Thursday, December 31, 2009

Check Out The Special Guest For Times Square's New Year's Eve 2010 Ball Drop

Who better? Besides, he's been practicing all summer. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Guess Beirut Wouldn't Pay The Luxury Tax

Welcome to New York, Jason Bay. Try to contain your obvious excitement.

In a related story for you fans, your season ticket deposit is due in ten minutes. Line forms to the left of the Angel Berroa Rotunda, and you can easily slip the check into Mr. Met's giant head.

Why do you think his smile is so wide?

I'm smiling too ... well, as much as a Met fan will allow himself to smile these days. Don't out-think this, boys and girls. This is a good move. In a vacuum, it's a great move. If you have doubts as to Bay's ability to hit home runs in a large park, look at his home run chart. Check out the distances on the home runs, specifically on the home runs that are labeled as "lucky". Even the lucky ones for the most part went 380. So don't get sucked into the "Citi Field as Cavernous" line of thinking on this one. Citi Field was cavernous to the Punch, Judy, and Banjo hitters that roamed the earth in Queens last season. Visitors hit 81 home runs there in '09. You know why? Because they didn't suck, that's why. So ... easy does it, Sparky.

And Jason, I'm talking to you more than anyone since you're the one that seems to worry about the park most of all. You know what happens when you let a ballpark psych you out? You get David Wright in 2009. Think about that Jason, before you try to jam a knife into your shoulder in advance of your physical which would make the Mets contract official.

(Speaking of, if you do get hurt this season, you'd do better relying on your Canadian public health care than the advice of Mets management.)

That's what worries me about Bay in Citi Field ... not that he can't hit there, but whether he'll allow himself to be messed up by the park. Bay isn't going to be a Robby Alomar at first, who did nothing but complain about being traded to the Mets from Day One and never had the right attitude to play in this city. Bay will say all the right things and smile and kiss babies if he has to, to keep the legions of "if he doesn't want to be here then screw him!" people off his back. He'll be fine in that regard, because if you can play in Boston, you can play in New York. What worries me is the day in mid-July where he's sitting in the corner of the clubhouse curled up in the fetal position wondering why Joe Urbon didn't just sign him for less money to play at Fenway when he's steaming towards the all-star break with eight home runs and the fans are chanting "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay-ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut" at him.

So the lesson here is that a ballpark will only psych you out if you let it. It's Citi Field, not Central Park. Of course Jason, if you do get psyched out by the park, a few sessions on the couch with Howard Johnson will fix you right up.

Wait, that didn't sound right.

Oh, and defense? Hey, I like defense as much as the next guy. But show me an available current major league left fielder who sucks up every fly ball hit in his zip code and hits 30 home runs a year, and I'll show you your created video game player. So our left fielder needs a GPS on defense. What's an out of range fly ball among friends?

(Daniel Murphy just cursed under his breath.)

Earlier, I mentioned that this was a good move in a vacuum. But in the grand scheme of things, if the Mets are serious about improving their team, this will be a move, and not the move. If the Mets are serious only about collecting those season ticket invoices, then this is it ... so go back to sleep until April.

If they're serious about winning, they'll scrap this "we only have a few million left to spend" line and go revamp this rotation by signing Ben Sheets, or trading for a Red (Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang will do ... I'm not picky anymore), perhaps in conjunction with a Brandon Phillips acquisition (getting greedy now). Or how about Carlos Zambrano? He's available, apparently. And as crazy as he might be, and as expensive as he might be, think about having a pitcher who has never finished with an ERA above 3.99 while pitching in Wrigley Field. And think of all the wacky antics you'll enjoy when Z destroys a water cooler or puts a catcher in a full nelson. If it's Bengie Molina, so be it.

If it's his brother Yadier, all the better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

"Jason Bay would rather play in Beirut than Queens." -Peter Gammons
Well this is just silly. First and foremost, there's no Shake Shack in Beirut.

There's also, to the best of my knowledge, no baseball in Beirut. But there's barely any baseball in Queens so that's a wash. So what about Beirut would be so appealing to Jason Bay? Maybe it's the short porch at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium (70 meters). Maybe it's the fact that according to a 2006 Travel and Leisure, Beirut was named the ninth best city in the world.

