May 08

Josh Thole Injury Tempers Win

Not to be lost in the excitement of the Mets’ come-from-behind victory last night on Jordany Valdespin’s pinch three-run homer is the injury to catcher Josh Thole that could keep him out for at least one week.

THOLE: After collision. (Getty)

Thole, involved in a collision at home plate with former Met Ty Wigginton, complained of headaches and dizziness and returned to New York today to be examined for a possible concussion. Thole has a history of concussions, having sustained one in June of 2010 while at Triple-A Buffalo when he was hit in the head on a backswing.

In all probability, the Mets will place Thole on the seven-day disabled list – new for players suspected of concussions – and bring up a catcher from Buffalo, perhaps Rob Johnson, who once caught R.A. Dickey when both were with Seattle.

Major League Baseball, like other professional sports, are taking the issue of concussions more seriously. The multi-million dollar lawsuit by former players against the NFL has caught everybody’s attention.

The Mets should be more cautious than most with concussions for their handling of Ryan Church’s concussion several years ago. Injured trying to break up a double play in Atlanta, Church flew to Denver after that series. He played sporadically for several weeks before the team finally placed him on the disabled list.

Not surprisingly, the Mets caught considerable flack for their handling of Church, although the outfielder never publicly criticized the team at first and said he was all right to play.

The Church incident was poorly handled by all parties, from the Mets for not being more cautious and simply taking the word of the player initially, to Church for trying to play through the injury, and Church’s agent, for not suggesting, and then arranging, a second medical opinion after the injury.

While the Church injury didn’t occur long ago – it was during Willie Randolph’s tenure as manager – professional sports have since made radical changes in how head injuries are handled.




Jan 19

How Do Baseball Evaluators View Wright?

Buster Olney of, talked to three evaluators about Wright’s game.

From an AL evaluator: “He will have value at the trade deadline if healthy and performing as usual. He will bring compensation as a free agent, so his value to Mets is fairly high, and a team acquiring him will have to give up more than the value of a couple of high draft picks. He’s a very good player, but not consistent enough to be a star on offense and defense. His defense has gone backwards and get into funks offensively. He’ll produce numbers, and most every team would want him, but not as a No. 3 or a No. 4 hitter on a good team.”

From an NL evaluator: “Wright’s value is limited by the lack of control and expensive salary. He’s not a great defender and hasn’t cleared 20 HR in two of the past three seasons. He’s been trending downward by most statistical metrics and our scouts are concerned his swing has gotten long and slow, leading to a high strikeout ratio. Think about it this way: Aramis Ramirez just signed a 3-year, $36 million deal with the Brewers. Ramirez is a better hitter and similar defender to Wright — who is due $31 million for the next two seasons if his option is exercised — so what are you paying for? Make-up? Fame?”

From an AL scout: “David Wright is a potential coup. He’s eerily similar in value to the Seattle version of Adrian Beltre, although he (and everyone else in baseball) is not the defender that Beltre is. He and Beltre both were suffocated by their home parks, Citi Field and Safeco Field, respectively. Teams should have pounced and offered Beltre a premium multi-year deal when he left Seattle originally. If available, I’d trade and sign Wright now. Another caveat with Wright is that he’s performed and handled himself admirably in New York, which bodes well for any type of market going forward.”

Kind of like the good, the bad and the ugly…

Not one of them referred to his fractured back injury, an injury that has wreaked havoc on many a great player’s career in the past. I happen to think that we haven’t heard the last of that.

I still feel there”s a chance Wright will be traded BEFORE the 2012 season.

Some value is still better than ZERO value if that back starts barking in April.

Plus I’m pretty sure that saving $7-8 million on his salary will have the approximate net value of 15-20 sold out games at Citi Field.

I’m pretty sure that CRG will be pointing out these facts as part of their initial report that should be ready around Feb. 10. I remind you of the three steps a turnaround consultant told me that CRG will recommend.

  1. Stop the bleeding. (Saved $70M by cutting payroll, workforce. Sub-leasing assets.)
  2. Trim the fat. (Eliminated a minor league affiliate, may cut more payroll?)
  3. Make better financial decisions moving forward. (Hired Alderson and CRG, kept Howard and Ricco, stopped meddling)

Catch more of my opinions at Mets Merized Online.

