Oct 12

Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

You knew it wouldn’t be as easy for the Mets as Chase Utley simply taking his two-game suspension and quietly waiting until Game 5.

As for Matt Harvey, who always has a swirl of non-pitching issues about him, now has one more thing to contemplate: Should he impose his own brand of frontier justice by drilling Utley in the back if he plays?

“We’re definitely moving forward with him in our minds,’’ Harvey said at the Mets workout Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

HARVEY: What's he thinking  as Utley appeals?  (MLB)

HARVEY: What’s he thinking as Utley appeals? (MLB)

Like most everything Harvey says, it is open to interpretation, just like his following comment, which at first means winning is the best revenge, but ends with a clipped warning.

“I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what’s best for the team,’’ Harvey said at the workout. “For me, in my mind, that’s going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board.’’

That’s the perfect response, but he couldn’t let it go, and added: “But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do.’’

Harvey nailed Utley in an April game, so we know he’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, if he hits him this time, would part of his intent be to clean his reputation with his teammates?

Many Mets players, notably David Wright, have not been enamored with Harvey after his innings-limits fiasco was brought to light by agent Scott Boras, and most recently for showing up late for a workout last week, reportedly after partying the night before.

Utley’s decision to appeal Major League Baseball’s knee-jerk reaction to suspend is not surprising. Baseball executive Joe Torre a former player, manager and leader of the Players Association, knows hardball plays of which this was, and the emotions of it happening in New York.

Torre said numerous times when he managed the Yankees the players take care of these things themselves, and that’s probably what he is afraid of. This happened Saturday night so the emotions and tensions remain raw. It is easy for him to think things could break loose, especially when fueled by the anger of a crowd with lynching on its mind.

Torre rightly wanted to defuse a potentially ugly situation, but in doing do may he be wrongly persecuting Utley?

Sure the slide was late, Torre said so at the time. But, at the time he did not deem it dirty. Neither did the umpires, who had the authority to call the runner out and eject him from the game.

While Torre said the slide violated the rules, he never called it dirty when he issued the suspension. What are we supposed to make of that? Did Torre change his mind by simply watching the replays, or by reading the quotes from the Mets’ clubhouse and hearing the ire of the man of the street?

What about the neighborhood play, you ask?

It does not apply because Daniel Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag and put him in a position where he could not defend himself. Replays showed Tejada put himself at risk for attempting to spin and then throw. The spin put him directly in the path of Utley’s slide.

There are rules in place, which Torre quoted, designed to protect the fielder. Apparently, the umpires did not feel they were violated. However, Harvey does and we are all wondering how he will respond. He would be foolish if he did because it could mean an ejection for him or an injury if the result is a brawl.

Of course, MLB is likely to uphold the suspension, which raises an interesting question: What if Utley were to get the Players Association involved or pull a Tom Brady and take this to court?

Sep 08

Mets Must Capitalize On Cespedes Extension

No matter what happens tonight in Washington, the Mets received a huge break because Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement that would allow them to pursue outfielder Yoenis Cespedes throughout the offseason. Cespedes’ contract limited the Mets to a five-day window after the World Series to sign him.

According to the original provision, the Mets wouldn’t have been allowed to sign Cespedes until May 15, and by that time he would have been signed. Considering their record, there’s no way the Mets would have been able to reach a deal with Cespedes in those five years.

However, Cespedes in under contract now and the Mets have his undivided attention. With how he has produced, he is worth bringing him back, even if it costs a lot.

If Cespedes leaves, the Mets will have the familiar problem of needing a power bat in the outfield. Michael Cuddyer will be gone after 2016 and Curtis Granderson will be gone in two years. All their young pitchers are under their control for several years, so there will be available money.

Another thing worth noting, when a team reaches the playoffs after a long dry spell, it doesn’t experience the benefit until the next year (2016). With the schedule now out and the Mets in the midst of a crucial series with Washington, people are already looking forward to next year.

If the Mets let Cespedes slide through their fingers, there’s no telling how this would impact ticket sales.

Since joining the Mets, July 31, for minor league pitcher Michael Fulmer, Cespedes is hitting .311 with 13 homers and 31 RBI in 34 games. He’s been an impact player since joining the major leagues, so what he’s doing isn’t a fluke.

Alderson earned his money with the trade, but keeping him is the real coup.

Feb 08

We May Have Seen The Last Of Alex Rodriguez

With Alex Rodriguez’s decision to drop his Triple Play lawsuits against Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig and the Players Association, it is extremely possible we have seen the last of the player who one time seemed destined to hold all the records.

In doing so, Rodriguez will accept the 162-game suspension that will cost him the 2014 season and $25 million.

RODRIGUEZ: Going, going gone.

RODRIGUEZ: Going, going gone.

While the reaction of Rodriguez’s decision has been positive, speculation is the suit was dropped because he was throwing good money after bad. He would stand to lose $10 million in legal fees.

While I have no doubt Rodriguez did something, nobody has said to what extent. I still call into question Major League Baseball’s tactics in the Biogenesis case, which could cost Rodriguez his career.

Rodriguez can return for 2015, and indicates he wants a post-playing career in baseball. Good luck with that … it definitely wouldn’t have happened had he followed through with the suit.

