Sep 14

Reflections Of The Week: Don’t Cash 2015 Checks Yet; Niese Worth Keeping

It has been well documented the Mets are gearing for 2015 because of Matt Harvey’s anticipated return following Tommy John surgery.

Not so fast.

mets-matters logoWith Sandy Alderson saying there won’t be much activity in the free-agent market, where will the power come from? David Wright hasn’t come close to 30 homers since 2010, when he hit 29. That was four years ago. He’s averaged 15 homers a year since.

And, while Lucas Duda has proven to be better than Ike Davis, he’s still not a monster masher.

Plus, despite his chirping, there are no guarantees what Harvey will do next year. Also, Zack Wheeler, despite his stuff, still throws way too many pitches and is a six-inning pitcher.

* Jon Niese pitched well in today’s 3-0 loss to Washington, but is 8-11 with one winning season since his career began in 2008. Still, he’s left-handed, has a reasonable contract and is only 27. All good reasons to keep him.

* It was definitely the correct decision to shut down Wright the remainder of the season. The playoffs won’t happen despite the math. And, finishing .500 isn’t worth the risk of further injury, plus there are things to look at, such as seeing more of Dilson Herrera and Daniel Murphy at third base. It’s always a positive to get as much information as possible.

* With the Mets losing three of four to the Nationals, it makes Jenrry Mejia’s post-game gesturing even more foolish. C’mon, act like you’ve been there before.

* Reliever Vic Black already hampered with a herniated disk in his neck, his fastball down by 3 mph., saying his shoulder aches, why not shut him down for the rest of the season? What is there to be gained?

Finally, I would be remiss if my wide range of thoughts from my first week back blogging on the Mets didn’t include expressing my gratitude for the acceptance and well wishes you’ve given me in my return.

I wasn’t sure of your reaction, and frankly I am overwhelmed.

I am working hard in my rehab, which includes pumping hard on an exercise bike. It is imperative to build up my leg strength. My legs have atrophied to where they are stick-like.

Thanks also go out to Joe DeCaro of MetsmerizedOnline.com and Adam Rubin of ESPN for promoting my return. Also, to the Mets’ Jay Horwitz for continuing my access should I be able to get out to Citi Field this month.

Thanks again.

Feb 05

Some Reflections On 49ers And Ravens, Before The Mets

One of the true beauties of sport is the ability to generate conversation and debate. Before we dive head first into baseball let’s take one more swipe at the Super Bowl, which will go down in history as one of the most compelling in history.

What I root most for in watching games – regardless of sport – are interesting story lines and close games. Yesterday’s game hit on both counts.

As I wrote yesterday, I didn’t have a dog in the fight, but leaned toward San Francisco because of my Cleveland roots. I didn’t waiver, but found myself happy for Joe Flacco because of the heat he’s taken, some of it from his own team.

Timing is everything, and Flacco couldn’t have picked a better time to become an unrestricted free agent. What are the odds? Check them out at  CasinoDino.com.

While Flacco is easy to root for, Jim Harbaugh is the opposite.

Harbaugh went from hard to root for to almost impossible to root for because of his whining. After saying he wanted to handle things with class, he proceeded to rip the officiating. Although he was right on that last non-call – it was holding – be gracious and congratulate your brother. Not a lot of warmth in that post-game handshake.

Brother John said he thought his brother is the best coach in the NFL and would be honored to work for him. He also said he loved him. Jim said no such thing. I wonder if Jim will truly be happy for John?

That was a horrible non-call, and I can’t stand that term. “That was a good non-call,’’ said Phil Simms, who praised the officials for “not making a call late in the game.’’ I normally like Simms, but he’s as off-target on this one like a Mark Sanchez pass. Huh? If it is holding, it is holding whether on the first play of the game or the last. What is it? Then call it. I bet he wouldn’t have been that forgiving had he been throwing the ball.

That wasn’t the only bad call in the game. As a matter of fact, two Ravens were caught holding on that play. They were also holding on the kickoff return. And, how does Cary Williams not get thrown out of the game for shoving a ref? He later went on to make several key plays, including tipping a pass in the end zone.

There were numerous other blown calls that cost both teams. It isn’t like the 49ers got screwed; both teams were affected. Like, how about a late hit on Flacco wasn’t called?

I heard a lot about the officials “letting them play,’’ which is garbage. Your job as an official is to call the game, not arbitrarily decide how the game should be played. It is like an umpire’s “personal’’ strike zone. Rules are rules, so enforce them.

That being said, I don’t want to hear how the officials cost the 49ers the game. They had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher, yet still lost the game. I wonder how many times that has happened. The bottom line is when you score 31 points, you should win the game. The 49ers defense and special teams were horrid, and Jim Harbaugh was outcoached by his brother, John Harbaugh.

Outclassed, too?

Jim Harbaugh inexplicably abandoned the running game at the end, despite Frank Gore’s success in the game and on that drive. Harbaugh, as a former quarterback, should know timeouts are more precious than five yards.

Colin Kaepernick burned a timeout earlier rather than take a penalty, and as the clock ticked down on that final drive, Harbaugh screamed for a timeout rather than take the penalty, despite the five yards possibly helping the receivers maneuver easier around the end zone.

As far as Kaepernick is concerned, he came alive in the second half, but clearly was unnerved early in the game. As Kaepernick struggled, I was somewhat surprised – considering the score – not much was made by Simms on going to Alex Smith. Bill Cowher mentioned it at halftime, but Simms threw an incompletion there.

And, about that safety at the end of the game, there was blatant holding there, but I’m not totally buying it meant nothing because a penalty in the end zone still results in a safety. However, had the penalty been called it there might have been more time on the clock for maybe one more play.

