The Mets have a promising young pitching staff and a handful of good position players. While the Nationals seem to be the clear favorite in the NL East, the Mets could be wild card contenders given both the Braves and Phillies rebuilding and given that the Marlins, while on the rise, may not be ready to really take the leap yet. If the Mets could fill a couple of holes, they could be a pretty frisky team!
But they haven’t filled holes this offseason. They signed Michael Cuddyer and . . . well, nothing much else. This despite the fact that the team claimed it was going to be “aggressive” early in the offseason. Most Mets fans I talk to just nod their heads sadly at all of this, never expecting much else under the Wilpons. Owners who, because of their personal financial problems, have refused to run the Mets as if they are a big market team.
New commissioner Rob Manfred is not concerned, however. He tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin that the Mets will totally spend money. When they think time is right:
“For a whole host of reasons, it’s really not my position to predict when I think they need to spend,” Manfred said during a visit last week to ESPN’s campus. “I have had ongoing, numerous conversations with both ownership and Sandy [Alderson] about the Mets’ situation. … I think at the point in time that it is their judgment that it is effective to increase their payroll, they’ll do that, and they will have the capacity to do it . . . I have never had a question about the Mets’ capacity to spend if they decided it was in their baseball interest to spend money. I really don’t believe that’s an issue.”
And Mets fans nod some more.
John Hickey’s latest story in the Mercury-News reports that new Oakland Athletics first baseman Ike Davis was still suffering from some effects of valley fever last year. A disease he first contracted in 2012:
“Valley fever is a nightmare,” said Davis, who turns 28 in March. “You have no energy, no nothing. It was definitely a weird one. It’s supposed to go away on its own, but when I had an X-ray last year, it showed I still had it. I’m hoping that’s over and done with.”
At various points Davis has said that the was asymptomatic, such as in this March 2012 story, but then it came back strong in early 2013 and many attribute it to his struggles that season. And, apparently, last season as well.
The central question surrounding Davis for the past several years was whether he can ever be the player he suggested he’d become after his 2011 and 2012 seasons. If, as Davis says, his valley fever has persisted like this, it would go a long way toward explaining why the past two years have been so rough for him.
Yesterday John Paschal of The Hardball Times started an investigation into who our least favorite players are. Today he has Part II of that investigation, asking some more baseball writers who their least favorite players are and why.
My answer to this question appears at the end of this installment. The short version: while, when I was young, I hated certain players who did well against the teams for which I rooted, I grew out of it. Today I don’t — at least I don’t think — hate any player based on what they do between the lines. Or, for that matter, for what they do off the field unless what they do off the field has victims and real life implications for innocent people.
Go check out some Deep Thoughts about hate over at The Hardball Times.
Buster Olney reports that the Red Sox and the Orioles are interested in playing exhibition games in Cuba at some point soon. The Red Sox’ plans are somewhat amorphous and haven’t progressed beyond the discussion stages. The Orioles, who have something of a better “in” with Cuba, would like to do something this spring.
First some exhibition games. Then maybe a series during the regular season. Possibly a minor league team returning to Cuba, even. As Jorge Arangure noted in his first Cuba Diaries installment, such expansion of U.S. business interests into Cuba is inevitable. Re-expansion, I guess, given the history of our two countries. Here’s hoping, however, that everyone treads a bit on the light side with this, so that that which is unique and good about Cuba now is not thrown out with all that which is not so good.
Good news, Rangers fans:
Fielder, of course, played in only 42 games last year before needing neck surgery. Also worth noting that, just before the season began, he was a BSOHL All-Star.
Now, take 2 on the whole “Fielder is gonna love to hit in that cozy ballpark” thing.
Oh, and also: