Johan Santana Stepped Up When He Was Needed

Can’t say I’m surprised about the news of Johan Santana and his re-injured left shoulder, what I was surprised about was the Mets not following Johan’s workouts over the winter and the laissez-faire attitude the front office had with the Ace lefty.  It seems no matter what regime runs this team there is always questions about how they operate.  

This re-tear of the shoulder didn’t just happen overnight, some want to blame the no hitter, some want to blame Sandy Alderson calling out Santana for reporting to camp in less than optimal condition and then responding by being a petulant child going into “I’ll show you mode” by throwing the hell out of a bullpen session that should have never been allowed to happen.   

Santana is the last of the Minaya bad signings and I have the feeling the Mets front office are not exactly pulling out one Kleenex after another mourning the loss of Santana. If they are mourning anything it’s the fact that they will pay Santana $30 mil dollars to have surgery and re-hab the shoulder for a second time.  

Safe to say, Johan Santana is now a former Met and the final piece in the purging of the Omar Minaya Era. Mets fans today are in full reminiscent mode regaling each other with stories about the June 1st no hitter and the Game 161 of 2008 when Santana kept a running on fumes Mets team in contention to the last game of the season. The game that will define Johan Santana’s time with the Mets for me though will be the game he pitched on July 27th of that year.

2008 was a year of turbulence as Willie Randolph flew with his under achieving team to Anaheim only to be told to turn around and go home as he was relieved of his managerial duties in a very unprofessional way.  Jerry Manuel took over and the team responded by making a run and landing in first place in July. On July 26th the Mets lost to the Cardinals in 14 innings using 8 pitchers in defeat.  The bullpen was in dire need of a rest and Santana gave them that the next day pitching a complete game 9-1 victory over the Cards. That is what an Ace does; he steps up when needed and performs at his best. You can bemoan the injuries Santana suffered as a Met, you can bitch about the contract he received although at the time Mets fans were tripping the light fandango over the trade and long term deal he signed and you can try to place the blame on anyone and everyone over this latest announcement of bad injury news, but never forget that Johan Santana gave the Mets everything he had when he took the mound.

As I say the 7-27-08 game will stick with me, but so will the Saturday game against the Fish on that next to last day of the season and Shea Stadium that year as well and no one will ever forget the no hitter especially Mets fans of my generation, we will always have a spot in our blue and orange heart for Johan Santana.    

 

 

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Don’t Rush Wright

 

So it looks like David Wright is still not….well….right.  Wright has yet to make an appearance in a exhibition game and although he has begun participating in team workouts he is nowhere near ready to start the season.

Why is it so important for Wright to be at 3rd base on opening day? Isn’t it more important that he gets himself healthy and in baseball shape? I believe it’s more of psychological to fans that they see Wright lined up on the 1st base line of Citi Field doffing his cap to the patrons than it is savvy baseball thinking. What could be so bad that Wright stays in extended spring training for a week to ten days and comes up ready to perform?

Fans get too amped up for opening day, sure we all love the festivities and the atmosphere that the first day of baseball brings but I’d rather have a dull opening day than a dismal Labor Day ?

I really feel bad for Jason Bay. He has worked his ass off all spring to get his game in gear but it’s just not happening. His head is so far gone Dr. Sydney Freidman couldn’t help him. Maybe Bay should take the good docs advice and “pull down his pants and slide on the ice”. I will bet anyone a whole one dollar bill that the Mets front office discusses everyday how to rid themselves of Bay.

I have no problem with Mike Baxter starting in centerfield on opening day or Matt Den Dekker for that matter as well. I do think Den Dekker needs more time in the bushes to get his offense on par with his defense but Sandy Alderson is so worried about this team’s awful defense that he would be willing to sacrifice offense in a key spot in centerfield for Den Dekker’s potential golden glove. This is all moot of course if Andres Torres sees a faith healer for his aching calf and is fit to fight for opening day, but I still like to see Baxter make the 25 man roster.

Mets are on SNY today at 1PM with Big Pelf pitching for his big league life. Get ya popcorn ready!

 

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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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POSITIVELY METS

From spending time at the Mets  Citi Kids event at Citi Field, a few things stood out:

When you bring up Manager Terry Collins name, especially to the younger Mets players, you get a big smile. Dillon Gee, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell are all familiar with Collins from his days as the Mets Minor League Coordinator. When asked about the new manager the description they all use is “high energy”. They also laud Collins preparation and the detail he puts in to his workouts.

One of the questions to R.A. Dickey was about him coming into spring training knowing he has a job and how does that affect his routine in camp. Dickey said that working on getting right handed hitters out more consistently, especially switch hitters who bat from the right side against him as “it’s a more comfortable at bat for them”, he can now work on finding ways to take away that comfort level.  One of Dickey’s concerns he said was “that last year was not an anomaly, and it’s my hope it’s the natural evolution of the journey that I’ve started with the knuckle ball”  

Dickey was asked about meeting and talking to Terry Collins and he said he enjoyed the conversations they’ve had but there will be a feeling out process between the manager and the players, “a learining curve “ was how he put it.  R.A. said  “He  respect his (Collin’s)  baseball knowledge”  and he loves Collins’ intensity something Dickey said “that has not been seen around here in the last few years”.  I asked Dickey about the team being a contender and he told me “Gosh I hope so, but there are some boys down the road who may not agree with me but we have the pieces in place, how competitive will play out over the season.  Dickey went on to say that “clubhouse culture” is a big factor “getting people to realize their maximum potential is a big part of it (contending) “   Dickey also feels a “new sense of energy” from last season to now with the new regime taking over he used the term “a high tide raises all ships” stating that the high energy of the manager and the more positive outlook from the front office is a breath of fresh air from the defeatist attitude the Mets organization had had over the past few years.  Dickey told me it’s about getting a “network of guys” to buy in to the positive attitude that it will spread through the team.

