Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ho, Hum...


While it certainly doesn't complete the ideal offseason by any stretch of the imagination, I really like the signing of Matt Wise to a one-year deal

Friday, December 14, 2007

Close the Retirement Loophole

I just read a pretty compelling article on the Daily News website, an interview featuring that alleged hamstring specialist, Marty Miller, from last year's Yankees who was fired after the team's fourth hammy injury. At any rate, he certainly didn't even begin to refute what's been said about Pettitte and Clemens, but more notably, mentioned players who "just suddenly retire, and then come back", pointing out that these players are technically not MLB players while "retired", and therefore are not subject to testing. The most notable baseball player I can think of that really fits this mold is ol' Rocket (but don't forget Sammy Sosa, among others...), and that's obviously who he was referring to in this instance, but beyond that there has been a lot of talk in recent years of other aging players beginning to follow suit with Clemens, exploiting the extra months of rest and the elevated, rental-type paychecks. The point raised about the potential to bypass testing, however, is really a valid one, no matter what Miller's intent was. Any old player could just say "hey, I think I'll just 'retire', get all jacked up on juice until around June, and then sign up somewhere for a bunch of loot and play like a 20 year old for 4 months!" In my eyes, the seesaw retirement thing has got to go; some sort of league policy needs to be concocted, one that would still allow for sincere players to come out of retirement under a set of guidelines, i.e. testing prior to reinstatement.

Just a thought...

I'm Not The Man They Think I Am At Home, Oh, No No, I'm a Rocket Man.


I'm not sure whether to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the Mitchell Report.

Here's what I think:

For one, let's get half of that 2000 World Series trophy back to Shea. While almost every Major League team was dishonorably represented in the report, perhaps no single ball club stood out more than the 2000 New York Yankees. The most compelling statistic relating to that series is that the four Yankee pitchers from the 2000 team that were indicated as users in the Mitchell Report combined in the Subway Series for 30.2 IP, 5 ER and an ERA of 1.46. The rest of the Yankee staff? 16.1 IP, 9 ER and an ERA of 4.95. Kudos to Anthony DeRosa at Hot Foot for that stat. (Who incidentally, I'm pretty sure, took the flickr photo I'm using for this entry. My appreciation) Beyond pitching, the '00 Yanks also featured 5 position players who popped up in the report, most notably the frequent #3 hitter David Justice, and 2B Chuck Knoblauch.

Game 1 really hurts the most: Andy Pettitte starts the game against Al Leiter, going 6.2 innings and allowing 3 er; After Benitez blows Leiter's win by giving up a sac-fly to Chuck Knoblauch (Leiter having gone 7 innings giving up 2 runs, both runs produced by David Justice), Mike Stanton delivers 2 shutout innings in the 11th and 12th for the Yankees, setting up Jose Viz's game-winning single off of Turk Wendell in the bottom of the 12th. Then Clemens dominates Game 2, after roid-raging all over Mikey P. Jeez.

As my friend Rob put it today, "I always knew Benny Agbayani was a champion".

At the end of the day, my protestations are really tongue in cheek. What's over is over, but it kinda hurts. Good ammo with a Yankee fan, I suppose.

Kind of ironic that the day before this thing comes out, I post an entry half devoted to eulogizing the great Paul LoDuca, who now looks like the most likely candidate for discipline in the wake of the investigation, not only using himself, but apparently sharing the love with anyone who was interested. Really puts a damper on my love of Paulie, and particularly that great game against Oakland last year that I wrote about, in which he blew his top with the ump. Quite possibly that great memory can also be attributed to roid rage. Ugh. I have to join Adam from Brooklyn Met Fan in conceding to Omar, and taking back all of my constant complaints about not re-signing Duca, though official word from the Mets is that the decision to let Duca walk had nothing to do with the Mitchell Report. Yeah, right. They can't come out and say it, but it's pretty clear they knew something about this, so I say nice job doing your homework, something the Milwaukee Brewers didn't do with regards to their new closer. I really enjoyed LoDuca's time here, but if I have any self-respect I have to admit that he is just as bad as any of them. I can't sit here and bash the Rocket (Who I once adored as a member of the Red Sox when I was a little kid) and with a straight face defend LoDuca.

Overall, the report didn't really shock me, or anyone else. It is certainly only the tip of the iceberg as far as the list goes, but I imagine that wasn't really the point. The point is to display the widespread use of PED's, and discuss what to do about it. Again, Mitchell doesn't say anything too revolutionary, but he does suggest that MLB use other methods than testing to regulate steroids, and that the testing be expanded and controlled by an independent party. I would agree with both ideas, and I hope Selig follows suit. The Players' Union would probably take issue with either policy, but there probably isn't much they could do about it. I can't imagine anything worse PR-wise for Donald Fehr and the MLBPA than a lockout caused by unwillingness to submit to drug-testing and investigation.

Then there's the whole Mitchell/Red Sox conspiracy theory, which is just ludicrous. We're talking about a man who served in the US Senate, and was a key figure in Cold War foreign policy and a mediator in Northern Ireland. Somehow I doubt he would put the integrity of his career on the line for the sake of protecting a baseball team that he used to have a limited stake in. He has dealt with much bigger issues in his life. This is coming, mind you, from someone (me) who doesn't happen to be on the same side of the political fence as Mitchell.

The other interesting elements of all this are the potential sources of fallout: How will the players named, or their lawyers, respond? How will ownership respond? I for one would love to see a Fernando Vina, who works for ESPN, fess up and use his role in the media to candidly address this stuff. Will David Justice still host the kids show on the Yes network? Ha. Also, will other names start to trickle in from elsewhere? The next congressional hearing, which has now been announced, could produce something like that.

Without getting too hard into schaudenfreude, it's nice to see that arrogant prick Clemens get his due. Oh my goodness gracious, of all the dramatic things...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So long, it's been good to know ye


The image to the left was taken by someone else, who I'm glad took it and took the time to post it on flickr. The scene it shows took place during quite possibly the most memorable baseball game I have ever attended, certainly the most memorable regular season game. The primary reason for that is that attending this game with about 20 other people, using my 2 season tickets and going stubhub crazy, was the highlight of a great, clean, bachelor party last spring. That alone would have made this a game that would stick out in my memory, but on top of the event, it also happened to be an interleague game, and ended in a David Wright walkoff double. Even better. Oh, and Brooklyn's own Paul LoDuca went absolutely ape on the umpire, not once but twice, totally inspiring the crowd and apparently the team as well.

This is what Paulie could do above all else. I know I'm beating a dead horse by alluding to Duca's heart, but there's a reason that every Met fan on the internet or in any deli or bus stop says this, and that's because it's true. On a team rife with players possessing questionable drive, he was among a small minority who really gave it their all, and stood out.

Now he's a Nat, and I for one hope he gets a Piazza-esque standing O next year at Shea. (Oddly enough, Mikey P got a Shea standing ovation at that same bachelor party game) I can guarantee anyone that he will stand out against the Mets from here on out, as he probably feels slighted by them, and should.

