All too often this season, the Mets gave up the ground, confidence and groove they’ve had at home once they hit the road.
Only this time, the Mets aren’t going to San Diego or Philadelphia, but Baltimore to face the horrible Orioles and then on to Cleveland.
The talk-shows have already given the Mets a 4-2 or 5-1 trip before heading into Yankee Stadium a week from today.
It doesn’t work that way. You have to play the games first and the Orioles have beaten the Yankees twice and beat up the Red Sox in a series.
If what Jerry Manuel said is correct, that the Mets alter their offensive approach on the road because of some of the smaller stadiums, they have to be doubly careful this weekend, beginning tonight, at cozy Camden Yards.
In Mets history, in 1996, the Mets acquired first baseman John Olerud from Toronto for pitcher Robert Person. The Blue Jays were forced to make the deal because they needed a spot for Joe Carter.
I saw Olerud play a lot when I covered the Orioles and Yankees. He was one of the more soft-spoken players I’ve dealt with, but he sure did have a sweet swing. And, with him at first, the Mets had one of the finest fielding infields in the game.
At 26, and showing solid production and no injury history, the interest has been hot for reliever Matt Capps. Reportedly, a dozen teams have contacted Capps’ agent, but surprisingly not one of them has been the Mets. He’s a free agent because Pittsburgh did not offer arbitration.
With the bullpen in need of repair, one would think the Mets would be all over this. They are not.
Agent Paul Kinzer called the interest in Capps as “enormous.” Capps has said he’d like to pitch for the Cubs, but the field includes the Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Marlins and Rangers. The reported asking price is at least $3 million a season. He has closer experience and would be ideal for the Mets’ set-up role.
…. In 1991, in one of their better decisions, the Mets signed Bobby Bonilla to a five-year, $29 million contract. At the time, Bonilla, a local athlete, was coming off a productive run with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bonilla became a lightning rod in the clubhouse, some thought a clubhouse cancer. Threatening reporters didn’t help his image. I was in Baltimore when he brought his reputation to the Orioles, and sure enough, he didn’t report. He and Davey Johnson had an especially combative relationship caused by the DH rule.
Bonilla, who couldn’t field, didn’t like the DH and rebelled at being used in that slot. I didn’t have a chummy relationship with Bonilla, who was adverse to answering most questions, even simple ones, like, “how are you?”
One time, that question was answered with the, “why don’t you ask the “!@#$%%^” manager?”
…. In 1998, the Mets dealt catcher Todd Hundley and minor league pitcher Arnold Gooch to the Dodgers for catcher Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. The Mets then swap Johnson to the Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez.
Benitez had a checkered career with the Mets, saving 158 games in parts of five seasons. Of course, what most remember about him was the games he didn’t save, particularly against the Braves. Benitez’s history was to unravel if something went wrong. A bloop or bad call could turn into a blown save, and it would start a string of three or four bad outings.
The Mets eventually traded him to the Yankees. Benitez would sign with the Giants and his last game was in 2008.
I covered Benitez with the Orioles and Yankees. I’ll always remember him spitting the bit in the 1997 ALCS, playing a significant part in at least three of the Orioles’ losses. The one moment that crystalizes in my memory is, when after giving up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back. Then he stood off the mound and gestured the Yankees to come get him.
ON DECK: What to do about Carlos Delgado later this morning.