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Around The Mets 2/17/11

If you want to talk about electrifying days in New York Mets history, you’d be better off looking somewhere else. As the Mets conducted their first workouts today, most of the news happened off field. The biggest, perhaps, was Gary Sheffield’s announcement that he’s headed toward retirement.

Putting aside all accusations of performance enhancing drugs, Sheffield had a phenomenal career. While not always the most liked man in the clubhouse, Sheffield had incredible raw power and a cannon for an arm. After an unceremonious departure from the Detroit Tigers in 2008, Sheffield ended his career for the Mets where he outplayed expectations and even started for a small stretch of the season. Without hitting his 500th home run on the team, it’s easy to say that he had a forgettable time. As a fan who was watching his first full season(162) games, he was a big part of providing some hope early on in the season. It’s quite pathetic looking back now, but his intimidation factor never left. To this day I’d take Sheffield up with the bases loaded over Jason Bay. Not his 41 year old self, but certainly his 2009 version compares with Bay’s 2010. Sheffield provided 10 home runs while driving in just under 50 RBI’s during his stay, which also ended in a small amount of controversy as Manuel was quick to rest the veteran, who insisted he wasn’t injured.

Yesterday I noted that John Maine was close to signing a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Today it was reported that he’ll be taking his services to lovely Coors Field to play for the Colorado Rockies. Good luck, John, because you’ll surely need it. For anyone that needs assurance that he can’t pitch at Coors Field, look no further than his last start in Colorado in 2010. Maine allowed 8 runs and 7 hits in 3 innings. While Maine may have recuperated(He did have two fine starts in 2008 at Coors) he has done nothing in the last two years to prove he’ll be any different. He has only regressed, and while I wish him luck I also wish the Rockies fans mercy on their souls if they have Maine coming out of the BP or spot starting.

Howard Johnson has left the New York Mets organization after serving as the hitting coach for the past several years. Johnson had been with the organization since 2001 and was of course a member of the 1986 championship team. Nothing has been released yet regarding his future, but after the Mets mediocre offense last year it was hard seeing him stick around on a major league level. Plus, after being worked up through the Mets minor league coaching system it would be hard to see HoJo taking a demotion.

ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin is reporting that Taylor Buccholz likes/liked the Phillies. I’ll be the first to say that when he comes out in relief while pitching in that sand box Philadelphia calls a ball field, I’ll be changing the channel. Well, not really, but hopefully the New York crowds make him change his mind once the team inevitably hits a hot streak. For the full article and more, click here.

Terry Collins said today that he expects Johan Santana to be healthy by late June or July. What this really means is to expect a setback sometime in May and be prepared to see Joahn back in action for opening day 2012. The real question is whether or not the Santana returning will be the Santana of old, but with some adjustment time I’m sure Santana will prove to be effective again.He has too much heart to not evolve as his body changes, and the former Cy Young winner will be welcome back with open arms whenever he returns, which of course would be preferable as soon as possible.

This afternoon Mike Francessa conducted an interview with Jose Reyes about spring training and the upcoming season. Reyes noted that he was fully healthy and excited for playing a full season. When asked about his future with the Mets, Reyes reiterated that he’d love to remain on the team following the season, but like always it depends. Of course “depends” means money, and Reyes will want a lot of it. Seeing how he performs in 2011 will be key, and losing Reyes, especially if he’s an All-Star this year, would be a huge blow to the team and fan base.


Miguel Cabrera’s DUI and K-Rod

Miguel Cabrera, at only 27 years old, has accomplished far more than most major leaguers in his first year years. Already a World Series Champion with the Florida Marlins in 2003, Cabrera is a perennial MVP candidate when healthy. Unfortunately for Cabrera, though, his health problems appear to be mental. Last night, the Detroit Tigers’ franchise player was arrested with a DUI charge and reportedly even took a sip of alcohol in front of the police officer. Cabrera, who hit .328/38/126 and placed second in MVP voting, has a troubled history with alcohol. On October 3rd 2009 Cabrera showed up to a game against the Chicago White Sox a complete mess, and it was later revealed that hit alcohol levels were much above the legal limit. All seemed to clear up soon, though, as it was reported that Cabrera spent time in a facility during the offseason to battle his personal demons.

