Sunday, November 22, 2009

Joey's Soapbox: Mets Museum Is Coming, But Where's Cake Shack?

The Mets issued a press release yesterday stating that the Year of The Dodger is over. Next year, Citi Field will feature more Mets-centric imagery and colors. However, upon reading the press release, I noticed one thing was missing from the new additions. Astute Studious Metsimus readers should find it easy to surmise what it is.

First off, I applaud the Mets for making changes to Citi Field both inside and out. Among the new features you will find next season will be:

The VIP entrances near first base, third base and left field will be renamed after Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver and Casey Stengel, respectively.

The bridge in right field will be renamed Shea Bridge in honor of William A. Shea. I am pleased that it will not be renamed the Adam Dunn Bridge after the Washington National who claimed it as his own when he took one small poke for Dunn, one giant blast for everyone else. (In laybear's terms, he became the first player to reach the bridge with a home run.)

The stairwells will be painted in the traditional Mets colors (blue and orange, NOT black) instead of the drab gray that mirrored the feelings of the fans as they exited the stadium after each loss.

Outside Citi Field, full color banners will be visible on the Mets Plaza outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and the flowers planted outside the Plaza will be blue and orange.

The main addition to Citi Field in 2010 will be the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. A new Mets Hall of Fame committee, including long-time radio and TV broadcasters Gary Cohen and Howie Rose, will be formed to evaluate Mets Hall of Fame members. No player has been inducted since the late Tommie Agee in 2002.

These new additions will make Citi Field appear more like a Mets stadium and not Dodger Stadium East. That's all fine and dandy, but they seem to have forgotten one thing that this bear blogger just had to get up on his soapbox for.


Little Jeffy Wilpon and Omar Minaya had no problem getting cake into the tummy of Julio Franco. Why can't the fans have our cake and eat it, too?

We appreciate all you did in 2009 to make Citi Field an eater's paradise. The chicken nachos and cannolis were a welcome addition to an otherwise bland food selection at Shea Stadium. The eclectic selections would make any caterer blue and orange with envy.

If the team is going to cater to all its fans, then one more thing needs to be added. Since the team is renaming many things at Citi Field in time for the 2010 season, I'd like to offer my suggestion.

Ever since I found out about the Shake Shack that debuted at Citi Field this season, I've wanted the team to open up a Cake Shack, which would specialize in my fav'rit food. However, since I want to be known for my blogging ability and not for my penchant for wolfing down cake, I'd like to propose my idea for a new food stand, Citi Confectioneries.

Citi Confectioneries would specialize in candies, cookies and pastries. The cannolis can get special treatment there. They can also sell rainbow cookies, similar to the ones in the picture below. However, instead of the colors in the photo, they can be blue and orange surrounded by chocolatey goodness.

Holy cannolis, Batman! How hard would it be to add a Cake Shack and a Citi Confectioneries? If you can't do anything to improve the team this offseason, at least keep my sweet tooth happy. Then the fans who came to Citi Field dressed as empty seats in September can feast on something new while opposing teams feast on the Mets.

I don't expect any of this to happen at Citi Field next season, but perhaps if our readers could start a petition, it could become a reality eventually. I'd make my voice heard, but it would be rude to talk with my mouth full.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Free Agent Season Has Begun; Shop Early, Shop Often

Attention, GM shoppers! The Free Agent Warehouse is officially open for business. Throughout our store, you will find everything to help fix your team. From starting pitchers to power hitters. From bullpen help to role players. Everything is here to satisfy your needs. Please be aware that there are no rain checks in case we are sold out of the players you’re looking for. Also, we do not accept coupons. Yes, we’re talking to you, Daddy Less-bucks and Little Orphan Jeffy, so stop asking us if we have any “buy one, get one free” deals. It doesn’t work that way at the Free Agent Warehouse.

We hope you brought your checkbooks. We will have many registers open to help speed up your free agent shopping and numerous player agents will be on hand to assist you. If you have any questions, please direct them to our manager, Mr. Bora$. Now let’s take you on a tour of our store.

First, we have our electronics department. Here is where you will find all the gamers, such as John Lackey. His tenacity, determination and consistency will help your team fill a very important spot in the starting rotation. If you do not find John Lackey on the shelves, perhaps we can interest you in a different pitcher. We always have Joel Piñeiro and Jason Marquis in stock. They’re not the hot item of the week, but they can provide a cheaper alternative to John Lackey. For those inquiring about when Roy Halladay will be in stock, we were told that he will not be available at the Free Agent Warehouse for another year. If you are here for Halladay and only Halladay, please report to the corner pawn shop, where trading is encouraged.

You will also find batteries in our electronics department. A good battery consists of a pitcher who can throw any pitch and spot it exactly where his catcher wants. We just received a new shipment of Bengie Molina for any team who needs a replacement battery. Brian Schneider is somewhere on the battery wall, but he’s in need of some recharging.

From here, we take you to our lighting department. Without proper lighting, your home stadium will suffer from a lack of power. We have multiple items that may be to your liking. We have received many requests for Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. As you all know, without our customers we have nothing. Therefore, we are proud to announce that both Holliday and Bay are available. Power is not cheap, so we hope you came prepared to spend if you choose to brighten your stadium with those bulbs. If you have dark corners in your home stadium, we have Adam LaRoche, Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock, all of which can provide temporary power help. Of course, we still have our older models like Carlos Delgado, but we cannot guarantee that he will be bright for an entire season.

Over here, we have our hardware section. These players have the tools to bring a team together. They might not light up the scoreboard, but they provide the glue that solidifies the team. Orlando Hudson and Chone Figgins are our most requested items. Another item that may intrigue you is Mark DeRosa. He is one of our most versatile tools, providing assistance in your infield and outfield.

Our toddler section is under renovation, so you will not find any players there at the moment. We hope to reopen it by next year at the earliest, or perhaps in two seasons. By then, we’ll have Manny Ramirez and Milton Bradley as the toddler section’s main attractions.

Although you have all winter to buy the free agents we have in stock, please remember that all purchases are final. Also, we are not responsible for damaged goods. We are not forcing you to buy anything in our store. You’re making that decision on your own. If you make a poor purchase, it’s on your hands. However, if you find free agent gold, your fans will be dancing in the streets.

That’ll end the tour of the Free Agent Warehouse. We hope you found something of interest for your team. For those of you who need to use the rest room before leaving, please be careful when you flush so that your wallets don’t accidentally fall in. Yes, Mr. Minaya. I’m talking to you. We don’t want you to come up with a convenient excuse if someone else comes in and scoops up one of the players on your shopping list.

Don’t forget to come again soon. We’ll be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the winter to serve all of your shopping needs. We’re the Free Agent Warehouse, where no one has to go home empty-handed.

Note: The photo of the $100 bills at the top of this blog has a hidden meaning behind it. Besides the obvious reminder to Omar Minaya to use some of those bills this off-season, the #100 is special because this is the 100th Studious Metsimus blog. On behalf of Joey, I would like to thank all of our loyal readers for making the first 100 blogs a blast. Time to get started on the next 100!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hi Diddle Dee Dee! A Questionnaire For Me!

With thanks to Shannon Shark at Mets Police, (and a shout-out to the one and only Coop for bringing this to the attention of Studious Metsimus), here are five questions that all Mets fans should take the time to answer. If Mets fan extraordinaire Julia Stiles answers this questionnaire, please be sure to include your e-mail address at the bottom of your comment so we can...ahem...discuss your answers privately.

First you will see Joey's answers, followed by his colleague's answers. Enjoy!

Question #1: When did I start following the Mets?

Answer: June 20, 2004. That was the day I was born. I was born at the Mets Team Store at Shea Stadium. I was named after Jose Reyes, but immediately changed my name to Joey because I didn't know Spanish at the time and I wanted to be able to pronounce my own name.


Question #2: Favorite Mets memory?

Answer: May 17, 2007. The Mets were down 5-1 in the ninth inning against the Cubs and rallied for five runs to win 6-5. I was in Section 2 of the Upper Deck and I lost my voice. My colleague almost fell into the row in the front of him twice while he was jumping up and down in front of his seat. I would have paid to see that. Another Mets moment I will never forget was sitting in field level seats for Game 1 of the 2006 NLCS.

My fav'rit Mets moment would have been September 18, 2006 (the night the Mets clinched the NL East Division title), but someone forgot me at home that night.


Question #3: Worst Mets memory?

Answer: The day the picture below was taken. I was so embarrassed that day. Poofball hats and me; not a good combination.

Another horrible memory occurred when I dropped my cannoli at Citi Field. My colleague didn't go for my "five second rule". It was still in one piece. Why couldn't I pick it up? I don't even remember if the Mets won or lost that game. It was all about the cannoli for me.


Question #4: One off-field change I could make?

Answer: Two words - CAKE SHACK!


Question #5: First thing I would change if I owned the team?

Answer: Three words - MORE CAKE SHACK! (I'd also make sure that Omar Minaya would make himself available before each home game to sit in the Dunk Tank in the Fan Fest Area.)


Those are my answers and I'm sticking to them. Now here are the answers by my colleague. Let's see how wrong his answers will be.

Question #1: When did I start following the Mets?

Answer: It was during the 1981 season. I remember watching Mookie Wilson run the bases and fell in love with him (not that there's anything wrong with that) and the team. Then the strike happened. To this day, I wonder if major league baseball would have gone on strike had I not put a hex on Craig Swan that season.


