Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Who kidnapped Carlos Beltran? And to whoever did, can you keep him?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Long before the entire Mets’ team (sans David Wright) took September off; a memory that has been indelibly marked into fans heads for 6 months now, there was a previous not so distant memory Mets fans cringed thinking about…Carlos Beltran watching a called third strike from Adam Wainwright in the 2006 NLCS.  Really, up until the last 17 games of last season, that moment, above all else, is what ate away at fans.  Even worse, was the ease and casual attitude Beltran took allowing the teams push for the World Series that year with his bat on his shoulder.

 

But wait…2008 spring training is upon us, and even though everyday players are not yet required to show up, many of the Mets veterans have.  Or have they?  Carlos Beltran, in what seemed to be an innocent meeting with some press in the dugout at Tradition Field all of the sudden spoke.  What came out of his mouth however, was not something that Carlos Beltran would say.

 

“To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat.”

 

WHAT?!!?  Ever since acquiring Johan Santana and being named the uncrowned champion of the NL East, every Met player that has been asked about it, has stuck to their guns and said, “Yes we’re better, but the Phillies won the division last year, so they are indeed the team to beat.”  So imagine the shock to many fans ears and eyes when they hear and read Carlos “I do my talking on the field” Beltran had the balls to say what his teammates won’t.

 

Beltran’s complete comments were:

“Let me tell you this, without Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we’re going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We’ve got what it takes.”

That was enough of a statement to make.  Like I said, a statement David Wright has refused to embrace.  Even afterwards, Wright stood by the idea that the Phils are the team to beat.  When asked about becoming enemy #1 in “The City of Brotherly Love” Beltran didn’t back off either. 

“I don’t care,” Beltran said. “They boo me in Houston. One more city won’t make a difference.”

 

But the biggest question is, does he finally care what fans in his team’s home city think?  Willie Randolph attributed Beltran’s confidence to being a new father and laughed the comments off.  Myself, I don’t know what to think.  If Carlos Beltran starts to show even the slightest bit of effort to be more than a really talented player who is content with doing his job and collecting his check, then sign me up to the “New” Carlos Beltran fan club.  Yes, in just a matter of a few weeks there’s enough of a chance that this will be a one time thing that Vegas won’t even put it up on the board.  Yes, there is a great chance that come his first 0-4 with 3 K’s day at Shea he’ll retreat to his shell and never be heard from again.  And yes, there is even the chance that this might backfire as the Mets fans had hoped Rollins’ comments last year would (his mis betrothed MVP award would say is didn’t). 

 

Seriously though, as Billy Wagner said in response after Beltran made his comments:

“There’s no use in us showing up if we don’t believe that we are that type of team.  For me, I don’t think I would ever go out and say it just because I believe in going out there on the field and doing it, but hey, you know what? He’s my teammate. I got his back.”

 

For anyone who thinks that this is actual fodder for people in Philadelphia, as someone who (sadly) lives there, let me assure you, they’ve already taken up to crowning themselves the best and have downplayed the addition of Santana to such a degree you’d think the Mets had just gotten Kris Benson…ooops, sorry Phillies fans…he’s your headache now (though I’m more inclined to subscribe to a newspaper here now if Anna Benson-mania runs wild here).

Here’s what you hear, if all you do is read Philly papers and watch Phillies coverage on Comcast down here.  “Pedro Feliz is a great addition.  We have the best home grown talent of any team.  Our only weakness is depth on the bench.  Yes the backend of our ratation has some questions, but it did last year and we won. The Mets can add anyone they want, we have a better team.”  This is a city with the shortest long term memory in the world.  Let me explain.  In late June last year wanted it’s manager’s head, wanted Pat Burrell gone, wanted Brett Myers to just keep his mouth shut.  Now their world beaters in the fans and sadly their beat writers eyes, but believe you me, the minute they start to slide, these fans and writers will remember.

 

So kudos to Carlos Beltran, because down here, they’re already trying to convince themselves that they are atually better than the Mets and even if no one on the Mets came out and said what Beltran did, this city already convinced themselves they had, so why not just come out and say it, if, like Beltran says he does, believe it. 
 

I solve crime (and talk baseball) with NUMBERS

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

As I type this, the numbers are flying all over the place. 7 years, $150.75 million at an apy of $21.5 million per.  Well, all those numbers sound nice in early February, but at this same time of year, I have a few more numbers to throw out there.

14 Days…1 Hour…12 minutes.  Yes, those are the numbers that matter the most to me.  You see, those numbers will get smaller and smaller until February 14th at 12 noon, when a 28, soon to be 29 year old Venezuelan arrives in a sleepy little town off the east coast of Florida known as Port St. Lucie.  That will be the time, when Johan Santana steps into the home teams locker room at Tradition Field, looks across the room, and sees yet another number, albeit a more firmiliar one. 57. However, this number won’t be on the back of a Minnesota Twins spring training jersey, it will be that of the New York Mets.

At that point, the numbers, the money, the potential of past prospects and the ghost of bad deals past will not matter.  At that moment, it’s all about an amazingly talented man and his ability to throw a baseball; and throw it as well if not better than almost anyone else on this planet.  The only numbers that will matter between that time and October will be the one’s that precede the letter “W.”  Even the numbers on the patch on his sleeve that will read “1964-2008″ will mean nothing.  This isn’t about the past, it’s about the future.  2008 will mean nothing without those numbers in front of that “W.”  And even though all year, Johan Santana’s numbers will be dissected more than a frog in a High School Biology class, it’s all about winning.  Winning is every bit as much of an attitude as it is anything tangible.  An attitude that eluded this Mets ball club in the dog days of last summer.

Monday, David Wright, The Carlos’, Jose Reyes and many others were probably still practicing their answers to the question, “What happened?”  By this coming Monday, they will be asking questions of their own and looking forward to introducing themselves to the one man who can potentially take the pain of game 162 away.  You see, Johan Santana brings more to this club that a stellar left arm and knee buckling change-up, he brings simple change.  He brings the 2008 version of the New York Mets onto the field, and while many of them still feel the pain of last September, make no mistake about it, Johan Santana didn’t come here to be a footnote on the worst collapse in baseball history.  He may not be the savior…but he also sure as hell isn’t Livan Hernandez.

Are the Mets setting us up for a Santana disappointment?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Like everybody else, I’ve been glued to all of the baseball sites on the internet, hoping that today will be the day that the ESPN.com headline reads “Mets trade for pitcher Santana.”  As have most Mets fans, I have felt slight pangs of disappointment when that isn’t the headline of the day, where the news and rumor sites still read “Mets front-runners for Santana” or “Mets lead Santana race” or whatever stock car analogy has the Mets in the pole position of a non-existant race.  Nothing has changed; Santana remains a Twin, the Mets remain the “front-runner,” and the Yankees and Red Sox continue to lurk.

But what does it mean to be the front-runner?  Does it really mean anything?  It just means that right now, the Mets currently have the best offer on the table.  However good that offer may be, though, it clearly isn’t good enough for the Twins to say “We have to take this.”  It’s good enough to be better than the Red Sox or Yankees, but it’s not good enough to get the trade done.  If it was, Santana would be wearing blue and orange right now and the Mets would have a perennial Cy Young Award candidate at the front of their rotation.

From how I’m seeing things, it looks like there is posturing on both sides of this negotiation.  On the Twins’ side, the Mets’ name in the paper as the “front runner” is clearly a ploy to get the Red Sox and Yankees to ante up a little bit more to get Santana.  Problem is, it’s hard to say how badly both sides want Santana.  The Red Sox are pretty clearly only involved to either drive the cost up for the Yankees to get him, or to prevent him from going to the Yankees at all.  The Yankees, on some level, probably do want Santana, because they’re the Yankees – they want the best at every position.  But for them, acquiring Santana would cost them like $30 million a season including luxury tax costs and what have you – even the Yankees have a limit.  Factor in that the pitchers the Twins are looking for (specifically Phil Hughes) are considered high ceiling prospects, and it’s easy to see why the Yankees may be reluctant to trade here.  But then again – they are the Yankees and Red Sox, and the cold war between both teams means that they will always be in play for the very best players in baseball.

On the Mets’ side, the posturing centers around Fernando Martinez.  Thus far, the Mets have been reluctant to put Martinez in any trade, and I understand that; hell, before the off-season started, I was firmly in that camp.  The Mets see that the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t anteing up, and that the Twins are going to “need” to trade Santana (because they can’t sign him), and that as front-runners, they don’t have to do anything special to acquire him.  The package, even without Martinez, is quite enticing; Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Delois Garcia, and Phil Humber, which represents the Mets’ 2nd best hitting prospect and their top three current pitching prospects.  The Twins, though, by trying to pump up the Red Sox and Yankees here, can not only get the players they really want (who are by and large Red Sox and Yankees), but they can try to force the Mets’ hand and get them to include Martinez to the deal.  It’s a circular process here, a game of cat and mouse between the Mets, Twins, and peripherally, the Red Sox and Yankees.

Where that leaves us is the Mets are putting up a good offer, but not one that is particularly better than the Red Sox or Yankees.  The difference here is, the Yankees and Red Sox don’t have a pressing need for Santana.  They are involved in the negotiations because they need to keep him away from the other team, and because the AL East race remains highly competitive.  The Mets have a far more pressing need for Santana.  Besides the PR boost following last year’s collapse, besides the idea of bringing a marquee pitching star in his prime to New York before they open a brand new stadium next year, they have a specific need for an ace starting pitcher, a 200 IP+ workhorse.  No matter how you slice it, the Mets need Johan Santana.  Standing pat is not enough to win the NL East; the Mets stood pat last year, coming off of a much better season, and they couldn’t repeat.  This year, coming off one of the worst regular-season collapses in the history of modern baseball, it’s simply unacceptable.

Which is why I believe it’s time for the Mets to stop fooling around here, and it’s time to put their best offer on the table, whether or not they want to part with Fernando Martinez.  I don’t want to trade him either; he has potential to be a real star corner OF.  But they aren’t trading him for a second-tier ace; they are trading him for the best pitcher in baseball.  The more they avoid making their best offer, the more likely it becomes that the Red Sox or Yankees will swoop in and grab Santana from underneath them.  Then what are they left with?  Signing Livan Hernandez to fill out a rotation with two big injury question marks.  For a team built to win now, this isn’t enough.  It’s time for the Mets to crap or get off the pot, or else they are just setting up the Mets’ fanbase for another disappointment, and after the way 2007 ended, I’m not ready for another disappointment this soon.

Perez dominate as Mets take series from Brewers

Monday, May 14th, 2007

With few updates lately, I’ll just do some catch up here and hopefully we can do a little better with updates. Since I only saw one game this weekend, I’ll just hit the major points that came to light going into and coming out of Sunday’s game.

Willie Randolph insisted that Mike Pelfrey was his number 5 starter following Saturday’s thumping by the Brewers that saw Pelfrey suffer his 5th loss in 6 starts to “improve” to 0-5 with a 6.53 ERA. However, when the Mets arrived at Shea for Sunday’s matinée against Brewers, Pelf was on his way to the Big Easy, and Carlos Gomez was trying on his pristine brand spankin’ new #27 Mets jersey. From where I sit, there was nothing else the Mets could do. It was obvious Pelf had no confidence in his stuff, aiming his fastball and throwing up in the zone time after time. 17 walks in 30.1 innings, and a terrible WHIP of 1.75 just doesn’t cut it even as a #5. Pelfrey is at his best when he pounds the strike zone low and gets ground outs. So far this year, his ground out to fly out ratio is 1.43 and that is no where near where he needs to be. Now he’ll go down to AAA where hopefully he can work out these issues, because the Mets can’t afford to allow him to do that at the major league level.

As to who will take Pelfrey’s place in the rotation, that remains a mystery, but the organization appears to be looking at left hander Jason Vargas. Vargas, who was acquired in the off season from the Marlins, was scheduled to start for New Orleans Sunday against Las Vegas, however he was scratched and replaced by Phillip Humber (who lead the Zephs to an 10-3 win). This move certainly makes it look like he will be called up Thursday to face the Cubs. If it isn’t Vargas, Willie Randolph called Aaron Sele “a possibility.”
The other ramification from this move is the calling up of 21 year old OF prospect Carlos Gomez. Gomez, who had been with New Orleans in AAA, was hitting .286 with 24 runs scored, 17 walks, eight doubles, two triples, two home runs, 13 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 140 at-bats. He also led the PCL with 17 steals.

As for the games themselves, On Friday, Jorge Sosa pitched his second solid game since being called up a little over a week ago, leading the Mets to a 4-3 victory. The Mets got long balls from Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley. Sosa gave up 2 runs on 4 hits through 6.2 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. Aaron Heilman continued to look terrible, giving up a 2 run home run to JJ Hardy in the 8th. Billy Wagner on the other hand was efficient if not extremely impressive, pitching a 1-2-3 9th, throwing only 7 pitches.

Saturday was a game he Mets would like to put behind them in every conceivable way, losing 12-3. Pelfrey gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and walked 3 in 5 innings. Pedro Feliciano gave up 2 runs, Joe Smith’s perfect season was spoiled and spoiled hard, as he gave up a grandslam to J.J. Hardy, and Scott Schoeneweis gave up 3 runs. To say it was a bad day is a vast understatement. Offensively besides David Newhan finally doing something by hitting a meaningless HR, there was very little the Mets could hang their hats on.

When the lineup was posted Sunday, it had all the makings of an “uh oh” game. Oliver Perez, coming off a frustrating loss in San Francisco where the defense let him down and he subsequently imploded, was at best, an unknown. Would that loss mentaly defeat him for starts to come? Also, Paul Lo Duca would get the day off, although if you don’t feel confident in Ramon Castro at this point, you need to start watching a different sport. Moises Alou was out with a quad issue, Endy Chavez started in left. Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green also got the day off against a lefty, Julio Franco would start at first and Gomez would make his major league debut starting in right.
With all that said, this game was complete reversal of fortune from Saturday. The Mets dominated the Brewers, winning 9-1. Perez was brilliant, only allowing one run on 2 hits in 8.1 innings, and one of those hits was a 9th inning home run by Bill Hall, coming off the bottom half of the 8th where Perez gassed himself scoring all the way from 1st on a Jose Reyes triple. I know it sounds like an excuse, but after 8 innings pitched and a exerting himself on the base paths, it might be valid. Either way, the line of 8.1 1ER 2H 2BB 6K is impressive as Perez improved to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.00. Offensively, the Mets used their speed on the bases to capitalize, even against Chris Capuano who is reguarded as having one of the better moves to first in baseball, stealing 5 bases. 3 of those steals were by David Wright, who seeming is doing whatever it takes (shaving his head, pulling up his socks and using his secondary skills) to help himself break out of his season long slump. Wright had 3 steals all season coming into this series and will head into the series against the Cubs with 7. Jose Reyes also stole his league leading 21st base. The other steal came from Gomez, who I mentioned was getting his first major league start. Gomez was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored. He also made a terrific diving catch in right field. Carlos Beltran, who must have felt he was getting a day off in the outfield, flanked by the speedy Gomez and Chavez, both of whom are natural center fielders, had a two run home run in the 8th inning, his 8th of the season. Damion Easley hit his 5th home run and drove in 4, going 3 for 5 in his 13th start this year.

Other notes: Moises Alou appears to be on his way to visting a very firmiliar place to him…the DL. Alou has made 14 trips to the DL in his 15 full (if you can call it that) major league seasons…looks like he’ll make it 15 for 15. After an MRI Saturday showed bleeding in his quad, Alou was quoted saying, “I don’t feel very good right now, I’m not very optimistic about it. How long? I’m not going to come back any time soon.” He will be re-evaluated today, and if there isn’t marked improvement, he’ll be hitting the DL. Alou’s injury necessitated the call up of Gomez on Sunday. Gomez got the call because Lasting Milledge has been out since April 28th with an injured foot, and figures to be out another 2 to 4 weeks. If Alou does go on the DL, Ben Johnson, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres during the off season, could be an option to fill the empty spot on the roster until they need a 5th starter Thursday. Johnson has struggled in limited action at AAA New Orleans, hitting just .268 in 30 ABs with 1 homerun.

In news that shouldn’t be news but was a big story, Jose Reyes finally acquiesced and joined the rest of the team of shaved heads with Aaron Sele being the lone exception. Carlos Gomez was met with the razor upon arriving at Shea.

Oliver Perez went 1 for 4 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI on Sunday. He’s now hitting .353 and is tied with the Marlins Scott Olsen for most hits by a pitcher with 6. In the most unusual stat of the year for the Mets so far, Perez has more hits in less at bats than both Julio Franco and David Newhan. He has also scored 5 runs, which is more than Franco, Newhan and Ramon Castro. GET THAT MAN ANOTHER GLOVE!

Tom Glavine was not in uniform Sunday, nor was he even at the ballpark. He may not have even been in New York. Glavine has asked, and was given permission to attend a “family function” on Sunday. While this isn’t quite Roger Clemens-esque, it does bring up the question, if Glavine does decide to play next year and wants to stay with the Mets, will they have to take a step closer to the Clemens deal the Yankees singed the pitcher two recently.

The Future: The Mets will start a 4 game series with the Chicago Cubs today as Tom Glavine takes to the hill looking for career win 295. Glavine is 4-1 on the year with a 2.98 ERA. He will go up against Jason Marquis. Marquis, who singed with the Cubs in the off season, is 5-1 with a 3rd best in the majors 1.70 ERA and a major league leading .90 WHIP (tied with teammate Ted Lilly). The rest of the series will see John Maine (5-0 1.79) face off with Carlos Zambrano (3-3 5.83) on Tuesday, Jorge Sosa (2-0 2.77) against lefty Rich Hill (4-2 2.51) on Wednesday, and Thursday will either see Aaron Sele (0 starts, 1-0 4.11 in relief) or Jason Vargas (2-3 5.30 for AAA New Orleans) for the Mets while the Cubs will most likely pitch Angel Guzman (2 starts and 4 relief appearances 0-0 3.57). The series will also see the return to Shea of Cliff Floyd. Floyd played 4 seasons with the Met before not being re-signed following last season and signing with the Cubs. Floyd is still close friends with his bag caddy while in NY the previous 3 seasons, David Wright.

The Past: A year ago on this exact date, the Mets had an identical 23-13 record.

Speaking of the Mets last year, Jorge Julio, who was with the Mets this time last year will now pitch for his third team since the Mets, as he was traded from Florida to Colorado for Byung-Hyun Kim. I bring this up simply because I love the quotes from the teams including:

  • “It’s a trade of one guy struggling for another guy struggling,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said. “There are not a lot of players available in the game right now. We got a guy with a track record of doing all right.” He’s kidding, right?
  • “Julio needs to be fixed. So we have some work with him.” SOME?
  • “I wish we would’ve fixed him,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I wish we would’ve got him to help us.” So does Rick Peterson.
  • “He’s not on top of his game right now but we wouldn’t have gotten him if he was,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.” Good times…Good Times.

Ugh…Fox.

Friday, April 6th, 2007

After being forced to sit through the TBS telecast of the Mets vs. Braves yesterday, I am currently sitting through the FOX pregame. Some great things so far: Tim MacCarver looks like he’s 90. Joe Girardi has said about 10 things incorrectly. And Kevin Kennedy, talking about the Braves, talked about how “no one” is talking about them and everyone is picking the Mets and Phillies and overlooking them. Then, when Kennedy makes his picks…he has the Phillies winning the east, and the Mets getting the wild card. WHAT?! But you just said…I…you…but…WHAT?!? Shoot me now! Tim MacCarver is wearing Tony LaRussa-esque sunglasees…Oh yeah, he’s drunk.

Wright not right in two hole

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

When I asked to be a part of this site, Wilcox gave me a template to use for my 2007 predictions, but since I came to the party late, I didn’t address one of the topics they did. One of those topics was the prospect of David Wright in the two hole, instead of Paul LoDuca. Both my colleagues were very positive about the experiment which Willie Randolph toyed with the second half of spring training; I, however, not only subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory, but I also think, as this team is constituted right now, it would be a move in the wrong direction.While I don’t disagree with the idea of putting your best hitters at the top of the lineup, and while I agree that David Wright is one of the Mets’ best hitters, at this point in his career he fits better in the 5/6 hole than he does up at the top. The biggest issue I had with Wright’s 2006 season, aside from his major slump after the All-Star break, was the obscene amount of full counts he ran. Typically he would fall behind early in the count, and then spend the second half of his at bat fighting off pitches the opposite way. “What’s wrong with that?” I hear ringing in my ears as I type this (the doctors told me this would stop…but they don’t root for the Mets). The problem I have is, we know Wright can take the ball the other way well, but he’s not Mike Piazza; he’s not going to hit the ball 450 feet to right field. If Wright is going to increase his power numbers and become a lock for 30 homeruns a year, he needs to take advantage of pitchers trying to get ahead of him early with a fastball. Hitting behind Reyes would cause him to continue to be overly selective. Wright needs to bat at a place in the lineup where he can grow as a hitter. I don’t think any Mets fan wants to concede that Wright will be a .300 20 100 player. We don’t want Fonzie at his best, we want better.

For those of you who want stats and other silly stuff like that, I’m sure Wilcox can give you them, but as just a free thinking Mets fan, I am perfectly happy with the lineup card the Amazins’ handed Gary Cederstrom Sunday night. And look, if you still aren’t satisfied with it, we all now LoDuca isn’t playing 162 games this year, so when he’s on the bench Willie can move Wright up to the number 2 hole…so let’s not freak out too early. Hey, they’re on pace for 162-0 so don’t complain…leave that garbage in the Bronx.

John Thomson makes some amazingly ill-informed comments

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

In this off-season, starting pitchers who have shown anything above a pulse in the last three years have received multi-million dollar contracts.  Joel Piniero had an ERA north of six last year, and the Red Sox signed him to a $4 million contract, for Christ’s sakes.  Chad Bradford has never shown a consistent ability to get left handed hitters out, and has never pitched in anything other than middle relief, and got three years and $12 million.

Despite all of this, John Thomson was apparently so bad, that he could only muster a contract of one year and $500,000 with the Blue Jays.  That kinda says he sucks.  Mets fans may remember that the team once traded Jay Payton for Thomson, in what has to go down as one of the more underrated bad trades the Mets have made in their history; Thomson was history the next season, and Payton has been a solid, if unspectacular, outfielder the past few years, years where the Mets have put out some real stiffs in the outfield before acquiring Carlos Beltran.

Anyway, despite being lucky to still have a job in baseball, let alone having two teams vying for his services, Thomson took an opportunity once he signed his new deal to bash one of the teams who actually showed interest in his services.  Said Thomson today:

“As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I’m not really into how he acts behind the plate,” Thomson said on a conference call. “I know a bit about [Toronto catcher] Gregg Zaun and I know he wants to win and he’s not going to let anything get in his way to do that, and I like that.

