Archive Page 2

A New Season Beckons

Here we are, sitting on the precipice of another baseball season. Everyone starts with a clean slate (except for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers who have already played two in Australia). What does it mean to be a Mets fan this time of year?

I guess that depends on what era you are referring to. Certainly during the 1980s it was one of excitement because you knew the Mets could dominate. In the late nineties it was also a time to feel joy because those scrappy Mets of Bobby Valentine had it in them to play exciting baseball every night. Those teams actually made the post season two consecutive seasons, something no other Mets team has ever done. The time to greatly anticipate the season happened again in the mid 00s when the likes of Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, and the coming of David Wright gave Mets fans a feeling of hope. They made the post season once but then suffered the most devastating collapse in franchise history.

Since 2009 we Mets fans have suffered through another string of five consecutive losing seasons including embarrassments off the field as well. A GM blaming a reporter for the Mets woes, a shirtless minor league director challenging and entire club to a fist fight, and of course Bernie Madoff. What more could a fan ask?

Look, I can only speak for myself, a fan of this club for almost 50 years. I am about as apathetic as I have ever been in anticipation of a Mets baseball season. I have hardly watched any of the pre-season games. It’s hard to judge how this team will be based on spring training anyway. In most cases, the games are filled with minor leaguers. The regulars don’t take the games as serious as the regular season, more interested in getting on the golf course than traveling with the team to away games. The Mets are 14-14 with two exhibition games left to play in Montreal. But the positives you hear this spring surround their arms. Scouts seem to all be in agreement that the Mets are loaded when it comes to good young pitching.

I know the process of rebuilding a franchise is slow and can be painful. I certainly hope the Mets begin to make huge improvements this season and if they do you know I will be on board. But if it starts the way the last few seasons have, I don’t have it in me anymore to devote much energy to the team.

Ownership has received much criticism these past few seasons and much of it was justified. However, they are quietly doing what needs to be done.  What they are doing, by building a strong farm system loaded with power arms, cannot be criticized. That formula is the gateway to perennial contention. And as far as pitching goes, I think the Mets will be fine. The problem as I and many others see is one of offense. There are just so many question marks that a conversation about the Mets these days contains an inordinate amount of ifs. If Ike Davis hits, if Curtis Granderson can produce for the Mets the way he did for the Yankees, if Ruben Tejada can just get back to the form he showed two seasons ago, if Daniel Murphy can hit for more power, if Juan Lagares can hit just a bit better, and if Travis d’Arnaud can simply live up to his hype. A lot has to go right for the Mets just to play .500 baseball. They are no sure thing.

The key to success for 2014 will be for the Mets to stay healthy, their pitchers continue to improve as they gain more experience and for their offense to score more runs on average then they have for the last couple of seasons. The Mets could have a fine season. The keyword is could. And a fine season doesn’t necessarily have to end in the playoffs. Let’s be realistic. The Nationals and Braves are better than the Mets. The Marlins have very good pitching and could surprise a lot of people. The Phillies, well they are definitely on the decline but they still have some good players and are likely not just going to roll over. The point is the National League East has become one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball.

If ticket sales are slow, it’s to be expected. The Mets have had long losing stretches far too often in their history. From 1962 through 1968, Mets fans suffered but the team was given a pass because of their loyal following when National League baseball returned to New York. The fan base suffered greatly and became very apathetic in the mid 70’s through the early 80’s when the team lay in the basement every season. M. Donald Grant had a lot to do with that. After all, back then the nickname for Shea Stadium was Grant’s Tomb.  After their dominance in the 80’s it was back to losing ways in the 90’s till the end of that decade but then they fell again after the 2001 season to be resurrected by Omar Minaya but only to fail again after short sided thinking and that’s where we are today. A New York baseball franchise should not have the losing history the Mets have. It’s high time this ball club figures out how to sustain success and hopefully it has.