Rodriguez will be 40 in 2015, and after being away from the game for a year, one has to wonder how much he’ll lose. He could spend the time rehabbing and getting his surgically-repaired hips stronger.

Still, I don’t know if it will do any good for his career. The Yankees are obligated to pay him $62 million, but in what capacity?

Will they bring him back and deal with that distraction for two more years, or will they simply buy him out?

I’m betting the latter, thinking we’ll never see Rodriguez play another major league game again.


Aug 06

Mets Should Cut Ties With Valdespin

Talent usually warrants numerous chances, but will the New York Mets offer another to Jordany Valdespin in the wake of his 50-game suspension from the Biogenesis scandal?

Considering his other baggage, which ranges from a temper tantrum directed at Terry Collins when he was optioned to Triple-A; to being suspended from winter ball; to being photographed wearing a Marlins hat; to not hustling, and finally his look-at-me demeanor such as styling after a home run in a game seemingly decided, it’s likely we’ll never see him play for the Mets again.

VALDESPIN: Time to cut ties. (Wikipedia)

VALDESPIN: Time to cut ties. (Wikipedia)

Valdespin failed when given a chance to play second base, but has hit since his demotion. Yes, talent usually warrants another chance, but how real is the positive Valdespin displayed last year?

Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, for one, is curious. Valdespin recently homered off Clippard, and the pitcher is wondering if the Mets’ outfielder had help. You know, better baseball through chemistry.  Clippard did not hide his anger at Valdespin, telling The Washington Post: “You’re like, ‘Those guys are doing stuff that’s affecting my career and they’re not playing the game the right way.’ So that’s frustrating.

“I think anybody can relate to that. If they’re not doing things the right way, and they’re beating you, then it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. So that’s why this is so important. Because nobody – players, ownership – nobody wants to see guys cheat.’’

Valdespin was drilled after his home run styling, and who can blame Clippard if he throws high heat the next time they face each other.

The Mets have tired of Valdespin’s act, so if he were to be released would anybody be surprised? The Mets talk about changing their culture, and getting rid of Valdespin would be a step in the right direction. If he becomes a star elsewhere, so be it.

If Clippard is upset about being beaten by a tainted Valdespin, think for a moment a Mets’ prospect who might be overlooked in favor of this guy.

This is where the Players Association is finally getting it, and is showing support for the rank-and-file over the high-salaried cheaters. It is the Players Association’s obligation to protect the accused, as it is doing with Alex Rodriguez, but it is finally yielding to the low-salaried and low-profile players whose careers are threatened by cheaters.

And, Valdespin is one of them.

Valdespin’s representative offered a lame statement about him not appealing the 50-game suspension as to not be a distraction, but in reality if he was innocent of any wrong-doing wouldn’t he have appealed?

Because he didn’t, we can conclude two things: 1) Major League Baseball had serious proof against him, or 2) MLB was bluffing and Valdespin fell for it.

If you’re innocent, you appeal. Nonetheless, it is time for the Mets to sever their relationship with Valdespin, and the sooner the better.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 27

Shouldn’t Players Association Assume Some Responsibility In Cause Of Niese Injury?

Jon Niese is in the second season of a five-year, $25.5 million contract with the New York Mets. He can thank the MLB Players Association.

Regardless of how this shoulder injury plays out, Niese will collect every penny, again thanks to the MLBPA.

However, MLBPA should also bear some responsibility for the injury in the first place.

NIESE: Cold conditions led to injury.

NIESE: Cold conditions led to injury.

For years, the MLBPA’s priority in dealing with the owners in labor talks centered around money and protecting players in disciplinary and PED cases. Unfortunately, such things as interleague play, which contributed to issues as scheduling and playing conditions has been ignored.

The norm in MLB these days is the absurdity of teams playing in frigid conditions in April, traveling cross-country for one-game make-ups and waiting out four-hour rain delays. The owners are making huge financial commitments to these players, yet have them play in conditions that contribute to injuries.

It’s like owning a high-end sports car, yet leaving it out in the rain and snow. Makes little sense.

Because the MLBPA hasn’t emphasized these areas in collective bargaining, management has rammed through such things as the circumstances of having the Mets playing back-to-back series in snowy and frigid Minneapolis and Denver.

“I think it beat up his body,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters today in Denver. “ I think he had to work extra hard. It’s freezing cold. … He’s the only guy who is really starting to get warm when he’s on the mound.

“Everyone else is standing out there. He and the catcher are really the only two guys with continual movement. When he’d come in, he’d get so chilled between innings, it was tough to go back out there and get loose. So now he had to work even harder to keep himself warm. I just think it took a beating on him.’’

Niese struggled in his subsequent starts and missed one after complaining of back stiffness and soreness. With every pitch Niese placed more stress on his body. As a pitcher, the brunt of it lands on the shoulder.

Sure, it is possible his rotator cuff tear has been an accumulation of all the pitches he’s thrown, but it also is likely pitching in the cold exasperated the stress and contributed to the injury.

Somebody has to play in those games, but the Mets, with reasonable, limited-greed scheduling, shouldn’t have been there.

Major League Baseball is trying to squeeze too much into the schedule and too much out of its players, and has been given carte blanche by the Players Association, which is content to bypass playing conditions for a bigger piece of the pie.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos