Monday, January 30, 2006
Of course you can debate the wisdom of signing an aging broken down catcher to shoulder the large workload in a ball park that's more condusive to nature hikes than hitting home runs. You can also debate the wisdom of a National League team signing him as opposed to a DH flavored league such as the junior circuit.
But here is the question I have:
Is Kevin Towers, the Padres white GM, signing too many white players?
I mean, look at their roster...it's laden with white players. And look at the players signed/acquired by Kevin Towers just this off season: Piazza, Shawn Estes, Doug Mirabelli, Doug Brocail, Chris Young, Mark Bellhorn, Geoff Blum, Bobby Hill, Seth Etherton...not to mention re-signing two other white players: Brian Giles and Trevor Hoffman. That's eleven white players in one offseason! Add those to the white players already on the team such as Clay Hensley, David Ross, Jake Peavy, Tim Stauffer, Scott Linebrink, Scott Cassidy, Woody Williams, Khalil Greene, and Ryan Klesko, you have twenty out of 25 players on the San Diego roster who are caucasian. Eighty percent white...in a city whose racial makeup was only 47% caucasian as of the 2000 census.
Where's the outrage? Where's the press coverage? It's time to put Kevin Towers under the spotlight reserved for Omar Minaya.
Get the point?
Friday, January 27, 2006
Is anybody else worried here?
I mean, isn't this what everybody feared when Pedro got here? More than the rumored diva antics or the flaky dances in the dugout. It's the fact that Pedro is perpetually one pitch away from falling in a heap of body parts on the mound.
And now this news...and all of a sudden the starting rotation, which was at 8 in October, is now at four and a half.
Luckily, my crack staff has dug up a prototype of the new shoe:
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
"Don't tell me they photoshopped him in a Yankee uniform!"
-Friend of Metstradamus, when informed that he should not read Newsday after they reported that the Yankees and Mike Piazza had mutual interest.
Between that and Juan Samuel re-joining the Mets family, my head is spinning.
Roger McDowell a Brave? Juan Samuel a Met again? Mike Piazza rumored to be a Yankee? What gives here anyway?
And was Rick Peterson...
once the lead singer for Foreigner?
Hot blooded, check it and see.
I got a pitch count of a hundred and three.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Heilman just inherited a spot in the starting rotation as Mr. Anna Benson has been wheeled to the Orioles, in a long rumored deal for Jorge Julio and John Maine as the Santa Claus curse continues.
The Mets are banking that Julio's career will rebound from the "steady decline" that it has been in over the past few seasons, and that Maine, he of the 6.60 lifetime ERA, will do something. But once again, this is a deal that has the Atlanta Braves in mind.
Not the present Atlanta Braves, but Braves of yore.
You see, the Omar Minaya understands that the Wagner and Delgado moves were designed to get to the postseason. The Sanchez and Julio moves are designed to survive in the postseason. You know where all of those great starters got the Atlanta Braves? It got them Mark Wohlers vs. Jim Leyritz in Game 4 of the '96 Series. It got them Buffalo Bills status.
So instead of the "let's sign every washed up reliever in the free world and hope one or two of them stick" game plan that has been the cover of the playbook for years, the Mets are actually making set up men and middle relief a priority. And that's something this soothsayer doesn't mind.
Now let's just hope that it is indeed Heilman that benefits from this move...it would really have to be, since the bullpen is all of a sudden too crowded for Heilman to have a real impact there. Of course, if Heilman fulfills the promise shown in flashes during 2005, then everybody wins.
And as for Kris Benson, I wish him well. He's been a class act in his limited time here. But it's going to be hard and almost unfair to assess this deal from Baltimore's side because Benson is a pitcher that is going to be swallowed up by not only Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but the expectation of being the only pitcher the Orioles managed to get this offseason (what a drop off from Mark Prior, eh?) The good part is that the Orioles don't have to worry about Benson's propensity for physically fading in September, since the Orioles haven't played meaningful games in September since Robby Alomar was motivated. It will be hard for Benson to be known in Baltimore as the bone thrown to Miguel Tejada.