The real annoying part of all this is that the only logical explanation I could find for not resigning Duca was an insistence on multiple years in a contract. That made some sense, what with his clear tendency to wear down. But he signed a one year deal in DC! Somehow I doubt he wouldn't have done the same to stay in a place he loved.

I wonder what would happen in a collision at the plate between Paulie and Brain Schneider. Ugh...

The Santana race continues, and frankly, if what we're hearing is true, I'm frustrated, and my reason for it probably puts me in the minority. If John Heyman's article on is accurate, Johan Santana would be a Met, done deal, if the Mets were to include both Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez.

Here is where the whole prospect thing aggravates me. Youth and Minor League talent is certainly valuable, and something to be held on to at almost any cost. Don't for instance, trade your best pitching prospect for an aging, mediocre starter when your team probably can't contend anyhow (Kazmir). Don't trade an OF who has allegedly been the gem of your system for years when his value is low for a truly sub-par return (Milledge). In short, don't sell the farm for mediocrity or mild improvement, but by all means sell it all, sell anything for the chance to bring the best pitcher in the game onto a team that is already a borderline contender in the weaker league.

What I don't get about all of this unwillingness of Omar's (and, admittedly, most Met fans...) to trade both of these guys is that at the same time the Mets are talking them up and don't want to give them away, everyone else seems to be killing the quality of the Mets' collection of top prospects. We go from "not having the chips to land a front-line starter", which I've heard again and again, to being unwilling to include one more guy to get THE front-line starter of all front-line starters.

Remember, we're not talking about hurting the quality of the on-field product. In any of these Gomez and F-Mart scenarios, we keep Reyes, Wright, Perez, Maine, Beltran, and every other current potential starter except maybe Church, while adding Santana. How can you not do that? Especially in a year when the Mets are particularly draft-heavy, having effectively three first-round picks in the upcoming draft. I don't mind if the farm system takes 2-3 years to be rebuilt while I watch ballgames in late October at Shea/Citi.

My vote: if they want 'em all, give it to 'em.
I'll probably get killed for this in the era of BA, BP, etc. Oh, well, I think I'm right.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Still in the Mix?


Rumors can be downright infuriating, but we ask for it. A week ago, Johan Santana had one leg in pinstripes if you bought what was being tossed around, and then the Boss Jr. pulled the plug. Three days ago, he was allegedly even closer to joining the Red Sox, and all along 'Los Mets figured to have no chance.

Now, any deal that seemed imminent involving Johan is on hold, at least, and reports are that the Mets think they are very much in the discussion to acquire the lefty.

If I didn't care so much, I'd just shut the computer off and ignore it all until I saw a press conference with a done deal.

My constant thought on this whole thing has been that the Mets do not have what it takes to get Santana, short of trading Jose Reyes, which is completely out of the question. Even if a deal were right, Reyes, despite a foul fall, has aroused as much excitement at Shea as any player in franchise history who wasn't a world champ in 1986. You just can't do it.

But despite my impression on it, and what appears to be the prevailing opinion amongst the sports media, the Mets are seemingly right back in the race. I don't know what changed.

Perhaps the Twins now have a desire for a bundle of talented players from top to bottom, rather than a couple blue chip studs and a couple longshots. This the Mets can offer: quantity. While Gomez and Pelf are no Ellsbury and Buchholz or Hughes and Melky (we think...), Boston's Masterson and Lowrie or the Yankees' Jackson and Marquez are no F-Mart, Heilman and Mulvey.

Perhaps there is some question as to whether the Yankees or Red Sox, both heavily soaked in payroll already, would be apt to work out a reasonable extension with Johan. If not, he and/or the team in question would almost certainly veto any deal. One would think that the Mets, awaiting Citi Field and still lagging behind the Bombers in payroll in such a rich market, wouldn't think twice about paying Santana if given the opportunity.

Or perhaps Bill Smith and his boys in the Minnyapple stopped for a moment and gazed into a crystal ball, foreseeing a dark decade for any team that dared play AL baseball against a Red Sox or Yankee ball club anchored by endless cash and the best pitcher in the game. Maybe the thought of shipping him over to the senior circuit is more comforting, and the Mets appear to be the NL front-runners.

Again, I don't really see it, but if Omar does I hope he has a reason, and I hope I'm proven wrong.

In other news, John Maine will not be releasing any collaborative material with RuPaul or David Bowie any time soon.

Just a ridiculous story "broke" earlier this week on the AM dial, reporting that wholesome ol' Johnny Maine followed a woman into a restroom at an NYC restaurant and asked to wear her dress. Apparently, Maine was in Virginia well before and after this event occured. Might shoulda checked on that, huh?

But at least if it had been true SOMETHING of note would have gone down this winter...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bring Your Kiddies, Bring Your Wife, Bring 'Em All...


So after driving cross country, totaling my car and getting stuck in the Show-Me State for 3 days, I came home to some serious family matters, and thus have been absent blogwise for a glaring amount of time. Hopefully, somebody noticed.

Where the hell do I start? It's difficult to navigate through all of the non-action/potential yet improbable action that the hot stove has yielded through early December. You probably gathered what my feelings were with regards to the Milledge debacle based on the last post and the current poll, and I've simultaneously softened and hardened towards the deal. I've softened because time has passed, we have what we have, and one must always try to practice acceptance; I've hardened because since the moment of that deal, all the really juicy wheeling and dealing began, and the Mets, if they were not going to let 'Stings play, are at the very least short one more chip. Mets PR is telling us that there wasn't much interest in Milledge, but you just can't tell me that a 22-yr old who has been touted as a 5-tool player for the last three years (whether those tools work or not...) wouldn't be of some value in a trade, even as a throw-in. Not many teams would refuse to take him. I put a lot of stock in what Peter Gammons says, and he said this (2nd paragraph from bottom).

But again, what's done is done, and I can only hope that Brian Schneider solves the whole staff and that Ryan Church either helps acquire something bigger, or decides to play against everyone else the way he has played against the Mets.

Now we come to the winter meetings madness. It was really wishful thinking on all of our behalves approaching the Santana situation, and it seems as if Omar and Co. knew that. If what appears is going to happen happens, and the Red Sox end up with Johan, you can start talking about a rotation of historic proportions. Remember Pedro and Schilling in 2004? Subtract 14 combined years of age. Oh, and they've still got Curt Schilling, and the other guy, that japanese guy. I recall some sort of mild hubbub surrounding him about a year ago. If this Yankee "deadline" with Santana and the Twins proves to be a reality, Hank Steinbrenner is simply a fool. Not only have they (the Yankees) arbitrarily withdrawn from a negotiation they certainly weren't out of, they've also made things a lot easier for their arch-rivals. Just don't make no sense. Sometimes the whole prospect thing just gets a bit out of hand. You won't give up Hughes, Cabrera and Kennedy for JOHAN SANTANA? Melky Cabrera is not a star, and he never will be a star. He's a little better than Preston Wilson at his prime, but still with less power. Phil Hughes has definitely been pumped up quite a bit for a while now,and showed flashes of real effectiveness but he's already been injured. Ian Kennedy is basically Mike Pelfrey with less hype-time behind him. If I'm a GM, I give up just about anyone for Johan Santana. It's great to hold on to young talent, but when one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen is on the table, let it go. Remember, blue chip prospects can always turn in to a deal for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Hank Steinbrenner's misconduct to date is encouraging to me as someone who has a vested interest in seeing the Yankees in peril.

