Friday, July 31, 2009
And the chamber had no bullet.
Boy that was close. At least that's the feeling I get from the second straight season of an inactive trade deadline for the New York Mets, the baseball equivalent of sugar free vanilla ice cream. Of course, the circumstances are a little bit different than they were last season, but the result is still the same. And that isn't a bad thing at all.
Well, at least against the backdrop of what happened to this franchise over the last decade, with star Jason Bay having been wheeled for Steve Reed in a deadline deal that had no effect on the Mets' standing in 2002, and the one from 2004 that doesn't need an introduction, it isn't a bad thing.
Am I willing to give Omar credit for doing the prudent thing and not letting a 5-2 stretch against the Astros and Rockies cloud his vision? Yes and no. Yes because we don't know all the particulars about every deal he was proposed, and for whom the other teams were asking for.
But no ... because we know that the Mets were in on Adam LaRoche.
Would LaRoche have helped? Probably. Would he have helped enough to get the Mets to the wild card spot? Not by himself. Now LaRoche and Victor Martinez would have been interesting, but that's another story altogether. But getting LaRoche by himself wouldn't have been worth the further stunting of Daniel Murphy, forcing Murph to sit down when playing the rest of this lost season at first base would have been the perfect opportunity to develop (not that the Mets have a player development head, but that's yet another story.) And it would have been in direct conflict with what Omar had been saying all along which was "If I make a deal, I have to take into consideration when guys (Carlos Delgado, in this case) were coming back from injury."
Now that paraphrased quote was probably nothing more than a built in excuse for coming up empty, but that's still another story. This franchise full of interesting stories. And for now, they're full of halfway decent minor leaguers, .500 beards (most teams have playoff beards, but y'know ... their goals are realistic) and shortstops who can't run.
Enjoy your bland ice cream. At least it's edible.
I have a feeling it will be like April 15th for us.
Taxing, this trade deadline is, because I'm not sure any of us know what the right answer is. We might think we know, but deep down when we search for a real answer, we have nothing to give. If Omar buys? He's unrealistic about the standings. Sell? He's giving up. Do nothing? He's incompetent and gun shy. The man simply can't win.
But that's the situation he's put himself in. The Adam Rubin fiasco isn't going to get Omar Minaya fired. But the decision he makes, whatever it is, is going to be judged more harshly whatever it is because of the Rubin thing. That's the bed that Omar made, now he's going to have to lie in it while making phone calls to other GM's. (Sounds all very slumber party-ish.)
But don't worry, because whatever he does, he seems to have it all under control. Never has it been more apparent that Omar is a man in control now that he's taken his "me time", and that he hasn't lost control of his job or his emotions. How do I know this?
"You guys know me - that's just not the way Omar Minaya is."Because the man is starting to refer to himself in the third person. He's freaking Rickey Henderson! Who cares if the Mets' winning streak stopped, the leader is confident! It's like he's using Swagger by Old Spice.
"You guys know Omar, and this was not an Omar action."
("He's lobbying for a position in player development." Yeah, that was me, Omar Minaya. Before I started using Swagger.)
Heck, he's so confident, he's turning down deals for Victor Martinez.
Not sure I blame him, considering Mark Shapiro reportedly asked for Brad Holt and Jenrry Mejia. And when you look at the fact that they took the Phillies A-minus level prospects while asking for the Mets A-plus level prospects, it's proof that either the Mets prospects really are worse than everyone else's, or other GM's are ... as I've suspected ... more willing to hold up more vulnerable Minaya.
But heck, now that Omar has the weight of the Rubin thing off his chest, then Omar's going to do what Omar's going to do.
That's what scares me.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Start yourself off with the latest gem from the FanHouse Dugout crew, as they figure out what we've all learned from the Mets' 2009 season.
Mr. Met was so angry after admitting that he played a part in the demise, he got into a fit of road rage.
Even the guys at 12 Angry Mascots are ... well, they're still angry as Mets weekly host Julie Alexandria shows us how they're preparing for tomorrow's big comedy event:
And finally, don't miss an exclusive interview with 1969 hero Rod Gaspar courtesy of the boys from Meet the Matts.
