Browsing Archive March, 2010

April Fools Comes Early

Kelvim Escobar told Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional that he will decide on April 1st whether or not to pitch in 2010 (hat tip to TheRopolitans, via MLBTR).

Does anyone else see “April 1st” as a fitting day to make such a decision?

Yes, from the beginning the Escobar signing was seen as a “risk-reward” situation. But you have to wonder if any other team was willing to risk $1.5M guaranteed on a pitcher with extensive, chronic shoulder problems, had been shut down after tossing only five innings in 2009, and would not have passed a physical.

We are going to assume that the Mets gave Escobar a “Putz Physical”, because if his arm was “weak” in February, then how could it possibly have been healthy, or “strong”, in mid-December?

The Mets’ pattern of throwing good money after bad continues, and nothing is learned by mistakes. I understand the idea of “low risk, high reward”, and often support it. But you have to examine exactly what “low risk” really means.

$1.5M doesn’t seem like a “high risk” for big-market team like the Mets — and it shouldn’t be. But when you gamble $1.5M on damaged goods, and you pencil in those goods as your setup man, how can it be defined as “low risk” ?

What makes the “low-risk” gampble more risky is inserting another “low-risk, high-reward” proposition as Plan B — a Japanese import.

We’ve beaten this horse before, but it bears repeating: the Mets overspend as a rule, and yes, it IS an issue even when it’s “only” one or two million dollars. The Mets bid against themselves in spending $3.5M on Escobar and Cora — a sum total that would have netted, say, Bobby Crosby and Bobby Howry … or, say, Felipe Lopez, Clay Condrey, and LOOGY Javier Lopez. We could play this game all day — fill in the players of your choice. Bottom line is the Mets continue to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, gamble on multiple high (not low) risks, then wonder how the second-highest payroll in MLB can result in second-to-last place finish.

One thing’s for sure: I know exactly how I’m betting if I see Omar Minaya rolling the dice at a craps table in Atlantic City.


Reyes Out with Hyperthyroidism

If you haven’t heard by now, Jose Reyes may be out of action for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. Or longer — there’s really no way to determine just yet.

The issue with his thyroid is not one to be taken lightly, and you have to credit the Mets’ medical staff for spotting the problem — they may have saved his life. Additionally, you have to credit the Mets’ management for taking the cautious route and immediately shutting down Reyes. We don’t want to see Reyes out when Opening Day rolls around, but we DO want to see him happy and healthy over the next several years — the long-term risk is not worth the gamble of one or two months activity.

Yes, the issue could have been handled much better from a PR standpoint. But over the past two years, it has become crystal clear that the Mets have a major flaw in their communications. Over and over again, we receive multiple, incongruous messages from various official sources — in other words, no one is “on the same page”. A few days ago, Omar Minaya stated to the US press that Jose Reyes had an overactive thyroid, while Reyes simultaneously denied he had any issue with his thyroid to ESPN Deportes. This is the latest in a long line of conflicting quotes from the Mets, and perpetuates the image of the organization as a “Mickey Mouse operation”.

You have to wonder how much this public ineptitude affects the thoughts of opposing ballplayers — in particular, those who will be part of next winter’s bumper crop of free agents. The Mets’ reputation has gone backward over the past few years, and as a result the team will have to continue to overpay players to convince them to come to Flushing (see: Jason Bay, Bengie Molina).

It would be easy to blame Jay Horwitz for the problems, but based on what we’ve seen from the Mets as a whole, I’m not so quick to identify a scapegoat. Everything filters from the top, and my gut feeling is that Horwitz has little control over the outgoing communications — despite his title of “VP, Media Relations”. He can’t muzzle players (or the GM) without someone “from the top” giving him the power to do so. As a result, you have an organization that resembles the Wild West, littered with gunslinging cowboys in sheriffless towns who shoot their guns — or in this case, mouths — off in every direction.

