Archive for December, 2012

Parallels in History

Although Lee Mazzilli was never the impact player that R.A. Dickey was, he was certainly as popular and played on Mets teams far worse than the current ones of recent years. I mention both players in the same sentence because both shared a similar fate. They were both popular and were traded for highly touted prospects.

In 1982, Mets general manager Frank Cashen sent Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for young pitching prospects Ron Darling and Walt Terrell. Mazzilli would continue a mediocre career with Texas, the Yankees, the Pirates, and eventually back to the Mets just in time to enjoy a world championship celebration. At the time the move was not popular however those who followed the game closely knew the Mets had made the right move.

Sure enough Darling would eventually blossom as a fine starting pitcher for the Mets. Terrell had a nice season in 1984 but was moved the following winter to bring in Howard Johnson from Detroit. Johnson went on to have many very good offensive years for the Mets and was the on deck batter the night Mookie’s grounder went through the legs of Bill Buckner.

Perhaps the trade of R. A. Dickey will become somewhat similar. Sandy Alderson, like Cashen before him, has brought in a couple of very talented young players who could be contributing on the major league level for years to come. Time will tell but certainly it was the right decision regardless of how popular Dickey had become.

There is always risk in any trade or free agent signing. Criticism of the trade is that the young catcher Travis d’Arnaud is prone to injury. Although a potential hitting threat and perhaps the best catching prospect in baseball, there is no guarantee the young player will live up to his potential. That’s true of any prospect.

The same could be said for Dickey. What assurance do we have that he will continue to be the pitcher he was last season when he won the Cy Young award. Certainly he should be good and will help Toronto who have reinvented themselves for the 2013 season. But d’Arnaud should be good too. He’s already a better alternative to Josh Thole who is average at best behind the plate and unlike d’Arnaud was not a catcher to begin with.

The Mets also picked up Toronto’s top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard who now ranks third in the list of Mets prospects behind d’Arnaud and Zach Wheeler. You can see a parallel to the 1980s when you look at the Mets pitching talent on the horizon. Where the 80′s Mets had Dwight Gooden, Darling, and Sid Fernandez (also acquired in a trade), the 10′s Mets have Matt Harvey, Wheeler and perhaps Syndergaard moving forward. It might be interesting if the Mets were to pick up Johan Santana’s option for 2014. Santana could conceivably be the fifth starter.

At the end of last summer, Sandy Alderson told Mike Francesa on WFAN that the team would be different next season. Slowly but surely things are changing. Gone is Jason Bay, Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, Andres Torres, and R. A. Dickey. John Buck (c) is in, also from the Toronto deal with d’Arnaud a better than even shot at starting. In a small deal today, Alderson picked up outfielder Collin Cowgill from Oakland for infielder Jefry Marte. Cowgill is a spot starter and late inning replacement at best so Sandy still has his work cut out for himself. The Mets need a center fielder and will either trade younger pitching prospects or delve into the free agent market to get one.

Things are getting interesting in Flushing but there is still much work to be done.

Here’s an interesting thought. The Blue Jays and Mets have basically swapped their triple A locations. Last season the Las Vegas 51s were the AAA Pacific Coast League entrants for the Jays while the Buffalo Bisons were the Mets AAA affiliate in the International League. After the 2012 season, Buffalo inked a deal with Toronto leaving the Mets the odd man out in the AAA game of musical chairs. The only available triple A club the Mets could get a deal with was the Las Vegas 51s.

Now that Mike Nickeas is on the Blue Jays, he will likely be going to AAA. For him that means back to Buffalo. And for d’Arnaud, he will head back to Las Vegas where he played last season before getting hurt.

No Games Today

The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. – Bill Hicks, comedian, circa 1993

I have already seen the comments and on Facebook of course– “Don’t blame the guns” in response to yesterday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Should we tell the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to not blame the atom bomb? How about the 3000 dead on 9/11. Should we tell those families not to blame the airplanes? Of course the guns, the atom bomb and the airplanes did not kill by themselves. No, it took people controlling those tools to do so. But do you think the horrific events of yesterday could have turned out a bit better had the semi-automatic weapons used by the gunman been much harder to get a hold of.