And speaking of bone, you know as well as I do that the only reason Benson made it to New York in the first place is because his wife wanted to be a star. Why do you think Anna raised such a ruckus about being traded to Baltimore in the first place? Think about it...and think about every husband of every spotlight-hungry woman you know. Does the word subserviant come to mind? Does he look and act like Kris Benson does? He does...doesn't he? (Brad Pitt is starting to head to that category if you ask me...but that's another story for another blog.) And now, Anna gets to whine her way all the way to Baltimore because her contract negotiating ability does not match her modeling portfolio and she didn't think enough to suggest a no-trade clause. Oh well.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I love my country.
I support my country.
I know the words to our national anthem.
So you will forgive me if I don't get excited about this World Baseball Tournament. (I refuse to call it a "classic". Classics, to me, must exist for at least 10 years and must be, oh I don't know, popular, to be conisdered a classic. Marketing does not make something "classic".)
And you'll even forgive me when I tell you this: I might very well root against the United States if this WBT is even played.
Traitor to my country? Not one bit. But I'm sorry, there's two points I need to make here:
- I don't care about the World Baseball Tournament. In fact, the fact that Pedro Martinez's toe might very well explode while pitching at this meaningless tournament gives me frequent heartburn and agita. And...
- If I did care about the World Baseball Tournament, I would have to turn it off about three innings in after the endless packaged vignettes about why Derek Jeter is the greatest American in America.
You want to tell me that I should root for America because I love my country? I will tell you that I will root root root for the home team when the hockey guys hit the ice in Turin. And yes, there is a difference. You see, even though the USA Hockey team will contain various Islanders, Devils and Flyers playing for them, the sport of hockey moves so fast and flows so seamlessly that the team on the ice and on the bench acts as one unit...the United States of America. You hardly notice the faces...you just notice the sweater; Red White and Blue flying around so quick that all you see is the United States of America. And truthfully, I can get behind Rick DiPietro and Scott Gomez and Robert Esche for a couple of weeks. It's like broccoli, I'm not going to necessarily choose to eat it, but it isn't going to kill me.
Not only can I not get behind Derek Jeter for a minute...let alone seventeen days, you know that whoever puts this meaningless tournament on television will use the many breaks between innings and pitches to hypnotize us into believing that there are only three players on the whole team, as the viewing public will get a heaping dose of Jeter, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds.
Hate, hate, and more hate.
Billy Wagner is there? I don't want him pitching either. Another reason to root for the good ol' USA to get their brains beat in by the fourth inning.
David Wright is there? Great! Guess who he'll be playing behind? That's right, Larry Jones.
Larry Jones, who had an illegitimate child with a Hooter's waitress, does not represent my America.
Roger Clemens, who threw a splintered bat at another human being, does not represent my America.
Barry Bonds, who owns an entire corner of his lockerroom, is surrounded by steroid rumors, is a curmudgeon to his teammates and the general public, and is only playing in this meaningless tournament because the powers that be decided that instituting the designated hitter rule will bring Bonds to the tournament and generate more revenue, does not represent my America.
Well I just plain don't like him.
And will Alex Rodriguez play for the United States? Will he play for the Dominican Republic? I have the answer:
I DON'T CARE!
Alex Rodriguez is a Yankee. To me, he's not American, he's not Dominican. He's a Yankee. And I don't want him playing with David Wright any more than I wan't him playing with Pedro Martinez. It's a simple theory: I don't want my guys mixing with their guys. And that is just one more reason why I cannot watch the World Baseball Tournament.
God Bless America, my home sweet home. Go Venezuela!
Some questions I need answered, because even soothsayers don't know everything...
Why is it that when Tiki Barber steps in front of a podium and says "we got outcoached", there's outcry from East Rutherford to Charlottesville; But when Roger Clemens tells Karl Ravech on a golf course that "we still need a lot of firepower", which basically is code for "The Astros front office is getting out-officed", not a peep from anybody? Is it:
- Because we, as a society, are afraid of roid rage?
- Blatent racism?
- Because everyone is too busy kissing his trackmarked ass hoping he'll return to major league baseball to help sell this hokey World Baseball Classic and the All-Star Game?
