Tag:New York Mets
Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:51 pm
 

Dysfunctional Mets need changes at top: Very top

What we're about to find out as the New York Mets regroup, revamp and retool (and re- anything else that sorry franchise can think of) in the wake of firing general manager Omar Minaya and field manager Jerry Manuel is this:

Whose philosophy will emerge?

That of owner Fred Wilpon, the old man owner who might finally be humiliated enough to take charge of his own franchise?

Or that of Jeff Wilpon, Fred's son, who as the chief operating officer makes a very good bull in a china shop, bullying his way through the front office while essentially acting as the de facto GM?

Fred, according to sources, is said to favor an older, more established general manager such as Sandy Alderson or John Hart.

Jeff, according to sources, has favored the promotion of assistant GM John Ricco in what most view as a completely transparent attempt to put a puppet in charge who would continue to allow Jeff to pull the strings.

"Jeff Wilpon has been the GM this year," one source within the Mets' organization told CBSSports.com. "He has made Minaya's life hell.

"Omar was better off when he was in Montreal and Washington. Since Fred backed off and Jeff stepped up, it's similar to Baltimore. It's like the [Peter] Angelos kids. The Mets are going to end up like Baltimore if they don't watch it. What GM is going to want to go there unless Jeff backs off? It's amazing."

A veteran GM with West Coast ties who was hired to run the Diamondbacks last month, Kevin Towers, according to sources, received a back-channel overture from the Mets earlier this summer as the wheels were coming off but wanted no part of a dysfunctional situation in which, currently, Jeff Wilpon runs unchecked.

"We are extremely disappointed in this year's results and the failures of the past four seasons," Jeff Wilpon said in a statement Monday announcing the firings of Minaya and Manuel. "We need to hire a new general manager with a fresh perspective who will transform this club into a winner that we want and our fans deserve."

Not that Minaya didn't make his share of mistakes, because he did.

But what the Mets need most is a chief operating officer who will back off and actually let the baseball men
run the baseball operations unchecked, without constant interference.

Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 8:57 pm
 

DiPoto, Gibson making names for selves in Arizona

The reconstruction of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a long way to go, but the club this month has begun to settle in enough that it's worth asking:

Have the D-backs shown enough under interim general manager Jerry DiPoto and interim field manager Kirk Gibson that those "interim" tags will be removed?

Quick answer: Probably still too early, but let's just say the jobs that both men are doing is not going unnoticed by key head honchos.

"They've done a tremendous job," Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall says. "They both have. I think Kirk Gibson has really changed the makeup and the environment around the team. They've really responded to him.

"I'm pulling publicly for both of these guys."

One thing Hall has certainly noticed: Entering the club's series opener in Washington on Friday night, the Diamondbacks had either won or tied their past four consecutive series. They won three of four games in Milwaukee this week, took two of three from first-place San Diego, split a four-game set with the Nationals and won two of three against the Mets dating back to July 30.

Since the trading deadline, right-hander Daniel Hudson, acquired from the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, is 2-0 and has allowed just three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. Hudson was one of six pitchers obtained in trades by DiPoto -- including three from the Angels for Dan Haren -- since July 25.

"There will be some candidates we'll talk to, with Jerry obviously being at the top of the list," Hall says. "After that, we'll look at managers."

Understandably, Hall wants a permanent general manager in place before the field manager so the GM can choose someone he's comfortable with.

As for Hall?

"If at the end of the day I end up with Jerry DiPoto as general manager and Kirk Gibson as manager, I'd be happy," he says based on how things are going now. "I'm thrilled with the work I've seen so far from both of them."

Likes: Wow, Jose Guillen and Pat Burrell now swinging it for the Giants. With them and the outspoken Aubrey Huff, the San Francisco clubhouse will not be dull. ... This weekend's Giants-Padres series will be great fun. The Padres won the first seven games against Bruce Bochy's club this year, but this is a different Giants' team now. ... Fine, fine acting performance by Derek Jeter in The Other Guys. He's got one line and he delivers it with the gravitas of ... well, OK. So I exaggerate. But the movie's funny, the plot entertaining, Will Ferrell is back on his 'A' game and in the aftermath of the Jeter shooting, the cops even get a line in ripping A-Rod. Good stuff. ... Tyler Kepner's excellent piece in the New York Times on Ryne Sandberg managing at Triple-A Iowa while hoping for a chance to do it with the Cubs. ... How entertaining was it when the Kings of Leon had to abort their concert in St. Louis a few weeks back because pigeons kept crapping on them? ... Puget Sound and Ferndale, Wash. ... A weekend at home with baseball on XM radio and on television with the MLB Extra Innings package.