Can we at least have a conversation about some form of gun control now? Huh?

Did you see what happened yesterday in China when someone there in a school went after a bunch of people with a knife. Twenty-two people were injured but nobody died. What would the number of deaths had been if the aggressor had been carrying a gun with semi automatic capability?

The real problem in this country is ignorance. Cure the ignorance and rid ourselves of fear and much of this horrifying stuff will go away. The answer is not easy. Simply banning assault weapons won’t completely solve the problem. But since assault weapons have been obtainable legally we have seen a rise in these a horrible massacres. Banning certain forms of weaponry is part of the solution. The other part is being better able to determine who among us is suffering from maladies that lead to these horrific events. It’s time we take action it must start at the top. As a huge supporter of President Obama, I admit he has not done nearly enough when it comes to the gun lobby in this country. Perhaps now he will and maybe the rest of us can get a bit smarter.

A Poor Perception

Last night, some of the biggest names in rock music gathered at Madison Square Garden to perform and raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Communities in New Jersey, specifically the devastated shore area, and Long Island suffered the worst of Sandy’s wrath. Many are still without power and homeless, living in shelters or other locations not of their own.

I bring this up today as a matter of perspective.  The Mets have offered R.A. Dickey a twenty million dollar extension for years 2014 and 2015. With five million owed for next season, Dickey will make 25 million over the next three seasons with possibly an option in 2016 for 10 more million.

At the Mets holiday party at Citi Field earlier in the week, Dickey vented his frustration with management that the process was going too slow and they were far apart on the money. For most of Dickey’s short career with the Mets, he has been the perfect role model. A soulful person with many life anecdotes, Dickey is an interview you don’t want to miss. But on this particular Tuesday, it was hard for me to listen to R.A. complaining about being offered upwards of 35 million dollars to play a kids game.

Look, I get it. Americans overvalue very unimportant things. Athletes and movie stars have not cured cancer, haven’t figured out how to close the ridiculous income disparity in this country, and they certainly have not come up with a way to fight global climate change to hopefully prevent another storm like Sandy. But for us working class stiffs who use baseball as a means of escape, we tend to honor and side with these athletes more that we should.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge supporter of owners. For the most part, they are greedy robber barrens who are more of the problem than the solution. But given the current situation, having suffered Sandy’s destructive force and trying to make ends meet even if the storm did not effect some of us too badly, Dickey made a calculated risk and for me, it backfired, at least in terms of perception.

I don’t blame Dickey for the posturing. Every athlete and their agent have the right to try and get every last dollar they can. After all, he was the National League Cy Young award winner and certainly deserves a nice pay day. So while I do not fault him for his complaints, I think his timing was poor. And let’s not forget, Dickey is not a free agent. He has one year left on his contract for five million dollars. The Mets are under no obligation to pay him a penny more. The fact that the Mets want to sign him to an extension speaks volumes and criticism levied against the team is unfair.

I have heard the counter argument. What do you expect when he (Dickey) is at Citi Field and reporters are shoving their recording devices in his face asking about the contract?

What I expected is what I have come to love and respect about R.A. Dickey. He’s a renaissance man. He’s very well read, is a writer, and has a keen understanding of the human condition, rare for an athlete that’s for sure. What I hoped was restraint and for him to express the situation elegantly has he has done with everything else that has come his way. But on this particular Tuesday he sounded like all the other garden variety athletes who are always trying to get the most they can. Again, it’s hard to blame him but for me it was disappointing.

The truth of the matter is simple. While Dickey wants the best contract he can get, Sandy Alderson’s job is to make the Mets a better team. All that has happened so far this off season is some of the Mets players have been non tendered and David Wright was resigned. The Mets at the moment are no better off than they were when they won their 74th game on the final day of the 2012 season. That is not to say that signing Dickey does not make them better. But Dickey being used in a trade that could return one or two impact hitting outfielders could definitely make the Mets better.