“And then with Vernon Wells in center field, I’m not really concerned about the outfield with him out there. … Just watching the Mets’ outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it’s not a real good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he’s a little shaky.

“I just liked what’s happening in Toronto.”

Wow.  Where to start?  First of all, how does Thomson know how he calls a game?  He has never been on the same team as Lo Duca.  Maybe it was from one of Thomson’s appearances in the all star ga…wait, he never played in one.  So he didn’t sign with the Mets because they employ Paul Lo Duca as their catcher?  If he took less money to play with the Blue Jays (and let’s face it, I don’t think the Mets could have possibly offered Thomson less than $500,000) over a catcher, when there’s a very strong likelyhood that John Thomson probably doesn’t have many years left getting contracts in six figures…well, I’m afraid that would kind of make John Thomson a dummy.

Also, love the comment about Cliff Floyd, who is currently a free agent and who will not return to the Mets next year.  Good job comparing Vernon Wells, the Blue Jays’ center fielder, to Cliff Floyd, the Mets’ former left fielder.  Apples and oranges, my friend, except in this case, there are no oranges in this particular fruit basket.  You may want to take note that the Mets’ center fielder is Carlos Beltran, who just won a gold glove and is, by all accounts, one of the finest defensive center fielders in all of baseball.

The Blue Jays have a good team.  They won 87 games in a tough division, which was good for second place, ten games out of first in the AL East last year.  That’s pretty good in a tough division.  The Mets won 97 games, which was enough to win their division by 12 games.  You know, if I am a free agent pitcher, and I had to gauge which team I “liked what’s happening” more, I think I might pick the Mets.

I just don’t see why a guy who has absolutely no relevency has to go and rip apart a team that did nothing but show interest in him.  This is a guy who hasn’t had a healthy season in two years, and who in healthy times is a completely middle of the road pitcher.  He’s pretty much a guy lucky to be getting a paycheck at this point.  I don’t get the point.  Though that shows how far the Mets’ pitching has fallen at this point…even John Thomson isn’t returning their calls.  Man, this was a playoff team last year.  Can’t somebody throw us a frickin’ bone?

Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Mark McGwire never took an at-bat for the Mets.  He played on an old Mets rival, though while he was on that team, they weren’t really a rival at that point.  He played for a team I don’t have a whole lot of love for at the moment, so it pains me to stick up for one of their icons.  But fair is fair, and keeping Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame is ridiculous; receiving 23.5% of the vote, an astonishingly low vote percentage, below guys who were clearly inferior ballplayers such as Andre Dawson and Lee Smith, is downright stupid.

Let’s look at the numbers:  583 career home runs (7th all time), .588 career slugging percentage (10th all-time), first player to hit 70 home runs in a season.  Most of his case-building numbers are power-based, but he also has a career OBP of .394, which is pretty impressive.  His career batting average is .263, which isn’t spectacular, but his job wasn’t to hit for a high average (though he did have five seasons of hitting over .285), but to pound the hell out of the ball, and he did just that.

Nobody questions McGwire’s Hall candidacy based on his numbers, though.  It’s based on the assumption (and that’s exactly what it is; an assumption) that McGwire used steroids.  The thing is, McGwire has never been tested for steroids, and has never been arrested by the federal government for using steroids.  There is absolutely no strong evidence that Mark McGwire has used steroids.  If he was arrested for using steroids, and all the evidence that the prosecution has is the same that the media and the public has for saying Mark McGwire used steroids, the case wouldn’t even go to trial.

Do I think Mark McGwire used steroids?  Probably – but I don’t know for 100% certain that he did.  I can’t say “Yes, Mark McGwire defininitely used steroids, so he does not belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame.”  In truth, I don’t think that there are many people outside of McGwire’s inner circle who can make that claim.  To me, it is unfair to punish McGwire, to keep him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame, when he clearly belongs based on his performance on the field, because he may have, or even probably used steroids, but without cold hard facts to support it.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters, because in the end, McGwire will be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Whether people like it or not, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa will both probably make it as well.  Steroids will always be a sore subject around baseball, but blame the Commissioner’s Office for that.  They chose to look the other way, implicitly allowing the players to juice up, knowing that the home run chases around baseball were bringing baseball back to life after the strike.  They knew, didn’t care, and when the public backlash against the steroid monsters they created began, baseball quickly reversed course.

If baseball had instituted steroid testing in 1995, following the strike, maybe Maris’ record would not have fallen, and maybe Hank Aaron’s record would be a little safer.  But we would also know for certain that there were no “cheaters” in baseball (even though using steroids was not against baseball by-laws, and was only a federal offense committed by players who did not fear the long-term repurcussions of steroid use).  Because the owners and the commissioner chose to waffle and reap in the profits instead of policing their game, there is now mass confusion as to whether or not players really broke the records that they hold today. 

