December 2011

Santana “expects to be ready” for Opening Day

It seems a minor firestorm has stemmed from one of Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s stray comments Tuesday regarding Johan Santana. Speaking about his rotation as a whole during the team’s holiday party, Alderson said:

“We do have some question marks of course, with Santana being one of them. We think he’s going to be ready, but he might not be.”

This is not news. Last anyone heard a concrete update on the left-hander”s status back in September, Santana was skipping his final Minor League rehab start of the season for reasons not completely unrelated to caution. He then proceeded to cut short his instructional league assignment and decline to pitch in Winter Ball. Again, all out of caution.

On Wednesday, the day after Alderson’s admission, one of Santana’s agents issued this byte via Twitter:

Which is encouraging, but there is no way to be certain. The history of pitchers rehabbing from torn anterior shoulder capsules — Mark Prior and Chien-Ming Wang being the two most prominent examples — is not good; even when those two were able to pitch following their injuries, they struggled to recover between outings.

All of which is to say no one — not Santana, not Alderson, not Leible or lead agent Peter Greenberg or even Santana’s battery of doctors and specialists — can know for sure how he will respond. Until Santana climbs on a mound next month and begins throwing again, it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty that the lefty will or will not be ready for Opening Day.

All Mets fans can right now is hope.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Torres working on ADHD awareness film

New Mets center fielder Andres Torres was diagnosed with ADHD in 2002 but refused to take medication for the disorder for several years. After coming to grips with his condition and winning a World Series title in 2010, Torres began work on a film to educate children and adults about the disorder. Below is a preview of that film:

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Torres/Ramirez call transcript

The Mets held an introductory conference call this afternoon with new acquisitions Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. The story is up on Mets.com, but here’s the full transcript of the call:

Andres, what was the difference for you between 2010 and 2011?

Torres: “Last year, I had injuries. I was battling injuries. It was a tough year for me, to be honest with you guys. But this year, I feel great. I’m training. I’m back on track. I’m working hard on hitting. And I’m ready. I’m excited to go to New York and play my game. I’m prepared to have a better season than 2010. And I feel like I will. Because I believe in myself. I’m just working really hard, really hard. And I’m ready to go for it.”

Andres, what makes Ramon such an effective pitcher?

Torres: “Oh, wow. His location is amazing. Ramon, he’s a great pitcher. He locates the ball so good. I’m in center. I always watch pitchers. He’s got the changeup, slider. He’s really good. I told Ramon, ‘It’s amazing how you locate the ball.’ And that’s the key for pitching. You locate the ball on the corners, I think you’re going to be very successful.”

Andres, what makes you a good fit for the leadoff spot?

Torres: “I think my job is to get on base. I feel good, because I know I’m working to hit line drives, get on base, hit doubles. I know I can hit the ball all over the field. I can make things happen. I’m working hard for that. I keep the clubhouse loose. I always try to talk with everybody. With the guys, I just think we have to feel comfortable with everyone in this clubhouse. Just go out there and have fun.”

Is it difficult going from a playoff contender to a team with lower expectations?

Torres: “I’m excited. I know with me and Ramon and the rest of the players here, we’ve got to go. And it’s winning. I think anything can happen. If we play together, we can win. I know people talk about things, but I believe that. We have to push ourselves to do the best, and good things are going to happen. We’re going to play hard baseball. Last year, it wasn’t a good year. But this year I’m coming to play the game. And next year, I’m going to be ready and play my game and all the rest. Every year is a challenge. You want to go out there and perform and do your best and try to win ballgames. That’s what it’s all about. Playing good defense, good pitching and we hit. I think that’s a big key, too.”

Do either of you know any of your new Mets teammates?

Ramirez: “I was playing with Jason Bay. When I was in Boston, I played with him.”

Torres: “I played with Frank Francisco with Texas. … I just see a lot of them on TV. But, to be honest, I haven’t played with them with the same team.”

Andres, you’ve been open about your struggles with ADHD.  How much has it affected your day-to-day life?

Torres: “I got diagnosed in 2002. I never was medicated. In 07, I started taking medication. I became better. I’m making a movie, it’s coming soon, about helping kids and people understand this condition. After I won the World Series, one of the owners of the San Francisco Giants, he told me about making a movie to inspire kids about my life. I was excited to do that, because it’s about helping others and how we get better. And I think it’s a great project. Like I said, it’s not about me. It’s about helping other people. And people look at me, all the struggles, but I became a world champion. And I’ve had a lot of up and downs, but it’s about making adjustments. Now, I feel pretty good. I am who I am. If I can help other people and other kids with this, I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m really excited with what I’m doing. If I can be a spokesperson for this, it’s great for others, too.”

Do you medication on a daily basis still?

Torres: “I have to take it. I really have to take it, medication. Because it’s helps you with your focus and how to concentrate better. People who have this have to understand that this is a condition that you really have to pay attention to, and the medication helps. It definitely helps.”

