Opening Day…….Are We There Yet ?

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Have  I lost my mind? Nope it’s time to make a BOLD move and by trading for Jimmy Rollins is as BOLD a move as you can make. See my rational below.  

It’s been pretty lackluster spring training for the Mets. Aside from watching the bumper crops of young pitching prosper and which organization is going to hand over a big league shortstop, the position battles we anticipated just haven’t happened.

The first baseman fight to the finish between Ike Davis and the new and improved Body by Lake Michigan, Lucas Duda has been non-existent. Both players have gone down with injury for most of the spring with Ike dragging a walking boot around to ease his calf injury and Duda resting a cranky hamstring.  So instead of who has the best at bats winning the first base job, the player who can walk to the batter box without a medical appliance will win that job.

We were all sold a bill of goods about the shortstop position as well. Ruben Tejada was also sent to Michigan boot camp and so far it seems like that was a big waste of time and money. Tejeda looks as bad as he did last season even with Grandpa Terry telling him how marvelous he is. While Grandpa Terry is trying to inflate Tejada’s self-esteem, Big Daddy Sandy is dangling young virile pitchers to any team with a shortstop who can move laterally and at least bat .250

The best move to fill the shortstop spot would be to sign Stephen Drew but Drew doesn’t want to play baseball he wants to be paid millions and then play baseball. It’s easy to kill Drew’s agent Scott Boras but doesn’t the agent work for the player? If Drew really had the hot desire to play baseball he would have told Agent Boras to get him the best deal out there.  There is no market for Drew except for one team, our beloved Mets, so if the GM should offer a face saving 1 yr for $14 mil to Drew/Boras and if they balk, lose their number. Then go into the contacts on your phone and dial Ruben Armaro Jr. and ask what it would take to deal Jimmy Rollins to the Mets.

Yeah you read that right, I want to bring Jimmy Rollins to the Mets as their everyday shortstop. I could care less that he’s a Phillie and that he’s rub our noses in the big stink of defeat for years, that’s exactly why I want him on the Mets. We need an everyday bad ass and since our every fifth day bad ass, Matt Harvey is out for the season. With  Rollins we get an everyday shortstop who has been told by his rookie manager that “he ain’t the ballplayer he used to be” and will be doing everything he can to prove him wrong.

Rollins makes $11 mil for this season and has very reachable clause in his deal to guarantee him $11 mil for 2015. That’s $22 mil the geriatric Phillies could use to get a player or two under 35 years old.  Since our owners declare they have cash to spend why not spend it on a guy who has a World Series ring an MVP and a prickly attitude?

I’m not saying I’d expect the Jimmy Rollins of 2007 his MVP year but if the Mets get Jimmy Rollins of the 2012 vintage it would make the season a lot more interesting .

Now for all of you, who are against this move remember not a single young stud pitcher will be moved in this transaction. That alone should get you on board the J-Roll Train.

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Keane on Sports Podcast w/Jeff Pearlman Author of SHOWTIME

 

On the latest Keane on Sports Podcast I am joined by Jeff Pearlman author of SHOWTIME: Magic, Kareem, Reilly and the Dynasty Of The 1980′s  (published by Gotham/Penguin Group)

Also on the podcast is my reaction to the NY Rangers trading Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lighting for Martin St. Louis which broke right as I started the podcast.

 

 

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Mets Radio Booth Still In Flux

 

I’ve listened to a couple of games on WOR 710 so far this spring and it’s been more of an adjustment than I thought it would be.

First off, the building I work in is not AM radio friendly so it takes a bit of effort  to maneuver the  radio I have on my desk to listen in on these spring games. Then the fact that BAM! Its game time. No pre game warm up show with an interview with the manager or a discussion with a beat writer on what has transpired so far in camp and what we are  looking forward to in the upcoming game. Nope right to Howie Rose or Josh Lewin or STEVE PHILLIPS?????

Yes former Mets GM and current Sirius/XM talks show host Steve Phillips has been added to the Mets radio team.  I don’t know how many games Phillips is signed on for this season but so far there has been a good listen Steve Phillips and there has been the finger nails on a chalk board listen Steve Philips.

Last week, Phillips worked with Josh Lewin while Howie Rose fulfilled his commitment as NY Islanders play by play man. The first couple of innings with Lewin handling the play by play and Phillips the commentary were a very good listen. Then Lewin turned the play by play chores over to Phillips and it was a total disaster. Phillips spoke way too fast and his nervousness at the mike was quite evident (I believe he used the phrase “toed the rubber” 2,356 times) Phillips went from an solid analyst to bumbling fool.