For some, like Barry Bonds, we may one day find the truth as to whether or not he was clean during that time, because apparently there was a paper trail. For others, all we will ever have is a strong suspicion.  As far as I’m concerned, unless we ever find out for certain one way or another, you have to induct everybody whose numbers warrant induction.  That includes Sosa, McGwire, and everybody else.  To do otherwise is to condemn players with your own moral judgment, and that is not a criteria for the Hall of Fame.  If we’re going to put Ty Cobb, who by all accounts was an absolutely nasty human being, in the Hall of Fame because he was a great hitter, then we have to do the same for McGwire and Sosa as well.

A recap of the last week in Metsland

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

In case you’ve been out of the loop, here’s what’s gone down since I last updated:

So that’s where we stand today, no closer than we were last week in finding out where Zito’s final destination will be.  If he wants to be close to the Bay Area, where he has played the last few years, the Giants would seem to be the front-runners.  If he wants to play for a winning team, the Mets would appear to be the front-runners.  If he wants to stay in the AL West, the Mariners would appear to be the front-runners.  But we are no closer to finding out the answers to any of these questions now than we were a week ago, other than that the Rangers are likely out.

There is one other factor that could play a part in where Zito winds up – money.  Who will offer the most?  Most expected the Rangers to do so, but they didn’t, and are likely done.  Supposedly, the Giants and Mariners are willing to break the six year, $100 million barrier, but the Mariners already have two white elephant contracts on their books (Sexson and Beltre) and may not be able to take another.  I can’t see them having the funds to add Zito into the mix as well, especially for a team that won’t be very good even with Zito.

The Giants signing Zito would seemingly make less sense, considering that even with Zito, they are a team that will struggle to win 80 games, and are among the oldest teams in the National League and really need to start rebuilding.  Brian Sabean going after Zito reminds me of Steve Phillips signing Tom Glavine and Cliff Floyd right before he got fired; it’s a last-ditch effort to make the playoffs to keep from getting fired.  But look at their roster; it’s full of old guys at the end of their career, and the few young guys they do have are pretty bad.  If Zito really is concerned about winning, and the Yankees don’t trade Unit to sign Zito…I mean, the Mets would have to be a logical choice, right?

I’m conflicted on the Mets offering Zito the big contract.  On one hand, this team may not have much time left.  Carlos Delgado is at the end of his prime, and may only have one or two more “Carlos Delgado” seasons left.  Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez are both in their 40’s.  Pedro Martinez just had major surgeries and may not have another Pedro Martinez season left in him.  Billy Wagner is getting close to the age where relief pitchers suddenly and inexplicably lose their effectiveness.  Paul Lo Duca and Jose Valentin may have just had career years.  Shawn Green didn’t have anything when the Mets, and will presumably have less next year.  David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran are either in their primes or will soon be entering their primes, and there is a cast of decent pitching options in the minors who may or may not pan out.  This is a Mets team that needs another big time starting pitcher if they are to make a World Series run next year.

On the other hand…is Zito worth this money?  Is he really worth $100 million?  I am having a hard time thinking that he is.  Next year, Carlos Zambrano will likely test the free agent market.  That’s a pitcher who the Mets could sign for six years, $100+ million, and I’d feel comfortable.  Zito?  He’s a very good pitcher, but the money he wants is not for a very good pitcher, it’s for a superstar, and he’s not a superstar.  He’ll pitch very well for the Mets, he’ll fit in very well at Shea Stadium, and he could be the missing piece to a championship team.  But he could just as easily be a bust, and that would be $100 million that’s hard to eat.  Ask the Rockies how easily they ate the Mike Hampton contract.  I don’t think it would be as bad for the Mets as the Hampton deal was for the Rockies, but it wouldn’t leave them feeling good about themselves.

So as of today, we’re no closer to knowing Zito’s intentions as we were last week, and we may not be any closer a week from now.  The Zito negotiations are dragging on and on, as starting pitchers start to come off the market (presumably, after trading McCarthy and Freddy Garcia, the White Sox would be less likely to trade a pitcher).  Maybe that’s Boras’ plan – prolong the negotiations as long as possible, as pitchers leave the market, and force the Mets to either make a $100 million investment in Zito or go into 2007 with a weak staff.  All I know is, if Zito doesn’t sign with the Mets, can I have my last two months back?  The two months I’ve spent worrying about whether or not he’ll sign with them?  Please?

Texas douchebag trolls Mets fans

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Now, I realize I’m probably not the first to break this story.  I’m probably not even the 157th.  But some asshole Rangers fans wrote a story for some website basically putting down the Mets as being a loser organization, and what the hell…I have some free time after work to make this guy eat his words.  Let’s give it a shot.

