May 24

Damage control by Wilpon and Mets.

In what best can be described as panic damage control, owner Fred Wilpon apologized to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes in a conference call this afternoon. Wilpon also left a message to David Wright.

REYES: Biding his time.

 

On SNY, there’s a feature on the 1969 team, as if that will prove a distraction from today’s mess.

Meanwhile, at Wrigley Field this afternoon the Mets held a “let’s band together’’ team meeting in the wake of Wilpon’s comments and news the team will lose $70 million this season. Beltran said he’s 100 percent and not the 65 to 70 percent Wilpon claimed.

Reyes said all the right things, such as the owner Wilpon can say what he wants, and “I’ll give the team everything I can. … I’ll continue to do my job and play my game.”

Reyes will not talk about his future. He’s not lobbying to stay here.

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May 24

Looking at Wilpon’s criticism of Beltran.

It’s not like Fred Wilpon wasn’t telling the truth.

Let’s face it, Carlos Beltran isn’t the player he thought he signed after the 2004 season. It’s true, injuries sapped his talent and forced him to move to right field in the final season of his $119 million contract, and the last two years have been a waste.

THE STRIKEOUT: Nobody forgets.

The contract and signing have looked more and more a bust as the team slid out of competitive status.

Wilpon called himself a schmuck for signing Beltran based on a strong playoff series while with Houston in 2004. Beltran had problems his first year getting acclimated to New York, but there was a toughness to him. Afterall, this is guy who played with a broken face after a gruesome collision with Mike Cameron in late 2005.

Beltran played hurt and for the next three seasons produced numbers, but no, they weren’t the numbers Wilpon had hoped for when opening his checkbook.

Beltran rebounded from his first year in New York to hit 41 homers with 116 RBI in 2006, but never reached that height again and slid to 33 homers and 112 RBI and 27 homer and 112 RBI in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Decent numbers, but more was expected for that kind of money.

And, as with most Mets, there was criticism about hitting in the clutch.

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May 24

Today in Mets History: Cone hurls second straight shutout.

David Cone was always one of my favorites. He’s one of the few players who chatted with you on the days he pitched. A lot of guys are basket cases, but not Cone. He was always great to deal with, win, lose or draw.

CONE: Always a straight shooter.

And, if you saw him later in the hotel lobby, he’ll visit with you over a beer. And, funny, too. Glib and smart is a great combination.

Just like his fastball and nasty curve, when mixed with guile made him hard to beat. You wanted him in the clutch. Cone just would not give into hitters with the game on the line, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to get himself in and out of jams. It is why he became a hired gun with Toronto and later the Yankees.

On this date in 1992, Cone was at his unbeatable best, throwing his second straight complete-game shutout, defeating the Giants, 6-0. Five days before, he beat the Padres, 8-0. Cone went 81-51 with a 3.13 ERA and 15 shutouts in his seven years with the Mets, and finished his career at 194-126 with a 3.46 ERA.

CAREER NUMBERS

Cone was traded to the Mets prior to the 1987 season along with Chris Jelic for Ed Hearn, Rick Anderson and Mauro Gozzo. He went 5-6 in 21 appearances (13 starts) that year. He began the next season in the bullpen, but was in the rotation by the first week of May and went 9-2 in the first half to earn his first All-Star appearance.

Cone went on to win 20 games, but what is remembered most about that season about him was the controversy he stirred as a guest columnist for The New York Daily News when, among other things, he called the Dodgers’ Jay Howell, “a high school pitcher.’’

The Mets lost that NLCS to Los Angeles and the dynasty fizzled, although Cone stayed on until 1992 when he represented the Mets in the All-Star Game, but was traded as a mercenary to Toronto.

Cone currently does Yankees games for the YES Network.

 

ON DECK: Looking at Wilpon’s criticism of Beltran.

May 23

Wilpon rips Reyes, Beltran; say a prayer for Gary.

Good Monday morning all. Still ailing.  Spent the weekend in the hospital and will be here maybe through tomorrow.

WILPON: Rips Reyes, Beltran.

I asked Joe D. from Mets Merized Online to post during the weekend and grateful he did. I had my laptop brought to me, so I will get back to posting, including Today in Mets History later this afternoon.

