Dec 11

Mets To Sign Mayberry; Void Not Filled

Let’s face it, the Mets weren’t going to get a big bopper as their right-handed bat off the bench. I liked the idea of Michael Morse. They didn’t have the chips to trade for Yeonis Cespedes, who was shipped to Detroit.

It is premature to say the Mets filled that need with John Mayberry Jr., much the way it was last year at this time when they signed Chris Young. The deal will be announced pending a physical.

Mayberry, who’ll be 31 later this month, could start in the outfield against left-handed pitching on days Michael Cuddyer plays first base. Playing for Toronto and Philadelphia last season, Mayberry hit .212 with seven homers and 23 RBI. Suffice to say, the Mets are going into this with a lot of hope.

No, that’s nothing to get excited about, but it fits in with how Sandy Alderson does things, which is to use a patchwork approach to fill holes. In this respect, you can call him a GM version of MacGyver, but without nearly the success.

Jan 15

Jon Niese Could Be Most Indispensable Met

Normally, I might say David Wright when it comes down to who might be the most indispensable Met this season. Wright is, after all, the center of the Mets’ offensive universe and when he’s hitting it elevates the entire team.

However, I’m a pitching guy first and when I posed the question to myself this morning Jon Niese popped up as the answer.

NIESE: Needs breakout year.

With the trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto and Johan Santana entering his walk year coming off another injury, Niese, despite a career-high 13 wins last year, is the No. 1 starter.

Dillon Gee is a health question and the No. 5 starter is anybody’s guess, so it comes down to the necessity of Niese having to pitch well every fifth day to minimize the losing streaks, which will happen as they do every year. It was Dickey who kept the Mets on an even keel last summer; Niese must now do the same.

The Mets always liked Niese, as evidenced by the long-term contract they gave him and refusal to discuss him in trade talks. When teams call the Mets, they ask for Niese, a hard-throwing lefthander, with major league success and a manageable contract.

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Dec 31

Saying Good-bye To 2012; Saluting The Giants And Dickey And Farewell To Carter

With 2012 in the ninth inning, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting and important baseball stories of the year.

There were many to choose from, ranging from the feel-good, to the sad, to the historic, to the inane. There are dozens that will fall into the category of being a trivia question answer, but let’s settle on ten:

1) GIANTS WIN THE SERIES:  This might be my favorite because I like the way they play the game. Their blueprint is pitching and defense, which is always the best way to build a winner. The Giants simply play the game the right way. And, when they lost their best hitter, Melky Cabrera, to a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, they declined to bring him back for the playoffs when it would be tempting to do so. And, when ace Tim Lincecum struggled and was taken out of the rotation, instead of crying he shut his mouth and went to the bullpen.

2) SELIG STRONGARMS DODGER SALE: There’s no denying Frank McCourt wasn’t a terrible owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it was still his team and he was on the verge of negotiating a contract with FOX that would ease the team of its financial problems. For some reason, this wasn’t good enough for Commissioner Bud Selig, and certainly not an exercise in fair play when other ownership groups have been as miserable, or worse. The sale was to a group headed by Magic Johnson, and one of their first moves was the horrible acquisition of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. Meanwhile, the baseball team in Flushing …

3) THE YEAR OF THE PITCHER: There were three perfect games thrown in 2012, by former Mets prospect Phil Humber, Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez. There were four other no-hitters last summer, including the first by a Met in Johan Santana. It took a blown call to change a hit into a foul ball. Perhaps the best performance by a pitcher was the yearlong mastery of Mets knuckleballer R. A. Dickey who won 20 games and the Cy Young Award and for his efforts was traded to Toronto.

4) THE BIRDS FLY AGAIN: After 14 straight losing seasons, including the previous four in last place in the AL East, the Orioles flipped their record from 69-93 to 93-69, with 29 of those victories coming by one run. The Orioles also won 16 straight extra-inning games, and took the Yankees to the limit in the AL Division Series. They did all this with a patchwork rotation and losing their best player, Nick Markakis, for most of the last month of the season.

