Posted in Baseball, New York Mets, Trenton Thunder

Talking about two ex-Mets who fell short in the Hall of Fame vote

The Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman this summer.

Jones is the best third baseman I’ve ever watched play (I hope he thanks the New York Mets for helping him get elected 😜) Thome was one of the most productive hitters of his era. Guerrero could do unbelievable things with pitches that were nowhere near the strikezone. Hoffman pitched effectively as a closer for a really long time. All four men are deserving of the honor, though some are more worthy than others.

Former Mets closer Billy Wagner will not be headed to Cooperstown anytime soon, though — he received just 47 votes, 290 fewer than Hoffman.

And that is interesting.

  • Player A finished a 16-year career with a 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 11.9 K/9 innings, 6.0 H/9 innings and 3.99 SO/W.
  • Player B finished an 18-year career with a 2.87 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 9.4 K/9 innings, 7.0 H/9 innings and 3.69 SO/W.

Player A was a six-time All-Star, received MVP votes twice and Cy Young Award votes twice.  Player B was a seven-time All-Star, received MVP votes four times and Cy Young Award votes four times (once finishing as high as second.)

Based on those career numbers, you’d figure both players would garner a similar amount of support for Cooperstown, with Player B maybe having a slight edge based on previous awards voting.

Player A is Wagner, Player B is Hoffman and it seems like a lot of voters must have been swayed by one mostly useless stat that I left out: saves. Hoffman has 601, while Wagner only has 422.

Bright side, Wagner got enough votes to stay on the ballot and maybe voters will take another look at him next year.

Johan Santana was not as fortunate, receiving just 10 votes. He fell short of the five percent minimum to remain on the ballot, so his fate will be left to the Veterans’ Committee.

Does Santana belong in the Hall? That’s a question that’s worthy of discussion. But for a five-year period, he was the best pitcher in baseball. Between 2004 and 2008, Santana won two Cy Young Awards, finished third twice and finished fifth once. During the two Cy Young campaigns, Santana also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. That sure seems like too good a career to be off the ballot after one year….

Odds and ends…

  • The Mets have reached an agreement with Jose Reyes on a one year contract to bring him back as a utility infielder. Leaving aside off-field issues of character, this is not a bad move… provided Reyes doesn’t get handed the starting second base job through front office inertia.
  • The Trenton Thunder will play as the Trenton Pork Roll on Fridays this year, which seems like a fun marketing idea until you go look at the uniforms they will be wearing. No. Just no. So very much no.

I remember 1992 and 1993 too well to believe that a big payroll guarantees a winning season, but Fred, Jeff and Saul need to understand that money is going to be a sore spot for fans until the Mets are winning.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Are the Mets making the right call to pass on Maddon?

Joe Maddon
Joe Maddon (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Joe Maddon surprised a lot of people yesterday by exercising his option to get out of the last year of his contract to manage the Tampa Bay Rays. By doing so, he instantly became baseball’s most talked-about free agent.

Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon immediately shot down the idea that his team would be pursuing Maddon.

New York Post sports columnist Mike Vaccaro to echo the thoughts of many Mets fans when he wrote:

As of right now, immediately, it really doesn’t matter what promises Sandy Alderson made to Terry Collins. Because as of right now, immediately, Alderson has it within his grasp to make a move that would be the first legitimate game-changer on his watch as general manager of the Mets.

Continue reading “Are the Mets making the right call to pass on Maddon?”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

An ugly situation in Queens

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I’d rather be talking about the remaining pennant races, making playoff predictions or showing off some cool baseball cards.

I’d probably even have more fun trying to guess Sandy Alderson‘s plans for improving the Mets this winter.

But I keep coming back to a story that broke last week.

At SI.com, columnist Emma Span rightly criticizes outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for turning a blind eye towards a troubling situation in Queens.

I’m not talking about the Mets’ payroll – as a fan, I wish they’d do more to acquire the talent they need to become a pennant contender, but I don’t pretend to understand enough about high finance to know whether the team is in violation of baseball’s “internal economic rules.”

Former Mets executive Leigh Castergine‘s lawsuit against the team and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon alleges that she was discriminated against and ultimately fired for being a single mother.