With Zack Greinke off the market having signed with the Yankees west…err the Dodgers, and with the Royals getting the pitchers they wanted from Tampa Bay, Alderson suddenly finds himself holding a commodity few other teams have to offer. The Mets want the top two hitting prospects for any team who wants Dickey. While that my be a good poker bluff, the Mets would be just as glad to hold on to Dickey and are comfortable giving him the extension they have offered. Alderson being patient only increases the odds of a team blinking first. If that happens, I’m sure Alderson will pounce on the opportunity unless Dickey has accepted the offer first.

The incident at Citi on Tuesday really is no harm, no foul. It was just disappointing for this particular fan because of the perception that Dickey fostered. In the end all I want is for the Mets to be better. A player’s feelings or how the GM is perceived is really unimportant.

The Winter Meetings Hype

Well the winter meetings have come and gone, once again proving there is nothing that can replace the actual game of baseball. The business of baseball is boring as we read and listen to rumor after rumor, few of which ever pan out. One minute R.A. Dickey will be traded for a power bat, the next minute he will be signed to an extension. Wake me up when Spring Training finally arrives. The Winter Meetings really is nothing more than a lot of hype. Look, a lot of work gets done. I’m sure Mets GM Sandy Alderson has laid the groundwork for a lot of deals, some of which he will make. However, the Omar Minaya days of winning the Winter Meetings is officially over—thank goodness.

I hear Mets fans complaining that Alderson sat on his hands and did nothing. First, what exactly should he have done? Should he have handed Mike Napoli 39 million for three years like the Red Sox did? Give Shane Victorino, who had a terrible season in 2012, 39 million for three years? What are the Red Sox thinking? Seems to me Boston’s farm system has run dry and signing free agents to excessive deals is their only way out—they hope.

Secondly, the trade deadline is not the end of the Winter Meetings. The Mets can still sign free agents and make trades into spring training. The expectations from the media in regard to the Winter Meetings are way out of whack. I love MLB Network but folks over there in Secaucus—you’re not the story. The game and its players are.  Ken Rosenthal actually blasted the Yankees because they made no deals. Are you kidding me? Finally, the Yankees show some restraint, unwilling to pay ridiculous salaries to mediocre players, something they have always been criticized for doing, and now they are being scalded for not doing so. What? Is Napoli or Victorino really worth ten million a year?

Alderson, unlike his predecessor Minaya, rarely shows his hand. I would never want to find myself on the opposite side of a poker table from him. He, with his staff of superstars, is very calculated. He does not rush in and make a deal for the sake of making moves or to satisfy the fan base. Remember when Minaya signed Jason Bay? Sure the Mets need an outfielder at the time but did he really need to give Bay that contract which has hampered the Mets for so long? Most Mets fans like the deal. It soothed their winter woes. But winning the off season is not what this is all about. Except for the Caribbean and Australia, the game is played in the summer. That’s when it counts.

Five years from now when the Mets are contenting on a consistent basis, Mets fans and the media will understand the ground work that is being laid today. I realize the process is slow. We want a winner now. But the Mets organization was in complete disarray when Alderson took over. He decided to rebuild from the bottom up, not the top down. The Mets scout and draft better now. There is an organizational philosophy in place. The talent feed system is being built so that it can feed the major league club or foster deals to bring in the type of players need for a winning team. But it takes time and the Mets are slowly but surely getting there. This is the way the Cardinals have done it. So have the Giants, Rays, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, and yes the Yankees. Their core, responsible for so many post season runs, was home grown. The Red Sox did it too but frankly I don’t know what they are thinking now up in Boston.

And let’s not forget resigning David Wright. That was crucial. The Mets needed to show their fans they were willing to invest in their future and keep their one true star in place. There is no Met who wants to win more than Wright, who remains one of the elite third baseman in the game. What he means to the team transcends what goes on in the field.

The future is bright. A team that can sustain success year after year does not happen overnight. But when it arrives, Mets fans will be grateful even if nothing happened during the Winter Meetings of 2012.

Here’s a list of Mets currently playing in the Caribbean. Click on the names to see their stats.