5) COMEBACKS IN ALL FORMS:  The Oakland Athletics came from 13 games behind to overtake Texas to win the AL West. They closed the season with a six-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of the Rangers to win the division. St. Louis also rallied to beat Washington in the playoffs, and San Francisco came from behind to beat Cincinnati and the Cardinals.

6) MIGUEL CABRERA WINS THE TRIPLE CROWN: For the first time since 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski did it for Boston, there was a Triple Crown winner in Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, who hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI.

7) WASHINGTON SPITS ON BASEBALL:  For the first time in over six decades, there was a playoff team in Washington. The Nationals played inspired, team baseball for much of the season and were led by young ace Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals,  trying to protect their investment, opted to shut him down after 159.1 innings, which gave the arrogant impression they believed they’d be back again. More than a few baseball executives were pleased when the Nationals’ pitching collapsed in the playoffs against the Cardinals.

8) THE MARLINS BLOW IT UP: Speaking of bad ownership groups, the Dodgers had nothing on the Marlins, another example that pennants aren’t won in the winter. The Marlins moved into a monstrosity of a new stadium with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and new manager Ozzie Guillen. It all fell apart in June and the Marlins finished in last place. Guillen was fired and Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson were traded to Toronto. The Blue Jays also added Dickey and Melky Cabrera to raise the question: Are they the 2013 version of the Marlins.

9) THE LOCALS FALL:  The Mets collapsed in the second half to finish with their fourth straight losing season. The Mets have done nothing this offseason – save signing David Wright – to indicate things will change. Meanwhile, the Yankees got a brilliant season from Derek Jeter, who broke his ankle in the playoffs. Also, while their season was sliding away, Alex Rodriguez was trying to pick up women from the dugout.

10) SAD LOSSES:  I Googled the list of baseball deaths in 2012 and was staggered by the names I recognized from my youth. The most important name was Marvin Miller, the former head of the Players Association who, more than anybody, was largely responsible for today’s economic structure in the game. Then, there was Gary Carter, whom Mets fans will always remember.

Dec 16

Trade Awaits Extension For Dickey

My, that was an impressive showing this afternoon from the Giants. A complete meltdown, reminiscent in one game what we saw in the second half this summer from the Mets – a total zero.

The Mets did have something to cheer about in the second half, that being their soon-to-be former Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. What Mets fans hoped wouldn’t happen, but probably secretly knew would, is within hours of fruition.

No more than 72 hours to be exact, the negotiating window the Mets will give the Toronto Blue Jays to work out an extension. If Dickey accepts what he was willing to take from the Mets, that being two years and $26 million on top of the $5-million option for 2013, this will be a slam dunk.

But, Dickey wanted to stay in New York and was willing to give the Wilpons a home team discount as a thank you for giving him the opportunity to salvage his career. Dickey, of course, owes nothing to the Blue Jays. With the Mets obviously not wanting him, Dickey could accept what the Blue Jays offer to get this over with, or, with no incentive to make things easier for GM Sandy Alderson, he could just play hardball.

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Dec 05

The Curious Case Of Trying To Trade R.A. Dickey

TRYING TO TRADE R.A. DICKEY (AP)

If GM Sandy Alderson spent as much energy trying to sign R. A. Dickey as he has trying to trade him, the contract would be done by now.

Alderson told reporters in Nashville he’s seeking a “difference maker,” for Dickey, which means a power-hitting outfielder, preferably from the right side. A difference maker, by definition, would mean a proven commodity, as Alderson said he’s seeking immediate help, not somebody the team will “hope” be a player in two or three years.

Alderson is apparently hitting a wall when it comes to asking for other team’s prospects, and he’s viewing this as an exchange of $5-million contracts.Trouble is, where is Alderson going to find such a presence for only $5 million?

Reportedly, the Mets have talked with Boston, Kansas City, Toronto and Arizona, but their asking price is too high in terms of prospects.

Timing is everything, and unfortunately for Dickey his is muddled and mixed. On one hand, he’s coming off a Cy Young Award season. However, the other hand is 38 years old and grips what many in the game still regard as a gimmick pitch.

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