Dispatches From Mets Holiday Party

I’m back from covering the Mets holiday party where the club invited about a 100 kids from P.S. 43 and The Scholars Academy both in Far Rockaway to meet Santa (John Franco) Claus and his Elf’s R.A. Dickey and Ike Davis. Also on hand was Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

After spending time with the children and giving out gifts the players and the GM were available for some Q & A time.  After spending some time with all three I have some observations:

R.A. Dickey looked and sounded puzzled, hurt and a bit defiant when he spoke of his situation now with the club. From the way I see it, the Mets first priority with Dickey is to trade him and they are waiting out teams that are interested in trade to offer more in return to the Mets than has been offered now. How long this plays out is anyone’s guess right now but make no mistake for the Mets this is a stone cold baseball business decision and honestly I hate it and from listening to Dickey this morning he understands it’s business but he’s not happy with the way it’s played out so far either.

Dickey also declared that once the season starts he will not negotiate a contract extension, nor should he.  I don’t know which end of the organization is playing by these hardball rules whether its Sandy Alderson looking to fill the massive gaps in personnel this team has or if it’s The Skill Sets looking to nickel and dime the 2012 Cy Young Award winner. If it’s the baseball ops guys being hard ass’s I can understand it, that doesn’t mean I like but if it’s  Jeffey trying to win at a negotiation, then I’ll be totally outraged.

What Dickey is asking is not just more than fair; I believe he’s selling himself short. Dickey’s agent has proposed a 2 year extension for $28 mil, how in the hell is that excessive? Dickey should have proposed a deal well north of $30 mil for 2 years. As much as I want to believe it’s the Skills Sets acting like hard ass’s here I feel it’s more Alderson and his baseball ops who are dragging this out to see if they can get a trading partner who will send back quality and quantity in a trade.  The worst part of this situation is it’s starting to get ugly and could breakout in a lot of nasty if not rectified soon.

It was Ike Davis’ turn to meet with us and as down and dourer as Dickey was Davis was very upbeat and effervescent.  It could be that Davis is 100 % healthy as he said he just had his lungs x-rayed and they are clear so he has no more effects from Valley Fever and his ankle is a good as ever. He was very happy that Wright received his contract extension and he hoped that something can work out with R.A. Dickey staying with the Mets.  You can check out the conversation with Ike by clicking here

Sandy Alderson made his way into the press area and I don’t hide the fact that I’m an Alderson fan. I think he has a plan to rebuild this organization (even though he’s not allowed to utter the dreaded “R” word because it gives any Mets fans a case of the vapors) but I think the reason I admire him is every time I talk to him he comes off very cool and collected. You can’t make him flinch. There is no emotion in how he is running the baseball operation of this organization in that way he’s the anti-Omar.

Alderson was bombarded as expected with question on R.A. Dickey and his status with the Mets. Alderson gave a name, rank and serial number answer saying that he is still speaking to clubs about dealing R.A. and at the same time looking to negotiate contract extention as he said the situation is the same as it was last week. The contrast in Alderson talking about this situation and Dickey talking about it are quite a contrast. Dickey’s answers were of an emotional nature whereas Alderson was from the business end. Alderson has no problem trading R.A. Dickey but he wants a solid return back, he’s not going to give him away.  If he can’t find the right trade for Dickey I think he’ll sweeten the extension offer and get Dickey under contract for an additional two years.

Alderson claims there is money to spend but he’s not going to spend just to spend, he doesn’t seem to care about winning the back pages of the tabloids in December. The impression I was left with is Alderson will not be the first to blink. He’s not tipping his hand on who he’s looking at to sign or trade for.

I’m as confused and frustrated as any Mets fan, in fact coming back for Citi Field today with Ed Marcus we were both in such deep discussion about what we just heard from the Mets GM we kind of forgot what a pain in the ass traffic jam we were stuck in trying to get back to Staten Island.  No matter if you like or dislike Alderson you have to admit he’s one shrewd dude. Now if nothing changes personnel wise between now and spring training I may have to alter my view but I’m trying to stay patient which is very hard for me to do but I’m trying my best.

To hear my chat with Sandy Alderson click here.

To hear the total media Q & A click here.

 

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R.A. DICKEY REACHES THE TOP OF MT. KILIMANJARO

I hope you all have been following R.A. Dickey’s climb up Mt Kilimanjaro via his blog post on the NY Times. Dickey and his group which contain Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello and pitcher Kevin Slowey, were successful in reaching the summit of the mountain which is chronicled wonderfully by Dickey in his latest post.

Dickey has a book coming out in March and I must say after meeting Dickey and reading his dispatches from Mt. Kilimanjaro, this book will not only be a best seller but I bet it will be one of those must have in your library kind of book as well.

 

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SCHOOL IS IN SESSION

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been consumed by all the Rangers news this morning that I haven’t scratched the surface on the news out of St Lonesome but I am starting to think that Warlord Jerry spent the off season studying psychology  books as early in this camp of ’09 it seems it’s all about the mental prep work as much as the physical.

 

Just from the early dispatches, it looks as though J-Man feels since I have the same cast of characters that ended the season save for the two studs at the back end of the pen, there has to be a different way to motivate this group by going after their weak points (in case you haven’t heard, the Mets choked the last two years, just ask Cole Hamels he’ll tell you)

 

With the bullpen fortified with Putz and Rodriguez, the other big reason for the two season collapse has been the lack of situational hitting and not scoring runs late in the game. The Mets biggest scoring inning last year was the first and the lowest was the ninth, so Manuel has put an emphasis on hitting behind the runner and giving oneself up for the team. It’s clear that J-Man felt the team he took over was a selfish bunch and he wants that mind set erased and he came right out a pointed the finger at the guys he felt fit that category.

 

The player Manuel went after first was Jose Reyes, who it seems was more worried about stealing bases just to pad his stats and was the least grown up of the Big Three of Wright-Beltran-Reyes so saying it was time for Jose to take a little more responsibility around the team really meant time to grow up . So to see what Reyes was made of J-Man declares the Reyes could be the #3 hitter and we all waited for the fallout. Well, we’re still waiting as Reyes came in and said all the right things just like a grown up.

 

Manuel then went on to Gimp Castillo but took a different tact, as everyone associated with the team from the fans, front office, ushers, $iti Field construction workers all felt Castillo needed to shipped out. So Manuel went the opposite praising the second baseman for coming into camp 10 lbs lighter and with a better attitude that moved Manuel to say that Castillo looked like his old Marlins self and would be used in the top spot of the order and so far everyday Manuel finds a way to get a positive quote about Castillo into the Mets news of the day. That makes Gimp a happy camper

 

I guess after watching the baseball version of a gym rat in Daniel Murphy, Manuel knew that even with ordaining Murph as the left fielder the kid would still continue to work his ass off and Murphy’ response of I have to keep working like my job is on the line, proved that Manuel made the right read.

 

Now it’s on to Ryan Church who has the carrot out in front of him by J-Man who stated that Murph was a better hitter than Church and of course that pissed off Church big time. Exactly what Manuel wanted to do, Sometime guys get a bit complacent and need a little nudge but instead of a nudge Manuel gave Church a shove.

 

What coaching comes down to his knowing the personalities of your players as fans we get a bit to wrapped up in the in game strategy when in reality when the game starts there is only so much a coach or manager can do as you can’t hit, pitch or field for your guys. I like what Manuel is trying to do here as he is looking to motivate each player individually to get them to come together collectively as a total team. This game plan might just work.

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