Dislikes: When Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez unleashes his inner punk, it is not a pretty picture.


Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It was 1989 my thoughts were short my hair was long
"Caught somewhere between a boy and man
"She was 17 and she was far from in-between
"It was summer-time in Northern Michigan
"Splashing through the sand-bar, talking by the camp fire
"It's the simple things in life like when and where
"We didn't have no internet but man I never will forget
"The way the moon light shined upon her hair"

-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long

Posted on: July 30, 2010 4:42 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2010 9:07 pm
 

Pirates fielding inquiries on Paul Maholm

One day after adding veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, the first-place Padres are on a mission to add a starting pitcher and they're talking with the Pirates about acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm, a source with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com.

A handful of other clubs in search of pitching, including the Dodgers and Mets, are believed to be engaging the Pirates in talks as well. No deal appears close -- early Thursday evening, one source with knowledge of the talks described the Pirates-Padres conversations as "mild", while a second source described them as "less than mild."

The Padres lead the majors in pitching and are casting a wide net for another starter because they are concerned about running short during the stretch run. Youngsters Mat Latos and Wade LeBlanc each will be closing in on his career-high in professional innings pitched by September, and the Padres are watching that closely.

In a threadbare starting pitching market, Maholm is 6-9 with a 4.52 ERA in 21 starts for the Pirates this season, with 62 strikeouts and 45 walks in 125 1/3 innings.

One attractive facet of acquiring Maholm: He's signed through 2011, with a club option for 2012. He's due the pro-rated portion of his $4.5 million salary the rest of this summer and $5.75 million in 2011. The club option for 2012 is $9.75 million, or a $750,000 buyout.

As for the Pirates, one source with knowledge of their thinking says they are "not necessarily trading players to get young prospect back." In other words, the source said, their mission isn't to simply dump salary for three or four prospects. The Bucs are said to be looking for a major-league ready player in return -- either a player currently in the majors, or a high-level prospect. 

Posted on: June 10, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Playing cat-and-mouse with Reyes and Hundley

The Mets were busy finishing up with San Diego for 2010 during Thursday's day-night doubleheader, which means as Jose Reyes takes his speed game toward the next destination, the cat-and-mouse between him and Padres catcher Nick Hundley will go on hiatus until 2011.

The games-within-the-games are always fascinating, and I bring up Hundley here for one simple reason:

For his career, Reyes was a perfect 22 for 22 in stolen bases until Hundley threw him out at second base in the fifth inning of a game in San Diego on June 1.

"Oh, I didn't know that!" the charismatic Reyes said enthusiastically when I informed him that he had been perfect against the Padres to that point.

Then, he grinned and added: "I think I was safe. I don't even know that he tagged me in time."

What makes Reyes especially dangerous on the bases, Hundley said, is that he's so sneaky.

"He's really quiet," Hundley says. "To me, it looks like he's the same on every pitch.

"That trait is good to have if you're a base stealer. When you're cat-like, you don't give anything away."

Most base-stealers, Hundley said, give something away with their body language. A lean-toward-second here. A hand-movement there.

Reyes doesn't.

"There are some great base-stealers," Hundley said. "[Houston's] Michael Bourn, Reyes. But Reyes, for me, is a little different. He takes a walking lead. There's a little more rhythm. Bourn flat-out burns. Reyes is casual. He'll lull you to sleep."

Reyes said it's something he's worked on for years, and when the Mets brought Rickey Henderson in as a coach a few years ago, that learning process accelerated.

"I try to pick my spots, and I don't want to be too anxious," Reyes said. "If I'm anxious, they'll say, 'He's going to go at one point.' I try to be quiet. I learned that.

"When I was younger, I used to be crazy, like I wanted to go on every pitch."

Reyes led the NL in steals from 2005-2007, but since serious hamstring troubles have plagued him over the past couple of seasons, being quiet and cat-like on the bases is more important than ever to his success rate. And, by definition, to that of the Mets: They're 19-6 when he scores this season, and 267-110 (.708) in games since 2005 when he scores.

"He's smooth, he doesn't force it and he runs in good spots," Hundley said.

And he gives no clues that he may just take off for second or third in the next second.

"If you find a tip," Hundley said, "let me know."