 

Name Team League Position
Francisco Pena Aguilas Cibaenas Dominican Catcher
Juan Lagares Aguilas Cibaenas Dominican Outfield
Scott Rice Estrellas de Oriente Dominican Pitcher – L
Jeurys Familia Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Pitcher – R
Elvin Ramirez Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Pitcher – R
Domingo Tapia Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Pitcher – R
Aderlin Rodriguez Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Third base
Armando Rodriguez Leones del Escogido Dominican Pitcher – R
Justin Turner Leones del Escogido Dominican Second base
Pedro Zapata Leones del Escogido Dominican Outfield
Jenrry Mejia Tigres del Licey Dominican Pitcher – R
Jordany Valdespin Tigres del Licey Dominican Second base
Gonzalez Germen Toros del Este Dominican Pitcher – R
Jefry Marte Toros del Este Dominican Third base
Ismael Tijerina Aguilas de Mexicali Mexican Short Stop
Juan Carlos Gamboa Caneros de los Mochis Mexican Short Stop
Marcos Camarena Tomateros de Culiacan Mexican Pitcher – R
Carlos Vazquez Venados de Mazatlan Mexican Pitcher – L
Greg Burke Yaquis de Obregon Mexican Pitcher – R
Juan Centeno Atenienses de Manati Puerto Rico Catcher
Mark Cohoon Criollos de Caguas Puerto Rico Pitcher – L
Randy Fontanez Indios de Mayaguez Puerto Rico Pitcher – R
Tomas Nido Leones de Ponce Puerto Rico Catcher
Wilmer Flores Bravos de Margarita Venezuela Short Stop
Carlos Coronado Caribes de Anzoategui Venezuela Pitcher – R
Luis Carreno Caribes de Anzoategui Venezuela Pitcher – R
Miller Diaz Leones del Caracas Venezuela Pitcher – R
Wilfredo Tovar Navegantes del Magallanes Venezuela Second base

Well the winter meetings have come and gone, once again proving there is nothing that can replace the actual game of baseball. The business of baseball is boring as we read and listen to rumor after rumor, few of which ever pan out. One minute R.A. Dickey will be traded for a power bat, the next minute he will be signed to an extension. Wake me up when Spring Training finally arrives. The Winter Meetings really is nothing more than a lot of hype. Look, a lot of work gets done. I’m sure Mets GM Sandy Alderson has laid the groundwork for a lot of deals, some of which he will make. However, the Omar Minaya days of winning the Winter Meetings is officially over—thank goodness.

I hear Mets fans complaining that Alderson sat on his hands and did nothing. First, what exactly should he have done? Should he have handed Mike Napoli 39 million for three years like the Red Sox did? Give Shane Victorino, who had a terrible season in 2012, 39 million for three years? What are the Red Sox thinking? Seems to me Boston’s farm system has run dry and signing free agents to excessive deals is their only way out—they hope.

Secondly, the trade deadline is not the end of the Winter Meetings. The Mets can still sign free agents and make trades into spring training. The expectations from the media in regard to the Winter Meetings are way out of whack. I love MLB Network but folks over there in Secaucus—you’re not the story. The game and its players are. Ken Rosenthal actually blasted the Yankees because they made no deals. Are you kidding me? Finally, the Yankees show some restraint, unwilling to pay ridiculous salaries to mediocre players, something they have always been criticized for doing, and now they are being scalded for not doing so. What? Is Napoli or Victorino really worth ten million a year?

Alderson, unlike his predecessor Minaya, rarely shows his hand. I would never want to find myself on the opposite side of a poker table from him. He, with his staff of superstars, is very calculated. He does not rush in and make a deal for the sake of making moves or to satisfy the fan base. Remember when Minaya signed Jason Bay? Sure the Mets need an outfielder at the time but did he really need to give Bay that contract which has hampered the Mets for so long? Most Mets fans like the deal. It soothed their winter woes. But winning the off season is not what this is all about. Except for the Caribbean and Australia, the game is played in the summer. That’s when it counts.

Five years from now when the Mets are contenting on a consistent basis, Mets fans and the media will understand the ground work that is being laid today. I realize the process is slow. We want a winner now. But the Mets organization was in complete disarray when Alderson took over. He decided to rebuild from the bottom up, not the top down. The Mets scout and draft better now. There is an organizational philosophy in place. The talent feed system is being built so that it can feed the major league club or foster deals to bring in the type of players need for a winning team. But it takes time and the Mets are slowly but surely getting there. This is the way the Cardinals have done it. So have the Giants, Rays, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, and yes the Yankees. Their core, responsible for so many post season runs, was home grown. The Red Sox did it too but frankly I don’t know what they are thinking now up in Boston.