So Johan's out. Next stop? Dan Haren. Simply, I really, really don't see it happening for the Mets. I hold Dan Haren in a very high regard. He's very young, very good, and very consistent, all nice things, but early reports are that Billy Beane is coming out guns blazing as he shops Haren. The word is that it'll take about what it takes to get Santana from the Twins to get Haren from the A's, and there are two reasons that that should leave the Mets out of it. A) They don't have what it takes to get Santana, so they wouldn't have the equivalent of something they don't have. B) Good as Haren is, he's not Johan, and no one should pay that price. Maybe I'm wrong here, maybe Beane backs of a bit, but unless that happens, you can count the Mets out of Haren.

Then there's Erik Bedard. The nice thing about him is that the two biggest suitors for any big name (NYY-BOS) are just about eliminated from the start by sharing the division with the Orioles, as are the Blue Jays, who apparently have expressed interest in him. Common sense, as well as winter meeting rumblings would say Baltimore wouldn't deal him withing the AL East, although Peter Angelos has a tendency to be a complete moron.

Bedard is an option that I find to be very attractive. He brings a little more flash than a Haren, if not a little more risk, and probably at a lower price than the two pitchers mentioned earlier. The Mets are said to have offered Humber, Gomez and Heilman for Bedard already, twice actually, (credit to the O's declined both times. What's encouraging is that if that package is a discussion, maybe Pelfrey/Mulvey instead of Humber is a deal, and I'd be happy with either scenarios. Also, the Dodgers initially appeared to be the front-runner in the Bedard race, and have now backed off significantly. I say go get him if you can.

The next option would have been Dontrelle, but Dave Dombrowski dropped a bomb on all of us by acquiring him and more notably Miguel Cabrera, thereby creating a potential powerhouse in Detroit. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over missing out on Dontrelle Willis, at this point.

A.J. Burnett? Meh. I suppose he's better than a lot of other options, and definitely better than no one, but at what price. He has an opt-out clause in a year, and a bad history of injury. If this drives the price for him down considerably, say a Humber/Pelfrey and a minor-leaguer, I'd go for it, but anything more is too much of a risk to give up a lot of value for a potential albatross is he got injured and then didn't opt out.

I don't see why the Mets don't sign Carlos Silva regardless of anything else, and I have a feeling they will. Can't hurt.

With all of the pitching talk, I'd be curious to see if the Mets were inquiring on any outfielders, via free-agency or trade. Not the priority right now, but another bat that's better than a Church would be nice if the pitching thing can get worked out...

Or maybe nothing happens at all, Pedro pitches 200 innings, Delgado returns to Toronto form, and Ryan Church explodes. Or not.

Go get that Canadian lefty from Baltimore, dammit.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I have been in the midst of a family emergency for some weeks now; not a bad one, but one requiring of my undue attention. That is why the blog has been inactive. Will post very soon concerning many things, but I had to hop on and chip in on this:

I have supported Omar Minaya from the get go, but right now I hate his miserable guts for making this team considerably worse. Milledge for Church and Schneider?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lesser Awards


I love David Wright as much as any other Met fan. He's a great guy, a great player, and a solid ambassador for this team. He also makes the occasional dazzling play at third base, but he is nowhere near deserving of the Gold Glove, an award that has become just laughable. There were 8 third basemen in the National League last year with higher fielding percentages, 7 with a higher range factor, and 6 with a higher zone rating. These, in my opinion, being the most telling yet accessible fielding statistics, Wright got real lucky, and won the award on popularity. The award has become a joke. Derek Jeter had won three in a row before this year, and he is the epitome of a slightly above average SS. There is a profound laziness apparently involved in the voting process these days; sometimes it appears that if there is no blatant choice at any given position, or an annual lock, a la Greg Maddux, the voters don't bother to research; they just pick the most popular guy with the biggest bat who isn't known for being a bad defensive player. For the love of God, the Colorado Rockies set Major League record for team FP, and didn't manage a single Gold Glove. Sorry, J-Roll, but Troy Tulowitzki was far and away the best defensive SS in baseball this year, not just the NL. The award needs a reworking, or needs to be eliminated otherwise, because when it becomes an offensive award, or some offensive prowess is a requirement, it is a useless thing. Mark Belanger of the '70s Orioles hit .228 with 20 total HR over an 18-year career and won a mountain of Gold Gloves. In this day and age, that just wouldn't happen. Maybe there needs to be a BCS type computer that determines Gold Gloves.

I guess congrats to Wright anyway, and more so to Carlos Beltran, who deserved his, and congrats to both of them for the Silver Sluggers, which they both deserved.

And despite my agreement with his overall point, it's not his place, and Larry Jones can shut his mouth. Credit to Metsblog for providing me with that story/link.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kazmir Redux?


Plainly, no. Reports have surfaced that the Rays may be open to shopping the left-handed 6-letter word, Scott Kazmir. Since the exhaustingly bemoaned dealing of Kazmir to Tampa in exchange for Victor Zambrano, the 23 year-old starter has gone 35-29 with a 3.64 era and 617 k's in 570.2 innings pitched on a horrendous team in the strongest offensive division the Majors have seen in some time. (Zambrano, for the record, was not fixed in 15 minutes...) Often I have wondered what things would look like had that deal never been made,and generally the scenarios I envision are pleasant.

But there are distinct reasons that this Met fan is certain that this ain't going down.

For one, I doubt the chips are there to go and get him. The right deal just doesn't seem to exist. There are plenty of deals for mid-range SP that make sense, along the Milledge-Blanton kind of line (Though I wouldn't support that particular deal), as well as absolute top-flite deals that seem feasible and worth it, i.e., the whole damn farm for Johan Santana. Problem with Kazmir is that Pelfrey and Humber probably isn't enough, while Pelfrey, Humber and anyone else of significant value might be too much, and less of a fit to Tampa's needs than what others may offer. I don't see it.

Beyond that, anything that were to be sacrificed in order to get Kazmir would seem almost like further spiritual jabs in the spine from Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips. Kinda like trading in a nice car for a lemon, building another nice car of your own, and trading that one in for the old one. You could have had it all. It just wouldn't feel right.

As in all cases involving the potential acquisitions of elite players by the Mets, if they worked something out magically, I guess I couldn't really complain all that much, but a good deal is hard to find.

