For the fan in enemy territory

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is Mets early power a good sign?

The spring training for the New York Mets has had so many stories off the field, that it's been difficult to find a reason to write about what's on the field. The breaking news stories have come in a flurry of headlines and have been a real distraction to the team and those covering it.

On the field, the team is doing good early in the preseason, although their record is not impressive, it is the stats that are more telling at this stage. By now, it is no secret that they struggled mightily last season, especially in the power numbers. The face of the franchise, David Wright only belted a total of 10 home runs.

It was certainly an inaugural season to forget, in their first year at the overly reported on Citi Field, they were dead last in the league in homeruns. They had trouble staying healthy and as a result had trouble scoring. The pitching staff was over worked, over analyzed and under appreciated due to a lack of run support.

All of this has been well documented, there is no need to bring up the past, or is there? It is true that the injuries were crucial to the lack of success of the team last season and this year, it is also true that there can not be that many injuries. Hopefully, anyway. This season is already starting out on a bad note. Did the Wilpons break a mirror or walk under a ladder that they didn't tell anyone about?

It isn't even worth going into the long litany of injuries already sustained in the new calender year, but I will say this much. It is worth asking a question. The team has been able to produce power numbers and runs in the first week or so in Florida. Will this be a trend for the season, or will this be an aboration when they hit Citi Field?

The ballpark is built for pitchers and made for moonshots to wither and die in the air just before the stands. While the power numbers are very encouraging, and we are all excited about the possibility of this lineup with David Wright bouncing back in it he is tied for the team lead in home runs, there is still cause for patience and staying calm.

The fact is, this is happening in Florida. There is wind blowing out and good weather, for the most part with one rain out exception. It is way too early to tell anything of value. I have read some blogger and experts now raving over the team. Let's slow down. It's only March.

The weather is about 20 degrees colder in Queens than in Port St. Lucie. When the team comes up to play the real games, there will not be favorable conditions to play a summer game in. Hopefully, as the season progresses and the weather cooperates, the numbers can be what we expect. Until then, expect a slow start with the power.

That is probably why the team will miss Reyes and Beltran early on so much. Reyes is a spark plug that can steal and hit in the gap. He makes things happen. Beltran also is that type of player with a little more power. It seems that the rest of the power bats in the lineup are sink or swim. They have a track record of being either get a hold of one all the way or fly out trying.

Bay very well could like the new park when he adjusts properly to it. He played in Pittsburgh after all. Before he was the power bat in Boston, he was a solid All Star in the steel city. He has to stop thinking of Boston and revert back to the hitter he was in Pittsburgh in order to adjust well in Queens and become a beloved member of this team.

The ballpark is not built for taters, it is built for gappers, despite the walls being moved in a few feet. So, therefore, my impatient and passionate fellow Mets fan, let us not get too excited yet. I expect Bay to adjust and be accepted for a productive year. I expect the offense to take off when Reyes comes back after learning to live with his thyoid issues.

I do expect the team to score and be productive. I expect Wright to be good, but not as good as he was in Shea. I do expect the pitching staff to be better and come close to form. I also expect them to be in contention in July which will lead to some trade opportunities. They do need more, despite how we as fans feel, they aren't quite there yet. After all, there are still many questions left to be answered and it's only March.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A good time to talk trades

The New York Mets have had a few holes in their roster. This is not news. What is news, is recent articles being released to suggest other teams woes. For example, the Baltimore Orioles. Their star second baseman is out and it is questionable for how long.

Brian Roberts, according to some reports, is not close to baseball ready. This means the team has admitted to being open to other options at that position. I have two words for you. Luis Castillo. He is an okay hitter that is pretty much hated by most of the fan base he currently plays for. He has been shopped around like girl scout cookies that are five years old.

He has, as a result, most certainly lost trust in the organization and who can blame him. That's why he was spending the off season mentoring a rival player. He needs a change of scenery. This is an opportunity for Omar Minaya to actually do the right thing. He could accomplish two things.

First, help a player who has been alienated move on. Second, add pitching. I think the Mets are deep enough to replace him temporarily. They could keep Tejada, Hernandez or Catalinato in the roster. In exchange, get some pitching. Maybe trade Ollie and Castillo at the same time. That would be heaven on Earth for the impatient Mets fan.

The other story I noticed to be of interest, was in Minnesota. The Twins now are questioning if they can ink their award winning catcher, Joe Mauer to a long term deal. The Mets have the money to do it. Take Barajas. Heck, take Santos too. For that deal, I would give anything they asked, except Johan back. They do have a relationship with the Mets after all, the Mets helped take Johan off their financially strapped hands in the first place.

Couldn't you just see it? Joe Mauer in Queens. No Castillo or Ollie. That would be the most happy day for the Mets fan. Knowing we can actually count on our catcher for the first time since Piazza. Knowing that we don't have the circus that is Ollie or the Queens version of Bill Buckner that is Castillo. How happy would the fans be for that?

Now, splash some cold water on your face and pinch yourself. Omar will not let it happen. He doesn't think outside of the box like that. After all, it takes foresight to think like that. They probably will make a trade, though. In response to the Reyes news lately, they'll probably trade for someone like Eric Bruntlett from the Nats, some career backup shortstop from Japan or Rey Ordonez's third cousin's nephew. That would be an Omar deal.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The rich get richer and the bullpen gets thinner

The New York Mets have had bad news early on this spring training. Now comes the news that one of their free agent signings, Kelvim Escobar, is contemplating retirement. This isn't by itself too surprising, but it is a little troubling.

Not to sound completely alarmed, but this was supposed to be the move that secured the bullpen for the ball club. His contract is not all that big, so it will not be a financial hit, like say, Oliver Perez, but it still is a hit nonetheless. It does three things that I can tell from my vantage point.

First, it thins out the bullpen even more. If he does retire, they have to rely on the younger and unproven players to replace that roster spot. I think that Igarashi could be a good bridge, and Escobar's decision would possibly open the door for him. However, he still is unproven and needs the proper time to adjust to the majors. That is something you don't want in a setup man.

Second, just as Escobar's initial 'weak arm' report may have made the team more desperate to sign Beimel, this may add to that desperation. There are still established free agent relievers available, but the well is drying up. This coming out now, puts Beimel in an even more advantageous position that may lead the club to overpay for another player.

Finally, this may cause the team to rush Jennry Mejia. They have already been so impressed with Mejia's performance and rightfully so. He has been remarkable thus far. With this story developing, if Escobar doesn't strengthen and come back, they will surely be tempted to keep Mejia up. This may be good, but it may not.

Only time will truly tell with Mejia, but it is my belief that they must keep him in the minors for at least a little while. Bring him up in July, maybe September, if they can afford to. More time in the minors will only be more beneficial to him. He can build his repertoire and his confidence even more. He can gain valuable experience of in game situations.

This is not the NBA or NHL. You can't just play a kid that young in this sport. Baseball requires experience or the inexperience will shatter a young player's confidence and render him a bust. While I am not surprised by Escobar's contemplation, it does beg another, still unanswered question.

I asked this when they first signed him. Why spend the money, even though it's not a tremendous amount in comparison, on a pitcher with so many questions when there are more established and healthier relievers available for just a little more? It's boggling to my mind how misuseful the organization is with their scouting, decision making and spending.

Overall, this may be another bad move that makes the team look like bumbling idiots. I realize that they already are perceived in the league as unprofessional and irresponsible. This only stresses that point of perception. I have read many columnists and GM statements to verify that opinion across the board.

Why then do they continue to bargain hunt at thrift stores when newer merchandise is available at Wal-Mart for just a few dollars more? This brings up a whole new line of questions that I will reserve for another time, but I will say this. If they don't learn from their mistakes, they will be destined to repeat them. That should be the mantra of this current administration.

Learn from the history of the franchise and don't make dumb moves like this one. If Escobar retires, it's no big loss. How can you miss what you didn't know? But it can mean two things, poor judgement for not seeing this in the first place, or seeing this coming as an option and still wasting the money. Either one is unacceptable and they must be held accountable for such decisions.

Communication is paramount, the Mets have none

The biggest story to come out right now in New York Mets land is about Jose Reyes. We all wait with baited breath for the imminent test results from the wonderful Mets doctors. As we wait, we suffer. In the words of Tom Petty "the waiting is the hardest part".

Fret not, my fellow Metropolitans Fan, because our franchise has released a statement. It basically says things are worse than the player is telling us. Isn't that wonderful news? They didn't even bother to check with Reyes before releasing this asinine statement. What does this remind us of? Oh yeah, Carlos Beltran.

Once again the New York Mets franchise has their hand completely on the wrong part of the wrist when checking for the pulse. They hear their own heartbeat and assume it's accurate. Anyone ever hear about what happens when one assumes? That's right. You make an a** of u and me. In the Mets case they make one of them and them, maybe the players involved too.

It is my stern belief that the organization should muzzle Omar Minaya. Perhaps they could have a trained staff sitting by him to release his statements, like they do for Mr Met. That might come in handy. Then, maybe they wouldn't jump the gun and make another star athlete in the franchise angry or hurt by their stupidity.

It is no secret that after this past winter, Beltran may not be very happy with the club and that can effect him on and off the field. Now you want to add Jose Reyes to that equation as well? This is irresponsible. For a franchise that should be the utmost professional and respectable, it makes you wonder. They should be an example of first class, yet here they are stuck in last class.

It is this type of noncommunication that make this team so questionable at times. Some may say I'm making too big of a deal over this. Allow me to explain why. Say you're going into a car dealership in December to buy a car with no money. The salesman asks you how you intend to pay the down payment.

Your reply is "I'm getting my W2 in the mail in two months, so I should get enough money from my tax return." The salesman would look at you like you had two heads. Your word would not be valid. This is exactly the case here. The Mets have made statements guessing without facts.

The real question I need to ask here is why do they feel the need to release a statement at all? At least not until they have all of the facts from their crack team of medical specialists. We all know how good they are. Why not just wait?

Reyes did the right thing here by not talking and only speaking of it as minimal. The management is hyping this up to be the downfall of the organization. Another devastating blow the Queens. When will Omar and Company just stop talking and use a little understanding for the moment? This is not a time to panic and get the rest of your fans to panic as well.

This is a time to gather facts and wait to come to conclusions. Until further notice, that is what I will do on this matter. I hope that every Mets fan joins me in preaching patience to the organization. Timing is everything in this world and they haven't quite figured that out yet. Hopefully, they will before another brilliant player is left bitter by the lack of Omar's communication skills.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NFL mock draft part 2 of 6 picks, # 26 - # 21

We continue our mock draft. First, let us recap. #32 Saints-Sean Lee (LB), #31 Colts-Dan Williams (DT), #30 Vikings-Patrick Robinson (CB), #29 Jets-Taylor Mays (FS), #28 Chargers-Joe Haden (CB) and #27 Cowboys-Earl Thomas (FS).

# 26 Arizona Cardinals - LB Sergio Kindle (Texas). The Cardinals are quickly becoming the charity case of the league. They've gone from rags to riches to rags again. The clock struck midnight and their coach turned back into a pumpkin.

It all happened when Warner retired. Then Dansby, Bolden and Rolle signed elsewhere. Now, their cupboard is bare and they need to restock. This isn't the draft to get a franchise QB that can step in like Flacco, Matt Ryan and Sanchez have done. Only one or two QB's in this draft may be able to, but not without a problem.

The Cardinals tried to replace Rolle with Kerry Rhodes, hoping a change of scenery can help him escape the headlines of New York. The team has depth at WR. They can move Breaston up the depth chart and get another receiver later in the draft. Their only other need besides QB is LB. This is where Sergio Kindle comes in. It is debatable, but he could be the best LB in the draft, and at least on the outside.

He will be the best available at this stage of the draft. He is a hybrid type of linebacker. He is strong and has decent speed (4.7 dash). He has good instincts and good technique. He does have a character issue, with a DWI in his past, which will make him drop to the Cardinals. If he works on his game and off the field issues, he can become a force in the West.