Oh, and when you're done, don't forget to check us out at Sportstalk NY Live between 9 and 10PM for my weekly appearance with Mark and A.J. We'll recap the last week in all things Met which was ... as most weeks in Flushing go ... boring, routine and uneventful.
"I think he really understands he made a very large mistake here. He apologized to ownership, he apologized to the staff. Omar has told me he's remorseful about what he said." -Jeff Wilpon"So I sent him to his room without his supper to think about what he's done. He's been a very bad boy."
My favorite part of Tuesday's news conference, the one that expounded on Monday's second news conference which was needed to smooth over Monday's first news conference, was the part where Jeffy said something like "Oh, Omar's around. But he needs some time to recuperate, he's had a tough day and he's visibly shaken."
Yeah, Omar needs a day off. I mean, it's not like there's anything going on that a general manager really needs to do near the end of July. Oh don't worry about that small detail that it's the one chance Omar has to improve the club whether it be for now or for the future. Because we can't have Mark Shapiro or Billy Beane calling Flushing to talk trade only to have Minaya collapse in a heap as he bawls his eyes out and have the flavor of his own tears make his Alpha Bits taste funny. (Can you spell "inept" with one spoonful? I knew you could.)
Yes, you rest. Tony can run the trade deadli ... oh, that's right.
Luckily, the Mets continue to smooth things over with a winning streak which is now at four, giving Minaya a false sense of security and enabling him to trade half the farm system to the Reds for Jonny Gomes and Alex Gonzalez. Mike Pelfrey's pitching well, Daniel Murphy's playing small ball at the cleanup spot, and Jeff Francoeur is pretending that it was his evil twin on the Sports Illustrated cover. But most important to this winning streak is the fact that Brian Schneider is growing a beard that makes him look gritty. Looks almost too good though, like he had thick black ink spackled on his face with a sponge by a Hollywood make-up artist. That's all right though, because it's a beard that says "We don't care about front office propaganda, we're ballplayers! And we're gritty! Grrrrrrrr!"
I feel better already.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
How bizarre was Monday's news conference?
James Dolan was embarrassed.
Heidi and Spencer thought it was petty and vindictive.
And Wallace Matthews was ... right.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, said that. And right now, he's at the same bar as Grant and Young buying the next round and having a huge laugh over the New York Mets, who continually refuse to learn from their mistakes too numerous to mention. I make plenty of mistakes too, and I made one today at about 2:30 upon learning that the Mets had called a news conference to announce the firing of Tony Bernazard. You see, I had the post in the can. It was called "Can You Feel A Brand New Day". Had an "exclusive clip" of the news conference featured on it. I even played it a few times and did my version of a happy dance to it. Because this should have been a day of rejoicing ... not because a human being was fired, but because just maybe, an organization that we all care deeply about was about to do the right thing and climb out of the abyss. Here's a small sampling of what I wrote in the post that will never be published:
"We're going to look back on the Bingo Mets incident where we now think of it to be an embarrassment, and see it in the future as the best thing to happen to this organization, because it got the ball rolling to get this done and get a guy like Bernazard out of the organization. I don't like to see people fired, but this was absolutely necessary and unavoidable ... kudos to the Mets who have done the right thing for the first time all season."But I had a fleeting thought as I wrote that. I thought that somehow, the Mets are going to take this good news and taint it when the news conference actually starts. Only thing is that I had envisioned the wrecking ball to hit the newser in the form of: "We also have a trade to announce ... "
But when the right thing actually went so horribly, horribly wrong, I could have never imagined it going quite this way.
You know what happened at that point. Omar fired Tony Bernazard, and then in a bizarre twist, went on to tell the world that Daily News reporter Adam Rubin had been "lobbying" for a job in player development with the Mets for two years, and also imply that Rubin ... well, I'm not sure what he implied. Did he imply that Rubin wrote all the things he wrote to get Bernazard fired to take over for him? Or that Rubin wrote all those stories to get Bernazard fired to get revenge for not getting a job with them?