Never mind the games, it wasn’t a great weekend all around for the Mets, beginning with the news of doctors discovering four small brain tumors after Gary Carter complained of headaches.

I’ve spoken with Carter on several occasions. I don’t know him, but always found him to be cooperative and pleasant. I wish him and his family well and ask you say a prayer.

Now there’s the latest Wilpon mess, which will take more than a prayer to fix.

In an article in The New Yorker, Wilpon is quoted as taking shots at Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, questioning their value and performance.

Reyes will be a free agent after the season and Wilpon has to consider the reported $100-plus million the shortstop is seeking. To listen to Wilpon, he’s certainly not going to get a monster payday.

Said Wilpon: “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.’’

Ouch.

Crawford’s deal with the Red Sox is $142 million over seven years, which is steep. I never thought Reyes would get that, especially since Wilpon is correct when saying everything has gone wrong with Reyes.

Reyes is playing well, but has been injured and produced little the last two seasons. A player heavily reliant on this legs, what will Reyes’ game look like at the end of a long-term deal?

That’s the gamble question the Mets, or any team considering Reyes for the long haul, must consider. I’ve said the Mets would like to deal Reyes at the deadline if they can find any takers, and still feel that way. I am even more sure of it after Wilpon, who, in questioning Reyes’ value hurt himself in his asking price.

“Well Fred, if you don’t think that much of him, then you can’t expect much in return, can you?” would be be the logical thinking of any owner talking to the Mets about Reyes.

Reyes could be traded to a contender as a rental and then test the free agent market. However, I can see Reyes pushing for a deal with the Mets or a new team because the collective bargaining agreement will expire in December. He’s obviously won’t get that deal from the Mets now.

Because of the CBA, figure a slow free-agent season early in the winter, and that’s something Reyes would like to avoid.

Wilpon is dead-on about Reyes, and also Beltran, whom the Mets signed after his monstrous 2004 postseason with Houston.

Wilpon said: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.’’

Hard to tell if that schmuck was then GM Omar Minaya or if Wilpon was talking about himself. Kind of think it was the latter.

To be fair, the Mets received production from Beltran early, but little the last two seasons because of injuries. However, the Mets must accept some responsibility for Beltran after mishandling his knee injury in 2009.

According to the author of the magazine piece, Jeffrey Toobin, when asked if the Mets were a cursed franchise, Wilpon pantomimed Beltran’s checked swing strikeout that ended the 2006 NLCS against St. Louis.

In all fairness, there is no guarantee of what would have happened had Beltran swung, or even had he made contact. It was nasty pitch from Adam Wainwright.

Also, the Mets had several opportunities earlier in the game before Aaron Heilman coughed up the series-losing homer to Yadier Molina in the ninth inning.

Wilpon did say the Mets were snakebitten, but how can a franchise whose history includes the 1969 miracle and the Bill Buckner-Mookie Wilson play complain about bad luck?

Most of the Mets’ run of poor luck is self-induced with poor management decisions and even worse play on the field.

I can’t see how Wilpon helped himself any in the Mets’ attempts to deal Reyes and/or Beltran by ripping them.

 

Apr 19

Dealing Beltran, Reyes will be difficult.

The more I think of it, the less I believe the Mets will pull off a significant deal at the trade deadline involving Carlos Beltran and/or Jose Reyes.

REYES: Don't see him, Beltran, going anywhere.

The Mets would love to rid themselves of the balance of Beltran’s contract, but several scouts have reportedly said they couldn’t recommend a trade for the often-injured outfielder based on his age, salary and injury history. Even should Beltran stay upright and hit until late July, there is the fear he could break down as he has in each of the previous two seasons. I see a team not going overboard on the players it would send the Mets, but also envision the reluctance or not wanting to pick up the rest of Beltran’s $18.5 million contract at the end of July.

It would be too risky a move for a contender, especially if there are other alternatives on the market. Why take that risk when the odds are Beltran will hobble again between now and the end of the season? Any team interested in Beltran is likely to wait until the winter when it wouldn’t have to surrender talent and would have the leverage in the money.

For now, the Mets are waiting for a desperate team.

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