No Physical for JJ Putz

While being interviewed by Chuck Garfien on Comcast Chicago (hat tip to MetsBlog), J.J. Putz admitted that he had bone spur in his elbow long before his trade from the Mariners to the Mets, the Mets were aware of it, and the Mets didn’t put him through a physical prior to making the deal official.

Skimmed from MetsBlog:

“When the trade went down last year, I never really had a physical with the Mets,” Putz told Garfien. “I had the bone spur (in the right elbow). It was discovered the previous year in Seattle, and it never got checked out by any other doctors until I got to spring training.”

According to Putz, the Mets told him not to discuss the injury with reporters, saying:

“I knew that I wasn’t right. I wasn’t healthy. The toughest part was having to face the media and tell them that you feel fine, even though you know there’s something wrong and they don’t want you telling them that you’re banged up.”

Um …

There are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Why would the Mets knowingly acquire damaged goods, especially knowing the high salary that came with it? Why would they give up so much talent in return?

The answer is simple: season ticket sales. The Mets latched on to the nonsense propogated by the media that the reason they missed the 2008 postseason was due to a terrible cast of characters in the bullpen (rather than the mismanagement of the bullpen, the lack of an extra slugger, piss-poor fundamentals, below-average defense, occasional lackadaisacal effort, or the fact the rotation was absent of a high-quality starter behind Johan Santana). It was easy to blame all the team’s woes — and in particular their second consecutive late-season collapse — on one scapegoat, the bullpen.

Once everyone bought in to the idea that “the Mets bullpen needs a makeover”, the signing of Francisco Rodriguez combined with the trade for Putz was a seemingly simple solution that would propel the Mets back into the postseason. Therefore, the story the Mets sold to prospective season-ticket buyers was: “we’re bringing back the same team, adding two elite relievers, so we’re a lock to make the playoffs — hurry and buy a ticket package lest you get shut out from the glory and celebration in October”.

It didn’t matter that Putz was damaged, and could possibly miss the bulk of the season. As long as the injury was kept secret, people would believe the Mets would have a fantastic bullpen — perhaps the best in all MLB — and therefore would easily trot to “meaningful games in October”.

Why else would a team send seven players to two different teams for a $7M player? Why else would they completely ignore a documented history of chronic elbow problems?

Further, why would a team allow a high-salaried pitcher with a known injury compete in the World Baseball Classic? Perhaps because if they didn’t, people would wonder why — and the injury could be revealed. Or, maybe the plan was to keep fingers crossed in hopes that Putz could stay healthy enough in short spurts to display his 95 MPH a few times — in turn getting Mets fans jazzed up to buy ticket packages in March.

This time, it’s not a conspiracy theory. This time, the Mets really did know something, and kept it from the public, for the sole purpose of ticket sales.

jason-bay-citiWhich makes one wonder about Jason Bay and the various concerns that caused the Red Sox to pull a 4-year contract off the table. Suddenly, we can’t be so sure to believe Bay’s assertion that he’s completely healthy. After hearing this news from Putz, we need to re-examine the detailed, bizarre story written by Rob Bradford of WEEI regarding what happened with Jason Bay and the Red Sox. Perhaps the Red Sox cautious approach was valid. Maybe there is a good reason that the Mets were the only other publicly known bidders for Bay’s services.

After all, the top “scapegoat” for the Mets’ failures in 2009 — after, of course, the injuries — was the lack of homeruns. The Mets’ “story” for prospective 2010 ticket buyers is this: “When healthy, we have a championship club. And now we just added a big-time slugger to hit some homeruns and really annihilate the competition. So hurry up and buy your ticket package lest you miss the glory and celebration in October!”

Sound familiar?

Of course, it doesn’t matter whether Jason Bay has potential injury issues that may creep up as soon as mid-season. All that matters is you phone in your ticket order — NOW. Leave the worrying about what happens after Opening Day to the Mets.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 February 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm
    Do we even need to discuss this….this has been well-documented by Janish — not to mention anyone who has internet access to injuries/transaction reports.

    Just further cements what we already know:

    – The Mets love targeting damaged goods.

    – They rarely do their homework, and are not very creative when it comes to the players they bring in.

    – They tend to pay premium price-tags on these injured players.

    – They’d rather a player damage himself permanently, than effectively utilize the Disabled List.

    – They will lie through their teeth to sell a ticket to the fanbase….then whistle through the grave-yard, handing out cortisone shots like candy, when surgery’s the real answer.

    Believe me, some common sense lies with the players themselves…but in actuality, who is going to exert themselves for an “organization” that continuously misreads the situation.

    That’s exactly what we saw last year…amidst the bad luck with injuries — we also saw a bunch of players just flat-out “give-up” on the dopes in charge. That’s why “The Cavalry” never came back….I’m convinced.

    That, and the idea that they’re much more banged-up than any of us were ever told in a newspaper.


    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire……

    This most-recent [laughable] Putz situation basically defines the outrageous “damage control” spin that has gotten more and more ridiculous through the years.

    Going back and reading some of the comments on your site, from May – Joe: I’d been of the personal belief that this was the only reason he became available so early on — and was one of the few that actually questioned the acquisition at the time)…

    You’d like to have thought they did their due diligence in checking him out upon execution of the deal.

    No physical…..nonsensical.

    However, even moreso than that — amidst his struggles and over-use….we got fed b.s. stories about “adjusting to the 8th inning role” and how he had “no adrenaline” in those situations…..

    “I’m still trying to get used to pitching in this eighth inning and trying to find some adrenaline because it’s not like pitching in the ninth, I’ll tell you that,” Putz said. “You just really don’t have that heart-pounding sensation. I was talking with a couple of the guys. I think that’s where those two or three miles an hour are, that adrenaline.”

    Turns out, his arm was really hanging by a thread…and we were giving him “cortisone-control” the entire way……leading into his inevitable surgery.

    Forget Zambrano…..this happened as far back as the Braden Looper days. Everyone wanted to crucify him for “smiling” on the mound — guy was grimacing in pain as his shoulder got shredded to pieces.

    Sometimes playing through pain isn’t always the best thing, long-term for a player’s career…..and hopefully, we learn this lesson at some point this year.

    And of course, targeting damaged goods is never a good thing to begin with.

    At this point, whatever.

  2. isuzudude February 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm
    I don’t doubt for a second that the Mets tried to pull the wool over our eyes last year by acquiring a damaged Putz but declaring him fit as a fiddle and ready to be part of the solution that got the Mets back into the playoffs just to sell tickets. Not for one second.

    However, consistently trying to fool the fanbase into buying tickets by propping up a flawed and injury-riddled team (by use of lying, manipulation, and gag orders) can only work for so long. The majority of Met fans have become so jaded and disheartened by the way this team goes about its business that they’ve already decided to distance themselves from spending any more money on them. If the 2010 season ends up being anything like the 2009 season, in which high-salary players are often hurt and the Mets turn to manners of deception to make themselves look good, that’ll only result in more lost ticket sales and more unhappy fans. In other words, it’s bad for business to lie to your customers. So, if the Mets are playing the same games with fans this offseason as they did the last (i.e. signing injured players, keeping injury news hush hush, allowing players to try to play through injury to generate ticket sales), it’s only going to lead to a larger amount of dissatisfied fans. Maybe the Mets are too stupid to understand this concept. If so, God help us all. But it is very difficult to conprehend that we, as general laypeople who collectively know little about the inner workings of business management, can grasp this situation, while the Mets, who are a multi-million dollar enterprise with thousands of employees, act as incredibly clueless to being a successful business as possible.

    Isn’t false advertising illegal? If Putz was indeed hurt, and the Mets knew that, but used his likeness to generate a boost in ticket sales by telling customers he was healthy, is that not against the law? I mean, hell, if I was selling apples, and knew they were rotten, and sold them to a person on the pretense that they were good, am I not responsible for re-inbursing the customer if the customer can show proof of my knowledge of the rotten apples? Sounds to me like, if indeed the Mets are engaging in these underhanded tactics, somebody somewhere is going to think of a way to screw them out of their money just as they have been screwing us, the fan, out of ours. That is unless, of course, Bernie Madoff beat us to it.

  3. Mike February 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm
    Can I sue the Mets for false advertising on the two tickets I bought back in March for a game in August when at the time they were clearly lying to me about the team’s players. I did not see Reyes, Beltran, Santana, Putz or Delgado. Sounds to me like I have a case (noted that “probable pitchers” is similar to a boxing card which is “subject to change” for this very reason so I actually don’t have a case). It’s obvious to fans such as us who read blogs and follow stories on the internet, but I wonder if the average Mets fan realizes how awfully run this franchise is. I would gather that they know enough to know that something has got to change. I wonder if we as fans actually have some power over this situation. Saying fans should protest the incompetence or boycott the team for lying is a nice idea but not realistic. I’m getting close to my limit on what I can stomach without completely hating this team. The Jets have shown me redemption is just a new head coach or GM away (if you think the Jets began to change when Mike Tannenbaum took over like I do). About the only thing that keep me optimistic in this team is that the farm has improved dramatically in the past few seasons and might soon be bearing fruit.

    Stuff like this just makes me dislike the team entirely. It’s embarrassing now to tell people I’m a Mets fan. It’s indefensible.

  4. gary s. February 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm
    excellent work by nutz, dude and mike..your comments are spot on.the best way to hit the wilnots in the pocketbooks is to simply purchase no tickets from (most tickets by fans are purchased thru the net)use stubhub as i do when i attend games.this way i can buy a ticket up to 24 hours in advance, can select the pitcher (santana) and can have control over the weather and will not pay huge prices to attend 4 months in advance and find most of the players on the dl as mike explained.of course the way things are going in the offseason, it would probably be smart just to stay away till the wilnots sell the team.anyway u slice it, it’s rather sad.
  5. murph February 2, 2010 at 1:50 am
    The Putz-gate scandal!

    It seems to me that the Mets had no choice but to sell the hype because they were competing with the Yankees for new corporate box sales. So it is plausible that putting out a good team “on paper” was more important putting out a good team on the field. For shame.

  6. micalpalyn February 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    – There are two small things I’ll add to this discussion:

    a. I still think (I know, I’m stubborn) that the mets acquired him to spin him off and the deal fell thru.Now I think the deal fell thru because the ‘other’ team knew more about Putz’s brokeness than the Mets did.

    b. This story is everywhere. with that is the fodder about the mets and the medical staff that is well ‘documented’. I for one think the Mets should rework their Medical operations..I suspect they already have.

    c. Notable for me is that Putz in this story is showing a defecit of character…or so it appears. He says (according to other quotes) he did not have ‘much’ of a physical. Also admitting (what we cantered about last yr) that he was badly injured in Seattle. But to disparage the mets is not standing up and taking charge. Why did he not disclose when pitching for his country? To my mind he is just trying to spin to his new team. Joe: You could addendum by writing about the cliches Putz gave us before he went down.

    d. On another note where is the $$$. I still think another catcher is warranted. I might be in the miniority but I do belive Torrealba would be an upgrade over Santos.

    e. Did you see MLBrumors yesterday? Gabby Hernandez was ‘designated for assignment’ yesterday…also Dana Eveland was cut by the A’s to make room for Sheets.

  7. gary s. February 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm
    the torrealba to the mets ship has sailed..he is suing the mets over his aborted f.a. signing from 2 years ago..
  8. Gooser February 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    I think SNY should bring back Fran Healy so he can implore us once again to “come on out to Citi Field and watch Jose Reyes run!” Because that’s about the most exciting thing that’ll happen with this team this year.
  9. Nick February 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm
    With our luck, Reyes will break both legs running out of the box in his first at bat.