Predictably, when Rubin pressed him on it, Minaya didn't have a good answer for him. You expected something different with this franchise?
It was fascinating to catch this all on live television ... with the double box camera on Rubin right before the bombshell as if somehow, SNY knew exactly what was coming out of Minaya's mouth at that point. It was reality television that didn't need a script as today's reality television often needs to stay relevant and "hip". This was reality television so compelling, you found people that normally don't give a hoot about the intricacies of baseball keeping their remotes tuned to "The WheelHouse".
Is it right to be skeptical of Rubin? Sure ... at least in the way that we should be initially skeptical of anyone whose motives aren't apparent at first glance. After all, we live in a society where we've been burned so often by lies, fraud, and ponzi schemes that if Watergate had happened today, half the population would be digging into the past of Bernstein and Woodward to unearth some application they've filled out to apply for the office of President.
But I can't think of one thing that Rubin has ever burned Met fans on ... whereas I can think of various investigations, injuries, and broken bones that have given Met fans various ailments, rashes, and broken bones from punching the wall as they realized that they had been had by Mets management again. Besides, Rubin's initial reaction ... caught expertly by that second SNY camera whether by happy accident or by receiving some "keen insight" ... seemed about as genuine as they come along with his further reaction in front of other reporters when he became part of the story. I can't guarantee that Rubin's story is true, but I go by what I see and what I know, which is what we all see and know. And that's to trust that the propaganda that comes from the Mets organization is to never be trusted.
For example, the assertion that human resources was already on the case with the Bernazard story long before Rubin's articles were published, somehow implying that the club would have come to the same conclusion without Rubin, and that they wouldn't have spared Bernazard's job. Know this about human resources departments: the reason they exist first and foremost is to protect the big boys, to keep top ranking executives out of trouble. The interests of the low level workforce is well down on the list. The notion that the Mets' human resources department was going to come up with a report that would have put Bernazard out on the street is absurd.
But Bernazard is out on the street, thanks in large part to Rubin, who should be praised at this moment for excellent reporting ... instead he finds himself squarely in the center of a three ring circus for no good reason, whether he ever sent a resume to the Mets or not. The Bingo Mets incident should have been the best thing to happen to this franchise. It may still be. But right now, it only became the thread sticking out of the quilt that may become a full fledged pile of yarn when it's all said and done.
To state the obvious, Omar Minaya made himself look like a vindictive child on this one, for reasons we'll never know. If Minaya had made this a paper statement ... if he had used the same method of electronic mail that he used to let Rubin and others know that Willie Randolph (whom you couldn't blame for having a huge smile on his face right now) had been fired, the worst that would have happened would be the media accusing Minaya of trying to sweep this under the rug and not face the media to talk about it. But that probably would have made up 5-10% of the total reaction of the beat writers. Minaya should have come out of this as the good guy. It was a slam dunk.
Instead, he's placed the target squarely on his back when it didn't need to be. The target is especially big and bright when you consider that Minaya needed to have a second press gathering to apologize for the first one ... when there shouldn't have been one at all. And in this second gathering, you had Minaya apologizing not for what he implied, but that he implied it in a public setting. Meanwhile, you had Jeff Wilpon basically saying that the conversations that Rubin had regarding career advancement were impromptu and common, and that Rubin did nothing wrong (after all the writers who have worked for the Daily News that have gone on to work for the NHL or the Yankees, of course he did nothing wrong). So there you have it: a manager and an owner, standing in the same room, telling two different versions of the same story. And I'm supposed to be skeptical of Rubin?
Again, you expected something different with this franchise?
Yes, it was truly a bizarre Monday ... the least bizarre occurrence being Fernando Tatis not hitting into a double play as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded. And when that's the least crazy thing to happen in 24 hours, then it's been a mind-blowing 24 hours.