# 25 Baltimore Ravens - DT Cam Thomas (North Carolina). The Ravens are improving on offense with another season of Joe Flacco and an addition of Bolden to the receiver core. They could go CB with this pick as the secondary is aging or recovering from injuries, but I think they go a different way.

They are getting older at most every position on defense. They have a need on the front defensive line, mainly at Defensive Tackle. They are probably going to lose tackles Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards to free agency, even if they don't an aging core of tackles isn't good in the NFL. They will need a rotation.

Enter Cam Thomas. Thomas is very strong, and a good straight rusher. He would work well in their defense with the talent they would have around him. His only downsides are fire and technique. The latter can be helped. The fire can be solved by one camp with Ray Lewis.

# 24 Philadelphia Eagles - DE Brandon Graham (Michigan). The Eagles had an explosive offense last year. That is well documented, their biggest problem, was stopping opposing offenses. They have two glaring needs. A pass rush and the secondary play. The secondary can be addressed in later rounds, but the pass rush needs to be helped here. The class is only so deep with pass rushers and this is one of them.

Brandon Graham is strong and knows how to use his hands and gets under blocks very well. He can make plays for a defense that was accustomed to big plays. His only true downside is his size. His strength can make up for that if he is taught properly. There is talent on that line, namely Trent Cole, that could help him learn.

# 23 Green Bay Packers - DE Carlos Dunlap (Florida). The Packers are solid on offense. They are not so solid on defense. They had a good pass rush, before this off season. During the free agency period, so far, they have lost Aaron Kampman to the Jaguars, thereby leaving a gaping hole in the front line. They must replace that talent, as they are switching to a 3-4 scheme and they will need versatile linemen.

Dunlap is a good tackler and has tremendous size (6'6") and strength. He could be taught to use his hands and size better, but that isn't his biggest question mark. He has character issues as he faced a suspension from a SEC title game for a DWI just days before. If he is the type that can learn from his mistakes and convince teams that he has, he can be a good fit for the Packers who need an edge rusher that maybe can play outside linebacker at times too.

# 22 New England Patriots - WR Arrelious Benn (Illinois). The Patriots are in heavy need of a playmaker on the offense to compliment Randy Moss. Wes Welker has an injury that may be uncertain whether he returns the same player. I expect Bill Belichick to look for one of the top receivers, but they will be off of the board by this pick. Unless they can trade up, he'll have to settle for the best available.

That would be Benn. He is fast (4.5 dash) and has good size at 6'1". He is still young enough to grow into a big and strong receiver that can gain separation. Under the mentoring of someone like Moss, Benn's already dangerous skills could become lethal. He lacks the breakaway speed to be a top receiver in the NFL, but if he can learn how to use his skills, he could be a slot or secondary receiver that completes an offense.

# 21 Cincinnati Bengals - WR Golden Tate (Notre Dame). The Bengals have talent on their offense and developing talent on their defense. Palmer is back to form and Chad Ochocinco is not only talking, but producing. They need a LB, as their current core is aging. More importantly, they need weapons. Tight ends are deep this year, but they can get one in round 2 or 3. Here, they need to get a receiver that can stretch the field and is versatile enough to play the slot.

There are several good receivers in this draft. The top one will be gone by the time the Bengals pick. Golden Tate will still be available. Tate played in a pro-style offense under Charlie Weis. He played under a microscope at Notre Dame and he is everything they need in a receiver. A good fit. He played close by in Indiana, so the fans are aware of him.

His speed (4.5 dash), hands and game knowledge make him an exceptional talent that will be taken early. He isn't fast enough to be considered a burner like DeSean Jackson, but he can be dangerous in open field. His route running may be his only weakness. That can take time and teaching, but in this system, with Chad and Coles, he could excel.

That takes us through all of the playoff teams from last season. If you're a fan of one of them, you may disagree with me, but all of these teams have smaller needs than those coming up. The next group will include five teams. They are San Francisco, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Houston. I hope you keep reading as we near my Giants. I'll be writing soon.

