Countdown to opening day 2015: days hrs min sec

Nets Retiring Jason Kidd’s Number Is A Bad Thing

Last night Jason Kidd’s number was retired by the Nets, the team he lead as a player from the 2001-02 through most of the 2007-08 seasons as a star point guard and now leads as coach. I don’t think anybody can argue with Kidd’s on court proficiency which gained him this honor but I still wonder if this was the right thing to do based on his other behavior. For that matter I question if he was the right pick to coach the Nets.

I can go on and on about the allegations that came out during his divorce. Extramarital affairs, excessive drinking, even wife beating. But, as maligned as it sounds, these things don’t have much, if anything, to do with someone’s number being retired. So let’s focus on his basketball behavior.

In the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, under coach Byron Scott and Kidd’s on court leadership, the Nets were the Eastern Conference champs and represented their conference in the NBA championship finals. They lost both times but the team hadn’t even won the division, much less the conference, since 1974 and had made the playoffs only once in the previous 7 years. Despite this success, Scott did not have Kidd’s support. Kidd approached team management and said a coaching change was needed and that’s exactly what happened.

Needless to say, in the 11 years since then the team has not reappeared in the finals. In fact they haven’t even made the conference finals in that span.

The fact is that since the Nets have been in the NBA their best chance at winning a championship was under Byron Scott.* Kidd would go on to win as a member of the Dallas Mavericks but he sent the Nets franchise into a tailspin that, despite having a great comeback season last year, it has still not recovered from.

So not only do the Nets have a coach who was a coach killer but they compound this silliness by honoring him in retiring his number. No wonder they’ve never won an NBA championship.

*The team won 2 of the last 3 ABA championships before making their NBA debut in the 1976-77 season. These remain the franchises only championships.

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Don’t Expect Too Much From Wheeler

In today’s New York Post columnist Steve Serby discusses Zack Wheeler‘s first start, scheduled for the second game of today’s day-nigh doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves, with Mets great Tom Seaver. In it Seaver warns Mets fans not to judge Wheeler too quickly.

Seaver said the following (directed more toward Wheeler than to fans:

“It’s not gonna happen in one game,” Seaver said. “And you shouldn’t think, ‘Here I am for the next 20 years,’ either. It might be a month, or two months, before you really understand who you are and if you can or cannot do this. This is a continual learning curve.”

But just as Wheeler shouldn’t expect greatness in game 1 of his major league career so should fans not expect it. One game does not make a career. With any luck Wheeler will be around for a while regardless of how he does tonight. So rather than set lofty expectations we should just sit back and enjoy.

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Fun Again… At Least For Two Nights

I haven’t posted much this season because there really hasn’t been much to write about. Sure, if I were a professional writer I’d find what to write about but I do this for fun and not for work. But after the last two nights there is finally something fun to write about. Back to back come from behind wins against a team the Mets have no business beating.

This is not as much about beating the Yankees as some may think. I posted a year or two ago about how I don’t view the Yankees as a rival. The Yankees play in the American league so they’re competing in the standings with a whole other group of teams than the Mets contend with in the National league. The fact that they’re in different leagues also leads to the teams playing a minimal number of games against each other and those are the only times they are direct rivals. Yes, the games are fun and capture our attention more but these teams are really not rivals.

Anyway, the Mets came back from a 1-0 hole two nights in a row to beat a better team 2-1. In the second game they managed to beat a pitcher in a way he had never been beaten before. Mariano Rivera had never lost a game in a save situation without recording an out and he’s likely to never do it again. This does not make the Mets a better team than they were a few days ago but these were exciting games and made this team fun to watch again even if it was just a couple of nights.

But these games also showed more about what the Mets are lacking. Ike Davis continues to struggle. Ruben Tejada also continued his bad play which is now spreading to his fielding. Both of these guys would be given some time off if the Mets had anybody worth playing in their spots. And let’s not forget how thin the outfield is.

Anyway, let’s take some time to enjoy these wins but not too long. Next up is two more games against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium so this feeling may not last.

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Should Ike Davis Go To AAA?

There’s a lot of talk lately about Ike Davis possibly being sent to the minors due to his current slump. Honestly I would have no problem with this if not for one issue.

Davis proved something to me last season when he managed to hit 32 home runs. But he struck out 141 times too. Until he learns to be more disciplined at the plate he will continue to be a liability more than an asset at the plate. Am I surprised his batting average is as low as it currently is (.149 before today’s game)? Yes. But his .227 in 519 at bats last year should have been an indicator that he still needs major work. If all things were equal I would have put him in AAA to start last year and kept him there until he proved to me that he could cut down on the strikeouts and bring his average up to a non embarrassing level.