So I am on board with the approach that current GM Sandy Alderson is taking. The idea is not to win just one or two years but to be a contender every season like the Cardinals, the Braves, the Red Sox, and now, even the Pirates. A strong farm system coupled with smart trades and key free agent signings is the formula for success today. It takes years to get to that point and hopefully we are close to seeing the fruits of this effort. But it is hard to stay optimistic until we see tangible results and so far we have not. Yes, I know the Mets played .500 over the last 100 games of last season. That’s a fact management likes to spout recently. But that’s really not enough to get me all geared up for another season.

I freely admit that my interest will be day by day this season. I have no predictions for this team. I just hope things start getting better because right now I find myself not carrying very much. You could criticize me and say a true fan never gives up. But I say there is only so much losing a person can take.

From 660 to 710

For the first time since the inception of WFAN Radio back in 1987, this week a baseball game will be broadcast that does not include the likes of Howie Rose, Josh Lewin, and Ed Coleman. Nope, this week the baseball heard on the all sports talk station will be done by John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.  This week, the New York Yankees begin a ten year marriage with WFAN 660 AM and 101.9FM.

You actually can go back to 1983 to when the Mets began a radio relationship that lasted over thirty seasons. In ’83 the Mets moved to WHN radio at 1050 on the dial. WHN was bought out and WFAN, the first 24 hour a day sports talk station, was born in 1987. It was the year after the Mets last won a World Series. A year later, WFAN purchased the frequency broadcasting rights of WNBC radio and moved down the dial to 660 and has been there ever since. Through all that time the station’s marquee sports franchise was the New York Mets. But after both the Mets and Yankees’ radio contracts expired after the 2013 season, WFAN acquired the broadcasting rights to the Yankees from WCBS radio, also owned by Infinity Broadcasting, and the Mets were shown the door.

It was never a question of the Mets being cheap as many fans would attest. They were given no choice in the matter. In fact, WFAN is paying more to the Yankees to broadcast their games then they paid the Mets. Obviously the Mets misfortunes of the past few seasons weighed heavily on WFAN management. With the Yanks on board, a perennial contender, the station can now sell advertising for top dollar. That was not the case trying to sell the Mets.

The Mets will also be broadcasting baseball games starting later this week. But now they will do so from 710 on the AM dial and will not have a presence on FM. The Mets have agreed to five years with the right wing talk radio station. (It troubles me the Mets are now somewhat associated with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity.) The good news for Mets fans is that Howie Rose and Josh Lewin will still be doing the play by play. A pre and post game host is still being determined but it will not be Ed Coleman who is staying with WFAN. Coleman will remain as the Mets beat reporter for their former station so he will still be part of the Mets picture. Ed can continue to constantly agree with Mike Francesa.

What does it really mean for Mets fans? Not really a whole lot.

WOR like WFAN, broadcasts with 50,000 watts so their signal is just as strong.  Over the winter I was as far northeast as Providence Rhode Island and as far south as Washington DC. In both cases and during daylight, I was able to hear WOR very clear. Honestly I think the distance thing is a moot point anyway. For about 15 bucks, you can get the MLB At Bat app and hear any major league game you care to listen to.  The app works on almost any handheld device (Windows Phone app should be out in March according to MLB) and iPad and you can hear games anywhere in the world if you have access to cell service or Wi-Fi.

I am not at all concerned or upset that the Mets are no longer on WFAN. I stopped listening to that station even before the Mets were booted out. I grew so tired of the constantly negative talk that I made up my mind to no longer listen. And let me tell you life is better. Instead of getting aggravated driving back and forth to work listening to Boomer and Carton or Mike Francesa, I’m learning French instead, quelque chose je voulu toujours à faire*.

The point is when it’s game time and I am in the car or somewhere that I can’t turn on a TV, the Mets game will be on the air and just as easy to find and hear as it was before. And if you feel so compelled to listen to what the negative sport heads have to say after a Mets win or lose, you can always tune in after the game to WFAN to hear the wisdom they will spew.