NFL mock draft part 1 of 6, picks # 32 - # 27

In just about a month and a half, the sports world will be buzzing. It will be recovering from a NCAA basketball tourney, MLB baseball will be back and in full force, PGA will be underway and all focus will turn to Tiger, both the NBA and NHL will be winding down toward their respective playoffs.

There is one other event that is growing larger every year under the intense spotlight of this media driven, technological world we now live in. That event is the NFL draft. Millions of fans watch and discuss this event and I am no exception. I will be compiling a mock draft to predict who will go where and why. It is my very first time, so don't be too hard on me.

I'd like to make it more challenging at start at the bottom, working my way to the overall # 1 pick. I think this list will be widely debated, but that it the point. I am not an expert, I have never claimed to be. The fact is, there really is no one that knows exactly what these teams will do. No one. The key to all of these picks is timing in the draft itself and how much a particular team loves a particular player.

With all of this in mind, let us dive right in. We will begin with the Champs.

# 32 New Orleans Saints - LB Sean Lee (Penn St). The team coming off a Super Bowl win rarely ever has a flaw or a specific need. However, this team does. They have a need at linebacker, before they won and now that Fujita has signed with Cleveland, their need is bigger.

They close out the first round with a linebacker. Sean Lee comes out of linebacker U, Penn State along with teammate Navorro Bowman, but despite Bowman's rising stock, Lee is the better of the two. He has the size and skills to adjust to the league. He runs a 4.7 40 yard dash and is regarded as one of the best interior linebackers in the draft. His only downside, is strength and size, but that can come with time in the weight room.

# 31 Indianapolis Colts - DT Dan Williams (Tennessee). The AFC Champs, like the Super Bowl champs, are in also in a bind. The Super Bowl runner up, also, rarely has a weakness, but this team does now as well. This is the result of an aggressive free agency period. The Colts have lost Brackett. He was a force for that front defensive line and will be missed. He, also, will be replaced.

Dan Williams is a strong interior defensive lineman. He is great against the run and should bolster their defense almost immediately. His only downside, is weight and technique. These are both manageable and can be fixed.

# 30 Minnesota Vikings - CB Patrick Robinson (Florida State). The Vikings came so very close to a trip to Miami. Expect Brett Favre to return. This isn't the draft they use to replace him. This draft is weak in QB's and strong in CB's. The Vikings have some serious questions in the secondary. Two of the veterans are aging and injured. They need to restock and soon. This is the draft to do it in.

Patrick Robinson's stock is rising. He should go late first, early second round. I believe he goes here. By the time the draft gets to the Vikings, they will have a few top corners to choose from, he is the better of those options. He is fast, sporting a 4.4 dash.

He is fast enough to make up ground if out of position, and strong enough to force opposing receivers out of their routes. He's a solid tackler with good coverage ability. His only downside is zone coverage which has lead to lack of production in stats. This can be taught, with the right coaches.

# 29 New York Jets - FS Taylor Mays (USC). The J-E-T-S, like the Vikings were so very close. They were the surprise of the season under a rookie coach and a rookie QB that rapidly became the toast of the town with the G-Men fading fast. They made a giant splash in free agency this past week, by signing Antonio Cromartie from San Diego.

By doing so, accomplished two things. They strengthen the secondary, matching a rookie sensation in Rivas with a sensational young veteran. They did trade and cut two players from that secondary, which is the reason for the pick. They also have a need at RB, but this field of backs isn't the best to get a franchise back out of. They can get a good balance back for Greene, in the next round.

Taylor Mays is the rising standout of this safety class whose stock is rising. Because of needs for other teams, he could still be available at this pick. He has the size (6'3") and speed (4.45 dash) teams look for. Team needs may cause him to drop this far. The only other place I can see him go, is Arizona at # 26, but they have too many needs after a tumultuous few months of player movement. Mays is a hitter and not only does he have good range, but he is used to the big spotlight playing at USC. That could benefit him in New York.

# 28 San Diego Chargers - CB Joe Haden (Florida). The Chargers lost a big player this month in Cromarte to an AFC rival that booted them out of the playoffs in their own stadium, the Jets. Cromarte was a force in the secondary that is rare and will be difficult to replace. They must try.