One need only look to the other side of town for an example of how external communications should be handled. In the Bronx, there are only one or two sources from where the official, high-level messages flow. Very few Yankees fans can name the teams’ PR person, the VP of Player Development, the Assistant to the GM, or the team doctor. In fact, I’d bet that few casual Yankees fans know the name of the team’s trainer, the pitching coach, or the batting coach — these people as a rule do not speak to the media, and when you do hear from them, it is with information that is barely newsworthy, rarely controversial, and never in conflict with whatever the team’s “main” message. There is consistency across the board, from every Yankees quote — whether it is someone’s sprained finger, Joba’s pitch count, or a PEDs accusation.

But I digress … next post we’ll discuss the possible replacements for Jose Reyes.


Read This Book

Let’s get down to brass tacks (and not of the Bronx type): for the past few months, the content on MetsToday has not been nearly as prolific as you remember. The reason for the relative lack of frequency in posts is simple: I started a new, full-time job that is taking most of my time. There is a significant learning curve as I get the lay of the land and figure out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. This isn’t a complaint — I’m absolutely, positively thrilled to be working for Opici Wines (pardon the plug). And the good news is, I’m starting to “get it”, and will soon return to a more regular rhythm of posts here on MetsToday.

In the meantime, to sate your reading appetite, I highly suggest — no, demand — that you head on over to and download the 2010 edition. I have been grossly remiss in not pointing you toward the Annual before today — but in all honesty, I did not have the time to give it a look-see until now.

It is salaciously scandalous; refreshingly negative in tone, yet delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek effusing biting humor that often spurs legitimate, doubled-over, laughing out loud (not to be confused with the ubiquitous “LOL” littered irresponsibly in billions of texts every minute of the day). But it’s also incredibly informative, chock full of stats and analyses that will impress the stathead … yet there are also numbers that are digestible by the old school crowd. And that’s a major point I’d like to communicate: contrary to what you may know of AmazinAvenue and the former “MetsGeek” staff, this is NOT a book expressly for Beaneheads. More correctly, it is a book for everyone.

Where else can you find a great Mets drinking game based on quips by Gary, Keith and Ron? Where else can you read an homage to Lindsay Nelson written by a kid who was born five years after Nelson’s last broadcast? Where else can you read in-depth about “CHONE” and it have nothing to do with a certain Mr. Figgins? Where else can you find a journalist like Eric Simon using words like “rejoinder”, “mordant”, “trenchant”, and “intransigent” — all in one paragraph? If nothing else, Simon’s diatribes are an entertaining alternative to the Reader’s Digest “It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power” exercises.

The bottom line is this: you should download this book (it’s FREE) and read it. Read it from front to back, backward, sideways, or just pick out some of the articles from the contents that tickle your fancy. I have absolute confidence that you will find SOMETHING worth reading in this tome — more likely, many things.

And to be clear, this review is completely, 100% sincere. I am receiving no kickbacks nor special favors from the AA team, and in fact none of them even asked me to write a review. The Amazin’ Annual is better — hands-down — than any other Mets-centric publication that you would have to pay for.

The only beef I have is that nowhere in the 340 pages of content, is MetsToday mentioned nor am I quoted. This wouldn’t be a big deal if Ted Berg hadn’t been quoted (and twice, no less!). I don’t care that Berg is one of the contributors of the book, and I don’t care that he is on the SNY staff — the guy’s website isn’t even a dot-com, it’s a “dot-net” for goodness sakes! How do you quote a dot-net wannabe blogging from his parents’ basement and not include a solitary quip from a legitimate website that happens to be one of the most abrasive and straightforward in the Mets blogosphere?

I’m kidding of course … but not kidding about the Amazin’ Annual. Go get it before they realize what they have there and start charging for it. Enjoy.


A Fruitful Spring

In case you haven’t seen it yet, has a new video every day, with each one featuring comments on the Mets’ offseason and predictions by Kerel Cooper, Dave Doyle of Mets Report, and yours truly.