The easy thing to do is to ridicule Phillips but in fact I feel sorry for him that he was put in that position without the proper training. I blame the Mets and WOR 710 for that and both those parties should be ridiculed for putting Phillips in a tough spot.

I know Mets ownership wants a three man radio booth and have reached out to a few former Mets players to take the job but have been rebuffed because quite frankly the players had no desire to trek around the big leagues for a full season.

It also has been said the Mets would like the third voice in the booth to have some play by play experience/ability, sadly Phillips lacks in that department but as an analyst he could be a great fit.

There hasn’t been a hire for pre or post game host on the radio side either. That’s a total disgrace. It’s not like this was a shot gun marriage between WOR and the Mets, so not having a host in place to lead Mets fans into and out of games is unacceptable.

There are some folks that would be a nice fit for that spot. The first name I thought of was Jared Max who was last heard on ESPN NY radio. Max would fill two spots that WOR would like to fill working Mets radio casts and as a night time sports talk show host.

Mark Erney would be another solid choice as he is a Mets fan but a pure professional on the air. Bob (Mr. Met)Hussler though it may be tough to hire Hussler as he is the voice of the Conneticut Sun of WNBA and Fairfield University Men’s Basketball play by play along with his update duties at WFAN would be a good hire. Rich Ackerman would be a fine fit as well.

There are some fine voices and talented people out there, that’s why not having the spot secured on Mets radio is a real head scratcher.

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Did Ike Davis Put Himself Above The Team?

 

So if you’re Sandy Alderson what do you do with Ike Davis? Alderson as we all know is not an Ike Davis fan, he’s demoted him, contemplated non-tendering him a contract and has paraded his name on the trade market, all before knowing that Davis was hiding an injury for the majority of the season.

Alderson has to be seething this morning as news broke that Davis was battling a strain to his oblique for most of the season until it finally caused him enough pain to shut him down for the season.  Davis says the pain in the oblique was a big reason his offense suffered, especially his power but did not want to sit out to get better for fear of losing his job as the everyday first baseman, a very selfish move by Ike.

So what Davis is telling us is his stats and his performances were much more important than the wins and losses of his team. Davis was killing the team from April to July with his puny 6HR 25 RBI in 248 AB’s.  Without knowledge of him being injured the club left him in the lineup game after game hoping he’d find his stroke. The question I have is did anyone ask Ike if he was hurting? Did the manager go to him and ask is there something physically wrong with you? Did Ray Ramirez see anything that would set off a red flag? Did the GM inquire about Davis’ health? If all three did ask Davis about his health issues and he replied that all was well then he needs to go. Either trade him for a spare part or just release him but if he was asked if he was injured and he lied about it he has got to go.

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NY Mets Have More Questions Than Answers

Anthony DiComo covers the Mets for MLB.com, he sat down with Jeff Wilpon the other day to get a State of the Mets report. Here are some highlights with my commentary in italics.

MLB.com: This is a Mets club that has not seriously competed for a playoff spot in six years, but that has a strong farm system and signed several big league free agents this winter. What’s your take on the current state of the Mets?

Jeff Wilpon: I think we’re in a better state than we’ve been, and we’re ready to move forward with the plan that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] put in place three years ago. This is going into the fourth season of his plan, and we’re primed to take advantage of that.

How long have we been hearing this answer from Jeffey and the other movers and shakers in the organization? Primed to take advantage of what? No one looks at this Mets team as a serious contender for post season play, so what exactly is the team primed for?

MLB.com: Was this the year that you and the front office pointed to all along for a return to competitiveness?

Wilpon: We try to be competitive each of the years we go out on the field. I don’t think any player would ever tell you they don’t try to be competitive. But because of some of the expiring contracts and some of that freedom, just by virtue of this being the year all that was going to happen, you hoped this would also be the year some of our young talent would come into its own.

Remember last year the big push was for a 3rd place finish so what is the prime goal this year an 81-81 record? Think like a loser and a loser you shall be. This is my main problem with the brain trust of the Mets all the talk is about being “competitive”. When do they start putting the emphasis on “winning”? When does management start putting the heat on the manager, coaches and players that anything short of a playoff spot is an unadulterated failure?

MLB.com: How about manager Terry Collins?

Wilpon: We extended Terry’s contract, so we’re very happy with him — with his energy and his relationships with the players and making guys get better, which is always a good thing. There have been a bunch of guys Sandy’s brought in on Minor League contracts and put them out there, and they’ve performed. You can go through a pretty long list the last couple years, and not only do Sandy and his staff get credit, but Terry and his staff get credit for making them really usable pieces. Some of them we’ve traded and gotten back fruit from those trades as well.

In Collins’ 3 years as Mets manager the team record is 225-261 .463 winning percentage.  I wish Jeffey mentioned this long list of players that Collins and his staff made into better ballplayers? Sure Marlon Byrd revived his career as a Met but how much did Collins and hitting coach Dave Hudgens have on his success? The rumor was Byrd contradicted the approach on hitting that the organization preaches. Why did it take a trip to Las Vegas and working with Wally Backman and George Greer to get Ike Davis finding his way somewhat at the plate?   Collins still hasn’t grasped the way to run a bullpen and at times seems timed in letting starting pitchers go further in games.  

I’ll give Collins this much, he has more than vindicated himself as a manager from his other posts in Anaheim and Houston. He has never lost control of the clubhouse and he handles the media well, but it also helps the writers who cover the Mets never challenge him.

MLB.com: What is your response to fans who wished you had done one or two more things this winter, such as sign free agent shortstop Stephen Drew?

Wilpon: If those one or two things were there, we would have expanded the budget for them. Just to get a guy because the fans think that’s the right thing to do, that’s not part of the plan. Sandy’s not going to overspend for something he doesn’t see value in. The value that we see in those guys versus what their agents were asking for does not meet.

Ummmmmmm… when you’re having a tough time selling tickets is it wise not to tweak the fans/paying customers like that? If you want to take people to task over the Stephen Drew frenzy blame your incumbent shortstop, the GM and the manager because they have fed the beast. Alderson and Collins have called Ruben Tejada out in the media and the fans eyes don’t lie when watching Tejada and reading his stat line that an upgrade at shortstop in needed.     

Sure Drew/Boras are  playing hardball here and  I have no problem with Alderson staring them down but let’s face facts here it’s not just Mets fans who feel that Drew would be a major upgrade at short for the team but the majority of baseball talent evaluators feel the same way as well.

MLB.com: There’s a perception out there that your payroll is well below what a big-market team should spend.

Wilpon: I would point to the fact that you don’t have to have that kind of payroll to win.

Answer the question Jeffey, that’s not an answer.

MLB.com: How difficult has it been for you and ownership to go through the past half-decade without winning nearly as much as you’d like?

Wilpon: We’ve all hoped to do better, but as I think I’ve explained in the past, hope isn’t a good business plan. Hope hasn’t gone as far as we’ve liked, but I think we have more certainties this year than we’ve had in the past, so there are fewer things to hope on. But any team that goes out there hopes for a good season, hopes to stay healthy and hopes some of the young kids can contribute. We’re in the same position.

I hope it doesn’t snow today. I hope I get a seat on the subway. I hope the burrito I had for lunch doesn’t give me heartburn. HOPE. Successful sport teams don’t run on hope they run on the mindset that they are here to win. Again that is a big problem with this organization, no one in authority demands winning. It’s that kind of attitude that produces players like Ruben Tejada and Jordany Valdespin. Look how long it took for the organization to rid itself if the malcontent Valdespin. Even with sending Tejada to conditioning camp in Michigan where is the competition for the shortstop job? If the team is serious about having Wilmer Flores get work at shortstop then go for it. Don’t half ass it put the challenge to Tejada.

Okay I’m done go back to looking at Twitter and Instagram at pictures of players having a catch and stretching. Whatever gets you though the winter I guess?   

 

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How Does A Mets Fan React To Derek Jeter Retirement?

 

I’m in a bit of quandary with the news that Derek Jeter will hang up his cleats after this coming season. I’m sure I’m not alone; I mean how are we non-Yankee fans supposed to react?

I’ve seen some astonishing reaction from Yankee fans to shock that Jeter is retiring (the guy is 40 years old with diminishing skills seriously, where’s the shock) to some putting up there on the South Bronx Mt. Rushmore ( Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle that’s the Yankee Mt. Rushmore)

While it’s hilarious to watch some Yankee fans act like Jeter passed away instead of retiring after a great and prosperous career (on the field, off the field and at the bank tellers window) I find myself wondering how to react to this news.

I have a ton of respect for Jeter the ballplayer. His Baseball-Reference page lays out a great playing career. The problem I have with Jeter is he never seemed to connect with fans. Now I’ve yet to hear anyone say a bad word about the Yankee captain and I do commend him for staying off the scandal sheets as well as he has (although we all know about the “gift baskets” he gave to his female conquests) but I just don’t have the same feelings about him as a non-Yankee fan as I did for Mariano Rivera.