So belly up to the bar, getcha popcorn ready, and be prepared for the final act of the big top to unfold over the last two months of the season. Because remember, whenever you think it can't get worse, it always does. Brand new day? More like same old stench. George Santayana would like to remind you that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it ... and that you're buying the next round. (You see the afterlife isn't much different from your present form: the fans always get stuck with the bill.)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Well good thing the Mets won the series in Houston on Sunday. You never know what could happen with Mike Scott looming for the next game.
Oh, no no. Thankfully the only Houston the Mets will be facing on Monday will be Huston Street, who hasn't walked anybody in about the same period of time that David Wright went without hitting a home run.
The Mets didn't need a home run today as they strung some hits together, including a shocking triple by Luis Castillo. It was shocking in its pure distance to the power alley from the lefthanded bat of Castillo ... clearly trying to overcompensate for the lack of dingers on this club.
What the Mets did need was for Livan Hernandez to not be the first human to be involved in a "Cars for Clunkers" transaction. He looked like he was going to the scrap heap after the first inning, when the Astros had a golden opportunity to get five or six instead of the three that they did get (while others were probably thinking the Mets were lucky to get out of that alive, I was thinking that Livan Hernandez still only got one man out with the two runners being thrown out and that his ERA should have been about 127.) But after the first inning, the Livanmobile still has a working engine. It might need a bobbie pin stuck in it to run (or a side of beef), but it's running, and it's safe for another day.
If nothing else, the series win might make us forget about the latest Tony Bernazard story. It shouldn't, but it might.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Hang all the chads you want, this guy just can't lose an election. First, he wins the vote for the final all-star. But being inducted into the Metstradamus "Hall of Hate" is forever. Congratulations to Shane Victorino. Put on the jacket and join Bobby Bo's card game. Here are the results:
- Shane Victorino -- 25% -- 288
- Jimmy Rollins -- 16% -- 186
- Cole Hamels -- 15% -- 166
- Guillermo Mota -- 11% -- 130
- Brett Myers -- 9% -- 106
- Pete Rose -- 6% -- 65
- Mel Rojas -- 4% --44
- Jeff Torborg -- 3% -- 33
- Joe Torre -- 3% -- 32
- Richie Hebner -- 2% -- 26
- Albert Pujols -- 2% -- 22
- Tony Fernandez -- 1% --17
- John Thomson -- 1% -- 13
- Eddie Murray -- 1% -- 10
And thanks to our friends at New York Baseball Digest for inviting me to make the announcement on their weekly radio show. You'll be happy to know we're already preparing for next season's vote where there will be some new names and perhaps a few new wrinkles. There might even be a Veteran's Committee to make the experience more authentic for you, the voter. Here's to 2010!
"Some of you people oughta go find another way of living." -Bobby Knight, January 18th, 2000I think Russ Ortiz would be wise to listen to Coach Knight.
Seriously, Ortiz is a pitcher that the Mets have owned recently. But even I wasn't naive enough to start getting excited on Saturday because of Ortiz's recent history against the Mets, since the recent injuries heaved all of that history out of the twenty first story window. The Mets that have pounded Ortiz are all either retired or on the disabled list, while the current Mets are, well, half of them should also probably think about alternative employment. SNY pointed out the stats and I thought "Uh-oh, we're going to have to start calling him Russ 'Renaissance' Ortiz after tonight because the four-hit shutout is coming."
But apparently, even when the names change, it's safe to Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets, cuz' Russ Ortiz can't beat the Mets. And not only can't he beat them, he made them look like it was 2006 again. When the Mets were scoring three runs in the first inning five times in a week, Russ Ortiz was there. Now that the Mets can't score three runs in a week, the Russ Ortiz we know and love is still there. We should all probably be thankful for that. But for Ortiz, maybe a career in genetic engineering or website design would be more his speed. Because if you can't beat 2009's version of the New York Mets, then you've got some issues.
But at least he didn't give up any home runs to the Mets ... and that's hard to believe since the Mets actually had three dingers on Saturday. Heck, Tim Byrdak played Brad Lidge as Jeff Francoeur channeled his inner Pujols. That was a monster, as monsters that go over Crawford boxes go. And David Wright hit his first home run of the month against Wesley Wright (whom I probably referred to as "Winky" at least three times this season.) In case you don't have access to a calendar (hard to believe since they're built into this here computer you're on), the month is going to be over in a week.