Oct 06

Bowa, Riggleman candidates for bench coach.

It didn’t take long for the suspects list for the vacant Mets’ bench coach position to start growing.

Four former major league managers are interested in working next to Terry Collins next season, including Jim Riggleman, John McLaren, Bob Geren and Larry Bowa.

Riggleman resigned as Nationals manager 75 games into the season in a salary dispute and was temporarily replaced by McLaren.

McLaren briefly managed Seattle while Geren managed in Oakland, with neither establishing an impressive resume.

Bowa is the most high-profile of the group having managed six years with San Diego and Philadelphia.

If the Mets want to instill a fiery presence, Bowa would be the logical choice.


Jun 05

Today in Mets History: Mazzilli drafted.

A local boy made good for the Mets when on this day in 1973 they used their first-round pick to select Brooklyn Lincoln High School outfielder Lee Mazzilli.

MAZZILLI: Tabbed in draft.

Area kid, skilled and with movie star good looks, Mazzilli seemed destined to be a big New York star.

Three years later he debuted with the Mets and played with them through the 1982 season after which he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Ron Darling and Walt Terrell. It turned out to be a great deal for the Mets, who subsequently dealt Terrell to Detroit for Howard Johnson.

Mazzilli didn’t last a full season with the Rangers, who traded him to the Yankees. After the 1982 season, Mazzilli was traded to Pittsburgh, where he played three years. He was released, then re-signed with the Mets in July of the 1986 season.

Ironically, prior to that year, the Mets offered Ray Knight to Pittsburgh for Mazzilli, but the Pirates rejected the deal.

Mazzilli finished his career with Toronto in 1989, and managed the Baltimore Orioles in 2004, but was fired the following year.

Mazzilli’s best two years were 1979-80. In 1979, he represented the Mets in the All-Star Game at Seattle and hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning and drove in the winning run in the ninth with a bases-loaded walk.

The following year, Mazzilli hit 18 homers with 76 RBI and 41 stolen bases.


Mazzilli will also be remembered for testifying for immunity in the Pittsburgh drug trials along with teammates Dale Berra, Lee Lacy, John Milner and Rod Scurry.  Keith Hernandez also testified at the trial.


Oct 26

Wishful thinking to think Yankees’ fans chased away Cliff Lee

It is wishful thinking to think the reported boorish behavior of Yankees fans toward Cliff Lee’s wife during the ALCS will keep the talented left-hander out of the Bronx.

THE LEE FAMILY: NYC could still be home.

It certainly won’t enhance the Mets’ chances.

There are several factors – some still to happen – that will determine where Lee ends up this winter. The Yankees long appeared to be the frontrunners to land Lee, and that still holds true because they have the ability to write the largest checks.

Lee was traded by Cleveland, Philadelphia and Seattle in large part because those teams weren’t going to re-sign Lee. Now, there’s no guarantee Texas will, either, regardless of what happens in the World Series.

“Lee wants to go through the free agent process,” one agent said. “He may very well stay in Texas, but he’s going to test the market.”

Lee has not been quoted as saying he won’t play in New York, for either the Yankees or Mets, so until he does we can’t eliminate the market. Lee will surely not rip New York over this because it will reduce his leverage in the free-agent market.

Because of the tax situation in New York in comparison to Texas, a New York team would have to blow the Rangers out of the water to land him. Reports have been the package would have to be $20 million to $40 million greater in New York to compensate for the tax issue.

Neither the Mets nor Yankees have established their budgets for 2011, but it is a solid assumption the Yankees’ will be far greater.

Small town Mike Mussina was no great fan of New York when he played with the Orioles, but in the end he left for New York and adapted. As much as Lee might be a country boy, if the Yankees’ offer is far superior to that from Texas or another team, he could still end up with the Yankees.

In comparison to the Mets, the Yankees can offer more money and a better chance to immediately win. That speaks volumes. And, the Yankees can offer a lot of financial love to apologize for their boorish, entitled fans.

And, when it comes to free agency, money usually speaks loudest.