Question #2: Favorite Mets memory?

Answer: For games I attended, we have October 3, 1999. That was the game Brad Clontz threw a wild pitch past Mike Piazza that allowed Melvin Mora to score the winning run and send the Mets "to some semblance of post-season play" (quote provided by Howie Rose). I also have fond memories of attending the division clincher in 2006 (sorry for leaving you home, Joey) and three post-season games that year, all of which were Mets victories.

Of course, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is not only my fav'rit Mets moment of all-time, it's also the single greatest moment of my life. I remember every moment as if it took place yesterday. I can still see my mother toss aside her lucky ceramic elephant after her "pollo", Keith Hernandez, flied out to Dave Henderson for the second out of the tenth inning. I picked up the elephant and we all know what transpired on the field after that. I threw the elephant up in the air after Ray Knight scored the winning run and it didn't break when it hit the ceiling at full speed. You just knew the Mets were going to win the World Series after that comeback.


Question #3: Worst Mets memory?

Answer: September 28, 2008. It was the day I said goodbye to Shea Stadium. It did not end with a celebration, but with a loss. Even the ceremonies after the game seemed funereal to me.

Another bad Mets memory actually happened on a day when the Mets won on a walk-off home run by Rico Brogna. The day was May 11, 1996. The Mets had a four-run lead on the Cubs and Pete Harnisch was pitching well. Then Cubs' catcher Scott Servais started jawing at Harnisch when Pete came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Harnisch turned around, got in Servais' face and haymakers ensued. I was sitting behind the Cubs dugout and the fight spilled over near where I was sitting. Of course, since I knew I would be a Mets blogger 13 years later, I figured I should get closer to the action to take a picture of the fisticuffs. Then my left cheek was introduced to Mark Grace's fist...

I never did get any pictures that day, but I did get a swollen cheek. The Cubs eventually rallied to tie the game in the ninth inning, but with one out, Rico Brogna hit a long fly ball down the right field line that just went over the outstretched glove of Sammy Sosa at the wall for a game-winning home run. The Mets won the game 7-6, but I took home some of Mark Grace's DNA on my cheek.


Question #4: One off-field change I could make?

Answer: Do not allow the Phillies team bus to enter the Citi Field parking lot for any reason. With a couple of forfeits, the Mets might have some meaningful games in September next season.


Question #5: First thing I would change if I owned the team?

Answer: First, I'd bring back Mike Piazza and have Zakk Wylde provide the music while the opposing team is batting. If Zakk Wylde is unavailable, just have Piazza play guitar for Skid Row. However, make sure Sebastian Bach is the lead singer. Otherwise, kidnap Zakk Wylde and blame it on Shane Victorino. Say he's still bitter for making the last out of the World Series.

The main thing I would want the team to change is the direction they're going in. Instead of focusing on Brooklyn Dodger references, the direction each bullpen faces and hiring members of the '86 Mets for any possible job within the organization, how about putting together a team that can beat the Phillies?

Start with pitching and go from there. If the team on the field next year performs better than the one that embarrassed us this year, then I don't mind paying an extra few bucks for my promenade seats. I'd rather have more expensive tickets and a competitive team than a minor discount and craparoni on the field. I would also make it mandatory for the vendor who shouts "SODA" to go out on a date with me.


That's it for this questionnaire, o beloved SMFs! Thanks for reading our answers and please leave comments with your own answers as well. Remember, there are no wrong answers, unless if you're a fan of the Yankees or the Phillies. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beltran And Francoeur To Receive Awards

The Mets might not have been inspirational on the field in 2009, but off the field, they remain inspirational to many of their fans. According to Marty Noble, two-thirds of the Mets' outfield will be honored with well-deserved awards in January at a dinner held by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Carlos Beltran will receive the Joan Payson Award for his community service. His philanthropical efforts, which include his contributions to the Harlem RBI Foundation and his own Carlos Beltran Foundation will be rewarded with this prestigious award, which was named after the Mets' first owner.

Jeff Francoeur will be presented with the Ben Epstein-Dan Castellano Good Guy Award at the Dinner. The award, which is named after two former sportswriters for the Yankees and Mets, respectively, is given to the player who's...well...a good guy. Or in this case, it goes to the best good guy of all the good guys who are qualified to be the best at being good. Is that good enough?

Members of the Yankees will also be presented with three awards at the Dinner, but that's not important right now. They've gotten enough attention recently. We wouldn't want all that attention to go to their overpaid heads, would we?

Congratulations to Carlos Beltran and Jeff Francoeur for their great play on and off the field. Enjoy your awards. They are well-deserved. Hopefully next year, you can both share one, perhaps in the shape of a World Series trophy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mets Must Sign The #2 Pitcher They Sorely Lack(ey)

If it's Saturday, it must be time for the weekly John Lackey blog on Studious Metsimus. In today's installment, we bring you hope that our favorite free agent pitcher might be pursued heavily by Omar Minaya. At least that's what David Lennon's article in today's Newsday seems to say when he reported that the Mets will be seriously bidding for Lackey's services when the righty hits the free agent market next Friday.