Thankfully, Jon Niese had the kind of outing that provides some real good news besides "oh look, we won our one game of the series, hooray!" Because these Mets need as many reasons to believe in the future as they can get. Niese, if he could keep this up, would qualify for that quite nicely.
With Livan Hernandez starting the Spalding game of the series (we need a replacement for "rubber game" after fifty years), we now return you to your regularly scheduled beatings.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Instead, they got Blair Thomas.
Frenchy tried to deke to the goal line instead of just putting his head down and running over Pudge, and that was just one of the mistakes that led to the Mets' 5-4 loss against the Astros in Houston.
But if Frenchy was Blair Thomas, then Razor Shines was definitely Rich Kotite. Let's see: Francoeur isn't that fast. Hunter Pence has a good arm, and he's so close to the infield he's inhaling dust. But Razor sends him home from second to be out by ten feet.
Are we just not bothering to scout anymore?
That wasn't even Francoeur's biggest transgression (though he did say his fifteen jukes made him look like a "pansy" after the game.) His strikeout in the first on a pitch in the dirt along with Fernando Tatis' double play immediately afterward allowed Mike Hampton to find himself, leading to Hampton's two run homer against Johan Santana. (And not to mention that Frenchy looking bad on a pitch and 6-4-Tatis hitting into another D.P. is as cliche and contrived as a policeman eating a doughnut. More originality next time, please.)
And speaking of Hampton, is this the way it's going to be the rest of the season ... former Mets taking free punches at their former employer as if they were a dead animal being poked with a stick? Mike Hampton hitting a two run home run? Kaz Matsui with a lifetime average against the Mets of .981? Kaz Matsui???
What's next, someone's going to sign Orlando Hernandez so he can throw a three-hitter against the Mets?
The Phillies bring Kaz Ishii from the bullpen to strike out Jeremy Reed?
And can Snoop hop back from the parallel universe he's in and join us on Earth? "Wha? Francoeur didn't hit Pudge? I thought he hit him."
With a Bloomingdale's bag, maybe.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Al Leiter. John Candeleria. Frank Tanana. Hideo Nomo. Dock Ellis. Warren Spahn. Don Cardwell. Kenny Rogers. Scott Erickson. These are players who had no-hitters in their resumes before coming to the Mets.
On Thursday, Mark Buehrle created his own category: Pitchers who spun perfect games after I write a post suggesting we trade for him. (The picture will look very familiar.)
I don't bring this up as a "see, told you so" point ... oh, who am I kidding, of course I am. After all, how many times am I right about anything? Once? Twice? I have to milk this for the little it's worth. But it is worth very little. Because when it's all said and done, if the Mets had made the deal I suggested, not only would Buehrle not have a perfect game or a no-hitter for the Mets, he would have been arrested well before today for selling arms to the Dominican Republic or something.
But here's the real point I'd like to make: If you haven't seen the highlights of the perfecto by now ... if you were at a wedding reception on a Thursday or you were on a safari expedition, or maybe you were just finishing up your three week boycott of ESPN because John Kruk had the gall to say that vegetables were overrated, check out the catch that led off the ninth inning. Considering the surrounding situation, it was probably one of the most spectacular clutch catches ever in life.
Think about it. Defense, for a guy who doesn't have 17 walks in 17 innings. Imagine that.
Duly noted, Dewayne Wise was a ninth inning defensive replacement. But do you realize how many errors have been made this season while Buehrle's on the mound? Four. F*&$ing four ... in 134 innings. I'd be willing to guarantee that part of that has been due to Buehrle's habit of working quick and throwing strikes, something Oliver Perez doesn't do, and keeping his defense on its toes.
But here's the wacky thing: Keeping in mind that Perez has pitched about 100 less innings than Buehrle, the number of errors the Mets have made this season while the maddeningly wild Oliver Perez is on the mound? One! One error, all year. You know who committed it? That's right, Daniel Murphy. Hard to say that was the fault of Perez. So guess what? Perez actually has received good defense behind him this season.