Me, unfortunately like many, I am addicted to my smart phone so often I listen to the game on that device. The quality is crystal clear (no AM static even when it’s stormy) and you don’t even have to listen to all the commercials. Many are not broadcast over MLB and when that’s the case you get to hear the crowd noise between innings. It’s almost like being there at a fraction the cost.

I wonder of the wisdom of WFAN. On the surface it makes perfect business sense to dump the Mets in favor of the Yankees. With the Yankees, you think of winning and with the Mets, well let’s face it—the word loser comes to mind. But you look at the state of the two teams. Yes certainly the Yankees continue to spend money that puts every other team to shame but the Yankees are getting old and they have very little in the pipeline. By contrast the Mets are young and are loaded with talented young pitching with some very good position players at the lower levels of their system. Over the next ten years, the span of the Yankees/WFAN contract, is it possible the Mets will become the toast of the town as the Yankees begin a long overdue fade? We’ll see. I have predicted doom and gloom for the Yanks a couple of seasons now but both teams have proven me wrong. The bombers continue to win (even though not making the post season last year) while the Mets have floundered for five consecutive seasons.   Would it not be ironic if the Mets become the perennial winner while the Yankees spend their WFAN days in the bottom of the division?

Well I guess it would be ironic because the reality is that likely won’t happen. But just as long as the Mets get better, its okay with me regardless of what radio station they are on.

*something I always wanted to do.

Time to Start Thinking About the Schedule

The Mets open too early and finish up against an old NL friend before October begins.

Too early? Yeah, I think March 31 is too soon to start the baseball season. Technically its spring but realistically it could still be quite cold then. That’s why the next day is an open date just in case the weather is really bad. It’s hard to believe the snow will be gone from Citi Field in a month and a half let alone playing a baseball game. But the field will be ready when the Nationals come to town to open a three game set. The Nats are already the favorites to win the division with the additions they made over the winter. But that’s why they play 162 games. They’ve got to prove it. And what do the Mets have to prove? They need to prove they are better, plain and simple.

The Mets have yet to record a winning season while inhabiting Citi Field. They last had a winning record in 2008, their last season at Shea Stadium. Of course these days, in the win-or-else mentality of many fans, a winning season is when your team wins the World Series. The other 29 are a bunch of losers. I’m old school. For me a winning season is when a team wins more games than they lose and the Mets did that in 2008 with an 89-73 record. Yes, I know how it ended. But isn’t perspective an interesting thing? As bad as 2008 ended, all us Mets fans would be ecstatic if the Mets could win 89 games this season.

This season there is some guarded optimism with some very fine young arms getting more and more ready for the big leagues. To put it simply, pitching should be a major strength of the 2014 team. Scouts everywhere say the Mets have one of the richest systems in all of baseball when it comes to pitching. The offense should be better but that’s where there could be problems unless Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda can get their act together. We also need import Curtis Granderson to do for the Mets what he did for the Yankees. And wouldn’t it be nice if Chris Young could start living up to his potential.

But this post is about the schedule and the quirks uncovered. For example the Mets will make four trips to California this season. They also will play three ten game home stands and two ten game road trips. There are sixteen scheduled off days (less if making the All Star team) and of course not one scheduled doubleheader.

The Mets hit the west coast early this year. But they don’t play the Padres, Giants, or Dodgers. The Mets go next door to Disneyland in early April to kick off their inter-league schedule against the Angels. That’s a night after they travel across the country from Atlanta. The Atlanta/So-Cal trip concludes in Arizona so the Mets perhaps skirt some postponements early on. At least the Mets are in warm weather cities in April compared to last season when they played in Minnesota in horrendously cold conditions followed by snowy Colorado. During those two series, the Mets suffered three postponements requiring the team to return to Minneapolis and Denver on off days later in the season.  The Mets return home for the first of three ten game home stands in 2014. It’s a tough one having to face the Braves, Cardinals, and Marlins.