Omar met with Lackey's agent, Steve Hilliard, earlier this week and left the conversation with a favorable first impression. Although Lackey might command a contract worth up to $100 million, especially because he is one of the top free agent pitchers available, he might be had for less than that figure.

If you recall, last year Omar Minaya went into the offseason with the bullpen on his mind. Billy Wagner was not going to be available to the Mets and a replacement was the top priority for the team. He targeted free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and went after him hard.

The original reports had Rodriguez looking for a five-year, $75 million contract. The Mets were able to sign him for only three years and $37 million. Therefore, they should not be scared off by the initial $100 million amount being tossed around for acquiring Lackey.

If Omar can go into the Winter Meetings with the same determination he did last year to get what he wanted, he might be able to sign Lackey for much less than $100 million. The offer might start at four years, but if a fifth year is needed to get Lackey to sign on the dotted line, perhaps K-Rod's desires of a five-year, $75 million contact might become the magic number for signing Lackey.

What will it take to get John Lackey to smile for the New York Mets in 2010? Whatever the dollar amount is and however many years it takes, Omar must make sure his top priority at the Winter Meetings is signing John Lackey. Once he gets his man, then he can focus on the offensive side of the picture.

Johan Santana and John Lackey would provide the best 1-2 punch in the division. On days the offense hits the snooze button, having one of those two pitchers on the mound would make it easier for the Mets to have a chance to win. After all, can you really depend on Oliver Perez to win a 1-0 game?

If the Mets sign John Lackey, then pitchers such as Mike Pelfrey and John Maine can become the #3 and #4 pitchers they were always meant to be. There was no way the Mets were going to compete with either of these guys being their #2 starter. #2 guys are so high up on the pitching chain that they can't afford to be anything but consistent, a quality that Pelfrey and Maine did not possess in 2009.

The Winter Meetings begin in less than a month. It's time to put an extra log in the fire and hope it heats up discussions between Omar Minaya and Steve Hilliard. Getting that #2 starter will go a long way towards making the Mets a #1 team.

Does Fonzie Want To Be A Met? Correct-A-Mundo!

Aaaaayyyyy! Apparently, Fonzie wants to end his career as a Met. No, not Henry Winkler. I'm talking about former Met infielder Edgardo Alfonzo. According to Kevin Kernan in today's New York Post, Alfonzo yearns to play for the Mets again in whatever role they feel is right for him. He turned 36 last week and still feels that he has something left in his tank.

Alfonzo played the majority of his career with the Mets from 1995-2002 and is plastered all over the Mets all-time career batting leaders. He ranks in the top ten in batting average (.292, 6th all-time), home runs (120, 9th all-time), RBI (538, 6th all-time), runs scored (614, 3rd all-time), doubles (212, 3rd all-time) and Henry Winkler-related sports page headlines (1st all-time).

Spring training is still three months away and Alfonzo would like the Mets to invite him to Port St. Lucie. In Kernan's article, Alfonzo is quoted as saying:
“I’m prepared for anything. Baseball is the one thing in my life that I know how to do. I don’t expect to play every day, but I feel I can help anytime. I can say many things with my mouth, but I have to prove it.”

For the SMFs who believe that the Mets would be jumping the shark if they signed Fonzie, please remember that he does not expect to play every day. If he made the team, it would be as a role player. He could fill in at any of the infield positions and would offer leadership and guidance to the younger players.

Plus, he WANTS to be here. He could try to make any major league roster, but the Mets are the team he wants to play for. If he made the team, it would cost the Mets far less money than if they went out and got another veteran infielder. He might also accept a hometown discount, being that he wants to play in the city he called home for eight years.

The Mets only had to pay Gary Sheffield the major-league minimum salary in 2009. He responded by leading the team in home runs until Daniel Murphy passed him at the end of the season when Sheffield was injured. I'm not expecting Fonzie to do anything like Sheffield did last year, but neither is he. That's not why he wants to come to the Mets.

The Mets lacked leadership in 2009. Fonzie would provide a veteran presence in addition to being a serviceable bat off the bench who can play all four infield positions. Also, how can you say no to a man who has this to say about the Mets?

“My dream is to retire with the Mets colors. That’s my dream. That’s what I’m praying for. Maybe it will happen, maybe not, but dreams sometimes come true, you know. I have a lot of hope for my future. I want to show people I can play in winter ball. I love the Mets and I love the Mets fans. I would like that dream to come true.”