Which means that when you have a guy who has 38 walks in 38 innings, maybe defense is the least of his problems!
Since Buehrle is the order of the day, I want to talk about a recent quote of his:
"If I could just put a Cardinals jersey on for one day, throw one pitch, that would just be a dream come true."It's relevant because for years, it seems like it's either been the dream of players to play in St. Louis, like Buehrle (a Missouri native), or that good players come play for the Cardinals and they fall in love with it there, such as Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and, probably soon, Matt Holliday.
If the Mets have any hope of regaining a little of that momentum, they have to fire Tony Bernazard.
It's a valid point to say that now that Bernazard's in the news, there's more of a mob mentality to fire him simply because he's in the line of fire and he's the man who's front and center in the tabloids right now, representing a team whose fan base is looking for a scapegoat. But who better to be a scapegoat than Bernazard? His firing certainly wouldn't be without merit. This is a guy who has a reputation that precedes him. This whole Bingo Mets thing isn't an isolated incident. He's had his hand in trouble for this organization from the beginning, from botching the original Carlos Delgado negotiations to manipulating Willie Randolph out of his job to all the dopey shenanigans this season. That it's beginning to bubble over now only magnifies the problem, not merely starts the problem.
(I mean really ... a hand gesture? Thin-skinned much, Tony?)
So firing Bernazard is as much about reality as it is about perception. But make no mistake, it's about perception too. And as you know, perception is reality. To keep Bernazard after the Bingo Mets incident, whether it's overblown or not, would send the absolute wrong message from an organization who has been handing those out like candy lately. And forget the fans, how do you think players around the league are perceiving the Mets right now? If Carlos Beltran is furious at the organization at the way they handled his injury, much like others have been (Ryan Church, anyone), don't you think this is going to affect the decisions of prospective free agents? If the Mets have become a running joke among their fan base, I can only imagine what a guy like, say, Doc Halladay must be thinking.
(And by the way, what kind of message does it send to all the working stiffs out there who are losing their jobs simply for being alive during a recession to keep this guy on the payroll despite acting like a moron?)
Keeping Bernazard tells players and fans that pre-existing relationships, yes man sycophants and "good old retread networks" are more important than putting the best people in the best position to get the job done. And that's not a message the Mets need to put out there after what's happened to this franchise since Game 7 in 2006. Yes, if the Mets are five games in first place then the Bingo incident doesn't mean as much. But the placement in the standings means everything. Their placement in the standings is completely relevant, because it's gone on long enough where you can realistically say that 2006 was the fluke.
And that's not even mentioning that Bernazard is the VP of Player Development, and nobody's developing anything except meniscus tears and bone bruises. Think about it this way: Fans have come up with the refrain that "You know, I'd like to see how other teams fare after losing their best players to the DL." Well, the Angels are now 10-2 since losing Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. They've also been missing Kelvim Escobar for over a month, and didn't have John Lackey until May 16th. Not to mention they tragically lost Nick Adenhart in April. The team is 56-38.
Do you know who their VP of Player Development is? No? Well neither do I because he or she isn't out ripping off his or her shirt in the locker room of the Arkansas Travelers and getting his or herself in the newspaper.
It's all about perception and reality. In many ways, they're one in the same. And both perception and reality dictate that Bernazard has to go.
(Editor's note: The Angels director of player development is Abe Flores.)
And finally, John Maine might miss the rest of the season because of his injury. In other news, studies show that water can make you wet.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Bediddly bediddly boing.
Boing boing boing boing boing, boing boing
Boing biddley boing ...
Boing .... boing de boing.
Boingity boingity boing.
Boing boing boing boing boing, boing boing
Boing bediddley boing bediddley boooiiing ...
Boing de boing de boing
Boing de boing de boing.
For some comedy that actually has a chance of being funny, why not visit Comix Comedy Club on July 30th where Mets Weekly's Julie Alexandria will join the newest New York Ranger Chris Higgins for some sports themed comedy? Here's a taste of what you'll experience.