Likes: OK, you healthy people in the crowd, here's PETA's ranking this year of baseball's most vegetarian-friendly ballparks (and it's entertaining that the city best known for Philly cheesesteaks ranks first): 1. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. 2. AT&T Park, San Francisco. 3. Minute Maid Park, Houston. 4. Comerica Park, Detroit. 5. Coors Field, Colorado. ... TBS switching from Phillies-Boston to Nationals-Indians for their Sunday afternoon game of the weeke this weekend. They must really think a lot of rookie Nats reliever Drew Storen. Ah, wait, that's Stephen Strasburg's day to pitch. ... Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese is a friendly and earnest kid -- and plenty talented. ... Last day of school. ... First day of summer vacation. ... A former Miss America playing Mrs. George Custer for Monroe's celebration of the 100th anniversary of it's lovely Gen. George Armstrong Custer statue.

Dislikes: Just how wacked out are Frank and Jamie McCourt? Answer: Very, very, extremely wacked out.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
"Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
"The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
"Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
"Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
"With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
"Let me forget about today until tomorrow
"Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
"I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
"Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
"In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you"

-- Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

 

Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:29 am
 

Even the schedule working against Orioles

Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.

That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.

The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).

That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.

Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.

The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.

At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.

A couple of other early scheduling observations:

-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.

-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.

-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.

-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).

Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.

Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready

Posted on: April 5, 2010 1:30 pm
 

Significant home runs miles apart

St. Louis MVP Albert Pujols and Mets third baseman David Wright each said hello to 2010 with a first at-bat home run, each dramatic for its own reason.

It took Pujols, who battled a bad back for part of the spring, about 10 minutes to become the clubhouse leader for another NL MVP award. (OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea).

As for Wright, his power diminished noticeably last year -- from 33 homers in 2008 to 10 last year.

Worse for Wright and the Mets, of those 10 homers in '09, only five came at Citi Field.

You can't judge a season on one at-bat, but for Wright to smash an opposite-field homer in Citi Field to greet 2010 ... if he can regain his power game, you can't underestimate how important that will be for both Wright and the Mets.

Posted on: February 22, 2010 2:21 pm
 

Rehabbing with Jose Reyes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Working with Mets doctors and rehabilitation specialists, shortstop Jose Reyes spent the winter in New York making sure his hamstring healed properly.

"I only went [home] to the Dominican Republic for two weeks, at Christmas," Reyes said during a discussion the other day. "It was hard. My family is very important, but this is very important for me. I depend on it for my game."

The rehab culiminated last week, when Reyes arrived in Port St. Lucie on Monday and began running outside on real grass for the first time since tearing his hamstring last summer.

"It's been better than I expected," he said. "It's been very good. Nothing to worry about."

It was something to worry about a few months ago, mainly in the immediate aftermath of the surgery.

"The first two weeks after the surgery there was a little concern because my leg felt weak," Reyes said. "I said I want to work hard and I know I'm going to be fine, and I've been doing that the past three months. And now I'm ready to go.

"I'm real glad with the work I did with the guys in New York."

He started running four or five weeks ago, he said, and it felt good when he did because he was a little scared of what might happen.

"You have to get that explosion in your first few steps," he said. "For the first month or two, that's always in your mind when you're running."

Reyes says he believes his problem last summer was that he tried to come back too soon, feeling a responsibility to return "because we have so many injuries."

As the summer wore on, he said he became so depressed at his mounting count of games missed that he reached a point where he couldn't even watch the Mets on television.

Now, he's back running on the Technicolor grass, moving fluidly to his right and ranging left into the hole to field grounders and, in a related development, smiling big.

There's no more concern when he runs, he says. The only difference is in his preparation.

At the direction of the medical staff, he warms up hard before stepping onto the field with a routine of stretching and riding an indoor stationary bicycle. It is a routine he will continue before every game this season, he says.

Otherwise, "I'm just trying to get ready for the season. I don't see big-league pitchers in a long time. I have to get ready, get back into baseball shape."

Sunblock Day? Sure is. Temperature zooming up to 80. Even avoided the rain that was supposed to hit the eastern side of Florida.