Dickey pulls no punches when asked about the second half malaise of last year, “We were ill prepared, in the sense that we weren’t ready there was no sense of urgency” Dickey included himself in that category as well.  He also spoke vaguely of the “hypothesis” of Beltran coming back from injury and the shifting of roles that wasn’t done too smoothly. Dickey claims with all the guys (save for Johan Santana) coming into camp healthy and “rip-roarin’” it will make a world of difference.

Dickey then talked of Josh Thole and how “blessed” he is to have him catch him. He called Thole “Selfless and that’s not something you can say about a player in most clubhouses” He also went to rave about the time and hard work that Thole puts into his craft. It was a theme amongst the pitchers when asked about Thole, they all started with praise of his work ethic and his communication skills. I asked Thole what it’s like to work with the veteran pitchers like Santana, Frankie Rodriguez and Pedro Feliciano when he was here. He said those guys were great to him and he implored them to let him know anything he was doing wrong and from talking to Dickey and Mike Pelfrey that straightforwardness of Thole has gone a long way in his gaining the respect of the pitching staff.

Of course no conversation with R.A. Dickey is complete with some literary recommendation. He told us he just about done reading My Name Is Asher Lev, and he highly recommends it.

Jose Reyes was more than accommodating with his time for us but one thing he didn’t to talk about was injuries. As far as Jose is concerned injuries are a negative and in keeping with the positive energy of the Mets, Reyes pronounced himself fit and healthy and ready to get to St. Lonesome to workout.   When I asked him about the managers proclamation that he is the leadoff hitter with no stupid games as to maybe he’ll bat third Reyes was Reyes, he had a wide smile and said he spoke to Collins who told him “he wants him more involved in the offense” and you can tell that was just what Jose wanted to here.  Reyes said he likes the energy and passion Collins begins as manager. There wasn’t much on the prospects of a new contract from but Reyes reiterated how he wants to stay a Met especially when it was brought up to him that he is longest tenured Met.

During the event we found out that Terry Collins had told Mike Pelfrey that he will be given the opening day assignment and when we got to talk to Big Pelf, you could see how happy he was getting that news.  Pelf told us during his lunch with Collins that he could tell the manager was ready to get to camp as he was going over cutoffs and how to back up bases on throws from the outfield.  Pelf was asked about last year’s trading deadline and the inability of the team to make a deal; he said it was frustrating that the club didn’t try to bring in a player or two to spark the club. Pelf also said he was very happy (as did Bobby Parnell) that Dan Warthen was retained as pitching coach. Both Pelf and Parnell spoke of Warthen’s strong communication skills and how he works with the pitchers.  The biggest thing Pelfrey is looking for from himself in2011 is consistency, the ability to go out and give the team seven-eight quality innings every start.  Pelfrey agrees with most that the Chris Capuano signing was great “under the radar” as he said, same with Chris Young and as we all feel with the pitching reclamation projects brought in by the front office, everything is prefaced with “if healthy”

Pelfrey talked about his use of his secondary pitches and his slump of August. He said learned a lot form that slump but knows that everything he does works off his fastball. It seems that when Pelf has his fastball working it raises his confidence to use his two-seam knowing that he get out trouble with the fastball.

Confidence, Energy, Positivity that just about sums of the Mets off season.

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METS MISSIVES

 

  2 days until pitchers and catchers

Ed Ryan over at Mets Fever has a great write up on Shawn Riggans, the catcher cut loose by the Tampa Bay Rays and picked up by the Mets as part of the parade of back up catchers. After reading Ryan’s piece, if Riggans is healthy he could make a run at one of the catcher roster spots on the Mets.

JOSE,

 JOSE-JOSE-JOSE,

 JOSE,

 JOSE 

“Once again, Daniel Murphy was the first player to arrive. This kid won’t lose the job because he was lazy.”

And my Murphy man-crush continues to blossom.

Adam Rubin can write it and Omar Minaya can say it but it would be a major upset for Mike Jacobs to beat on Murph for the first base job. Why the Mets keeping fucking with Murph is puzzling. He has been working out in Florida all winter; he’s the first guy at the workouts and the last to leave. He is doing everything plus more to become a strong first baseman and a better hitter. I have no beef with Mike Jacobs but I just don’t see where he is a fit here. Jacobs reeks of DH.

Dave Singer at NY Sports Dog has the complete TV/Radio Mets Spring Training Schedule posted.  First game Tuesday March 2 will be on SNY.

D-Wright has been in camp since late January, and it seems his mind set is to pull the ball more in 2010. The biggest plus for Wright this year will be the protection in the lineup he’ll get from Jason Bay. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sandy Koufax is in the house!

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