Jeter was never a great interview subject; the few times he did one on one’s he was not exactly a fountain of information.  Rivera always came off as a very humble guy, always with a smile on his face. Jeter always looked like he’d rather be at the dentist than speak into a microphone.

So how do we non-Yankee fans react when the Yankee captain comes to our home for the last time? This is where I’m have a tough time.

When the Mets honored Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera, I had no problem with that at all. I always respected how Jones played the game and how he loved playing in NYC. Same with Rivera, there was just something about him that I really liked.  It’s the same feeling I had for Thurman Munson and Billy Martin even though they were Yankees I had some admiration for them it made me put my Yankee hate to the side. For whatever reason, Derek Jeter doesn’t do that for me.

The Yankees come to Citi Field on May 14th and 15th I’m pretty sure one of those days Mets fans will blow up Twitter when the Mets give Jeets his going away gift. In fact the whole internet may explode like the Big Bang that day.

I look at Jeter the same way I look at Queen Elizabeth, I guess she’s a big deal but to me, eh what’s the big deal.

Two quick Derek Jeter stories :

My wife had won an autographed Derek Jeter framed poster at a school raffle. She had no idea how to get it in the house knowing that we keep a strict Mets home.  Both myself and my son asked here “what are we supposed to do with this” she said “I have no idea do you two think I WANTED to win this” .

That was about two years ago, the poster sits in my basement next to a couple of half-filled paint cans and some carpet remnants  but now that Jeter is packing it in I bet I can get a good price for it or maybe keep the frame for a David Wright poster.

Second story. Back when I was managing little league, the Staten Island Yankees marketing people came to one of our managers’ meetings to discuss bringing our teams to the Richmond County Ball Park for a game.  As part of the promotion they gave out raffle tickets to all the managers and coaches in attendance with various prizes to be given away at the end of the meeting. Some managers won tickets to a game, some won t-shirts and caps and one manager won a Derek Jeter bobble head. Yup I won the bobble head.

When my name was called to collect my prize, my fellow managers erupted in laughter. The SI Yankee folks were puzzled about the outburst. It wasn’t until the league president informed them about my status as Mets fan, Mets blogger and all around Yankee hater. The marketing men were red in the face when I went up to pick up my Jeter bobble head, they asked me what I was going to do with it, I told them I was going to strap an M-80 to its back and blow it up on the 4th of July. They looked at the league president and asked if he thought I was serious, they were told come by on the 4th to find out.

No I didn’t blow it up; I raffled it off to the kids on my team although it would have been something to see that thing blown to smithereens.

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Check out my guest appearance on Desert Island Mets Podcast

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This may be one of the coolest podcasts I’ve ever done. It’s one part baseball talk, one part rock and roll music.

As part of the podcast I was asked to name 9 of my favorite songs so I hope you enjoy it.

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Mets Need To Look West For A Shortstop

Chris Owings would look sharp in Mets pinstripes  

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to move on from Stephen Drew shenanigans and so should Sandy Alderson . Where Alderson and his scouts should be looking is to the west, Arizona to be specific for shortstop help as the Diamondbacks have a three way battle for their starting job.

The three players, the incumbent Didi Gregorius , last year’s PCL MVP Chris Owings and veteran Cliff Pennington are the participants in this springs starting shortstop fight for the D’Backs.

As this article states, there can only be one winner between Gregorius and Ownings and it would take a superhuman effort from Pennington to take the job, so says D’Backs GM Kevin Towers:

To me, the favorite has to be Didi,” Towers said. “He was our shortstop last year. For a rookie, I thought he played very, very well. Great defender. He got off to a real hot start. The league probably caught up with him a little bit at the end. He probably got a little bit tired.

“Chris Owings was the MVP of the PCL and performed very well in September. I think ‘Penny’ knows he’s in the competition, but these are two guys that are probably more of the future, and he’s going to be supporting one or the other or maybe both. But it should be very competitive, and I look forward to watching them go out and play and compete.”    

Now whoever “loses” out for the starting shortstop job should be of interest to the Mets as the club needs an upgrade at the position. In order to get one of these fine players the price will not be cheap, in fact the price in trade may be prohibitive to the Mets as Kevin Towers would most like ask for a ready or almost ready pitching prospect back.

Gregorius is a slick fielder with a strong arm who may blossom into an average to above average hitter. His BB rate last year, his first in big leagues was 9.2 % but it’s his work on defense that makes him the front runner for the Snakes opening day shortstop job.

