Saturday, February 26, 2011

Counting on Murphy

With the Mets second base position a wide open competition, so far it doesn't look too much like any one person has a solid leg up. Manager Terry Collins feels that second base is an "offensive position" which would bode well for Daniel Murphy.

I'm a fan of Murphy. I liked him as a rookie in 2009 and was sorry to see him get hurt and miss the 2010 season (although in the end it was the first of s string of things to happen that resulted in Ike Davis' call up in early 2010). Right now he's deep in the mix fpr the Mets second base job and in my opinion, it should be his to lose.

Yes, I know he's not your protypical second baseman. I know his defense is suspect and his experiance is more so. I'm not saying I don't care... but... I don't.

Murphy has a good bat. He's not going to make anyone forget Chase Utley, but Murphy's major league talent is with his stick and his hustling, excellent attitude. He'll struggle a little in the field and he'll not get to balls he should. I admit that. However, he's a full-speed ahead player who will give his all for his team, which is something everyone should like. I think his bat will be solid enough to look past the issues he has with his glove, and in the end he will likely be part of a platoon with someone who has a stronger defensive tag, to even out his rougher pedigree out there.

Yeah, this is a matter of liking the player despite some obvious faults, but looking at how badly some players have played defense at 2nd in the past on winning teams (Alfonzo Soriano or Dan Uggla anyone?) it's not the end of the world. If he's a total mess out there, well yeah... he'll need to come out and the experiment will be a failure, but somehow I think he'll be good enough to get by, and he'll do enough at the plate to let the Met fans excuse that ground ball just out of his reach.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's full circle for Izzy

Out of baseball for over a year, Jason Isringhausen is attempting a comeback. In doing so, he's returned to the team he started with.

Isringhausen was part of the Mets' Generation K. The trio of starting pitchers (Isringhausen, Bill Pulsephiler and Paul Wilson) that were supposed to be the Mets version of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the mid 1990s. In the end injuries derailed all three and Isringhausen only really found big time success as a closer for the Oakland A's after being traded in 1999.

He would go on to save 293 games for the A's and Cardinals (he pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 but didn't save any games).

Isringhausen asked the Mets for a tryout and they obliged and were pleasently rewarded. His curveball looks good and he seems healthy. If he is, the chances of him making the team is actually fairly good.

It's nice to see him in camp. I like the fact he's there and could be a nice stable arm in the bullpen. I could see him (again, if healthy) being a nice compliment to Bobby Parnell in the setup role. His experiance alone will be helpful to the youngster.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's the rush?

Oliver Perez is in camp and basically is viewed as a dead man walking. Odds are he'll be out on he butt in about two/three weeks.

This isn't really speculation. It's pretty much expected unless he manages to find a few mils an hour on his fastball and stops walking people.

I have heard the question though... "why is he even in camp?"

Well, basically... why not? The Mets have to pay him anyway. His being in camp could possibly (albiet doubtfully) do two things:

1 - He could actually pitch well enough that he earns a spot. Likely in the bullpen if this was to happen. It's doubtful. VERY doubtful. Chances of happening: about 10%.

2 - Could pitch well enough that the Mets could trade him, while eating about 90% of his contract. Also doubtful, but slightly more possible considering the lack of depth in pitching for many teams. Chances of happening: about 16%.

Listen, I don't want Perez taking up innings that someone who will really benefit will miss out on (say Dillion Gee, Pat Misch or D.J. Carrasco) but for now the Mets don't lose anything in having him in camp. While I doubt it'll do anything much for the Mets, the slim chance it could work out is worth the amount of time. I just hope the Mets know when to draw the line and in reality, I think they do.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who says the Mets couldn't sign Pujols?

You know, I'm getting a little tired of this.

Everyone and his brother has basically written the Mets off as a franchise at this point. The Madoff Ponzi scheme hit the Mets' principal owners hard. In that there is no doubt. There is a definite chance that it will effect the Mets organization.

A chance.

However, from everything I'm reading and hearing, pretty much the world is expecting the Mets to become the New York version of the Pittsburg Pirates. A team that will spend little and have few reasons to expect a winning future anytime soon.

