Friday, December 21, 2012

Joey's Letter To Sandy Claus (2012)

Dear Sandy Claus,

Do you remember me?  I'm Joey Beartran.  I sent you a letter last year asking for various things, such as Johan Santana pitching an entire season, Jason Bay regaining his power stroke, and R.A. Dickey getting some run support so he could get some more wins.  That was not my entire list, but you get the idea.

Well, Johan Santana didn't pitch the entire season, but he did toss the first no-hitter in team history.  Jason Bay didn't regain his power stroke, but he did give Mets fan strokes with every strikeout, pop-up, or double play he grounded into with runners in scoring position.  ("But he hustles!!")  R.A. Dickey figured he wouldn't wait for you to grant me my Christmas wish for more run support, so he just went out and won himself the first Cy Young Award ever given to a knuckleball pitcher.  Then you traded him.

So it looks like I got some of the things I asked for in last year's letter, just not exactly in the way I wanted them.  I guess this year I'll have to be more specific with you.  I mean, I can imagine what it's like for you, doing double duty as the Mets general manager by day and gift-giver to all good girls and boys by night.  I do double duty here myself as the Studious Metsimus roving reporter and culinary expert, so I know that sometimes a detail or two might be overlooked.  Just don't do it with this year's letter, okay?  I mean it this time.

Anyway, here goes.  Pay close attention this time, will ya?

Hope I don't forget anything on my list this year.

I would like a brand-spanking new bullpen in 2013.  No, I'm not talking about the actual bullpen in right-center field where relievers warm up their arms (told you I was going to be more specific).  I'm referring to new relief pitchers who will be summoned from said bullpen.  We should not have to be subjected to the likes of Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista and Ramon Ramirez.  Were they being used because Mel Rojas wasn't available?  We need dependable relievers who can put fires out instead of the ones we employed last year, who came running in from the bullpen with their glove in one hand and a full gasoline can in the other.

I would also like a set outfield by Opening Day.  In fact I would just like one outfielder by the time pitchers (sans Dickey) and catchers (sans Thole and Nickeas) report to spring training on Bobby Valentine's Day.  Casey Stengel once said that the Mets had to draft Hobie Landrith first in the expansion draft because without a catcher, there would be plenty of passed balls.  Well, without an outfield, there will be a ton of inside-the-park homers hit against the Mets.  At least with one outfielder, the Mets will be able to keep the opposition to mostly triples.

Speaking of outfielders, I'd like you to re-sign Scott Hairston.  If it's a multi-year deal he wants, then it's a multi-year deal he should get.  Hairston was one of the team's most dependable power sources last season, hitting 20 homers in limited action.  That's an amazing number considering that no Met reached the 20-homer plateau in two of Citi Field's first three seasons.  When Daniel Murphy (Doubles Machine) leads the team in homers one year and Carlos Beltran leads the Mets in bombs another year - despite playing the final two months for another team - that should be a clear sign that the team needs a little more power in their lineup.  Scott Hairston can be paid with the money you wouldn't give to R.A. Dickey, and you'd still have some spare change left over to get yourself a Shake Shack burger or two.  Just don't touch mine.  I'm kinda attached to it.

You can have your cookies and milk, Sandy Claus.  I'll stick to my Shake Shack burger and fries.

I'd like Johan Santana to remember that this could be his final season in a Mets uniform.  Therefore, I expect him to make more than 21 starts, especially if he wants to get paid in 2014.  Santana will only be 34 on Opening Day, so he should still have plenty left in his tank.  Then again, Fred Wilpon's high school sweetheart (Sandy Koufax) was out of baseball by age 30, so you never know.  Regardless, if Santana is going to be on the active roster for all 162 games, he should not be pushed past his limit (which should be well before his 134th pitch) in any start.  With no R.A. Dickey in the rotation, Santana will once again be counted on to be the team's ace.  Aces make more than 21 starts.  Make a note of that.

As of right now, the starting rotation consists of Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee.  You don't need Dee Dee Ramone to let you know that adds up to 1-2-3-4 pitchers.  Since these are the 2013 Mets and not the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, I'm going to need a fifth starter in the rotation.  Mike Pelfrey is now a Minnesota Twin.  Unfortunately, he does not have a twin of his own that the Mets can slide into their rotation.  Speaking of former Mets, Scott Kazmir just signed with the Cleveland Indians, so he's unavailable.  And now the Mets are talking to the Dodgers about bringing back Chris Capuano.  At least they're not thinking of signing former Yankee Carl Pavano.  (Oh, wait.  Never mind.)  In 2009, the Mets needed a fifth starter and signed everyone they could.  Freddy Garcia Tim Redding and Livan Hernandez all competed for the job in spring training.  None of them fared very well.  All I'm asking for is a dependable fifth starter and not a game of musical chairs where the last one standing gets the job.  And if the last one standing is Carl Pavano, then he cheated and should be removed from consideration.

Finally, I'd like the Mets to continue to be patient with their minor league talent.  The team was right to keep Matt Harvey in the minor leagues for as long as they did.  When he was finally called up to the big leagues, he proved he was ready, striking out 70 batters in 59 innings and posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  The team should do the same with Zack Wheeler and the recently acquired Noah Syndergaard.  Similarly, Travis d'Arnaud should not automatically be on the Opening Day roster just because he was the big prize in the R.A. Dickey sweepstakes.  That's what the Mets got John Buck for.  In 1979, the Mets suggested to their fanbase to "bring your kids to see our kids".  A third of a century later, it's time for that slogan to make a comeback.  But there's no rush.  The kids will be here ... eventually.  And so will I.

If only Sandy Claus checked Twitter more often, I wouldn't have to send him snail mail.

So, Sandy Claus, did you get all that?  Let's review.

I need a new bullpen.  I need Mel Rojas to be perpetually unavailable.  I would like three outfielders, but I'd especially like one of them to be Scott Hairston.  I'd like a Shake Shack burger if you're going to get one for yourself.  I'd like Johan Santana to stay healthy and pitch like an ace.  I'd also like to know what Fred Wilpon is getting Sandy Koufax for Valentine's Day.  I'd like a fifth starter, and if one of them has the DNA of one of the members of the 1971 Orioles, I wouldn't object.  I would like you to get a restraining order on Carl Pavano so he's not allowed to go anywhere near Citi Field.  And I'd like you to take it easy with your kids in the minors so that when this kid goes to Citi Field next season, they'll be ready to perform like the dependable major leaguers I expect them to be.

That's not too much, is it?  And I was very specific with my requests, unlike last year when you kinda sorta gave me what I asked for.  I'm not falling for your trickery again this year!

Thanks so much, Sandy Claus!  I was a good bear this year.  Don't you forget it!

Love and best wishes for the 2013 season,
Joey Beartran

P.S. In case you don't give me Scott Hairston as one of my outfielders, can you at least get him to come over to my house?  I really enjoyed playing with him the last time we got together on the field.

Photo by Sharon Chapman.  "O"-Face by Scott Hairston.

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