The Detroit Tigers have every reason to be excited this year after acquiring All-Star catcher Victor Martinez to add to their now potent lineup. However, with Cabrera’s problems now coming to light yet again, his status for the coming season may be in question. There’s no reason to believe that this incident should have any influence on his performance, because up until this point he has been on a hall of fame track, presumably with these issues still in tact. It’s a shame to see such a talented star be subjected to personal demons, but everybody has a vice and Cabrera’s is alcohol.

Miguel Cabrera isn’t a New York Met, though, and this is Around Citi(The number 1 Mets blog written by a high school senior, I may add)–so while it’s baseball news why bring it up? Well, it’s concerning on a multitude of levels. For one, it doesn’t take Stevie Wonder to see that Francisco Rodriguez has struggled since arriving in Queens in 2009. Whether it be the confidence issues in 2009 following the dropped pop-up at Yankee stadium to the assault charges on his father-in law last year, K-Rod looks to be a major concern heading forward. After all, he’s certainly not in the best shape of his life. Although he showed up to camp in a fancy car, it’s yet to be seen how fancy his pitching will be. It’s crucial that K-Rod is able to compete healthily this year, because with the departures of Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano , the Mets have a huge void in the bullpen. If anything goes wrong with K-Rod, the only logical replacement would appear to be Bobby Parnell, and with his mind focused on locking down the eight inning role, it’s difficult to foresee how he’d fare in such a high pressure role. Plus, the absence of Parnell would open the need for a new set-up man. Could it come down to Jenry Mejia being rushed up the majors again? Surely the situation isn’t that dire, right? Right?

Things need to be taken in stride from here on out, and Brad Andress(The new Mets strength & conditioning coach) needs to check in with K-Rod. You know, just to make sure that he’s not being sneaked anything extra from Shake Shake in the early innings. On a serious note, K-Rod has gained a considerable amount of weight since 2008 that can be a cause for concern if for no other reason than his fastball lost a little steam last year. While it’s natural with aging, it was difficult to see the single season save leader manage only 94 on a few fastballs. Surely that’s not what the Mets were hoping for when they signed him up two years ago.

As the spring begins, we’ll begin to have a more accurate look on how K-Rod will perform in 2011. While it’s important to have a healthy and confident closer, if K-Rod isn’t performing up to his high standards it may be the time to examine potential suitors for a trade. After all, while the $17.5 Million vesting option is ridiculous, it’s important to let someone else step in and grow into the closers role(I’m looking at you, Bobby)–even to see if they’re able to handle it. S

Around The Mets 2/16/11

The New York Mets organization had another hectic day today as the future ownership of the team is still largely in question. Although Jeff Wilpon made the rounds through media outlets after addressing the press, he assured that the Mets aren’t in any financial danger. Furthermore, he proclaimed that the Wilpons have no intention of selling a majority or full share of the New York Mets. Rumors have been rampant over the past several days that Donald Trump would be interested in purchasing the team, but Wilpon shot down those assumptions today.

However, what’s said isn’t always the case. There’s always that extra layer of uncertainty with the Mets, which was validated by a Tweet by Jon Heyman this afternoon. “Word is, Bud Selig is going to give the Wilpons time to sort thru [the] Madoff mess. There is real concern they may not keep the team in the end, tho[ugh]”

If it so happens that the Wilpons would sell the team, if would truly be the end of an era. Who this owner would be is obviously unknown at the time, but I’d be willing to say that it won’t be Trump, who must be so busy worried about his upcoming campaign for 2012. After all, who wouldn’t vote for the anti-gay marriage, pro-life, billionaire mogul? Regardless, though, Trump obviously doesn’t seem headed to the campaign trail despite what he’s saying. As for getting involved with the Mets, and just going on personal instinct, I’d say Trump becoming majority or full owner of the Mets is a long shot. Furthermore, not much has come out surrounding the group led by Martin Luther King III and the various investors. I’d say that someone who isn’t in the public eye as a potential suitor could come in and purchase the team, because as of now the rumored investors seem to be after publicity more than actually purchasing.