This is just flat out ridiculous.

First off, even with the lack of big spending this offseason, the Mets will STILL be in the top part of payroll in the Major Leagues. The Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Cubs will have higher payrolls. That is pretty much it.

Second, the Mets may not have been SMART with money in the past, but they have not been cheap. They have often been in the mix for high profile players.

With the news that the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols have not reached an agreement on a contact extention by this past Wednesday's deadline, many people are spectulating exactly what will happen to the best player in baseball.

I, myself, still think there is a better than decent chance he will return to the Cardinals. In my opinion, the second most likely place for him is actually the Chicago Cubs.

But I've heard time and time again how the Red Sox and Yankees, along with the Angels and Rangers are all possible landing spots. This despite both the Sox and Yankees having younger, big time, long term signed 1st basemen already (yes, I think the Adrian Gonzales signing is a for-gone conclusion). The same "experts" mention the Mets and in every case dismiss any possibility that the Mets would pursue, much less be able to sign Pojols. They use the Mets inability to spend, lack of history of spending, or lack of resources as the reasons.

I say bull$*!#.

Give me a break here. Without even much research I could come up with the bare bones of a scenerio where the Mets could look to sign Pujols and still be able to field a very competitive club for years to come.

Ok, follow me here. My number projections could likely be somewhat a little low, but in all honesty are more than in the ballpark.

The Mets have $60 million coming off the books after this season. That much is known and not under debate.

However, part of this goes away when you factor in the fact that Francisco Rodriguez can trigger a fourth year in his existing 3-year deal at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games in 2011. I have no idea if that will happen or not. Somehow I get the idea that Sandy Alerson doesn't want to lay a closers $17.5 million. I do not know if that option remains if the Mets trade him in 2011. Last year was the first time since becoming a closer that K-Rod didn't finish 55 games. If he hadn't gotten into the altercation with his father-in-law he would have likely finished 55 games though. He pitched in 46 before messing up his thumb on August 14th.

So, ok... K-Rod could still be on the team and making $17.5 million. I will keep that in mind and paint the scenario as if he will be a Met in 2012.

The other notable free agents in 2012 for the Mets are Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez. There are other names coming off too, but I'll stick with the bigger ones for now.

Reyes is going to make $11 million in 2011. Let's say you resign Reyes and he gets a 6 year, $88 million dollar contract with a fairly easily obtainable (if healthy in years 5 and 6) 7th year option that would round out the whole contract at about $103 million. That is an average of roughly $14.7 million a year. Say it's $13.5 million in 2010 then the rest of the contract averages $14.9 a year. Would that be enough? Factoring in his health issues I think that is somewhere in the realm.

By letting Beltran ($18 million), Castillo ($6 million) and Perez ($12 million) go, you automatically have a $36 million set to play with for 2012. Yeah I know you're not looking to spend that all on one player and the Mets are supposedly looking to keep the payroll slightly on the south side of $140 million in 2012. No worry... you still can.

But wait! It's not REALLY $36 million free. Why? Reyes has a $2.5 million dollar raise in 2012. K-Rod gets a $3.5 raise (assuming he is still on the team). That is $31 million from your $60 million coming off the books. That leaves you actualy with $29 million left of that $60 coming off the books.

Still, no problem here.

Ok, we're going to look at this keeping not just 2012 in mind, but also 2013, 2014 and 2015 (if not 2016).

The Mets could offer Pujols a nine year, $247.5 million (averaging at $27.5 million a year).

The Reyes/Pujols/K-Rod contracts in 2012 would combine for $58.5 million. Then they could spin the very talented Ike Davis in a trade with another young pitching prospect (or more likley highly regarded Shortstop prospect Wilmer Flores since you now have another 6 years of Reyes at short anyway) for a front end of the rotation arm.

For 2012 (and going forward) you would look to have rookie Reese Havens as your 2nd baseman, Josh Thole as your catcher, Jon Neise and Dillion Gee in the rotation, Angel Pagan as your centerfielder and Lucas Duca, Fernando Martinez or Cory Vaughn in rightfield. Pagan, Thole, Neise and Gee all will have a few years of Major league experiance meaning your are really only looking at two rookies in the lineup. None of these players will make a lot of money (except possibly Pagan) for at least the first four to five years of Pujols' contract. Gee could actually find himself in the bullpen if Chris Young really works out or if Jenrry Mejia is able to crack the starting rotation.

Yes having two rookies in an everyday line up is a little scary, but look at the lineup:

Duca, Martinez or Vaughn

You also have a possible Daniel Murphy in that mix with Havens at second.

Add in a healthy Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Niese Gee/Mejia/Young and whom ever you can spin Davis/Flores for (say a Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley type) and you have a pretty good team.

That team would be right about at the $140 million mark. Most likely a somewhat over depending on raises for other players and who leaves and who else comes on. It's viable though... add in the crackshot management team of Alderson, Riccardi and Co. and it's not something you can just dismiss as impossible.

Also if the Mets keep K-Rod's option from vesting or they manage to trade him, then there is more money on the table (with someone like Bobby Parnell as a possible replacement as closer).

And do you think for a second ticket sales wouldn't go through the roof? They would. Even if the Mets raise ticket prices as a result (which they liikely would).

Citifield would become a rockin place with buzz they haven't had since the Mets traded for Mike Piazza back in 1998.

Is it likely? I didn't say that. Are my numbers off? Most likely, but I would wager they aren't TOO far off.

But could it happen?

Yeah, it could. Never say never.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Would Sabathia opt out?

So yesterday, C. C. Sabathia was asked about the possibility of exercising the opt out clause in his contract after this season and in response he said "I have no idea. Anything's possible."

Not quite the soundbite that the Yanks and their fans were looking to hear.

So what does that mean? Is it possible that Sabathia would opt out? You wouldn;t have thought so a year ago. The Yankees had just come off a World Series championship and things looked quite rosy for the team. Not that a LOT has changed... the Yanks did lose out in the AL Championship Series to the texas Rangers last year and there are questions about the starting rotation that have some people thinking the Bronx Bombers are in some trouble thie year... but it's not like the team outlook is bleak.

There are nagging thoughts though... Sabathia never seemed to really want to come to the Bronx. Even with no other offers even close to the hugh seven year deal the Yanks have put on the table, Sabathia held out for so long that eventually the opt out clause was put in. For whatever reason, Sabathia was hesident to come to the Yankees and even with the huge championship ride in 2009 it seems that he's not 100% enamored with his presence there.

Sabathia has five years remaining on the $161 Million Dollar contract he signed before the 2009 season. If he opts out he will be 31 years of age and leaving about $90 Million on the table. Looking at Cliff Lee's 5-year $120 million dolar contract (Lee was 32 when he signed that) it's not out of the question that with another strong year similar to last years 19-8, 3.37 ERA season could get Sabathia a five or six year deal worh as much as $150 million.

After the World Series Championship in 2009, the left-hander repeatedly said that he likes New York and enjoys playing for the Yankees and would not try to become a free agent via opt out. While he hasn't reversed that, the changing of his tune might mean the Yanks will have to consider going against company policy and discuss a contract extention.

While I doubt Sabathia will opt out, it's not a crazy question. If Sabathia has a great year but the Yankees do not, and it looks like he could get a nice payoff with an opt out, it's certainly within the realm of possibility that he'd look to take a leap out... especially if he really didn't want to be in pinstrips in the first place.

Listen, no one really imagined A-Rod out opt out either... but he did and turned his insane contract into an even MORE insane one. Who's to think Sabathia wouldn't do the same?

Look at the Phillies rotation. Now look how well Sabathia has thrived in New York and in the AL East. Do you think an NL team like the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals or maybe even the Mets wouldn't consider an offer of six years, $150 million to try and counteract that? Al teams like the Angels, White Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, And Rangers might all be willing to go to those lengths as well. There would be a lot of interest in Sabathia should be opt out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Does New York have the worst owners in sports?

Yeah it's a hell of a question isn't it?

