Doug’s Dugout: The Boss, The Superstar, And The Race Horse

An article by posted on May 25, 2011

In Doug’s Dugout today we discuss: the updated version of the Boss, the scrappy Mets, and other imbecilic thoughts.

I have never seen such a firestorm over benign comments made by an owner until the other day when excerpts from Fred Wilpon’s confessional in the New Yorker was released (you see the size of that piece-11,000 words-around 32 pages on Word!).

What did he really say that was so objectionable or off the mark?

That David Wright isn’t a superstar? Bingo!

He’s a good player and stand-up guy, correct. But he strikes out too much (the object of the game is put the ball into play and apply pressure to the defense).

He represents the city and Mets well, but how confident are you when he steps into the box with two outs and two on down by a run in the ninth frame?

By the way, he makes $14 million gross this season and he has flaws.

That Jose Reyes has been oft-injured and won’t get Carl Crawford denero? Maybe he should have clarified that by saying, “not from me he’s not.”

From someone who remembers the vaunted $100,000 club of Mantle, Mays, et al, I’m never surprised (maybe aghast) when a player breaks through another monetary milestone (did you know there are approximately two dozen major leaguers who have a signed $100 million contract in their sock drawer?).

That Carlos Beltran is 65-70% of his former self? Maybe he’s wrong there. He’s 75% of his former self, otherwise he’d still be roaming center field, not a Buffalo Bison player (that said, I like the way Jason Pridie patrols center, but he is no Beltran in his prime). What player in his mid-thirties is ever 100% of what he once was in his heyday?

Now, if Fred is spewing sour grapes he has no one to blame but himself and his idiot son. The both signed off on some horrendous contracts recommended by Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya. From Kevin Appier (because they lost Mike Hampton) to Mo Vaughn, who was shot, to Jason Bay (more on that later).

The fact is the long term contract invariably favors the player, not the owner. How many players who have inked (not only the Mets) deals surpassing four or five years have run full speed through the finish line? Take the Mets (please!). Pedro Martinez? Nada. Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, and now Bay?

How is the Johan Santana deal looking now? Like a foundation built on sand (he’s still owed $55 million factoring a buyout in 2014). Do you believe the Mets want to shell out $17.5 million next season for Frankie Rodriquez regardless how stellar he’s been.

All of these deals become an albatross around management’s neck in time. Beltran had three wonderful seasons. I will give him a half this year before he’s moved. 3 and 1/2 out of 6 does not cut it when the player signed smack in his prime. So I can understand Wilpon’s resentment.

His problem was getting poor advice from constructing the team. He brought in Sandy Alderson to lay the groundwork for a farm system that pipeline isn’t clogged with gunk. When was the last time the Mets developed a star outfielder? Darryl Strawberry was the last and he arrived in 1983. Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese are home grown but are either more than a 3rd or 4th starter talent?

Wright and Reyes prove how essential it is to build a core from within. Then again, a lot of luck is involved. Steven Matz, the kid pitcher from Long Island and number one draft pick of a few years ago,already has arm issues. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

Alderson’s plan is reconstruct the minor leagues, and augment the developed talent with mid-level free agent signings. I believe he is not a proponent of long-term contracts. Maybe that’s a good thing for the long haul and considering the Wilpon’s lousy track record and vanishing fortune.

It’s funny, all the positive talk about the Mets hovering around the .500 mark seemed to dissipate into the ether when Pelfrey could not close out the Yankees in the rubber game on Sunday. He should be a horse and take his team to the line with gusto (not just complete the 6th inning), but like a speed ball he faded in the home stretch.

Then came Fred Wilpon’s untimely comments and last night’s shellacking by the Cubs. Nevertheless, if the Mets finish 10-games under .500 Terry Collins still gets my vote for Manager of the Year of the Buffalo Bisons.

Here’s baseball in a nutshell when the gods are not smiling down upon you: Bay departs due to a troublesome calf, and is replaced by Fernando Martinez. Bay has been solid in left all year. Martinez boots a routine single on the first ball hit to him and the Mets accumulate more miscues than runs. On the other hand, the Mets miss Bay, the singles hitter in the attempted comeback.

Finally, the one Yankee who impressed me this weekend was Curtis Granderson. He re-enforced that last night with a 9th inning two-out single that tied the game with Toronto, and eventually scored the winning run with his dynamic wheels. I remember when the Mets once had a dynamic center-fielder. Don Hahn!

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