Ready or not, here they are. It’s been a weird offseason (Omar general managed like someone whose job wasn’t on the line) and an odd spring (thyroid issues, knee surgeries, controversially aggressive promotions, and not nearly enough solid performances, especially from the pitchers) but at 1 p.m. today, they go to war.
I wish I felt a little better about just what this group is going to bring us, but I sort of admire that it was assembled with a minimum of stunts, a good deal from within, and that expectations are back where they probably ought to be for a team with questionable starting pitching, an unproven bullpen and a few too many outmakers in the lineup. But let’s be optimistic on opening day. There a chance we shove it up all their asses. There’s a good crop of prospects on the horizon; and let’s face it, there’s little holding them back. They finally seemed to do something about CitiField’s relentless blandness. Bring it on.
We welcome Ryota Igarashi, Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada, Jason Bay, Henry Blanco, Rod Barajas and Frank Catalanotto to the All-Time Roster (likely players 875 to 881). Thanks to the fans who wrote in to inform me that Tejada will wear No. 11 and Mejia No. 32.Chip Hale and Dave Jauss join the coaching ranks for the first time, while Alex Cora, Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews Jr. return to the Mets in new numbers.
Let’s Go Mets!
PS — Thanks to MBTN reader Glenn below who indicated that this year’s bat boys would wear No. 00.
“I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
–Dick Jones, Robocop
I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.
But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?
Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.
Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.
Numeric content coming soon, I promise!
Those awful Mets play in Houston tonight with lefty Jon Niese on the mound. Niese in a stint I’d already forgotten ever happened this year wore No. 49 and is still available for him. To make room on the roster the Mets got around to disabling Gary Sheffieldwho naturally isn’t happy about it.
Like the next guy I’m interested in seeing how the whole Tony Bernanzard drama plays out, not because I think he’s the devil, necessarily, but because how it unravels might reveal something of how this ridiculous organzation works. As I understand things, Bernazard at this time last year looked as if he might be the future king of the Mets, only to see Omar Minaya get the contract extension after the year. With some conflicting reports arriving as to Bernazard’s behavior I’m wondering who the sources are and what their motivation is. I also wonder if it wouldn’t have been even better had he taken his pants off.
Thanks to everyone who showed up Amazin’ Tuesday this week at Two Boots. Newly linked blogger Section Five Twenty Eight has a terrific account of it. We’re doing it again on August 25 (I’ll miss that event but I’d urge you to attend anyway) and on Sept. 15.
I can’t say a four-year contract for Omar Minaya and a Jeff Wilpon promise of “addition by subtraction” were the first things I was hoping to hear from the Mets this offseason.
As detailed in prior posts I’m not exactly sure what Omar has done to deserve the reward, beyond overwhelming certain free agents and their would-be suitors. His trade record, particularly since the shrewd acquisition of John Maine, hasn’t been particularly shining, and his restraint in consecutive deadlines, while admirable in some respects, also preceded matching second-place finishes.
To his credit, Omar appears to have made pursuit of interim manager Jerry Manuel among his top priorities. Manuel did a magnificent job turning around a sonambulent team this year and seemed to have charmed the press and the brass. Interestingly, chatter has begun over whether to bring back Bobby Valentine, who’d certainly be an acceptable alternative from where I sit.
(Edit — I see now where Jerry has agreed to a 2-year deal. Hoorah. In the Mets world, 2 years = 1 year, setting them up to return to Bobby Vee if things don’t work out next year. All good).
Wondering just what the 2009 team will look like might be tricky considering rumors of uniform changes have arisen again. Dave from Michigan passed along chatter from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logo website saying the Mets as expected are phasing out black (hooray!) in favor of blue but have the biggest changes in mind for their road uniform, said to be completely re-imagined in a charcoal gray (uh, OK?) with Mets in script (boo!). The message continues:
Interestingly there is absolutely no black on this uniform whatsoever – and I was told that the blue/orange/white color combination jumps off this uniform with incredible success. Blue/Orange/White piping will also be on the ends of the sleeves, down the front of the jersey, and down the pant legs as well.
OK, something else to look forward to, maybe.
Adam Rubin of the Daily News today writes that 23-year-old infielder Dan Murphy is en route to Houston in time for tonight’s game. Although Rubin hasn’t said who Murphy will replace, we can hope, I mean, speculate, that it’s gimpy struggling Marlon Anderson, who’s just having a terrible season and like Murphy (reportedly), bats left and plays poorly in several positions.
Murphy is one of the “Big 5” youngsters mentioned by Omar Minaya in press comments this week explaining why the Mets chose not to particpate in what was probably the most spectacular trade deadline season in recent memory, despite contending for a division title with obvious holes in the outfield and the bench, and serious questions surrounding the rotation and bullpen.
