Pitchers and Catchers are right around the corner now. It's time to start getting a little more serious about this blog and my Wilponian concerns about the Mets. It's still winter and well, there's only so much that goes on in spring training. But we, I, like the players, need to get into season's shape. Low-Ridin' in the Trolley is fun and all, but it's time for some METrospection.
Sandy Koufax showed up at Met camp as is his custome. Sandy played first base for Layfayette H.S. here in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn while Mets owner Fred Wilpon was a pitcher. Suffice to say Fred and Sandy are good friends. Normally I would start taking cheap shots at Fred about now for being such a Dodger fan at the Met's expense. But Sandy has been showing up here for some time and how can having a guy like Sandy Koufax around your pitchers hurt? So Fred gets a pass here.
My biggest concerns about this organization start at the very top - Fred and Jeff Wilpon, majority owners of the NYM. Without Frank Cashen, the team suffers lack of organizational structure and standard operating procedures. Without Nelson Doubleday, the ownership group as presently constituted has no baseball acumen. The Wilpons have exhausted every executive brought in by Cashen and Steve Phillips (this isn't about him, not now). Omar Minaya is the last vestige of someone familiar to the Wilpons. After Omar, who is on the hot seat for sure this year, is also expelled, the Wilpons will truly be on their own. At the 30 year mark since the Doubleday/Wilpon group purchased the Mets from the Payson Estate, Fred Wilpon is alone. He is also without a new thought, idea, philosophy, or anything of the like. The Mets front office thinking has become inbred. It is time for the Wilpons to go off campus. Under sole ownership of the Wilpons since 2003, this team has been turning into the iceberg. Saul Katz, minority owner and non-factor but none the less promoted to President in the post Doubleday era, is a non entity. This IS the S.S. Wilpon and what I like to call Saul B. Katz' dilemma. You've heard this before from me.
John Ricco is what I like to call the Wilpon's latest Weapon of Mass Confusion. He was unleashed upon us Met-o-philes during the Beltran-Surgery-Gate earlier this winter. John Ricco is the assistant GM brought in by Omar. Mr. Ricco is yet to build up a rap-sheet thus far. I say give it time before he demonstrates more of the marionette thinking promoted by the Wilpon's college atmosphere Fred likes to maintain. But is he possibly our next GM in waiting? Really?.........Really? ...(and why not) - Remember the other Sergeant-at-arms Omar brought in, Tony Bernazard? We don't need to rehash that.
I can't really kill Omar for the Mets' lack of activity this winter outside the Jason Bay signing, although yes, we really can and should. I'm still trying to understand the head-in-the-sand approach they took with Lackey, but the rest of the free agent pool this winter wasn't all that. Omar was probably wise not to throw away money on nonsensical signings and just bog the roster down with more rejects and bad contracts. But that only speaks about this winter. Omar's whole body of work here lies in the balance this year. As it stands, 2006 and 97 wins are an aberration versus the 5 full years he's been GM. There are a lot of things you can blame on injury last year. What you can't blame on injury is the lack of preparedness and lack of fundamentals the Mets displayed last season. That's on the manager, and another matter.
I'm not a happy camper heading into 2010.
Johan Santana, says and seems OK, but he's coming back from injury.
We have no #2 shotgun to Johan.
John Maine is coming off 2 years of injuries. I like him but he has a high hill to climb.
Oliver Perez isn't the nut-case everyone makes him out to be. I think his flaws are correctable. A Maine comeback is paramount but Ollie can be a major X-Factor should things go well for us this year. You just never know with him. But he's slimmed down which takes pressure of the knee and maybe now Dan Warthen (pitching coach) can finally see the obvious which is Oliver Perez's landing foot is like lightning...it never strikes the same ground twice. Why can't Dan Warthen pick this up? Your whole delivery is ruined by that one error. Ollie does not land with his front foot open and perpendicular to the catcher. It causes him to throw across his body with random release points, using only arm strength behind the pitch. He's Jeckle and Hyde...which one do we get this year?
Mike Pelfrey is a .500 pitcher with a 4.30 +/- in his freshman and sophomore years. Maybe maturity shows up in his locker this year and he starts to harness his ability. He does have ability.
After that, our number 5 starter is any-one's guess.
There's too many "ifs" involved here. My hope is our kid, Niece develops well and can give us 8 to 10 wins this year. Nelson Figueroa had a nice winter but he's not a solution much less an option. I'd keep him around to pitch the second game of a twin-bill....but we don't do those things anymore. And our other kid, Nieve? C' Mon!
Speaking of winter ball, I already expressed my concerns about K-Rod pitching competitively without a discernible break since last February as he tuned up for the Baseball Classic. He pitched right through the season and in Winter Leagues in Venezuela till February 1st when his contractual obligation kicked in. I'm predicting a dead arm for him by August. I hope I'm wrong.
We have no 8th inning guy to speak of. This is a good a time as any to bring up Kelvim Escobar. I have no idea what we can expect from him, what we're going to get from him, or where we're going to use him. It looks like he's the 8th inning guy, so says Omar. This could actually work out. However, he's one of those guys where you try to catch lightning in a bottle when they come off injury.
Of the 11 or so pitchers that we'll break camp with, I can not envision a different scenario than - Johan is my only reliable hurler. Will we get Ollie and Maine or will we be praying for rain? There is no margin for error in the Mets pitching staff and that seems to have been the plan the front office has been pushing on us all winter; - the old Health and Hope routine. Omar is prepared to figuratively live and die with this rotation of:
and Who? (not WHO on first)
The rest of the pitching staff is a bunch of reclamation projects signed to minor league contracts. When we once thought that scouting and talent evaluation was Omar's forte', we come to find out he is really an administrator for the AARP signing players off the path on their way to the glue factory.
In a nutshell, that's the Met's pitching situation. It's all predicated on hope that the "IFS" come back and are effective. That's some dangerous living fellow Met fans. Omar is live and without a net. This may get ugly because he never really had a plan in place. The whole time here he's been piece mealing this thing together. The only constants have been Reyes, Wright and Beltran > Omar's only signing of the three. Since Reyes and Wright, this organization's farm system has come to a screeching halt for the first time since before Joe McDonald was running the farm operations in the late 60s. Omar is still waiting for Pelfrey to pan out so he can say he at least groomed one prospect.
Fred, go off campus please!
Knock on the Marlin's BoatHouse with wheel barrels of cash to entice Larry Beinfest to come work for us and enough to grease Jeff Loria and keep him from whimpering . Then, Mr.Wilpon, you get out of sight, give Larry the keys to METropolis and let this guy run your team and spend your money; Money that you yourself could not manage well enough and subsequently got swindled by Bernie Madoff.
The Grapefruit League, and you Cactus Leaguers too...., lets start our stretching and get ready for the season.
I'll tackle the offense the Mets will be featuring this year to start the season tomorrow. I already feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it. This team drives me crazy, you all know that by now. But I'm fair as you'll learn because till now all you've heard me do is vent. I'll deal with what I have as opposed to dealing in wishful thinking. Just know that my problems are less about the players and more about my owner.