While the US Open formally got underway Monday morning, in actuality the action really began a week earlier with the qualifying matches for the precious few wild card spots on both the men’s and women’s sides.Frankly, the BJK National Tennis …
Yes, there is still a month to go in the 2014 season but for all intents and purposes the Mets organization and their fans are looking ahead to next year. I will put on my turban and shine up my crystal ball as I attempt to be a clairvoyant.
The first order of business for Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is to decide whether to retain Terry Collins as the team’s manager next year.
Terry Collins was known for being a fiery guy who alienated many players he managed during his stints with the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels, and many observers were surprised when the Mets hired him to be the team’s skipper four years ago. But Collins has surprised nearly everyone with his calm, almost avuncular demeanor as Mets manager.
Last Thursday, at his pregame press conference, Terry showed the short fuse that many thought that they would see far more frequently than they have. No, it wasn’t because of the Mets’ inability to get a run in from third base with less than two out, a troubling fact that he acknowledged as a leading reason why the Mets have had losing records during his tenure.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson claimed Friday night in Philadelphia that the team is not putting up the white flag in 2014 by releasing underperforming veteran outfielders Bobby Abreu and Chris Young and replacing them with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker. Alderson also announced that Wilmer Flores will be getting the bulk of playing time at shortstop for the rest of the season in place of Ruben Tejada, who has been in the organization’s doghouse for the last two years.
I can’t blame Alderson for wanting to take a good look at the three players who have logged a lot of time in the Mets’ minor league system. If they play well then he’ll have some homegrown inexpensive talent on the 2015 roster. If they can’t, they might as well be dropped from the 40-man roster once the season ends.
Like a lot of observers I was puzzled this past winter why the Mets, a team that has scrupulously watched its payroll the last five years, decided to lavish a $20 million, two-year contract on rotund veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon.
I felt the Mets would have been better re-signing free agent pitcher Chris Capuano, who had pitched reasonably well for them in 2011 and would have commanded less money than Colon, who was coming off an 18-win season for the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees recently acquired Capuano, who has pitched well in two starts. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ bats were quiet when he was on the mound.
Today, July 31, is the Major League Baseball trade deadline. This generally has been the week on the baseball calendar when contending teams try to acquire a veteran player that they believe will help them win a World Series by trading a highly regarded prospect or two to a team whose season pretty much ended long ago. The down-on-the-luck team gets to sell images of a rosy future to a downcast fan base as well as getting to shed high-salaried contracts.
For the past five years it was understood that the Mets would be talent sellers at the trade deadline since they were so far down in the standings that it was conceivable that they could lose 100 games. They have managed to avoid that ignominy the last five years but they have not had a winning season since moving into Citi Field five years ago.
Carmelo Anthony seemed pretty optimistic he’d be returning to the Knicks when I saw him in May at an ESPN event. “We’re working on it!” he said with his trademark smile.
Clearly the Knicks had the negotiating advantage over other NBA clubs of being able to offer Melo an extra year at maximum money, but they had other things going for them as well. MSG/Cablevision CEO James Dolan was instrumental in getting Anthony traded to the Knicks in 2011 and he has worked hard to maintain a solid relationship with his superstar. Carmelo’s actress wife, La La, loves New York even more than the town she is seemingly named after.
The Mets went into the All-Star break by winning eight out of 10 on their long homestand, pushing ahead of the Phillies and Marlins into third place in the National League East. Aside from the much-needed wins, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had to be thrilled from the contributions of three players on whom he has bet a lot of chips: catcher Travis d’Arnaud, centerfielder Chris Young and first baseman Lucas Duda.
Young and d’Arnaud were complete busts the first three months of the season while Duda was continuing his career as the poor man’s Adam Dunn/Dave Kingman by belting home runs but striking out all too often. As the calendar turned to July, however, both Young and d’Arnaud were getting big hits while Duda proved that he could be a contact hitter.
The Mets were 11 games under .500 when they returned to Citi Field July 4 after a seven-game road trip. General manager Sandy Alderson knew that he would have to address the media about his perceptions of the first half of the 2014 season. Clearly it was not a get-together that he was looking forward to having.
Alderson began the proceedings by saying he believes the Mets have the personnel to perform far better than they have been, and that they are heading in the right direction. Eyeballs were understandably rolling and heads were shaking after Alderson made that statement.