The next road trip has the Mets headed to Colorado for four games. Hopefully the weather will have warmed up in early May in Denver.  The next memorable moment of the schedule will be mid May when the Mets face the Yankees on four consecutive days. It will be the earliest the Mets ever play the Yankees in the course of the regular season. On May 12 through 15, the Mets play two at Yankee Stadium then two at Citi Field. And this year it will be the Yankees out for revenge after failing to win a single game in the subway series last season. It was the first time in inter-league history that the Mets swept the Yankees.

The Mets play the first holiday of the season, Memorial Day, at home against the Pirates. The end of the month starts one of two ten game road trips sending the Mets to Philadelphia, Chicago (Cubs), then to the west coast again to play San Francisco. The only interleague games in June occur during a brief two game home stand against the Athletics. This season, as last, each club plays one two game set at home and one two game set on the road against an interleague opponent. Last year the Mets played the White Sox at home and away. The Mets will travel to Oakland later in the season.

In July, the Mets second ten game home stand leads into the All Star break. It starts with the Mets playing the Texas Rangers on the fourth of July, their second major holiday at home. This season the All Star game will be held in Minneapolis at Target Field. Again, all teams are getting a four day break with the second half of the season beginning on Friday.

The Mets start the second half in San Diego, their third trip to the west coast and not their last. It’s the second ten game road trip of the season. From San Diego, the Mets fly up north to Seattle and play Robinson Cano and the Mariners for three before concluding the trip with four in Milwaukee.

During the dog days of August, the Mets play 16 games against their division rivals. Seven on the road and nine at home. August could be a crucial month for the Mets if they happen to find themselves in contention by the end of July. The only interleague games are against the Athletics with the Mets traveling to California for the fourth and final time of the season.  That brief five game trip ends in Los Angeles with a weekend set against the Dodgers.

The Mets will be away on Labor Day, the third summer holiday (technically Memorial Day is in the spring) beginning a three game set in Miami. The Mets play their third ten game home stand in September before finishing their road season in Atlanta and Washington. The Mets conclude the season at home against the Houston Astros. And of course, those are now interleague games since the Stros moved over to the AL last season.

So there you have it. I often find myself looking at the schedule wondering what series the Mets can win. But isn’t that always based on how good I think the team is? I throw up my hands (or perhaps I just throw up) and say whatever shall be shall be (que sera sera). I’m through predicting. Last year the experts by and large said the Red Sox were going to finish last in their division. Shows what they know.

Ralph Will Be Missed

One of my favorite memories of Ralph Kiner was from a game I hardly remember. It was from the late 60s or early 70’s. I don’t remember who the Mets were playing or if the game was home or away. I know it was a day game and honestly there was nothing really significant about that game I can recall except one thing.

At one point in the game a ball was hit to deep left (or was it right?). The Mets’ Ron Swoboda went back on the ball and turned as he approached the wall. With sunglasses down, Ron lost the ball in the sun as it struck him in the face. Without skipping a beat, Ralph called the play as no other could. As the runner headed to second Kiner said “so and so is pulling up to second having doubled off the nose of Ron Swoboda.” I roared. Only Ralph could make a call like that. Not the great Lindsey Nelson or not the great Bob Murphy could have pulled it off, only Ralph. He just had that dead pan delivery that would make you laugh.

With the loss of Ralph Kiner, there is little left to connect the franchise to its roots of 1962. Ed Kranepool will have to hold that torch moving forward but Eddie is not part of the day to day operations of the Mets. And even though Kiner only did a handful of games a season in recent years, his presence was still felt.