Ownings worked hard last year on his offensive game and it paid off with a Pacific Coast League MVP award while not having the range or arm of Gregorius, Qwings is no liability in the field. Add that to his power and stolen base potential, Ownings would make a fine addition to the Mets but he would cost the Mets a good chunk in trade to get him. With the hole the Mets have at shortstop and players like Gavin Cecchini and Armed Rosaario (it he even is a shortstop as he may fill out and better primed for a corner outfield spot) more than a couple of years away would trading Dillion Gee, one of the Triple A starting pitchers not named Synndergard and a low level minor leaguer get a trade done for Ownings?

What could work in the Mets favor is sending Owings back to Triple A make no sense, after you’ve won the PCL MVP what else is there? So it would be in the D’Backs best interest to talk with a team like the Mets who need a solid shortstop baddddddddddly.

Penington is a non-factor as the Mets are better off with Ruben Tejada than the non-hitting Pennington but if Gregorius wins the starting job in Arizona then Alderson should take a serious look at Chris Owings.

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R.I.P. Ralph Kiner

My kids give me the eye roll whenever we go to Brooklyn and we pass areas of my childhood that gets me revved up. We pass the Dust Bowl on 65th street and 8 Avenue and I go on about the day I lined a double into the gap in right field hitting from the 64th street diamond to the 65th street side of the field to clinch a spot in the 1976 playoffs of the Expo League. When we pass the roller hockey rink on Fort Hamilton Parkway  they have to hear for the 1,356 time about  getting elbowed and losing a front tooth in 1975. Then there is the school yard of P.S. 105 where I spent years 6 to 27 of my life playing baseball, stickball and basketball and drank my first Colt .45. There are things of you remember of your childhood that give a warm feeling of a time when your biggest worry was getting to the school yard in time to get into a game.

The passing of Ralph Kiner this afternoon has given me a reason to scrap my workload for the day and reflect on a time when the most important thing in my life was playing baseball, watching baseball, listening to baseball and going to baseball games. Life was so simple back then, dad went to work, mom stayed home and took care of cooking and cleaning and Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner were broadcasting Mets games. When you’re 12 years old you think this is how life will always be.

I knew Kiner was in real bad shape and to say he lived a full life is as big an understatement as you can say but the thought of not hearing Gary Cohen say “next inning we will be joined by Ralph Kiner” hurts my heart.

Who didn’t like Ralph Kiner? Men admired him for being a star home run hitter and for being a “man’s man” and always getting the girl. The women swooned over Ralph as he was as suave and debonair as anyone on television   and kids just wanted to grow up to be like him.

As much as we loved Kiner for his “Kiner-isims” like calling Gary Carter “Gary Cooper” and tying to out double talk Casey Stengel on the greatest television show in history Kiners Korner it was the knowledge that no matter how bad your day was (as a kid a bad day was 0 for 4 or losing the court by dropping a basketball or stickball game in the school yard) that night when your turned on Ch.9 WOR at 7:30PM you would be greeted  with “Hello everybody I’m Lindsay Nelson along with Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner we will bring tonight game between the New York Mets and the ……” All was right with the world.

It’s a strange time in my life as the guys I grew up watching are all getting older and for some reason I’m shocked, like last Sunday watching the Super Bowl I realized that Joe Namath was 70 years old. SEVENTY YEARS OLD!!!!!!! My God Tom Seaver will be 70 years old this coming November (I need a moment here………………………………………..okay I’m good)  wasn’t it just yesterday I was playing stickball in the P.S. 105 schoolyard with my friends (some who are no longer with us and if I dwell on that I may just ball up in a corner and become inconsolable) listening to  Ralph Kiner on the radio (the trio of Kiner, Murph and Nelson rotated from TV to radio those days) describe to us that Tom Seaver was mowing down the San Diego Padres via 10 straight strikeouts . It wasn’t yesterday; it was close to 44 years ago. Seems like yesterday. Time flies doesn’t it?

May God rest the soul of Ralph Kiner.

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My Conversation with David Cone at the Thurman Munson Dinner

I also got the chance to chat with David Cone last night at the Munson Dinner. Cone spoke about his approach to pitching, Alex Rodriguez, Masahiro Tanaka, and the Yankees bullpen

Click here  

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

Visit BangTheBook.Com for daily free MLB Mets Picks and gameday previews, also join the baseball handicapping discussion in the forum or track your plays in our sports monitor.