Back to spring training, Francisco Rodriguez finally arrived at camp in style as he pulled up in his Lamborghini. Who says you can’t be successful and still punch your father in law? Well, K-Rod just told values that they don’t matter. Needless to say, it’s a long way from the bike(and I don’t mean motorcycle) that R.A Dickey rode up on several days ago.There’s something so genuine about Dickey that not only contributes to his likability but also to his aura. He feels like someone you could meet walking into a cafe, across from at a gas station or even sitting in your local Barnes & Noble Booksellers. He’s extremely talented yet is humbled due to his struggles with success. For reasons other than making the playoffs, I sincerely hope that Dickey’s new found career will take off and he can remain a New York Met for the remainder of his career. What a great story that would end up being.

Moving on to another future star, Ike Davis was interviewed today on various subjects including what his personal goals are for the season. As a rookie, Davis had an impressive .264/19/71 line, but he’s aspiring for more. His ultimate goal is to hit 20 or more this year, which is realistic. Personally I’d like to see Ike work on adjusting to pitchers as they adjust to him, much as he was able to do in the final months of the season. He struggled mightily in the middle, and without the prolonged slump and the assurance that he’ll be the starter going into opening day, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Ike will be able to hit 25 whilst driving in close to 90 runs. While a natural progression, I don’t feel like he’ll be a 30+ guy playing 81 games in Citi Field with his current swing. He can obviously hit the ball a long way, but even Keith Hernandez was a bit critical as Ike continued during the season. With a few adjustments it’s fully possible, and while it’s even plausible he can have a huge breakout year and accomplish 30 this year, 25 seems to be realistic. For the full interview and article by ESPN’s Adam Rubin, click here.

Apparently someone is trying to make the Mets much like the Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers. has opened in an effort to raise funds so that fans will be able to purchase a share of the Mets for $999.99/share. I’m sure people will be thrilled to shell out the money as they sit back without any authority that the largest shareholders will own. While it’s a fine idea, I don’t see it flying in the long run. This is far too immature, as well, due in large to the fact of the Wilpons insisting that they won’t sell the entire team.

Mets fans won’t soon remember the seemingly nightly appearances by our favorite LOOGY Pedro Feliciano. A staple of the Mets bullpen until 2010, he was the last remaining reliever on the team who also played in the 2006 NLCS. He has become a Yankee, though, and can be seen here throwing a bullpen session for the evil empire. Photo credit belongs to Metsblog writer and sports photographer Michael Baron.

Well, with another eventful day of spring training in the books(Finally a day without running down Ollie!), it’s nice to finally say that opening day is one day closer. Remember to keep up with Around Citi on Twitter by clicking this link and following.

K-Rod Shows Up Confidently

Photo Credit: USA Today. K-Rod shows up in style.

Francisco Rodriguez has certainly had an interesting two year stay with the New York Mets so far. After being hindered by Luis Castillo’s dropped pop up in June 2009 and punching his father-in-law last August, things have become a little slimy when K-Rod is brought up. While the masses can still respect his ability, many are questioning his morality.

Today he made note that he has attended anger management sessions to help his problems. K-Rod has a lot to play for in 2011, because if he completes 54 games he’ll vest a $17.5 Million contract for the 2012 season. That’s more than enough to buy a couple more of those cars, eh?

John Maine to reportedly sign with the Phillies

John Maine will reportedly sign with the Philadelphia Phillies in the coming days, Jim Salisbury reports. The 29 year old pitched only 39.2 innings for the New York Mets last year, pitching to a 1-3 record and 6.13 ERA.

Does anyone remember the John Maine that the New York Mets acquired in 2006 whilst the Mets were on their way to their first NLCS appearance since 2000? Well, the John Maine of 2006 was and is a far cry from what he amounted to only four years later. Maine seemed poised to be a staple in the Mets rotation following his impressive 2006 and 2007 campaigns. It’s odd to say that a pitcher peaked at 26, but it was Maine’s most successful year by far as he was able to rack up 15 wins whilst having a very solid 3.91 ERA. However, things soon turned south for Maine in 2008 when he first tasted injury in New York. Maine was still effective, although clearly not the same pitcher he had been just a year earlier. Again, it was possible he was just pitching hurt, though.

