Browsing Archive February, 2011

What If Luis Castillo Wins 2B Job?

After a long delay, Luis Castillo finally arrived on time in Port St. Lucie.

I know many people are miffed that Castillo didn’t get to camp a week ago, but he had a legitimate reason — his brother is going in for serious surgery next week. Even if he didn’t have a personal matter to tend to, I’m not sure that an early arrival would have made a difference one way or the other in regard to his chances of making the team nor in the way he is viewed by the new Mets management (the on-field and front office staffs included).

Yes, it would have been nice if Castillo showed up around the same time as the pitchers and catchers. But really, at this point, how would it have mattered? He’s been in pro ball for 15 years, and by now should have a good idea of what he needs to do to get ready for a 162-game season. You could say that by arriving early, Castillo would have “sent a message” that he’s “serious” about having a comeback season. But in all honesty, is that really what you want? Be careful what you wish for, the saying goes.

Let’s pretend Castillo had


Does Rickie Weeks Deal Impact Jose Reyes?

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers signed second baseman Rickie Weeks to a 4-year, $38M contract extension (that could go 5 years/$50M if he stays healthy). Essentially, the Brewers have locked up Weeks through what many consider the “prime years” of a player’s career — ages 28-31.

I look at this deal and wonder if the Mets would do something similar with Jose Reyes?


The Cardinals Don’t Need Pujols

My ESPN SweetSpot buddy in St. Louis — Matthew Philip of Fungoes — cracks out the calculator to prove that the Cardinals don’t need Albert Pujols to win. Matthew may win the battle on this one, but will he win the WAR?

Another SweetSpotter, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley, is running team-by-team previews with other NL East bloggers. So far there have been previews on the Braves, Nationals, and Mets. That guy he interviewed for the Mets sounded pessimistic.

Bernie Madoff speaks from behind bars through the mouthpiece of The New York Times. Madoff claims that the faceless, nameless administrators and bureaucrats of banks “had to know” that his investments were a fraud — but insisted that his best friends since childhood (Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, et al) “knew nothing”. We’re supposed to believe this?

In a refreshingly welcome escape from the morbid reality surrounding the Mets right now, Matthew Callan is going through his old This Week in Baseball videotapes at Amazin’ Avenue. The latest episode of TWIB he remembers is the 1988 spring training preview. How about that!

Are there still players available who can help the Mets? Kerel Cooper shares his thoughts on the remaining free agents over at OnTheBlack.


Once Again, Would Mets Sign Pujols?

A little over a month ago I wondered aloud if the Mets would consider signing Albert Pujols — if indeed he became a free agent at the end of the 2011 season.

Back then, the idea that Pujols would become a free agent seemed ridiculous — surely, the Cardinals would find a way to lock him up before Opening Day.

Now, it’s becoming more and more realistic to believe that Sir Albert will indeed play out the final year on his contract and hit the market next winter.

Unfortunately, it’s also become apparent that the Wilpons could be broke by then — and may not even own the team when winter arrives.

Assuming nothing changes in ownership between now and then, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Mets will be in no position to get in on the bidding should Pujols be a free agent. However, what if a new owner buys into the team before then — be it as a minority stakeholder injecting the franchise with a significant cash contribution, or a big-time investor who purchases the team outright? Would new ownership seek to make a big splash by signing Pujols, perhaps as a way to send a message to their fans and MLB that “the Mets are back and mean business” ?

Post your thoughts in the comments.


Mike Pelfrey in Pinstripes

NOTE: this is an article by Matt Himelfarb, so direct your comments to him.

Andy Pettite’s recent retirement has left the Yankees scrambling to fill not one, but two black holes in the back their rotation. As of right now, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Mark Prior appear to be the leading candidates to claim those two spots.

Make no mistake, Garcia, Colon, and Prior would make for a fearsome trio in MVP Baseball 2003, but Yankees fans might as well pray Roger Clemens has one more comeback in him (hey, legal fees are expensive).

Enter Mike Pelfrey.


Jenrry Mejia As Reliever?

In case you missed it, on Friday afternoon Adam Rubin of ESPN-NY reported that Dan Warthen envisions Jenrry Mejia’s future in a big-league bullpen — not a starting rotation.

