Browsing Archive February, 2010

Mets Like Beimel, Calero, But Not the Price Tag

According to various reports, the Mets are interested in LOOGY Joe Beimel, but not for the $2M he wants. Further, the team is also looking into Kiko Calero, but he prefers an MLB contract rather than the minor league deal the Mets want to offer.

Without question, Beimel is the best lefthanded specialist available on the free agent market. The Mets have been seeking such a LOOGY to pair with Pedro Feliciano ever since Scott Schoeneweis crapped the bed. Two million dollars is not a huge commitment for someone with Beimel’s skill set and experience — compare it to the 3-year, $10.8M insanity-driven deal handed to the aforementioned Schoeneweis. Considering that Beimel would likely appear in 70-85 games, the Mets will get more value on the dollar for him than for the $2M given to utilityman Alex Cora. So the question is, if the Mets need Beimel, and Beimel is interested at a fair price, what’s the delay?

As for Calero, I can understand the trepidation — sort of. When Calero is healthy, he can be “lights-out”, but staying healthy has been a problem in the past few years for the 35-year-old. With the Mets already dealing with injury issues this spring, they’d ideally sign a more durable pitcher.

At the same time, Calero was outstanding in 2009, appearing in 67 games and setting career bests in innings (60) strikeouts (69), and ERA (1.95), while posting a stingy 1.10 WHIP and allowing only one homerun. There’s no guarantee he’ll repeat those numbers, and he did spend 15 days on the DL in June with a shoulder inflammation. But you tell me what makes more sense: giving $1.25M guaranteed to Kelvim Escobar — who threw 5 innings last year — or Calero?

What’s hurting the Mets in these negotations, of course, is Escobar’s status (and the fact that Brian Stokes was dealt to the Angels). Both Calero and Beimel deserve MLB deals regardless, but have the upper hand as long as the Mets have neither a legitimate setup man nor a reliable second lefty.

It is at this point that I would like to hear from all the people who, back in November, didn’t think it was a “big deal” that the Mets wasted $2M on the aforementioned Cora. Additionally, I want to hear from those who supported the Stokes – Gary Matthews trade, which cost the Mets another $1M – $1.5M net. The argument was that a measly $1M or $2M shouldn’t make or break the Mets’ season. Yet here we are in a situation where the Mets are desperate to plug holes in the bullpen, there are two worthwhile, fair-priced solutions available, but the Mets don’t seem to have the financial flexibility to get the deals done.

Put it this way: if Matthews and Cora get on the field often enough to truly earn their pay in 2010, then something (once again) went horribly, horribly wrong for the New York Mets. In contrast, if Beimel and Calero are signed and earn their salaries, two roles in the Mets’ bullpen were filled quite efficiently and effectively. You tell me which is more likely to have a significant impact on a successful season — overused bench players or effective relievers?


Slow Start for Kelvim Escobar

In a shocking turn of events, Mets reliever Kelvim Escobar has suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder problems — to the point where he is expected to begin the season on the disabled list.

It is stunning news, considering that Escobar proved he was completely capable of picking up, gripping, and softly tossing a baseball only a week ago. But he felt some “weakness” and has been shut down from throwing activities.

Per The New York Times:

Escobar, who is experiencing weakness and discomfort in his right shoulder, is not even playing catch on flat ground. The plan is to start again on Monday and then see what happens. That means he will almost certainly not be ready for opening day.

Hmm … if he’s “not even playing catch on flat ground” does that mean he’s playing catch …. underground?

In all seriousness, this is really bad news for Omar Minaya, who rolled the dice on Escobar. Truth is, it wasn’t a bad idea to gamble on Escobar for only $1.25M. The bad idea, was to COUNT on Escobar to fill a significant role in the bullpen.

From John Harper’s column in the Daily News:

According to one baseball executive who spoke with GM Omar Minaya about it, the Mets were immediately penciling Escobar in as a key to their bullpen, and only a couple of weeks ago Johan Santana was praising him as an important addition to the club, saying that his toughness would help set the right tone for a comeback season.

Santana’s statement was partially right — Escobar has set the tone for the season.

Harper also noted that Japanese import Ryota Igarashi — the next reliever in line for the setup role — “was less than impressive, unable to control his splitter, his signature pitch” in a bullpen session on Saturday. Certainly not good news, but it’s still early; sometimes people have bad days. Though, I am mildly concerned that Igarashi will have trouble adjusting to the size of the baseball.

With Carlos Beltran and Kelvim Escobar missing Opening Day, Francisco Rodriguez suffering from pink eye, and Jose Reyes being questioned by the FBI, the spring has not exactly gone off to the best start. However, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel — things can only get better from here, right?


Video from PSL Training Room

MetsBlog isn’t the only website with video coverage of Mets spring training … we have some of our own available below, which is purportedly recorded from the trainer’s room at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

I say “purportedly” because the person with the camera isn’t exactly an expert on baseball, nor even a Mets fan. But he was the best cameraman we could hire on the meager MetsToday budget … and, well, you get what you pay for.

The quality isn’t great, so it’s hard to tell who is getting the back rub, but the videographer claims it’s “one of the Mets catchers” (a good bet, considering that half the players in camp don the tools of ignorance).

My money is on Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco … though, for all I know this is re-used video of Ramon Castro from last spring.

If you can positively identify exactly who this is, please let us know in the comments.


Is That a Balk?

Check out the video of Japanese hurler Ryota Igarashi posted by Matt Cerrone at MetsBlog:

OK, watch it again.

One more time, please.

Is it me, or is “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd running through Igarashi’s head when he comes to the set from the stretch position?

All that footwork ain’t gonna fly come game time. He’s balking, and umpires will call it. I vaguely remember other Japanese imports having similar hitches and hesitations in their motion, which caused problems in their MLB rookie seasons. Apparently the rules are a little different in NPB.

I don’t bring this up to be negative, but in the hopes that someone (Dan Warthen) takes note and adjusts his routine accordingly now rather than later. Left uncorrected all spring, it could turn out to be a major issue.

By the way, big kudos to Matt Cerrone for his massive, multi-channel, multimedia coverage of spring training. He’s like James Brown — the hardest-working man in the Mets blogosphere.


What, Me Worry?

For most of the winter, I’ve been whining, opining, and complaining about the Mets’ inability to address the concerns of their ballclub.

However, now that pitchers and catchers have reported, hope springs eternal, and all of my worries have subsided. After all, we keep hearing wonderful, reassuring quotes from everyone in Port St. Lucie.

For example …

Kelvim Escobar’s arm does not worry me, because he CAN in fact “grip a baseball”, and is only experiencing “weakness”, rather than pain. Further, he says that he is going to be fine. Whew!

I’m not worried about Jose Reyes, because he says he’s happy to be here!

I’m not worried that Carlos Beltran expressed displeasure with the way the Mets handled his injury and surgery, because he also said that he is no longer upset.

I’m also not worried because …

Jose Reyes says he’s happy to be a Met!

Sandy Koufax said that Oliver Perez has talent. What else would I need to hear?

Jason Bay says that the Mets’ roster is filled with talent.

Angel Pagan said that the Mets have a great team on paper.

Angel Pagan also says he has learned from his baserunning mistakes.

Everyone and his brother says that the Mets should be good as long as everyone stays healthy.

Jose Reyes says take a look at his new custom-made cleats!

Rod Barajas said that the Mets were always his first choice.

Luis Castillo says he lost a few pounds in the offseason and is looking to get back to Gold Glove caliber defense.

Keith Hernandez said that Daniel Murphy has the tools to be OK at first base.

Mike Pelfrey says he’s unhappy about his 2009 performance, and he’s going to establish a secondary pitch.

John Maine has assured us he’s healthy and ready to go.

Jose Reyes says he’s happy to be playing baseball again!

Jason Bay says he has no worries about Citi Field affecting his game.

Jerry Manuel said the Mets will work on their fundamentals.

Jerry Manuel has also said the goal is to improve their “interior defense”.

Jerry Manuel additionally said the Mets hitters will focus on home runs.

Johan Santana says that he is the best pitcher in the NL East.

David Wright whispered said that the Mets’ goal is to win the World Series.

He won’t say it, but Jose Reyes is a modern-day E.F. Hutton.

Considering all of the above — particularly, what everyone has been saying — I am feeling very confident in the Mets chances in 2010. Bottom line is this: as long as I keep hearing good quotes, I have nothing to worry about.

Ya know what I’m sayin’ ?


Committing Blasphemy

This is a groundbreaking moment in the history of — we are committing outright blasphemy.

Because today, we take the words of the great Sandy Koufax to task.

In a quote from the NY Post, Koufax had this to say in regard to Oliver Perez:

“People pay too much attention to delivery,” Koufax said. “Pitching is precision throwing. Sometimes delivery is overrated. You don’t want to change what you do. Delivery shouldn’t interfere with your ability to throw. You make it a simple situation so you can retain it. You don’t want it to be something different every time you throw. If I can help somebody I’m happy to. I don’t have all the answers. Nothing works for everybody. It’s a question of trying it. Every pitcher should try everything to find out what works for him.”

