Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A quick post tonight, because I want to go into the other room and watch 'Scrubs'.

I'll start with something I've been forgetting to mention the past few days. What with the new look of the site and all, I've added a new feature. There is a spot to comment on my daily postings, at the end of each days posting. You just click where it says "comments" and write what you're thinking. You don't have to, and I still hope people e-mail the site, but if something strikes you immediately and you want a say, go for it. You should know, if it's something inappropriate, I do have the power to override comments. Also, if the comments thing doesn't take off, I'll get rid of it. It's something I thought I'd try....for some reason, I opted not to do that when I first started the site...we'll see how long it lasts.

As for e-mail, don't forget that once a week we dive into the e-mail-bag (sometimes more than once a week!). The e-mail address is johnnymetsmail@yahoo.com


A couple of things struck me, out of spring training in Arizona:

GIANTS IDOL: The San Francisco Giants held a "Giants Idol" at their spring training complex Tuesday morning. From what I could tell, it was Giants team members competing in a singing competition in front of judges. Among the judges, Barry Bonds dressed in drag, as Paula Abdul. Now, I dislike Barry Bonds. Strongly. But for him to come out in a tube top and wig, and to play the part with some humor - it bodes well for Giants' team chemistry. He earned my respect for a minute, at least....probably a little longer with his teammates. Still, to hear his teammates talk about how good it was for Bonds to participate in something like this, it gives you the impression of what a bad teammate he usually is.

PADRE PIAZZA: I also saw an ESPNEWS feature on new San Diego Padres catcher Mike Piazza. I'm glad he's not in the East, because I love rooting for him - I hope he does well out in San Diego. I don't expect he'll put up big power numbers, but I hope he's able to bring his average back up and drive in some runs. The ESPN piece didn't mention this, but it sprang to my mind while watching - Funny that the Padres, managed by Bruce Bochy, are the team that took the gamble on Piazza, allowing him to be an everyday catcher. Bochy, a former catcher, probably is able to relate to Piazza. Hopefully for him, it's not living vicariously through Piazza for some unachieved dreams.

I think that's it for tonight - nothing else major came out of Port Saint Lucie today, anyway. Time for 'Scrubs' - I love that show.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Yesterday I wrote how I was getting pretty excited to see some baseball, in the form of the World Baseball Classic - of course if there is high quality baseball on, I'm going to watch it (I need to check my listings to see if I get ESPN Deportes). But lately, I've been thinking about the wrench it could throw into my dream Mets 2006 season.

I've talked many times about Pedro* and his toe, and how I think the toe problem is a good thing as far as Pedro*'s participation in the WBC is concerned. The likes of the WBC is the whole reason Pedro* has an asterisk next to his name - and I don't want to jinx anything, but last year made me believe we could have dropped the asterisk this year.

Not so with Carlos Beltran*. He proved he was very worthy of an asterisk...but a successful season this year could result in dropping the mark. But what if Beltran* gets hurt while playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic? That's on the Mets' dime...and it would be quite fitting, with their history of free agent signings.

I haven't touched much on the Carlos Delgado signing. I'll get more into it down the road, but I'm not expecting huge things out of Delgado this year. That's why he hasn't even merited getting an asterisk to this point. Delgado will put up good numbers, I think, but they won't be typical Delgado numbers. I expect a dip in his batting average, and I'd be very surprised to see more than 30 homers out of him this year. All that said, it would be just the Mets' luck if Delgado got hurt in the WBC and wasn't effective for the duration of his contract.

Those are some big names - but what about the youngsters? THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, has already dealt with his share of injuries. Last season was a joy to see what it would be like with Reyes playing healthy. We all wanted to see more of that. But isn't his participation in the WBC (for the Dominican Republic) playing with fire? Seems that way to me.

And David Wright plays every game hard. You better believe, if he ends up replacing Chipper Jones on the U.S. squad, he's going all out for his country, if he gets to play behind A-Rod. We don't need him risking his body in any games but the Mets' games.

I guess I agree with all the WBC naysayers - the tournament is a cool concept...but the timing is poor. The ideal time for the tournament would be after the season - not instead of spring training. By the way, there are more Mets than the ones I mentioned above participating in the WBC - among them, pitchers Juan Padilla, and closer Billy Wagner (see free-agent signing Delgado, above). And as for the players I mentioned above, I'm not entirely sure what their playing status is with their countries (whether or not they're starting, etc.) The information around all that is vague...and perhaps it's because some of these players still haven't given their official commitment. I just hope everyone gets out healthy.