- Because if someone says something, Clemens will come to his house and throw him out of the window like in the SportsCenter spot?
- Because Clemens was a Yankee?
- All of the above?
- None of the above?
I realize nobody is going to roll out the red carpet for Mike Pelfrey. But for Pete's sake, couldn't somebody have erased the whiteboard in the asbestos filled room so the backdrop to Pelfrey's first ever Met news conference doesn't read "8:30 meeting"?
Who will be the first idiot to read this, and still wonder aloud if Billy Wagner can "handle the pressures of New York" after his first blown save?
Where the hell is Erik Love? Falcons go 9-7 and he jumps off a building or something? C'mon man, suck it up!
Saturday, January 14, 2006
That explains why Darryl Strawberry was in Port St. Lucie to help mentor the rookies at the Mets mini camp.
The rookies...and David Wright.
Wright was the only major leaguer to attend the mini camp, which exists for minor leaguers, and injury rehab. He took advantage of his time with Straw and Howard Johnson to ask about being on the '86 team.
Now if Darryl really wants to be a mentor, then the best thing he can tell David Wright is that "drugs are bad...mmm'kay?"
If Mr. Mackey was around when Darryl Strawberry was a young wide-eyed rookie, Straw would be on his five year wait for the Hall in a Mets cap, now wouldn't he? Which is nice to see that Straw is around camp as a reminder of what your career can be if you fall into the trap of choosing to throw away immense talent. But I seriously hope that he answers any questions that a young player would have for him regarding that. Because Mark McGwire, for all of his blustering about being the best role model there is regarding steroids, has not done one PSA or attended one Cardinal rookie camp since. He does not embody the spirit of being a good mentor. "Daaaaaaaaar-ryyyyyyyyyyyl" can be that role model. And it would be the best thing he's ever done for the Mets organization.
But the fact that Wright is down in Florida one month early has me wondering if David Wright even needs a role model. For example, here are a couple of quotes for your consumption:
"Sometimes I sit back in New York, look at my locker and just seeing my name right there on a jersey...and it's such a privilege to put that jersey on."The first quote belongs to David Wright, from his recent stint at Port St. Lucie.
"I know there have been a lot of blood and guts and sweat and tears that went in...To see some players come without that respect and without that regard for the people that played before them was tough...You should take a tremendous amount of pride in being in that position and playing for this city and this organization."
Do you know who's responsible for the second quote?
Why none other than Mark Messier, who had his number retired by the New York Rangers on Thursday, during National Mentoring Month. Fitting.
If the quotes make the man, then I only hope that David Wright Night is half as momentous and emotional as was Thursday night. And it will be, as long as Darryl Strawberry is as good a mentor as he was a player.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I like David Cone...and I always did.
Well, almost always. Before the David Cone for Ed Hearn (and others) trade was considered one of the few lopsided trades to ever go the Mets way (maybe the only one) the trade read something like this: "Greatest backup catcher in the history of baseball traded for schlub."
With the pitching quintuplet of Gooden, Darling, Ojeda, Fernandez, and Aguilera setting high standards for starting pitching at Shea Stadium in 1986 (and perhaps spoiling us for the rest of time when it comes to depth), David Cone to making his Met debut in 1987 amidst a good amount of fanfare was met with a bit of skepticism and high standards. When the headline in the paper read "Cone Creamed" the next day after a 10-0 loss to the Houston Astros, David Cone was seen as an intruder to me. David Cone should not be taking starts from anybody.
I remember the game where Cone turned gave us the first bit of hope that he did indeed belong. It was during that '87 season...and Cone had been struggling so bad that the only game Davey Johnson felt he could trust him in was an exhibition game at Shea against the Red Sox. It was a completion of the "home and home" charity series started at Fenway Park during the '86 season. You could hear groans rise from the crowd when it was announced that Cone would indeed start the game...even though the game meant nothing in the standings. Fans wanted Sox/Mets in '87 to be Game 8...they wanted to see 1986 on the mound instead of the future...me included.