We often wax poetic about those we love even when there were chinks in the armor. By all accounts, Kiner was a wonderful person, a great ballplayer, a military hero, an outstanding golfer, and he dated starlets. But Ralph could butcher a call with the best of them. He got player’s names wrong all the time and could mangle pronunciations that would make Leo Gorcey blush. But because of his incredible knowledge of the game, his ability as a Hall of Fame player who led the National League in homers for seven consecutive seasons, and his infections and funny personality, we dismiss the quirks of referring to Gary Carter as Gary Cooper or Gary Cohen as David Cone. Those things are just part of what made Ralph Kiner so special and so much a part of the Mets culture for over half a century.

Ralph will be missed just as we missed Murph. But the stories he told will live on. Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Howie Rose, and hopefully Josh Lewin will often recount them. One of my favorite Kiner remarks was about conditioning. While discussing the vast amount of hamstring and oblique injuries for the modern ballplayer, Gary Cohen asked Ralph why it seemed there were not as many of those types of injuries in the old days. Ralph retorted “Well you can’t pull fat”.

And who can forget Ralph’s story about asking Branch Rickey, then GM of the Pirates, for a raise after Ralph once again led the NL in homers. Ralph recalled Rickey saying “We finished in last place with you, we can finish in last place without you”. Well one thing is certain Ralph, the Mets can finish in last place without you too but it will never be the same.

Mike, Tom, and the Hall

There are a number of reasons a person may get acne, even on their back. It can happen due to heredity. It can be caused by a hormone imbalance. Clothing can also cause the problem, especially if a person sweats a lot. Also, back acne can be caused by some medications including steroids.

And there lies the problem with why the greatest hitting catcher of all time is still not in the Hall of fame. We are talking about Mike Piazza, a player who not only hit the most home runs of any catcher but one who hit impact homers. In my opinion what truly sets a great player apart from a very good one is a player who can rise to the occasion. A player who gets the big hit when it is needed most. Piazza was one of those players.

Many players in the Hall of Fame today are compilers. They are in because the back of their baseball card is filled with numbers. A guy with 3000 hits or 500 homers is almost automatically in, unless of course they are connected to steroids. Mike Piazza is connected to steroids. Not because he has confessed to using them, was caught using them, was turned in by other players or those around the game that know things. No, none of that has happened. He’s on no list that we know of. Lists that include Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmero to name a few, do not include Piazza. Nope, Mike is not on any of them, at least so far.

So in a country that decrees it is better for a guilty man to go free than an innocent one being locked up, apparently many writers feel Piazza was a user and therefore should not get into the Hall of fame, at least not yet. And why, because a writer in the Mets locker room once reported that Piazza had back acne, a symptom of steroid use. And there is also other circumstantial evidence. Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick who became one of the greatest catchers ever. Hmm, sounds suspicious to me (sarcasm intended). If you can prove to me that a 62nd round pick only had to take steroids to make him the greatest hitting catcher of all time then where do I get some?

This is a guy who worked his butt off to become the player he was. There are coaches of his from far and wide who will attest to it. He worked constantly to improve himself during the season and in the off season. And his career arc is much in line with other greats before the steroid era. In the case of the players who we know for sure that were using, they were producing at ages that were not common. Piazza began to break down in his mid thirties as most non users did. If he had hit 40 homers at the age of 37, maybe I would have some suspicion.  His last big homer season was 2002 when he hit 33 at the age of 33. At age 34, he hit 11 in an injury plagued season. He ended his Mets career hitting 20 and 19 homers in his final two years in Flushing respectively.  At 37, Mike hit 22 with San Diego before his final season in 2007 when he hit just 8 homers for Oakland.

If the steroid witch hunt had never happened in baseball, Piazza would already be in. But writers have made it clear they are taking a stand regardless of evidence and facts. Piazza will eventually get in. He’s the only player on the ballot who picked up votes this year. That’s no guarantee he’ll get more next year but he should. And in my opinion the Mets should retire his number regardless. Being elected to the Hall or not should be no criteria for his number not hanging on the Citi Field wall.