Mets think Zito should join a winner

Yeah, that’s awesome. How many World Series trophies have the Mets had in the past 20 years? One. Congrats. That was 20 freakin’ years ago. I’ve owned at least five cars since then. Maybe six, I don’t know.

First of all, it sounds like your real problem is that you keep buying shitty cars.

Now, onto your point, or as I call it, “point.”  The Mets have one World Series championship in twenty years.  That is correct.  But can you remind me, Ranger fan, how many World Series titles your team has won in the last twenty years?  Would that be…none?  As in zero?  Zip?  Zilch?  Heck, you guys haven’t even PLAYED in a World Series game, let alone won one.  And here’s a fun fact:  the Rangers didn’t qualify for the playoffs until MLB expanded the playoff structure from 4 teams to 8.

Here’s another pair of fun facts for Mr. Rangers fan:  Since 1986, the Mets have won 1722 games, and the Rangers have won 1657 games, and the 97 games the Mets won last year would be a franchise high for the Rangers, had they ever actually, you know, won that many games.  So continue talking about how much the Mets suck, because as a Rangers fan, you clearly have that right.

But they made it to the WS in 2000, doesn’t that count?

No, they lost. A loser is not a winner.

Compared to the Rangers, and their zero World Series appearances…yes, that counts.  Again, if you were a Yankee fan or a Red Sox fan or an Angels fan, or even a Marlins fan…this all might sting a little bit.  But the Rangers are the living embodiment of a mediocre baseball team, and they have been so pretty much since their inception.  I kind of just laugh at you.

How many postseason appearances have the Mets had in the past 10 years? Three. How many have the Rangers had? Three.

But the Mets won the division last year, doesn’t th-

HUSHTHATFUSS! No. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. A loser is not a winner.

The last time the Rangers made the postseason, “Who Let The Dogs Out” was still a popular hit, and people were still worried that the Y2K bug was going to destroy the world as we knew it.  We could also rephrase this question thusly:  How many postseason appearances have the Mets made in the last six years?  Two.  How many have the Rangers had?  Zero.  Stop living in the past.

Also, just to clarify, the Mets lost in the NLCS, not in the first round.  The Rangers, in case you were wondering, did not make the playoffs.  Also, the Rangers have never won a postseason series in team history.  They don’t even know what LCS baseball is in Dallas.

But the Rangers haven’t been in the playoffs since 1999.

Exactly. I’m not calling them winners either. I’m just saying that these people and/or teams clamoring for Barry Zito, claiming they are the best thing in sports since the invention of the jock strap need a reality check. And so do the people who think they need to reward an above average pitcher on the same level as a dominant ace.

If you want to rip on the Mets for not being winners, you might want to make sure your team is a winner first.  It would be like Mets fans getting on the Yankees’ case for not winning a World Series since 2000 when the Mets haven’t made it that far since then.  The Mets happened to be a very good team last year that fell just short of making the World Series.  Ninety-seven wins in the regular season don’t lie.  Plus, I don’t know if you’ve seen the numbers going around in this market, but the going rate for an above-average outfielder is about $17 million/season, or exactly what Zito will wind up making.  The Mets haven’t even overspent on him yet and you’re ripping for it; the Rangers made the first offer here, and you’re offering the Mets a “reality check?”  Thanks for that!

But it wasn’t over.  See, this was written a week ago, and apparently a lot of other Mets fans reminded this guy of what a dope he is, including out friends over at MetsBlog.com.  He wrote a response to Mets fans, and it basically amounted to, “If you haven’t won a championship, you’re not a winner.”  That’s kind of silly.  The Mets won 97 games last year, which was tied for the most in all of baseball.  They ran into some bad luck in the playoffs and lost.

But even without a World Series trophy, if you were to ask me who the best team in baseball was, I’d say either the Mets or the Yankees.  Why?  Because they each won 97 games over a 162 game season, which would seem to mean more to me than winning eleven games over a sixteen game stretch like the Cardinals did.  It just happened to be that winning games over that stretch determines where a certain gold trophy resides next year, and that’s fine.  They’ll be back in the hunt again next year.

But seriously, you’re a published writer, man.  Why do you have to resort to message board trolling and flame bait tactics.  You even called Mr. Met gay, then didn’t even have the balls to leave it up.  C’mon man, that’s just sad.  Just because a bunch of Mets fans responded to your poorly written words, written as a reaction to Mets fans calling your team “losers,” (which, compared to the Mets, yes, the Rangers HAVE been losers – both in recent history and overall), and because you couldn’t handle the truth of the matter, doesn’t mean you have to resort to this.  Either write an intelligent, well-worded response as to why the Rangers are a winning alternative to the Mets, or run another angle on this, but don’t be a jackass.