Browsing Archive January, 2009

Kucinich Pushing the Citi Out of Field

Mets Citi Taxpayer Field

After receiving a sweet bailout as a reward for royally mismanaging its finances, Citigroup is coming under fire from prominent politicos such as Dennis Kucinich, who says the US government should demand that the bank cancel its “Citi Field” sponsorship with the Mets.

“The Treasury Department, which forced Citigroup corporate executives to give up their private jet, should also demand that Citigroup cancel its $400 million advertisement at the Mets field and instead being to repay their debt to the taxpayers.”

Hat tip to MetsToday reader “wohjr” for the link.

An intriguing proposal, to say the least. On the one hand, Citi did enter into a contract with the Mets, and what’s the point of a contract if one side decides to, um, bail out? Further, doesn’t the company need to continue advertising and promoting their brand? For example, if the US bails out GM, does that mean they should stop doing TV commercials? Tough question.

On the other hand, would Citigroup gain enough customers in the next 20 years to justify the $400M investment? Hard to say, as I’m not a marketing forecaster.

From the perspective of the average joe, smattering your name across a baseball stadium when you’re broke doesn’t look so great. It could, in fact, be argued that Citigroup will LOSE customers as a result of continuing with their sponsorship. It doesn’t matter if Citi takes that $400M and spends it on a rash of TV commercials, magazine ads, and PR events — the guy on the street can’t SEE that money being spent.

Naturally, there’s also the point that taxpayers have been partially funding the stadium’s construction … so why isn’t the taxpayer’s name on the front of the park?

From the Mets fans’ perspective, it’s just as murky. Without Citi’s name on the stadium, the Mets have $20M less to work with every year — which more or less pays for Johan Santana’s contract. Since the team appears to already be penny-pinching, would such a loss in revenue result in payroll cuts? Would the team begin to operate even more like a small-market club? Of course, there’s also the possibility that they are able to get another, more lucrative sponsor for the stadium. Though, it’s hard to imagine someone stepping up with big bucks in this economic climate — unless the company is Google or Raytheon.

Many have been speculating that the Mets disinterest in big names such as C.C. Sabathia and Manny Ramirez was due to the Bernie Madoff scandal. Perhaps. And, perhaps they are also bracing for the possible loss of Citi’s $400M commitment.


Giants Sign Juan Uribe

The San Francisco Giants have signed infielder Juan Uribe to a minor league contract.

As a Mets fan, why do you care? Well, you probably don’t. But it should be noted that Uribe is:

1. a righthanded hitter with power

2. versatile — he plays 2B, SS, and 3B

3. an excellent glove man

4. only 29 years old

5. signed to a minor league deal

Uribe hit 20+ homers in three out of the four years from 2004-2007. He lost his starting 2B job last spring to Alexei “All-World” Ramirez, and became a utility infielder with pop. In truth, I doubt he’s actually 29 years old — something tells me there was a “paperwork adjustment” — but if he is indeed under thirty, he should have at least one or two more years of peak performance left in him.

Once again — great glove man, former starter at 2B, good pop in the bat, righthanded hitter, signed to a minor league deal, which likely is much less than $1M guaranteed. Doesn’t that sound like an IDEAL fit for the New York Mets?

Oh, that’s right, the Mets signed 33-year-old, lefthanded hitting, no-pop Alex Cora to a $2M guaranteed MLB contract. Smart move.


Mets Sign Four Scrubs

The New York Mets have signed Bobby Kielty, Tony Armas Jr., Matt DeSalvo, and Valerio de los Santos to minor league contracts, and invited them to spring training.

Ho hum.

Nowhere in those four names do I see “Ramirez”, “Perez”, nor “Sheets”.

In other news, the Orioles have decided to move on from Kevin Millar, who happens to be a righthanded hitter with some power and the ability to play LF better than Fernando Tatis. Unfortunately, Millar’s status as a scab in 1995 still irks the prince of darkness, Tony Bernazard.

I like seeing Armas come back, even though he once again showed himself a Glass Joe in ’08. I’ve always liked Armas’ competitiveness. If he can only stay healthy, he just might be good enough to be a long reliever / spot starter.

Kielty is a switch-hitting outfielder with a tiny bit of pop and one heckuva shock of red hair. I think he might be Irish, which is nice. It’s also nice that he can swing from the right side of the plate — something few outfielders in the Mets organization can do.

De Los Santos has almost twenty letters in his name, and throws with his left hand. He doesn’t throw particularly well, but balls do emanate from the south side of the stadium. He is 35 years old and LH hitters pound him to the tune of .262. His “best” years came at ages 29 and 30, when he was with the Brewers. He posted a career low 3.12 ERA and 1.18 WHIP as a 29-year-old in 2002. He’s been pretty much awful ever since, and before. He’ll be good filler material in AAA.

Still waiting to see the Mets bring back the ageless wonder Ricardo Rincon, a LOOGY who actually had success in his career, and didn’t look half-bad last September.

DeSalvo is a former Yankee who pitched two innings for the Braves last year. In those two frames, he gave up 11 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs. However, he did strike out 2, so there’s that. Many articles have been written on him in regard to the fact he can read; apparently, most MLBers are illiterate. Hopefully he can help the Buffalo Bisons complete the NY Times crossword puzzles.


