Signs of Progress Within The New York Mets

Very interesting news coming from the Mets yesterday and today. First the team seems to be on the verge of locking up Jon Niese for the next 5 years, that will reward the lefty pitcher during his arbitration eligible years and buy back a year of his free agency eligibility.  This quite a progressive and proactive move by the Mets front office, something not seen in these parts in many ,many years.

Some reports have the deal at 5 years and $28mil, the 5 years is a big commitment to a pitcher who has suffered from fatigue and injury issues in his brief major league career but it speaks to the high esteem the front office holds Neise in.

During the winter there were rumbles that the Mets put Niese’ name out on the trade market (at the same time Billy Beane made it known that Gio Gonzalez was available in trade and of course the deal was made with the Nationals) that wasn’t an indication that the Mets were looking to rid themselves of the young lefty as some Mets fans jumped to that conclusion, it was more to see what was out there in trade for his valuable services as the Mets front office is trying very hard to add depth to the farm system.

Tying up Niese seems like a smart move by Sandy Alderson. As we see in this column by Mark Simon of ESPN, Niese put up some very impressive numbers involving K/9IP, BB/9IP and HR/9IP, add to that he is 25 years old and left-handed,  it’s hard for even the most jaded Mets fan to go against the front office in this move.   

Seems like the verbal kick in the ass that Mike Peflrey received last week when it was reported the club discussed however informally about giving Big Pelf his release,  has now made its way to Jason Bay as Mike Puma reports there has been some talk about Bay becoming a platoon player if he continues to struggle at the plate.  This should show Mets fans that last year’s getting to know segment of Sandy Alderson’ reign as Mets baseball boss is over and now we are entering the “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” phase of rebuilding the Mets.

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OK Freddy Now Show Us Why We Should Care?

Why is Freddy smiling? Well, he just beat the rap! picture credit to John Marshall Mantle of the NY Times

I care about Fred Wilpon’s finances as much as he cares about mine which is nil.  Yesterday was a win for Fred and Uncle Saul but was it a win for Mets fans? That remains to be seen.

My concern in this whole clusterfuck of finance is how and when do the Mets get back to being championship contenders and that Jeffy Wilpon is kept away from the big boys running the baseball operations. It doesn’t matter if the Skill Sets discover gold, oil and a poppy field in Mo’Zone, as long as Sandy Alderson and his staff are allowed to do the baseball work, things have a good chance of working out for Mets but if they go back to business as usual then yesterday could be looked at as a dark day for Mets fans.

I have no problem with the Skill Sets owning the Mets what bothers me is when they get themselves involved in things they have no business in like obtaining players either by free agency, trading or drafting. Right now you have very competent people employed to run that end of the business like you did in the mid 60’s when Whitey Herzog ran the farm system and in the 80’s when Frank Cashen ran the organization, both times the Mets had their best success. I believe if Wilpon leaves Sandy Alderson alone this could be a renaissance of Mets baseball and if Fred was smart he’d understand this.

The Skill Sets are still faced with massive debt on the team, ball park and SNY so all yesterday really did was drop one of their 99 problems now that Irv Picard ain’t one. One of those 99 problems for the Mets is how to get ass’s in the seats of Citi Field, of course winning would help solve that but in order to get the fan base revved up the ownership had to show there is a commitment to winning. By commitment I don’t mean spending stupid money like in the past but showing the fan base that they really want to improve this team. As it stands today the club is deficient in starting pitching and bench depth as well as not having a bona fide veteran catcher to go along with a crippling contract of Jason Bay who doesn’t look like he’s going to have a turnaround season. You want to win back your fan base, allow Alderson to deal Bay with the team that will take half of the $35 mil that owed to Bay ($16 mil this season and next with a $3mil buyout in ’14) and the Skill Sets take the other half then I’ll say there is a commitment to making the Mets better and the fan base will know it and maybe that will get folks back to attending games at Citi Field. But again with the massive debt still on the Wilpon’s shoulders I doubt we’ll see this. You know maybe if they just started telling Mets fan the truth about the financial commitment they are making towards the team would be a good start to mend fences with the fan base.

