A few of the Mets have started to arrive in Port St. Lucie over the last week. Pitchers and catchers will report by Tuesday. You can see the full spring training game schedule at the Mets site. Even though the full team hasn’t even arrived at PSL yet, there’s still plenty of news about the Mets over the past few days.
Here are a few of the stories that caught my eye this week:
The news about the Mets has become a trickle over the past week. There’s just not a lot happening 18 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Port St. Lucie. There are some minor signings to talk about that, hopefully, won’t have a big impact on the 2010 season. Here are the links for today:
SI.com – Tom Verducci wrote an article comparing the 80’s and 90’s days of Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry to the steroid users. It’s hard to follow the premise that the off field activities that got Doc and Darryl into trouble are comparable to using performance enhancing drugs. But it’s worth a read.
CBS Sports – The Brooklyn Cyclones are ending their stadium naming deal with KeySpan Energy. KeySpan was taken over and the company name doesn’t exist anymore. The original deal was supposed to run until 2020, so I wonder how much KeySpan had to pay the Cyclones to buy the rest of the deal out.
NY Post – The Mets signed Long Island native Frank Catalanotto to a minor league deal. He’s not a bad offensive player but at 35 years-old it’s hard to imagine how much of an impact he’ll have in the big leagues anymore. I imagine he was signed to be a draw at Triple-A Buffalo more than he was to be in Queens.
NY Post – Kevin Kernan did a good piece on Greg Jeffries. He was such an enigma with the Mets, coming up to a lot of fanfare in ‘87 only to prove that he was an average and immature player.
Daily News – The active career leader in minor league home runs, Mike Hessman, signed a minor league deal with the Mets. Again, I think this is a move to try to improve the miserable Bisons team.
Daily News – Bill Madden details the laundry list of moves that Omar Minaya should have made this offseason. The funny thing is, that it’s nothing that you haven’t seen written anywhere else over the past two months. Madden needs to work on some original material.
The biggest news this week is that the Mets finally announced the election of Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Frank Cashen, and Davey Johnson into the team Hall of Fame. They’ll go in on August 1 and that’s a date to mark on your calendar to be at Citi Field. It still burns me up that the team seemed to forget about the Hall of Fame, not electing anyone since 2002. You can see the entire list here. How is Johnny Franco not in the Hall?
On the same note, Remembering Shea has a good list of the nine greatest Mets, the next nine to go into the Hall, and the next nine to have their numbers retired. It’s a great post. Take a few minutes to read it. The lists are great but I’m not as high on Jerry Koosman. I’d move him down a few spots, but other than that the lists are spot on.
The Mets are holding a voluntary mini-camp in Port St. Lucie starting on Monday. It’ll be really interesting to see who shows up to that. There should be an announcement within the next day or so about which players will be there. If Oliver Perez doesn’t show up, I’ll be livid. Nobody needs the extra work more than he does.
There would be no other way to open Citi Field than to have Tom Seaver throw out the first ceremonial pitch to Mike Piazza. Two of the Mets biggest superstars are the only former players that make sense. Sure, Doc Gooden could do it but he had an acrimonious parting with the Mets in 1995. That acrimony is only beginning to subside with his appearance at the Shea Stadium final game last September.
There will be a game tonight at Citi Field. Its somewhat anticlimactic that the opening game in the history of the stadium will come against the lowly San Diego Padres. The scheduling gurus at MLB certainly didn’t do the Mets any favors with this pairing. Why would they pick a team from the west coast with no real ties to the Mets? At least they could have chosen the Los Angeles Dodgers to open Citi Field. The stadium is pratically a shrine to the Dodgers as it is.
Of all of the strange things that Fred Wilpon has done, and there are many things you can criticize him about, choosing Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza to throw out the first pitch was the right thing to do.
The Mets had a nice win on opening day yesterday against the Reds. The weather was cold and dreary but it was great to see Johan Santana get a win that he didn’t have to pitch a complete game to get. The bullpen held up just as Omar Minaya drew it up in the off-season. Of course, every media outlet is running stories this morning about how the Mets bullpen problems are fixed. I’ve seen about 50 of those columns today and I’m sure more will be coming during the day today.
Onto the news of the day:
Dave Singer at New York Sports Dog has a great post about the Mets all-time record on opening day. He lists every opening day game result and starting pitcher back to 1962. Very cool post. Its incredible to see how things went down hill after Doc Gooden left in 1995.
Darren Rovell of Sportsbiz at CNBC has a good post about the Mets and Yankees official sponsors. Did you know that Kozy Shack is the official pudding of the Mets? I didn’t either.
Andy Knight of the Cincinnati Enquirer has a good photo slideshow of the opening day parade in Cincinnati yesterday. It was good to see Frank Robinson back in Cincy.
Adam Rubin of the NY Daily News writes sarcastically about how confident we would have been to see last year’s bullpen save the game for Santana yesterday.