In related news, the eagle-eyed Dave Singer of NYSportsReport took notice of the citrus wedge in what he assumed was my beer.

First of all, if said citrus wedge was indeed in what is alleged to be “my” beer, perhaps I have a completely logical explanation. For example, perhaps it was a certified organic orange shipped directly from a grove in Port St. Lucie, and therefore a small but genuine declaration of support for that wonderful little city housing the Mets’ spring training facilities.

Or, it could be that the orange was a symbol of the Mets enjoying a “fruitful” spring … or that their goal to make the postseason in 2010 would come to “fruition”.

Or maybe the citrus fruit is not an orange, or a lemon, but rather a GRAPEFRUIT, in appropriate honor of the “Grapefruit League”.

Or, maybe the beer containing the offensive orange was not mine at all, but rather that of the cameraman, or some random person sitting at the table next to or across from me (and out of the range of the camera’s wide-angle lens).

Or, maybe the placement of the fruit was a coy attempt to enter Omar Minaya’s subconscious, with the intention of placing the thought that he should immediately replace Jerry Manuel with former Indians manager Eric WEDGE.

Better still, the citrus wedge in question may have been inadvertently attached to the brim of my glass by the bartender as a force of habit, rather than by request, not realizing that a man of mucho machismo would be imbibing the otherwise glorious blend of Belgian hops, wheat, malt, and barley.

On the other hand, maybe I actually like an orange wedge in my beer, because it brings out wonderfully delicious nuances of coriander and spice — is that a crime? (Before you answer, consider the fact that I’m probably bigger than you.)

Perhaps the key point in regard to the glass is this: does the subject matter get perceptibly better or worse in relation to the sinking level of the suds?

You be the judge.

Check out all this week and next to develop your case. I plead “no contest”.

Note to the kiddies: I do not condone the consumption of alcoholic beverages — with or without citrus wedges — by anyone under the age of 21. Furthermore, I do not condone blogging under the influence of alcohol (BUI), nor blogging while intoxicated (BWI), regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation.


ST Game 7 vs. Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 5

Let’s not read too much into the win nor the Mets’ 5-2 record; it’s spring training.

But, I would like to share my thoughts on some of what we saw on channel 11 on Sunday.

Oliver Perez
His stat line was awful — 7 hits, a walk, a HR, and 5 ER in 3 IP. But, evaluating his pitching mechanics, there were good signs. What I saw was Ollie doing a decent job of staying in a straight, efficient line to the plate from the stretch (which he was throwing from for most of his outing). From the stretch, he was displaying a good, straight-up leg lift, fairly straight stride, and a balanced follow-through that left him in position to field the ball on comebacker. From the windup, however, he is still struggling, and I feel it stems from where he starts his feet. He is standing on the third-base side of the rubber, which allows him to easily start his right foot back and toward third base on a 45-degree angle. This in turn causes his body to go slightly sideways and “off line”, which then causes a slight over-rotation / close of the front hip, and then results in an over-rotation / premature opening of the front hip. That rotation then causes his follow-through to be off-balance and toward third base — you’ll see him facing third base after the release. That over-rotation is inefficient and is the reason for inconsistency in his release point. There have been periods in the past when both Rick Peterson and Dan Warthen had him beginning his windup by stepping straight back — which resulted in him staying more on that efficient, straight-lined path toward home plate — and I’m not sure why Warthen has allowed Perez to deviate from that habit.

Daniel Murphy’s New Stance
Murphy’s batting stance is now more upright. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind the change, but Howard Johnson knows a thousand times more about hitting than me. I guess what confuses me is the fact that once the pitcher starts his motion, Murphy hunches right back into the same crouch he started from last year. So maybe it’s a timing thing? The one potential negative is with this new stance, Murphy’s eyes start at one level, then move to a lower level as the ball is coming in — which seemingly would make the ball more difficult to see and track.