Personally, there is enough factual information, yes facts, that support that steroids did not make as much of an impact as writers and others in the media claim. The Steroids-and-baseball website is a great source of factual information in regards to steroids and baseball. That doesn’t mean there should be no rules to prevent their use. After all Steroids are illegal and taking them improperly will likely threaten a person’s health in the long term. However, there is a lot of information to suggest that the increased power numbers had more to do with expansion (and with expansion comes more watered down pitching), smaller ballparks, harder maple bats, and a tighter wound ball. Steroids may have aided in players being able to recover faster from injury but many studies are showing the increase in home run production was negligible, if at all! Again, I’m not defending the use of steroids but I am suggesting that the writers get a clue and stop using their vote as some kind of morality statement.

There are many in the Hall of Fame already who were users of steroids and other drugs. Some threw spit balls too and sharpened their spikes with the intent of hurting other players. Should we throw them out now?  Alcohol has ruined more families in this country then any illegal drug combined. Should we throw Babe Ruth and others out of the Hall who routinely tied one on? And of course alcohol reminds us of the utter hypocrisy that has baseball and all sports touting just say no to drugs while you chill out with a Bud. Let’s also not forget at the height of the steroid era, owners turned a blind eye because the turnstiles were spinning out of control. Steroids have been a part of baseball and all sports for a very long time, just ask Lenny Dystra who at the end of his Mets tenure showed up to spring training looking like Charles Atlas winking at anyone who caught his eye.  I think baseball should be commended for their new anti-drug policy but it’s high time we all move forward and leave the past to the history books.

Mike Piazza’s numbers speak for themselves. He performed as a perennial All Star in two of the most pressure packed markets of Los Angeles and New York. He hit home runs and drove in runs that were very often in meaningful situations. He was one of the best clutch hitters in the game. He was a better defensive catcher in terms of handling pitchers and blocking the plate than what he gets credit for. And his offensive numbers and awards are simply outstanding. Pizza belongs in the Hall, plain and simple.

Mets fans hate Tom Glavine for two reasons. One, he gave up seven runs in the first inning of the final game of 2007, completing a Mets collapse down the stretch of epic proportions.  Two, he said he was disappointed but not devastated of the outcome. This remark infuriated Mets fans who most always felt he was a Brave in Mets clothing all along. Oh well, there will be no convincing them of the truth but…

Glavine certainly made a tactical error in not demonstrating more remorse over that final game. Even if he faked it, his departure from the Mets would not have been so conspicuous. But I got his point and in his world of family first, his point was it is just a game and although infuriating, perhaps that was his way of trying to minimize the huge disappointment he most certainly felt as an athlete. You don’t win 300 games in baseball if you truly don’t give a shit about winning. But make one thing clear. Following the Mets down that horrendous September of 2007, you simply cannot pin the Mets demise entirely on one Tom Glavine. Night after night, starting pitching failed then gave way to a beleaguered bullpen that was simply out of gas. If a team cannot hold a seven game lead in early September, how the hell can you blame one pitcher on the final day of the season? Yes I get it but think it is very unfair.

And one more thing… like Glavine or not, regardless of going into the Hall wearing a Braves cap (which of course he should), one fact will always be true. Glavine won his 300th game as a Met. He did not do it as a Brave. He did it in Chicago against the Cubs wearing burnt orange and royal blue. That can never be taken away from us, a great moment in Mets history regardless of how you feel about Glavine. Also Glavine suffered what so many other stars did when coming to the Mets. The front office has historically never put a supporting cast around a new shiny face on the team.  It’s like spending $40,000 on a car and not going with the heated seats. The same can be said in Glavine’s case. The Mets simply do not follow through and build an entire roster. They put lipstick on a pig and hope for the best. Seldom does that work.  However, let’s remember that Glavine helped the Mets become a winner again starting in 2005, the playoffs in 2006, and up to game 162 of ’07.