2009 is when Maine’s situation became even cloudier as he was sidelined for most of the season after having shoulder trouble again. Maine returned at the end of the season and performed well enough to earn a spot in the rotation for 2010, although his health was still in question. Fast forward to spring training 2010 and things were beginning to get downright ugly. Maine’s velocity had dropped considerably and whilst never a confident player, Maine seemed stressed out. It didn’t take long to figure out that he was having severe difficulty, as his first start of the season was a horrendous effort. Maine allowed 8 hits and 4 runs through 5 innings, and things never really looked up again. After compiling three quality starts in a row against Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Washington at the end of May, Maine returned to being Dr. Hyde as he proceeded to get shelled against the Marlins before making his last start in May against Washington, with Jerry Manuel infamously pulling Maine without recording an out.

Maine’s quality starts were encouraging because the Mets were on the verge of a hot streak and needed consistency with Oliver Perez once again proving to be a bust. Maine’s final start of the year was horrendous, with fans and commentators alike being disgusted with Maine’s 85 MPH fastball. After issuing a walk, Jerry pulled Maine off the mound for the last time as a New York Met. Following the game, such comments were made toward Maine by pitching coach Dan Warthen accusing Maine of being a compulsive liar. Maine’s injury past was certainly at question during this and many speculated that he was once again pitching hurt. Needless to say, the pitcher who once was a part of leading the Mets within a game of the promise land became a symbol of the failure that has plagued the team since.

The Philadelphia Phillies are now reportedly going to sign John Maine as a reliever, and I’d assume he’d serve as a spot starter/long reliever. Pardon me, but it seems unlikely that the Phils are going to need much long relief work this year. They can only boast one of the best pitching staffs assembled in the history of the game on paper, and if last year will serve as any indication on where they’re headed in 2011 the world championship is already being engraved. Luckily for all 29 other teams, there are still 162 games to be played.

Maine will join Raul Valdez and Brian Schneider as two former Mets in the Phillies system. It’s funny that three players from one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history(2009) will all bear the Phillies colors in 2011, but alas I’m happy for Maine and the fans at Citizens Bank Park. Those fanatics will go WILD as all the fly balls soar into right field, only seconds earlier being grasped by Maine himself! Fans should also take tally of his incredible velocity and inability to get hitters out on an 0-2 count. You’ll be surprised with the ethic it takes to be able to reach 0-2, and a mere 4 pitches later have the hitter on first base chatting it up with the opposing first baseman. Hell, I’d say to make a drinking game out of it but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for alcohol poisoning.

So the book of Maine has shut in Flushing, and as another reminder of lost opportunity leaves to find success elsewhere, it’s time to open eyes to a brand new day in Flushing.

Around The Mets 2/15/11

With the first day of spring training in the books, it’s safe to say that the day will come to a close with a blast from the past. Only moments ago it was reported that Jason Isringhausen,38, officially signed with the Mets to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp. For more information on Izzy’s return to New York, check out the article below which provides a quick recap on  his recent history.

Speaking of blasts from the past that nobody in particular wanted to see again,former Mets skipper Jerry Manuel was on MLB Network’s Hot Stove program as an analyst. Now, when Manuel’s contract wasn’t renewed after 2010 it came with a sigh of relief and a clear head. If MLB Network makes Manuel a regular contributor to Hot Stove and Baseball Tonight come the regular season, there needs to be a disclaimer on the show that Manuel’s opinions in no way are conclusive or even comprehensible. While he’s a nice guy who likes to laugh, his baseball terminology is about as advanced as a 4th grade little league  player. When commenting on the San Francisco Giants keys to success for the coming season, Manuel noted that it’s important for them to get off to a hot start while protecting the pitching. Gee, Jerry, want to point out that the offense should score runs too? How about riding the hot hand in the bullpen, is that going to work out? How about a surprise phone call from Fernando Nieve to sweeten the pot?

Moving on, Jose Reyes finally made his way down to Port St. Lucie today to begin workouts. Reyes, who’s entering a contract year, appeared happy in this picture from ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. And why wouldn’t he be? He looks to be in great shape and he has every reason to play hard. After balking on a long term extension several years ago, Reyes will finally test free agent waters at the end of the season. His claims of wanting to play for the Mets will be tested, but the real test will be proving he’s healthy and able to contribute at a high level over the course of a season again. Having the assurance that he’ll be the leadoff hitter from the get-go will probably be comforting, but the most comforting news for Mets fans should be having Jose Reyes for at least one more year.

The biggest news, of course, is that Donald Trump reportedly has interest in purchasing the New York Mets. Earlier this morning it was reported that the Wilpons contacted Trump to see if he had interest in purchasing a minority stake, but Trump is apparently looking for controlling interesting or 100% of the club. The billionaire would likely have to modify his casinos, though, because of MLB’s strict no gambling policy.

Day one of spring training is firmly in the books. Only 44 days until opening day.



Who Will Be “The Great One”?

Monday, February 14th will go down as one of the most exciting days for fans of professional wrestling in recent memory. Former wrestler turned actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returned to World Wrestling Entertainment and laid the proverbial Smackdown to all the stars. The self proclaimed “Great One” is without a doubt the most popular entertainer of all time in professional wrestling and is revered in the hearts of millions.

The Mets have had their fair share of electric superstars in the past, although admittedly none quite as charismatic as Johnson. From Tom Seaver to Mike Piazza, the Mets have had their fair share of unforgettable players. With the 2011 season rapidly approaching, it’s interesting to step back and see who the true “Great One” is. On a team plagued with injury and uncertainty since 2007, the one factor that’s severely missed is the one man that all identify with the Mets.

Unquestionably people will proclaim that All Star third baseman David Wright must be the current “Great One” of the team. Wright, who had a terrific bounce back season in 2010, has yet to actually grasp the brass ring though. While undoubtedly one of the finest all around players in the game, Wright hasn’t become the public figure and intimidating hitter that he was once projected to be. Sure, he’s on Vitamin Water advertisements with The Situation and is the face of the franchise, but is he truly the man that Mets fans feel comfortable with in a tight game?

Using our imaginations here, assume that the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies are facing off in a one game playoff to determine who wins a playoff berth. It’s the bottom of the 9th inning and the bases are loaded. The fans at Citi Field are roaring as Josh Thole leads off of third, Reyes off of second and Pagan off of first. Up to the plate comes David Wright, who has had increasing strikeout rates since 2006.  He adjusts his helmet, stares down Brad Lidge and steps into the batters box. On a 3-2 count, do you expect the game winning walk, single, double, grand slam? Well, while I enjoy being optimistic in every aspect of following the Mets, I’d have to say that I would feel infinitely more comfortable with Carlos Delgado up in this situation.

Too many times in the past I’ve felt let down by a David Wright at bat. He’s the star player on this team and I don’t think he should be traded for anything, so I’m going to put that to rest right now. However, while I can distinctly remember several clutch hits Wright delivered this year, it’s noticeable that he’s hurting when Beltran and Delgado aren’t in the lineup. In fact, his 2009 season may have been largely attributed to him adjusting to being the elite hitter in the lineup. He showed amazing signs of rebound in 2011 by blasting 29 home runs wile driving in 103, but the verdict appears to be out on how he’ll perform this year. It’s easy to assume that if Beltran and Bay can remain healthy and productive that Wright will be served with proper protection, but if both struggle offensively or with injuries it may hinder Wright.

For the all around energy of the nickname “The Great One”, there needs to be a presence felt. Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza surely had that presence when they were up to bat. David Wright may one day approach or exceed this level in the coming years, but he’s not getting any younger. Things were looking up in 2004 when Reyes and Wright were supposed to be the faces of a franchise headed for a dynasty, but poor planning effectively cost the Mets a huge chance at success and several of their young years.

While still young, Wright(28 this year) could be headed for free agency as soon as the end of 2012(The Mets have a $16 Million option for 2013), and if the Mets fail to have success by that point it may be difficult to see Wright staying around and waiting. He has come out publicly and said he wants to be a life long Met, but again this is all relative to success.

So while David Wright may very well be “The Great One” on the New York Mets, it remains to be seen if he’ll claim that title and make it his in the years to come, or if he’ll end up being “Just Another One”.