When Cone responded with a strong outing in the 2-0 Mets victory, the relationship between Mets fans and Cone started to thaw...and in retrospect it almost was the first game of the 1988 season for Cone, when he went 20-3 and fell short of the Cy Young award to the 59 straight scoreless innings of Orel Hershiser.
Cone got himself in trouble during the playoffs that season against L.A. when he agreed to pen a special column chronicling the playoffs for one of the local papers. He wrote (or more accurately, said to a columnist for the paper who then crafted his words for print) that the Mets looked at Jay Howell's curveball like a "high school curve ball". I for one loved it...kept the column in my wallet for years. With one snarky comment, whether intended for print or not, David Cone proved that he would have fit right in with the 1986 Mets.
The Dodgers did not love it as much, and as luck would have it, Cone was the game 2 starter in that playoff series and got killed. Afterwards, Cone stopped writing the column. Too bad. I wonder what he would have said after game 3, where Jay Howell got thrown out of the game for enhancing that "high school curve ball" with pine tar in his glove.
What people forget about that series is that Cone bounced back mightily from the column debacle to pitch a complete game in the sixth game with the Mets down three games to two before the Mets ultimately lost the series the next day. Obviously the Mets brass also forgot about that when they traded him for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson in 1992.
Was that trade the ultimate result of David Cone's alleged unnatural act in the bullpen (think "Williams" from "Heaven Help Us") just a day or two before his nineteen strikeout game against the Phillies on the last day of the '91 season? Who knows. Cone probably thought so. He would have been in the upper half of the morally upstanding citizen section of the clubhouse in 1993, so bad miscalculation there. But it did produce one of the more memorable Howard Stern quotes ever, when he interviewed Cone on his radio show after the 1992 Blue Jays world championship season:
"Hey isn't it ironic that David Cone plays on a team called the B.J.'s?"If the Len Dykstra/Roger McDowell trade was the beginning of the end for the mid 80's Mets, the Cone trade was the end of the end. Between Dykstra, Nolan Ryan, and now Scott Kazmir, Cone to Toronto gets lost in the pantheon of disasters emanating from the Mets front office. But it was every bit as atrocious. Besides, it was the only trade of the four to be directly linked to a second disaster known as the Kent/Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga trade...talk about interest from hell which is compounded daily.
In many ways, all of Cone's success with the Yankees...the four rings, the perfect game, even the one out that Cone got in game 4 against Mike Piazza when it seemed the Mets had the Yankees on the ropes...the Mets deserved it. They deserved every twist of that knife for pulling off the unthinkable trade. So unthinkable that the Mets had to bring him back in 2003 for an excorsistic cleansing of the soul. Of course, Art Howe was the priest so there was many an evil spirit left after Cone hung 'em up for good in a Met uniform.
Redemption is a wonderful thing. It was good for Cone. Maybe I need to be redeemed for the fact that I still hold a place in my chicken soup-less soul for a man who wore the battleship gray of the New York Yankees. I don't know. I do know that many a man who traded him away could use a little redemption themselves.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
There really isn't any other way to say it when you talk about Bruce Sutter and his split fingered fastball. And when you realize that it was Sutter that was the guinea pig for a unique pitch that would soon be a staple in the baseball world, you understand why Sutter is in the Hall of Fame.
Most players in the hall of fame had stats that were not to be ignored. Others changed the game towards a different direction. King Kelly originated the hit and run. Players like George Wright, Oscar Charleston, and Jimmy Collins revolutionized their position. And Edd Roush was the forefather of the salary holdout.
Bruce Sutter brought the split fingered fastball into the fold...long before Roger Craig taught the pitch to every Tiger pitcher in 1984 which was probably the driving force behind that championship (and the staff's subsequent arm problems later in life), and long before Mike Scott hid behind the beauty of the pitch for a darker calling. And for that, Sutter is a worthy candidate to be the Hall of Fame class of 2006.
Now if you played word association with me, then in addition to finding out that I need extensive therapy, you'll learn that "Bruce Sutter" equals "Gary Carter".
Sutter came to the Braves in 1985 as a free agent, hoping to bring the Braves back to the right side of .500, and to give them one dominant closer, rather than the three headed monster of Donnie Moore, Steve Bedrosian, and Gene Garber. Meanwhile, Carter also changed teams for the '85 season, being traded to the Mets for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. And while Gary Carter's opening day dinger against Neil Allen signaled his New York arrival, his hall of fame matchup with Sutter signaled the change of direction in two baseball entities.
On May 7th, Sutter was brought in to face Carter with the bases loaded in the 8th and a 1-1 tie after an intentional walk to Keith Hernandez. Now Neil Allen was OK and all, but this was Bruce Sutter we were talking about here. Nobody hit Bruce Sutter. And the Mets didn't have the built in euphoria of opening day to fall back on. Something special would have to happen for Shea to rock...and rock it did.
Gary Carter hit a grand slam.
And there it was...finally, a Met acquisition getting a big hit off of a legitimately nasty pitcher in a big spot as the Mets went on to win the game 5-3. Finally, proof positive that Carter wasn't Ellis Valentine or George Foster or Jim Fregosi. Proof positive that the 1984 Mets weren't the ultimate tease...a flash in the pan. And unfortunately for Sutter, well, instead of his infamous split finger fastball falling like a penny off the Empire State Building, on May 7th it was the 1985 Braves (66-96), and Sutter's career that went downhill.
But today, it's Sutter's hall of fame career that Carter sent downhill.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Jets owner Leon Hess wanted a better facility (and cleaner bathrooms), so he went from being the Mets' tenants, and actually became the little brother of a competing football franchise, the New York Giants, as they moved into the Meadowlands. They did this, like Felix Unger, with the promise that one day they would return. Years later, after a failed attempt at a West Side palace, the Jets signed a deal with the Giants to build a new shared stadium and play as "partners" for ninety nine years.
The New York Jets...Just Renting For Over Forty Years, And Counting!
Of course, the Jets picking up shop and moving the whole operation to the Garden State means that the Met fan base will no longer be automatically linked to the Jets fan base, as it was from the 60's and 70's, all the way up until now. Way back when, if you were a Mets fan, more than likely, you were a Jet fan. Geographically, it just made sense. Now of course, it's all gone. To be a Met fan growing up now is to be a Met fan no longer automatically linked to another football team.
But with head coach Herman Edwards leaving the Jets (because the Jets can't seem to fire anybody fast enough before they leave), they're once more linked to the Mets. Because the last time the Mets were involved with a head coach (they call 'em managers in the summer) it was Lou Piniella who was angling his way off his employer, and Jose Reyes playing the part of the fourth round draft choice.
This resulted in Art Howe.
We know how that turned out.
Today, Jim Haslett visits with the Jets to talk to them about their vacant head coaching position. Jim Haslett...a coach with one less win than the coach who's leaving.
Jim Haslett: Autumn's Art Howe.
So how about hiring Art Howe to coach the Jets? How about being the Mets' little brother one last time and reaching towards the baseball world for their next head coach? It certainly would be a more prudent choice than Jim Haslett. Art Howe will come cheap and we all know that's what Woody Johnson wants. What? You say Art Howe doesn't know football so that would be silly? He hardly knew baseball! And he lucked his way into a good 65 wins a season. So what exactly is the difference here?
Because with Art Howe, you know the Jets will battle...because Howe will tell you so.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
We are also learning (not that we weren't warned) that some moves that aren't necessarily no-brainers...you know, the ones that can be classified in the "shrewd" category, aren't shrewd at all, but more in the baffling category.
Which brings us to Bat Flip Boonie.
Yeah sure...low risk, high reward blah blah blah. But you think Bret Boone was signed to play for Tidewater?
Wait, Brian Daubach...Benito Santiago...Jose Offerman...Mike DiFelice...mmmmm.
Boonie might like Norfolk in the summer.
But with the lineup you have, and at the one position that you have two decent if not sure-fire prospects, along with the "elephant in the punch bowl" known as Kazuo Matsui, why oh why is there a need to get not only an old second baseman, but an old second baseman who is fried? Oh, and there's those pesky steroid accusations.
Maybe Omar is proving to be a distant descendant of Jeff Van Gundy...who refuses to play rookies under any and all circumstances.