Ha. Just as I peer up to my TV before hitting the button to publish this post, there's Duquette's mentor Steve Phillips on ESPN talking about the Dodgers.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


So that was that. Two friends and I hopped in to my Jeep and drove out to Denver for games 3 and 4 of the 2007 world series. We returned to New York, however, in a rented Ford with Missouri plates, thanks to an errant spare tire, rim and all, that placed itself conveniently smack dab in the middle of the left lane on I-70 somewhere near Mizzou. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the outcome of the series, despite my admiration for the Troy Tulowitzki chant. At the risk of being unoriginal, I will say that Jonathan Papelbon should have been the MVP of that series, having sucked the thin mountain air out of any Rockies hope that was left after the Game 1 schellacking. Down as I was to see an Amazin-free postseason, I enjoyed the hell out of the Red Sox ride.

But what's done is done, and it's now the offseason, as Scott Boras so politely reminded us somewhere around the 7th inning of Game 4. With regards to A-Rod: COUNT ME IN! I can't begin to fathom why any fan of any team wouldn't want the best player in the game. I couldn't care less about his alleged baggage, with the strippers and what not; I couldn't care less about the slapped glove or the "HA" in Toronto. He hits 45+ home runs regularly. For the love of God how can anyone complain? And the postseason failure? I really don't buy that someone who is capable of putting up the sorts of numbers he has put up year after year, most notably this past year, under a lot of pressure in the biggest market, somehow always has and always will lose it in October. He's still hit .279 in 10 career postseason games with 7 hr. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes the whole can/can't get it done when it counts thing is a crock. Remember Barry Bonds not hitting in the playoffs, and the October he put together in '02? How about John Elway, after all? Or Captain Clutch Jeter and his .179 lds batting average, hitting into double plays like there was no tomorrow? At the end of the day, the playoffs can be so brief, in any major sport, that it can be very hard to judge how clutch a player is or not. (Again, there are some notable exceptions. I think Josh Beckett has shown us as much.)

So let me back off from all the controversy with Mr. Rodriguez for a minute and make a case. For one, see above. He's just an incredible baseball player. Period. Then factor in the PR generated by A-Rod coming to Shea. Admit it or not, it is every Met fan's dream to outright steal the back pages from the Yankees, and a move like this, the imminent arrival of Citi Field and some October ball in Queens, coupled with the current Yankee face-lift that could verge on rebuilding, would go a long way towards doing just that. Next, if an A-Rod jump across town did work out it would make for a hell of a story, considering the treatment he's received from those millions of people from New Jersey and Westchester who call themselves Yankee fans. I truly believe that Met fans would embrace him until he really blew it, and if he made good with New York on his childhood team his rep would be saved. Finally:
Even Philly couldn't hang with that.

But would he do it? Would the Mets do it?
As for the former, he'll go wherever on earth the money is, and would probably have some extra incentive to succeed in NYC, on the team he apparently rooted for when he was young.
Would the Mets do it? Why not? I honestly see them as a front-runner in all of this, if not only because they probably have more money to burn than anyone involved, especially because of the potential extra revenue A-Rod could generate. The New York market is essentially unlimited, while other markets can top out. Wright seems amenable to playing wherever management wants him to, even though I'd rather see him stay at 3B and see Alex slotted in elsewhere, such as first. Delgado and a lot of cash for some pitching help, anyone? The Red Sox have a very cohesive team right now, and I don't see a John Henry whose hedge fund is losing money by the day messing with that by taking on another 30 mil a year in one ballplayer fresh off winning a series with the guys he's got. The Cubs don't even truly know who their owner is, and that kind of investment could get dicey. Arte Moreno and Bill Stoneman in Anaheim haven't pulled the trigger on a huge bat to join Vlad yet, so who's to say they'd do it now? I see the Dodgers as the major contender here, and they flat out don't have the kind of money the Mets do, nor the balls that Omar has. Go get him, dammit. Now.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week Off

The blog will be out of action for a week, as I am driving to Colorado having run into some World Series tickets. Go Sox.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey Guys! It's Us! No, Over Here!

You'd think the New York Metropolitans had died or moved to Kansas. Fade to black. From the last week of September: the great pulling of teeth, to the first week in October: the exodus, the week of sorrow, pain, disgust and anger, to nothing. I swear I haven't heard a thing about the Mets anywhere in the mainstream NY media since the Indians celebrated on the hallowed grounds of the Boss's toilet. Beyond that, if you didn't know better, you might think the playoffs had just stopped, Sopranos-style, with no ALCS, no NLCS, no WS. They just ended when the Yankees bowed out.

There are a lot of unfortunate elements to this whole situation. I say hats off to Joe Torre for turning down an offer that can only be called an insult. He wins for championships, gets in to the postseason every year, and arguably restores respectability to the Yankee franchise, and he gets offered a one-year deal with a 2 million dollar pay-cut after 10 days of limbo. That is a slap in the face. Period. Good for him for not sheepishly submitting to the House of Steinbrenner.

And now,
I don't want to hear Joe Torre's name for a long time. Torre is a truly decent human being, and was certainly a great manager. That said, this Torre circus has been enough. The Red Sox and Indians are two hours removed from game 5 of an ALCS, ace vs. ace, and the first question fielded today by Red Sox manager Terry Francona concerned Joe Torre. The Colorado Rockies have won 21 of 22 games, the Cleveland Indians can smell their first title since Truman was in office, the New York have holes-a-plenty to fill this winter,Mets and all we've heard about is Joe Torre.

Alas, the supply will always meet the demand, and if you ever happen to tune in to WFAN in New York, you will have heard endless Joe Torre calls for the last week. Mayor Bloomberg chimed in. So I suppose my wish to put this story to rest will not be heeded, and that's fine, but can we at least take a spare moment to look at what else is going on in baseball? If there were ever a reason that the rest of the country resents to hell all teams from our neck of the woods, this is it. Go watch the World Series, even if the Red Sox do get eliminated some time before Sunday.

I can only hope that in the wake of all this, a couple of notable Yankees, (but mostly Jorge Posada) decide to go elsewhere (Queens). Should he become available, hate him as I have for so many years, it's an absolute no-brainer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Offseason Needs: Outfield


Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, Shawn Green, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley, Jeff Conine, David Newhan, Ricky Ledee. All of these characters started in the Met outfield this season.

In any given season, one almost has to assume that Carlos Beltran will be shut down for some period of time. Seeing as he is the only sure thing in the OF going into next year, it figures that having a couple of reliable guys around him would really benefit the club. I like Moises Alou, I really do, and I can't say enough about how he performed this year
when he was around. There was an endless period of waiting for Alou to get healthy, and this coupled with the Milledge/Green/Gomez shuffle set up a somewhat nebulous team identity. Most folks seem to want Moises back, and that seems likely from the Mets' end as well, but I truthfully don't see that as being a smart move. Is half a year of Alou and half a year of a replacement player going to benefit the team much more than bringing in a decent outsider, who will probably play a better LF?