PERSONAL THOUGHT: I am so glad I write this thing. It really keeps my excitement for the baseball season in check. I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how the Winter Olympics really did a nice job of helping us get through the down time of winter - after football season and before baseball season starts up. This year, the New York Rangers are doing very well, so there will be some meaningful hockey to watch down the stretch, as well as some meaningful college hockey, with my B.U. Terriers hoping to do well in the post-season. There's also the NCAA Tournament. But none of that can quell my excitement for the baseball season. Writing this helps a lot, though. After each posting, I know I'm one day closer to Opening Day, and all the great things that come with it.

SNY NEWS: The New York Daily News is reporting SNY is very close to a deal with Cablevision, so it doesn't seem like SNY is heading towards the same impasse that the YES Network dealt with. Every time I read about SNY, though, I never hear about DirecTV. I'm still hoping there's no problem there. Also, I wish I could break the big news of an SNY deal - as the official blogging partner of the Mets' new network. I suppose there's still hope - I've gotta get in touch with them somehow!

COMING THIS WEEK: There are a few interesting fantasy baseball-related events/topics that I want to address with my readership. I will try to post those sometime this week.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Good news, as far as I'm concerned, from mets.com Sunday. There was a big article about Cliff Floyd, and how he's convinced he will be hitting sixth this season. The reasoning: Carlos Delgado is hitting fourth, in the cleanup spot. That's pretty much as definite as things get this season. Floyd says Randolph won't hit the two lefties in a row, so that eliminates the third and fifth spots in the order, and Floyd says he definitely isn't hitting second. So he's hitting sixth. The big deal, though, is that it isn't a big deal.

I have seen a lot of maturity out of Floyd in his years with the Mets. It's not that he was ever a selfish player - I've always liked him. But he was injury-plagued, and the Mets had some very unsuccessful seasons during his tenure, so he had nothing to pursue but individual accomplishments. Last year, during the first half of the season, Floyd carried this team...and he did it because he sensed they could do special things. Now, he knows this season can be even more special...and I think he knows that his time is running short. So Floyd (and, it seems, everyone else on the team) is really playing up the "if we're going to win a championship, we're going to do it as a team". He says even though he was the cleanup guy last year, he will hit sixth if that's what it's going to take for the team to win. The "we" and "team" aspects of the article on mets.com were very good to see - and the number of players who feel this way is also very encouraging. I think a big clubhouse guy this year is going to be Julio Franco - and I think his influence is already starting to show in the way the Mets are acting.

2B UPDATE: Jeff Keppinger will be in New York Monday to have his back checked. He apparently tweaked it doing some jumping exercises...I may have to take back what I said about Keppinger taking over 2B for the Mets. This injury, combined with Kaz Matsui's conditioning really point towards Matsui winning back his job.

WBC: I was looking for some information on the World Baseball Classic today, and found the World Baseball Classic Website. It's pretty thorough, and looking through that website a bit will get you psyched for the tournament. It starts Thursday, by the way, with games in Japan. I figured out why it hasn't been talked up that much here yet (at least the games - the players who won't be playing have certainly been talked about plenty) - it's because there are opening round games in Japan, then North America. From what I can tell, the Japanese games start first, so that by the time the North American games end, the teams that come out of Japan will be able to travel, and won't be at a disadvantage when they have to head this way. The North American games, by the way, start a week from Tuesday - around March 7th.

'86 METS ROUNDUP: A couple of bits of information here - I was driving back from upstate New York early Sunday morning, and caught some WFAN programming. I was listening to a little of Ed Randall's 'Talking Baseball', live from Shea Stadium with members of the 1986 Mets (who were greeting fans buying tickets at Shea). Unfortunately, I could only hear one complete interview, but it was a good one. I heard Ron Darling talk about a few things - among them growing up a Red Sox fan, and his experience the night of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (a good story, which I will relate in a future '86 Mets roundup). And I have to apologize - the other day I wrote that Ron Darling wasn't as good an analyst as Keith Hernandez. He's a captivating speaker, at least he was on the radio Sunday morning. And I thought about his work for the Nationals, and I am realizing that the Nationals played a very boring brand of baseball. So I'm not going to hold that against him. I'm looking forward to Darling's analysis this season.

Also in '86 Mets news: Darryl Strawberry will be at the Mets' Spring Training Complex all next week in many different capacities. Strawberry is apparently a huge draw still for fans and for players. He will serve as an advisor for players, and a P.R. draw for the rest of the organization.