Ok, right away I would have to excuse the Jets' Woody Johnson and the Giants' John Mara and Steve Tisch from this conversation. Both teams have been run pretty well and none of those guys really have anything to be embarresed about for quite a while.

So let's look at the rest and leave the NFL owners out of this.

I don't think any of you need me to rehash this. The Mets' ownership has been a near laughing stock more often than not the last few years. From the weird constant shifting change of directions for the team in 2007-2009, the horrible handling of the Willie Randolph firing, the bizarre public relations snafu's, the entire Tony Bernazard debacle, the obvious loss of power of Omar Minaya, the way-too-much hands on work of Jeff Wilpon on team baseball strategy and running, the ponzi schemes, the bad press, the lack of respect the team gets despite being such a big market team... it's just an endless stream of embarrassment for this franchise. The latest lawsuit and the real possibility that the Wilpons and Katz may actually be forced to sell the team is just the latest in a list of things that no fan of the club wants to hear. If the team was winning at least you'd be able to take things in stride, but the last four seasons have been beyond rough.

What would you call an owner that spends a crapload of money, yet NEVER seems to have teams with winning seasons, all the while making bizarre decisions that no one can figure out? Yep, you call him James Dolan. The Knicks were not only run into the ground by long time Dolan favorite Isiah Thomas, they were crashed into a mountian, lit on fire, and blown up. For years, as Thomas made the Knicks into just about the most laughable franchise in ALL of sports, Dolan refused to even consider making a change. Once Thomas finally resigned (which really was more because of the sexual harrassment lawsuit against him than anything) it was a mere 15 months before it she was being eased back into a role with the team as a consultant. Dolan seems to want Thomas back as the team GM which is got to be the stupidest move in the history of the NBA. The Rangers have been uneven contenders over the last number of years and have not gotten past the 2nd round of the playoffs in over six years. They constantly have one of the higher payrolls in the NHL yet seem to constantly be just tossing players into roles and hoping they will be a fit. While the Rangers have been much more successful than the Knicks, it's Dolan's inability to steer clear of making bad decision after bad decision (or making NO decisions when it comes to Isiah Thomas' long term as GM and Coach) that seem to unite the two.

I don't even know how to begin with how bad Wang has been for the Islanders franchise. First there was the neverending reign of Mike Milbury (shades of the Dolan/Thomas debacle) which really just ripped the organization into a mess. After Milbury finally stepped down, Neil Smith was hired as a GM, but lasted only a month before being replaced with backup goalie Garth Snow. Of course there was the impossible to understand 15-year, 67.5 million dollar contract that Wang signed constantly injured goaltender Rick DiPietro to. Then there was the weird cost cutting that took what looked to be a promising team with an excellent coach in Ted Nolan and ended with Nolan being fired for "philosophy differences" and the team being reduced to bscially a minor league club in a major league division. The Islanders have made the playoffs once in the last seven years.

It's hard to call the Yankees ownership bad, since the team is often so sucessful, but it's almost not really fair to leave them out of this espcially when you consider how controversial George was as an owner for years. Factor in things like the bizarre on/off relationship with Billy Martin, The Richard Nixon re-election scandal, the Mr. May comments about (eventual hall of famer) Dave Winfield, the firing of manager Yogi Berra only 16 games into the season in 1985, The attempt to dig up dirt on Winfield with known gambler Howie Spira which led to Steinbrenner's being banned from baseball for life (a ban that was dropped only three years later), the constant meddling in day to day baseball operations... George was quite the backpage maven. His sons have been much more restained, but still have managed some weird snafu's of their own including the weird handling of Joe Torre at the end of his tenure as Yankee manager, the bizarre 10-yr $275 million contract to Alex Rodriguez after A-Rod opted out knowing no one else was coming close to anything remotely close to that sort of offer, the very public and rough handling of Derek Jeter's contract situation this off-season, and Hank Steinbrenner's often very quotable presence in the media. Of course Hal is pretty quiet and was only in the news recentually because of the big mouth of Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg. Unlike the four teams listed above however, the Yankees are quite sucessful year in and out and have enough sucess that taking all of the bizarre and craziness is easy.

