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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THE ALDERSON TAPES

I was so pissed that I missed hearing Sandy Alderson on the SNY telecast last night. But, thanks to Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue who transcribed the whole interview Alderson did with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling, I’m caught up with what the Mets GM is looking to accomplish going forward with the team. What has me puzzled is the Mets fan/blogger fixation on what Alderson said about changing the dimensions and height of the Cit Field outfield wall, from reading the McShane’s transcript of the conversation, that was the least interesting feature to me.

I’m not saying reducing the height of the Great Wall of Flushing or bringing in the right/center Mo Zone is not good thing, in fact I’m all for it but Alderson’s insights on player personnel and his approach to the off season was much more newsworthy.

To me more important than wall renovations is what is the GM’s plan of attack for re-signing Jose Reyes. It seems like Alderson has a preempted strike ready to fire as he has tabbed October as Jose Reyes Month. I get the vibe that he has an offer already to be presented a figure in years and money that he won’t go over. Alderson has made it known he will not get into a bidding war over Reyes. He has been nothing but complimentary of the shortstop as has Terry Collins, who is on record as saying he can’t fathom the Mets without Reyes or David Wright for that matter which I’m sure is the company line. I’m interested in this negotiation to see if Reyes takes a little less money or years to stay with the only organization he’s ever played for or does he move on and take the best deal out there. I still think that while Alderson will make a very good offer to Reyes, he won’t be heartbroken if another team comes in and blows the Mets deal out of the water. No question he wants Reyes back but he won’t break the Skill Sets fragile bank account to sign him.

One of Alderson’s concerns was rushing pitchers to the big leagues but also doing a balancing act getting some of the minor league arms a bit of a push to move them along. Under Omar MInaya’s regime the club loved drafting collage pitchers to where a team like St. Lucie is overstocked with 24 and 25 year olds which it sounds like is very frustrating to Alderson. When you’re that age and still pitching in A ball, you’re at the shit or get off the pot stage of your career.

Alderson sounds like a Mets fan when he talks about the bullpen and how blowing late game leads, a la Bobby Parnell, takes the heart out of everyone when it’s on an almost daily basis. Safe to say, Alderson has seen enough of Parnell closing to know he needs to put finding a closer on the top of his shopping list. Also clearly stated, he will go outside the organization to find one.  Looking at guys like Greg Holland of the Royals, Mike Adams of the Rangers, Rafael Betancourt of the Rockies and Sean Marshall of the Cubs there are some interesting options for Alderson out there.

Alderson is happy with the number of innings his starters have given him but now he wants them to improve the quality of those innings. I believe that Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will and of course R.A. Dickey will give a quality start just about every time out but we still have no idea what Johan Santana will give you on the mound next year and of course there is the elephant in the room known as Mike Pelfrey. From Alderson’s comment it seems that Pelf will be back next season but in what capacity?

What we have Mets fans is one busy and interesting winter coming up ahead of us and the brain trust of our team. Right now is the lull where the team plays out the string as October on will be the most interesting time for the Mets since before the All Star break.

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THE METS KNEE-ED THAT ONE

 

photo courtesy of the NY Daily News

When you haven’t had a walk off win all season you take what you can get, and last night after Frankie Rodriguez came one strike away from saving a stellar start by R.A. Dickey (any of you dinosaurs out there still rely on won-loss record to evaluate starting pitcher’s?) but spit the bit and sent the game into extra innings. It wasn’t until Ginger Turner took one for the team in the 13th taking a pitch to the knee to force home Lucas Duda for the win.

What a game and what a day yesterday. First the news that Ike is not progressing well and we still have to wait three weeks to see if Ike will be back in August or February. Today we get more medical news on David Wright and with the way the Mets luck has been with injuries I wouldn’t be shocked to hear he’s done for the year as well. When you’re a Mets fan it’s “expect the worst and hope for the not so bad”.

All this medical talk has gotten in the way of Mets fans favorite past time, figuring out if Jose Reyes will be traded, re-signed or lost as a free agent. The subject it seems has not been beaten enough so let me give my opinion on the Reyes situation that changes daily:

I want Jose Reyes to stay with the Mets but:

If Sandy Alderson gets bowled over with an offer from a team that feels they are a World Series contender that includes a young ML ready starting pitcher or a top flight number one pitching prospect then he has to make the deal.

If there is no top offer like that then keep Reyes and take a chance you can match any offer he gets in the off season.

Again Mets fan this is not about you, you do not figure in any of the Reyes negotiation. It’s about Reyes and the financial security of his family, it’s about the Mets committing years and money to one player when this team is not one player away from being a winning team , it’s about Reyes making the biggest decision of his life whether to leave the only organization he has ever known to go to parts unknown. So does Reyes take in the old devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know adage, or does he say baseball is baseball and follows the money. Rally’s and signs and t-shirts are nice and shows ownership that there is still passion in the fan base so maybe a small part of the discussion to keep Reyes will be the fan reaction (a/k/a buying tickets) bottom line is Sandy Alderson has to do what’s good for the Mets and Jose Reyes has to do what’s good for the Reyes’s .

