Apr 05

Chris Young kicks off series in Philly tonight

Much of the pre-series buzz is about sending a message to the Philadelphia Phillies. Nice hype, but I’m not buying. Even should the Mets sweep the Phillies this week, what message could they possibly send to a team that has reached the playoffs the last three years, including the World Series twice?

YOUNG: Comeback story starts tonight.

By most accounts, the Phillies – even with Chase Utley and Brad Lidge shelved – remain the class of the NL East and are well aware of the annoyance they call the Mets. It’s usually electric when the teams play, but the Phillies are the superior team and they know it.

What’s important to the Mets is they don’t believe it, even though that has been the prevailing feeling in the clubhouse when they compare themselves to Philly. With a good series, the only message the Mets would be sending is to themselves, and the best way to start is to not get ahead of themselves by making more of this series than it really is.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s Game Four,” David Wright said. “It’s obviously a very, very good team. I think it’s a challenge. I don’t think either team is out to necessarily prove anything this early in the season. But it would be nice to go in there and win a series.”

A competitive series would also help in setting the stage for the home opener this Friday. If the Mets get waxed it won’t make for a festive mood this weekend.

Chris Young gets the ball tonight for the Mets. Young threw well during spring training,but coming off a shoulder injury and signed for a bargain basement price, the Mets don’t know what to expect from him.

Young, who hasn’t started 30 games in a season since, 2007, threw 25.1 pain-free innings while compiling a 1.78 ERA in spring training.

“I feel good,” Young told reporters in Florida, where the Mets opened their season by winning two of three from the Marlins. “I’ve made some good strides. I think my arm strength’s increased, breaking ball’s gotten sharper, command’s better. It was a good spring training.”

But, will it be a good year? That’s one of the Mets’ significant questions.

 

Oct 29

Mets to introduce Alderson today; he’ll answer questions about the manager.

The Mets will introduce Sandy Alderson today as their new general manager, and he’ll answer a multitude of questions about his managerial preference.

This much we know already about Alderson: He’ll implement an organizational philosophy and the new manager must adhere to that way of thinking. Alderson is not as interested in the manager’s philosophy as he is the manager fitting into his.

We’ve already heard a lot of names and likely to hear a few more in the coming days. The following are some of the more popular candidates:

Bob Melvin: Melvin has managed in the major leagues, he’s smart, knows how to deal with players and carry through an organizational philosophy. He doesn’t have a dominant, fiery personality, but that’s not essential with Alderson. Slowly, his candidacy is gaining steam and could be emerging as a frontrunner. He’s already in the organization as the Mets’ AL scout.

Wally Backman: Fans and media have been clamoring for Backman even before Jerry Manuel was sacked. He’s a favorite of the Wilpons and Alderson has him on his list. He’ll likely get an interview, but is sliding in the polls. Alderson isn’t interested in a personality as much as he is getting somebody to follow through with his philosophy. Working against Backman is a lack of experience. It’s doubtful Alderson will tie his success to a candidate with a minimum of experience.

Terry Collins: Collins was hired to improve the farm system, and Alderson might find it best to leave him in that capacity. Collins managed Houston and the Angels, and is an organization man. I think he’ll stay in his current role, but he could draw an interview.

Clint Hurdle: Hurdle’s name popped up recently with Texas’ appearance in the World Series. The Ranger’s hitting coach had some success managing the Colorado Rockies. He has a Mets’ background, but I don’t know if he has enough to get over the top.

Chip Hale: Hale did a good job in his first season as Mets’ third base coach. He’s smart, well organized and has a strong work ethic. He’ll interview and could stay in the organization in some capacity, perhaps as a bench coach. He’s too good for the Mets to let him slide through their fingers.

Lee Mazzilli: If the Mets truly want somebody with organizational ties, there’s always the fan-favorite Mazzilli. Mazzilli didn’t get a fair shake managing Baltimore and has been waiting for the right opportunity. I’m not sure this will be it. Being a favorite of Fred Wilpon might not be enough.

Ken Oberkfell: Oberkfell has managed the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate and has logged more time in minor league dugouts than Backman. He obviously knows the Mets’ minor league system. As a second base man for St. Louis he learned under Whitey Herzog, so he learned from one of the best. He was a cerebral player and should mesh with Alderson.

Oct 27

Mets to name Alderson

He was the favorite from the moment he announced his interest in the job, and a formality after being endorsed by commissioner Bud Selig. Although the Mets have not officially done so, the announcement of Sandy Alderson for the organization’s GM position is forthcoming – Friday during the World Series travel day.

ALDERSON: It's a new day.

Alderson beat out Josh Byrnes for the job, so it was a win-win for the Mets regardless. The Mets ran a thorough search, interviewing a long list of qualified candidates. It’s hard to think any of the choices would have been bad, but Alderson is off the charts.

Alderson has a sterling reputation in the sport having brought winning to Oakland and San Diego, and with his work in MLB and in Latin America. Alderson brings credibility to an organization that has long needed it; he brings decisiveness and toughness which has long been lacking.

Perhaps, above all, he brings with him the tools for change and the knowledge it won’t come overnight. Rebuilding the Mets will be a long process as several bulky contracts will weigh the team down for any immediate influx of talent in 2011.

Alderson is 62, but that’s a number. He’s a progressive thinker who has done it. His reputation is such that he’ll bring in quality people and implement a system that works.

I really like this move because it is no a quick fix. He isn’t the flavor-of-the-month the way Omar Minaya was when he took over.

The Mets are immediately better today because they sent the message they are serious and the rest of baseball believes them.

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.

Oct 26

Changing the culture should be new GM’s first step.

PEREZ: New GM must cut ties right away.

The Mets could name Sandy Alderson as their new general manager, with the announcement coming as soon as Friday, the first travel day during the World Series. That’s the likely day as MLB requires teams from withholding such announcements as not to disrupt the World Series.

Alderson is having his second interview today.

Assuming it is Alderson, the most important thing he can initially do is change the culture of the Mets and that won’t be with the announcement of the new manager. The single most critical action stop the new general manager can do to signify change to the Mets’ players and their disgruntled fan base would be to convince ownership Oliver Perez has to go.

Perez personifies the mistakes of the Omar Minaya regime and sucks the life and energy out of the team. The Mets played with 24 players for much of the season because of Perez’s refusal to help himself. It was an intolerable situation, one that can’t repeat itself.

Getting rid of Perez will not change the fact the Mets still must pay him $12 million for 2011, but having him gone rids the organization of a disruptive, non-productive and selfish player. Such a move immediately screams the culture is changing. It says the Mets “are as mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.”

The new general manager will have a myriad of decisions to make, but nothing that would change the perception of the organization, both inside and out, as significantly at first as getting rid of Perez.

Such a move would tell Mets’ fans the organization is willing to break with its past reputation of not eating bad contracts. It acknowledges the team made a disastrous mistake and is willing to move on.

Above all, it is a proactive move. There is no more hoping or wishing for Perez to turn it around. Wishing is not a strategy. Wishing prohibits doing and the new general manager must be about doing.

And that message must come right away.