I’ll agree with the last sentence. I’ll also agree with the part about pitching being “precision throwing”. And I’ll agree with the idea of keeping things simple, and repeating mechanics.

But, I cannot, under any circumstance, agree with the notion that “delivery is overrated”. In reality, delivery is EVERYTHING. If a pitcher’s delivery is just an inch off, it can drastically affect his command.

Oh, and I also am not blown away by Sandy Koufax in the role of teacher / coach.

Therein is the blasphemy, in case you missed it.

That’s right — Koufax, to me, isn’t going to make much of a difference with the Mets’ pitchers this year because, to be frank, he’s not a coach. He WAS, however, an outstanding pitcher in his day — maybe, the best pitcher ever. But that alone doesn’t make him a miracle worker as a teacher.

Consider this: how many homerun hitters are the product of training under Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, or Willie Mays? How many catchers will tell you that everything they learned, they learned from Johnny Bench? Is there one Gold Glove shortstop who learned the position under Ozzie Smith? And how did Jose Reyes do as a leadoff hitter / basestealer under the tutelage of Rickey Henderson? Yeah.

I think you get the point: superstardom does not necessarily equate to skill as a teacher. There is something to the old saying, “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”.

I bring this up not to throw mud in Sandy Koufax’s face — he is, after all, a legendary pitcher, a beloved Dodger, and great friend of Fred Wilpon. Rather, I want to make clear that Ollie Perez, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, etc., will not suddenly “get it” or put together a Cy Young performance in 2010 after speaking to Koufax. Yeah, I’m raining on the parade, I’m being negative, I’m squashing the hope that springs eternal this year — and, I’m blaspheming the immortal Sandy Koufax.

But, someone has to even the scales. The “big story” yesterday in every Mets media outlet, and by every beat writer, was the tired, old, and annual Sandy Koufax advice article. We read the same nonsense every spring, with only the names of Mets pitchers changning.

I have no pride, and am fine with smacking the rose-colored glasses off the faces of potential season-ticket buyers. Rip me below in the comments.


David Wright Batting Leadoff

David Wright is number oneAccording to zen master Jerry Manuel, Jose Reyes will be the Mets’ #3 hitter — as long as Carlos Beltran is on the DL.

I don’t even want to go into the stupidity of Reyes in the 3-hole, nor the illogical thinking that went into the cause-and-effect relationship of Beltran’s unavailability compared to Reyes’ spot in the order. After all, unless he’s on a rare unconscious streak (such as he had at the beginning of 2009), Beltran’s ideal spot is either 4th or 5th. Further, if Reyes (or Beltran) is batting third, where does one pencil in David Wright?

Logic would dictate that Wright gets a guaranteed plate appearance in the first inning, since he has been, and remains, the Mets’ best hitter and on-base guy. That said, if Wright isn’t slated to bat third, then the next most logical spot in the order would be … first — a.k.a., “leadoff”.

Sound crazy? Not nearly as crazy as plotting Reyes in the three-hole.

Consider that Wright has


Torture Times Thirteen

A few days ago, Fred Wilpon described this past offseason as:

“Torture,” Wilpon said. “Very, very difficult.”

I’m so glad that a Dodgers fan had similar feelings to mine during these past few months, even if were for different reasons. The Dodgers, of course, suffered a heartbreaking exit from the postseason last October. To get so close to the Fall Classic, only to fall just a hair short, can certainly weigh on a fan’s mind for months on end.

As a Mets fan, though, we’ve felt “torture” for a different reason. Well, make that, reasons.

Here’s my personal list of the Ten Top Reasons Mets Fans Feel Tortured:

1. Memories of the 2009 season was torture
2. Watching the Mets try to trade Luis Castillo rather than find quality pitching was torture
3. Thinking all winter about how bad the Mets will be in 2010 was torture
4. Listening to the inane comments of Jerry Manuel is torture
5. Envisioning Rod Barajas / Henry Blanco behind the plate and getting 600+ ABs is torture
6. Banking on Ollie Perez and John Maine as the #2 and #3 starters is torture
7. Wondering who #4 and #5 in the rotation will be is torture
8. Relying on Sean Green and/or some Japanese guy in the 8th inning is torture
9. Handing leads to K-rod in the 9th is torture
10. Seeing Daniel Murphy tripping over himself at first base is torture
11. Listening to people gush over Mets “prospects” is torture
12. Waiting to see J.J. Putz do well in Chicago is torture
13. Fearing that the Washington Nationals will finish ahead of the Mets is torture

I stopped at 13 only because compiling this list was torture in itself. It easily could have grown to 25 or more.

Feel free to add your own torturous thoughts in the comments.