Unfortunately not all things are equal and the Mets have very few (if any) options at first base. Rotating guys like Lucas Duda and Justin Turner at first is not a good solution.

And there is the problem. If Davis goes down there’s nobody in the organization who could man first base in a passable manner until such time Davis proves himself worthy of the position (which could take a while). So Ike must stay because there’s no other solution.

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Santana Done?

The day we all feared has finally come. The Mets announced yesterday that Johan Santana has a recurrence of the same injury that kept him out for the whole 2011 season and likely has thrown his last pitch as a Met, possibly of his career. I actually did not have very high expectations for Santana this year but am sad to see it end this way.

The end of Santana ushers in the end of the Omar Minaya era (error?). He’s the last of the expensive free agents Minaya signed to remain be with the team. Minaya was always in what I call “one player away mode” signing the one big player he thought would get the team over the top. The problem is that the team was actually more than one player away and Minaya’s strategy led to a house of cards that quickly came crashing down when the wind blew in the wrong direction.

Now that Santana is out of the picture the Mets commitment to developing their younger pitchers will be put to the test. Hopefully this will not cause them to rush anyone along.

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Atchison and Hawkins: Low Risk Veteran Presence?

The Mets have added two righthanders to the bullpen in the last 24 hours when they signed Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins. To say that these are not spectacular signings is an understatement but these two could be of help. The level of experience in the Mets bullpen is lacking in experience. Names like Josh Edgin, Robert Carson and Elvin Ramirez hardly instill confidence. Jeurys Familia, while showing promise as a starter in the minors, is also inexperienced at the major league level.

At the ages of 37 and 42 respectively Atchison and Hawkins are still capable of contributing 40+ appearances each. And considering these are minor league deals with invitations to spring training there is minimal risk in these signings.

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Backman To Manage AAA Again

In a move that didn’t surprise me in the least the Mets announced today that Wally Backman will return as manager of their AAA affiliate which will be in Las Vegas this season. Backman guided last year’s AAA affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, to a 67-76 record and has a career minor league managerial record of 601-564. The appointment shows that the plan to make Backman the heir apparent to the Mets managerial job is still in effect.

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Mr. Met Doesn’t Belong On A Cap

The Mets have redesigned their batting practice cap to feature Mr. Met on the front. I can sum up my feelings about this in three letters: WTF?!?!

2013 New York Mets batting practice cap.

I like Mr. Met as much as the next guy but putting him on the front of the cap is the wrong move. I know it sounds old school but the front of the cap is where the team logo belongs. If the mascot is going to be anywhere on the uniform it should be as a sleeve patch (which the Mets did with Mr. Met a few years ago). Thought I don’t like the idea of batting practice caps since they are strictly for marketing (“buy all 6 of the caps the team will be wearing this season”) I can understand the cap being less formal than a game cap. So if you must put Mr. Met on it put him on the side or the back where he compliments your main brand which is the team logo.

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Dickey Deal Reportedly Done

Reports today are that R.A. Dickey has agreed to a contract extension which would allow his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays to be completed. Josh Thole and a “non-elite minor leaguer” will join Dickey in Toronto. In exchange the Mets will get catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, catcher John Buck, pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard and either cash or another “non-elite minor leaguer”. Dickey was reportedly headed to Florida for a physical with the Blue Jays today.

Putting aside the argument of if the Mets should have signed Dickey or not (that’s a heated discussion in and of itself) this is a pretty good deal. With this trade the Mets manage to turn a 38 year old pitcher and underachieving catcher into a top catching prospect and top pitching prospect (plus a journeyman catcher) adding youth and shedding payroll in the process. These are the types of things you need to do to build an organization that can contend long term.

If the Mets were one player away (as they were after the 1984 season when they traded for Gary Carter) my opinion may be different. But the Mets with Dickey in 2013 are not likely to go any further than the Mets without Dickey in 2013.

Update: Latest reports say that the “non-elite minor leaguer” the Mets are giving in this trade is Mike Nickeas and the “non-elite minor leaguer” the Blue Jays are giving is 18-year-old OF Wuilmer Becerra.

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Valdespin’s Marlins Cap

Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin posted a few pics to hi Twitter feed today including this one of him wearing a Miami Marlins cap.

Obviously the cap has no bearing on where his allegiance is as a player but it is uncool. The last thing fans want to see is one of their players wearing another team’s colors.

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