Hisanori Takahashi
I like Takahashi’s fluid, stress-free motion and balanced mechanics. It looks as though he can throw low strikes in his sleep. He reminds me a bit of Jamie Moyer, in that he pitches “backward” (setting up the fastball with off-speed pitches), stays around the plate, and can occasionally sneak a fastball by a hitter. He topped out at a surprising 89 MPH on the fastball, which was mixed with a 81 MPH changeup and a 78 MPH breaking ball. Already I’m convinced he’ll be more effective than Ken Takahashi. Whether he’ll be able to keep MLB hitters off-balance the second time around the league will remain to be seen, but I like his chances.

Ike Davis
There has been a lot of buzz around Davis, and he’s been scorching the ball in spring training. But if I hear one more person compare him to John Olerud, I’m going to scream. He doesn’t remind me at all of Olerud, other than the fact he stands in the left batter’s box. At some point, Davis is going to be in the big leagues — no question. This year? Hard to say. There are two glaring issues about his swing that concern me — first, the fact he “steps in the bucket” and commits his front hip before starting his swing; and second, the loopy length of his swing. It’s a long, long swing — one that will and does generate power. That’s why I’m not getting the Olerud comparisons — Olerud in contrast had a short, compact stroke. In fact, Davis looks to me like a hitter who can turn into an Adam Dunn-type, rather than an Olerud — someone with prodigious power, good strike zone judgment, but perhaps not a .300 average … though I wouldn’t expect Dunn-like numbers right away — Adam LaRoche may be a more realistic comp. If he comes close to evolving into either Olerud or Dunn (or at minimum LaRoche), we will certainly be happy.

The Nationals
This team scares me a bit. They have a ton of exciting, talented, young ballplayers on their roster. I don’t see the Nats making the playoffs in 2010, but with a little luck they could surprise people. They will be a team to reckon with in 2011 and beyond.


Mets Sign Kiko Calero

Omar Minaya held firm on his minor-league offer to Kiko Calero, and came out the winner in the negotiations.

Calero signed a one-year, minor league contract that will pay him $850,000 plus incentives if he makes the Major League roster.

According to the The New York Times:

Calero was so eager to join the Mets that he was seen walking through the clubhouse before the team had a chance to announce the signing.

As you read a few days ago, I supported an MLB contract for Calero — so for me this is outstanding news and a very smart, low-risk gamble. It is surprising that Calero has been available for this long after a fine comeback season in ’09 — kudos to Minaya for waiting him out.

Next on the docket is Joe Beimel, who would fit right in as a second LOOGY to Pedro Feliciano. It appears that Minaya is sticking to the same strategy of waiting — and several sources report that Beimel is indeed on the Mets’ radar. Hopefully it works out as well — and it might, because every day that goes by is another day lost for a guy like Beimel to make a team. The only risk is that there are at least a handful of teams who could use an extra veteran LOOGY — and one of them could be the Phillies.


Jose Reyes is Not Pregnant

Good news, Mets fans: Jose Reyes is NOT pregnant.

Steve Popper was the first to report that news on Twitter early yesterday, and further blood work evaluated last night confirms it.

Whew! That would have been a major issue for the Mets, who already are without Carlos Beltran for the first few months of the season.

Though, I imagine Jose would have been able to stay on the field for the first trimester … but almost certainly would have been out of uniform by June. Even if he felt great, you’d have to think that his belly would have gotten in the way of reaching down for ground balls — not to mention the weight gain putting a strain on his already suspect legs.

In other good news for Mets fans, Hisanori Takahashi has cleared up his visa problem and can now take the mound in exhibition games. No word on whether he’ll be wearing Ken Takahashi’s old jersey.

Additionally, the Mets signed Kiko Calero — full post coming soon.

But there’s still more to cheer about — Ike Davis hit a grand slam and David Wright hit a homerun in his first at-bat as the Mets pounded the Cardinals 17-11.

Finally, things are looking up for the New York Mets!