Marlins Sign Kiko Calero

The Florida Marlins have signed Kiko Calero and Jason Standridge to minor league contracts, and invited both to spring training.

Calero, most recently of the Athletics, is a guy I’ve always been high on and would have liked to have seen the Mets take a gamble on. At one time he was a lights-out setup man, but has struggled with multiple injuries to his shoulder in recent years, culminating with a debilitating rotator cuff tear last March. Interesting that with all the pitch limits and kid gloves applied to pitchers these days, they still suffer career-threatening (or ending) rotator cuff injuries. Makes one wonder what is the point of all the limits.

Standridge is a guy the Mets gambled on a few winters ago
, though he never made it to spring training. He pitched a few games in Japan last year.

I doubt either of these pitchers will make an impact in 2009. But there’s this tiny shred of possibility that Calero can do something, and this is my chance to show everyone how smart I was five months from now.

Speaking of relievers with shoulder issues, when are the Mets going to sign Chad Cordero to a minor league / incentive-laden one-year deal? Really now, what is the hold up?


Another Met Suspended for PEDs

Mets minor leaguer Kyle Suire has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Suire was found to have metabolites of Stanozolol in his system. Stanozolol is the same steroid that Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson had in his system in 1988, when he won a Gold Medal which was later rescinded.

Suire, an infielder for the Kingsport Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones last season, hit .297 with 9 HRs in 182 ABs, posting a .918 OPS for Kingsport. The 5’11” second baseman is the second Mets minor leaguer to be suspended for PEDs this month. AAA pitcher Junior Guerra was disciplined two weeks ago for using Nandrolone.

Is this a concern? Of course, though the incidents are clearly independent of each other; Guerra — a converted catcher — was not in the Mets’ system last year, and in fact has not played in organized ball since 2006 when he was in the Braves’ system. Still, it’s disconcerting that PEDs have infiltrated the Mets’ low-A ball team. We can hope that Suire was indulging on his own … but no one can know for sure.


Diamondbacks Sign Jon Garland

According to several reports, the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Jon Garland to a one-year contract that includes a club option for 2010.

There had been rumors that the Mets were mildly interested in the sturdy, steady, yet unspectacular righthander, who won 14 games last season.

Garland would have been a nice addition to the back of the Mets’ rotation, as they need an innings-eater and he has hurled at least 190 innings and won in double digits for each of the last seven years. He would not have been the type of guy to put the Mets over the top, but considering all the question marks in the rotation currently, it would have been nice to have a “sure thing” in place. One cannot overestimate the value of having a starter take the ball every fifth day and giving the team 6 innings.

In any case, Garland’s signing means that the Dodgers may turn their attention to LHP Randy Wolf, who also has been connected to the Mets this winter.

Certainly the Mets need to sign at least one more starter, preferably two or three. The question is whether they’ll lock up Oliver Perez, which is looking more and more like a necessity, or if they’ll roll the dice on Ben Sheets.


Heilman Traded to Cubs

Aaron Heilman has been traded to the Cubs in exchange for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno.

Well that was quick … guess I can cancel my order for a Seattle Mariners hat. I could have gotten away with that too — rooting for the M’s. I don’t know how I can root for the Cubs, though.

Interestingly, Heilman brought the Mariners a fairly accomplished, young, lefthanded starter and a potential starting shortstop or second baseman. Strange that the Mets had to add 22 people to him to get a 32-year-old reliever.

Now, the question is, will Heilman get his chance to win a starting rotation spot? The Cubs have Sean Marshall penciled in, but he was going to compete with the now-departed Olson. Would Lou Piniella give Heilman a shot to compete with Marshall? Or does he view Heilman as another setup guy to team with Kevin Gregg, Jeff Samardzija, and Chad Gaudin?

Or, will this acquisition lead to ANOTHER deal, possibly one that sends Jake Peavy from San Diego to Chicago? Should be interesting to follow.

In any case, Heilman looks now to be in a position to either make the Mets look really bad, or really smart, and to do it much too close to “home”.

By the way, at the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner last Sunday, Heilman took out this ad:

An Appreciation

Playing at Shea
before you folks
was an experience
I always will savor

Thank you for support

— Aaron Heilman

Congratulations to all award winners this evening

(Hat tip to ‘Ropolitans)

Classy. It’s going to be hard for me not to root for him as a Cub.


Mets Selling Tickets But Still No Manny

According to the Associated Press, the New York Mets have sold out all luxury boxes and at least 25,000 seats for each of the 81 games to be played at Citi Field in 2009.

There are about 10,000 premium seats available now, and per-game tickets go on sale in March. Citi Field’s capacity is 42,000.

Per Mets Executive Vice-President David Howard:

“It’s better than where we were at this point last year,” Howard said Tuesday after a news conference at the Baseball Assistance Team annual dinner. “I think we’ve seen some effects of the economy. I think what we’re seeing now is there is a high degree of interest, but people are definitely shopping price. In some cases, they’re trying to get partners. We’re certainly not going to be spared by economic climate.”

I’m not too good at math, but it appears that the Mets have a few dollars in the till thanks to ticket sales. Can someone out there do the calculations and figure out if there’s enough to pay Manny Ramirez?