Andres, Terry Collins has talked about the energy you bring. Do you feel comfortable trying to replace Jose Reyes as a spark for the team?

Torres: “Oh, yeah. I admire Reyes. He’s one of the best, most exciting players in the game. I’m very pumped. I know what I can bring. I know how I can play the game. I’m very excited. I’m working, hitting, hitting long drives. I know he’s always been the guy that brings energy. I want to play my game, Andres Torres. I’m working hard to be an exciting player to. I just want to go there to New York, bring energy and get the team pumped. And do my best.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Alderson gets down to business

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson appeared on FOX Business’s “After the Bell” this afternoon, answering questions on a variety of financial topics [Video here]. Here’s the full transcript, courtesy FOX Business:

LIZ CLAMAN, ANCHOR, AFTER THE BELL:  The owners of the cash-strapped New York Mets getting a $40 million loan to help finance the team while they try to raise cash by selling minority stakes in the franchise.

And with the wounds of losing star player Jose Reyes to the Marlins earlier this month still somewhat fresh, we have the man who can tell us what this latest round of financing means for the future of the team.  We’re proud to involve here New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson, joining us now in a FOX Business exclusive.

Half this building are Mets fans.  “How did you get Alderson?”  And you’re here, but you’re here at a time where the word has come out that the team has taken a $40 million loan.  First, I just want to clarify when was that loan taken out?

SANDY ALDERSON: I’m not sure exactly.  I think it was sometime last month, about the time that the Major League baseball loan was extended.  But as I said earlier, maybe a week or 10 days ago, the Mets lost a lot of money last year.

CLAMAN: $70 million.

ALDERSON: Yes, it’s not surprising to make up for those losses, either you put money in equity or you take out some additional loans.  I think, in this case, a bridge (ph) loan was probably the right idea.

CLAMAN: And there was a $25 million loan last year.  So the appropriate question really is to ask are the Mets financially sound, Sandy?

ALDERSON: Yes, I think with this infusion of cash, together with the possibility, I think the likelihood — strong likelihood in the next two or three months, that there will be additional investors in Mets’ ownership, that, you know, we should be good to go over the next couple of years.

CLAMAN: Well, you’re talking about minority stakes being parceled out.  Are you close to announcing any kind of those deals?

ALDERSON: Well, I’m the general manager, which means that I focus all of my attention on the field, and I spend my time with the players and the team.  So from that standpoint, I’m probably not the best spokesman, but as far as I understand, I think things are moving forward and expect a successful investment closure.

CLAMAN: Well, one of the big stories was that lost Jose Reyes, the very big player, to the Marlins, $106 million multiyear deal for him.  First of all, did that surprise you, that amount of money being thrown around for a ball player at this point (ph)?

ALDERSON: No, not really.  You know, what ends up happening is that different owners have different motivations, and in this particular case, they’re opening a new ballpark.  And they expect or hope that their revenues will increase so they put a quality team on the field.  So I’m not surprised they went after Jose.

CLAMAN: Well, you say you’re in charge of looking at everything that’s on the field. David Wright’s on the field. Will you fight to keep him, at least?

ALDERSON: Yes, I think David’s going to be with us for a while, so I wouldn’t worry about losing David and Jose in the same year.

CLAMAN: So, David Wright, probably staying?

ALDERSON: I think so.

CLAMAN: OK.  And I know it’s inside baseball, so to speak, when you talk about the players.  But this all leads to big questions that come out in that movie, “Moneyball,” for example, that you can build a winning team with less expensive players.  I don’t want to say cheaper, but less expensive players.

Is that going to be what the Mets have to do?

ALDERSON: Well, I think, first of all, that “Moneyball” was about finding value.  And whether that was finding value at lower prices, or finding value in players that command higher salaries, the same point is made.  You know, we need to make good decisions with respect to players that don’t make a lot of money, but we need to make good decisions with respect to players who do.

And if we invest lots of money in high-salary players, we need to be right most of the time, just as we need to be right when we spend fewer dollars.

CLAMAN: Well, all of this money that’s thrown around tends to sometimes destabilize a team, because they don’t have enough money to actually run the operations, and people look at these loans that the Mets have taken out.  And I think that there’s a fair question being thrown around, and that is are the Mets in peril of not meeting payroll?

ALDERSON: Oh, no.  That’s not an issue.

CLAMAN: That is not an issue?

ALDERSON: No, absolutely…

CLAMAN: 100 percent?

ALDERSON:  No.

CLAMAN:  So you wouldn’t fall to the same fate of the L.A. Dodgers, where MLB had to come in and seize the team?

ALDERSON: No. I think that had to do with a completely different set of circumstances, where some of the money was being moved out of the franchise, and being used for other personal reasons.  I think this is an entirely different situation.

