the parking lot, the folks at the Hodges Gate — so many people went out of their way to be kind to me, and they should know how much it was, and is, appreciated.

I was going to take out an advertisement to express these thank yous, but decided in the end that there was too much I wanted to say. So I am writing this instead.

As I move beyond the sadness over leaving here, I know I have a tremendous amount to look forward to. The Blue Jays may need name tags on the first day of spring training, but once we get acquainted, well, this team could be something. I appreciate the welcome I’ve already gotten from them, and what they’re trying to build. We’ll see how it all unfolds.

God has blessed me in so many ways. His grace and mercy are at the center of my life. I may not pitch for the home team anymore (a friend told me I now have to start calling myself a

Canuckleball pitcher ) but wherever I go from here — wherever I might wind up in the future — I hope you know that I will never forget my three years in New York, and never be able to adequately thank you for everything you’ve given me.