Then there is right field. For starters, Shawn Green has absolutely no shot here, though again I like him (My season tix are in RF, so I develop a report...). Milledge becomes the likely go-to guy, and I wouldn't have a problem with that if a replacement LF is brought in, but I'm not sure Milledge is still a Met come April. Any deal for a real front-line starter probably involves Milledge, and to me, Carlos Gomez is not ready to be a full-time Major League player.

Consequently, there are two conceivable vacancies in the expansive Shea outfield in 2008. Here are the notable potential free agents:
Bobby Abreu (Team Option, 16mil), Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Milton Bradley, Aaron Rowand, Mike Cameron, Adam Dunn, Brady Clark, Luis Gonzalez, Darin Erstad, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson, Brad Wilkerson, Rob Mackowiak, Sammy Sosa, Kosuke Fukudome.

Abreu's option getting picked up or not largely will depend on the A-Rod/Posada/Rivera dealings, and Dunn's team option is almost a sure no-go. Jenkins has an option that I'm not sure about, but I could see a Brewers team that close to contention picking it up. You can pretty much rule out Cameron, Bonds and Sosa, and probably a few others based on lack of talent. The interesting names here are Abreu, Andruw, Hunter, Dunn and Jenkins. Then, of course, there's Japanese superstar Kosuke Fukudome.

I don't want anything to do with Andruw, despite reports that the Mets have interest. First off, the idea of moving Beltran in to right and Andruw in center is just ludicrous. The legend of Andruw Jones the center fielder has gone too far at this point. Yes, Andruw was historically good with the glove early in his career, but he has been in a steady decline to the point of being a less than average CF at this point. See Jayson Stark's article from last May
. Add his horrible offensive year (.222/.311/.413), the sour taste Met fans have for him, and the immensity of the contract he is surely due, and not signing Andruw Jones is a no-brainer.

I have the same feeling about Fukudome. There's really no way to know exactly how he would perform stateside, and a certain second baseman currently playing in the NLCS leaves a bit of soreness around here when it comes to investing a whole lot into Japanese players. For the record, Kaz Matsui's Japanese numbers (.309/.361/.486, 306 sb's in 9 years) are about as good as, maybe better when you add the sb's and the weak offensive position Matsui plays at, than Fukudome's (.305/.397/.543, 70 sb's in 9 years). Granted, there have been plenty of success stories out of Japan, but as many bust. I don't know that this team could afford the fallout of a Kaz Matsui v. 2.0, complete with a huge contract, after the collapse of this season. If they sign him and he's incredible, great, but I don't see it.

Of the other big names, I like Dunn the best. I like Rowand, and would be happy to see him signed, but Rowand's bat tends to fluctuate year by year, and I'm not sure how much of a shot the Mets have at him based on level interest elsewhere. The same goes for Hunter, who is basically blocked by Beltran, and will be brought in by someone else to be a franchise CF. Abreu is a wild card, because the Yankees could easily sign him, and his reputation, fair or not, as a non-gritty, weak clubhouse player could hurt a lot on a team in need of fire. A lot of people hate Adam "Nice Guy Dave Kingman" Dunn, but I don't see how he hurts. There are plenty of bats on this team that can provide a base hit when you need it, and the power he would provide in the lineup easily makes up for the low average. How many times did the Mets trail by 3+ runs this year, and seem finished if Wright and Beltran didn't do it? I would love a Dunn signing if Alou were gone and a solid glove started in RF.

Essentially, as far as position players go, this team has question marks at four positions: C, 2B, LF, RF. In my eyes, two of these positions need to be filled with impact players, and seeing as this is probably impossible at 2B, and improbable at C, at least one needs to come in the form of an outfielder. Just not Andruw, please, not Andruw.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How the Yankees Affect Us

I've remained somewhat silent over the last few days, not really knowing whether to comment any more on the Yankees, and feeling that any side post commenting on Omar's last appearance on the Fan would seem a little irrelevant. There is no doubt that right now the story is the Yankees, and even as Met fans, we are dominated by the whole thing. It truly is difficult to determine to what extent one should curb one's self as a Met fan in terms of the Yankees. In my case the emotional investment goes pretty deep, seeing as I have also always rooted for the Red Sox.

As a Met fan, however, half the time that I feel like killing the Yankees or even acknowledging their existence, I feel like I may be doing something wrong. On the other hand, when I encounter a Met fan that doesn't really have anything against the Yankees, and maybe even pulls for them once the Mets are out of it, I always want to slap some sense in to him.

I suppose it comes down to finding that happy medium between ignoring what certainly is and should be a rivalry, and seeming like a clueless, jealous brat.

Did I have a great big grin on when the Bombers got knocked out? Yep. Did I cheer and yell and scream? Yep.
But I didn't call every Yankee fan I knew to gloat, nor did I have the urge to spray it all over the blog. I have some compassion for Joe Torre, who truly is a decent human being, and happens to be from the greatest borough on earth. I can step back and appreciate the magnitude of the run they have made, without getting too whiny over it.

But I cheered. For what it's worth, this is a team with a uniquely obnoxious fanbase that is directly at odds with us in terms of our market, and in this day and age, having to compete within a market against a team is almost as significant having to play that team. If we are the holdouts or descendants of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, we gotta hate that other team. Period. Just hate in an evolved manner, unless you are in the privacy of your own home. Basically, don't do the Yankees Suck chant when it's not a Subway Series; that kinda sums it up.

Beyond the odd relationship, the implications that this series could have on the Mets are definitely strong.
For one thing, the Yanks going and winning a championship after that Met collapse could seriously hinder the pace of the Orange and Blue wave that's been coasting through NYC. We finally start to get relevant, start to really compete, and then we get knocked out and they win the series? No good.
Second, the probable departure of Torre leaves the door open for a lot of free agents to not be as inclined to stay in pinstripes. What do the Mets need this offseason? SP, RP, OF, C. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Bobby Abreu and Jorge Posada are all potential FA's that to me would seem more likely to test the market with Joe gone. Do I think it's likely that Andy Pettitte or Mariano would end up here? No. Not at all, really, but the other two make for some pretty interesting speculation. Then there's always A-Rod. Yikes. There's hardly any way he doesn't opt out of that contract, and you could visualize ownership trying to repent for that little mistake Steve Phillips made way back when. I'm just not sure if it makes any sense. For all the flak he catches, I won't say I wouldn't welcome him to Shea, but where? Wright at second? A-Rod at second? Wright to first and Carlos Delgado relaxing in the dugout to the tune of 16mil on his backloaded contract? Who knows...
EDIT: This just popped up on Rivera
The third implication the Yankees' loss has on this team and its fans: Yeah, it feels good to have some company on the downbound train.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tense and Entitled

