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 Johan Santana is the True Face of the Mets

Photo by Keith Allison

Whether Jose Reyes leaves or David Wright is traded, or both remain in New York, the “true” face of the Mets franchise is Johan Santana. Since 2007 the Mets have been filled with injury prone players, bad contract investments, failed to meet expectations, and enter 2012 with an uncertain future. Granted, the Mets have other nominees for these dubious distinctions such as Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and now Jason Bay, but none come close to the stature of $151 million stature of Santana.

Since joining the Mets in 2008, Santana has battled injuries in 2009, 2010, and missing all of 2011 due to shoulder surgery. Following the surgery Santana had setbacks in his rehabilitation towards the end of the season. The injury setbacks have placed doubt throughout the Mets organization that Santana can live up to the remaining guaranteed two years and $49.5 million left on his deal with a $5.5 million buyout option for 2014. As of the first four years of the deal, and nearly $78 million, Santana has won 40 games. That averages out to $1.94 million per win, which is the type of math that only Bernie Madoff would approve. With Santana anchoring the rotation the Mets have failed to make the playoffs since 2006 and his highest win total was 16 wins back in 2008. The bottom line is that Santana hasn’t been worth the large investment the Mets made to make him the ace of their pitching staff.

Heading into the winter and into the 2012 season the Mets future forecast is cloudier than ever. It’s anyone’s guess if Santana can return from shoulder surgery, if Reyes or Wright will be with the club, and what exactly are the financial restraints from the Madoff fall out. Santana will look to prove his critics wrong and show that he can return to his Cy-Young form as the face of a Mets franchise that’s in need of a facelift makeover.

Follow me on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

 Mets Should Trade Jason Bay for Carl Crawford

Photo by slgckgc

Crazy, right? Wrong.

In two seasons with the Mets, Jason Bay has a .252 AVG and 18 home runs. In one season with the Red Sox, Bay hit .267 and 36 home runs. The obvious answer to the dramatic decrease in production for Bay is the size of Citi Field compared to Fenway Park. Even with the renovations that will be made at Citi Field, it will still be one of the biggest parks in the league and Bay will never be able to showcase his power.

Before Bay’s term with the Mets, he hit 21 or more home runs in each season. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but Bay has yet to hit 20 home runs in two seasons with the Mets.

Now it’s safe to say that Jose Reyes will not be back with the Mets in 2012. This calls for a replacement player. Although Carl Crawford did not live up to the hype in 2011, you would be pretty narrow-minded to think that he won’t have more seasons like he had in Tampa in the coming years.

The only way this could work would be if the Mets agreed to take at least 60% of Crawfords contract.

This would be a trade in which both sides could benefit. The Red Sox would open up a lot of money to go get a much needed starting pitcher, Bay would be back in Boston where he made a living off of the 310 foot left field wall, and Crawford would be able to slap the ball to each gap and use his speed to run out triples. Hence, replacement player.

 For Whom The Beltran Tolls

Photo by Keith Allison

The July 31st trade deadline looms! We’re now into the peak period when general managers try their luck, play the hand they’ve been dealt and maintain their best poker face in trying to either better their ballclub for the heat of the pennant race or cut their losses and live to play another day. In a few days, we’ll find out who’s selling and who’s buying. The Mets, predictably, will most likely be selling and streamlining the big club for next season while trying to re-stock down on the farm.

The Mets have already lightened the load by sending closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers for 2 of the proverbial players to be named later. As long as these unnamed players are still breathing when they get here, the Mets made a good deal. Fans complained that letting go of K-Rod well before the deadline leaves the team without a closer, shows management has given up, etc. The front office struck while the iron was hot after finding a pigeon in Milwaukee and then closed the deal as soon as they could. The Mets were very fortunate that Rodriguez has behaved himself since his major snap of last season. That made the process of shipping him off that much smoother.

Aside from the obvious tolling of Carlos Beltran and the impending free-agency of Jose Reyes, I don’t see the Mets as having too many more desirable chips to deal away. Unless someone wants one of the young former Buffalo Bisons or if Ronny Paulino has convinced another club that he’s actually a good hitter, pickings are slim. Sandy Alderson should start off his phone conversations with a joke, “Trade? Sure! How about Bay and Pelfrey?! LOL!” If by some sheer miracle the other party bites, reel them in like they’re Captain Kidd’s treasure!

I think Alderson will make a strong play to re-sign Reyes, and unless Jose’s a great actor, he looks like he sincerely wants to be here. You just have to cross your fingers that the hamstrings hold up and if they do, you’ve got one of the best and most exciting players in the game locked up. And unless Sandy’s a great actor, I think he’s finally realized how popular Reyes is with the fan base and that he’d have a mutiny and mass exodus on his hands if he let Jose slip away without an excruciatingly major struggle.

Beltran is gone. It’s just a matter of the details – where and most importantly, for whom! Some say his career as a Met would have been much different if he didn’t look at Strike 3 in the 2006 NLCS. If he popped to short, would that have made a difference? Not really. The only way things would have been different? If he won the game and if that Mets club went on to take the Series that year. Even so, Carlos was not vilified after the Mets were so abruptly eliminated in ’06. He’s been a good soldier here, aside from that minor Walter Reed visit bump-in-the-road. He was not a free-agent bust. He’s had some great games as a Met, capped off by his game-tying HR the other night up into the Pepsi Porch that landed next to Gary, Keith & Ron who were doing the broadcast from up there. He’s remained healthy and put together a great season, earning an All-Star nod. He deserves to go to one of the teams on his trade list and help them win, just as he did with the Mets on many occasions. Gracias, Carlos. Adios y buena suerte.

 Mets’ Midterm Marks – “B” Happy

No final grades as yet. We’re only halfway through the season. The Mid-Summer Classic is in the offing, and we still have three solid months of baseball to be played.

Now, about the Mets. Taking everything into consideration – the new front office, the old financials of the owners and all THAT, the introduction of a prospective new minority owner, the ridiculous design of the playing field dimensions and the injuries. Taking all these factors into consideration, to be hovering around .500 at the halfway point I’d give the club a sold ‘B” grade.

Sports Illustrated picked the Mets to be ugly this season, yet as of this writing they‘re 3rd in the NL East. Pretty respectable, considering they have the Braves and the Phillies ahead of them – both superior clubs.

With keys lost like Santana, Wright and Davis, role players like Murphy, Pridie, Turner, Tejada have plugged the holes and performed more than adequately. Carlos Beltran has played above and beyond. No one would have counted on Carlos to be in the lineup as much as he has and to make an impact daily. A most pleasant surprise! Bay? We‘ve discussed this already. He’s under achieved seriously, and although he’s shown some signs of snapping out of late, he’s got a long way to go. And the overwhelming play of Reyes. Jose is having an MVP-type season. Sandy Alderson has a big decision to make on whether he wants to re-sign Reyes, or deal him and build his money-ball club. If dealt, however, he’ll never receive equal value or replace what Jose brings to the lineup. Right now he’s performed like he’s one of the top 5 players in the game.

Mike Pelfrey’s issues and inconsistencies are not physical I’m afraid. Chris Young loss was a big one. Capuano, Gee, Niese hqave all been solid. Dickey has been his bulldog-self. Pitching for the Amazin’s has been a pleasant surprise. K-Rod wouldn’t fit the mold of being a Mets’ closer if he didn’t make you sweat every time he appears. I’d still try to find a taker for him sooner rather than later and groom Bobby Parnell to close. Problem is there are most likely zero teams interested in Frankie.

The Mets have made do with less. There’s another factor however. The leadership. I admit I was not in favor of the hiring of Terry Collins. I felt the club needed to keep a tie to the past and make a popular choice for the new skipper, like Wally Backman. I was wrong. Terry Collins has been a GREAT hire for this club, and it’s a welcome and refreshing change from the regimes dating back numerous years. A manager who was tagged with “losing the clubhouse” in the past scared me, but this is a perfect example of a man who can learn from his experiences. Terry Collins has taken a damp sponge and parlayed it into a positive glass half-full!

Despite the injuries and the other factors, Reyes is captivating the country, Beltran’s an All-Star and Terry Collins is right for the reigns. Met fans shouldn’t “settle” and be satisfied with a .500 club, but they certainly should “B” happy with their team at the break.

 06/19/2011 – SPORTSTALK1240, Hour 1

Hosted by Brandon Contes. Discussion topics included the latest with Mets and Jose Reyes contract situation, a bit about the Yankees, some NBA Finals analysis and finally a little about the conclusion of the US Open Golf tournament.

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 Flushing Bay – The Solution or Troubled Waters?

In light of the lack of offense supplied by Jason Bay since he signed with the Mets, it’s time to arrive at a solution to the problem. Do you stick with the struggling one-time slugger as he’s tossed asunder by the stormy seas of a horrendous slump – playing him every day while getting no production at all? Or do you flush Bay down the tubes and sit him in favor of another in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle?

Although you can cry “foul” when the Bay signing is compared to some of the worst free-agent additions in Mets’ history due to the amount of time he lost last season, the picture we’ve seen speaks a thousand words – this guy looks like he wouldn’t hit if you sent him up there with an ironing board. Speak of the devils, let’s take a look at some of the worst free-agent signings by the Mets the last 20 years:

Vince Coleman – lead-off hitter and sparkplug for some great Cardinal teams before coming to the Mets in 1990. Embarrassed the club with the allegations made against him and two other Mets that spring by a Port St. Lucie woman, as well as the Dodger Stadium incident when he threw a firecracker into a crowd of autograph seekers, injuring 4 children including a 2 year-old.