Just speculating here but with Murphy a potential solution to left-handed bench strength, the other four may fill holes in the outfield (Fernando Martinez), bullpen (Bingo closer Eddie Kunz) and rotation (Jon Niese, who’s also being condsidered for Aug. 11 start, Rubin says; and Bobby Parnell, who might also help in the bullpen). That solution may call for a lot of speculation and wishful thinking, but it’s more help than we got at the deadline so let’s see. In a matter of taste, sure beats hoping that Jeff Conine will help.
We’ll update you on Murphy’s number when we get it and in the meantime direct your attention to the new poll on the left column, reviving the discussion we had earlier this season on what number Fernando Martinez (I prefer “Fartinez” to “F-Mart,” don’t you?) alights in if/when he gets the call.
Stop us if you heard this before: The Mets on Tuesday sent ineffective reliever Matt Wise to the disabled list for the second time this year and for the second time this year, recalled New Orleans closer Carlos Muniz to replace him.
As you might also know, Wise’s arrival over the offseason inadvertently triggered Muniz to switch from his first-issuedNo. 38 and alight in 32, which he was also dressed in earlier this year.
As you also already know, the Mets held an especially unsatisfying press conference Monday during which Omar Minaya acted as if he didn’t want Willie Randolph fired and Randolph continued pretending his team was OK and plays hard for him. They gave vaguely encouraging lip-service to a need to try and improve the team and suggested they had a lot of the same ideas (such as?) while perpetuating the myth that Randolph’s remarks to Ian O’Connor deserved the attention and scrutiny they received, and that Randolph necessarily had anything to apologize for but the revolting play of his team.
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A few more book-related events this week not to be missed: Tonight (actually Wednesday morning at 1 a.m., along with Matthew Silverman, guesting live in-studio on the Joey Reynolds Show on WOR-radio (and simulcast nationwide). You can listen to an archive of the event at the same address.
On Friday May 30, Matthew and I will host a book signing and pregame schmoozing at LaGuardia Holiday Inn‘s Pine Bar & Restaurant, at 5:30 p.m. Come on over, have a drink, buy a book for your Dad, or get yours signed. Afterwards we’ll hoof it to Shea and catch the return of Joe Torre.
Omar Minaya’s first move with Full Autonomy (Full autonomy?! Full autonomy!) was to name X-Yankee/X-Met and New Yorker Willie Randolph as the team’s 18th manager. Willie posed for blasphemous photos at Shea yesterday wearing Mookie Wilson’s No. 1, but it’s likely he’ll be wearing another number the next time he suits up. Willie was No. 30 for most of his Yankee career, but wore 12 while with the Mets in 1992. Taking his customary number would require Cliff Floyd to change jerseys but there’s speculation that Minaya will do what he can to change what it says on the front of Cliff’s shirt this winter anyhow. Danny Garcia is the current No. 12.
Though we think Bobby Valentine might have been a better choice, we’re willing to give Willie a shot. Thankfully, he didn’t arrive with the ridiculous contract his predecessor did.
With the idea in mind that front-office bigwigs ultimately affect the unimportant stuff that eventually gets reported and published here, MBTN would like to take the opportunity to go blog on you and comment regarding this afternoon’s bizarre transfer of power in Metland.
We predict it will become clear that what emerged today was the Wilpons’ lack of trust in castrated former head honcho Jim Duquette, who like Art Howe is absorbing some punishment for circumstances beyond his control. While we think it’s great that local Queens guy Omar Minaya is getting an opportunity to truly lead the Mets, at the same time it’s a shame that Duke was never really afforded the same, even though, at least until July 30, his moves, and his team, ought to have demonstrated to his bosses he deserved it.
What we learned today in an unfortunately candid moment was that the Wilpons never took the training wheels off Duke’s contract and may never have intended to, seeing as Minaya was the man they wanted all along. And that’s because his assignment in Montreal — which everyone knew was temporary when it began — provided Minaya with the one thing Duquette could never have: A fair shake at some experience.
Taken broadly, that’s a thread that runs through a myriad of Wilponian messes including the Kazmir-Zambrano trade: The idea that unproven rookies are risks for other organizations to take. Ironically, the fact that that move — widely rumored to have come at the behest of Duquette’s senior scouting advisors — hasn’t paid immediate dividends only goes to prove how right the Mets philosophy can be made to appear: Duquette, the unproven rookie, is taking the fall for it.
Anyhow, we wish Minaya the best of luck but hope in light of his previously stated allergies to progressive thinking that he honors his pledge to utilize Duke as his “right-hand man” and that the Wilpons resist getting in the way unless he doesn’t. You gotta believe.