SNY UPDATE: I am working very hard to make sure that the Mets' new network, Sports Net New York, is going to be carried on DirecTV. I've been looking forward to this Mets' new network ever since I got the dish, and I would be heartbroken if they don't end up carrying the network. This week, time permitting, I am also going to step up a new effort: I want to be the official blog of SNY. Think about it - I can link to their website - they can link to mine! (I might benefit from that relationship a little more than them, but still....) This has some very good potential. I went looking for some information about the new network, and I will say this - right now my website is in much better shape than theirs. But that means nothing - I still want this partnership to work!

Friday, February 24, 2006


I guess the most important thing to note from Day Two of camp was the lack of Pedro Martinez*. He had some "personal business" to attend to, and left camp, but will be back on Saturday. Willie Randolph said Martinez* was still in Florida, within two or three hours of Tradition Field. Martinez* has been a good soldier so far, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that this was something important, and not Pedro* up to his old tricks (read: pulling a Manny).

Speaking of Pedro*, and Manny, the big news in the Friday papers was that Manny would not be participating in the World Baseball Classic, and it looked "very doubtful" that Pedro* would be participating too. Well, I don't know what's up with Manny, but I said here on Thursday that Pedro* would probably play, just not in the first round (based on what I could glean from various reports). On Friday, a date was set for Pedro*'s participation - he's scheduled to pitch in a second-round game in the Classic on March 13th. I like getting one over on the papers.

There's some good stuff in the Friday papers too. It might be too late by the time many of you read this, but John Harper had an excellent article in Friday's New York Daily News basically outlining why it's impossible not to like David Wright. In case you can't get to it in the Daily News archives, Harper told how there was a photo shoot on Thursday for ESPN The Magazine, on which Wright is supposed to be the baseball cover boy in a couple of weeks, and how Wright also has an endorsement deal with Wilson, the glove manufacturer. He quoted Wright as saying these types of things bring attention to him, which means he only has to perform better. The article also talks about Wright's friendship with Cliff Floyd, and how he has stayed well grounded despite his growing fame. (I just hope he stays that way throughout his career - I would hate to see him change into the cocky athlete that has come to typify Major League Baseball.)

Here's the best thing about Wright - which is touched on in the article. He talks about how much he wants to win - and how much he wants to win for the fans of New York. He says there was a game last year, when the Mets were chasing the Phillies, and were just a game out, where Shea Stadium was sold out, and was rocking because it was so loud (say what you will about Shea, it's a dump, good riddance when they get a new stadium.......but when that place is packed and gets loud, it's an awesome place to be). He says he wants there to be 50,000 cheering like that all summer. Here's a point that comes up a lot - and in most cases I believe it. I heard this argument last on Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPNRadio. The argument: fans care more about the results on the field, in some cases, than the athletes playing the games. Athletes say they have to put losses behind them because they have to turn around the next day (or in the case of pro football, the next week) and get ready for another game. For the fans, the loss sits with them until the next win. And there's no reward, really, for being a fan. The athletes get paid, we pay lots of money - on merchandise, tickets, etc. So, in most cases, I believe a fan cares more about a game than certain athletes do. But it's players like David Wright (at this stage in his career...and hopefully, throughout his career) that appreciate the fans, and want to win as much as the fans want a win, that make it worth rooting for. So a good article on Wright by John Harper in the Daily News, with some editorializing by me.

By the way - it's that desire to win that has David Wright diving all over the field for ground balls hit by a coach during Day Two of spring training workouts,

SPECIAL: In his address to the players on Day One of Spring Training Thursday, Willie Randolph told the players that they needed to "get ready for a special season". This is going to be a fun season - I just hope everyone can stay healthy.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Kaz Matsui has reported to camp in incredible shape. He's been working with his own personal trainer - a former teammate from Japan. (In accordance to club policy, the trainer won't be able to go into the clubhouse, either at home or on the road, but Matsui is welcome to work out with him on his own time.) Matsui's condition has been drawing raves. And on Thursday, in opening workouts, Matsui hit a homer off of flamethrower Billy Wagner. Might not want to read into that too much, though - don't forget that Matsui has homered on the first pitch he's seen each of the past two seasons - so the first day of spring training is no different. Willie Randolph had a funny comment about it too - first he complimented Matsui because at this point of spring training, everyone says the pitchers are way ahead of the hitters, so for Kaz to get a homer was a good sign. But Randolph went on to say that Matsui probably got lucky, and just stepped into one. I'm going to say this one more time - and it might not be the last one. I really have always liked Kaz Matsui, from the beginning. He's started to wear out his welcome, but if he earns the starting second base job, and performs well this year, I'll be thrilled. He has been a great clutch hitter, so I can see him contributing. I would love to see Matsui at second, and let Keppinger have another year at Triple-A, and if that happens, I will be leading the "Comeback Player of the Year" charge for Kaz Matsui.