Bobby Bonilla – the Mets are still making deferred payments to this bust. Best remembered for trying to intimidate writer Bob Klapisch with the immortal “I’ll show you the Bronx” threat.

Kevin Appier – just a colossal yawn for the huge price tag. What’s worse is that they shipped him off to Anaheim after one season for Mo Vaughn.

Tom Glavine – leave it to the Mets to obtain a future Hall of Famer and give him ample opportunity to tarnish his HOF plaque (see Roberto Alomar…they were too late in delaying the trip to Cooperstown for Yogi Berra, Duke Snider. Warren Spahn and Willie Mays) . Will forever be recalled for his laissez-faire reaction after getting shelled in the final game of the ‘07 season, costing the Mets a shot at the post-season.

Kaz Matsui – after performing like Ryne Sandberg in Japan, he was the first Japanese infielder signed by a ML club. He was sub-par at the plate and a sieve in the field. Imagine this, younger fans, the Mets once seriously considered moving the highly-regarded prospect they had at shortstop to second base to make room for Matsui. The prospect‘s name? Jose Reyes.

Luis Castillo – this nightmare is still fresh in our memories. No need to add salt to this wound.

Back to Jason Bay…as Ralph Kiner once remarked, the Mets are paying Bay to hit homeruns, not singles. Right now, he’s doing neither. Plus he draws the ire of the fans who view his failing as a big waste of money. Bay needs to be sent to AAA to work out a solution to his problems just as another fellow Mets’ free-agent Steve Trachsel once did. In the meantime, the club can’t afford his lack of production and a player like Jason Pridie who has shown promise can add more punch to the offensive attack.

 Call Me Crazy, but Latest Mets Mess Might Actually Be Good for the Team

Yes, I am a little bit crazy when it comes to my sports fandom.  I often like to take contrarian stances on certain issues or brew up a good conspiracy theory as a reason something may or may not happen.  But my latest thought is something I truly believe.

There has been endless coverage of the Wilpons’ most recent financial struggles and happenings.  Their pending lawsuit and its release to the public and the notions that they may look to sell up to a quarter of their stake in the team is all the rage.  The surprises never end with this baseball bunch.  There is, however, a silver lining.  Yes you need to dig to China to find it but there is one.  Perhaps all this attention being thrown on the Mets brass, will finally take the pressure off the players allowing them to focus on the task at hand of winning a championship.  Much like Jets Coach Rex Ryan’s brash and boastful style, the reason for its success is because it takes pressure and attention off the players allowing them to focus on what they do best, which is play football.

Notice how little has been said about Jason Bay needing a big rebound year.  People know it needs to happen for the team to do well, but it isn’t constantly being harped on.   There is barely any mention of K-Rod and his status on the team.  All we know is he is healthy and prepared to succeed in 2011, which is all we want from him.  The volume has been turned way down on the makeshift rotation the Mets have put together this offseason in the absence of ace Johan Santana.  Most of the players can head into camp with a clear head and a fresh start.  The air in Port St. Lucie might be refreshing for a change.  Hopefully in the end, the play on the field will be doing all the talking. If it doesn’t then feel free to call me crazy.

 Prediciting How Many Games the Mets Will Win in ‘11?

As of right now, I’ll put the Mets at 85 wins for the upcoming season.

That win total puts them in contention to compete for the Wild Card, which could mean for an exciting September at Citi Field.

I honestly think that is a realistic goal for this team. The bar isn’t set too high nor is it set too low.

Obviously, so many questions have yet to be answered as we are still a couple of weeks away from Spring Training, but when you look at this club, 85 wins is achievable, I believe.

Looking at the potential make up of this year’s ball club there should be reason to believe. Yes, I know many fans are disappointed that new GM Sandy Alderson didn’t break the bank and make a splash this off season, but you know what, I think the Mets have enough talent to contend.

The Mets have a young core of players who should continue to make strides in developing this season. Many players are in walk year of their contracts such as Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, which will provide extra motivation on top of what manager Terry Collins has or will tell the media. Jason Bay has something to prove after a disappointing first year in Queens. Free-agent pitchers Chris Young and Chris Capuano, who were brought in on one-year, incentive based deals, will be pitching for big pay days. Plus, one major area Sandy Alderson has addressed this off season was depth, which would play a big dividend in the team’s success in 2011.

I understand a lot of things have to go the Mets way in order to be successful this season, but with the new management present, things are only going to look up for Mets fans to believe once again. This season should be no different.




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