Jan 31

Mets Matters: Five Intriguing Prospects; Ojeda Out; Minaya’s New Job

ESPN ranked the Mets’ farm system as the fourth best in baseball, and with it raised the possibility of which prospects we might see this summer at Citi Field.

This much seems clear, with the Mets vigilantly guarding their minor leaguers’ Super Two status, and barring an injury, the probability is we won’t be seeing these guys prior to June.

Here are five of the more intriguing prospects:

NOAH SYNDERGAARD: He’s the franchises’ top prospect, and with Matt Harvey on an innings watch, we will undoubtedly see him this year, perhaps prior to the All-Star break. Syndergaard averaged just under ten strikeouts per nine innings, but was an unimpressive 9-7.

KEVIN PLAWECKI: The catcher will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, but how long he stays there will be dependent on Travis d’Arnaud’s offensive production and if Plawecki can increase his power.

STEVEN MATZ: He split time last season between Single and Double-A, and will likely open the year at Triple-A, meaning Citi Field is possible in September. Being left-handed enhances his chances, especially if the Mets can move Jon Niese.

DILSON HERRERA: He made a positive impression last season and we will see him this year. How soon could depend on how well the Mets do, with a poor first half increasing the possibility of them moving second baseman Daniel Murphy.

BRANDON NIMMO: Because the Mets added Michael Cuddyer this offseason, there’s no rush to elevate Nimmo, their No. 1 pick in 2011. The Mets hoped to have him up by now, and his stock could plummet if he doesn’t show something this season. He hit a combined ten homers last year between St. Lucie and Binghamton, and similar production won’t cut it.

OJEDA OUT AT SNY: Say what you will about the Mets not having enough talent on the field, but they’ve always had top-drawer play-by-play announcers and analysts, both on radio and television. This year they will be short by one with the announcement studio analyst Bobby Ojeda will not return to SNY.

Reportedly, the network is in negotiations with former major league pitcher Nelson Figueroa.

MINAYA TO WORK FOR MLBPA: Former Mets general manager Omar Minaya left his position as a vice president of the San Diego Padres to become a special adviser with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Minaya’s focus will be on international affairs and game development in the United States.

 

Sep 11

September 11 Remembrance

Certain historical events are remembered simply by the date. September 11, 2001, is one. December 7, 1941 is another, as is June 6, 1944. I have been to the World Trade Center, both the original and the Memorial. I also visited Normandy, France, and the United States cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach might be the most sobering thing I have ever seen.

I hope someday to visit Pearl Harbor.

Like many who remember where they were when the Kennedys were shot, when Elvis died and John Lennon was murdered, I know exactly where I was when the planes hit. I was covering the Yankees at the time and moving from Maryland to Connecticut. I just passed the Philadelphia exit on the Jersey Turnpike when the first plane hit.

Any doubt it was an accident was dispelled when the second plane hit. Of course, it was a terrorist attack. Anybody could tell that instantly. Those who still don’t believe have the same mentality as those who doubt the Holocaust. Then again, there are those who probably believe the Earth is still flat.

Our movers were volunteer NYC firemen. They told us the river passages would soon be shut down and they had to hustle to get over the George Washington Bridge. So, they left our truck at a rest stop and took off. My ex-wife and I knew we’d never make the bridge, figuring there would be massive traffic delays at that exit. We kept driving north – we actually saw a sign for Montreal – then turned and headed south into Connecticut. What took usually four hours lasted 11.

All the while, without television, I was glued to the radio, the way most of America learned of Pearl Harbor and D-Day. Our stuff came two days late. I plugged in the TV and that’s when I saw the images for the first time. I’ve seen them a thousands more, including too many to count this afternoon.

i knew it would be days before I covered another game. I kept waiting for the official announcement from Bud Selig, but it didn’t come for hours until after the NFL cancelled its schedule for the upcoming week. Security was tight at Yankee Stadium when it was opened for a practice. I remember the team gathering at the mound before talking with us and shared their stories of meeting with emergency personnel and those who lost family and friends.

Thankfully, I didn’t know anybody who was killed, but felt I had when I visited the Memorial years later and saw the photos and read the tribute letters. Family and friends of the murdered brought their loved ones alive for the world to get to know.

Both the Yankees and Mets were gracious in visiting firemen, the police and family members of those killed. The Shea Stadium parking lot was turned into a staging area. Nobody will ever forget Bobby Valentine and his Mets loading trucks.

Both teams were unified in their support of the city. Publicly, they acted as champions. What was disturbing was when players from each team took verbal swipes at each other as to what organization did more the city. It goes to show there’s always pettiness, even in the midst of graciousness.