Joe Haden is the CB in this draft that is widely regarded as having the best upside. He is fast (4.3 dash) and physical. He has the talent to be a shutdown corner in this league. San Diego needs such a player. His only downside is football saavy and is still raw. Experience will help these tremendously. He could become the Revis of this draft.

# 27 Dallas Cowboys - FS Earl Thomas (Texas). The Cowboys are weak in their mid-field secondary. That is what has been exploited all season, last season. Now is the time to fix that. Dallas owner Jerry Jones loves these Texas and Arkansas guys. This is another one for him to salivate over. Earl Thomas has good speed (4.45 dash) and good instincts. He's a playmaker who has only one fixable downside. Strength. This can be changed. He will be a good pick for them Cowboys.

That makes six down and twenty six to go. Check back soon. I will update this and add the next six, rounding off the rest of the playoff teams. That includes Arizona, Baltimore, Philly, Green Bay, New England and Cincy.

Oliver Perez, you are the weakest link....goodbye!

Every Family has a black sheep. A rotten egg. The square peg that will not fit in the round hole. The New York Mets are a family as well. As a family, they are no exception. The square peg, I'm thinking of is Oliver Perez. Ollie has been overrated since his arrival in Queens.

He has been highly reported on and highly criticized. All with good reason. The franchise inked him to a longer deal than any other team was offering. Does the league know something that Omar Minaya doesn't? Perhaps.

Perhaps if a pitcher that has good potential for upside hasn't figured it out by now, than potential is nothing more than a desert mirage. An oasis in scorching temperatures, existing at a distance, but nothing more than an illusion when you reach it. This could be Oliver Perez, an illusion. A mirage.

He has a handful of good games. Just when you think he is on track and becoming everything he was promised to be, he gets lit up light Times Square. The embattled, impassioned fans are left scratching their collective heads and wondering why the franchise wasted the money.

We repeat to ourselves "they could of signed what's his name", like an empty mantra that we expect to be thrown out into the void never to return with a response. Perez has shown, once again, that he is unreliable and not even close to being the pitcher this team needs. Can this franchise afford to keep him?

They have spent a ton of money on him, too much to let him rot on the bench of the bullpen or even worse, the bench in the minors. Year after year, we spend spring trainings watching the Mets parade veteran after veteran. Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer, all to teach him. In the hope that someone will finally help him make that light bulb in his warped head go off. Alas, to no avail. Another spring training, another bad spring training start.

It's only March. I am aware that there are several months to go and the season hasn't even started yet. If he can't turn it around by now, perhaps they should trade him to a team that will take him. Are there any doe eyed and ignorant teams in Japan that are interested in a lemon?

If this performance continues, they should be shopping one bad contract for another. The question is will they? How long does it take for this franchise to realize a player just doesn't have what it takes to make a consistent transition? How long must this intelligent fan base have to endure such stupidity?

It is mind boggling how the organization can not see the forest through the trees. It is even more mind boggling what they paid to be temporary farsighted. If his performance, even with injuries, this season mimics last season, in any way, it may be time to go shopping. Let's just hope that if that has to happen, there is enough takers available for a clearance item named Ollie.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Free agent frenzy

This has been a very busy weekend to kick off the NFL free agency period. Across the league, several teams were busy jockeying for position to sign the elite of this years free agent class.

There were several big winners early on. First, the Chicago Bears, who signed Julius Peppers. They added the presence on defense that they have lacked for a few years.

Add him to Urlacher and the present group they have on that defense, it will make for a tough team to score on. Second, the Miami Dolphins.

They signed Karlos Dansby for their linebacker core. This could be Bill Parcell's biggest move of this off season. He will change this defense. The New York football Giants, my team, has made a tremendous splash with Antrel Rolle. He is the safety that they need and combined with a healthy Kenny Phillips, the secondary will be a force and help the pass rush immensely.

The Baltimore Ravens acquired Anquan Bolden to be that big play receiver that they have always lacked. Finally, the Cleveland Browns. Yes, the Browns. They added a super bowl winning linebacker in Fujita. Now, we get to my list of losers so far early on.

