Nov 12

Bringing back Feliciano not a given

One of the Mets’ most interesting off-season decisions will be what to do with Pedro Feliciano. The departure of Hisanori Takahashi doesn’t necessarily mean bringing back Feliciano is a formality.

FELICIANO: Not a given he'll be back.

Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel wore down Feliciano, pushing the envelope with him against right-handed hitters over the past three years. Feliciano led the league in appearances for three straight seasons with 86, 88 and 92 in 2008, 2009 and last year, respectively.

“The Mets over used him because they didn’t really have any other better options against right-handed hitters,” one scout said. “There were signs he was wearing down. He’d be better off strictly against lefties.”

He’ll be 35 in 2011 and if he doesn’t have more of a refined role, there are concerns he could wear down. In three more innings pitched last season than in 2009, Feliciano’s ERA rose by a third of a run, and he gave up 15 more hits and 12 more walks.

Feliciano, as much as he wanted an expanded role, proved vulnerable against right-handed hitters with a .336 average against compared to .264 from the previous year.

Feliciano’s pre-All-Star ERA was 2.34, but his post-All-Star ERA was 4.50, including 5.23 in July and 6.75 in August when the season slipped away from the Mets.

The shelf life of a reliever is short to begin with, and considering his age and that there are breakdown signs already, don’t be surprised if the Mets cut him loose and looked for a younger, cheaper arm elsewhere.

Oct 15

Upgrading the minor league system

Whomever is the next Mets’ general manager, I hope he puts a premium on upgrading the minor league system. Although not as bare as in previous seasons, the minor league talent is a concern, especially when placed in comparison to the final four teams in the League Championship Series.

While each had added talent through trades and free agency, a thread of the four finalists is having a strong core in the minor leagues. They wouldn’t be here without the talent that rose through the system. Here’s hoping the new GM wants to upgrade the scouting and development, as those or the keys for long term success.

The Mets benefitted from their minor league system this year with Jon Niese, Ike Davis and Josh Thole, and have young talent looming below like Jenrry Mejia.

In the case with the Mets, with so much payroll earmarked to veterans tied to bulky and expensive payroll, its a sense of relief to have guys like Davis and Thole, productive players on the cheap.

The game today is still heavy with free agency, but the long term successful franchises build with a homegrown core, and the Mets should be no exception. With 2011 perhaps a write-off season as they clear money off the books, it should provide an opportunity for future growth from the minor league system.

Oct 08

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

Now, here’s something everybody should remember. In a playoff game at Shea in 1973, Rusty Staub homered twice in the Mets’ 9-2 rout of Cincinnati, but that got lost in the dust around second base.

Pete Rose, who played with the temperament of a boiling teakettle, slid hard into second base and came up swinging at Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson in a classic playoff moment.

The Mets would win that series and go on to lose to Oakland in the World Series.

Growing up in Ohio, Rose was always one of my favorite players, but even so I never saw the reason for him to go after Harrelson. But, you had to admire Harrelson, who despite being outweighed by over twenty pounds, held his own in the brawl.

I’m sure you guys have some thoughts on that day.

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They Said It

They Said It

Not a power hitter, Derek Jeter hit his 18th postseason homer last night to tie Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson on the all-time list as the Yankees beat the Twins, 7-2, in Game 1 of the ALDS. A point of clarification, however, Mantle hit all of his in the World Series, a record that should never be broken.

I covered Jeter from 1998-2005, and learned to appreciate his ability to perform under pressure. No question, Alex Rodriguez has more pronounced baseball skills, but if he had Jeter’s composure under the gun there’s no determining what he would produce.

Jeter is a very special player, one who’ll, if he stays healthy, get 3,000 hits and go into the Hall of Fame. Even if he didn’t play another inning, he’s already in Cooperstown.

Last night was another October moment for him, and he had the park buzzing.

Said Jeter: “It felt just like the old place. We couldn’t have drawn it up any better for us.”

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BY THE NUMBERS

$1.5 billion: Cost of the new Yankee Stadium