Likes: Don't look now, Mets fans, but manager Jerry Manuel and his staff were thrilled at Oliver Perez's first live bullpen of the spring the other day. What really struck Manuel is that Perez's foot was consistently landing in the same place on the mound upon his delivery. Ace Johan Santana was in the group and pointed that out to Perez as well. When Oliver is on, as we've seen, he can be nasty. But he's never graduated from diamond-in-the-rough status because he's never been able to harness his mechanics. Often, his landing foot hits the ground in different places upon his delivery. It's no coincicdence that Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax spent time with Perez on Monday. ... Veteran Kelvim Escobar, in camp fighting for a bullpen job, says he thinks his shoulder is advanced enough that he has a chance to be ready for opening day. Escobar always has been a class act, I wish him well. ... Good move by Mets GM Omar Minaya in hiring Wayne Krivsky, the former Reds GM and assistant GM in Minnesota and Texas, as an adviser during the offseason. ... The Oscars are coming, and you can do a whole lot worse than seeing Precious. It's depressing, yes, but it is really well done. ... I can honestly say Le Tub has not lost its burger magic. Had a chance to visit my favorite place the other afternoon, dinner in a driftwood booth on the Intracoastal waterway in the hot late afternoon sun while the boats cruised past. Terrific burger, as usual. There's one pound of meat in those bad boys.

Dislikes: Really hate to see Khalil Greene not show up to Texas' camp because of a return of his anxiety issues. Greene is a good kid who once was a terrific player. I hope he can get his issues resolved and join the Rangers soon. His 2009 manager, Tony La Russa, grimaced when told the news Monday morning. La Russa expressed dismay that he hadn't yet phoned Greene to wish him well with Texas, something he's been planning to do.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pale invaders and tanned crusaders
"Are worshipping the sun
"On the corner of 'walk' and 'don't walk'
"Somewhere on US 1
"I'm back to livin' Floridays
"Blue skies and ultra-violet Rays
"Lookin' for better days"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Floridays

Posted on: February 20, 2010 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Mets' Santana shows zip in first mound session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- First workout of the spring for Mets pitchers and catchers Saturday, and probably the most notable thing of all was this: Ace Johan Santana threw a slider during his bullpen session.

Threw all of his pitches, in fact, and the man whose season ended with surgery to remove five bone chips after only 25 starts last summer walked off the Port St. Lucie practice fields with a big smile.

"His bullpen was real good," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We noticed great extension that he didn't have last year. He feels real good about himself. We got to see the slider, which we didn't see much of last year. So he's in a very good spot right now."

Now it will be incumbent upon both the Mets and Santana to keep it that way. The club already has mapped out a careful schedule for him this spring, according to which he will not make his first Grapefruit League start until the second week of games.

The Mets think that a more conservative schedule will allow Santana to stay healthy while still preparing him to reach the 90-pitch range by opening day.

Manager Jerry Manuel made several references following the workout to keeping key players healthy and maybe slowing down some of the recovering Mets.

"Johan's really feeling well about himself," Manuel said, before adding of Santana and shortstop Jose Reyes: "We're almost going to have to pull the reins back. They're really getting after it.

"We don’t want to peak in February."

Sunblock Day? Wooo-hooo! Sun's out and temperature soared into the 70s today. Baseball weather is here.

Likes: Always one of the better guys in baseball, Johan Santana spent a long while signing autographs for Mets fans when he finished his workout Saturday. Lots of grateful fans. And one pitcher who is extremely grateful to be healthy again. ... Roy Halladay's work ethic is as good as there is in the game (he's been arriving at the Phillies' complex at 5:45 a.m. to get his workouts in) and Cole Hamels' description of him ("he's quiet but he doesn't make himself disappear") is perfect. ... The baseball newsstand at Baseball Think Factory, an excellent site and a great way to keep up with good stories and smart analysis. Plus, priceless smart alecky comments from the guys who run the shop, Jim Furtado and Repoz. ... Barefoot drive across the state of Florida on Friday was pleasant, zipping across Route 70 -- where I passed a place to go hunting for wild boar. I kept on cruising (and would have done so even had I been wearing proper footwear, for driving or hunting). ... The book Game Change is absolutely riveting. Authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman's insider account of the 2008 presidential election is fast-moving and stocked with terrific behind-the-scenes anecdotes. ... Can't get me enough grouper in Florida. The blackened grouper Caribbean style with black beans and rice was a winner the other night at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter, Fla. ... Gaslight Anthem's The '59 Sound is fabulous, one of the best discs I've obtained in the last few years (and a shout out to my hip bro for the birthday gift). Whip-smart lyrics and full-bore rock 'n' roll with no coming up for air.

Dislikes: Love the fact that we've reached the point where baseball feels it must formally tell players not to bring guns and knives into the clubhouses. Not.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's funny how the night moves
"Humming a song from 1962
"We were always waiting... always waiting
"We were always waiting for something to happen
"I saw tail lights last night In a dream about my first wife
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my whole life
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn't you?"

-- Gaslight Anthem, Great Expectations

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com