RESPECT FOR RANDOLPH: I think part of the reason Pedro Martinez* has been such a good soldier for the Mets has been the fact that he has a lot of respect for Willie Randolph, being a former player. There was a throwaway line in one of the papers about Randolph, and how the players respect him since he played the game - among the players mentioned were Martinez* and Cliff Floyd. I'm thinking back to Pedro*'s past managers - Felipe Alou, with the Expos, where he didn't act up - I'm sure he respected Alou. And breaking in with the Dodgers, he would have had to have been crazy to disrespect Tommy Lasorda. With the Red Sox, Pedro* played for Jimy Williams/Joe Kerrigan/Grady Little/Terry Francona. I don't think he necessarily DIS-respected any of those guys, I just think he has more respect for a former player (Randolph) than he did for any of the above. Just a thought.

USING THEIR HEAD: The Mets are among a few teams (I've heard the Angels mentioned as another) that will be using a new form of aerodynamic helmet this season. The helmets are supposed to help cool the head, but also provide better protection. They have air holes in them, and the Mets have one style that will actually be two-tone. Should be neat.

I'm away for the weekend, and school resumes next week, so though I will try my best to keep updating during spring training, I can't promise everyday updates. Please check back often - I'll get into regular updates during the regular season.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Mike Tannenbaum appeared at the podium Thursday during the NFL Network's coverage of the Scouting Combine weekend.

Here are a couple of observations - not counting the fact that I've decided I don't really like Adam Schefter of the NFL Network very much.

On Chad Pennington: Tannenbaum says the Jets are actively involved in negotiations with Pennington, and they are working towards a resolution.

Pennington is due a 3-million-dollar bonus on March 3, and the Jets are trying to get him to decline the bonus and restructure his contract.

On "the plan": The Jets are comfortable with what their plan is, says Tannenbaum. He says the Jets will be where they need to be by next Thursday.

The Jets need to be under the salary cap by next Thursay - right now, they are over the cap - but not nearly as much as they were yesterday, before cutting Fiedler, Law, Fabini, and Sowell, and restructuring Curtis Martin's contract. The Jets slapped the franchise tag on John Abraham, which, if he agrees to that deal, would require more maneuvering by the Jets. By the way - teams always "slap" the franchise tag on someone. That gives it such a negative connotation. Maybe John Abraham (who is going to be traded, by the way) wouldn't be so upset with the franchise tag if the Jets "gently placed" the franchise tag on him.

On next season: Tannenbaum says the Jets will play the best players who give the Jets the best chances to win.

That's pretty obvious.

On the draft/combine: Tannenbaum says the Jets will be evaluating all players at all positions.

Eric Mangini is scheduled to be on Total Access tonight on the NFL Network - I'll see if I can catch that and add to this.

In wrapping up Tannenbaum's news conference, Jim Mora, an analyst on the NFL Network, says the Jets need to pick the best football player available with their fourth pick in the draft. They can't worry about position, since they have so many needs - they just need to pick the best player available.

Maybe a Mangini update later tonight/tomorrow....
No news out of the Mets' first spring workout, which took place Thursday morning at 9 o'clock. No news is definitely good news - we don't need to be hearing about injuries or camp mishaps on Day 1.

That said, I'll spend a little bit of time today talking about the future of the Mets.

2B Anderson Hernandez and OF Lastings Milledge are the two big Mets prospects to keep an eye on this year. Both seem to have made it through the off-season without being traded (though I wouldn't put it past Omar Minaya to trade Milledge for whatever pitchers might become available...I hope he doesn't). Both Hernandez and Milledge will be in Triple-A this season. (Milledge has yet to make it to the majors, Hernandez was 1-for-18 in his September call-up last year - but is better known for his fielding.) But I'm thinking ahead - to 2007. Cliff Floyd is playing his last season under his current contract. Negotiations with the Mets won't happen until after this season. But if Floyd doesn't re-up with the Mets, Milledge could get his shot in 2007. And the big question mark at second base could be filled by Hernandez in 2007 (providing Jeff Keppinger doesn't take it over this year and not give it up). Point is, the Mets, offensively and defensively, could be set for quite a while, considering the relative youth at all the other positions (Wright, Reyes, Beltran*, Nady/Diaz) - only Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca are on the wrong side of 30.