Fonzie is loyal to the team that gave him a chance back in the 90s. He was one of the core players that brought the Mets back to respectability and contention in the late 90s. Although he would not be one of the core players now, he can still provide leadership and be an influential figure in the clubhouse. Those intangibles don't show up in the boxscore, but winning teams are full of players who provide these qualities.

If the Mets want to give Fonzie a chance, then I wish him all the best. I have my #13 Mets jersey ready to go if he makes his return at Citi Field. After Mookie Wilson, Fonzie is my favorite Mets player of all-time. You wouldn't hear me complaining if the Mets gave him a second chance.

Dugout photo of Edgardo Alfonzo and his beanie baby friend by Sharon Chapman. (great shot, right?)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mets Addressing Bullpen Needs, But Not How You Think

With numerous holes to fill, the Mets have decided to address their bullpen first. However, they're not talking about adding another lefty to assist Perpetual Pedro Feliciano or a set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, the issues with the bullpen being addressed are where each bullpen will be located at Citi Field in 2010.

In his blog for the Star-Ledger today, Brian Costa reported that the bullpens at Citi Field are being restructured so that each team can have a non-obstructed view of the playing field. When the bullpens were originally constructed, the Mets claimed the bullpen adjacent to the field while the visiting team was given the dungeon. In all honesty, those players had a better view of the auto body shops on 126th Street than they had of the events taking place on the field.

It was always difficult for TV cameras to focus on which relievers were warming up in the opponents' bullpen because those pitchers were invisible to mostly everyone. The people who had the best view of those relievers were the fans posing for pictures by the old Shea Stadium Home Run Apple near the bullpen gate entrance to Citi Field.

What I'm curious to know is what this will do to the configurations of Citi Field. Consider the picture of the Citi Field bullpens shown below as they appeared during the 2009 season:

The Mets are planning on positioning the bullpens side-to-side, where the relief pitcher warming up will be throwing towards the outfield fence. Looking at the current dimensions of the bullpen, it doesn't appear to be feasible to position the home and away bullpens in this new way without moving the fences in front of the bullpen or behind it, although Costa's blog states that the bullpens can be positioned in this fashion.

The Mets have already said that they will not be altering the dimensions of Citi Field for the 2010 season. So what's going on here? Personally, I wouldn't mind the right field fences being moved in a few feet. It actually has nothing to do with the potential for more home runs being hit into the bullpen area.

Remember how Carlos Beltran used to glide towards the fence at Shea Stadium before timing his leap perfectly to rob an opposing player of a home run? I can't recall Beltran or any other player this past season robbing a hitter of a potential home run. The only places where the fence is short enough for this to happen is at the bullpen wall or down the right field line. Unfortunately, given the deep dimensions of Citi Field, by the time the centerfielder gets to the wall, the ball has already gone over it.

Another thing that bugs me about this move is that the Mets are doing this to accommodate the visiting teams. At Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the visiting team's bullpen is located above the Phillies bullpen, placing oppposing pitchers directly underneath the highly opinionated Phillies fans who are not shy to express their feelings about those pitchers from close range. The Phillies have not realigned their bullpens to make their opponents more comfortable, so why should the Mets do so?

It just seems like an unnecessary move to me. It makes it appear as if the Mets are more concerned for the teams we root against rather than the team we root for. Of course, if they're doing this because John Lackey or Roy Halladay prefers the bullpen to be facing in the new direction, then I'm all for it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Gold Glove For Wright; Guess He Didn't Hit Well Enough

The National League Gold Glove winners were announced on Wednesday but no Mets received the Midas Touch. There was no bling presented to Carlos Beltran or David Wright this year. Beltran's was expected since he missed half of the season. But what about Wright? Didn't he hit well enough?

Before you think I've forgotten that the Gold Glove is for defensive excellence and is not supposed to have anything to do with a player's hitting prowess, let me explain what I mean about Wright not hitting well enough to win the Gold Glove.

A few years ago, Derek Jeter was voted the worst shortstop in the American League. Although I don't think he's the worst, I also don't think he's the best. However, he won the Gold Glove this year despite what all the "experts" say about his defensive ability. Let's look at the stat sheet to see what Jeter did offensively this year.

He hit .334, which was his highest average since 2006 (he won the Gold Glove in 2006). He hit 18 HR, which was his greatest home run output since 2005 (he won the Gold Glove in 2005). He scored 107 runs, which was also his highest total since the Gold Glove season of 2005. He stole 30 bases, which was more than he had stolen in his two previous seasons combined. He did not win the Gold Glove in 2007 and 2008.

As 70s comedic icon Arte Johnson would say, that bit of news is "very interesting". In the two years that he did not win the Gold Glove, Jeter never surpassed 15 HR or 15 SB. He also did not hit for as high a batting average or score as many runs. But what do you know? He upped his batting average to .334, had an 18/30 split in the HR and SB department and voila! His glove automatically becomes golden!

