December 2010

Quotable: Phillies sign Cliff Lee

In case you missed it (or are trying to ignore it), the Phillies swooped in last night and signed free-agent lefty Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, giving Philadelphia four legitimate aces in Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.’s Todd Zolecki has all the details on and his MLBLog, The Zo Zone. But the Mets also had plenty to say at today’s holiday party for area children. A sampling:

  • clifflee.jpgManager Terry Collins: “I was taken by surprise, I can honestly tell you. I really felt that New York and Texas were the two places and certainly I was shocked, but I know better than to be shocked in our business … They’ve got our attention. Not like they didn’t have it before, for sure. We’ve got some preparation ahead.”
  • Third baseman David Wright: “On paper, they look great. They’ve made all the right moves, they’ve put together that pitching staff and that’s what wins baseball games. But there are a lot of variables that go into playing a season and that’s why we’re going to go out there, and it’s going to be a challenge. But I think we’re up to it and we’re going to prepare, go out there and win.”
  • Outfielder Carlos Beltran: “I don’t like to be negative. I never like to be negative. I always like to be positive. So I always say that in baseball, there’s nothing guaranteed. You can go to Philly and probably on paper look great, but we don’t know how it’s going to work out. We’re all speculating that it’s going to work out great. If you ask Philly fans, they’ll say it’s going to be great. If you ask me, I say I don’t know.”
  • Outfielder Jason Bay: “They were already, rotation-wise, pretty good without him. Now,  obviously, they’re really, really good.”
  • First baseman Ike Davis: “Their whole staff, especially the starters, are pretty amazing. It’s just going to make one more game that much tougher and really [there’s] no letdown. The whole team’s got to come ready to go.”
  • General manager Sandy Alderson: “I don’t think it affects how we plan long-term. In the short-term, really, the only impact is that now there are two other clubs that are out there looking for starting pitching today that weren’t there yesterday. So that has some impact. Otherwise we have our own plan, our own approach and this doesn’t really change things too much for us.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets to hold annual coat drive

The Mets are holding their annual coat drive this Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Citi Field. Fans donating coats will have an opportunity to meet Terry Collins, Jason Bay, Ike Davis and David Wright, and will receive a voucher good for two Mets tickets this season. From the team:

FLUSHING, N.Y., December 13, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced they are hosting their annual Coat Drive in support of New York Cares on Wednesday, December 15 at Citi Field.  The Mets and New York Cares will collect gently-used men’s, women’s and children’s coats at Hodges VIP, on the first base side of the ballpark, from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.  Fans donating coats will have the opportunity to meet Terry Collins, Jason Bay, Ike Davis and David Wright between 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

In addition, fans who are generous enough to donate coats will also receive a voucher redeemable for one pair of tickets to a select Mets game in April 2011.  In addition, fans can show their voucher at the Mets Team Store at Citi Field to receive a 15% off regularly priced merchandise.  Season Ticket Holders who donate coats can show their voucher and ID card to get 20% off regularly priced items.  The discount will only be honored Wednesday, December 15.

Fans dropping off coats may park in Lot G on 126th Street between the Right Field Gate and Roosevelt Avenue.

Coats will be donated to the New York Cares Coat Drive, the city’s largest annual coat drive which has a goal of collecting 70,000 coats during December.  For information about the New York Cares Coat Drive, please visit


—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

The New York Mets and the curse of Santa Claus

Beware, Mets fans: the team revealed Tuesday that David Wright will play the role of Santa Claus at next Tuesday’s holiday party, one of the club’s most popular annual charitable endeavors. But like an action shot on the cover of Sports Illustrated or an appointment to defend the dark arts at Hogwarts, it is not an honor to be taken lightly.

wrightsanta.jpgFor the better part of the past decade, the position has quite obviously been cursed; any player who has pulled on the red-and-white suit has either left the team, been injured or suffered a serious decline in production thereafter. Consider the following:

The Year: 2004
The Santa: Mike Cameron
The Fallout: Tremendously popular amongst teammates, Cameron played Santa and then suffered a frightening outfield collision with Carlos Beltran the following August, knocking him out for the rest of the season and ultimately ending his Mets career.

The Year: 2005
The Santa: Kris Benson
The Fallout: Perhaps the most famous Mets Santa of them all, Benson entertained in 2005 while his wife, Anna Benson, infamously showed up wearing a revealing Mrs. Claus costume. A month later, the Mets sent both Bensons packing in a trade to Baltimore.

The Year: 2007
The Santa: John Maine
The Fallout: Coming off a career year and looking every bit like a future cog in New York’s rotation, Maine played Santa Claus in 2007. The following year, he suffered the first of what became a litany of shoulder issues, resulting in multiple surgeries, robbing him of fastball velocity and ultimately leading the Mets to non-tender him this November.

The Year: 2008
The Santa: Mike Pelfrey
The Fallout: Like Maine, Pelfrey had just completed a career year when the Mets tabbed him to be St. Nick. The following season, Pelfrey’s ERA jumped from 3.72 to 5.03, his walk rate spiked and he lost more games than he won.

The Year: 2009
The Santa: Jeff Francoeur
The Fallout: The affable Francoeur seemed a perfect choice for Santa after raking in his first few months after a trade to New York. He played the part well, before hitting just .237 for the Mets in 2010 and losing his starting job to Angel Pagan. Frustrated with his production, the Mets eventually dealt Francoeur to the Rangers, who cut him after the season.