Mike Piazza’s homer in the first game played in New York after the attacks, and the coming together of the Mets and Braves on the field that day created one of the most memorable scenes in New York sports history. More such stirring moments came from the Yankees during the World Series. While the grand moments are easy to remember, there was some things that get lost in the shuffle. Such as the bald eagle making his entrance into the Stadium, President Bush throwing out the first pitch with a perfect strike, and the singing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch, something that has become a New York tradition.

There was also the last Series game at the Stadium, when the crowd chanted for Paul O’Neill.

The Yankees returned in Baltimore, and the press box at Camden Yards was where I saw Piazza hit the homer. From there, it was on to Chicago. I never felt safer on a plane than I did on that flight. I’ll always remember a sign at the new Comiskey Park that read. “Hate the Yankees; Love New York.”

The Yankees, normally booed, were treated kindly the rest of the season on the road.

A lot of those memories came flooding back today as they do every year. So do the feelings, ranging from anger to frustration to patriotism to sadness.

They’ll return again next year.

 

 

 

 

Feb 22

Rolling Stones And Mets The Same Age

I am an avid Rolling Stones fan. Have all their albums, know most of their songs by heart and saw them numerous times in concert, including twice at Shea Stadium in 1989.

Mets and Stones the same age.

Mets and Stones the same age.

It was a tremendous show, with 50,000-plus fans singing “Ruby Tuesday,’’ in unison, and I mean every word, not just the refrain.

I noticed they are trending Saturday on Yahoo.

Why?

Because they performed the other day in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi, to be exact in front of 30,000 fans. It was kind of surprising news considering the political climate of the area and the Stones’ reputation.

One article said they were formed in 1962, which rang a significant bell because that was the year the New York Mets were born. That means the Stones and Mets are the same age.

Amazing.

The Mets won’t be able to get Mick and Keith this summer at Citi Field, but that isn’t to say they might not be able to snag a Rolling Stones tribute band.

It might bring about an afternoon of satisfaction.

 

Dec 28

Going Bowling With The Mets

The Pinstripe Bowl is currently taking place at Yankee Stadium, which leads to the obvious question: Why can’t the New York Mets host their own college bowl game? Or, perhaps make a bid to host the NHL’s Winter Classic at Citi Field?

Are you telling me the NCAA can’t fit in one more bowl game, hosted by the Mets and Citi Bank? I can’t believe that for a second.

Fred Wilpon won’t get a chance to host a bowl involving the University of Michigan, because when the team is good they’ll go to a higher profile bowl game.

Wilpon is an ardent supporter of the United States Military. The Armed Forces Bowl was played the other day in Houston

Taking it a step further, the Army-Navy Game has been played in several venues. Why can’t Citi Field be one of them?

They played bowl games at Yankee Stadium, and last night there was a game at the San Francisco Giants’ park.

It can be done in Citi Field. It should be done at Citi Field.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 11

Reports Say Japanese Phenom Masahiro Tanaka Will Post For MLB After Season

masahiro tanaka

Brett Bull of the New York Times reports that 24-year old Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka, who improved to 20-0 on the season after a 3-2 complete game victory last night, will request to be posted for Major League Baseball at the end of this season.

News media outlets in Japan are suggesting that Tanaka will request the Eagles put him up for auction via the posting system later this year. Such a move will make him the most sought-after Japanese export since Yu Darvish, one of baseball’s best pitchers, and a member of the Texas Rangers for the last two seasons.

With last night’s victory, Tanaka now has 24 consecutive wins, a streak that matches the major league mark in the United States set by the New York Giants’ Carl Hubbell in 1936-37.

Interestingly enough, his latest win came thanks to a tie-breaking homer from former Mets Kazuo Matsui. After recording the final out on a called third strike, he emphatically pumped his fist toward third base as the home crowd of 22,316 roared.

“It was a true team effort,” Tanaka said. “In the future, I’ll do my best to continue.”

The 6-foot-2 right-hander has an arsenal that includes a fastball that touches 95 mph, a sharp-breaking slider and a split-finger fastball. In his 24 starts this season, he has 1.24 ERA while striking out 155 batters over 181 innings. It’s the third straight season he’s has an ERA under 2.00, and earlier this season he had a streak of 42 scoreless innings.

What’s amazing here is that he’s only 24 and getting better. Earlier this week, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweeted the following:

If his team does post him this Fall or Winter, expect some high bids from teams like the Dodgers, D’Backs, Rangers, Mariners, Yankees and Braves. All six teams were on hand to see him win his 20th game.

“I’ve always liked his slider, but his split-finger has really come on in the last couple of seasons,” said one MLB scout. “He definitely has enough velocity to play at the major league level, and the other two pitches would compete for sure.”

I know I’m just dreaming, but I miss the days when the Mets wouldn’t be discounted from any serious pursuit of players like Tanaka or Cuban sensation Jose Abreu.