The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum and it is a business. Fans of baseball can debate for hours on end of the merits of what players deserve to be there and what ones do not. We know the greats—Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Christie Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio and so forth. These are players that are heralded as the true greats of the game. They are players who dominated at their position either in the batter’s box or on the pitcher’s mound for extended periods of time. There is no question of their deserving of the honor to be a member. But over the years, it seems more players are getting in based on numbers alone. The fact a player stayed healthy, was very good, and amassed big numbers does not mean they necessarily were dominant during their era. But never the less, those players are getting in. Who was more dominating a hitter than Don Mattingly for a short period of time? But the powers that be say he wasn’t dominating long enough. I’m not saying that Mattingly should be in the Hall but his numbers are extremely comparable to Kirby Puckett. Puckett is in, Mattingly is not. But Piazza has the numbers and he also was that dominating player at one of the most difficult positions in all of professional sports. He should be in already and it is a crime he is not.

The writers being judge and jury without evidence, is simply wrong. There have been cheaters in this game since it started and it will continue. If not drugs, then something else will be discovered to give the player an edge. It’s ugly but it’s the nature of the business.

Mike Piazza deserves to be in the Hall. He was the dominant player at his position for over a decade. He won Rookie of the Year, MVP, helped teams to the playoffs three times and got the Mets to the World Series. No one will ever forget his home run on September 21, 2001 that united a city. And although he made the last out of the 2000 World Series, had the wind not have been gusting in so strong over Flushing Bay, it’s likely Piazza’s drive would have tied the game instead of landing in Bernie Williams glove.

If you have the proof Piazza was cheating, then show it otherwise do the right thing and vote the man into the Hall of Fame.

Beltran’s Complaint

Poor Carlos Beltran. His feelings are hurt because the Mets treated him poorly during his final couple of years with the team. That’s what Carlos said at his welcome another former Met to the Yankees press conference.

Specifically Carlos was upset with how his right knee was handled, the fact the Mets did not like that he had surgery on his knee without them knowing it, and that he didn’t show up to visit a hospital with other Mets players. He considers these things personal and that is something he can’t tolerate. Taking strike three to end the 2006 post season for the Mets–no problem, going 0-4 in a game, and even dealing with the New York media was no problem. However, the personal stuff really bothered him.

Is he right? Yes, he is but he is not without fault.

Over the years my opinion of Mets management has changed drastically. I used to believe they were decent folks who wanted to win just as much as the fans. That opinion has eroded greatly over time. Look, I know they want to win but their efforts to do so has been drawn into question, especially during the last few years of the Omar Minaya era. The more you read between the lines of those years, the more you begin to realize the misfortunes of the team may have had more to do with the Wilpons then with Minaya.

Carlos Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history, plain and simple. We might have more affection for Mookie Wilson and Tommy Agee but neither of those players’ numbers can compare to Beltran’s. Some of the things that management said in regards to Beltran were unfair, especially in regard to not visiting a hospital. Beltran did a great deal off the field and represented the Mets well. Sure, the Mets were upset with the last few years of the contract because Beltran missed so many games but to blame him in petty ways was quite unprofessional. And for Fred Wilpon to mock him for not swinging at the Adam Wainwright curve ball from hell is just ridiculous.

Did it ever occur to Fred that Cliff Floyd also struck out before Beltran? Did it ever occur to Fred that after Endy Chevez’s game saving catch, the Mets had a great scoring opportunity but couldn’t score a run if there life depended on it? Did it ever occur to Fred that Aaron Heilman gave up the game winning home run as he so often did during the regular season? Did it ever occur to Fred that if it wasn’t for Beltran, the Mets never reach the NLCS in 2006? Unfortunately Beltran was never appreciated as much as he should have been by the ownership or the fans. Yes, Mets fans are guilty too. Mets fans want their team to sign big contracts. When they have in the past, and a player has struggled as Beltran did his first year, Mets fans waste no time ripping the player. It’s no wonder so many players don’t want to come to Flushing.

So Beltran still feeling the pain from those events with the Mets let New York know about it when he was introduced as the latest former Met to join the Yankees. He follows many including most notably Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Robin Ventura, John Olerud, Ron Swoboda. Ron Swoboda? Yes, even Ron Swoboda donned the pin stripes after his glory days with the Mets. I’m sure there is nothing more than Beltran wants then to stick it to his former team while with the Yankees, a team he claims to have always wanted to play for.

But Beltran needs to hear a bit of rant too. Carlos, the Mets paid you 119 million dollars for seven years. You played about five of those. That contract made you extremely wealthy. Your family, your children and their children should never worry about money again. You could show a little bit of gratitude for a team that helped put you on the national baseball stage, and voted you their greatest center fielder in franchise history. And forget about ever being voted into the Mets Hall of Fame now. I believe you just burned that bridge. And if you don’t play well as a Yankee, do you think Yankee fans are going to extend any more of a courtesy than Mets fans did. Yankee fans left in droves when it was apparent there would be no playoffs in 2013. Don’t kid yourself, Mets fans and Yankees fans are from the same mold.

I wish you luck Carlos, I really do. Except from May 12th to May 16th when you play the Mets. Let’s see if Zach Wheeler can do the same to you as Wainwright once did.

Mets Make Moves

So there all you naysayers—the Mets spent about 70 million dollars, made themselves a better team, and aren’t done making moves. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for doubting them.

Of course I jest. However, the Mets did make some good moves and likely will be a much better team next year. I am not picking them to win the World Series. However, at least they should become competitive and might even challenge for a wild card. Again, I didn’t say win the wild card but at least compete for and be in the position to win the wild card. It’s a long way away and as stated, more moves are likely to come.

Now, I am not a big proponent of trading Ike Davis and giving the shortstop job to someone other than Ruben Tejada. But it seems to me that the Mets front office is sending a clear message. That is there are no entitlements. Guys aren’t going to be handed jobs just because they have had them in the past. For two seasons in a row, Davis has gotten off to horrendous starts that lasted half a season. Tejada clearly took a step backwards after a season where he played very well after Reyes had signed with the Marlins. But last season it was almost as if he didn’t care what shape he was in or how much effort he showed. Alderson has been quite clear that these two guys are not his. He didn’t draft them and does not necessarily see them as part of the core moving forward.

If you look at Davis’s numbers compared to Lucas Duda, who the Mets seem to prefer at first, they really are about the same when you account for the difference in games played and at bats with the edge going to Davis. Ike’s OBP/SLG/OPS is .334/.487/.863 while Duda clocks in at .342/.424/.766. Davis hits one home run every 22.2 times at bat. Duda hits one every 25.1 times up.  I like Davis better than Duda because he still is the better hitter, if only slightly, and I do think he’s a better defender. But Davis has fallen out of favor with the front office who cannot risk having him go 1 for 140 come next April. Yes, he could blossom elsewhere like Chris Davis did for Baltimore. You heard and read the same kinds of things about the Oriole’s Davis when with Texas. It’s a risk to let Ike go but the Mets front office likely feels it’s more of risk to count on him. Plus he will likely make close to four million dollars in arbitration, a value the Mets feel is better spent on someone else, perhaps on a shortstop.

Steven Drew would be a nice fit for the Mets. However, after spending 60 million on Curtis Granderson, 20 million on Bartolo Colon, and 7.25 million on Chris Young, unless they stretch the budget and/or move some salary off the team, it’s unlikely they will meet Drew’s demands. The Red Sox want Drew back and certainly the world champions have the money to make it happen. So look for one or more trades if Alderson is bent on getting a new shortstop.

It was a good week for the Mets. I like the fact that Alderson stated next year is about winning not sidebar story lines. There is still a lot of time left of this off season. It won’t really turn winter until late next week. I have a feeling more Mets will come and some will go.