Archive for November, 2009

Madoff, Backman, and an Old Baseball Jacket

November 17, 2009

Amidst an array of wood-carved ducks, Rolex watches, and uninspired artwork, a shiny blue and orange jacket with a number 2 on one sleeve and a NY Mets emblem on the other was proudly displayed. Looking at it from the front, you might think it could have belonged to any Mets fan that made their way to Flushing Meadows over the years. You may even envision Tom Seaver standing safely at first base due to a botched sacrificed bunt ready to run the bases. Or perhaps this was the one shred of paraphernalia worn by a family friend who vowed to never take it off until the Mets won the World Series again.

Whatever the case may be, when you proceed to investigate who this particular piece of clothing belongs to, it’s hard not to recoil in disgust. “MADOFF!” That’s right. The notorious mastermind of the most lucrative Ponzi-scheme of all-time was a New York Mets fan. So much so that he decided to pony up with the team’s ownership in hopes of expanding his evil empire until it all came crashing to a devastating halt. Nevertheless, to imagine Bernie Madoff donning his most prized Mets possession (bought at auction for $14,500) brings to mind our most recently notorious Mets aficionados.

Up first is pitcher Jerry Koosman. The legendary left-hander had his best years as a Met. But as the saying goes, it’s not how you start its how you finish. Koosman felt he was above the law or in this case the IRS and is currently serving a six-month jail sentence for tax evasion. Lenny Dykstra, who is fortunately not behind bars, owes tons of money to several financial institutions. “Nails” is so far in debt that he had to pawn away his championship rings and other sought after memorabilia that he acquired over the years as a professional baseball player.

As Koosman and Dykstra continue their honorary fall from grace, the Mets organization has recently announced that Wally Backman, another of the team’s black sheep, will be taking over the managerial duties for the Brooklyn Cyclones next season.

“He has always been a fan favorite in New York, symbolizing the blue-collar work ethic and unbridled dedication to winning that this city – and particularly this borough – values above all else in its sports stars,” Cyclones general manager Steve Cohen said. “Brooklyn and Backman were made for each other.” Perhaps, we will be seeing those exact words atop the Kosciusko Bridge on our way into Kings County.

As if Brooklyn doesn’t have enough of a slightly skewed reputation, now it has to embrace someone who has been arrested twice and has had financial problems in the past. Not to mention that Backman was also canned after just four days on a job once. I guess everybody deserves a second chance. I, personally, think the hiring of the fiery Backman is a good thing. It makes perfect sense. As long as he keeps his shirt on or jacket (haha) in this instance, he should have nothing to worry about.

Oh, by the way, Backman was released from the Chicago White Sox organization in 2003 as a minor league manager. Why? He was lobbying for the White Sox manager position. From who, you ask? Jerry Manuel.

It’s John Lackey and Pray for Rain

November 15, 2009

For ten long days, Mets GM Omar Minaya will be allowed to chit-chat with some of the most influential player agents in all of baseball. Prior to those meetings, Jeff Wilpon, the organization’s COO, saw his chance to commandeer Minaya into his office and reassure him that for what ever its worth, he was at his disposal. As Minaya exited the room, Wilpon confidently replied, “Give’m hell and get me another front-line starter.” Of course, these events are merely hearsay except for the chit-chat and most likely a fabric of my imagination. However, there is some semblance of truth in all of this; the Mets desperately need starting pitching.

Midway through the 2009 season, the then Toronto Blue Jays GM, John Ricciardi, shook the baseball world by threatening to trade one of the most dominating starting pitchers of this generation, right-hander Roy Halladay. To this day, those around baseball still can’t figure out why a mid-level organization like the Blue Jays would part with such a specimen. Nevertheless, a handful of teams jumped into the Doc Halladay sweepstakes and exposed who they really were, a team lacking starting pitching. Though it was unofficially documented, the New York Mets were one of those candidates that laid everything out on the table. Ultimately, it was not to Ricciardi’s liking. Back to the drawing board Minaya went where he was forced to wait until the end of the season to explore other options.

Perhaps, if you were to ask another of Minaya’s previous off-season acquisitions, closer Francisco Rodriguez, he would tell you that having a short-term memory is a good thing. So much so that Minaya has forgotten all about dealing for Halladay and has set his sights on landing another dominating right-hander, John Lackey. With such a stout performance against the World Champion New York Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS in which Lackey lobbied Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia to leave him in a game that he considered to be his, the stakes to sign the veteran right-hander will most likely be high. (Initially, I was not so hot with the notion of Lackey coming to the Mets. However, I feel more comfortable now since his emotional stance after Game 5. Let’s be honest the Mets need to find someone that can bridge that gap between left-hander Johan Santana and the rest of the pack next season.)

    Footnote to this post

Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin alerted reporters stationed at the GM meetings that “no one has heard from” former Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets. Some Mets fans have suggested the 31-year-old could be lightning in a bottle. Using the 2009 Mets season as a reference, he could fit in very nicely. Sheets (torn flexor tendon in his right elbow) made five trips to the disabled list from 2005 to 2007 with a mixture of arm injuries to go along with an inner ear infection that led to vertigo.

Recent reports have mentioned the Phillies are very serious about acquiring Halladay. Some reports have the 2008 World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, throwing off a mound next season north of the border.

This post was inspired by the outlandish idea that any team would take a shot at signing the oft-injured Ben Sheets.

“I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question,” Sheets’ agent, Casey Close said.

Early On, Mets Are Asked to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

November 12, 2009

Yes, it’s that time of year again. When Thanksgiving turkeys and jolly-old St. Nicholas are just as prevalent as a Scott Boras client searching for a big payday. The word on the street is that Boras has slapped the franchise tag on one his most sought after commodity, Matt Holliday. Wouldn’t you know, Mets GM Omar Minaya has penciled in the words, slugging left fielder, at the top of his Christmas list. However, reports have already surfaced that Mr. Holliday’s contract demands may pose a slight hurdle for an organization that is having doubts with signing players long term. I, personally, am not a big fan of the blockbuster deal myself.

Boras has hinted that an impact player such as Matt Holliday will demand Teixeira money, a contract worth $180 million for eight years.

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