Or maybe because in Beirut, there's at least a small chance that he would get to face Oliver Perez*.

In any event, if you're keeping score at home, the last three days have seen the Mets referenced against a city in its former war-torn state, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Any Pinto references you'd like to break out before the New Year, Mr. Gammons?

(*Editor's note: Jason Bay is 0-for-3 lifetime against Oliver Perez.)

Predictability

So there was a Christmas gift under the tree after all!

Unfortunately, the thing ran once in two years ... and I think it needs a part no longer in stock.

The Christmas Eve signing of Kelvim Escobar is a perfect illustration of what ails the New York Mets. Look, I'm happy Escobar has found work. And despite what you might think I'm going to say (just to show you I'm not getting too predictable in my own age), I'm happy that Kelvim Escobar has found work with the New York Mets. His stuff and his talent makes him worth taking the chance, so my official word is that I like the signing.

But here is where, predictably, the Mets are going to get this wrong. Where most teams would give a guy who has pitched once in two major league seasons (plus one recent Venezuelan league stint) a minor league contract to try to make a team that is stocked with enough talent that if Escobar wouldn't make it, no harm no foul, the Mets no doubt will see him have a couple of halfway decent outings in spring training and say "Hey, let's make him Frankie's set-up man" or, "Hey, he's our number two starter!"

I fear that instead of Escobar being the first of many moves to back themselves up, Escobar is going to be given too much importance too soon and, when he gets hurt again, will leave the Mets with another huge gaping hole that they can't fill until it's too late. When the Mets got J.J. Putz, it was great but more moves needed to be made. They weren't. And Putz going down was something the Mets couldn't recover from (the club's handling of his injury didn't help either.)

You want to tell me that Escobar is "low risk/high reward", fine. I hated that term when it applied to Gary Sheffield ... because it's my belief that it never applied to Sheffield. Signing Sheffield is never, ever "low risk". I still hate that term, but I'll grant you that signing Escobar could portray this mythical "low risk/high reward" scenario. But that'll be true only if he's put in a position where losing him to yet another injury (and let's face it, his history doesn't look good here) isn't going to hurt them. Knowing the Mets and their recent history, I doubt that this is going to happen. The eyes of Omar and Snoop will no doubt be too big for their stomachs and Escobar, after a stellar April, will be given the keys to the kingdom, just as Livan Hernandez was at one time. Escobar will then promptly lose said keys in the needle disposal bin of the surgery room he'll be visiting, and the Mets will be lost along with those keys.

Tell me I'm wrong all you want. But it's gotta be proven to me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Blanco, On Ryota, On Coste and Dickey!

Well, this is comforting:
"Jason Bay isn't the only free agent (outfielder) we're looking at. ...At some point we have to consider other plans." -Omar Minaya
And guess what, we might be at that point
"The Red Sox have had internal discussions about extending their organizational budget to potentially allow for another offer for free-agent OF Jason Bay." -Rob Bradford/WEEI (via Matt Cerrone)
Yeah, watching the world pass you by is always a great plan.

Well you thought you were going to have a special Christmas gift under your tree. Instead, you're preparing yourself for Omar Minaya to bring back Tom O'Malley and teach him to play left field at the age of 49 (just a year and a half older than Julio Franco). Well cheer up. Because Omar and The Acquisitions have put together a special Christmas video just for you. So Merry Christmas and get your ticket deposit money ready. (By the way, those "convenience charges" on your Ticketmaster bill ... they went towards the production values for this thing.)

video

(And happy birthday to Tom O'Malley, born on Christmas Day, 1960.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Print Those Playoff Tickets

R.A. Dickey, rumored to be the newest Met, is a knuckleballer. Which means that the pitch he's holding in this picture will probably be hit 500 miles if he ever throws it in a game. With our luck, he'll probably swear off the knuckleball as some sort of religious cleansing, and will learn how to throw the pitch pictured above from his new pitching and lifestyle guru, Matt Wise.

Monday, December 21, 2009

National Disaster

Would Jason Marquis have been the be-all end-all of the Mets return to glory in 2010? Most likely not. Would he have been a small part of the solution when in tandem with other smart acquisitions? Maybe. Should the fact that Marquis signed with the Nationals give you cause to pull your hair out of your head?

It should. Not so much because Marquis going to the Washington Nationals makes them favorites to win the N.L. East ... he doesn't. Not so much because he's going to win 21 games for Washington ... he's not. But if you're a Met fan, the following quote from Jason Marquis should give you convulsions:
"I want to play for a team that is headed in the right direction and making the moves that is necessary to get themselves back to being a winning organization. Some of the moves the Nationals have made -- like [signing Stephen Strasburg] signing Pudge [Ivan Rodriguez] and getting [Brian Bruney] -- they are making the necessary steps. I feel I can fit right in and bring a winning attitude to the team." -Jason Marquis
Now, if Marquis has signed with Washington, or somewhere else for that matter, for the three seasons at $10 million per that he was looking for before, then you really couldn't blame the Mets for passing. But you mean to tell me that a team that missed out on John Lackey with the rotation deficiencies that the Mets have couldn't pony up two seasons at $15 million total for a guy who has been putting up neon signs over his head all year that he wanted to come to New York? Marquis was practically wearing a giant Statue of Liberty head to the mound in Colorado, and they couldn't snag him at that price? And not only that, they lost him to one of the few teams below them in the standings because they, of all things, have a plan and are "headed in the right direction"?

Think about that as Jason Bay is hoping that the Elmjack little leaguers can raise about $61 million in sales of Nestle Crunch bars so that he can have another option ... any option ... other than the Mets.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Interrupt The Mets Cold Stove Season To Bring You ...

I am contractually obligated to tell you that the Mets have signed Ryota Igarashi. I don't know who he is. But from all I've read about him I can tell you who he's not: The Greg Maddux of Japan like Satoru Komiyama was. Or the Tom Glavine of Japan, the Steve Carlton of Japan or even the Danny Graves of Japan. He hasn't been compared to anybody to get our hopes up so they can mercilessly be torn down at the first home run he gives up to Chase Utley.



For those who can't convert kilometers to miles in their head, he throws about 93 in the above clip. And as you can see he wears number 53, just like our manager Chuckles. I hope Snoop gives up 53 because he really doesn't need to wear a number.

Comedy for his jokes, tragedy for when he gets fired after bringing Igarashi in at the wrong time, or for bringing him in 16 straight days until his arm falls off, then leaving him in the back of the bullpen to play Clue with Sean Green for a month. Yeah, this oughta work out well.

***

Oh by the way, when the Mets put in the new plasma replacement booth next to the Shake Shack, I hope they paint it blue and orange. There's nothing worse than not recognizing your history when you're hawking platelets that are sponsored by Verizon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jason eBay

The Yankees are about to hit the "Buy It Now" button.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How'd All These Eggs Get In This One Basket?

So even if the Mets do wind up with Jason Bay, their off season might already pale in comparison to that of the Red Sox, who just signed John Lackey ... and that of the Mariners and Phillies, who just completed a three team blockbuster where the Phillies get Doc Halladay and the Mariners get Cliff Lee.

But the Mets don't have Jason Bay yet. So ask yourself the following:
  • Even if the Mets get Bay, does it matter? Does the Phillies getting Halladay put the division out of reach anyway? Because you know the Mets would have to do a lot more roster construction than Bay to come within sniffing distance of Philadelphia.
  • If the Mets don't get Bay, how embarrassing would it be to see the Mariners land two top players (assuming it's the M's that get Bay) and the Mets get none?
  • If the Mets don't get Bay, should they just turn tail, call 2010 a wash, and keep the draft picks they would have spent on marginal Type A free agents? (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Bengie ... I don't care if you weren't offered arbitration and wouldn't cost a pick as an astute fan pointed out ... thanks Metsfan23 ... but you're still marginal. And old. Stop staring at me.)
Ask yourself those hard questions ... and try not to spiral into a disastrous funk as you're eating nothing but rocky road ice cream for seven days. I leave you with this:
"You thank the fans by trying to make the team better" -Randy Wolf during today's Brewers news conference
Remember Omar, there's more than one way to do that ... even if it costs you your job. And face it, your job is pretty much out the window anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to check if there's any ice cream in the freezer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Seven Year Stain

Now, it's going to take a lot of Kaboom to clean up what ails this organization. But one of the oldest stains that once had no hope of being cleaned was the stain left by Steve Phillips when he traded Jason Bay for Steve Reed.

