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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LISTEN UP!!!!! D-WRIGHT IS GONNA FLEX HIS VOCAL CORDS

The NY Times has a couple of interesting items pertaining to the Wilponzi’s and Citi Field. The cost of a trial between Madoff victim trustee Irving Piccard and the Skill Sets could put the Freddy and Uncle Saul into financial ruin but so could an out of court settlement. Either way the Skill Sets are fucked it’s just a matter of which way will be less painful.

The Citi Field story is hilarious as the author thinks this would be a good time to drop the Citi name and the millions that come with it, and rename it Shea Stadium. A real nice thought but with the Skill sets hurtin’ for dough it will never ever happen. In fact don’t be surprised the Champions Club is not renamed the Medellin Club.

Back in December when I attended the Mets Holiday Party, I got to speak to David Wright. As I wrote back then, it seemed that Wright was happy for the change in leadership in the front office and the manager’s office.  He didn’t come out and say it but from the conversation you could tell there was no accountability in the clubhouse amongst the players and the manager, knowing he was out of a job mailed it in that last two months of the season. Wright even said that so far in his Mets career “I only have one NL East Championship and that is not enough” No one can question Wright’s work ethic on and off the field for the Mets and it seems like he is ready to be an ally to Terry Collins and sell his style and message. From reading stories today, Wright also seems to be ready to throw his veteran weight around in the clubhouse. Why not, the understated way of doing things hasn’t worked so with managerial backing, Wright may be ready to step up as the team’s vocal leader. That doesn’t mean being a “rah-rah “ guy it means getting guys to work harder and also take responsibility in the wins and losses and getting his teammates to sharpen their focus.  

Ed Marcus (a/k/a Rusty Jr) continues his series of the Top 50 Mets of All Time with Number 29 David Cone. The Cone for Ed Hern deal is one of the all-time steals in baseball history. Cone was a lighting rod on and off the field for the Mets as Ed points out in his piece.

The Mets have hired 48 year old Brad Andress as their new strength and conditioning coach. In reading Andress’ bio, it’s interesting to see that he assisted Clint Hurdle when he was with the Rockies in travel scheduling and administrative duties. I’d bet that Andress will do the same with the Mets since that was part of Charlie “Make Me An Offer” Samuels tasks when he wasn’t  pilfering the Mets clubhouse.   

I could definitely live with Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg of the Canarsie Sternberg’s buying the Mets. This is so good it will never happen. My biggest fear is that M. Donald Grant has some grandchildren running around from a love child he had with Joan Payson with a robust trust fund and ends up buying the Mets. (Tip of the Mets cap to Metsblog for the link to Cork Gaines story)

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A BLOGGERS PARADISE

I was fortunate to be one of the bloggers  invited  to attend the Mets Holiday Party  yesterday and it was quite the experience.

From the time I arrived at the frozen tundra of Flushing (it was a bit surreal as I was the only passenger getting off at the Citi Field-Willets Pt. stop on the 7 train and the wind was whipping and there was still wisps of snow on the platform. Then walking out of the station there was not a soul around the ball park.  It felt like the kind of dream I’ve had after one too many late night slices of pepperoni pizza before going to bed) and walked into the Seaver entrance of the ball park, I had a very awkward feeling. The guard at the door asked me if I was “media” or a guest.  I immediately turned into Ralph Kramden “Aaaaaa Humm-a-na-Hummm-a-ana, I don’t know” and with that I shoved a copy of the e mail of my invite at him. The guard made a call and told me to have a seat and when the check in begins, look for your name on the “media list”. Say that again but a bit slower? Sure enough on the “media list” we’re my name and my site along with other bloggers.  After checking in, I walked to the elevator with Sweeney Murti, the Highlander beat man for WFAN. When I asked what he was doing here ( like I’m now the keeper of who belongs and who doesn’t) he told me he was covering this for the MLB Network (oh ok permission to come on board the ship) Knowing that he has mentioned he’s a one time Phillies fan, I asked him about the Cliff Lee signing and if he was happy or sad since he covers the Highlanders. It was here where I realized how much difference there is between the MSM and bloggers, Murti told be it didn’t matter to him as he has not rooting interest either way.  It finally hit me, this is the man’s job. It doesn’t matter who wins or losses or who’s a nice guy or who’s a prick, he just covers the Highlanders as that’s his assignment. WFAN could tell him tomorrow that they are going to switch it up and have Ed Coleman cover the Highlanders and him cover the Mets and it would not phase Murti in the slightest.