BUT - I'm not sure the Mets are built for too far into the future - because their pitching staff is getting very old. The trades of Jae Seo and Kris Benson really hurt this year's depth in the rotation, but did some damage to the rotation of the future as well. It's realistic to think that Victor Zambrano and Aaron Heilman could be around for a while, but Pedro Martinez*, Tom Glavine, and Steve Trachsel are all up there in age (35, 40, 36 this season), and could contribute MAYBE one more season after this one (depending on how successful even this year is). Billy Wagner, even, is on a 4-year-deal, which will be his last one in the majors, he says. And the rest of the bullpen isn't the greatest in baseball this year - let alone in years to come - but more on that as spring training progresses.

There's not much help in the minors - the number one pitching prospect, Yusmeiro Petit, was traded to the Marlins in the Delgado deal, and none of the other minor leaguers are sure-fire prospects. So that's one area the Mets really need to work on. There's plenty of hope for a championship the way the team is constituted this year...but I'm looking for more than just one year of glory. And for that to happen, the Mets are going to need to bolster certain areas. The good news is, the core is there - some pieces are in place - but there's lots to go to make this a team to dominate for years to come.

PEDRO'S TOE: It seems like Pedro* will not pitch in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. I had mentioned that I didn't think the toe was that big a deal, in other words - it wouldn't cost Pedro* time with the Mets, and it wouldn't stop him from being effective this year. I still believe that. But I also mentioned I think it's Pedro*'s way (along with the Mets) of not having to do something extra-curricular, i.e. the World Baseball Classic. He doesn't like stuff like that. But I do think he really does want to pitch for his country - so I think Pedro* and the Mets are reaching a compromise, where Pedro* will pitch later in the Classic, when he works up his arm strength, and when he would be more intense during spring training anyway. I think that's where we're headed, and I'm thrilled about it - because I could easily see the Mets' hopes for 2006 going down the drain with a Pedro Martinez* injury from the World Baseball Classic.

FIGHTING WORDS: Andruw Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he isn't worried about other teams (i.e. the Mets) unseating the Braves atop the NL East. He says every year they hear about different teams coming in ready to take over the division, and they never do it (citing the Mets last year and the Phillies the year before). He says the Braves have been there each and every year, and know what to expect, and know how to win, and the other teams are still learning how. He's right of course...but the Mets can use that as bulletin board fodder.

Another interesting point, Braves-related: Julio Franco talked the other day about how the Braves don't get up for any particular opponent. They treat every game the same, no matter what uniform the other team is wearing. This would be well-received advice, if he shares it with his new Mets teammates. The Mets tend to get a little more riled for games with the Braves, though those games have met with very limited success in recent years.

UNBELIEVABLE: I'm still on my mission to stop this word from being so overused. I've written about it before, both here and on johnnyjets.blogspot.com. It's especially overused in the sports domain, mostly by broadcasters. It's a crutch, when there's nothing else to say, to throw this word in to describe an event. (I've noticed it a heck of a lot in the Winter Olympics - especially in those sports where very new people are being used to broadcast - i.e. A.J. Mleczko doing women's hockey - she described everything that happened as "unbelievable"...and certain people as "unbelievable talents". They're in the Olympics - I believe they are talented.)

Anyway, it bothers me, and I'm hoping the Mets' new sports network, which I know monitors this site, will make sure their broadcasters avoid overusing the word (I must say, baseball is the sport where the word is used the least - football is the more guilty culprit). Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez are the new color men, and I'm sure Hernandez won't be using the word - he's been awesome when he's done Mets games. Darling I'm not so sure about - he was doing Washington Nationals telecasts last season, and while his analysis was good, he wasn't very exciting to listen to - I can see him slipping into "unbelievable" territory this season. I'm going to be watching for the overuse of "unbelievable" this year - and hopefully eliminate it from my own vocabulary - unless something truly "unbelievable" happens. (In case you're wondering what would be a proper use of "unbelievable", I mentioned the Cardinals' comeback/Albert Pujols' home run in the Game 5 of last year's NLCS. That is a truly "unbelievable" event - because no one saw it coming. We need to save the word for those types of situations!)

'86 METS ROUNDUP: In the season's first installment of the '86 Mets Roundup, Darling, Sid Fernandez, Howard Johnson, Tim Tuefel, and Mookie Wilson will all be at Shea Stadium Sunday morning at 9am, when individual game tickets go on sale.

ONE MORE THING: This afternoon I was watching some of the NFL Network's coverage of this weekend's scouting combine (more on that here), and I was thinking that if there was an MLB Network, I would never change the channel. Imagine - coverage of all the different spring training sites this time of year....non-stop coverage of the hot stove...classic baseball games to fill the gaps...get going on this Bud Selig!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There's a lot to update on the state of the Jets. I don't have time for all that now...time to focus on the Mets. But I didn't want to completely ignore the latest developments.

First, personally, I am mad at Herman Edwards. The Jets knew they were heading for a tough off-season, what with the salary cap problems, and the big contracts that would need to be restructured or released. I think Edwards is part coward, because he had a chance to escape all of these tough decisions by taking the job in Kansas City.

Today, the Jets released Ty Law, Jay Fiedler, Jerald Sowell, and Jason Fabini. None are huge surprises, especially Law and Fiedler. Sowell and Fabini were long-time Jets, so these moves sort of go along with the change of regime. Things are going to look a lot different on the field next year. Look for B.J. Askew to be a big factor at fullback.

Curtis Martin had his contract restructured, so it looks like he's a part of Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum's plans. Mangini says he really respects Martin, and since Martin is such a good veteran influence, he will be THE guy in the lockerroom.

The big question still surrounds Chad Pennington. He didn't get cut today, so that's a good thing. March 3, I think, is the deadline for these decisions to be made...and there's still a significant possibility that he will be cut. I just can't see it. Sure, he's being overpaid right now, because he's been injured. But what he has done for this organization has earned him the right to at least compete for his job over the summer, and I think, given that chance, he will show that he is still capable of leading the offense. I know, I'm an optimist - maybe unrealistic. But he's had full healing time, and he's a competitor (not to mention a winner) - and people don't believe in him right now, so I think all of that points to a better Chad Pennington this season. Cutting him, I think, would be a mistake. As for the anonymous Jets player who compared Pennington to an "egg" in the pocket - it was probably an offensive lineman, whose fault it is that Pennington has taken the hits that have contributed to him being injured.

That's where I'll leave it for now - there's going to be lots to talk about this off-season, and if I'm not absorbed in baseball, I'll devote some time to the Jets.


I'm going to try to spice up the blog a bit this year, since we all expect 2006 to be THE YEAR, and traffic will probably hit an all-time high. So I'm starting with the look of the blog, and there will be different features that I will be letting you know about as the season draws closer. (I'm very excited about the METS-FAN-O-METER, which is still an idea in my head, but will appear in some form by the beginning of the season - it may also have a different name by then...not the blog - the METS-FAN-O-METER). I've also decided that blogs with pictures and clever links are the wave of the future (is it 'way of the future' or 'wave of the future'?). So that's where we're headed.

Also, the wife is expecting, and I don't want my child to think I'm running a rinky-dink site here. Yep, big news of the personal variety - due date is September 30 - hopefully just in time for the World Series Championship.

Mets' camp is kind of quiet these days - there's lots going on in Jets camp, but that's a story for another site.

That just leaves me with a couple of comments. Earlier in the offseason, word was that Willie Randolph was very resistant to a lineup with Carlos Beltran* in the 2-spot - he really wanted Beltran* to stay number three in the lineup. Today, though, it sounds like he's willing to consider moving Beltran* - the Daily News has a report where Randolph says he'd rather have Beltran* steal 40 bases than hit 25 homers this season.

I'm going to go on record, today, February 22, 2006, and say Beltran* will hit .316, with 21 homers, and 93 RBI, stealing 37 bases for the year. I would be more than happy with that, and I bet a lot of Mets fans would. I also bet Beltran* is hitting in the two spot for the majority of the season - it was one of the moves Randolph made last year that worked perfectly. Boy, those numbers look really good. I can't WAIT for baseball season!

I mentioned yesterday the big '86 Mets Reunion August 19 at Shea. I hope to be there - and I'll try to get pictures for johnnymets.blogspot.com. I'm not sure how many Mets home games I'll be going to this year, but I do know I will see them at least twice on the road. I'm taking a trip to California in April, and in addition to seeing an A's game and a Dodgers game, the wife and I will be seeing the Mets play the Padres in San Diego. I'm psyched about that. I'm also excited about seeing the Mets at Fenway in June - we're going to the Tuesday night game. Hopefully I'll be able to somehow score tickets for the rest of that three-game series. My goal is to see as many Mets games as possible this season. Hopefully I'll be taking some trips to New York.