It's pretty clear that none of the common maxims concerning postseason success are accurate. You can say pitching wins championships and look at the Yankees having won 26 of them with arguably only 2-3 pitchers that deserve to be considered in the top 50 all-time. You can say playoff experience wins championships and look at the 2002 Angels, the '97 and '03 Marlins, or the '07 D'Backs, Rockies and Indians. You can say a strong finish in September equates to wins in October, and then look at the '06 Cardinals and Tigers.
I have a couple pretty non-revolutionary theories about postseason success. A) It's relatively random. B) Loose teams win championships.
Right now the Yankees, quite amusingly from my end, find themselves buried in an 0-2 hole as they return to the Bronx, on the brink of solidifying their 7th straight championship-free year. Certainly if any of the four teams currently down 0-2 had a shot at taking three straight, it would be the Yankees. They're going home to face two pitchers that don't deserve to be in the same rotation with the first two they saw, and any game 5 is a toss-up. That said, I doubt it.
I won't say that this Yankee team lacks heart or hustle; statements like these are really throwaways after they've been said by everyone everywhere since Game 7, 2004. What I believe has really bitten this Yankee team in the rear, to a progressively worse degree every year, is the culture that is cultivated and encouraged from the front office, and trickles on down to the fan on the street. I'm not making any personal attack on the Boss, or any complaints about the payroll here. I have a lot of respect for Steinbrenner for spending that money; as a fan I would hope my ownership spends my money on my team.
The real problem, the culture issue in the Bronx, is the tough love fascination with winning, winning, winning. The banter you hear about "true Yankees", the constant scrutiny of a manager that has never failed to bring you to October, the way many Yankee fans are just waiting to pounce on A-Rod before he even steps up to the plate with RISP, all of these are signs indicative of this attitude. Any failure is viewed as Armageddon, completely unacceptable in all ways. There is no team or fanbase that is totally free of these sentiments, but in the Bronx that is their defining trait. World Series titles are tantamount to a heroin fix, leaving the post-2000 Yankees effectively dopesick. That is the real problem with this mindset; it is impossible for any of these Yankee teams to be loose and relaxed in October. While arrogant and entitled, they are not confident, and it is apparent in their play. They are playing tense and tight, trying to keep up the appearance of being strictly business, and at a point that just doesn't work. The Rockies are having fun, as are the Indians and the Diamondbacks. The Red Sox are having the time of their lives. Is there any way Derek Jeter gives you the reaction Manny Ramirez gave you after hitting a walk-off HR last night? The Indians are playing the Yankees with a drive to win, certainly, but that drive is coupled with a clear awareness of the nature of postseason play; they are enjoying themselves and have the feeling that they have nothing to lose. The Yankees entered this series assuming they would win because they are the Yankees, feeling they had dodged a bullet by missing the Angels to play the AL-leading 96 win Indians in their stadium. Subesquently, they encountered unexpected adversity, and since then they have approached every hitter with an urgency, as if they have everything to lose. Perhaps the only Yankee not guilty of this is Andy Pettitte, who has all but missed the majority of the recent down years.
Around all of the other series the same theme has held true. The relaxed team who knows who they are are winning. Arizona was written off despite notching the NL's best record, but they stayed calm and confident and are on the verge of sweeping a Cub team that is full of holes despite their high profile. Philly has played the right way for months, and maybe they allowed that stretch run to get them ahead of themselves.
I have to admit, this week has been a much better week for this Met fan than last week. Here's to Manny Ramirez.

Glavine Declines 2008 Option

So that's that.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Offseason Needs: Starting Pitching

So I figured I'd incrementally cover the various areas that this team, that is the New York Metropolitans, needs to address. Perhaps the most blatant, and probably the most in need of creativity on the part of Omar Minaya, is starting pitching. So, rather appropriately, we will start with starting pitching. The following are potential/probable free agents for this coming offseason:
Kris Benson, Paul Byrd, Shawn Chacon, Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Scott Elarton, Josh Fogg, Casey Fossum, Freddy Garcia, Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings, John Lieber, Kyle Lohse, Rodrigo Lopez, Wade Miller, Eric Milton, Odalis Perez, Joel Pineiro, Kenny Rogers, Curt Schilling, Carlos Silva, Brett Tomko, Kip Wells, Randy Wolf, Jaret Wright, Victor Zambrano. A few of these players, have team options, but Pineiro and Byrd seem like the only ones with a real shot of getting their options picked up.
Essentially you are left with a bunch of guys who are either below average, injury-prone or very old. No one in this group would fit the title "front-line starter", which ideally is what the Mets would like to acquire. The only two on this list who really stand out at all are Schilling and Kenny Rogers, and either one could easily be resigned by their respective teams. I don't think we'd ever see the Gambler in a Met uniform again. Schilling is old and pretty fragile at this point, but he most likely brings a good deal more to the table than Duque, and with some luck could replace Glavine nicely. I wouldn't be wholly opposed to that option; there is indeed a need to add youth to this team, but there are plenty of other places you can do this, and a 1-2 year deal for a proven veteran to fill one of two rotation vacancies may not hurt. As far as the rest of the list goes, you can totally right of the injury-plagued members. I just can't see Omar envisioning Matt Clement or Bartolo Colon as viable options to solidify a shaky staff. What I could see is bringing in a dependable, league average or so innings eater to replace El Duque in the rotation, sending him to the bullpen; someone along the lines of Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse or Livan Hernandez. If you write in Pedro, Perez and Maine, and assume some length of injury for one or more, that leaves two spots. The only way a Silva type works here is if there is an additional deal made on the side for a real impact pitcher to fill the other vacant spot. Example rotation: Pedro, Javier Vazquez, Maine, Perez, Carlos Silva, with Pelfrey/Humber as insurance.
Of course, such a scenario is entirely contingent upon bringing that impact guy in. It's tough to speculate on which big-name starters could be made available, but here are some potentials: Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Dontrelle Willis, Brandon Webb and the entire White Sox rotation. A couple of these are serious stretches as far as availability goes, but you never know. Personally, I would stay the heck away from Willis, as the league seems to figure him out more and more, and he would demand an amount of cash to resign that just wouldn't be worth it. Any Met fan in their right mind would be thrilled to see Santana come to Queens, but what in the world gets him? Milledge, Maine, Humber, plus? Reyes? If through some bizarre act of God Johan becomes available at a price that would not seriously cripple the rest of this team's future, then sure as hell go get him, but I hear too many people saying, "they gotta get Santana", as if it were a forgone conclusion that this were doable within the realm of reason. But hey, Santana, Pedro, Maine, Perez and whoever looks real good. The most likely options would be the usual suspects from the south side of Chicago, and while none of them command the same fear of God that the other names do, there would be a lot of potential for success in the NL. Vazquez would seem to be the most interesting, coming off a year in which he won 15 games, posted a 3.74 ERA and struck out 213 for an abysmal ballclub. One could cite the failed Yankee experiment as a reason not to bring him to NYC, but to be fair the guy got hurt, and the Yankees kinda ran him out of town quickly. He seems like someone who could be gotten for a Gomez, Pelfrey and low-end minor-leaguer, and make a major difference in this rotation. Beyond him you get Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras. Any of them could be successful, and gotten at a smaller price. (Consider the El Duque-Contreras element...)
The options really are endless, and with each one arises a new drove of complications. No matter what, there absolutely needs to be a major addition to this rotation in one form or another, because the cross your fingers with the guys you have approach did not work this year.
Kris Benson, anyone? ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shades of '03

Josh Beckett was just downright incredible. There were many times tonight when I really couldn't have told you what pitch he just had just thrown. Fast and active. The Sox tacked on four runs on a couple of homers and a rbi single, and that was that. Beckett threw a complete game, 4-hit shutout, struck out 8 and walked no one. #19 was so absolutely brilliant that it got boring. Not much more of a breakdown for this one. It was all Josh Beckett. Sox win 4-0. Nice.