So glad we’re all on the same page, guys. We wouldn’t want to continue to mess with the kid’s head, right?

Personally, I don’t know where Mejia ultimately belongs. The one thing I “see” in his future are a number of DL stints, due to his violent, inefficient pitching mechanics. Mejia began experiencing shoulder problems before he had the chance to legally drink a beer, and assuming he doesn’t change his motion, those issues could become chronic. We’ll see if any adjustments are made this spring, but I’m doubting it, considering that Warthen described Mejia’s delivery as “solid and repeatable” this time last year.

If Mejia will be prone to arm issues going forward, in which role is he more suited — reliever or starter?


1 DUPACR: Mookie Wilson

We’re down to the nitty-gritty, folks: there is 1 Day Until Pitchers And Catchers Report (yes, I’m aware there are already players running around the grounds of Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie — but they are doing so on their own accord). In honor of this auspicious day, we focus on former #1 Mookie Wilson.

How can you not like a guy named “Mookie”? The fact that he was actually good didn’t hurt, either. Mookie was the lone source of excitement on the really bad Mets teams that opened the 1980s — but at the same time, he symbolized the hope and optimism we Mets fans so desperately clung to back then.

As a leadoff hitter, he struck out far too often and didn’t take nearly enough walks. But that was what speedy leadoff hitters did in the late 1970s and early 80s (see: Omar Moreno, Mickey Rivers, Al Bumbry, Bake McBride, Lou Brock, et al). It was a different time, so it’s hard for the youngins to understand, but basically it worked like this: you put a guy with disruptive basestealing skill at the top of the lineup, regardless of OBP, because if he gets on base he’ll wreak havoc with the minds of the pitcher and catcher, break their concentration, and induce more fastballs thrown — to the best hitters in the lineup (#3 and #4). The strategy doesn’t make sense now, because MLB talent is diluted and the pitchers stink. But back then, when pitchers dominated, it wasn’t the worst strategy in the world — no matter what Bill James says.

Anyway, back to the Mook …

William Hayward Wilson gave a preview of what was to come during a 27-game audition in 1980, when he was inserted into centerfield and penciled into the leadoff spot on September 2 and left there through the end of the year. It was a smart move, especially considering that the alternative was Jerry Morales. Mookie electrified Shea Stadium with his blinding speed and balls-out approach to the game. He hit only .248 but it felt like .400 — maybe because he and Wally Backman were the first legitimate, home-grown position prospects since Lee Mazzilli became a regular in 1977.

Wilson remained the starting centerfielder until he tore cartilage in his shoulder in 1985, opening the door for another speedy, homegrown centerfielder — Lenny Dykstra. Wilson and Dykstra platooned in ’86, a situation that turned Mookie into a more valuable player and helped the Mets win the World Series. By then, Mookie was 30 years old and beginning to break down, but Davey Johnson was masterful in keeping him fresh and extracting great performance from the Mook. Wilson responded with the three highest batting averages, OBPs, and OPS totals of his career from 1986-1988.

To top it all off, Mookie Wilson was a gentleman, humanitarian, and caring teammate — in short, an ideal role model for all ballplayers to imitate. To this day it’s difficult to find someone who has a bad word to say about Mookie, and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t smile at the mention of his name.

Though there may be some pessimism about this upcoming season, the fact that Mookie Wilson will be standing in the first base coach’s box is one reason to look forward to it.

Which #1 do you remember best and why? Leo Foster? Gene Clines? Bobby Pfeil? Vince Coleman? Esix Snead? Lance Johnson? Fernando Vina? Anderson Hernandez? Chuck Carr? Someone else? Share your memories in the comments.

We’re all done, folks … here is the full list:

#1 Mookie Wilson
#2 Mackey Sasser
#3 Bud Harrelson
#4 Ron Swoboda
#5 John Olerud
#6 Wally Backman
#7 Hubie Brooks
#8 Gary Carter
#9 Gregg Jefferies
#10 Rusty Staub
#11 Lenny Randle
#12 John Stearns
#13 Edgardo Alfonzo
#14 Gil Hodges
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd