GAME ON !

One month from today is opening day!

Busy day so far as I had to get to work by 6 AM so I can leave early as I have a meeting with my Babe Ruth team and catch Mets-Nats as well.  I called for the meeting to held at local joint that has a back room with a TV so we can discuss business, eat pizza and watch the game.

Unlike the Mets, no one from the NY Times followed me around to cover my early morning ferry and subway ride to work.

The pitching line up for tonight will start with Dillon Gee but the guy all eyes will be on is Matt Harvey, who is scheduled to come in after Gee gets his work in. Harvey will be followed by Miguel Batista who may still be basking in his wonderful 3-0 win over the Reds on the last day of the 2011 season, then Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco to close things out.

Tomorrow we get out first look at Johan Santana. It nice to have game and performances that we can comment on finally.

While all are busy in St. Lonesome getting ready for tonight’s first spring game, The Skill Sets will be focused on the Judge Jed Rakoff’s Manhattan court room to find out if the clawback suit against them is still a go.

John Harper has concluded the reason the Mets have a lack of depth on the Major League roster is due to finances. Tomorrow Harper will report on how jumping into the Atlantic Ocean will cause you to get wet.

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“CASTILLO, HUH YEAH, WHAT IS HE GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, SAY IT AGAIN NOW……”

It seems that the second base position for the Mets has become the black hole 3rd base had once been. None of the four competitors for the job have stepped up to make it clear he is worthy of the job. Brad Emaus has yet to hit this spring but has shown a pretty good glove. Justin Turner seems to be the odd man out due to his two minor league options in his pocket  (I don’t see Turner’s name on either travel list for today) and Daniel Murphy has hit and shown some decent footwork at 2nd base but turning the double play has been what Terry Collins wants to see before he anoints Murph the opening day Mets second sacker.  That leaves the incumbent at the spot, Luis Castillo and from reading John Harper’s piece in the Daily News today, I sure if it were up to Terry Collins he would love to rid himself of Slappy :

Furthermore, Castillo, the incumbent of sorts, has annoyed Terry Collins by moping around in apparent protest of being forced to compete for the job, to the point where the manager called him into his office a couple of days ago to tell him he better start working harder if he wanted any shot at all.

Castillo didn’t even take pregame ground balls one day last week when he was in the lineup as the DH, as Collins has had to juggle playing time to get looks at all four second-base candidates. And that didn’t sit well with the new manager, who is not going to tolerate the laissez-faire attitude that permeated the clubhouse in recent years.

Since meeting with Collins, who promised to try to get him more playing time, Castillo seems to have raised his energy level, and he had a solid game Wednesday with two walks, a bloop single to left, and a nice play going toward the hole on a ball that went off Ike Davis’ glove.

This is the Castillo M.O. when things don’t go his way or the way he wants it to, he mopes, in fact is there a bigger mope than Castillo? His attitude has sucked for a couple of years now and unless he is the starting 2nd baseman Luis will mope and be an all-out fucking malcontent.  Why keep him around? Like Oliver Perez, he’s more trouble than he’s worth.

Just by looking at the starting lineups for today’s spilt squad games you can see the manager wants no part of this slap hitting, diminished range, piss poor attitude has been. Castillo will start today in Viera against the Nats but as the DH. Murphy will start at 2nd base. Over in Jupiter, Brad Emaus will start against the Fish and with Luis Hernandez on the roster in Jupiter he will most likely spell Emaus at 2nd as Hernandez has made himself a dark horse candidate in the this position race.

Meanwhile over in the minor league backfields of St. Lonesome , Reese Havens works out and hopes he can stay healthy because if he does he will be the Mets 2nd baseman by Memorial Day.   

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LUUUUUUUUUUUUISSSSSSSS COME OUT TO PLAYYYYYYYYY!

