Jan 01

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

I always wait until the last minute before submitting my Hall of Fame ballot. I like to take my time to study the names, consider the numbers and strain to remember games in which I saw them play. There’s just so much to consider.

Not that any one play, or game, or even season matters. It’s about careers, and to my way of thinking, dominant and clean careers. I have no problem with “compilers,’’ players who amassed their numbers because of lengthy careers. After all, players such as Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski had to be pretty good to win 300 games or get 3,000 hits.

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

I do have a problem with those accused of using steroids and didn’t need Joe Morgan’s email to convince me. The essence of sports is for the viewers and opposing players to believe what they are watching and whom they are competing against is true.

That’s not possible when players cheat.

So, if a player fails a drug test, is named on the Mitchell Report, or is accused on the record by a player, coach or manager, I look at that as confirmation of steroid usage. It’s not exactly an admission, but it will have to be enough for me to vote no.

My choices are:

Chipper Jones: More than simply a Met killer, he was an eight-time All-Star and a cornerstone on all those Braves teams that reached the playoffs year after year after year. He had 468 career homers, third behind Hall of Fame switch-hitters Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.

Jim Thome: What’s not to like about his 612 homers, .402 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage, especially when it is done cleanly? He’s a no-brainer to me.

Vladimir Guerrero: I didn’t vote for Guerrero, but only because I voted for Lee Smith, who was in the final year of his eligibility. My thinking was Guerrero would have nine more years on the ballot to make it. But, he was named on 71.7 percent of the ballots, and I think he’ll make it this season.

Mike Mussina: I covered Mussina both with the Orioles and the Yankees, and always regarded him as a money pitcher. He pitched for 18 seasons and won at least 15 games in 11 of them. Mussina won 270 games and could have won 300 if he played another two or three seasons. He had plenty of gas left in his tank as he won 20 games for the only time in his career and pitched 200 innings in the final year of his career. He also had a 1.19 career WHIP and a 3.58 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Trevor Hoffman: I’m of the belief relievers matter and they all don’t have to be as good as Mariano Rivera. I firmly believe it Hoffman were on the Yankees instead of Rivera they would have still won those World Series.

Edgar Martinez: Being a DH shouldn’t disqualify a player from consideration. It’s a valid baseball position and shouldn’t devalue a player’s candidacy. He has a career slash line of .310/.410/.510, one of only 14 players in history to do so, and nine of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Fred McGriff: If he gets in, it will likely be from the Veterans Committee. With 493 homers – seven shy from what used to be an automatic ticket – he should be a shoo-in. There’s never been a hint of impropriety. He’s a testament to doing it the right way.

Omar Vizquel: Defense is also a part of the game, but often overlooked by the new age stats. But, if Ozzie Smith is a Hall of Famer, then so is Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner. Vizquel was far from an easy out with 2,877 career hits and a .272 batting average with a .336 on-base percentage.

Dec 22

Wilpon Has No Reason To Resent Yankees

I admit, I laughed out loud when I read The Post’s article on how Mets owner Fred Wilpon was “irate’’ after hearing about the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with Miami.

Anything the Yankees do money wise paints the Mets in a bad, if not embarrassing light, because it highlights their penny-pinching ways and reluctance to make any high-profile moves.

WILPON: No reason to be angry at Yanks. (Getty)

WILPON: No reason to be angry at Yanks. (Getty)

Wilpon doesn’t believe the Yankees can sustain their spending, which is what envious owners have said since George Steinbrenner purchased the team from CBS in the early 1970s.

It’s a foolish belief.

I don’t buy the Wilpons are afraid to spend, because after all, their Opening Day payroll last season was $154 million. That’s post-Ponzi spending, mind you. But, now there appears a reluctance

The problem is the Mets don’t spend wisely and they’ve been stung by their last three $100-million plus contracts – Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright and Johan Santana – were injured, as is their vaunted rotation.

Even though the Mets are two years removed from the World Series – and the Yankees were last there in 2009 – the latter is a lot closer to returning than the former. And, that was even before the Stanton trade, and even if they don’t get Gerit Cole from the Pirates.

Instead, the news this offseason about the dysfunctional Mets have made a franchise icon – Ed Kranepool – unwelcome, but have re-hired former GM Omar Minaya back to act as a special assistant to GM Sandy Alderson.

Both are head-scratching moves, but what isn’t was hearing of Fred Wilpon’s ire directed at the Yankees.

That’s something he has control over.

Dec 07

Mets Have No Plans To Add Starting Pitching

With the start of the Winter Meetings just days away, there’s been precious little information about the Mets’ pitching. There was an article in The Post about Matt Harvey dating yet another model, but there’s been nothing about his health and ability to pitch in 2018.

DE GROM: One of the few answers. (AP)

DE GROM: One of the few answers. (AP)

What the Mets have said in the wake of Japanese free-agent Shohei Ohtani blowing off them and the Yankees, is they likely won’t add starting pitching but instead focus on relievers, who are routinely less expensive than free agents CC Sabathia or Jason Vargas, or even bringing back R.A. Dickey.