I honestly didn't think Jeff Francis had it in him. Playoff crap-shoot, as usual. The Rockies ace was basically unhittable, save two bad pitches in the 5th inning. Aaron Rowand and Pat the Bat went back-to-back to lead the inning off, but otherwise Francis only gave up two hits, while striking out eight batters in 6IP. Hamels had a horrific top of the 2nd, throwing 40 pitches while walking in one of the three runs he allowed in the inning, and that was pretty much all she wrote. The back-to-back job provided Philly's only runs, and Matt Holliday chipped on one more run for Colorado with a solo shot in the 8th.
The Colorado 'pen went untouched, and I remain impressed by Clint Hurdle's management of this Colorado team. Every button he pushes seems to work and has seemed to work all year, most notably the promotion of Manny Corpas above Brian Fuentes into the closer's role earlier this year. I really hadn't gotten much of a chance to see Corpas pitch, but he's got it. Bravo for going with the right guy, and not being a slave to roles, a la Joe Borowski.
It may be early, but I really don't see Philly as having a chance in this series. I thought they would win this game one, and having burnt Hamels and handed momentum to a team that really didn't need it, the Candy-Stripin Fightins could be all done quick.
Not that I'm holding a grudge, or anything.
Stat of the game: Phillies 1-4 hitters, 0 for 15, 1BB.

Three Game 1's

So the glaringly Metless postseason kicks off today at 3:00pm. I'm really having to push myself to get wrapped up in the NL side of the bracket, but that SD-COL game certainly didn't hurt.

Game 1: Rockies at Phillies (C. Hamels v. J. Francis), 3pm ET
I have to pencil this one in for the Candy-Stripers. I don't know which way this series will end up; I can see the Rockies pulling it off, but this is a game Philly has to win and does win. Outside of Hamels, who is coming off of an 8-inning, 13 strikeout shutout last Friday, the Phillies can not rely on anyone in that rotation. Kendrick is the next guy you would go to, but he doesn't go deep into games, and has 121 career MLB innings pitched. Give me Moyer on Sunday (5.1 ip, 0 er), I'll give you Moyer 5 days earlier vs. the Braves (5.1 ip, 6 er). Point is the Fightins need Hamels to win every single time he pitches in the postseason, and as much as he makes me ill, to this point he has done nothing but follow through.
Francis, on the other end, has been a solid and consistent if not dominant "ace" for Colorado. He's certainly a good pitcher, but ideally he's a #2 guy somewhere. He finished the year on a fine note, really not getting touched up at all for the final two months, with one notable exception: September 13, 3.1 IP, 8H, 8ER, 4BB, 2K, in Philadelphia.
These are two offenses on absurd highs, with the talent to back justify every run plated. The only way someone falls off here is by running into lights-out pitching. I take Philly, 6-2 in game one, but I'll take Colorado in 5 for the series.

Game 1: Angels at Red Sox (J. Lackey v. J. Beckett), 6:30pm ET
Lackey's career numbers vs. the Red Sox are so outlandishly bad (1-6, 6.27 ERA), and even worse at Fenway (0-2, 8.38 ERA, that you almost figure that something's gotta give. But the Red Sox are certainly aware of his history, and therein gain major edge before a pitch is thrown. They know Lackey well, they've crushed him, and they have the Cy Young winner on the hill. Playoff butterflies can bury lineups in game 1's, but their history with Lackey can allow Boston's bats to stay loose and let Beckett deal. Red Sox, 8-3 in game one, and they win in 4.

Game 1: Cubs at Diamondbacks (C. Zambrano v. B. Webb), 10pm ET
Rarely has a playoff team been sold so short as the Arizona Diamondbacks are right now. You would think that the Cubs had won 108 games and were facing a lowly wild card. The Cubs have the front page all to themselves, and in about 5 different polls I've seen ranking the playoff teams, the D'Backs are consistently dead last. Is it the new unis? Yes, the D'Backs have a startlingly low team BA for a division winner (.250), and they haven't scored a lot of runs, but they are the NL's only 90-game winner.
As far as tonight goes, I don't trust Carlos Zambrano in a big game anymore than I trust Victor Zambrano, and Brandon Webb can decimate any lineup any time. You keep hearing about the Rockies closing the season winning 13 out of 14, but who won that 14th game? Webb. He has Peavy's numbers without Peavy's propensity to put out lilliputian efforts when it counts. Soriano strikes out swinging. I take the D'Backs in game one, 4-1, and they take the series in 4.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Willie Stays

Good. There's been so much Willie this, Willie that, that I don't really have much else to say. See yesterday's Willie post. Go out there and get it done, Skip.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rock n' Roll All Night

I had to put my 2 cents in on this one.

What a ballgame at Coors tonight. The Alpha and Omega of the Padres pitching staff both continued to prove that while they put up stellar numbers, neither is worth more than a Tom Glavine in a big spot. Peavy was leaving everything up, giving up 3 runs in the 1st and 6 overall in 6 1/3 IP (He did help his own cause by grounding a base hit up the middle to start a rally that led to an Adrian Gonzalez grand slam). Despite having a 'pen that led the NL in ERA, Bud Black chose to stick with Peavy despite the early runs, and he might want that one back. Padres relief was untouchable from the moment Peavy left until Trevor Hoffman came in, and as usual in a clutch situation let his adrenaline leave his changeup up, and accelerate it to a slow, flat fastball. It takes quite the odd composition to notch 524 career saves, yet constantly cough it up when it matters.

Mike Cameron's early absence from the Padre outfield had a real effect on the game, as Brady Clark failed to make two catches on what ended up being doubles off the wall that let the Rox back in it.

Otherwise, the game really couldn't have lived up to the billing any better, right down to the announcing. Don Orsillo (Red Sox TV Broadcaster) is a fantastic play-by-play man, a pleasant surprise when I was expecting the Braves crew on TBS.

The lead shifted 6-7 times, and we got it all. In the top of the 13th, Scott Hairston hit a 2-run shot off our old friend Jorge Julio, who as usual was overthrowing like a maniac. The way the crowd died in Colorado after that was stunning, and you had to think the game was over and done with, but Trevor had
nothing. Who led the bottom of the 13th off with an absolutely roped double to right-center? Kazuo Matsui himself. I have to admit I'm happy for him. Troy Tulowitzki, another in the ever-growing class of elite young shortstops, immediately followed with a double to left-center, and then Matt Holliday (my sentimental MVP vote, anbody but Rollins) tripled off the wall to tie it. The next batter Jamey Carroll lined out to right field, and Michael Barrett actually blocked the plate despite losing the ball, apparently never allowing Matt Holliday to score on the play, though Tim McClelland called him safe. Holliday lay clenched on the ground after the play, having gotten his chin stepped on and banged up, thereby not touching the plate. Despite what I saw as a blown call, you have to assume the Rockies had a good shot of plating another run, and they certainly earned this one.

Phils-Rox will be very compelling. The two hottest teams down the stretch with explosive offenses in two bandboxes. It's like a 5-game football series. Let's Go Rockies. I like their spirit.

What a game.

ESPN: Schoeneweis Received Steroids

ESPN is reporting that during his tenure with the ChiSox from '03-'04, Scott Schoeneweis received shipments of Testosterone and Stanozolol. Here's the link:

So that's why he suddenly became so ineffective, even with the AL to NL switch. Maybe Show saw the swoon coming, and preemptively picked up old habits in the summer. He did get a lot better later on...

Jeez, the news for this team just keeps getting better, huh?

EDIT: Initially, the Big Show has vehemently denied any knowledge of these shipments, and has claimed that he never live at the address where the steroids were allegedly sent to him. The MLBPA has kinda brought upon itself our skepticism of such denials, but I suppose you have to wait and see it proven...

Omar's Legacy and Willie's Woes

The state of Willie Randolph's job security is once again the eye of the storm among Met fans following the plunge. My vote remains consistent, and that is not to fire him. Willie is calm and Willie is dedicated, somewhat of an anomaly in the history of the usually neurotic franchise.

I am not in any way denying his shortcomings as a manager. Plainly, he has some difficulty grasping the intricacies of NL baseball, most notably in dealing with pinch-hitters and the bullpen. I don't really take issue with who he uses out of the 'pen or when he uses them, as the pickins have been pretty slim, but rather
how he uses them, and how he pinch-hits. Yesterday, for one, I'm not convinced that pinch-hitting Sandy Alomar and his sparkling .143 BA with one man on, thereby limiting Sosa's contribution to 1.2 IP, was a good idea. (If you don't recall, Alomar flied out)Too many times you will see a reliever enter a game to bail someone else out of an inning, only to be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the frame after throwing 1/3 of an inning. I suppose what I'm getting at is that Willie needs to learn to double switch, and he needs to not overvalue certain pinch-hitters (eg. Alomar, Newhan, Franco) when he needs to get what he can out of the 'pen.

Again, I don't question his ability as a motivator and mood-setter. In hindsight there were some things he could have done differently in this regard: slap Reyes around, slap Milledge around, communicate more with the pitching staff, etc. The thing is that he has had so much success in his managerial career, for 11 years as an assistant in the Bronx, and 3 years here, that "if it ain't broke don't fix it" probably came in to play. Up until the last week of the season, no matter what problems he had seen, his team had done nothing but win, and it seems as if the fear of damaging that held him back from making any major statements. I can understand that, right or wrong, and I think it's something that he as a manager can draw from in the future. He will never be fiery; it's not who he is, but let him fail more times than not before you pin him as a loser.

The same kind of delusion can be attributed to Omar. "If it ain't broke...". To me this offseason defines Omar's career. He arrived pre-05 with an overflowing wallet to play with and a store to shop in stocked with big new toys. I can't take away from the success of his moves that year, but to be fair, signing Pedro and Beltran were kind of no-brainers if one had the money to spend. The following offseason he impressed me a little more, but again, he didn't take many gambles. He finagled his way into the right moves. That I give him credit for. Last offseason, he was confident in the assertion that he had built a machine that had perhaps gotten unlucky in losing to the lowly Cards, so he stayed the course and didn't change much; went ahead with a patchwork rotation/pen.

Beyond that, the constant reliance on the proven vet vs. the up-and-comer proved lethal. I have been a defender of Shawn Green's, mostly because I don't see any reason to kill him like people have done, but the insistence on holding Milledge back only stunted the flow of the offense. Gotay was never given a chance to show what he could do pre-Castillo trade as a full-timer, after doing nothing but hit in his small chunk of work. Look around baseball: Pedroia, Buchholz, Ellsbury and Delcarmen in Boston; Joba, Kennedy and Hughes in the Bronx; Tulowitzki in Colorado; Braun and Gallardo in Milwaukee; it goes on. What were Mota, Sele or Brian Lawrence giving you that Humber couldn't have? When your vets aren't bringing you to that next level and you have potential in-house options, you have to give the youth a chance, especially with a cushion in the division like they had up until 2 weeks ago. But Omar and Willie stood pat, going with their guys, trying to ride out the wave. That didn't work, and now major, major moves have to be made to change the culture of a team that took a nosedive.

I don't blame Omar or Willie yet. Omar built the machine that brought the Mets back to relevance and Willie ran it. But now can they fix it?

Well, Tom, I AM devastated.

"I'm not devastated. I'm dissapointed, but, devastation is for much greater things in life. You know, I'm dissapointed. Obviously it wasn't the way I wanted to pitch. Can't really say that there was a whole lot that I would do differently..." --Tom Glavine, after the worst statistical start of his 21-year Major League Career.

Watching Glavine yesterday, I got the feeling that he might not even care. Well there you have it. Not a whole lot that you would do differently? Really? How about not hitting a pitcher for the first time in your career? How about not throwing an inner temper tantrum when Joe West doesn't give you your ideal strike zone and readjusting your approach?

The whole Tom Glavine-Mets experiment seemed very lukewarm and iffy off the bat. The Met uniform always had the feeling of a Halloween costume on him. He was brought here to be the guy, and that was never something he was comfortable doing. He flourished along with Smoltz and Maddux, and really started being effective in New York upon the arrival of Pedro and the other big-name acquisitions.

Glavine is a Brave. He was always a Brave, and always will be a Brave. The next time we all see his wife, who seemed to be more important to the cameramen than the baseball game at #300, she will be smiling and teary-eyed while he unenthusiastically expresses humility for his HOF induction with a big scripted "A" on his head. He came here for money, couldn't perform until everyone around him got better, tried to go back to Atlanta but couldn't get enough money, and settled for returning to the Mets for one more year to secure his legacy with 300 wins, and more money. I'm not espousing any conspiracy theories here, I'm just saying that he never put the interests of the New York Mets baseball club very high on his priority list other than how it affected him. This was allegedly a "big game pitcher". Game 5 last year against the Cards? Yesterday? The last two weeks? He had no motivation to "bring it" whatsoever. He got 300. (After a month-long 299 circus) He was ready to retire, go back to Georgia, and maybe call games on TBS in a few years. Good riddance, Tom.

On a better note, David Wright, after continuing to perform on both sides of the ball in spite of the swoon that surrounded him, came out and took the hits. He expressed a real level of pain over what happened, accepted blame, and told it like it is. Right now the culture of this team has to go the way of David Wright. He has been steady on the field and mature and composed with the press. Put a "C" on his jersey. No matter what has happened, number 5's prime is still ahead of us.