I agree 100 % with Terry Collins that Luis Castillo should have gotten to camp early since his job is on the line. You would think a guy who the majority of Mets fans look at with distain and a big part of the failures of past management knowing that there are three guys lining up every morning in St Lonesome, auditioning for the manager to be the next Mets 2nd base Idol. No matter which side of the Castillo fence you fall on, every Mets fan has to agree that at this stage of his baseball career, Castillo cannot just waltz into camp with a cavalier attitude that was tolerated in years past in this organization.  Whereas Castillo would have been met with and hug and a laugh by management in the past he will now be greeted with a “Where the fuck have you been”? It’s about time.

My doubts about Terry Collins are starting to lessen. When I met him at the Mets Christmas Party the first questioned I had for him was about getting this team to be more aggressive and passionate and to stop being patsies for the division. I told Collins in my opinion, every team in the NL East thinks of the Mets as a bunch of chumps, how do you change that mind set? Collins assured me that was one of the first things he wanted to change. He tried not to disparage his predecessor but he said he agreed with me about the team allowing the opposition to intimate them and it will be a big part of his job to change that immediately.  From reading John Harper’s story today, it looks like Collins has started his one for all all for one campaign:

Indeed, the new manager of the Mets thinks it’s important to instill some toughness, some brothers-in-arms spirit, in his ballclub. Remember the famous Chase Utley take-out slide of Ruben Tejada last September? The one the Mets took without retaliation?

Collins wouldn’t have stood for such a passive response.

“In Philly there would have been a fight,” he said Friday, “no doubt about it.”

Collins made it clear he wasn’t looking to criticize Jerry Manuel when I asked him Friday how he would have handled such a situation. In fact, he said a manager always walks a fine line on such matters, as not all players respond well to being put in a position where retaliation is expected.

“But there’s still an unwritten code about how to protect your teammates,” Collins said. “So I do believe in situations like that, there’s a right way to handle it.

“And that’s something that starts right here in spring training. That’s going to be part of my message on Monday when I speak to the team. We’re going to bring a team together and we’re going to watch each other’s backs.”

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SOMETIMES IT SUCKS TO BE RIGHT (NOT WRIGHT)

 

We kinda knew that Omar Minaya fancied Joel Pinerio but Jeffey Skill Sets was dead set on not paying market value. This revelation comes from John Harper’ story in today’s Daily News:

 So what happened? That’s what Pineiro would like to know. It seems clearer than ever from reading his version of events, that Mets ownership simply wouldn’t let Minaya spend the money it took – two years, $16 million – for the Angels to get a deal done.

 

 

Even worse, Minaya operative, Alex Cora, told his neighbor Pineiro that his signing  with the Mets was a done deal until ownership did the old double cross:

  Pineiro said in November he considered the Mets to be “the front-runners” to sign him. Much of that feeling was based on what he was hearing from his friend and neighbor in Miami, Alex Cora, that the Mets had every intention of signing him.

 

Considering that Cora has a strong relationship with Minaya, suffice to say it was solid information.

 

“Alex was telling me (it was going to happen),” Pineiro said Wednesday. “I was like, ‘all right, I’m just waiting for that good thing to happen, and I’m ready to go.’

 

“But it never came.”

The Mets offer was 2yr/$15mil and the Angels came in at 2yr/$16mil. At that point Jeffey Skill Sets folded and walked away. I’ll let you insert your favorite expletive here.

I hope the folks of Buffalo NY appreciate the gift us “Downstater’s” have given them with Ike Davis and Chris Carter in the Bison everyday line up. Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis over Ike Davis and Chris Carter. Even Vince McMahon couldn’t make that story line fly.

If Jerry Manuel wants to bat Jose Reyes in the 3 spot in the lineup go right ahead but if he better not mess with Mike Jacobs in that cleanup spot. Pardon me I need to lie down.

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RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY……………

With the witch hunt by guys like John Harper and the Legion of Ignoramuses A/K/A the callers to WFAN talking out their ass about Jose Reyes’ Thyroid (how is this for a man bites dog story, Joe Benigino and Evan Roberts are now the best and informative hosts on the station since they had an actual Endocrinologist on their show to talk about thyroids unlike the Hot Air Balloon that’s on from 1-6 whose show is as dated as the old Lawrence Welk shows that run on WLIW. I wish I had a tape of Francesa trying to figure out how Twitter works, did you see that Mikey? that was the 21st Century passing you by) and all the other righteous assholes dogging Mark McGwire  I thought about this song and how great would it have been if McGwire would have preformed it before Congress

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“NEW YORK IS WHERE I’D RATHER STAY, I GET ALLERGIC SMELLING HAY”…..

 7 days until pitcher and catchers

The Mets off season reminds me of the old TV show Green Acres. Remember, Mr. Haney the guy who sold a lot junk to the residents of Hootersville? Well that seems to be who Omar Minaya has morphed into a purveyor of useless pieces.

The latest move that makes no sense is the signing of Mike Jacobs. Jacobs was cut loose by the KC Royals because for over $3 mil a year the Royals got a player who can’t hit lefties, has an aversion to getting on base, and plays defense like Edward Scissorhands. Brilliant let’s sign him up. Think about this, in 7 days you’ll have so many players lining up at first base it will look like an Italian bakery on Christmas Eve, get there early and take a number.

Great story on Johan Santana by John Harper who donned the tools of ignorance to catch Santana down in Florida. This is what, the third or fourth story on Santana this winter and each one Johan is sending a message to Mets fans that the season won’t be the disaster most of us think it will be. From your mouth to Tug McGraw’s ears, Johan.

As per Jon Heyman, the Mets are taking a Pasadena on Rod Barajas but have signed John Harper to a one year deal.

No PRO BASEBALL CENTRAL tonight but we should have a show next week to welcome in Spring Training.

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THE HE-MAN METS HATERS CLUB

I come here today to defend Jerry Manuel and his decision to let Fernando Tatis hit away in the 8th inning yesterday. Technically you J-Man killers are right that is a sacrifice situation but I want you to step back and take a deep breath and think about the old saying sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war.

 

I agree with what John Harper wrote today and with Keith Hernandez who said on the air that as much as the bunt was in order he understood why J-Man let Tatis swing away. What I couldn’t believe was the nasty narrow thinking of Mets fans that I heard on WFAN afterwards with some nit wit who refers to himself as Adam the Bull, another in that stable of mediocrity that FAN calls “talent”  killing Manuel for the sake of staying on the good side of the yahoo faction of Metsfandom.

 

Before you take Manuel to task remember this. Last year Tatis was one of the best Mets hitters in clutch situation and his timely bat was sorely missed down the stretch when he blew out his shoulder. Tatis was one of the few success stories on the ‘07 team and was rewarded with the Comeback Player of the Year Award. He then went from a steady platoon outfielder to a player buried waiting for his number to get called. Yesterday it was called as he played 2nd base a spot he’s played twice in his career. Tatis is a pro and a dream for a manager. You know he’s is burning to play but he won’t rock boat, the definition of a team guy. So J-Man has to show Tatis that he is still the player he thinks he is so being that its April and the team has had a problem early hitting in the clutch what better way to show faith in a player and reinforce the thinking that he can still do it. 

 

If Taits gets a hit there J-Man looks like a genius but not only didn’t Tatis get a hit he struck out badly bringing out all the John McGraw’ on AM radio and that’s fine let them have their day but when Tatis comes up in a big spot against the Phillies and delivers it will be Tatis and Manuel turn to gloat.

 

After doing as good a job as you can expect yesterday, Nelson Figueroa was DFA and most likely headed to Anaheim and he might be joined by Darren O’Day also DFA but he must be offered back to the Angels for $25K. If both Figueroa and O’ Day end up in SOCAL for nothing in return then Omar Minaya deserves all the criticism he will get.