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Playing Pepper: New York Mets Edition

 

Baseball Bloggers Alliance founding father and Cardinal blogger par excellence Daniel Shoptaw was kind enough to invite myself and other Mets bloggers in the BBA to participate in his Playing Pepper series.

Besides myself the Mets bloggers interviewed for this series were Paul of Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff, Kerel Cooper of On The Black, Jon Preser of The Shea Faithful, Jeff Yurcan of Metsprospectus, Freddy Vasquez of Mets Hot Corner, Jon Lewin of Subway Squawkers, and AC of Mets Public Record.

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LISTEN TO ME TALKING METS BASEBALL ON FAN SPORTS PODCAST

Check out the latest installment of the weekly Mets Report Podcast on Fan Sports Podcast with myself and Brian Sullivan

 

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HEAR ME TALK NY METS BASEBALL ON FAN SPORTS PODCAST

 

Last night I had the pleasure of joining Brian Sullivan of Fan Sports Podcasts to talk about the New York Mets. Brian and I discuss the off season moves, what the upcoming season will look like, minor league baseball in NYC and much more.

Click here to listen to the podcast and to get the MP3 download as well.

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NY METS TRUCK OFF TO ST. LONESOME

 

Sure there’s a bit of snow today and it’s colder than we’ve been used to this winter but when it comes to trying to get a gauge on the arrival of spring, nothing answers that query like Truck Day.

This coming Monday the truck filled with Mets gear will be packed and headed south to Pt. St Lonesome and as far as I’m concerned it can’t get there soon enough. This off season has been as uninteresting as none I can remember as a Mets fan.  So with spring training just a mere 8 days away we can only hope the day to day workouts and games give this grumpy fan base a spark.

There is a lot of anger amongst the faithful but what worries me is that apathy could overtake that anger, it’s one thing when your fan base has passion both positive and negative but when the folks stop caring then you have a major problem.

The Mets need  to find the baseball version of Jeremy Lin.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN FRANCO BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US

Yesterday the New York Mets announced that John Franco will be indicted into the team’s Hall of Fame this coming season with the pomp and circumstance commencing on June 3rd.

There has been much speculation this winter on who would be selected as the next honoree to the Mets HOF, some folks feel Mike Piazza should have been named and of course he should but it looks like the Mets are waiting for his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame so they can throw a really big shindig with Mets HOF honors and a number retiring ceremony as well.

Franco gets the honor this season for many reasons, he played 14 seasons with the Mets, holds the record for most saves in franchise history and most importantly he’s a Wilpon loyalist. Franco holds a job with the club sort of like the Mets Ambassador to Public Functions, in which he’s perfectly suited for. Late season, he volunteered his services to mentor Bobby Parnell in finding his way to the craft of closing baseball games, which if I were the pitching coach I would have strongly voiced my opposition to but it seems the front office didn’t have a problem with since it seems the GM really has no use for Parnell as we see with the addition of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco which relegates to Parnell to fighting for a bullpen job.    

As I say, I really don’t want to piss in the punch here on Franco’s honor of Mets Hall of Famer but in my opinion, this year’s Mets Hall of Fame honoree should have been us, the New York Mets Fan.  How great a ceremony would it be to honor the long suffering Mets fan? The team could have selected the longest tenure season ticket holder to accept the award in our behalf and then commission a plaque with a nice mosaic of Mets fans who may be the most diverse of all sports teams in this town.  What better way to celebrate 50 years of Mets baseball than honoring the folks who really are the heart and soul of the organization, the Mets fan. Without us there is no NY Mets and in this upcoming season of apparent discontent, what better way to show how much we mean to this organization but to honor is with a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

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BACK BURNER FOR METS BASEBALL

gotta love Hank and the Broadway Hat

Most under-rated athlete in NYC

I’m soooo happy Danny Ainge didn’t my favorite Celtic RAAAAAAJJJJOOOONNN RONDOOOOOOO    

It’s tough to spend time on Mets minutia today with trying to finish up loose ends at work and get ready for what should be one of the best nights Madison Square Garden has seen in quite a while as the Rangers and Flyers meet tonight and the Giants-Jets get together tomorrow and the Knicks-Celtics start the NBA season on Christmas, it’s hard to get worked up over Rob Johnson signing a minor league deal to fight for a backup catcher spot with the Mets .

I am pumped up for tonight’s Rangers-Flyers match up at MSG. Between the way the Rangers have been playing along with all the hype of HBO’s 24/7 (I need to tape Coach Tortorella’s between periods ass ripping of his team against the St Louis Blues last week  “Fucking screw it on straight, screw it on and let’s get ready to go each shift” has become my new mantra I’ve been using it at work all day the non-hockey fans think I’ve lost my mind but then again most of them don’t know what to make of me anyway)  and Winter Classic and first place (though very early in the season ) on the line, I can’t wait to get to the Garden tonight.

For as long as I can remember as a NY Football Giants fan, I have never given the NY Jets much thought. Sure I have friends who are Jets fans but there has never the animosity like I have with buddies and relatives who root for the Bronx Bastards. The Jets were…. Well just the Jets. They played in the other conference and since they played each other, except for every 4 years, only in the preseason there really hasn’t been any reason to have an opinion positive or negative on the Jets. Until now.

It really hurts me to write this but there are four teams in NYC that are sports royalty, The Highlanders, Giants, Knicks and Rangers. The Mets are the closest of the underling teams that could break into the big four, but not these days. For all the bluster that comes from Rex Ryan, the Jets are not close to being in the same stratosphere as the NY Football Giants. I don’t dislike Rex Ryan although he really, really needs to shut the fuck up, I do respect his coaching acumen but it’s too bad he has to take the personality of his dad Buddy because all this hot air he spews sooner or later has to be backed up with something. Sure he has had success as HC of the Jets but he needs to mind his coaching manners.

Head coaches, no matter what always show respect to one and other in public (look at the fall out from the Jim Schwatrz, Jim Haurbugh brew ha ha earlier this season) it’s great that Rex thinks that he is better that Bill Belichick or Tom Coughlin but when you disrespect these men who have accomplished more than you ever had in this game, you come off like a fucking buffoon.

Neither team in this contest has much to crow about this season. Both teams are huge disappointments with flaws a plenty and as much as Tom Coughlin has told his players to let the Jets do the talking and keep their mouths shut, when you have motor mouths like Antrell Rolle and Brandon Jacobs it’s a hard to rein them in.   

Like I say I never gave the Jets much thought but thanks to Rex’s big mouth not only do I want to see the Giants beat the living shit out them, if the Jets make the playoffs, I’ll be rooting hard against them. By the way, all Giants fan should be thanking Rex and his players for doing what Coach Coughlin has had trouble with so far this second half of the season, motivating the Giants players. Rex should have gone with the let sleeping dogs lay but after seeing how the Jets put a picture of a bleeding Eli Manning on the cover of their defensive play book, I hope JPP knocks Mark Sanchez out of the game on the first offensive play from scrimmage.   Oh and Fireman Ed is an asshole.

Celtics-Knicks is a great way to start off Christmas Day and as a fan of the C’s, it’s good to see the Knickerbockers relevant again. I am my Celtics have one more run left in them and a good start would be by beating up the Knicks on Sunday.   

 

 

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COM’ON JOSE SIGN WITH THE FISH ALREADY SO WE CAN GET ON WITH OUR OFF SEASON

Photo from Bleacher Report

 

From watching Sandy Alderson with Kevin Burkhardt  on Mets Hot Stove, I come to the conclusion that when he took the job last year and looked over the landscape of the organization , he couldn’t believe the mess it was in. One of the things he spoke about last year that had me singing his praise was putting together a uniform system of teaching the Mets farm hands the right way to play baseball. One of the glaring weaknesses we saw last year from the major league team was the lack of understanding baseball fundamentals and baseball instinct.   Alderson realized that the way the Mets were conducting player development was so deficient that a major changes had to be made.

Fast forward to this off season.  Alderson has just finished his first season as the Mets baseball boss and what he saw up close and personal is what shapes his thinking for this off season. He saw a team that when hit by injury was deficient in depth at the Triple A level, sure some of the call ups played above and beyond and the team for the majority of the season was known as hard working and never giving up, a testament to the manager (who lit into his team when they slacked off, again something we haven’t seen here in years), but Alderson saw that there is no New York quick fix here, this rebuilding of the Mets will take some time.

Yes, this is a rebuild, from the way the organization is viewed by outsiders (if Alderson could just get the Skill Sets to go underground for say the next 10 years that would be major plus in rebuilding the brand)and the way it’s looked at by other players and front office types throughout baseball.  The later has improved a lot under Alderson, the former, well, that will take more time.

When Burkhardt asked about signing Reyes, and the fact that the majority of Mets fans are clamoring for him to be resign by any means necessary, Alderson explained how this is not going to happen, a six year deal for Reyes would be a disaster for the organization. I loved Burkhardt’s  follow up question where he brought up that Alderson mentioned that the release of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo had to do somewhat with fan sentiment, Alderson explained, while the voice of the people played a bit of a part, it was more the poor performance of both players that led to them becoming ex-Mets.

Now Reyes not returning will not be due to poor performance by him but by poor performance of the team and the fact that the Mets are at least two seasons away from being a pennant winning factor.  You don’t need someone to tell you that Mets fans, in your heart of hearts you know it. So to give Reyes a long term deal and tie up money that will be better spent on getting the part or parts needed to put the club over the top in 2013 or 2014 is a better investment. I agree 100 %.

There are still some of us among the Mets faithful that want to spend and spend and spend. First, it’s hard to spend what you don’t have.  The ownership is doesn’t have the money to throw around as in years past and that may be the best piece of news this off season. I guess once the Mets season ends some of you stop watching baseball because if you did you’d realize that you can win with a $90-$100 mil payroll, you just have to know how to spend your money wisely. Alderson does and he will but it won’t happen overnight. Just stay patience and let him and his staff do its work, the man’s track record shows this could work in positive way.

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NEW YORK METS WHO STAYS WHO GOES HITTERS DIVISON

Okay, day 1 without Mets baseball has passed and I’ve gotten over the shakes and cold sweats that Mets withdrawal usually brings on. Today, besides getting ready to root my ass off for the Detroit Tigers (I may even buy a pack of Marlboro to put next to my Gates Brown, Dick McAuliffe, Mickey Stanley and Mayo Smith baseball card shrine I’m constructing for this series) and deciding if today is a good day to sneak out of work early to go see Moneyball, I figured this would be a good day to go over my “Who Stays and Who Go’s” from the Mets 2011 roster. So in the words of the late great Bob Murphy, “Fasten your seatbelts”:

Ike Davis-If anything good comes from the freak injury that Ike suffered it will be that Sandy Alderson may have seen the light and will overhaul the Mets training staff. A healthy Ike and hitter friendly alterations to Citi Field’ outfield dimensions could shoot Davis to superstar stratosphere. Hell Yeah Ike Stays!   

Ruben Tejada-Will he be the everyday 2nd baseman or the everyday shortstop that is to be determined what is fact is he’s here to stay and will play every day at one of those position in 2012. STAY.

Justin Turner-When Turner comes to bat with no one on base, he’s Mario Mendoza. With men in scoring position, he’s Mr. Clutch (.350/.480/.500 w/RISP) Not great range in the field but serviceable bench player. STAY

Jose Reyes-If Alderson can get creative with options and funky clauses in a contract, there is a chance that Reyes remains a Met. If an owner looks past the hammy issues or feel its training staff can cure Reyes of his leg malaise then Jose may get stupid money thrown at him. Alderson has a figure in terms of money and years that he won’t cross to keep Reyes and I still feel he hopes there is a team out there that blows his offer away as Alderson really doesn’t want to burden the organization with another long term deal. The heart says stay but the head says GO!

