Aug 02

Mets Languish Behind Small Market Royals And Pirates

It wasn’t that long ago when New York Mets’ fans and media criticized the team’s lack of aggressiveness in the free-agent market with the smug comment: “This is New York, we’re not the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates.’’

The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central and might be the season’s best story, while the Royals take a nine-game hitting streak into this oddly-time interleague series – Kansas City’s first trip to Queens since 2002. If the Mets and Royals were in the same division, they would be 6.5 games better than the Mets. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have a 10.5-game lead on the Mets.

The Royals are doing it with great defense, timely hitting sprinkled in amongst a few stars.

Also interesting is left fielder Alex Gordon, who switched from third base and has won a couple of Gold Gloves. My first through was if Gordon can switch position and become solid player, if not a star, then what about Wilmer Flores?

Flores’ roots are at shortstop, a position requiring athletic ability. I don’t know where he fits in, but he hits too much to languish in the minor leagues. Omar Quintanilla has cooled and the organization is far from enamored with Ruben Tejada, so, what’s the harm in trying?

When a player switches positions, it is always easier to move from infield to outfield, than the other way around.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: The Mets limp home from their 3-5 trip no doubt aggravated it could have been 7-1 with some timely hitting – or any hitting at all, for that matter.

The Mets scored 11 against the Nationals in the first game of the trip, but only 15 over the next seven games. Four times they scored only one run or were shutout.

“We don’t drive runs in. There’s no secret,’’ Terry Collins said as the Mets packed up to return home. “If I knew what it was, we’d fix it. Guys don’t drive them in. We’re not driving them in. That’s pretty much the basic line.’’

Collins then went on to say something totally confusing, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with the approach. We’re just not taking good swings on the pitches we can hit.’’

Here’s a bulletin for Collins: They are missing those pitches because the approach is off, whether it be mechanical or mental. Something is not clicking.

It isn’t for Ike Davis, who only had five hits on the trip and stranded six runners Thursday. He’s hitting better than he was prior to going down to Las Vegas, but largely remains unproductive.

WRIGHT HAS TIGHT HAMMY: David Wright has been playing with tightness in his right hamstring. Collins said Wright understands himself better than anybody, but Collins needs to understand him, too.

Wright would try to play if he had an arrow shot through his thigh. This is a man who played nearly a month with a fracture in his lower back.

Wright said he can play, invoking the standard player cliché, that if this were the playoffs it wouldn’t be an issue. But, these aren’t the playoffs.

To risk losing Wright for several weeks or longer if he blows out his hamstring is just plan stupid. Sit him for a couple of games to be sure.

SIX-MAN ROTATION IN JEOPARDY: You knew the Mets weren’t going to go long with a six-man rotation cycle.

Jonathan Niese threw four shutout innings Thursday and said he needs on more start. When he’s ready they certainly won’t go to seven.

Carlos Torres is likely to move to the bullpen.

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

Dec 09

Mets Matters: Wright Should Be Named Captain

As expected, with David Wright signed comes the inevitable talk of him being named captain. This isn’t like Santonio Holmes being made captain; this would have meaning.

WRIGHT: Future captain?

The meaning comes in Wright’s teammates already regard him in that capacity. Wright is already the team leader, whether it be telling the manager Jose Reyes isn’t healthy; or talking to a pitcher; or telling a young player, such as Jordany Valdespin he’d better hustle.

Wright, referred to as the face of the franchise, is as much a captain to his teammates as Derek Jeter was to the Yankees before George Steinbrenner made it official. When things go wrong for the Mets, as they frequently have since 2008, Wright is the voice in the clubhouse. Everybody in the media wants a Wright comment.

It would shock me if the Mets didn’t make it official in spring training. What’s really surprising is this hasn’t been done sooner.

VALDESPIN SHOWS PUNK SIDE: Valdespin had attitude issues last season, and things haven’t changed.

Valdespin was suspended for two games by his winter ball team for failing to run out a ball, and then the following day had a fit when he was pinch-hit for.

His latest example was when he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Miami Marlins hat. Hell, if he wants to be a Marlin so bad, let him go.

With the Mets are trying to establish a new culture, the last thing they need is a punk attitude. Valdespin is damn lucky to be a major league ballplayer. He should take his $500-thousand minimum salary and be grateful.

NOTHING NEW WITH DICKEY: CEO Jeff Wilpon reiterated R.A. Dickey could not be traded and could play out this season with his $5 million option and negotiations could continue next winter as the knuckleballer doesn’t want to talk during the season.

Enhancing the chances Dickey stays with the Mets will be if the Dodgers sign Zack Greinke. The Rangers and Dodgers are the two key players to get the former Royals ace.

I would like this thing to just get done and have the Mets going into the season without this hanging over their heads.

HAMILTON ON YANKEES’ RADAR: Despite their talk of wanting to cut payroll, you knew eventually the Yankees would be paired to Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Instead of establishing the bar, the Yankees seem content to let this play out and have Hamilton come to them. Hamilton still might stay with Texas, but most everybody knew the Yankees would factor in this somehow.

 

Oct 09

Count Upton, Cabrera Off Mets’ Radar

There’s plenty of intriguing possibilities, only if the Mets were willing to take a financial gamble, which Sandy Alderson said they are not inclined to do.