This isn't an '86 Mets Roundup...just a "Former Baseball Player Update": Did you hear this comment from Darren Daulton? I'm not sure what the source is - I heard it yesterday on Jim Rome's radio show - apparently Daulton has become a bit, well, religious, and says God has spoken to him, and Daulton says (via God, I guess) the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, (12/21/12) at 11 am. I think it was 11am - the point is, it wasn't 12! And my question is, why not? If someone is going to go through the trouble to end the world on a cool date like 12/21/12, why would it happen at a weird hour? Why not 12 o'clock - or 9pm (21 o'clock in military time)? And I guess the more important question is, what has Darren Daulton been doing since retirement?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Being a teacher in my non-blogging life, I am on vacation - February break. The beauty of February break is twofold. One, I don't have to go to work. Two, it coincides with the very beginning of spring training, so it is the perfect time for me to start up the ol' Mets site, and start talking baseball.

Clearly, Omar Minaya reads the blog (Hi Omar!), as he did not trade for Manny Ramirez, and had the good sense not to throw his hat into the Sammy Sosa ring (OK, maybe it didn't take that much sense, considering Sosa is a disaster waiting to happen on some unsuspecting team [read: Nationals], but if Minaya really did have a predisposition towards Latino ballplayers, at least he only picks the ones who don't stink, and who don't cheat, and who are actually pretty good.). I may not have addressed the Sammy Sosa thing, but I was pretty adamant that he not acquire Ramirez, so it is clear that not only Minaya reads the blog, but also that he can read my mind.

Where to start....where to start.....how about the mailbag?

"Dear JohnnyMets,

I think that this is the year for the Mets. I don't necessarily think they'll win it all this year, but I think this is their best chance. Young talent coming into its own, finally a stable bullpen, and a starting rotation that realizes it has just one more chance.


Dave in Brighton"

Ah, good old Dave, e-mailing in the dead of winter. Yes, this appears to be the year for the Mets. Let's take a look at the position players, and the rotation, to consider my thoughts, and leave the middle relief for another day, because that's still sort of a mess.

C: Paul LoDuca
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Kaz Matsui for now, with Bret Boone invited to spring training, and watch out for Jeff Keppinger!
3B: Future Hall of Famer David Wright
OF: Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran*, and Victor Diaz/Xavier Nady

P: Pedro Martinez*, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Victor Zambrano, Aaron Heilman
Closer: Billy Wagner

Second base is wide-open right now - and I think Keppinger stands a very good shot at making the major league roster, and even unseating Matsui. Here's why. At the end of the 2004 season, Keppinger played very well in the call-up playing time he got. He hit .284, even popped 3 HR's, in 116 at-bats. He was off to a very good start in Triple-A last year, but got taken out at second on what was called a "dirty slide" by either manager Ken Oberkfell or hitting coach Howard Johnson while trying to turn a double play. It messed up his knee, and he missed the rest of the year. Well, I think we will be keeping a close eye on Keppinger this spring, here on johnnymets.blogspot.com, because I think he could be the Mets' second baseman.

Other than second base, the only unsettled position is right field. Victor Diaz played well last year, getting his first extended Major League action, but the Mets traded Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady, and you better believe it's Nady's position to lose. Diaz's defense is questionable, and he has options left, so he faces an uphill battle to win the spot - where Willie Randolph says he'd rather not use a platoon.

The pitching rotation is solid.....but not deep. I've said it before, I really wish Aaron Heilman could keep coming out of the bullpen, because he was so reliable in that role last year. But the trade of Jae Seo (see posting below) means Heilman is all but assured of the number five spot in the rotation, and the trade of Kris Benson means there isn't much depth. This is something I will talk about more as the season goes on, but the last thing I want to say is I do NOT think Pedro Martinez*'s toe is something to get upset about. He's been drumming it up for a while, and while he says he wants to play in the World Baseball Classic, I don't think he really does, and I don't think the Mets want him to. So there is a legit problem with the toe, but I think it will be OK for him to pitch, and pitch effectively, come April.

As spring training progresses, I'll talk more about the Mets' roster and the players fighting for roster spots. For now, I'll give spring training updates:

--The Mets have their first full-squad workout on Thursday.
--David Wright has lightened his workload this year, so hopefully he won't go stumbling into the All-Star break like he did last year - fatigue was blamed for his slump in early July. He's taking less grounders after team workouts, and not as much batting practice. This should pay off, especially when you consider Wright should be making the All-Star team this year, instead of getting that time off (the secret's out - Wright's a star).
--By the way, Chipper Jones' son, Shea, is sick, and in the hospital, so there's a chance he might not play in the World Baseball Classic. If it turns out he does not play, Wright will be taking over Jones' spot, and that means he could be facing an even longer season of competitive ball.

