Oct 30

Free Agency Frenzy About To Begin; Mets Expected To Sit

The foul pop-up wasn’t even caught by Pablo Sandoval, when the question was already being asked: Will the Giants keep their free-agent third baseman?

Sandoval is one of several dozen players who became eligible for free-agency this morning, a list that includes Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, Nelson Cruz, Hanley Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jonny Gomes. None of whom will likely play in Flushing this summer.

Of course, there is always Chris Young.

Michael Cuddyer has been linked to the Mets, but his asking price might be too steep to plug him into left field. He made $10.5 million last season, and I don’t see the Mets going that high. Especially since the Mets aren’t expected to add more than $10 million in payroll over the winter.

Here’s the list of free agents:

Catchers

John Buck, Angels
Ryan Doumit, Red Sox
Gerald Laird, Braves
Russell Martin, Pirates
Wil Nieves, Phillies
A.J. Pierzynski, Cardinals

Humberto Quintero, Mariners
David Ross, Red Sox
Geovany Soto, Athletics

First Basemen

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Corey Hart, Mariners
Lyle Overbay, Brewers

Mark Reynolds, Brewers

Second Basemen

Mark Ellis, Cardinals
Rafael Furcal, Marlins
Kelly Johnson, Orioles
Ramon Santiago, Reds

Shortstops

Clint Barmes, Pirates
Asdrubal Cabrera, Nationals
Stephen Drew, Yankees

Jed Lowrie, Athletics

John McDonald, Angels
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers

Third Basemen

Alberto Callaspo, Athletics

Jack Hannahan, Reds
Chase Headley, Yankees
Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Outfielders

Norichika Aoki, Royals
Emilio Bonifacio, Braves
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
Endy Chavez, Mariners
Nelson Cruz,Orioles
Chris Denorfia, Mariners
Jonny Gomes, Athletics
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Scott Hairston, Nationals
Torii Hunter, Tigers
Reed Johnson, Marlins
Ryan Ludwick, Reds
Mike Morse, Giants
Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
Nate Schierholtz, Nationals
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
Josh Willingham, Royals
Chris Young, Yankees
Delmon Young, Orioles

Designated Hitters

Jason Giambi, Indians
Raul Ibanez, Royals
Victor Martinez, Tigers
Kendrys Morales, Mariners

Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker, Rangers
Chris Capuano, Yankees
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
Kevin Correia, Dodgers
Gavin Floyd, Braves
Jason Hammel, Athletics
Aaron Harang, Braves
Roberto Hernandez, Dodgers
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
Jon Lester, Athletics
Colby Lewis, Rangers
Francisco Liriano, Pirates
Paul Maholm, Dodgers
Justin Masterson, Cardinals
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mets
Brandon McCarthy, Yankees
Jake Peavy, Giants
Ervin Santana, Braves
Johan Santana, Orioles
Joe Saunders, Orioles
Max Scherzer, Tigers
James Shields, Royals
Carlos Villanueva, Cubs
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
Edinson Volquez, Pirates
Chris Young, Mariners

Right-handed relievers

Matt Albers, Astros
Burke Badenhop, Red Sox
Matt Belisle, Rockies
Jared Burton, Twins

Joba Chamberlain, Tigers
Jesse Crain, Astros
Jason Frasor, Royals
Luke Gregerson, Athletics
Kevin Gregg, Marlins
Jason Grilli, Angels
Joel Hanrahan, Tigers
Luke Hochevar, Royals
Casey Janssen, Blue Jays
Jim Johnson, Tigers
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Nick Masset, Rockies
Jason Motte, Cardinals
Pat Neshek, Cardinals
Chris Perez, Dodgers
David Robertson, Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Sergio Romo, Giants
Tim Stauffer, Padres
Koji Uehara, Red Sox
Jose Veras, Astros
Jamey Wright, Dodgers

Left-handed relievers

Joe Beimel, Mariners
Phil Coke, Tigers
Neal Cotts, Rangers
Scott Downs, Royals
Zach Duke, Brewers
Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers
Rich Hill, Yankees
Andrew Miller, Orioles
Franklin Morales, Rockies
Joe Thatcher, Angels

Oct 27

Mets’ 2015 Spring Training Schedule

The World Series isn’t even over and the Mets announced today their 2015 Spring Training schedule.

March

4: At Atlanta, 1:05 p.m.

5: At Washington, 5:05 p.m.

6: Detroit, 1:10 p.m.

7: Split Squad: Atlanta, 1:10 p.m., and at Miami, 1:05 p.m.

8. Boston, 1:10 p.m.

9. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

10. At Atlanta, 1:05 p.m.

11. At Miami, 1:05 p.m.

12. Washington, 1:10 p.m.

13. Atlanta, 1:10 p.m.

14. Washington, 1:10 p.m.

15. At Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m.

16. At Boston, 1:05 p.m.

17. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

18: OFF DAY

19. Split Squad: Houston at 1:10 p.m., and at St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

20. St. Louis, 1:10 p.m.

21. At Detroit, at 1:05 p.m.

22. Yankees, 1:10 p.m.

23. At Miami, 1:05 p.m.

24. Houston, 1:10 p.m.

25. At Yankees, 1:05 p.m.

26. At Washington, 5:05 p.m.

27. At St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

28. Washington, 1:10 p.m.

29. At St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

30. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

31. At Washington, 1:05 p.m.

APRIL

St. Louis, 1:10 p.m.