As I posted yesterday, the Mets have $79.5 million of their earmarked $100 million to spend on six players: Johan Santana, RA Dickey, David Wright, Jason Bay, Jon Niese and Frank Francisco.

B.J. Upton would be terrific in Citi Field, supplying defense to aid the pitching staff and offense. At 28, he’s just the kind of player you could sign to a multi-year deal and build around. Trouble is he comes with some attitude baggage and the Mets would be wary of surrounding their young talent around him. That’s one of the reasons they were willing to eat the contracts of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

Upton would be much better on a veteran laden team – like the Yankees – that has the leadership to keep him in line. When the Mets sputtered in the second half and Terry Collins suggested they were quitting, that’s the scenario where Upton might pack it in.

The guy I am especially intrigued about is Melky Cabrera, who would cost less than Upton because of his own baggage.

On the plus side, Cabrera could cover left field and adds a lot offensively. This year, and last season with Kansas City, he proved he can hit. But, he was making $6 million this year and even with a pay cut that’s too rich for the Mets’ blood.

Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for using a performance enhancing drug. His team, the Giants, wouldn’t let him go on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues as he is allowed and kept him off the postseason roster. What does that tell you about there desire to bring him back?

On top of the suspension, he and his idiot agent cooked up a crazy cover story that included the design of a website. That might have been worse than the drug use itself.

Cabrera, who led the National League in hitting this year and it a damage control move asked that he not be awarded the title, would likely get a short term deal because he’s a risk. Who wants to sink time and money for a player that could get nailed again? You don’t have to pay during a suspension, but you do have to fill the spot if he’s suspended.

Excluding the drug use there’s another question about him and that’s the number of teams he’s played for at a young age. In a seven-year span Cabrera has played for the Giants, Royals, Yankees and Braves, or just under two years a team.

There’s something wrong with that picture.

 

Jun 23

Mets Matters: Daniel Murphy Expected To Start Today

* After sitting last night against Andy Pettitte, Daniel Murphy is expected to start today against the Yankees’ Ivan Nova tonight. Depending how he does will determine if he’ll start tomorrow against CC Sabathia. Murphy has been in a tailspin for weeks, especially against left-handers. For awhile, Terry Collins stuck with him, but the Mets have been getting mileage from their bench. Last night Justin Turner delivered a two-run single off Pettitte in the first.

MURPHY: Should start tonight.

* Speaking of Turner, he’s been adept at delivering with two outs. He’s more than a serviceable player. What I’d like to see from him is to drop the tired act of a whipped cream pie to the face of a player being interviewed. Like the Gatorade bath, it has run its course. The who thing was designed as a way to haze rookies, but to smear RA Dickey after a one-hitter is ridiculous. It’s a Little League stunt.

* National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa said Dickey is in line to start the All-Star Game in Kansas City. One of the interesting things to look forward to at the Game will be the response to Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, who began his career with the Royals. He was welcomed last night and had good things to say about his career in Kansas City.

* The Mets had some fun with Frank Francisco regarding his Yankees’ “chickens” comments. A lot of it was sophomoric, but it does show a good and tight chemistry in that clubhouse. For a long time it has been a divided room, but that’s not the case this year.

* Chris Young, who is recovering from the same type of shoulder surgery as Johan Santana, will start tonight against Nova. Young has pitched well since returning to the rotation in what was Mike Pelfrey’s spot. If he just keeps giving the Mets five or six innings until he’s fully recovered they should be in good shape.

* Another strong inning for Bobby Parnell last night. He’s been consistent in his bridge role. Not to rush things, because we’ve been here before, but if he continues like this the closer role might eventually become his.

* Word is Jason Bay is making progress in his recovery from another concussion. There’s no need to rush him with the bench playing so well.

* Jon Niese pitched out of trouble in both the first and second innings last night, which was a key to the victory. So many times with the Mets – even after being staked to a lead- we’ve seen Niese and others give it right back to the Yankees.

Feb 29

It’s not going to end here

They are still talking about adding an extra wild card , but it won’t end there. The one-game playoff is bound to drag on to three games, then five ….

I realize the old format will never be again, but the more you add to the playoff format the more the sport is diluted. The season drags on long enough as it is and this won’t help matters. What if there’s two teams vying for the final seed? Do you add another game?

The suggested format would allow the three division winners first-round byes, but what if one of the wild cards has a superior record to a division winner.  That’s not entirely fair, either.

As it is, the integrity of the regular season is compromised because of interleague play the unbalanced schedule as not every team runs the same race to October. Unfortunately, I never see them doing away with interleague play although it is not nearly the success Major League Baseball portrays it to be. Interleauge play is compelling in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but other than that, who really cares?

Yes, they’ll show up in Pittsburgh when the Yankees are in town, but there’s nothing exciting about seeing the Royals or Mariners come in. There’s just not the draw MLB executives believe.

Sadly, as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, interleague play is here to stay.

If they really want to do something about the integrity of the regular season, and by extension, the playoffs, here’s a system that could work.

I’d do away with the division format and simply have the two leagues. If they insist on interleague play, they could structure it where every team plays the same schedule. The same schedule promotes fairness.

From there, I’d take the top four teams and seed them so one plays four and two plays three. That would  be a fairer and more equitable solution.