This isn't as bad as 1999, when Rafael Palmeiro played primarily as a DH (only playing 28 games at first base) and was still awarded with the American League Gold Glove at first base. However, he did hit .324 with 47 HR and 148 RBI for the Texas Rangers that year, all of which were career highs and all of which were done while he was not doing steroids...period.

So that brings us to David Wright. This year, Ryan Zimmerman replaced Wright as the National League Gold Glove winner at third base. Wright had been bestowed the prestigious award each of the last two seasons. In both seasons, he was in the 30 HR, 100 RBI club.

Zimmerman has always been very good defensively, perhaps even better than Wright, but he averaged 19 HR and 71 RBI during the two seasons Wright won the Gold Glove.

In 2009, Zimmerman established career highs with a .292 average and 33 HR. He also added 106 RBI. On the other hand, Wright had the worst power season of his career, finishing with only 10 HR and 72 RBI. Of course, Zimmerman won the Gold Glove this season.

For the Mets to compete in 2010, they will need a bounceback season from David Wright, especially in the power department. Not only will a power surge help the Mets score more runs, but it might be enough to wrest the Gold Glove away from Ryan Zimmerman. After all, pitching wins championships but sluggers win Gold Gloves, right?

Carlos Beltran: A True Role Model For Today's Kids

Carlos Beltran has always been a soft-spoken leader, preferring to lead by example rather than through rah-rah histrionics. Throughout his career, he has been a player that has done everything well on the field. He can hit for average (.325 in 2009, career .283 hitter), hit for power (franchise record-tying 41 HR in 2006), steal bases (286 SB in his career) and play a Gold Glove caliber center field. He lets his talent do the talking for him on the field.

However, there is one area of his game that he is not quiet about. It’s an area that does not appear in the boxscores, does not make ESPN Top 10 lists, receives little to no press coverage and does not get enough attention on many baseball sites. It’s the charitable work he does off the field that impresses me more than anything he does on the field. Carlos Beltran has been hitting home runs off the field for years now and less fortunate children in New York and his native Puerto Rico are the beneficiaries of that extra effort.

When Carlos Beltran signed his seven-year deal with the Mets prior to the 2005 season, he had already been involved with numerous charitable organizations. He set up the Carlos Beltran Foundation in 2002 in the hopes of someday opening up a baseball academy for students in his native Puerto Rico. That “someday” is about to become a reality as the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy is set to open its doors.

The academy will serve to strengthen its students both academically and athletically. It is not meant to only serve as a place for school-age kids to hone their baseball skills, as is the case with other baseball academies. They’ll be there to learn as well, so they can take their education and apply it to the “real world” that awaits them once they graduate from the academy.

So many players from Puerto Rico and other Latin-American countries sign with major league baseball teams but come to this country unprepared in all things that are not baseball-related. They struggle with the language and other things that American-born players do with ease. It makes it very easy for people to take advantage of them, and if they don’t make it in the major leagues, they leave with nothing to fall back on. Beltran’s academy will emphasize the English language in its classes and will prepare its students for baseball and for life’s challenges so that they will not have to suffer through the hardships that other Latin-American players encountered.

Carlos Beltran has devoted so much of his time and money to realize his dream of opening this academy. Those dreams are about to come to fruition. However, just because he has spent so much time and effort with this endeavor doesn’t mean he’s taking it easy with others. In fact, he’s going above and beyond to help one particular local organization.

In 2006, Carlos Beltran was named honorary commissioner of Harlem RBI, which is an organization that provides inner-city children with the opportunity to play sports while getting a proper education, similar to what the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy is doing for children in Puerto Rico. In conjunction with being named honorary commissioner, Beltran agreed to donate $500 for every RBI he collected during the season.

From 2006 to 2008, Beltran never collected fewer than 112 RBI. Unfortunately, because of injuries that forced Carlos to miss half of the 2009 season, he only drove in 48 runs this season. According to his agreement with Harlem RBI, this would add up to a $24,000 donation. However, Carlos did not want to deny the children of money they would have gotten had he not missed so much playing time. Therefore, when he appeared at Harlem RBI on Wednesday, he donated $50,000 to the organization. The Mets matched his donation with a $50,000 contribution of their own, making the total amount of the donation $100,000.

Not everyone has been blessed with the extraordinary athletic abilities that Carlos Beltran possesses. Those who do have these abilities give children reasons to smile by hitting home runs or making a diving catch on the field. Carlos Beltran was once one of those children. He remembers what it was like for him growing up in his hometown of Manatí, Puerto Rico. It’s always difficult to balance school with sports, but it’s all the more difficult when you have to do it under tough financial situations. By taking what he learned from his childhood, Beltran is providing other children in similar situations with the opportunity to become the best players and the best people they can be. He has given back to the community that helped him get to where he is now and has not let success go to his head.