At St. Louis, 12:05 p.m.

At Rangers in Texas, 8:05 p.m.

At Rangers in Texas, 2:05 p.m.

For ticket information, go to www.stluciemets.com or call 772-871-2115

 

Oct 23

Why Mets Can’t Attract Quality Free Agents

The Mets’ inability to hire a hitting coach illustrates indecision, which is one of several reasons why marquee free agents won’t come here.

Among the others:

New York: The city can be daunting for someone who only experienced it in a hotel room and stadium. It is very expensive to live here, crowded and there’s the media crush.

The Yankees: Considering the above factors, if a player is willing to come, there’s no contest when the Yankees are also interested, as they will always pay more.

Money: The Mets’ track record under Sandy Alderson is to stay away from big money contracts, which is also why a trade for a guy like Troy Tulowitzki and subsequent contract extension will never happen.

Commitment to winning: The Mets’ reputation in the sport is they are not willing to go the extra mile to bring in good-to-great players because of the cost. That might also come to play down the road when it comes to dealing with Matt Harvey.

Youth: The Mets are rebuilding and many veterans not hanging on for a paycheck don’t want to be a part of that situation.

Continuity: Since their last World Series appearance in 2000, the Mets have had four general managers and five managers, which doesn’t promote commitment. For example, the Mets have manager Terry Collins to only a one-year extension.

Treatment of players: Players talk and often gripe. The issue over Carlos Beltran’s surgery, circumstances around Jose Reyes’ departure, and trade of R.A. Dickey all raised red flags about how the organization handles key issues. And, don’t think for a second the bickering between Harvey and management doesn’t raise questions.

Wilpon Situation: Players and agents aren’t stupid. They are aware of the Wilpon’s financial situation and how it impacts the team. They know there will be low-ball offers and salary dumps can come at any time.

Hiring a hitting coach should be a simple matter, especially when others have done the same with former Mets’ coaches.

 

When it comes to the Mets, for those on the outside looking in, perception is reality.

Oct 21

This Series Could Be Special

For as long as I have loved baseball, first as a Little Leaguer with an active imagination, and then as a journalist covering the game I was not good enough to play on the major league level, the World Series always held a special place for me.

I remember bits and pieces of the 1969 Series, but confess I was shocked like most of the country. I admit to playing hooky from school to watch the 1970 Series, but maybe it served me right because I pulled for the Reds.

searchMy favorite Series was the 1975 Red Sox-Reds. Although disappointed in the outcome, it was compelling because of it went seven and Game Six was arguably the best game in history. There was Bernie Carbo’s game-tying homer; Carlton Fisk’s game-winner; and Dwight Evans’ game saving catch.

One of the great stories coming from that Series was Pete Rose telling Fisk something along the lines of, “this is a great game, isn’t it?’’

Next up was Twins-Braves with the classic Jack Morris-John Smoltz Game 7. If not the Fisk game, maybe this was history’s best.

I covered all the Yankees’ titles under Joe Torre, but the most dramatic of them was one they lost, in 2001, to Arizona. Go figure, perhaps the worst throw of Mariano Rivera’s career was after fielding that bunt in the ninth inning of Game 7.

A lot of historic homers were hit in that Series, but my favorite moments the fans chanting Paul O’Neill’s name; the bald eagle Challenger scattering the Yankees before the anthem; and George Bush throwing a ceremonial pitch perfect strike.

Each Series has its defining moment or story line, and I can only imagine what it will be this year.

Some match-ups are more compelling than others, but Giants-Royals – regardless of what ESPN says – will be a Series worthy of our attention. There was actually a Sports Center lead-in actually daring to ask if these teams “deserved,’’ to be there.

The fact is, baseball itself bears responsibility for the appearance of an “unworthy’’ match-up because it tampers with the integrity of its season with interleague play and the unbalanced schedule forcing teams to run different courses to the finish line.

However, these teams, based on being a wild-card entry, each played an additional game. They took on all comers – each having to beat the team with the best record in their league.

They also play the game the way it should be, with pitching, defense, timely hitting and solid bullpens. Both can also hit the long ball when needed, but neither survive by the homer, which is refreshing.

I believe this one has the capability of going seven, which defines “classic,’’ to me. Both teams have reason to believe they can be considered a team of destiny.

I can’t wait to find out which one.

Oct 18

Hudgens Lands Job With Astros

Word the Houston Astros hired former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens raised the simple question: What’s going on in the Mets’ search to fill that position?

The Mets are interested in Dave Magadan and former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. The Yankees are also pursuing Magadan.

Hudgens’ philosophy is to work deep into the count, but when the Mets’ sputtered to start the season he was fired, May 26. The Mets’ rationalization was the hitters lost their aggressiveness. A lot of that was traced to Lucas Duda’s inability in 2013 to hit with runners in scoring position.

That’s rather weak because most hitting coaches preach patience until the batter gets his pitch. It’s up to the hitter to be able to recognize what that pitch is and to be ready to crush it. Despite the steroids, you must give credit to Barry Bonds’ selectivity. There were times when Bonds would get one hittable pitch to hit – and he did.

This week the Mets also lost Triple-A Las Vegas hitting coach George Greer by St. Louis to oversee their organizational philosophy.

 

Lamar Johnson replaced Hudgens and was reassigned to the minor leagues after the season.