And, who wouldn’t have wanted one more play from a game like last night’s?

Dec 09

Reflections on a wild Winter Meetings.

* I understand the fans’ dismay over the Mets losing Jose Reyes, but I believe it has more to do with the disarray the team is in more than losing the player itself. Reyes’ departure is emblematic to the degree of how far the Mets fell since the 2006 playoffs.

The fact is Reyes makes his living with his legs but hasn’t been completely healthy in three seasons, including two stints on the disabled list last year. The Mets’ financial situation made it cost prohibitive to bring him back at that price and it wasn’t worth the risk. Realistically evaluating things, bringing back Reyes was the wrong play.

If you’re frustrated and angry, it should be at the Mets’ overall condition and not that a brittle player took the money and ran.

* It is premature to give the Angels a pass into the playoffs. Their rotation might be stronger than Texas with the addition of CJ Wilson, but the Rangers’ lineup remains superior and there’s always the chance they might add Prince Fielder.

Do you remember when the Yankees added Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson? They were supposed to win multiple World Series, but didn’t win anything until 2009, and by that time Johnson retired. The Phillies were favorites the past two years. How did that work out? Also, how did it work out for the Miami Heat last year and the Philadelphia Eagles this season? Rarely, do things work out smoothly for Dream Teams.

* Don’t you think the Yankees regret the Rodriguez contract? I bet they do. I’d also be willing to bet eventually the Angels and Marlins might regret their wild spending, which never guarantees anything.

* I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis made a run at Fielder to take the sting out of losing Albeert Pujols. Even so, the money might be better spent on maintaining because the Cardinals are still a good team and don’t need an overhaul.

* Regarding Fielder, I found it laughable to read the Cubs don’t have the money to spend on Fielder. The Cubs have the resources, but are they willing?

* The Mets believe they bolstered their bullpen, with Sandy Alderson saying they have the seventh through ninth accounted for. Then again, they took from the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with over 20 blown saves last season.

 

Sep 28

Reflections of Willie

With the Milwaukee Brewers in town, and Jerry Manuel presumably in his last week as Mets manager, it is not surprising the attention being placed on Willie Randolph and the inevitable comparisons to his successor.

RANDOLPH: Looking back.

I covered Randolph in 2006 until 2008 when he was unceremoniously fired, and found him to be knowledgeable but sometimes too thin skinned. I won’t use the word paranoid because I’m not a psychiatrist and believe that’s too harsh and unfair an assessment.

I attributed Randolph’s demeanor to it being his first job and his inability to let go of being passed by for other opportunities.

And, to be fair, Randolph had reason to be cautious as the Mets presented him with several untenable obstacles. Willie spoke highly of Omar Minaya the other day, but part of that was being a gentleman. Fact is, there was an uneasy tension between Randolph and the front office caused in large part by the constant undermining presence of Tony Bernazard, who literally was a management spy and who fed information to players that caused a gap in the clubhouse.

Minaya was at fault for letting that situation develop and not pulling in the reigns on Bernazard. Eventually, Bernazard did himself in and his reputation has kept him from landing another baseball job.

That Carlos Delgado sabotaged Randolph’s relationship with the Latin players, and it was allowed to happen by the front office, was distasteful and really despicable. Delgado’s presence undoubtedly hampered Randolph’s relationship with Jose Reyes to name one. It was information fed by Bernazard to Delgado that damaged whatever relationship the player could have with his manager.

The Mets came within one hit of reaching the World Series in 2006, then collapsed in 2007. The collapse that summer was historic, but traceable to the front office not addressing the needs of starting pitching and not bringing back the bullpen that was a strength of the 2006 team. The collapse would have happened sooner, and perhaps not been as dramatic, if not for the strong start that spring.

The bullpen was again a problem in 2008, but the Mets hung around until the final weekend. There was another collapse that year, but not as dramatic. The team hung around long enough for the interim tag to be removed from Manuel.

The Mets have addressed needs piecemeal, from Johan Santana to Francisco Rodriguez to Jason Bay, but never gave Randolph a full deck after 2006. The feeling was that they came close and to take the next step with essentially the same team. Hoping for improvement is not the same as adding the proper pieces to improve.

Gradually, by sticking with Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez too long, by not rebuilding the bullpen after Duaner Sanchez’s injury described in his EMR (electronic medical record) as a  fractured coracoid bone in the shoulder, by misjudging the progress made by Oliver Perez and John Maine after 2007, by hamstringing the bench with the likes of Julio Franco, poor contracts given Perez, Franco and Moises Alou, and numerous injuries, the window has slammed shut on the Mets and it doesn?t matter who is manager.

Had Randolph stayed, he couldn’t navigate through this mess, and Manuel has proven to be less capable. Let’s face it, today’s Mets are a house of cards. Their record will be better this year, but in some respects the team overachieved because of RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi, and Mike Pelfrey’s step forward.

With the payroll as it is, the injury to Santana and questions in the pitching staff, and the health issues of Carlos Beltran and Bay, this team could go south again next year.

Randolph deserves another chance to manage in the major leagues, but bringing him back isn’t the best idea. Been there, done that. Just like with Bobby Valentine.

Randolph has his faults as does Manuel, but the fact is this front office will be going on its fifth manager in ten years next season, a sure sign that the instability that comes from up top.

Nov 05

About Last Night: Reflections on Mets vs. Yankees.

The Yankees are better than the Mets, I won’t insult you to suggest otherwise. But, that doesn’t mean the gap can’t close.

The Mets, when healthy, have talent, but truth be told probably more unrealized potential. When it comes to their abilities, they are an uncashed check.

Yes, yes, I know … the Yankees have the whole check book, but that’s not the point.
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