Friday, January 15, 2010

Cannibalism, Mets-Style, Day 2

  • It works both ways:

After the Mets held a conference call led by assistant GM John Ricco in which they expressed disappointment in Carlos Beltran's decision to move forward with surgery on his troublesome right knee without specific club Story----Beltran shot back with the following statement disputing the Mets version of events:

“I am totally surprised by the reaction to my recent knee surgery. Any accusations that I ignored or defied the team’s wishes are simply false. I also spoke to Omar Minaya about the surgery on Tuesday. He did not ask me to wait, or to get another doctor’s opinion. He just wished me well. No one from team raised any issue until Wednesday, after I was already in surgery. I do not know what else I could have done. The most important thing here is that the surgery was a total success and I expect to be back on the field playing the game I love sooner rather than later.”

With all due respect to Carlos Beltran and trying to keep from sounding like a pompous jerk, I say the following: I'm a writer and I can tell you right now that Carlos Beltran did not write, nor did he utter the above statement.

I find it stunning that the same people who unload on superagent Scott Boras for his relentless prevarications in defense or promotion of his clients are so eager and quick to lap up a retort to an bewildered and understandable reaction from an employer's wishes being ignored. With the way GM Omar Minaya has been so embattled over the past year because of his faults, Boras is smart enough to know that the plan of attack in parrying allegations to protect his player is to drag Minaya into the argument as having "known" of the surgery. It's a figurative landmine for Minaya to again trip and set off yet another public relations waterboarding for the club.

Who really knows who heard what when? Who said what when? Whether the workman's compensation forms were filled out as a formality and signed in the event of the surgical procedure being agreed to by the third doctor the Mets preferred Beltran consult before moving forward? Who knows?

The timeline is essentially irrelevant. Nothing legal is going to come of this and it's turning into a war of attrition between the Mets and Boras; and neither has looked particularly good in the past or present. In this case, without going into detail of the "lack of trust" the players suddenly have in the Mets medical staff or whether or not the surgery was absolutely necessary (it sounds like it was), was the Mets request for Beltran to get a third opinion on the surgery such an outrageous thought? The surgery would've been pushed back a week at most. Why couldn't they wait if that's what the employer preferred?

It's an easy story to attack the Mets now, but is Boras some innocent who is relaying a nonplussed response from his player? Or is it a greater goal of protecting the contract in the ludicrously unlikely event the club tries to avoid paying it? Think about it logically and you'll come up with an answer.

If the media members who make a living bashing the Mets would look at the circumstances with some semblance of objectivity, they'd realize that both sides aren't wrong here; nor is this fodder for another "Mets as train wreck" story. It's done; it's a mess because of a miscommunication and has little to do with what happened last year with anyone other than Carlos Beltran.

Anyone intimately involved with the club from the players to the on-field management to the front office to the broadcasters has become so beaten down by the past three years going back to the collapse in 2007 onward that they're waiting for negative things to happen. They're helping to add to the litany of reasons why the club is snakebit. Even fans are partaking in ripping on their own team to exacerbate the situation and give unsaid approval to others in stepping up their attacks.

No one's willing to step back and see that this isn't that big of a deal. Beltran's not out for the year; the consensus is that the surgery worked; and that once he's back on the field, this will all be forgotten if the club plays well. They've had a very good off-season in their own right and due to the arrogance of the Phillies and insipid stupidity of the Braves. There's no reason to ratchet it up and expect another disaster because of a few bad days that have been blown out of proportion to an absurd degree.

  • Speaking of the Phillies...

From the classiest fans in sports, the same people who cheered at the possibility that Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin might've been paralyzed in the hit that ended his career, we get the beginning of the end.

So it was absolutely hilarious that the Mets are again dealing with a PR nightmare; the Phillies fans took great joy in laughing hysterically at the possibility that Beltran was out for the year...until it was revealed that Brad Lidge required knee surgery too and may miss opening day.

The arrogance----absolute and an invitation to disaster----is well on the way to being a self-created prophecy and life-lesson. Despite the idiotic masses cluelessly doling positive feedback on the series of moves the Phillies have made so far, the Lidge injury is the latest in the unraveling of the National League champions.

All the talk of Lidge having been awful last year is fine; but he's still their closer; and they still need him to perform. The club has not addressed their needs aside from the bench with Ross Gload. Their bullpen was atrocious last year and the losses of Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre will not be counteracted by the acquisition of Danys Baez. Their starting rotation is very, very shaky; and their lineup aging.

Are you ready to trust Baez or Ryan Madson to close games for a team with championship aspirations? To expect anything from Jamie Moyer? To hope that Cole Hamels returns in a better frame of mind than what he was when he wanted the World Series to end----regardless of the result----so he could go home? That Jimmy Rollins will rebound? That Placido Polanco is the answer at third base? That Raul Ibanez's rotten second half was a byproduct of a slump and not of hitting the wall? That Jayson Werth will repeat his career season after years of injury and mediocrity?

Maybe they can sign Kevin Gregg as "insurance"----then their off-season underhaul will be complete.

The Phillies have gotten fat over the past three years, mostly at the expense of the Mets; but it's glossed over that the epitome of a club that crumbled at crunch time from 2003 until that fateful September in 2007. The rest of the league hates them with a passion; they've made some ghastly personnel mistakes in the past three months and, most importantly, they and their fans are pushing fate with no thought to the consequences nor a memory of what life was like in those lost years of failure. Laughing and cheering at the misfortune of others is great until that call to figurative and literal vengeance is heard and its consequences underway.

You push fate too hard, and fate pushes back.

They won't learn until it's too late.

But they will learn. You can write that down in ink.

  • Marlins signing of Josh Johnson is business-as-usual for the club:

On the surface, the timing of the Josh Johnson 4-year, $39 million contract extension with the Marlins is easily connected to the agreement between the club, the Players Association and MLB itself to spend more money on players and development; but the truth is the Marlins would've provided this contract to Johnson one way or the other; and it's not going to stop them from trading him after 2011.

If you look at the details of the contract, Johnson will receive----$3.75 million in 2010; $7.75 million in 2011; and $13.75 million in 2012 and 2013----is top-light. You'll notice that they're not paying him all that much money for the next two years and this is a similar situation to the contract to which the Marlins signed Carlos Delgado in 2005. They backloaded the deal so they only paid him $4 million in 2005 of the $52 million guarantee and went for another championship. They didn't make the playoffs and traded Delgado to the Mets before the contract escalated.

Do you really believe the Marlins are going to change the way they do business to that degree? Johnson's value, if he pitches well, will be so huge by then despite his salary that they'll be able to do what the Marlins do time-and-time again by dealing him at his highest value while he's still locked up and bring back a bounty of prospects. The new ballpark; the agreement with the league and PA won't have anything to do with that ruthless and savvy front office from doing what needs to be done for the club.

It's business as usual in Florida.

And that's a good thing.

  • Viewer Mail 1.15.2010:

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes:

The podcast was great. I like listening to it at work. Go there, Prince!

As for the Mets... this all blew by me unawares. I'm glad I know about it now, and for your sake, that it ain't that bad. Queens might sink if the Mets have another injury infected season.

In contrast to previous years, I have an unexplained good feeling about the team this year. Perhaps because everyone's piling on now; or because they were quietly having a very good off-season before this, but they're going to be laughing by October. I can sense it.

Isaac at A Baseball Thing writes RE the Marlins:

I really respect the marlins front office, and I agree with you in that their system is very efficient, but I'm not so sure they'd be so great if they spent more money. I mean, I think it's possible that they have become so good at finding unappreciated players and making good trades because they have had to. Maybe if they had the money to lock up some players, they might miss chances of trading them for others who will be even better in the future, and might be able to sign free agents they want, but might become detrimental to the team later. I don't know if that will happen, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility.

The Johnson signing exemplifies what they do even if it's misinterpreted as a drastic change. If anything, they'll continue doing what they do and pour more money into scouting and development. If the organization is famous for anything, it's adapting and altering their system to spend some more money is a problem I'm sure they don't mind having. The Marlins will still trade anyone at anytime, without remorse.

  • My Podcast appearance:
In case anyone missed it, I was a guest on Sal's SportsFanBuzz podcast. Here's the link----Prince on the Podcast. It's good for what ails 'ya.


Jeff said...

"Laughing and cheering at the misfortune of others is great until that call to figurative and literal vengeance is heard and its consequences underway."

That's a really nice sentence.

I saw that Johnson signing and looked at the structure of it and thought to myself, "I know what's goin' on here..." and felt smarter than everyone else. That's a pretty common occurrence in my world.

She-Fan said...

So are you predicting that the Mets will win it all in 2010? Is that what your "unexplained good feeling" means?