But as I said, I think with the successful infusion of capital from new investors, you know, we’ll be in good shape.

CLAMAN: Is this the World Series team in 2012?  Or is this a rebuilding year, as (inaudible)?

ALDERSON:  Well, 2012, we won’t be favored in the National League East.  The National League East is pretty stacked, and probably the toughest division in baseball at this point.

But we’re going to be fun to watch, and you know, the nice thing about baseball is that anything can happen.  It’s not necessarily the highest payroll that wins.  It’s very often somebody who’s put together a team, based on not just resources but also quality decisions.  Teams like Tampa Bay are a good example of that, and certainly it can happen here, too.

CLAMAN:  Well, FOX knows all about underdogs winning.  So it can happen.

ALDERSON:  All right.

CLAMAN:  Sandy Alderson, the Mets general manager.  Have a great season.

ALDERSON:  All right.  Thanks very much.

CLAMAN:  Thank you very much.  Oh, and by the way, David — spring training February 16th?

ALDERSON:  15th, 16th, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CLAMAN:  February 15th…

DAVID ASMAN, ANCHOR, AFTER THE BELL:  … birthday, OK.  And it has happened, by the way.  I remember well the amazing Mets.  They can do pretty much anything if they set their mind to it.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets to hold coat drive Wednesday

The Mets will hold their fifth annual Holiday Coat Drive this Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Citi Field.

Fans donating one or more coats will receive a voucher redeemable for a pair of tickets to a select Mets game in April 2012, as well as a coupon for 15 percent off regularly priced merchandise at the Mets Team Store on Wednesday only.  Season-ticket holders who donate coats will receive 20 percent off regularly priced items upon showing their season-ticket ID card.

The Mets will collect coats at Citi Field’s Seaver VIP entrance. Fans may use parking Lot B [Entrance 8] on the north side of the ballpark off Shea Road.

The drive is in conjunction with New York Cares, a non-profit organization that donated 58,000 coats to local social service agencies, churches, schools and shelters last holiday season. New York Cares is the city’s largest volunteer organization, running programs for 1,200 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Wright reacts to Reyes’s departure

It took him nearly a week, but David Wright finally got around to wishing his buddy Jose Reyes a public farewell. After scheduling and then canceling a conference call with reporters on Monday, Wright issued this statement through the Mets late Friday afternoon:

“Jose’s a great friend and a great player.  While I will miss him as a friend and teammate, I’m glad he was able to get the contract that he earned and deserved.  I truly wish him all the best in Miami.  I have trust and faith that we will have a much improved and exciting team and 2012 will be a great year for the Mets. “

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

The Mets and the Curse of Kris Kringle (updated)

The Mets revealed Friday that infielder Daniel Murphy, the subject of a smattering of trade rumors in recent weeks, will play Santa Claus during next Tuesday’s annual holiday party to benefit local public schoolchildren at Citi Field. Though of course his selection is a privilege, few would blame Murphy for hesitating to suit up.

For the better part of the past decade, the position seems to have been cursed; every 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 memorable 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: 2006
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: By enjoying the best statistical season of his career in 2007 and winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at third base, Wright appeared to nix the curse of Santa Claus once and for all. But then he made a critical mistake, agreeing to suit up again four years later. Keep reading to see what happened.

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 in 2010.

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. Some argue that despite a strong first half in 2010, he never truly recovered.

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 scored points for his jolliness, 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.

The Year: 2010
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: Making his second career appearance as Santa, Wright suffered a stress fracture in his lower back the following April, struggled while attempting to play through the pain, and ultimately spent more than two months on the disabled list. The resulting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging were only half the story; Wright also endured fallout from owner Fred Wilpon’s critical comments about him in the New Yorker magazine.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Reyes’ contract details with Miami

Wondering just how sweet Florida’s offer was to Jose Reyes? Below are the full details of his new deal, including bonuses:

Salary breakdown:

2012: $10 million
2013: $10 million
2014: $16 million
2015: $22 million
2016: $22 million
2017: $22 million

2018:  $22 million club option or $4 million buyout.

Total value: $106 million, or $124 million if seventh-year option is exercised.

Incentives:

MVP: $500,000
World Series MVP: $1 million
LCS MVP: $250,000
Silver Slugger: $100,000
All-Star selection: $50,000
Gold Glove: $50,000

Extras:

  • Reyes will donate $176,666 per year to charity.
  • He will receive a personal suite both on the road and at home.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Endy considering former teams

The Mets met with representatives for free-agent outfielder Endy Chavez on Tuesday in a continued effort to fill out their bench. An industry source said that the Mariners, Rangers and Orioles all remain potential landing spots for Chavez, as well. No deal appears imminent with any of those teams.

Chavez has spent the last six years bouncing from New York to Seattle and Texas, though he is best-known as a Met, transforming into a fan favorite after his game-saving catch in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at Shea Stadium.

–Anthony DiComo

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