The Mets have made an attempt to clean that nearly decade-old stain by offering Bay a four-year, $65 million contract on Thursday. And there's also a delicious irony in this as just a day after Scott Boras declared the Mets as a "financial juggernaut" in hopes of them opening the vault for a left fielder, that's exactly what the Mets did ... except they didn't open it for Boras' left fielder. Oops.

(Of course, the Mets also made it rain for Bengie Molina, as they've offered him a two year deal. To quote: "The team's bid for Bay, a native of Trail, B.C., was between US$60 million and $65 million over four years. Molina would cost much less." Not significant enough to mention, I guess.)

Bay/Holliday. Tomayto/Tomaato. At least to me. The difference to me is the opportunity to right a wrong committed so many seasons ago. Most likely, those seasons that have passed will wind up to be Bay's most formidable as a ballplayer, and we'll probably be in for the slow, painful decline of Jason Bay. But I prefer not to entertain such thoughts. Instead, I'll consider the power numbers he'll provide over the next few years for a team and a ballpark which could use some numbers, if he indeed takes this offer.

We can't erase the affairs, but we can erase the other stains ... one bottle of Kaboom at a time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If The Juggernaut So Chooses

"You mean, Jeff Wilpon hasn't gone all Pacman Jones on Indianapolis and made it rain all over the Marriott yet?"

Oh good, Scott "Prince of Darkness" Boras has gotten a look at the Mets finances, apparently.
Scott Boras, who represents outfielder Matt Holliday, called the Mets a financial "juggernaut" Wednesday, citing their television network, SNY; their new ballpark, Citi Field; and their location in the New York market.

"Their revenues are in the top three or four in baseball," Boras said. "The New York Mets have a lot of choices, and the Wilpon family is very successful. Sure, the Mets can sign any player they want to sign if they so choose to."
If they so choose to. Sounds like famous last words to me. Or, it sounds like the screws have been tightened just a bit further ... if not by Boras, then by Randy Wolf's new Brewers contract, convincing the Mets that maybe they spend a little bit more to get more quality. I know, I know, paying for quality is a lost art on this planet. But perhaps the evidence may be pointing to the next Cristal party in Indianapolis being on the tab of Jeff Wilpon.

If he so chooses to (shudder).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Negativity? Here's Where To Find Some

One of my favorite Mets blogs had this to say a while back:
"I just can't believe how negative some Mets fans have become, scouring the blogosphere I've seen nothing but negative comments about how the Mets are handling the off-season."-Mets Fever
What Ed says is interesting because it's something I investigate in myself from time to time. Currently, I'm spending long chunks of time in deep meditation with the help of some mind altering drugs in far away caves (code for "too busy playing Bejeweled"). Seriously, it's a daily struggle not to turn this blog into the Rego Park version of "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn". And if the Mets wouldn't give me so much material, maybe I'd be a bit friendlier and more optimistic.

But I'm trying. For example, here's how low my standards have gotten: The Mets signed Mike Hessman today. If Mike Hessman came up to me and hit me in the head with a baseball bat, I wouldn't know who he was. Then again, if Mike Hessman came up to me and hit me in the head with a baseball bat, I'd be happy just because he made contact (he's a .229 career minor league hitter). And, he's 32 years old. For the Mets, that's a youth movement.

But negativity is unavoidable this off-season, no matter what. Forget what has happened the last three seasons. Forget that this fan base is generally angry. Forget that my seminal moment in person with the Mets this season was turned into a Washington Nationals Christmas card (my constant heckling of the team immediately after this game did not make the card ... now that would have been a Christmas greeting.) But any direction the Mets go, whether it's an actual direction or whether it's just going around in a circle chasing your tail, has negativity involved.