There’s the difference, as a blogger I have an emotional attachment to the New York Mets.  There isn’t any objectivity here. There is anger some (most) times and sarcasm and general wise ass-ness here but it stays within the Mets fandom. We can call the owner names and curse the OP and Castillo contracts for burdening the organization but if someone outside the “family” says anything we get our backs up and we stick up for the team and the organization. Now the last few years, this has been quite difficult. So my trek to Flushing yesterday was as much a fact finding mission to see what this new regime will do to cleanse the sins of the past administration as it was to try to find out if the team is headed in the right direction.

As our little group of bloggers stood around basically trying to figure out where to stand, where to leave our coats, and where the bathrooms were, we were saved by Danielle Parillo of the Mets P.R. who gave us the itinerary for the day (and for that I am grateful, Danielle) we were led to the media area and split into three groups, print, TV and bloggers. Yes, we had our own section. After the GM, MGR and players were done with the first two groups they were led to the bloggers section.

Sandy Alderson was the first to meet with us, we introduced ourselves and shook hands with the GM and then began the Q & A.  It’s hard not to be impressed by Alderson. I perceive him as a man of cool and confidence, I don’t think much rattles this man. Each question was met with direct eye contact with the inquirer and there were no one or two word answers.  The main questions were of course about pitching , Alderson made it known that was his main concern as well. He is not going to sign a pitcher just because his name is familiar with fans; this front office will do its due diligence from scouting reports to in depth analytical study on pitchers to find the right fit. Alderson’ personality is the polar opposite of most Mets fans, he’s patient.

Terry Collins was next to talk to us and if anything the man is intense. It is going to be quite intriguing to see how his high energy” if you’re not part of the solution your part of the problem” style will play in the Mets clubhouse. I explained to him my biggest grip with the team and organization over the last few years  was the “woe is us” attitude from the ownership to the front office to manger, coaches and players where losing was accepted and injuries were used as a crutch. Collins let me know that this will not happen with this team, those days are over. He also said that this will be addressed on day one of spring training.  As with Alderson, the Ollie Castillo question came up and Collins gave the same answer as the GM that both these guys won’t stay on the roster if they cannot produce.  Collins also said that Ollie is on the list of starting pitchers come spring, so if anything the Ollie Castillo question will not be answered until the end of March. Patients Mets fans, patients.

Ike Davis was the first player to talk to us, when asked about Dave Hudgens the new hitting coach, Davis said he was thrilled as Hudgens is an “ASU (Arizona State University) guy and he also very happy that Ken Oberfell will be on the big league staff telling us that playing in Buffalo for Obie was the best baseball experience he’s had.

Carlos Beltran came by and the first impression I got meeting him in person for the first time, was how big he is. He’s very broad in the chest and shoulders so you can see where his gets his power from. He told us his knee feels great and that his has been working out and is ready for spring training. He said the Mets have told him that he is the centerfielder and that he is happy about that but if there is someone in the organization that the club feels is better suited for the position, he has no problem moving to right field. I get the sense that he wants to show he’s a team guy but I can tell he wants to show the skeptics he can still man the middle of the outfield. I asked him, since the knee is feeling better will we see the speed come back, he joked and said that at soon to be 34 years old he can’t run like when he was 24 and then asked me if I can still run when I was 24 (I was the oldest of the group) I laughed and said “I can’t run like I did when I was 44”, we laughed and Carlos said “I’m only kidding with you” like I’d take offense? We bonded Beltran and I get that contract extension ready Sandy!

Jason Bay says he is headache free and has no signs or symptoms from his concussion. He looks fit.  Last season is still gnawing on him and spring training can’t come soon enough to suit him. I asked him how do the players stay below the noise and by that  I mean the extensive media coverage, the talk radio loudmouths, the many bloggers and playing in a city where baseball season is 24/7/365. Bay said that playing in Boston helps with that but he said coming from Pittsburgh to Boston was a definite shock. He said that as professionals they can’t let the outside forces take away their focus.

After entertaining the kids by playing Santa Claus (Marty Noble who was attendance really should have donned that Santa suit he has the physic for the job) David Wright came over to us. I remarked to him “is there anything you won’t do for this organization”? He gave me that patented D-Wright smile and said he will do whatever it takes to help this organization. From talking to Wright, the impression I got was, he’s happy about the regime change. He didn’t say anything specific but the word he used a lot in our conversation was “discipline”.  This is something that Matt Cerrone spoke about on my THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN show last night, the players in the last few years have felt this sense of entitlement like they didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that playing for the Mets was like a Supreme Court appointment. That is over and done.   When asked about meeting Sandy Alderson, Wright  again mentioned the discipline aspect of Alderson and how much he respected his baseball resume and just as important his dedicated service to the country. Wright told the group,he sees a lot of his father, a police officer, in Alderson.  Wright also spoke of Collins and again this is just me speculating, I don’t think David was a big fan of Jerry Manuel . Wright mentioned how Collins is a motivator and will instill (that word again ) discipline. My take is that the clubhouse has been dominated by a bunch of players who feel they are on scholarship when all they are, are walk-ons.  From listening to Wright it seems it the Mets were overdue for this change in management.

For more on the day at Citi Field with the Mets check out the great job that Rob Castellano of Amazin’ Avenue did in putting together a great video recap of the interviews.

Back when I started doing this blog eight years ago, I was envious of the bloggers at a now defunct site Elephants in Oakland who wrote about the Oakland A’s as they were given an audience with Billy Beane.  As we all know the A’s under Alderson and Beane were the most progressive of front offices. The same thing when Theo Epstein  took over the Red Sox and Paul DePodesta ran the Dodgers. Here I was as a Mets fan stuck with Joe McIllvaine a GM who much better fitted for a head scout or head of minor league development, Al “The Empty Suit” Harrazin, Steve “Lively Libido” Phillips, Jim “Never Had A Chance” Duquette and Omar “See Joe Mcillvaine Description” Minaya running my favorite team, turning a blind eye to present and future of baseball management.  When I knew that the Minaya regime was ready for over throw, the first name on my wish list was Sandy Alderson and ownership came to its senses and hired him and not only Alderson but his top lieutenants Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi. To the average everyday Mets fan, who gets his Mets news from fish wraps and entertainers on talk radio, they don’t get the excitement of this new regime that resonates from those of us who sit on our laptops all day wondering you will manger Appalachian League Kingsport Mets but in due time they will.  All the bitching and moaning about not signing a big ticket free agent is off base, this front office may be the best free agent signings in Mets history.

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THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN TONIGHT AT 9PM ET ON BLOG TALK RADIO

Lots of baseball news breaking today with Cliff Lee returning to Philly-a shocking development to say the least-and putting a huge hole in the Highlanders and Texas Rangers off season plan and of course the Tea Party Mets fans are slobbering over themselves with vitriol over the Mets not spending any money after Sandy Alderson has said over and over again in every interview he’s done that the Mets will not sign a big ticket free agent this offseason. Speaking of Sandy Alderson, I had the pleasure to meet his acquaintance today at Citi Field, as myself and other Mets bloggers were invited to the Mets holiday party at Citi Field and we were given time for Q and A with Alderson, Terry Collins (quite the intense fellow) Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and David Wright.

Tomorrow here at Kranepool Society, I will have a more in depth post of my day at Citi Field, but tonight at 10PM ET on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN on BLOG TALK RADIO, I will talk about my meeting with Alderson, Collins and the palyers as my guests will be MatthewCerrone of Metsblog and Alex Belth of Bronx Banter. Alex is also the author of the book “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales From The House That Ruth Built”

It should be a great hour of baseball talk. If you can’t join us live the be sure to download the podcast at the show page or listen right here at Kranepool Society (lower right side bar) or download the show oniTunes

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YOU BETTER READ THIS POST SITTING DOWN

This evening, Mets GM Sandy Alderson will sit down for a conference call to take questions from some Mets bloggers. It just so happens that yours truly was invited to participate in this conference call.

Remember back on November 4th how I ranted about not being asked to contribute to the last bloggers conference call and I also made this statement:

I have found out from some very good sources that I have as much chance of being invited to a bloggers event at Citi Field as Keith Olbermann has of being the keynote speaker at the Tea Party Convention.

Well guess what? The devil wears North Face.  Not only was I asked to join the conference call but I have been invited (and I’ve accepted graciously) to attend the Mets Holiday party at Citi Field. Some law enforcement buddies of mine have offered me their Kevlar vest for the occasion. 

First thing I’ll do when I arrive at the festivities is check for plastic drop cloths on the floor as I don’t want to wind up like my buddy in the picture above, Tommy DeVito.  It should be an interesting afternoon.

I may have to designate a search and rescue team to come look for me on Tuesday afternoon.

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