The Mets issued a statement saying that the claims in the suit are without merit.

I believe in due process, and that’s really the only reason I can continue to be a Mets fan while Jeff Wilpon maintains an important leadership role with the team.

Continue reading “An ugly situation in Queens”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Thoughts on today’s Winter Meetings developments

Curtis Granderson signed 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball card from my collection
Curtis Granderson signed 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball card from my collection

The Mets officially introduced Curtis Granderson to the media today, and the new Mets’ cleanup hitter did his best to land on tomorrow’s back pages.

“A lot of the people I’ve met in New York have always said that, ‘True New Yorkers are Mets fans,'” Granderson said. “So I’m excited to get a chance to see them all out there.”

I don’t know anything about “True New Yorkers,” but I do know that the Citi Field crowds are going to be sparse most days unless the team can get fans excited again.

And Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon told reporters today that the magic isn’t back just yet.

“I think we’re still building,” he said. “I mean, we’d like to win next season, of course. But I can’t tell you what other moves Sandy is going to be able to make between now and opening day. We’ve got a long way to go. This is the second day of the winter meetings.”

I can think of one easy move the Mets could make, assuming Wilpon family finances aren’t an issue – sign Stephen Drew and stop pretending that anybody other than Ruben Tejada really wants him to be the team’s shortstop next year.

But of course it’s not a financial issue, according to Wilpon.

“Right now it’s a baseball decision,” Wilpon said, ” because Sandy hasn’t come to say, ‘Gee, we have to go sign Stephen Drew,’ or anybody else for that matter. …

“I haven’t heard him say that that’s the best thing to do with our resources,” Wilpon added. “He hasn’t come to me and said, ‘Gee, if we had X, we would go take somebody like that.’ So there’s still discussion on who we’re looking at in a trade scenario and what else might be out there.”

And you know what? Maybe Alderson is pursuing a better option on the trade market and all this talk about Tejada is intended to help his bargaining position.

Or maybe the Wilpons have created an environment where Alderson knows not to even bother asking for more money to run the baseball team, just like Bob Cratchit learned not to ask Ebeneezer Scrooge for more coal, no matter how cold it got.

Justin Turner poses for a photo with me during a Mets Social Media Day event in 2012.
Justin Turner poses for a photo with me during a Mets Social Media Day event in 2012.

But hey, not every baseball decision comes down to money. Alderson said as much to Jorge Castillo when the Star-Ledger reporter asked the GM about the hatchet job rumors spread by an “unnamed source”  that Justin Turner was let go because of a lack of hustle.

Maybe I missed something – I certainly wasn’t focused on the Mets during the second half of the season (for reasons not really related to their performance) – but I did not see anything that made me question Turner’s work ethic. And I’m more than a little bit tired an “unnamed Mets official” being a source for these types of stories.

One bright spot: Jeremy Hefner, another Met who was non-tendered, will likely return to the organization on a minor league deal while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery next year.

And I just found this amusing: Jason Bay reportedly has an offer to play for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants next season. I hope they’re not expecting a big-time slugger.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tone deaf Jeff strikes again

Mr. Met can't bear to watchLeave it to Jeff Wilpon to mess up an announcement of “Free-Shirt Fridays.”

At lunchtime, the Mets chief operating officer spoke to reporters covering baseball’s general managers meetings this week.

After commenting that free agent asking prices are “a little scary,” Wilpon told members of the media that the team was working on something and there could be an announcement later this afternoon.

When I saw the story at lunch time, I figured it would be something minor… maybe the Mets were ready to announce that LaTroy Hawkins had re-signed.

Turns out, that was even dreaming too big.

As the afternoon went on, reporters spoke to GM Sandy Alderson:

Sure enough, just before 3 p.m., the team sent out an email outlining 2014 promotions, including “Free-Shirt Fridays,” Saturday post-game concerts by Huey Lewis and the News (July 12) and Boyz II Men (August 16), fireworks dates (July 4, August 2 and September 13), and “Family Sundays” with kids themed giveaways and a postgame “Mr. Met Dash.”

Honestly, the promotions sound like fun and maybe they’ll entice a few more people to buy ticket plans.

But I’m not interested in talking about Mets promotion dates yet – I want to know that the 2014 team will be better (or at least look different) than the one I saw on September 29, 2013.

Jeff Wilpon should be smart enough not to bait-and-switch reporters, and by extension, fans… even though at least one reporter took the blame for misunderstanding his comments.

Posted in Uncategorized

Looking ahead to next year, even though it might not be a pretty sight

Ike Davis flails at a pitch on Saturday (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
This could be a familiar sight in 2014 again: Ike Davis flailing away. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The 2013 Major League Baseball season is finally over, and the Boston Red Sox have won their third World Series trophy in the last nine years. I’m happy for my friend Bart, who has been a Red Sox fan all his life, but mostly I’m ready to start looking ahead to next year.

Although considering Jeff Wilpon‘s comments this week, I’m not quite sure why.

In the Newark Star-Ledger, Jorge Castillo writes:

We’re in “a little bit of transition because we have definitely deficiencies that we have to fill this offseason and the ability to do it,” Wilpon said, describing the state of the franchise.

Yet in Newsday, Marc Carig reports that the Mets will likely again use some combination of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wlimer Flores and Josh Satin at first base, one of the team’s “black holes” in 2013.

Wilpon first identified four players he considered “locks” for the 2014 roster; David Wright, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, and Dillon Gee. He later added Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares to that group.

So, with the exception of Bobby Parnell, pretty much every decent, potentially healthy player on the current roster would appear to be untradable. It’s going to be hard to bring back good players if the only “trading chips” are really spare parts for a Triple-A team.

Considering the question marks surrounding the Mets’ financial situation and Sandy Alderson‘s apparent unwillingness to pay market prices for free agents, I’m not looking there for any significant changes, either.

Binghamton Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard faces the Harrisburg Senators earlier this season (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Will Noah Syndergaard get a chance to pitch in New York in 2014? (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Will Alderson finally start moving prospects along faster? It seems like Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard should get a legitimate chance to win spots in the starting rotation next year if Wheeler, Niese and Gee are the only veterans in the picture. Some might argue against “rushing” players, but is it really rushing them to give them a chance to see if they can help the big league team?

Michael Wacha was the NLCS MVP for the Cardinals and started games in the World Series in his second year as a pro. He was drafted seven picks after the Mets chose Gavin Cecchini, who spent the year playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

I have the feeling that despite Wilpon’s words, we’re going to be looking at essentially the same team to start 2014 that we saw on the last day of 2013. I hope I’m wrong, and I really hope that if I’m right, they find some way to overachieve. A lot.

On the bright side, Matt Harvey‘s rehab is progressing and LaTroy Hawkins is an action hero. Who knew?

Posted in Uncategorized

Reason #31 why I’m falling out of love with the New York Mets

Sandy Alderson and Johan Santana apparently didn’t give David Lennon of Newsday enough material to work with this weekend.

Mike Piazza's 2005 Donruss Diamond King baseball card from my collection
Mike Piazza’s 2005 Donruss Diamond King baseball card from my collection

Sunday night, Lennon speculated about Mike Piazza‘s chances of being honored in the Mets Hall of Fame and having his number retired.

Though Piazza’s hitting resume made him a no-brainer for Cooperstown, the cloud of PED suspicion apparently was enough to deter a large segment of BBWAA voters.

As for the Mets, the jury is still out. The committee for the franchise’s own Hall of Fame has yet to meet on any of this year’s candidates, including Piazza, but the Mets weren’t thrilled by some of the catcher’s comments about the club in “Long Shot.”

I’m not the biggest Mike Piazza fan, but it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t one of the best position players in Mets history. Of course, it’s all too easy to believe that won’t matter to Jeff Wilpon when he finally remembers to hold another meeting of the Mets’ Hall of Fame committee.

Bad enough that the Wilpon family hasn’t been willing or able to spend the money to field the best possible team for the past few years. Now it seems all too likely that they’ll let petty grudges spoil what passes for the team’s recent glory days.

Of course, it’s also likely that Lennon is just trying to manufacture a controversy to boost his page views.

Either way, I’m not feeling any warm & fuzzy thoughts about the New York Mets or any kind of Hall of Fame.