Mar 05

Today In Mets History: Staub Ends Holdout

On this date in 1973, outfielder Rusty Staub ended a holdout and signed a three-year contract for $100,000 a season.

Staub played nine years with the Mets spanning two stints (1972-75 and 1981-85). He retired after the 1985 season with 2,716 career hits, including 709 with the Mets. He is the only player having at least 500 hits for four different teams (Mets, Montreal, Detroit and Houston).

STAUB: A great Met. (TOPPS)

STAUB: A great Met. (TOPPS)

Mets fans remember Staub for his gritty performance in the 1973 postseason. In Game 4 of the NLCS against Cincinnati, Staub separated his right shoulder when he plowed into the outfield fence while robbing Dan Driessen of extra bases. In the World Series against Oakland, Staub was forced to throw the ball underhand, but hit .423 with a homer and six RBI.

A six-time All-Star, Staub ended his career as one of the game’s best pinch-hitters with 99 hits, including eight homers with 72 RBI.

Staub originally signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45s (later Astros), but was traded to Montreal before the 1969 season and became an original Expo. After three years he was traded to the Mets in exchange for first baseman Mike Jorgensen, shortstop Tim Foli and outfielder Ken Singleton.

Staub also played with Detroit and Texas.

A noted wine connoisseur, in retirement Staub owned two restaurants in Manhattan and founded the “Rusty Staub Foundation,’’ which raised over $112 million for New York City police and fireman following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

ON DECK: Mets On Tap Today: Bartolo Colon starts against Washington.

Mar 04

Mets Matters: Nieuwenhuis Has Big Day

As far as first impressions go, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a great one going 4-for-4 with a RBI in the Mets’ 8-2 rout of Atlanta.

mets-matters logoNieuwenhuis, who is out of options, is competing Matt den Dekker for a reserve outfield spot. Not having options gives Nieuwenhuis an edge.

“He’s out of options, so it’s nice to see him have a big day,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He’s had to battle so many injuries in the last couple of years. The one thing we saw both he and Matt do, that’s shorten their swings up a little bit to where they can put the ball in play more consistently.’’

Today’s box score: Mets 8, Atlanta 2

GEE ROCKED: Dillon Gee, whom the Mets are trying to deal, gave up two runs in a two-inning, 35-pitch debut.

Gee is next scheduled to pitch Sunday out of the bullpen.

EXTRA INNINGS: Wilmer Flores left the game in the fifth inning when he was hit by a pitch on his left pinkie finger. … Flores’ replacement, Matt Reynolds had a RBI single. … Leadoff hitter candidate Juan Lagares had two hits, including a double, with a walk and run scored. … Lucas Duda, out with a left intercostal muscle strain, swung the bat. … Former Met Eric Young, stole a base on Travis d’Arnaud. … The Mets play Washington Thursday (5:05 p.m.), with Bartolo Colon getting the start. Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin will also work for the Mets.

Feb 22

Wright’s Comeback Is Key Met Issue; Acknowledges He Must Adjust

Numerous times I’ve said the most pressing issue with the Mets is David Wright’s health – regardless of what happens with Matt Harvey.

Wright is entering the third season of an eight-year, $138-million, an award for being the face of the franchise and the promise of what he could bring to the Mets through the 2020 season. When Wright is whole, the Mets have a chance of being the same.

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

He had a decent 2013 season hitting .307, but injuries limited him to 112 games. A shoulder injury cut last year short and held him to eight homers and only 63 RBI. He hasn’t hit at least 25 homers with 100 RBI since 2010, and that’s the basis for him being the key issue – if he doesn’t start post real All-Star numbers then the contract becomes a burden and consequently a distraction.

That’s why what he told reporters Sunday was important. He acknowledged the need to slow it down from time to time. Only twice in the last five years has he played as many as 155 games, and even that might be too much.

“I think it is probably to the point where I have to be a little more realistic that it’s probably not in my best interest or the team’s best interest to go out there and play 162 games,’’ Wright said. “I think a good off day here and there probably can be beneficial for both me and the team.’’

But, that’s up to Terry Collins. If he left it up to Wright, he’d play. Collins must be disciplined enough to have a plan with Wright and stick to it. Usually, that means resting him the day before an off day. That’s a two-day rest.

Wright also acknowledged he must modify his game, meaning being more selective and concentrate on driving the ball in the gaps and not worrying about pulling.

“I remember our first year in Citi Field [in 2009], I think I hit 10 [homers] and I felt like I had a very productive season – and it was because of driving runs in, scoring runs,’’ Wright told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “I don’t judge a season by how many home runs I hit. It’s more being productive, more being a middle-of-the-order-type hitter, where I’m driving in runs, scoring runs.

“The thing that bothered me last year wasn’t the lack of home runs. It was more that I just didn’t feel like I was the hitter I’m capable of being.’’

At 32, Wright’s best days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be good ones ahead of him. After all, he has six more years, and with the Mets thinking playoffs, they can’t afford Wright being a shell of what he has been. He’s at the stage of his career when he knows he has to adjust. Professional hitters are able to do that – which is what he acknowledged this afternoon.

Wright has always been a pro, and I wouldn’t expect anything less of him now.

 

Feb 17

Mets’ Numbers To Be Retired; Don’t Forget Kranepool

Well Adam, since you asked, yes I have several Mets in mind, including an iconic figure who often gets lost in the franchise’s lore, who should have their numbers retired. In his daily “Morning Briefing’’ column ESPN’s Adam Rubin proposed the question what Mets should have their uniform number retired.

His piece came on the heels of an article written by The New York Post’s Kevin Kiernan suggesting Mike Piazza have his No. 31 retired. I have no argument with Kevin on Piazza, who after all, could be in Cooperstown next year or the following.

KRANEPOOL: Don't forget No. 7

KRANEPOOL: Don’t forget No. 7

Everybody suggests Piazza, so that’s not a surprise, and there are those pushing for the foundation players of the 1980s teams: Keith HernandezGary Carter, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. If you will, they were the Mets’ Core Four from that era.

I’m all for those guys having their numbers on the outfield wall at Citi Field, but the one guy I’d like to be the first to endorse is Ed Kranepool. Yes, you read correctly.

Kranepool is the first Met I remember growing up, then came Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. By the way, I think Koosman also gets overlooked as a significant Met, and yes, his No. 36 should also be on the wall.

Let’s talk about Kranepool for a moment. Is he a Hall of Fame player? No. However, he made his debut in 1962 as a 17-year-old and for much of the 1960s and 1970s, was a key offensive force for the Mets.  He ranks in the top ten in franchise history in games (1st, 1,853), at-bats (2nd, 5,436), runs scored (9th, 536), hits (2nd, 1,418), doubles (2nd, 225), triples (10th, 25), homers (10th, 118), RBI (614) and walks (8th, 454).

Many of those numbers have been dwarfed, but for a long time many of the records belonged to Kranepool, and for that, he should be honored.

The Mets’ history will always lag behind that of the Yankees because the latter has over a 50-year head start. However, the Mets have their own history and it should be recognized. Kranepool is part of that history.

So, 25 years from now, when some seven-year-old kid – 7 was Kranepool’s number – asks his grandfather about the numbers on the wall, I want one of his memories to be that of Kranepool.

 

Feb 03

Mets Agree To Terms With Duda; Should Consider Extension

Barring a trade, the Mets have all their players signed, sealed and delivered with the announcement of settling with Lucas Duda to a $4.2 million contract to avoid arbitration.

In agreeing with Duda the Mets’ payroll is now close to $100 million, with still the potential matter of trading pitcher Dillon Gee.

The Mets will have control over Duda through the 2017 season.

Duda, who turned 29 today, will be entering his first season as the Mets’ starter at first base. Duda hit .253 with 30 homers and 92 RBI last year. Duda also had a .349 on-base percentage. Just think how much better it would have been had he not struck out 135 times.

If Duda has a similar season in 2015, the Mets should consider signing him to a long-term deal as his value with increase.