Jan 06

Free Agent Market Came And Went For Mets

There were several free agents, if the Mets had the willingness and/or ability to pay, that could have improved them to the point where it could be a competitive summer.

And, I’m not talking about big-ticket players Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson and Rafael Soriano. The Mets were never going to be players for them, anyhow.

The Mets were beaten out by some notorious small market or small spending teams such as Pittsburgh (Jason Grilli, Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano), Tampa Bay (James Loney and Joel Peralta), Minnesota (Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey), Cleveland (Swisher and Mark Reynolds), Baltimore (McLouth), Arizona (Brandon McCarthy and Cody Ross), Kansas City (Jeremy Guthrie).

I’d include Oakland, but Bartolo Colon? Really?

However, Michael Bourn, Matt Capps, Jonny Gomes, Dan Haren, Nate Schierholtz, Nate McLouth and John Lannan could have given life to the Mets. And, none from this latter group who were signed received a package of greater than $13 million.

Perhaps, two or three – a pitcher and outfielder – could have impacted the dynamics and attitude of the roster and given the Mets something to build on during spring training.

Much of who is left are broken down (Grady Sizemore), older (Kevin Millwood), potentially too expensive (Carl Pavano or ex-Mets (Xavier Nady, Francisco Rodriguez, Ronny Cedeno, Jon Rauch, Endy Chavez and Kelly Shoppach).

Others, such as Brad Penny, Shaun Marcum or Derek Lowe won’t make enough of a difference.

There’s always next winter for extravagant spending.

 

Oct 16

How About Those Yankees?

As Mets’ fans, I suspect many of you are taking great delight into what is going on with the Yankees. Down 2-0 in games to the Tigers, the Yankees resume the ALCS today in Detroit against Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in the sport.

As players, I know the Yankees expect to win as every quote attributed to them is the season isn’t a success unless they win the World Series. That’s the only attitude to have, and you can’t begrudge them for thinking that way. Wish the Mets’ front office felt the same.

There is no sense of entitlement with the players as they admit there are no guarantees. What is annoying is the sense of entitlement among Yankees fans, who consider it their birthright to see their team play deep into October. There’s a whole generation of Yankees fans who know nothing but their team in the playoffs.

Talk radio can be such a wasteland, and much of the gibberish is benching Alex Rodriguez and I heard the idea of sitting Robinson Cano floated this morning because of their lack of hitting. The Yankees are going through a similar slump the Mets endured in the second half with their offense, especially at home. In June, you can point to July and think you’ll pick it up. In October, there’s a sense of urgency because there is no next month. There’s not a player on that team who isn’t feeling pressure, regardless of what they might say.

Not recognizing the pressure is denial, but you must know no player would ever make that admission because it admits defeat and the opposition can feed off that mood.

Joe Girardi already tinkered with Rodriguez’s fragile ego and you have to wonder if it will hinder him for the remaining five years of his contract, for which he will make $114 million, or more precisely, $14 million more than the entire Mets’ 2012 payroll.

Girardi’s gamble pinch-hitting Raul Ibanez for Rodriguez paid off against the Orioles, but he has to let things slide for the remainder of the playoffs. Rodriguez, Cano and Nick Swisher got the Yankees to this spot and Girardi has to ride them the rest of the way.

It is highly likely Yankee Stadium won’t see another game until next April, so it was amusing the final 2012 image of it was huge blocks of empty seats. Fans were able to snatch up tickets on-line for a fraction of the absurd face value of the tickets. But, many chose to stay away.

The Yankees misjudged the economy when they opened the new Stadium with absurd ticket prices. The Yankees, like the Mets, went on the high side and the public balked. Postseason tickets are always more expensive and who could blame the fans for staying away? It never happened in the old place.

There other factors to consider beside the price of tickets to explain the poor attendance showing at Yankee Stadium, such as parking. It is higher for the playoffs, and paying close to $50 to park is obscene. With the price of concessions factored in, you could easily go into your pockets for another $100  on top of the tickets.

Fighting the traffic becomes less an option when you can enjoy the game in the comfort of your own home. And Sunday, you could have watched both the Yankees and Giants on the tube. Why put up with the hassle when you can put your feet up and relax with a beer that doesn’t cost $10?

 

Oct 14

Can Yankees Recover Without Jeter?

Regardless of your stance on the Yankees, there had to be a twinge of sadness seeing Derek Jeter helped off the field with a fractured ankle. Say what you will about Jeter, but the man always plays hard and carries himself with dignity on the field.

He’s milquetoast in an interview, but always Tabasco between the lines. To do what he did this season at his age, at the plate and on defense, was remarkable. You have to admire the way he plays the game. He never gives an inch.

Andy Pettitte was right in that you knew something was wrong the way Jeter tried to flip the ball to Robinson Cano despite his obvious pain and stayed on the ground. Funny, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was how Santanio Holmes threw the ball in the air when he was injured. The difference is in football the opposing team can recover and take it in for a touchdown.

Here, Jeter had the presence of mind to try to continue the play while Holmes, well, he is what he is. Jeter will go into the Hall of Fame when he’s done; Holmes will disappear and won’t be missed.

Can the Yankees win without him? Sure they can, but it will be extremely difficult. While others around him falter, Jeter keeps on going, hit after hit, play after play.

The Yankees looked dead in the water last night until Raul Ibanez’s game-tying homer in the ninth. While he’s been a stunning playoff story, trying to win without Jeter makes the odds more difficult.

The Yankees can still win because their starting pitching has been superb and the bullpen has been solid, enough to compensate for the lack of offense. The Yankees aren’t getting anything from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have also underperformed, and for that matter, so has Cano.

All that marquee talent and they can’t score. It’s like how the Mets’ offense was in the second half, only this time the whole country is watching instead of a handful at Citi Field.

I don’t like their chances because of how they’ve been hitting, Jeter’s injury and that the Tigers are pretty good and can smell it after last night. Many teams can be devastated after blowing a four-run lead in the ninth, but the Tigers regrouped.

One thing working in the Yankees’ favor is Detroit’s porous bullen. The Yankees, when clicking, can win a slugfest.

However, I don’t see it any more for them.

 

 

Jun 24

Terry Collins Gambles And Loses With Chris Young

It’s an oversimplification to think Chris Young made one mistake last night when he grooved a fastball Raul Ibanez drilled for a game-tying, three-run homer.

YOUNG: Dejected.

His biggest mistake that inning was the leadoff walk to Mark Teixeira. Young was already nearing 100 pitches when the inning began. I was surprised he went out, but understood it followed with Terry Collins’ loyalty to his starters.

I never would have let him pitch to Nick Swisher, was given a gift double when Lucas Duda butchered the sinking fly ball.

Then after Ibanez there was the sense the Mets let it get away.

Yes, Collins went too long with Young. Maybe his decision was based on loyalty, or perhaps it was made because he didn’t have confidence in his bullpen. That could have been a spot for Tim Byrdak, but then again Collins might have been thinking he would save Byrdak for later.

It’s only one game, but it stung because it was right there for the taking. We can dissect the seventh inning a dozen was, but the Mets had opportunities earlier to blow the game open against Ivan Nova.

They had their chances later, too.

What they didn’t have was a shutdown lefty reliever like Boone Logan who toyed with Duda and Daniel Murphy.

The Mets will be buyers at the trade deadline, and bullpen help should be at the top of their list.

 

ON DECK: Mets Matters

Dec 07

On trading David Wright.

I wrote it also, losing Jose Reyes could make it easier for the Mets to eventually trade David Wright if they go in full rebuilding mode. However, it is not imminent and regardless of what you read, it won’t be to the Yankees.

WRIGHT: He's not going anywhere.

Despite his power dropoff in two of the past three seasons, Wright is the only marketable player the Mets have remaining. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are a promise. Nobody else generates more than a yawn.

Wright will not be dealt while the Mets are trying to sell season tickets and advertising for SNY and Citi Field.  And based on his production in two of the past three years, his value is at its lowest. If the Mets are bent on trading Wright, they’ll need to see him healthy and hitting for power. That’s what will get Sandy Alderson’s phone ringing. Dealing Wright now would be trading him when the market is low.

Just not a smart thing to do.

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