Dec 09

Mets coming home with scraps

Scott Boras was right, Carlos Beltran will start the season with the Mets. The Red Sox signing Carl Crawford put an official end to that wishful thinking. So, with the exception of second base, two slots in the rotation and the bullpen, the Mets are set for 2011.

Sandy Alderson said he wouldn’t make a splash and he has been true to his word. Alderson said last night it would be highly unlikely the Mets would leave Orlando today with a starting pitcher. There’s still interest in Chris Young, but he’s thinking $5 million a year while the Mets are thinking less than half that. They are talking with Freddy Garcia.

The Mets have added a mediocre arm to the bullpen and a mediocre back-up catcher. The Mets are hoping three key players – Beltran, Jose Reyes and Jason Bay – are healthy and two starters will fall out of the sky.

All along, we’ve been looking forward to 2012, and this week just underscores that sentiment. Alderson did say the Mets would be competitive this season, but that’s vague. Everything has to break right for the Mets to be competitive and how often do things always break right?

Sep 09

Hospital Flap: Just like the Mets.

BELTRAN: Skips hospital showing with Perez and Castillo.

The New York Mets had planned, as they usually do when they are in Washington, to visit the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to comfort  injured servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a pet project of the Wilpons and the team knew well in advance what was to happen this week.

That night’s starting pitcher, Dillon Gee, was making his major league debut and was excused. Everybody else was expected, not required, to attend. It was one of those unspoken gestures of team unity.

The firestorm is in that Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo, three players who have clashed with Mets’ management this year and who carry heavy, yet unproductive contracts, opted not to attend without prior explanation.

Beltran said he had a meeting with his foundation to build a baseball academy in Puerto Rico; Castillo said he was uncomfortable at seeing the injuries; Perez offered no explanation.

Maybe Beltran could have rescheduled; maybe he could not have. But, it was his foundation, he knew of the conflict in advance and said nothing. He could have rescheduled. That’s pretty lame. Beltran was aware of this visit to the hospital, and although he was supposedly doing charity work, it’s still a weak effort on his part in communicating. Had he taken a more proactive approach, he wouldn’t be lumped in with Perez and Castillo.

Still, it can’t be forgotten how the Mets and Beltran clashed over surgery this spring, and if surgery had been done last summer how he might have recovered for this season. Instead, Beltran is owed $18.5 million for the final year of his contract, which the Mets would gladly unload.

Beltran’s unexcused absence, regardless of the subsequent explanation, brings these other issues to light and puts him in an uncomfortable position. Beltran isn’t stupid, he knows how the media operates and what would be made of this. Beltran is too smart to do something like this unless he was trying to make a statement.

Meanwhile, Castillo’s comment that this would make him queasy is an insult to those who are injured. It is a high insensitive comment. It reminds me, that he didn’t seem to have this reaction when he visited in the past.

You can insert your jokes about Castillo making you queasy here.

Still, the thing that sticks out with Castillo has been his disappointing, unproductive and tumultuous season and the $6 million remaining on next year’s contract. He’s not playing and is angry at the Mets. Was this the right way to express that anger?

Then, there is Perez, who was smart enough not to offer a lame excuse or lie. He just refused comment, which automatically makes anybody speculate what his agenda is. Perez is bitter at how he has been treated, although he brought on a lot of it himself. Perez is owed $12 million this year and next year and has refused all requests to do things that would make him better.

There’s no doubting the Mets want somebody, anybody, to take these contracts off their hands, and it’s no secret these guys want out. It’s also no secret the Wilpons hate eating these contracts.

All what the hospital flap has done is make me wonder whether the boycotts were orchestrated as a way of forcing the team to say “enough is enough,” and cut them loose with their 2011 contracts owed them. I’m thinking it is their way to force the issue on a release.

As far as conspiracy agendas go, it’s a good one.

What also makes me scratch my head on this is Jerry Manuel’s weak response, saying they are adults and can act they way they want. That’s the way Jerry for spitting on the concepts of team and accountability and responsibility.

Jul 15

Second-half opens with questions.

The Mets open the second half of what has been a surprising season tonight in San Francisco a team with confidence and resiliency – just four games behind Atlanta despite several questions.

Many of those questions were only partially addressed and remain to the point where they are issues.

Here’s the top five questions for the Mets entering the second half:

BELTRAN: Back tonight, but at what percent?

1. QUESTION: How healthy is this team?

ASSESSMENT: The Mets will get Carlos Beltran back tonight, but don’t know how he’ll respond to a heavy workload. For now the plan is to juggle playing time between Beltran, Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur, with the latter’s time reduced the most. Beltran returns to center and the clean-up, but don’t expect him to immediately be in All-Star form.

Another pressing issue, or at least it’s turning out that way, is Jose Reyes, who strained his right oblique muscle, June 30. Reyes sat out a handful of games before the Mets foolishly let him return only to bat right-handed, even against righty pitchers. Had Reyes been placed on the disabled list originally, or continued to sit until he was 100 percent, he might be fine today.

Instead, Reyes is still ailing and considered day-to-day. The Mets are still toying with him batting right-handed exclusively and not waiting until he’s 100 percent. Reyes aggravated the injury and the Mets are pushing their luck.

Also, Mike Pelfrey, after a string of non-descript to poor starts, says he might have a dead arm, although not an injury it is physical related.

Continue reading

Apr 20

April 20.10: Mets Notes: Let’s not get carried away.

Easy does it.

It was only one game and two hits, not enough for them to be fitting him for a statue or anything.

The Ike Davis Era got underway in fine fashion last night, bringing with it an electricity missing during the first homestand. There was a lot to like about Davis’ composure and patience.

For example, on the first hit he worked his way back from down being 0-and-2 in the count.

While there was a lot to like, remember it is only one game, far too early for the Wally Pipp analogies.

As much as I enjoyed watching Davis, the real buzz for me can with Jon Niese, who showed poise and guile working out of trouble.

Niese’s outing was the Mets’ fifth straight solid performance from a starting pitcher, one strong cycle through the rotation. As encouraging as watching Davis was, the bigger picture was another strong game from the rotation.

It has to be that way because wherever the Mets go this season is contingent on their pitching.

I’ll embrace Davis, I want him to do well, but he’s not the final piece to the 2010 puzzle.

NOTES: We should see Jose Reyes back in the lineup tonight. Tired, he asked for the night off to rest his 0-for-17 slide. Since coming back from the DL, Reyes is batting .154, which should shelve this No. 3 talk for awhile. … GM Omar Minaya said Carlos Beltran will go to Colorado this week to be re-examined.

Dec 26

Dec. 26.09: Pitching market not great ….

The real trend-setter for starting pitcher’s contracts isn’t John Lackey but Randy Wolf, he of the 101-85 career record in 11 years (basically 10-9 a season), who signed a three-year contract with Milwaukee for $29.75 million.

Ben Sheets, despite his injury history, wants $12 million per season and Joel Pineiro wants a four-year deal with a higher annual average than Wolf. Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban defector who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues, has a $15.5 million offer on the table from the Red Sox.

Also, lurking are Pedro Martinez, Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Brett Myers. There are three Hall of Famers there, but that’s in the future and past tenses. Present tense, well, they aren’t much better than whom the Mets have now.

For the Mets to add pitching, their choices are to overpay for mediocrity, or in the case of Sheets, take a health gamble. The Mets are gambling their current rotation will progress, and if it doesn’t, then at least they have the economics on their side (save Oliver Perez).

Not encouraging, is it?