Now on to the other Met transaction of the day.
If Jae Seo's value had indeed risen to the height where he and Kazuo would have been able to get Danys Baez, then you would have called Omar Minaya a genius, and the deal would have been a steal. So it's dissapointing when after hearing about Danys Baez, Seo is wheeled to the Dodgers for two lesser lights (than Baez) for the bullpen. But it says that Seo's value really was never that high to begin with. And that will teach me to take too much stock into rumors.
The deal lessens the glut at starter and fills out the bullpen with younger guys. But it doesn't fulfill the need for a lefty set up guy for the pen...instead one goes the other way (albeit a guy who's been in the minors for 32 years but that's a minor detail). Sanchez pitched well in big spots for Los Angeles. His overall numbers in 2005 are ordinary in terms of WHIP but he does have close to a strikeout per inning. He could be the eighth inning guy for the Mets and the good part about him is that he'll be more comfortable and accepting in that role than Baez would be. The downside: not only does he have a funny name, but last May he threw his glove at a high chopper and forced the umpires to award the batter third base. Good to know the Mets' baseball IQ skyrockets.
And as for Steve "Sub" Schmoll...aren't sidearmers and submariners supposed to be a change of pace? Well, add Schmoll to Chad "Blueback" Bradford and that's not changing the pace. That's setting the pace, isn't it? If the Mets played their home games in the Indian Ocean that would be nice. But Shea Stadium, last I checked, is at sea level.
The Mets have offered the Kansas City Chiefs a draft choice and a ham sandwich to put Rick Down on the same outbound train as Herman Edwards.
Monday, January 02, 2006
So here's what my sources have been able to ascertain: The Devil Rays would get Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo, The Red Sox would get shortstop Miguel Tejada from Baltimore and center fielder Joey Gathright from the D-Rays. Baltimore would get Julio Lugo from Tampa as its shortstop and possibly starters Kris Benson from the Mets and Matt Clement from the Sox. And then Manny Ramirez would go to the Mets.
But it doesn't end there.
The Red Sox would then deal Tejada to the Cubs for Mark Prior and Rich Hill, and then the Mets would trade Manny Ramirez and Lastings Milledge to the Angels for Vladimir Guerrero. The Angels then would turn around and wheel Ramirez and Darin Erstad to the Kansas City Royals for a package including Jeremy Affeldt, Mike MacDougal, Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, the fountains, and George Brett's consulting services.
The Royals, not being able to afford Ramirez, would then trade him to the Texas Rangers for Brad Wilkerson, Adam Eaton, and Gerald Laird. The Royals would then trade Eaton and Laird to the Nationals for Alfonso Soriano, granting Soriano's wish to return to the American League, filing it under the category of "be careful what you wish for". Texas would then wheel Manny to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Lee, Derrick Turnbow, and the Miller Brewery. But league sources say that Bud Selig would veto that trade due to the fact that it involves too much beer. So in the next part of the trade, Manny would then go to Arizona with Orlando Hudson and Shawn Green going to the Rangers, and Conor Jackson going to the Twins for Torii Hunter.
Here's where it gets complicated.
The Diamondbacks would then turn around and trade Manny to the Astros for Adam Everett, Chris Burke, Andy Pettitte, and the foghorn. Houston would then trade Ramirez to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu and Tom Gordon, righting a wrong they committed many moons ago. The Phils, in a three way trade would then trade Manny to the Philadelphia Eagles, with Terrell Owens going to the Indiana Pacers, and Ron Artest going to the Phillies, (where he will no doubt proceed to get himself suspended for the season after he beats Santa Claus to within an inch of his life). The Eagles would then trade Manny to the Houston Texans for the number one draft pick and the rights to USC running back Reggie Bush. The Texans would then trade Manny to...
The New England Patriots...for Corey Dillon, Troy Brown, and three fifths of the offensive line.
So everybody wins. Manny can stay in Boston, and get his wish to go unnoticed because nobody in Boston pays attention to the Patriots until Super Bowl week anyway.
My sources tell me that this trade could be announced within the week...except if it's not.