Here are some of the options this off season:
  • First tier: Holliday, Lackey, Bay, Hudson
  • Second tier: Pineiro, Molina, Wolf, Torrealba, Marquis
  • Trades: Hart, Bradley, Phillips, Harang, Matthews, Burrell, Halladay
  • The Caulking Gun Strategy: Blanco, Hessman
Now the best case scenario for the Mets would be the Pu Pu Platter Approach ... one from each column. Ideally, it's the only scenario. Realistically, the Mets are going to be that guy from the Toyota commercial left without a car during the Dealathon, yet there's nobody there to tell them that there's more cars in the back. The ideal approach would require imaginative thinking that, frankly, I don't think this organization has. Certainly not the type of thinking and guts that brought a certain other team in town Curtis Granderson. Hell, this team's idea of imaginative thinking is changing the pinstriped uniform from white to cream. They can't even come up with good ideas for ticket plans before Christmas, so why should I accept a multi pronged approach to player personnel? Walking and chewing gum at the same time would be a good first step.

My ultimate point is this: even the best case scenario for this off-season isn't without its risks. It's not like 2007-08 when there was one end game for off season success in Johan Santana, or even last season when, even though the Mets had a few holes, the bullpen was by far the leakiest faucet. Whatever the Mets do, whether it be sign either Holliday, Bay, Lackey or Hudson and risk that their best days aren't behind them, sign Pineiro or Wolf and risk a drop in production, trade for Hart, Phillips/Harang or Matthews and risk the player they trade away become a superstar, or trade for Burrell and risk having to send a search party to find him in left field sometime during the sixth inning, nothing this winter is a slam dunk.

But that's not to give the Mets an out here. Conversely, this is the type of off-season where the Mets have to show the imagination they've rarely shown or even had to have shown. For example, that John Maine for Corey Hart rumored deal shows some of that. But if you're going to tell Met fans that Corey Hart, and not Bay or Holliday is their left fielder, you had better also tell them that one of the dominoes that need to fall for that deal to happen is John Lackey, or else the negativity is going to be out in full force, rather than the half force that you would get if you just signed, say, Bay and Lackey.

But hell, even Bay, Lackey and Holliday each have their question marks, whether it be an ability to navigate the Citi outfield, or being injury prone. But the biggest question mark would be whether it's worth it to spend big for 2010 when, let's be honest, the Phillies are still pretty much going to dominate the division, while bigger free agents are on the horizon for 2011 and beyond.

So whatever happens, it's going to be hard not to be somewhat negative. The only question is how much so. Are the Mets going to make the risky yet bold moves? Are they going to do just enough to throw out the mirage of competitiveness? Or am I going to have to gently tell the neighborhood Christmas carolers to get off my lawn?

Life's Tough, So Man Up

It's more than a little unnerving to exit an airplane to this:

"Mets Trade For Burrell"

Of course, it turned out not to be true ... yet. To think, I wasted perfectly good vomit over nothing.

Some have asked me if I could ever accept a member of the charter Hall of Hate club as one of our own if he was traded here, or if I would take that person off the list forever. In Burrell's case I'd consider it. But there's a catch.

Burrell, as you all can probably recite, has 42 career home runs off Met pitching in 634 plate appearances. 634 divided into 5,864, Burrell's total amount of plate appearances, is roughly 9.25. Multiply that by that number 42, you get the amount of home runs Burrell would have to hit as a Met for me to take him out of the Hall of Hate.

388.

Statistically impossible? Considering he'd be playing in Citi Field and not Shea Stadium, and that it would be hard for Burrell to get another 5,864 plate appearances on the other side of 30, well then he'd better eat right and take lots of steroids. Life's tough.

***

And speaking of life being tough, seems that the Mets signed and re-signed Elmer Dessens to help mentor Oliver Perez ... and the signing of Henry Blanco is another step in that direction.