Right now it’s all in a holding pattern, check back on July 10ththe last game before the All Star break to see which way the wind blows in Flushing. If the Mets are still part of the Wild Card pack then they could be buyers (a catcher, reliever or if Ike is done for year a right handed bat for 1stBase) if they are also ran’s then the selloff will be on.

Right now let’s concentrate on the Mets beating the A’s today for a series win.

Here is something we can all agree on, we can’t stand Joe Buck and hate when his new gravel voice comes on the FOX Game of the Week. So it is your duty to sign the petition put forth by Matthew Falkenburry of The Daily Stache to have FOX give the World Series play by play job this season to Vin Scully. Since the day I subscribed to MLB Extra Innings I’ve found a new appreciation for Scully doing Dodger games solo. His play by play and storytelling are still spot on. I don’t know if Scully would be up to doing another World Series as he doesn’t travel past Denver to do Dodger games plus we’re dealing with FOX here, a place where closed minds are pre requisite for employment but it’s worth a shot to show FOX and MLB that a change is needed in the national broadcast booth and to send a message to Vinny that baseball fans still love him.

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SNOWBLIND

WOW! I swear I made an attempt to go to work this morning. I got up at 5AM and looked out the window and thought twice about heading out. Then I went downstairs to put on the TV to see what the situation was in the city it was there the little scrawl under the screen said the Staten Island Rapid Transit has suspend service.  As I type this, service is still down as the snow drifts have covered the third rail so they have sent the diesel powered work train out to clear the rail to get the train moving again.

It’s not the ammount of snow although on Staten Island there must be close to 20 inches, it’s the wind that causes drifts of 3 to 4 feet.

Here is what it looks like from my front door

I was lucky to get the storm door and front door open as the snow driffted to the right of the doors. There are steps and a walkway under that blanket of snow, also lights along the side that may not be seen until the opening day of baseball season

Where it gets tricky is from the side door to the driveway and the garage where my yard has a Siberian feel to it

Good thing I kept a shovel inside. Problem here is, I keep a refrigerator in the garage and of course I need to get to it for a gallon of milk and orange juice, so there is a negotiation on going as to whom wants that milk and juice badly enough to go fetch it.

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TENDER OR NON-TENDER, THAT IS THE QUESTION ?

As we await the non-tender floodgates to open, the Mets have four players who fit the offer/non-offer list so let’s see who stays and who goes:

John Maine-I think we all agree the days of Maine are done in Queens. Maine did himself no favor by hiding his injuries and less than honest with the coaching staff and front office. With Old School Dan Werthan staying on as the Pitching Czar and the fact that Old School can’t stand the sight of Maine then add in his arbitration price could go to $4mil, it’s safe to say we can add John Maine to that long list of former Mets

R.A. Dickey-Look, we all love Dickey wait that didn’t come out right, We all love R.A. and he was a revelation both on the mound and in the clubhouse as Dickey was the only player when interviewed that I paid attention to as he would always say something of substance. But (and you knew the BUT was coming) let’s not go crazy with talk of multi-year deals for R.A.  I’d go 1yr plus an option $1.5 mil which is about double what he made last year.

Angel Pagan-Now Pagan is a different story. Pagan not only took his offensive game to a higher level but right now he’s the best centerfielder on the Mets roster. Pagan went from being a baseball dunderhead in 2009 to arguably the Mets MVP last season (Yes I know David Wright had a great offensive year but the case can be made that the best all-around season by a Met last year was Pagan) Angel made $1.45 mil last season and it would be hard for the Mets to win an arbitration case but what price is right for Pagan? 2yrs/$4.5-5mil?

Sean Green-We’re tendering him a contract, why?

Mike Pelfrey-Ahhhhhh Big Pelf.  The sticking point he is Pelf’s agent, Scott Boras.  Pelf cannot test the free agent waters until 2014, so the Mets hold the hammer on him as well. Pelfrey has made some coin off his ML contract he signed when drafted in 2005 to the tune of a shade under $5mil so this negotiation should be quite interesting. As the Mets hold all the cards they don’t have to offer a multi year deal but figure with Boras as his agent, I’m sure he will make up one of those elaborate books to present at the arbitration hearing to make Big Pelf look like Cy Young .

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FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT, 3 MORE YEARS OF OLLIE!!!!

No fourth year but the money was sweetened so I guess Scott Boras saved some face but you have to wonder what took so long? How tough a negotiation was this? 3 years/$36 mil is a victory for Omar and the Mets in terms of years and money. So now what? Now that the pitching has been addressed will the need for an outfielder with some pop be added? Can the Mets be happy with a projected 7-8-9 in the lineup of Schneider-Castillo-Pitcher De Jour? Can Gimp handle the two hole anymore so that Ryan Church get take the 7 hole with Schneider moving to 8?  Still more questions than answers with 12 days to go before pitchers and catchers report to St Lonesome Time to stock up on the Pepto Bismal

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Tickets

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