Hell, even if they signed all three that wouldn’t be enough to make the Mets a contender again.

The Mets don’t know about the status of Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. They are contemplating limiting Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to twice through the batting order before turning the game over to the bullpen. That’s at least three innings a game from their bullpen, which is way too many.

The Mets hope hiring a new trainer will keep their pitchers healthy, which sounds like a good idea, but who are they kidding?

It’s going on five years and the Mets’ vaunted starting five hasn’t yet made one uninterrupted turn through the rotation. Yet, GM Sandy Alderson is betting on a new trainer to make that happen.

Oct 27

Mets Weren’t Going To Get Girardi Anyway

The immediate reaction to hearing the Yankees wouldn’t bring back manager Joe Girardi is the Mets blew it and should have waited on hiring Mickey Callaway. That way, they could’ve made a run at Girardi.

I would have loved Girardi, but don’t blame the Mets. They did exactly what I suggested they do, and that to go about their business and ignore what the Yankees are doing.

GIRARDI: Wouldn't happen. (CBS)

GIRARDI: Wouldn’t happen. (CBS)

The Yankees have their reasons for dumping Girardi, ranging for Brian Cashman’s clichéd comment “it is time for a change,’’ to the manager’s intense personality to his clash with management over using analytics.

Of course, little was made of those things while Girardi was winning 910 games over ten seasons, reaching the playoffs six times and winning the World Series in 2009.

The Mets could have waited to see if the Yankees would have been so arrogant as to fire such a successful manager, but were right to go ahead with their search according to their timetable.

Girardi was a long shot in the first place as I don’t believe the Mets would have given him more than the $4 million annually he made with the Yankees and there would have been the inevitable clash with GM Sandy Alderson over analytics.

If Girardi wants to manage immediately, we could see him in Citi Field soon enough as there are openings in Washington and Philadelphia.

 

Oct 21

How Should Mets Handle Yankees’ Success?

So, how should the Mets handle the obvious news the Yankees are back to being the bullies on the New York City block?

No question, 2015 and 2016 was fun while it lasted, but the essence of winning is to sustain it, and do it again, and again. Whether the Yankees can do that remains to be seen, but they but have the necessary building blocks the Mets didn’t.

The Yankees have the young core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius, while the Mets had only one young star the last time they saw October, and that was Michael Conforto.  The Mets have since added Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith.

The Yankees have a solid bullpen, while the Mets don’t. The Mets have the potential of a good, but not a great pen, but clearly, there’s a gap.

The Yankees have several good, young starters, while the Mets supposedly had the best young rotation in the majors. Suffice to say, that never happened, and Jacob deGrom is the only healthy arm the Mets can count on for next season.

The Yankees have a reputation with general manager Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner ownership group of not being handcuffed when it comes to a willingness to spend to reach the next level. The Mets’ reputation with GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons is the opposite.

That’s four categories with the Yankees holding the edge in each one.

So, if you’re the Mets, what should you do?

The Mets’ first decision is to ignore the Yankees, regardless what happens tonight in Houston. The Mets don’t compete with the Yankees for anything other than the back pages of the tabloids, which in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant. Let the Yankees enjoy their success and just concentrate on your own business.

The Mets’ second step – not surprisingly – is to hire a new manager, and I’m guessing it will be Manny Acta based on managerial experience.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, beginning with devising a rebuilding plan. It won’t be exactly going to Square One, but it is close. Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive in 2018, but hasn’t defined what that means. It should be noted the Mets finished 22 games below .500 this season.

It’s a stretch to think, even if they get all their players back that they’ll improve by 28 games, which would tie them at 87-75, the record of the Colorado Rockies, the second wild card in the National League.

That’s just for starters.

For that to happen, Alderson must add the following:

Starting pitching: The Mets can expect deGrom back and possibly Noah Syndergaard, the latter whom returned from the DL but is far from a given. The Mets probably have higher expectations of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo than they do Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. It would be reasonable to think Alderson would pursue at least one starter.

Bullpen: Alderson has never been able to build a reliable bullpen, but there’s potential with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. If one or two of the arms they acquired when they stripped themselves of their veterans at the trade deadline. Even so, they shouldn’t pass on getting a quality reliever in free agency.

Outfield: Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are recovering from significant injuries and both are questionable to be ready for the start of the season. That leaves Nimmo and Juan Lagares as the only reliable outfielders, and the Mets are sold on the latter.

Second/third base: The Mets are expected to bring back Jose Reyes and/or Asdrubal Cabrera, but both? That might be a stretch. I believe Cabrera is better at both positions and could be a better offensive threat. But, Reyes is a better shortstop replacement. Is that enough?

Should Alderson address all four in the positive the Mets should be better, but will it be enough for the playoffs?