This list must start and maybe even finish with the Arizona Cardinals. You heart has to go out to them. It was only a year ago, that they were just short of winning the super bowl. Now, they have lost their franchise quarterback, franchise linebacker, franchise safety and the receiver that helped Fitzgerald get open so often, Bolden.

That is the definition of the word decimated. The roster will be completely different after this and their draft will be hard to predict. They have a quarterback that they don't believe in (Leinart), they still have two or three good receivers, but no defense at all.

My other pick, for free agency loser, will be a controversial one. Many people I explain this to whole heartedly disagree with me, but try to follow my logic. The New York Jets are on my list of bad job done. I wouldn't exactly call them losers in this yet, but they are not winners. Here's why. They sign a cornerback in Cromarte, who is exceptional and matched with Revis will be quite to duo. But they release a cornerback, in Sheppard and a traded a safety in Rhodes.

They add one and lose two. You do the math. Even elementary math teaches us that you are left with 1 - 2= -1. I know Kerry Rhodes created controversy and chaos in the locker room, I know Lito Sheppard didn't quite live up to his previous performances. Still, that is not an addition, it is subtraction. It is addition by subtraction as many may argue, it is subtraction.

I hope the rest of the free agency period leading up to the draft is as exciting as this past weekend was. This only leaves me with one, still unanswered question. I have asked every expert I know, no one can give me a answer to this question that completely satisfies my curiosity. Why can't baseball's free agency be this fast?

The NHL, NBA, and NFL all have massive signings as soon as the period begins. Why can't baseball? All of these sports have super agents and massive contracts with massive talent and massive egos to match, just like baseball. So why does it take baseball players so long to sign? Case in point, there are still free agents waiting to sign and teams are already playing baseball in Florida. What gives? Why?

If anyone can answer this without me being able to give a counter argument, then they deserve their own sports talk show. Say what you want about free agency in the major sports, but it has made sports more entertaining. For that we have to be thankful.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

The major story this past off season for the New York Mets was inactivity. I mentioned in a previous article that, the Mets GM Omar Minaya added depth in preparation of the possibility of repeating last year's injury ward. That is true, however it is not the entire story.

This past week, two stories came out that were disheartening and equally frustrating to a Mets fan. As a Mets fan, the off season was spent clamoring about adding starting pitching behind Johan Santana for the rotation. It also was spent talking about the need to have a premier catcher. The team spent the few months of the off season heavily pursuing players to fit that criteria, or so we were told.

It has come to light that, a pitcher who wanted to come to New York, Jason Marquis was never given a serious offer from the franchise. They had at least five pitchers that were mentioned to the public as considering for the team. John Lackey and Jason Marquis were among them and both were offered contracts.

It was assumed by the fans that Marquis, at the very least, was a done deal. The fan base waited and waited for the breaking news story that the team added a new pitcher, but it never came. Marquis had requested from his agent that he be notified only of serious offers. That never came from the Mets. That is disturbing to a fan of the franchise.

In a similar story, earlier in the week, it was released that the team was never aggressive in negotiating with Benjie Molina. They refused to add a second year to the offer they had on the table to Molina. Molina would have signed for only two guaranteed years. They ended up getting a decent defensive replacement that may be okay at the plate as well, in Rod Barajas.

The point is a lack of foresight and aggressiveness cost them a tremendous addition to the team. For a second time in a span of only a few months, they missed out on a player that wanted to come to Queens. The Mets could of signed Marquis and Molina. How differently would we be looking at this past off season if they had done that.

Jason Bay, Jason Marquis and Benjie Molina as well as the other minor leaguers for depth, would have been a grand success. As a result, we have spent all off season complaining about their inactivity. The activity that they had, was good, but it certainly could have been better given some forward thinking by the organization.

This is troubling, but it isn't the end of the world for the team. As I stated, Barajas is an able replacement. Let us not forget, there are still pitchers out there in the market, namely Jarrod Washburn. Also, the trading deadline always brings desperation for contending and non-contending teams alike.

It would appear that the off season isn't quite over yet, so the team still has a small window to do the right thing and add a pitcher. Let's hope they learn from their previous activity or lack thereof.