Carlos Beltran is a true role model for today’s youth. His contributions to society are just as valuable, if not more so, than his contributions on the field. As a Mets fan of Puerto Rican descent, I am proud to call Carlos Beltran my fellow countryman. But more importantly, I’m proud of Carlos Beltran, period. May he continue to succeed on the field and off. After all, Mets fans aren’t the only ones who are benefiting from his success.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oldies Aren't Necessarily Goodies

When Julio Franco was a Met, he vowed to play until he was 50. That didn't happen, but the way Omar Minaya has put this team together, the Mets might have a few AARP members before too long.

When the 2009 season began, more than half of the 25-man roster (13 players in all) was on the wrong side of age 30. Of those 13 players, only three of them made it out of the 2009 season alive (where alive is defined as not having been placed on the disabled list) and still on the 25-man roster. Those three players were Luis Castillo, Fernando Tatis and Pedro Feliciano.

The Mets did well to trade one of the members of the over-30 brigade for a younger player when they sent Ryan Church to Atlanta for 25-year-old Jeff Francoeur. They must continue to get younger if they don't want to break down again next season.

Over the past few years, Omar Minaya has tried to make splashes in the offseason through trades and free agent acquisitions. The problem with the moves Omar has made in the past is that he's gotten players who were past their prime, players who might help the Mets early on, but fall apart before their contracts end (see Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner). These players were under contract until they were past their mid-thirties.

When the Mets put together their back-to-back playoff teams in 1999 and 2000, the core players were Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura. Alfonzo was entering his prime and Piazza and Ventura were in their prime.

Those teams did well because they depended on the senior citizens to be role players and guidance counselors, not EVERYDAY PLAYERS! The Mets have depended too much on the elder statesmen over the past few years and as a result, they have broken down physically.

Generally speaking, a player is considered to be in his prime from the ages of 28 to 32. If the Mets sign someone to a long-term deal (i.e. at least four years), he cannot be older than 32. Should they sign a player who is already over the age of 32, it should only be as a role player and it should be a short-term deal. Surely, the Mets have learned from the mistakes they made in the past. Let someone else sign a player past his prime to the long-term deal and watch as they struggle to replace him when he breaks down.

If the Mets want to get back on the winning track, they should follow the program they used in 1999 and 2000, when they signed and traded for players in their prime (Piazza and Ventura) and used the veterans in smaller roles where they could be more effective (Rickey Henderson). Stay young, stay healthy, stay competitive. Is that so hard for Omar to understand?

Monday, November 9, 2009

MLB Execs Think Lackey Is Coming To New York

According to an article by Jerry Crasnick of, a recent survey polled 20 MLB executives (general managers, assistant GMs, etc.) on a number of topics, including where they believe free agent pitcher John Lackey will sign. They also revealed their thoughts on the possible length and dollar amount of his contract.

Of the 20 executives, the majority believe his new area code will be 718. However, will that be in the Bronx or in Queens?

Only three executives believe he will return to the Angels, while four think the Mets will sign him and eight believe the Yankees will buy him at wholesale price.

Lackey is originally from Abilene, TX, so it's surprising that the Rangers and Astros weren't seen as potential suitors for his services.

As for the years and dollars being bandied about, the executives believe that it could take as little as three years and $36 million (although this was an anonymous poll, I'll bet you Oliver Perez's sombrero that I know which GM thought Lackey would find that deal to be reasonable. Ollie's Money Ain't Reasonable!)

Other GMs thought it would take as much as six years and $100 million to sign Lackey. I don't think the Mets would go that high for Lackey as far as years go. I do believe they would sign him for that average annual value. They'd probably have to offer a minimum of four years and quite possibly five to get Lackey to come to Flushing.

It may take an A.J. Burnett-type deal (five years, $82 million), but Lackey is worth it. He is as consistent as they come and he will be coming to the National League, where he will not have to face a DH. Although he has begun each of the past two seasons on the DL, he has recovered well from each injury.

Of course, his intangibles also make him an attractive commodity. He is a fierce competitor and his tenacity on the mound is matched by few. One pitcher who could match him is Johan Santana. Imagine if Santana and Lackey were able to start 40% of the games in 2010. The Phillies would have to pray for more three-run homers because they surely wouldn't be able to beat that one-two punch.

If executives think John Lackey will be a New Yorker next year, Omar has to go all out for him the way he went all out for Johan Santana. He can't let the Yankees scoop him up. They added an ace and a solid #2 pitcher last year in CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and they helped lead the team to a World Championship.

If C(onstantly) C(hewing) Sabathia could be swayed to sign with the Yankees instead of with a team in his home state of California, then why can't the Mets do the same with Lackey? He is a native Texan, but if Omar can pony up the cash for this stud, he must rope him in.