Looking at the recent lack of success of a lot of these teams and the totally bizarre on-the-field happenings with them all, it's not hard to wonder why New York sports is often tossed about as being over the top. With owner's like this, maybe a LOT of the NEw York sports franchises could use some new blood.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Would Michael Young make sense for the Mets?

The Texas Rangers are looking to trade long time infielder (and bascially long time face of the franchise) Michael Young after signing Adrian Beltre during the offseason.

Young has played shortstop, second base and third base for the Rnagers in his ten years with the club. He's been basically a selfless guy, moving his position more than once despite being a six-time all-star. He hit .284, with 21 hrs and 91 rbi last year. He would go a LONG way towards solving the Mets 2nd base issues.

Of course there is the simple fact that the Mets are not on Young's list of teams he can be traded to, but that doesn't mean it's not possible (or that it is or is not a good idea).

Young is due to make another $48 million over the next three years which is a lot of money. However what if the Mets tried the following?

Offer to send Ollie Perez (and his $12 million contract) to the Rangers, along with a younger mid-level player. They then ask the Rangers to pick up $11 million of Young's contact.

The Rangers save $25 million. They get a lefty pitcher in Perez who might just need to get the heck out of New York and how actually has a history of pitching very well against the Yankees. They get a mid-level prospect for it also.

The Mets in the end really only wind up spending $25 million for three years of Young. That is about $8.15 million a year. They get a veteran in the clubhouse who is respected and suddenly have one of the best hitting 2nd basemen in the league.

The line up would look like this:

And DAMN if that isn't an exciting thought.

Yeah it's unlikely on both ends and I make it sound MUCH more simple than it could really ever be.... but the idea has some merit. Doesn't it?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This just keeps getting better and better...

So now it's out that Sterling, Inc was involved in ANOTHER ponzi scheme a number of years back and wound up paying someone off in a settlement on profits they made on that one.

So, it becomes harder for Fred WIlpon and Saul Katz to look totally in good faith that they didn't have the slighest inkling about Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. If NOTHING else, they should have seen SOME similarities in the returns I would suspect. I mean, I know nothing about this sort of thing... but having been burned once, don't you think they would have at least been a little wary of ANY investment's that seemed a little too godd to be true?

Again, I know that Madoff and Wilpon were like BIG time, long time friends and that the friendship likely brought along a large amount of "benefit of the doubt" with it, but c'mon...

Remember what I said about being a Mets' fan and waiting each day for that kick in the groin? Sheesh.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Ok, this is just getting to be very tedious.

If you are reading this I'm sure you know all about the craziness with the Wilpon/Katz/Ponzi/Lawsuit debacle. I don't need to rehash it.

A few thoughts on the subject:

1 - I just find it hard to believe that Wilpon and Katz knew that this was a scam. They got WAY too many people involved in it who lost a boatload of money. Odds are there WERE some red flags that should have tipped them off that SOMETHING was amiss, but seeing how close Madoff and Wilpon were, it's not hard to think at all that Madoff was just given the benefit of the doubt. I mean, the Government watchdogs didn't know anything was wrong for the longest time... so making it out like the Wilpons did is a tad unfair.

2 - At what point do the Wilpons stop looking like a pair of clown shoes? It seems there has been almost nothing but bad press after bad press for years now. I think the only real positive thing was the hiring of Sandy Alderson and his brain trust. Fred, Saul and Jeff REALLY need to stay out of the news.

3 - Will anyone REALLY want to pay $250 million or so to be a part owner in franchise with potential for further financial issues and not even have any real say in day to day operations or how the team is run? I don't know... but it seems very few people in the media seem to theink the Mets can sell a minority share without at least adding in some of SNY.

4 - While the Mets themselves technically haven't been affected here, the Wilpons and Katz have, which means they will likely look to not spend the same amount of cash on the team they would if these losses and lawsuits didn't exist. To pretend the Mets won't likely be affected is foolish and native.

This whole things stinks. Some days being a Mets' fan is like walking through your day, each day, knowing that at some point, someone is going to kick you in the groin.