Saturday, December 24, 2011

Um...can you stop at Citi Field?

Merry Christmas! Life is good, well, in most ways. Every off season, it seems that there's a reason or two to lament being a Mets fan. Maybe it's a contract to Perez or Castillo, maybe it's the building of a beautiful new ballpark that seems to pay homage to another NL team, or maybe it's the retention of the most incompetent GM in the history of sports (October 2009, in case you've forgotten). But this year takes the proverbial cake. We lose Reyes, fine. Beltran becomes a Cardinal, we can't control what he does, so fine. But the relentless stories on money problems are draining on the psyche of a fan. We all understand rebuilding, re-tooling, a makeover at Glamor Shots, whatever. But when your team is financially destitute-this adds a new, unpleasant wrinkle. This takes away hope, the bastion for fans of a struggling team. The latest is that debt in mounting on the Mets and SNY, and MLB is getting antsy. Who could blame MLB, as the prospects for a financial turnaround are tied to the ability of Wilpon and Katz to quickly find ski masks.

Other quick hits:

Thole and Duda were on Hot Stove this week. I don't like either. Duda actually looked and sounded like he was afraid to be a RF, admitting that he has no speed and is defensively challenged. And why exactly hasn't he been traded to an AL team yet? Did Sandy forget to pay the AT&T bill? As for Thole-I challenge someone to tell me which catcher's responsibilities (offense and defense) he executes competently. And following that logic, why is he assumed to be the number 1 next year? I know the system is short on catchers and there's little money, but why not bring in as many castoffs as possible and try to find something?

There was talk this week of a deal for Eric Young Jr. Now I can get excited. This guy can play 2B (no thanks, JT-you're a reserve at best) and the OF (maybe he can play 2B and RF simultaneously and keep Duda off the field?). On a serious note, he'd be a perfect 2B on this team, and provide much needed speed up top. He stole 27 last year, and has stolen over 70 in a minor-league season. Yes, he has no power. Yes, is OBP is not ideal. That's why he's available, folks. If the price is Niese, maybe that gives pause. But maybe there's another way to get him (can you say Pelfrey?). It's worth looking into, don't you agree? He'd be an upgrade.

Enough for today. It's Christmas Eve, after all. My friend Coop from "A Gal For All Seasons" went to a "59-days-until-ptichers-and-catchers" party this week. That can only mean that there are fewer than 59 days now. And that, for me, is present enough.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A mid-winter board meeting

Last night we gathered in Queens (what a surprise, right?) to celebrate the birthdays of "Coop" (A Gal for All Seasons) and Denise (I don't know if she has a blog). A bunch of Mets fans gathered at Strawberry's Restaurant, talking baseball and having a libation or two. Studious Metsimus and Faith and Fear in Flushing were also represented, as we debated and pondered the recent actions of or beloved Mets, and their imminent and long-term future. With such a stellar crew assembled, I wanted to share some of the discussion.

Duda-is he a RF or trade bait? I was surprised at how many want to give Lucas a shot in RF. I want to give Lucas a shot to be what I think he is, a DH. I say use him in a package to get a RF who can lead off. I was out voted.

Reyes- no one was surprised (obviously) and no one was terribly broken up by his departure. We loved Jose, but at $106MM for 6, we're happy to say "Adios, Papi".

Niese- strong reaction here. Everyone felt trading Niese would be a mistake, even if a young pitcher and another piece comes back. I agree. We have a young stud LH. Why trade him for a "maybe"? Keep our guy!

Bullpen- consensus that the moves will help. No one liked the idea of blowing twenty one 7th inning and beyond leads (haha), and everyone felt Sandy did well with limited resources. And interestingly, no one made wise cracks about folding chairs. I was the only one pleading with Santa to re-home Parnell.

Funniest line of the night goes to "Mr. Coop", who said, "In 2012, the Mets will be deceptive. They'll be worse than you think".

Whether we agreed or not, the night was another reminder that baseball is the greatest game on earth. Think about it. It's football season (we all love football). it's holiday time, there was ample alcohol and junk food (including macaroni and cheese balls)-yet all we wanted to talk about was a team with financial difficulties that has not had a winning season in three years. Gotta love baseball. And thanks for having a mid-winter birthday, Coop! I needed a baseball fix.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So I was wrong

Last week, I boldly proclaimed that Reyes would return. Well, got that one wrong, didn't I? In watching Reyes with Kevin Burkhardt on SNY this week, I could not help thinking about Tom Glavine. Why? It seemed from the minute Glavine inked with the Mets in December of 2002, he regretted it. Jose seemed the same way. He tried to say the right words, about how he's now a MIAMI Marlin. He said the Mets did not make an offer, so he did what he had to do and went where he was wanted. But you kind of had the feeling that he knew he'd be playing in front of 5K fans by 2013, and that he'll be miserable. He has his money, that's for sure. Let's see if it can buy him happiness. One more thought on the Marlins. Folks, they have no intention of paying on these contracts until they expire. Did you notice they refuse to do no-trade clauses? They may be able to afford the contracts in 2012, if the new ballpark is a draw. But trying to deny the lack of popularity of MLB in South Florida is like trying to hold back the ocean with a paddle. The Pirates drew for a year after they opened PNC. Now they play to 10K at most. The ballpark does not wallpaper over indifference. Sorry about that, Jose.