Funny how neither Dessens, Blanco, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Baerga, Mackey Sasser, nor anybody else with "intangibles" needed to be in the room to mentor Oliver when he signed that $36 million contract. Weird, huh?

Man up. Nannies are for infants.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Maybe This Is What The Mayans Meant

If the Mayan calendar holds true, and we're due for a fundamental change in 2012, maybe this was the first sign. Maybe the hints that Bud Selig is planning to retire after the 2012 season is the first hint that maybe the change that the Mayans meant was going to happen in major league baseball.

Sure, the Mayans had never heard of major league baseball, the World Series, or performance enhancing drugs. But perhaps the guy who filled out the calendar looked eerily like Armando Benitez, and maybe he just got up for a mental break and forgot to finish (sounds like Game 1 in 2000, doesn't it?) So perhaps you, the Met fan, have some real fundamental change to look forward to in 2012 and beyond.

Maybe the world is due for a change ... so much so that there will no longer be World Series games in November (don't hold your breath), or WBC games in March, or Chip Caray broadcasting games on TBS. Heck, that last thing has already happened, so maybe that fundamental change we all could use is seriously going to happen. Maybe the Mayans were truly ahead of their time.

Or maybe the guy filling out the calendar way back when looked eerily like Armando Benitez and he just forgot to finish after getting up for a piece of cake. Sounds like Game 1 in 2000, doesn't it?

Most likely, if this is a harbinger of serious Mayan change, then a series of cataclysmic events will precede it. You could say that the entire 2009 season was that series all rolled into one season, but that would be too easy. More likely, 2009 only counts as one event, just as 2007 and 2008 were singular events. And the events keep coming. Think about it: Wilson Valdez and Brian Schneider are now both members of the Philadelphia Phillies. They ranged from barely irrelevant to seriously overrated here ... but as Phillies? Schneider is destined to hit 12 HR's in a part time role in the Shoebox, while Valdez is bound by fate to be the one to officially knock the Mets out of the postseason conversation. Just as Pedro started the trend last season, Valdez will continue that tradition.

Or will it be Billy Wagner? Country time heading to the Braves certainly counts as a cataclysmic event. I mean, who saw this coming? Especially with the Braves having offered arbitration to Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano ... they could have a three headed bullpen monster!

Not that it worked out so well in Flushing, mind you.

But Country Time as Cataclysmic Event lies in the fact that the Mets could have gotten those high draft picks by just holding on to Wagner and offering him arbitration, just as the Braves did. Instead, they traded him for 27-year-old Chris Carter (all he does is score touchdowns ... uh-oh) and let the Red Sox get those draft picks. But they saved $3 million which, after two of those million go to Alex Cora, will be spent on new uniforms that look like they need Tide, and a picture of Todd Pratt in the excelsior level. So I guess it all evens out.

And speaking of that bullpen monster, one of the heads that has been cut off might resurface in Philadelphia in the form of J.J. Putz. Ironically, cutting off Putz's head was the next course of action if the cortisone shot didn't work. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and Putz was instead placed on the disabled list. But rest assured that a cortisone shot will not be on the menu for Putz in Philly. A cheesesteak? Maybe. The closer's job? If Brad Lidge cooperates, sure. And why not a game in September where Schneider hits a grand slam, Valdez gets a game winning hit, and Putz strikes out the side in the ninth to eliminate the Mets?

All foretold by the Mayans.

But maybe when it's all said and done, we'll live in a world where the Mets will acquire marginally iconic Philadelphia Phillies and steal their slogans as the Phillies brazenly did with Tug McGraw. Hey, we've got 33-year-old rookie turned 37-year-old Mendoza line hitter Chris Coste. Best case scenario, his inspirational story continues here, he gets a couple of big hits down the stretch, and John Kruk gets to write the forward to his second book.

Mets case scenario, he's cut in spring training because the club signs Bengie Molina, who will set fire to his hamstring in a freak pre-game ritual will be out for the season. And we'll indeed have to wait until 2012 for significant change in baseball, in Flushing, in life. But don't hold your breath.

Freakin' Mayans.