 

So now Casey Fossum comes up for the sloe reason the he can throw a baseball with his left arm. Anyone see Tim Redding?

 

 

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METS ARE IN FULL GANGSTA’ MODE

As we get ourselves ready for the big three game series with the Cheesesteakers let’s take a look at some of the Mets news of the day:

 

John Harper has become the P.R. agent for Warlord Jerry as he has for the second day in row wrote a story giving us the feel that Randolph was out of touch with his players and didn’t know what buttons to push to motivate his team. Also there are more quotes from Tony Bernazard who is taking on a much more public persona. Now I don’t know if that is for the better but if you think this turnaround is not in part due to the change on manager your, delusional. The players like Delgado and Reyes won’t come out and say it but Ron Darling had no problem on the post game show last night saying that the Mets clubhouse is a much more relaxed place with J-Man. The facial hair ban, the music ban and not having the ability to interact with his players led to the charge that Randolph didn’t have the feel or pulse of his clubhouse which is one of the biggest thing a manager needs to be successful. The x’s and o’s are not as big as some of us think but the ability to connect with your players is something Randolph via his Highlander training couldn’t do. After awhile Rick Peterson couldn’t do it either. What you hear about J-Man is that he is a straight shooter that we tells his players up front what their role will be and what he is doing. He looks them in the eye and let’s them know the deal which it seem is something Randolph and a hard time doing. J-Man is as cool as the other side of the pillow whereas Willie was in meltdown mode as we saw with his race comments and ripping SNY coverage sent a message to his team that he was losing it.

 

So Mets fans instead of ripping Tony Bernazard you should be praising him for being adamant in his stance that a managerial change had to be made. Omar wanted to be more patient but it looks as if Jeffey Skill Set was siding with TB but Full Autonomy Omar wanted to keep his guy Randolph as he felt is was his failure that Randolph wasn’t working out but TB prevailed and that makes me think that’s why the Randolph axing was handled so badly.

 

When the off season comes at what point do the Mets drop out of the Oliver Perez Sweepstakes?  Does OP let that dictator of an agent Scott Boras sell his service to the highest bidder or does OP uses his brains and works out a deal with the Mets and stays where he’s comfortable? Remember OP was a throw in the Roberto Hernandez deal and was a mess when he arrived in NY. But with extensive work by Rick Peterson, Dan Warthen and Randy Neiman Perez has emerged as a top line starter. Sure he is still an enigma especially when he gives up walks after walk but still LHP like OP are a valuable commodity. So if you’re the Mets what is your first offer? He’s not getting Ace money or even #2 starter money so I’d start off with a 3yr/$36mil which of course Boras will be insulted by. My counter would be still 3 yrs but sweeten up the money to $37.5 mil with incentives that boost it over $40mil. Now Boras will want at least 5 yrs I figure but I don’t see the Mets going for 5 yrs with OP but then again he is only 27 years old but 5 yrs to a pitcher who is not a 1 or a 2 is tough pill to swallow. So how about a 4 year deal for $40mil with incentives that could bring the deal to $50mil total with a mutual option for a fifth year. If OP produces in those four years he could again be a free agent at the age of 31 and if he doesn’t produce, well at least he’ll have a very nice nest egg to fall back on.

 

Check out Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest not just for his great interviews and all around insight on baseball but he has a great piece on the Ford C Frick Award and is looking to get out the vote for our own Gary Cohen.

 

The Brooklyn Cyclones are taking a page out of the parent club’s book as they are making a surge to the NY-Penn League playoffs.

 

Where O’ where has Aaron Heilman gone? O’ where O’ where can he be?  Right now the pecking order of the pen in the late innings is the hybrid Felicano/Smith, Brian Stokes as the set up and Luis Ayala as the closer. Billy Wags could be back next week and if healthy goes back to closer and that drops each releiver down a peg.    

   

 

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