Lackey would have to change his uniform number (his #41 is kind of reserved for a certain wine connoisseur. I think his initials are GTS.), but perhaps with a few extra numbers in his contract, he can put a new one on his back.

Now pitching for the New York Mets, John Lackey! I expect to hear that at Citi Field in 2010 and in the years following next season. Are you listening, Omar? You better be if you want to be at Citi Field in the years following 2010 as well.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joey's Soapbox: Mets Must Take Baby Steps First

Do you see the picture of me to the left? I'm taking baby steps in order to get across the bridge without falling over. (Thanks to my fellow blogger and hopefully soon-to-be Studious Metsimus correspondent, the super sweet Coop for her assistance.) If I tried to run across, I'd fall flat on my face and the people behind me would trample me.

That's what the Mets avoid doing in 2010. This past season, they took the failures of the previous two seasons and tried to do too much. They fell flat on their faces, injured them, went on the DL for months because of it and watched as the Phillies, Braves and Marlins trampled them in the standings.

If the Mets learned anything from their failures in 2009, it's that they must not try to do more than they're capable of doing.

For example, Oliver Perez signed a huge contract to stay with the Mets. Like any other player in his situation would do, he tried to justify his exorbitant contract by throwing a perfect game every time he went out to the mound. Once he would lose his perfect game during the Star-Spangled Banner, he'd press to retire that first batter and he'd turn into Charlie Brown on the mound.

When you try to do too much, you set yourself up for failure. Even David Wright was not immune to this. When Shea Stadium was dismantled, so was Wright's powerful bat. Too many of his fly balls became long outs or doubles, especially balls hit to the opposite field that might have been home runs at Shea Stadium. Not coincidentally, his strikeouts also went way up this year.

Despite the fact that Wright played in a career-low 144 games, he finished with a career-high 140 strikeouts. He pressed too much at the plate and the team suffered for it, no matter how hard he tried to be the David Wright of old.

Other players such as Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran and Frankie Rodriguez had excellent starts but when the team needed them to supply more due to the overwhelming amount of injuries, they both bypassed the baby steps and went into full "running across the bridge" mode. Johan and Carlos got hurt and Frankie got trampled by opposing hitters.

The 2009 Mets finished 70-92. There were no meaningful games in September to lose as in the previous two seasons. They did all their losing well before September began. Had the Mets not tried to do too much, perhaps they might have performed better on the field. At the very least, perhaps they could have STAYED on the field.

In 2010, the Mets must remember to take the baby steps before running across the bridge. They can't compete for a division title without getting back to .500 first. They should make that their first goal. Should they surpass that goal, then (and only then) should they go for the gold. If they try to go for it all too soon, Club Mets might continue to party like it's 2009.

Take it from a blogging bear. Falling flat on your face hurts. I know that all too well. So does Fernando Martinez (see photo, right). The Mets already did a face plant once (a.k.a. the 2009 season). The fans aren't going to accept it from them again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Song Parody: Omar the Red-Faced GM

The baseball season is over and GMs everywhere are preparing for next month's Winter Meetings. They will be shopping for free agents to present as stocking stuffers to their fanbase. That reminds me of the upcoming holiday season. It also reminds me that Studious Metsimus hasn't "composed" a song parody in a while.

Paying homage to the classic Christmas song composed by Johnny Marks and sung by Gene Autry in 1949 (back in the year when Yankee fans were doing midnight shopping for T-shirts commemorating their 12th championship), here is my alternate take on "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", focusing on our beloved general manager. After all, now that players have begun filing for free agency, Omar has to make sure he makes this team competitive and not load it up with guys from the Land of Misfit Players. Let's hope this song helps.

Omar The Red-Faced GM
Going into buying mode
Looking for a first baseman
Hope his name is not Ross Gload

All of the angry Mets fans
Pleading that he signs big names
They'll never forgive Omar
He's the one who gets the blame.

Then on Winter Meetings Eve
Wilpon came to say
"Omar, perhaps if you might,
Don't use up my funds tonight."

That's why no Mets fan loves him
As they live in misery
Omar the Red-Faced GM
Soon you will be history!

There you have it. Now doesn't that get you into the Christmas spirit? It's going to be an interesting three and a half months until pitchers and catchers report. As the days get closer, there might be more song parodies. Omar might inadvertently write some of the lyrics if he doesn't put together the right team to compete in 2010.

Omar's legacy will be decided during this offseason and the upcoming 2010 baseball season. Will he be the man who brought the Mets back into World Series contention or will he be the man who caused Studious Metsimus to win a Grammy Award for best song parody?

For Omar's sake, it better be the former instead of the latter. Those Grammy Awards can hurt once they're shoved far up a person's @$$!