The Tejada era has begun. I'm not going to lie and say I'm excited, but I am intrigued by the re-made bullpen, especially Ramon Ramirez. His 68.2 IP and 66K will do just fine. I like the attitude of Rauch, who will take no crap from anyone. The Mets have become very soft lately, and an make-over in the "balls" department is overdue. His WHIP of just over 1.3 is also quite serviceable, and it also means we won't see Igarashi again. Then there's Francisco. His 53K in 50.2 IP means he can miss some bats, and that'll be welcome. Just keep the folding chairs in the Citi Field basement.

Pagan-I liked him. Coop did not. Ed did. See, there was a divided house over Angel. Kudos, though, to Coop when on opening day of 2011, she proclaimed that Angel should have been dealt when his value was highest. I'll take Torres and his D and speed. But I will miss Pagan.

What's next? Apparently, anything not nailed down at Citi is available (except DW). Why not? I must say that my heart palpitated with joy at the rumor that Parnell was about to be dealt. This guy will be driving a UPS truck in 2 years. As Ojeda says, a lot of UPS drivers can throw 90, but they can't pitch. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Bobby. I think they need a leadoff hitter, as Torres OBP is not good. Personally, I'd love to get an SS (I've always liked Furcal) who can leadoff, and move Ruben to 2B. Now that's defense! Torres could bat second, and JT can be a utility player. I'd also like to see veteran leadership at C, and am 100% in favor of Pudge, despite my usual disdain for 40 year-old players. Of course, I'd like a new starting C, but I think we will endure more Thole (sigh). As for the bench, I guess Endy is less likely, but bench players should be versatile (Turner) so I say bring back Harris and Hairston. Go ahead, spit at your computers. I like both of them.

Has it been a "fun" off season? Not really. Jose's departure is painful. But with Johan back, and a new pen (need I remind that twenty one 7th-inning leads were blown last year), I see mediocrity again in 2012. Maybe a few more (correct) moves can edge the team above water. I said "maybe".

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Down to the wire?

Things are starting to heat up. Rumor is that the Marlins are pushing Jose for a decision before or during the winter meetings, which start in 48 hours. David Lennon says that the Mets are not terribly active in their pursuit of the NL batting champion, and this points to a South Beach address for Reyes for the next 5-6 years. I have a different view of the situation, which will likely play out to be incorrect shortly, but I'll share anyway.

I don't think Reyes wants to be a Marlin. If he did want to be in that organization, wouldn't he have signed by now? The Marlins first spoke to him on 11/1 at midnight (so we hear). The problem is, no one else is chasing Jose. He seems to be waiting for another offer, to commence the bidding war. Why would he do this if the Marlins were his first choice? He could sit down and hammer things out with them. And, why would he want to play in Miami? He says it's close to DR-it is. But how many teams (reference the Pirates among others) open new ballparks, sell out for a year, and then the same old indifference returns? Bottom line-MLB is NOT popular in south Florida. You can sway people to see a new stadium for a while, but trying to say that a ballpark will change indifference toward the game is silly. It has never worked. It never will. I think Jose's heart is in NY, and he is trying to get what he can to set the market for the Mets. The may or may not choose to play, but I think they can and will, as long as there's no dramatic shift in the dollars out there for Reyes. I say he's in Flushing, wearing blue and orange next year.

Omar has taken a position as Sr. VP of Baseball Operations for the Padres. Thank goodness for this. I lived in fear of his taking a position with the Mets, and now there's one less team to worry about the NL. He'll drive that organization into the ground, as he did to the Mets. Did they win 97 in 2006? Yes. Was is in any way sustainable? No. Look at all the players on that team who were in their mid thirties or beyond:

Martinez, El Duque, Wagner, Oliver, Bradford, Floyd, Green, Valentin, Delgado, LoDuca, Glavine, Mota, Trachsel, Franco (it hurts to type that name), Stinnett, Tucker. That's 16 of 25. They were built for one year, and they failed. Now we have to watch a multi-year cleanup process. There was no depth. And when I read that Omar is on good terms with the Wilpons, I spit up like a baby. Oy vey...

It's the first major off-season event now, the winter meetings. Let's hope they do better than last year, when they came back with Paulino and Emaus. Speaking of catcher, apparently, backup catcher is on the list. Good start...let's get a starting catcher, too. But I don't want to get started on my dislike of Thole. The weekend has only 2 days.