The final note for today is that 2006 is the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Champion Mets. The Mets have a nice patch that I think they'll be wearing on their sleeves commemorating the anniversary, and they also have different events throughout the year celebrating the '86 team. The celebrations culminate with an August 19th matchup with the Colorado Rockies where the entire team (hopefully, for my sake) will reunite. Some players will be easy to find - especially Hall of Famer Gary Carter, who was promoted from his successful Gulf Coast Mets stint (37-16 in his first year) to the Florida State League, still in the Mets' organization. He replaces fellow '86 Met Tim Teufel, who says he's taking a year off from baseball.

Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez will be in the Mets' broadcast booth - both will divide time as color analysts on the Mets' new network, SNY (which better be picked up by DirecTV). Also, Roger McDowell replaces Leo Mazzone as the Atlanta Braves' pitching coach this year - he will probably be unavailable for the reunion.

Needless to say, along with this year's Wright Watch and Kid's Kids features, there will be an '86 Mets Roundup on johnnymets.blogspot.com, and I'll try to keep you posted on as many of the '86 Mets as I can keep track of.

Saturday, February 04, 2006



It's been a forgettable NFL season for me, about the only good thing to come out of it is a brand new Super Bowl matchup. So I can cross Seattle-Pittsburgh off my list (yes, there is a list...actually a spreadsheet) and hope that next year the Jets are the ones involved in another new Super Bowl matchup. (For those of you unfamiliar with my obsession, I want every NFL team to face every other NFL team, in their respective conferences, in the Super Bowl. Same goes for the World Series.)

I know there's a lot for me to weigh in on, what with the Jets' coaching debacles...I mean, changes...but I just want to put this season behind me for a bit. So I'm here to make a Super Bowl prediction, and then move onto johnnymets.blogspot.com for a while.

Back at the beginning of the post-season, I trashed Shaun Alexander as an MVP and said he'd probably cost his team a playoff game due to a fumble. I guess that hasn't happened, but he did fumble against Washington when he got knocked out...it just didn't cost the team the game (but shouldn't an MVP being knocked out of a playoff game cost your team the game...maybe he's not so V. Just a thought.)

That said, hopefully Alexander will NOT fumble and cost his team this game, because I am picking the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. It's been a long road for the Steelers. I know they have a lot of emotion going into this game, what with Jerome Bettis and all, and there are going to be a lot of Steelers fans in Detroit. I know that. I didn't think the Steelers would be able to win in Indy...and then I did not think they'd be able to win in Denver. But the road's gotta catch up to them eventually. This is where it will.

Seattle is on the road too, which isn't the greatest thing. But this is a different Seattle team than the one that stunk on the road last year. Granted they weren't great away from Qwest this year, but they're a very good team. I can't believe Seattle is actually the underdog. I would take Seattle getting the points in this one easy.

I think the quarterbacks in this game are pretty evenly matched - but the edge might actually go to Pittsburgh because Ben Roethlisberger has a better set of receivers, I think, than Matt Hasselbeck. I think Seattle's got a better running game (Bettis isn't a threat until the Steelers are inside the 20), and I think people are going to be surprised by how well the Seattle defense plays tomorrow night.

I'm going with Seattle, 27-21.

I'm rooting, in a player pool that I'm in, for Jerome Bettis to score two more touchdowns than Shaun Alexander. I also need neither of the quarterbacks to throw a touchdown. I'm not sure how my pick will happen, with me still winning the pool...so I have a couple of different rooting interests in this game. I can root for the kickers to have good games. 9 field goals for the Seahawks, 3 touchdowns for Bettis.

I find it funny (or pathetic) that the Steelers made it to the Super Bowl this year as a 6 seed when, at the beginning of the year, filled with naive hope, I wrote that the Jets would need to win the division, because it's near impossible for a team to make the Super Bowl without playing a post-season home game (or even without home field advantage throughout). This was after the Jets lost in Pittsburgh, after winning in San Diego in last year's playoffs. So the Steelers have accomplished a lot already, just by getting to the big game. But I think, sad for them, it's all over tomorrow night. Let the record show that I think, at this point, I am rooting for the Steelers to win. But I'm picking the Seahawks to beat them. See you in baseball season.