The New York Post has some video of Francisco Rodriguez talking about his save yesterday after the game.
The folks at Maple Street Press were kind enough to send me a copy of the Mets season preview magazine from Maple Street Press (MPS). The magazine is 128 pages packed with Mets information to get you fired up for this season.
Before I get too deep into this I’ll tell you that this is not a paid advertisement from Maple Street Press. The magazine costs $12.99 and can be purchased at many newsstands and book stores in the New York area. You can also purchase a copy from their website at Maple Street Press. Also if you read this post to the end, you’ll see that MPS sent me two copies to give away to readers of The Mets Report.
Here are my thoughts on the magazine. For a Mets fan, it’s great to read a detailed season preview that’s more than just a couple of cursory pages about the team like the national preview magazines that cover every team. This covers everything from the last couple of disastrous seasons to historical teams and a lot of information about Shea Stadium and Citi Field.
The highlights of the magazine are:
“New Home, Old Worries: Can The Mets Change Their Stripes at Citi Field?” by Greg Spira and Matt Silverman- This introduction to the magazine sets the stage for the 2009 season with all of the information about offseason trades and free agent signings. This is a great way to kick off the magazine. Very strong writing and coverage of the team. The one oddity of the article is that the authors specifically mention that the Mets have a new $800 million revenue stream called Citi Field yet are keeping their payroll at the same level it was a year ago. There’s absolutely no mention of the Bernard Madoff scandal that reportedly bilked the Mets owners out of several hundred million dollars. That was one of the biggest stories of the offseason and there’s not one word in the article about it?
“There Are Some Words: The ’69 Teams Turns 40, But It Never Gets Old” by Greg W. Prince- In my mind, Prince is the most creative, talented writer covering the Mets today. Hands down. MPS did a great job of securing Greg to write an article for the magazine. I would’ve been disappointed if he wasn’t represented here. As always, Prince turns in a well written and unique description of a topic that we’ve read and talked about for 40 years. Not many writers can cover a story that’s been covered so completely with a unique take on it.
The lowlights of the magazine are:
“Keys to the Citi: New Home Promises A Whole New Ballgame” by Tara Krieger- Unfortunately, Krieger turns in a very pedestrian story about Citi Field. Maybe it’s me, and I’ve already read too much about the new stadium and seen too many pictures. But I really didn’t get anything out of this article that I didn’t already know. I think that the hardcore Mets fan would want more than we get here.
“Seconds Anyone? The Susan Lucci Playoffs” by Howard Megdal- This article was disappointing because Megdal is a pretty good writer. The concept of this article pitting historical Mets teams against each other in some sort of contrived playoff was poor. Honestly, I was bored after about four paragraphs. You can skip this part of the magazine and won’t be missing anything.
Overall, I recommend the magazine for purchase despite the lowlights described above. Remember that this is 128 pages packed with Mets information. The Krieger and Megdal articles only account for about 10 pages, so the success rate is really high. Reading about Doc Gooden’s outstanding early career brought back some great memories for me of his starts being must-see TV.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier in this post I have two copies to give away this week to readers. Watch the site for a contest that will be starting tomorrow.
The "Willie Watch, Part Two" is in full bloom now that the Mets have reverted to their pre-Wilpon meeting ways. I really thought that the energy that we saw from the Mets two weeks ago could be sustained… But I was wrong. Now it’s time for Willie Randolph to go.
The Mets problems certainly aren’t completely Randolph’s fault. The players and Omar Minaya deserve some of the blame as well. I stand by my initial feelings about this team; although there are flaws in the roster, the current configuration should be capable of being a strong contender for a playoff spot. Whether they achieve that goal or not depends on variables such as competition, injuries, and seasonal performance.
Based on that assumption, Willie Randolph hasn’t done the job of motivating the players to achieve their potential. Sure there are players that need to go: Carlos Delgado, Aaron Heilman, and maybe some others. But the roster doesn’t require a complete overhaul. You can’t fire all of the players but you can fire the manager.
My contention is that the Mets need a new manager that is bigger than the players. A manger that isn’t afraid of under performing veterans, and isn’t afraid to move young players into power positions in the lineup. It’s common in college but pretty rare in the pro’s. There are a few examples: Phil Jackson, Bill Parcells, and Terry Francona. These are people that have attained the highest level of success in their respective sports and won championships. They know what it takes to be on top. They know that talent rules over union seniority.
The Mets need a "star" that has a significant history within the organization and has won a championship. No… I’m not talking about getting Doc Gooden clean and bringing him in to manage the team. There are only two logical choices; Davey Johnson or Keith Hernandez. They’ve won here as manager and player respectively. They bring immediate clout to the job. They bring an attitude that winning is the only thing, and lackluster play is unacceptable. It’s time for a new sheriff in town.