David Wright-No player on this team has become a bigger enigma than Wright. The only thing keeping me from saying put him on the trading block is the bringing in and lowering of the fences at Citi Field that have spooked Wright since day one. With a year left on his deal at $15 mil, DW is still affordable but his defense has deteriorated as much as his offense. Part of me wonders if the Mets would be better off with Daniel Murphy at 3 rd as a better option right now. I’ll stay with Wright for 2012 at 3rd base for two reasons; first, you wouldn’t get max return on him in a deal and two, with the new hitter friendly Citi Field maybe that will wake up DW stagnant bat.  A lukewarm STAY

Jason Bay-If Alderson could ever move his suffocating contract; he’d do it in heartbeat. Add Bay to the list of players who could be born again by shorter LF wall. Bay works hard and is respected in the clubhouse so to deal him for a bad contract would also mean you’re getting a bad guy (Carlos Zambrano or a John Lackey) so I guess what I’m getting at is he’s STAYS.

Angel Pagan-The expiration date on Pagan’s big league career has been achieved. Pagan 2011 was nothing like Pagan 2010 but more like Pagan 2009 which not a vintage year. GO.

Lucas Duda-If Duda can become just a serviceable right fielder (which means not tripping over his own feet or turning left when he should turn right) to go with his power bat and run production ability, the Mets will have an All Star for years to come. In fact Duda and Ike can become the new faces of the franchise. STAY.

Josh Thole-Great guy, decent contact hitter, disaster behind the plate. Catcher is a position that the Mets need to shore up badly as Casey Stengel said “You need a catcher because without one there would be a lot of passed balls” unfortunately even with Thole behind the plate there were a ton of PB’s (16) yes I know we have R.A Dickey and his knuckler on staff but shit 16 PASSED BALLS? COM’ON.   Thole is serviceable with a decent bat and more importantly he works cheap. STAY

Ronnie Paulino- Word on the street is Paulino has poor work habits and is not very good at working with the pitching staff on going over hitters tendencies. Add his deficiencies along with Thole’s and you can see that the organization has a big problem behind the plate. With a lot of young arms here and on the way the need for a solid veteran defensive catcher should be item #2 on Alderson’s to do list this offseason right after dealing with Jose Reyes. GO.

Daniel Murphy-Safe to say you can add Adlerson and Terry Collins to the #ImWith28 Club. Murph will STAY and Collins will find a way to play him as much as he can. Where that is? That’s why Collins gets the big bucks.  If it weren’t for his injury Murph would have finished in the top 10 in batting average no doubt about it. STAY.

Willie Harris-Started off his Mets career very shaky but rebounded to become a valuable bench player. Has a good ability to get on base and can play multiple positions. Harris also become a leader in the clubhouse and helped make it a better place. Harris wants to come back and the Mets should bring him back but Alderson won’t make that a top priority. A halfhearted STAY   

Scott Hairston-I nearly forgot about Hairston as he’s been out all of September with a knee injury and played sporadically when he was healthy. GO

Nick Evans-I’d love to ask Evans what is it like to be DFA on five different occasions and not have one team put a claim in for you? You would think it would be a blow to anyone’s self-esteem but Evans kept going back to Buffalo and produced and kept getting the call to the big leagues, the man is the picture of perseverance. I have a lot of respect for Evans and he can play either corner spot on the field. Someday a team will wake up and give him a chance on a big league roster. I just don’t think it will be the Mets. With regrets I say GO.

Jason Pridie-No great shakes in CF, can’t hit for shit and has an ugly beard. GO.

Mike Baxter-If I am fortunate to speak to Terry Collins in the off season the first question I want ask him is “What did Mike Baxter do to piss you off to the point of burying on the bench”? I would have loved to see more of Baxter. On the final day of the season I was happy he hit the home run but I was more impressed with the way he busted his ass down the 1st base line on a groundball. Baxter also looks pretty good in RF as well. Baxter played a bit of CF in the minors which is why I’m puzzled why Collins played Pridie over him. What was there to lose? I hope Baxter gets a shot in spring training but it seems he has Buffalo written all over him. A shaky STAY   

   On Monday I’ll go over the pitchers who get to stay or should be sent packing

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