And let’s not forget resigning David Wright. That was crucial. The Mets needed to show their fans they were willing to invest in their future and keep their one true star in place. There is no Met who wants to win more than Wright, who remains one of the elite third baseman in the game. What he means to the team transcends what goes on in the field.

The future is bright. A team that can sustain success year after year does not happen overnight. But when it arrives, Mets fans will be grateful even if nothing happened during the Winter Meetings of 2012.

Here’s a list of Mets currently playing in the Caribbean. Click on the names to see their stats.

 

 

Well the winter meetings have come and gone, once again proving there is nothing that can replace the actual game of baseball. The business of baseball is boring as we read and listen to rumor after rumor, few of which ever pan out. One minute R.A. Dickey will be traded for a power bat, the next minute he will be signed to an extension. Wake me up when Spring Training finally arrives. The Winter Meetings really is nothing more than a lot of hype. Look, a lot of work gets done. I’m sure Mets GM Sandy Alderson has laid the groundwork for a lot of deals, some of which he will make. However, the Omar Minaya days of winning the Winter Meetings is officially over—thank goodness.

I hear Mets fans complaining that Alderson sat on his hands and did nothing. First, what exactly should he have done? Should he have handed Mike Napoli 39 million for three years like the Red Sox did? Give Shane Victorino, who had a terrible season in 2012, 39 million for three years? What are the Red Sox thinking? Seems to me Boston’s farm system has run dry and signing free agents to excessive deals is their only way out—they hope.

Secondly, the trade deadline is not the end of the Winter Meetings. The Mets can still sign free agents and make trades into spring training. The expectations from the media in regard to the Winter Meetings are way out of whack. I love MLB Network but folks over there in Secaucus—you’re not the story. The game and its players are.  Ken Rosenthal actually blasted the Yankees because they made no deals. Are you kidding me? Finally, the Yankees show some restraint, unwilling to pay ridiculous salaries to mediocre players, something they have always been criticized for doing, and now they are being scalded for not doing so. What? Is Napoli or Victorino really worth ten million a year?

Alderson, unlike his predecessor Minaya, rarely shows his hand. I would never want to find myself on the opposite side of a poker table from him. He, with his staff of superstars, is very calculated. He does not rush in and make a deal for the sake of making moves or to satisfy the fan base. Remember when Minaya signed Jason Bay? Sure the Mets need an outfielder at the time but did he really need to give Bay that contract which has hampered the Mets for so long? Most Mets fans like the deal. It soothed their winter woes. But winning the off season is not what this is all about. Except for the Caribbean and Australia, the game is played in the summer. That’s when it counts.

Five years from now when the Mets are contenting on a consistent basis, Mets fans and the media will understand the ground work that is being laid today. I realize the process is slow. We want a winner now. But the Mets organization was in complete disarray when Alderson took over. He decided to rebuild from the bottom up, not the top down. The Mets scout and draft better now. There is an organizational philosophy in place. The talent feed system is being built so that it can feed the major league club or foster deals to bring in the type of players need for a winning team. But it takes time and the Mets are slowly but surely getting there. This is the way the Cardinals have done it. So have the Giants, Rays, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, and yes the Yankees. Their core, responsible for so many post season runs, was home grown. The Red Sox did it too but frankly I don’t know what they are thinking now up in Boston.

And let’s not forget resigning David Wright. That was crucial. The Mets needed to show their fans they were willing to invest in their future and keep their one true star in place. There is no Met who wants to win more than Wright, who remains one of the elite third baseman in the game. What he means to the team transcends what goes on in the field.

The future is bright. A team that can sustain success year after year does not happen overnight. But when it arrives, Mets fans will be grateful even if nothing happened during the Winter Meetings of 2012.

Here’s a list of Mets currently playing in the Caribbean. Click on the names to see their stats.