You’ll notice one year missing from the story: 2006, the only only other time Wright played the role of Santa Claus. All Wright did the following year was enjoy the best overall season of his professional career, winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger and perhaps proving he is immune to the curse.

That’s the gamble, at least, that the Mets are taking in 2010.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets to name Dick Scott field coordinator

The Mets plan to name Dick Scott their new Minor League field coordinator, a source said Tuesday, replacing Terry Collins at the position.

Scott, 48, served as field coordinator for the Astros last season following eight years as director of player development for the Blue Jays. A former infielder who played in just three big league games for the A’s in 1989, Scott began his coaching career by winning Manager of the Year honors with Oakland’s Class A Scottsdale affiliate in 1991. Scott also received the honor in 1992 and 1994. He joined the D-backs as a Minor League manager in 1997 before being appointed as a Major League scout in 1998, where he remained until joining the Blue Jays organization in 2001.

With the Mets, Scott will replace Collins, who left his post as field coordinator last month to become the team’s manager.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Leyland endorses hitting coach candidate Van Slyke

Count Tigers manager Jim Leyland among those who believe Andy Van Slyke would make a fine hitting coach in the Major Leagues.

vanslykecard.jpgVan Slyke, who interviewed for the position of Mets hitting coach Monday at the Winter Meetings, has never served that role in the big leagues. But he often looked the part during his tenure as first-base coach in Detroit, working one-on-one with players such as Gary Sheffield and Curtis Granderson. At the time, Van Slyke took some heat for overstepping the boundaries of his role — the Pirates already had a hitting coach in Lloyd McClendon. But Leyland insisted that Van Slyke’s intentions were good.

“I had a long talk with Terry Collins about that exact thing,” Leyland said. “He called me a couple times about it. I think he would do fine in the hitting coach job. I think what happened with us was he got a little bored with what he was doing. He was as hard-working a coach physically as I had. He was not afraid. Nobody will out-work him over there. If he gets the job, he will work day and night. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s got a lot of energy. I think coaching first base for us, he just got a little bored during games. There wasn’t really enough for him to do. If he’s a hitting coach, I think that’ll change. I think he’ll be different, because there’s so much more. He’s a very knowledgeable guy.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets to sign backup catcher Paulino?

The Mets are set to sign former Marlins and Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino to back up Josh Thole, according to a report on But a New York Post report later refuted that, indicating that the Mets are “working through a list” of free-agent catcher candidates.

Paulino, 29, hit .259 last season, missing the final 42 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He will need to sit out the first eight games of next season to complete the suspension.

The Mets had considered signing a more experienced catcher to back up and mentor the 24-year-old Thole, but opted instead for Paulino, a veteran of five full big league seasons.

–Anthony DiComo

Mets to dismiss strength coach Slate

Though the Mets have no plans to revamp their oft-criticized medical and training staffs, they will proceed without one member of that team.

rickslate.JPGThe Mets will dismiss strength and conditioning coach Rick Slate after his contract expires Dec. 31, according to a source, shaking up a staff that has gone largely unchanged over the past few seasons. Slate has served as the Mets’ strength and conditioning coach since 2003, previously holding the same position with the Marlins.

The same source indicated that the rest of the team’s medical and training staffs — including head trainer Ray Ramirez and assistant Mike Herbst — should remain intact. The Mets actually saw a reduction in their collective days spent on the disabled list last season, though that was primarily a reflection of the massive amount of DL days they accrued in 2009.

Enduring a shocking amount of major injuries to key players, the Mets went long stretches that season without Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana, among others.

This past season, the Mets absorbed criticism for their handling of Reyes’ oblique strain, allowing the switch-hitter to bat right-handed before he was fully healed.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets announce holiday three-game Pick-A-Packs

From the Mets:

FLUSHING, N.Y., December 3, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced that new Holiday Three Game Pick-A-Packs for the 2011 season at Citi Field are on sale now online at  Packs start at $60.

Fans can build their own Packs by choosing one game each from the “Premium,” “Classic” and “Value” game pricing designations.

Holiday Pick-A-Pack availability includes seating in the following categories: Caesars Club, Left Field Reserved, Promenade Box and Promenade Reserved.  The fans’ choice of seat category will apply for all three games in a Pack, subject to availability.

The three-game Packs provide fans access to games of their choice months before single game tickets go on sale.

Season Tickets, 40-Game and 15-Game Plans are also on sale online at and by phone at (718) 507-TIXX.


—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets have not offered contracts to Young, Francis

Contrary to recent media reports, the Mets have not yet offered contracts to free agent pitchers Chris Young or Jeff Francis, general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday. But the team is currently in negotiations with both players.

Some other nuggets from Alderson:

  • Despite their budget, the Mets expect to leave next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando with new players — though not necessarily any big-ticket players. If all else fails, Alderson joked, the Mets will select someone in the annual Rule 5 Draft.
  • Alderson fully expects Oliver Perez to still be with the club come Spring Training. The start of the regular season, however, is another matter.
  • Alderson said he would be “surprised” if the Mets made long-terms commitments to any player — Jose Reyes included — prior to Spring Training. The new front office is anxious to take a thorough inventory of its own assets before taking any long-term risks.
  • Non-tendering Sean Green and Chris Carter was more a function of needing to free up roster spots, Alderson said, than it was of monetary compensation.

Expect plenty more Mets coverage from the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. beginning Sunday evening.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.