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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Crawford’

SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan

In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on August 9, 2011 at 10:10 am

One hundred and twenty million dollars over six years is a steep investment for a ball club. Especially the New York Mets, whose owner faces a one billion dollar lawsuit stemming from a private investment.

That kind of money buys a superstar or a couple B-level players. Spend it on a pitcher and the guy contributes every fifth day. Spend it on position players and the impact is doubled on a daily basis.

In Flushing Meadow, N.Y., Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson and Manager Terry Collins are dwelling on these options. So is owner Fred Wilpon. The triumvirate will decide if shortstop Jose Reyes stays or goes.

Wilpon sounded like a miser this spring when he told New Yorker Magazine, “Jose Reyes won’t get Carl Crawford money from me,” alluding to the $140M the outfielder received from the Boston Red Sox. But lately, Wilpon sounds wiser. All the man seeks is a return on his investment. Can you blame him after what he’s gone through with Bernard Madoff?

For the second time this season (and seventh of his career), Reyes is on the disabled list, courtesy of his tender hamstrings. Every time he moves, he’s in sprint mode – leaving the batter’s box, pivoting before firing to first base or turning into fifth gear as he scampers for a triple.

And don’t think the Mets’ braintrust doesn’t wince every step of Reyes’ way. One tweak – and there have been many – and it’s Buffalo’s Reuben Tejada taking over at shortstop.

Mets’ brass has to think…“If we invest in Jose, will we get another Carlos Beltran, Mo Vaughn, Bobby Bonilla, Billy Wagner, Mike Cameron, Jason Bay, Luis Castillo or Johan Santana – top-flight players who underperformed or became physically fragile for most of their Met playing days?”

Reyes has been selected to four All-Star games. Three times, he was hurt and unable to play.

If Met scouts can pinpoint a right fielder and catcher with which to spend $140M, why not consider it? At least Tejada can field and run. And he’s young with no injury history. OK, he’ll hit .250 but so do a lot of MLB shortstops.

Look at the Mets record. The team is .500 WITH Reyes. In late July, the club was one game above the Nationals who were in the NL East cellar. So if you’re paying one player to win games, how do you justify paying Reyes big bucks? The Mets have a ton of heart and fail to quit, no matter how many of their starters began the season in Buffalo. But they aren’t winning. Or challenging the Phillies or Braves. They may hope for a wild card but at the moment, they’re 9 games back – a mountain climb when those red-hot clubs never lose.

But Reyes’s agent, Peter Greenburg sees it differently. In the New York Post, he said this: ““We’ve done studies and over the last four years, we feel Jose’s injury-proneness is a little bit exaggerated. Early in his career he had some hamstring problems. The hamstring tendon issue really was just a misdiagnosis for a while, unfortunately.”

Exaggerated?” “Early in his career…?”

No, Peter, it’s reality and it’s happening now. Once again No. 7 is missing in action from the Met lineup, which just can’t afford to lose another quality player.

Tony Gwynn, now a San Diego Padres radio announcer, said Reyes deserves big money because he’s a “game-changer.” Really? Last time I looked, he wasn’t a “standings-changer.”

In a muted endorsement, Collins said of his prized infielder: “He’s a leader and brings energy and fun to this team, besides his ability.”

OK, but he doesn’t bring wins in excess of losses. Or the post season. The smile, giggling and “claw” signal after reaching base are fan-friendly but winning is what really matters and the Mets aren’t doing it enough.

For the Mets’ braintrust, that, alone should be the determining factor.



SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan

In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on May 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Home mortgage foreclosures are at an all-time high. Ditto for credit card defaults. The national unemployment rate of 9.6% isn’t so bad considering it was almost 20% in Nevada and 15% in northeast Ohio. In California and Connecticut, state workers were required to take unpaid furloughs. Parishoners at one Northern Virginia church number five a day, asking for financial aid in this recession.

What about the auto worker in Michigan who is “riffed” at 55? Where does he take his riveting skills at that age? People have seen their investment portfolios dwindle to the point they don’t open the envelopes anymore. Others have flat-out lost their jobs. Some get so frustrated with the job market, they take something they’re far-less qualified for. Or settle for something part-time, So much for a college degree. Or an advanced degree. Or years of experience.

Hello Major League Baseball. Are you listening?

Still, game patrons are expected to wait in line to park a car for $30. Or $50 in New York. Or belly up to pay $90 for a mezzanine-level seat. Or $8 for a hot dog, $5 for Cracker Jack or $9 for a warm beer. Or $100 for a team-replica jersey.

The national pasttime? Puh-lese. Try taking your family of five to the ball park. That figures to a mini-vacation, financially. Do clubs forget that most games are televised for free?

Know why it’s so expensive? Look at the salaries paid to players without the credentials of a Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Ernie Banks. Guys you’ve never heard of draw $5-6-7M a year. Guaranteed! So much for incentive. Just where’s the motivation to perform when that check is direct-deposited at the bank, win or lose, home run or strikeout.

Consider these contract busts that the “ordinary Joe” is paying for.

Jayson Werth of the Nationals is hitting .231 after 38 games. This, after signing a 7-year deal for $126M. The Nats are barely ahead of the Mets, who reside in the cellar of the NL East.

Carl Crawford of the Red Sox is hitting .208 with 1 HR and 10 RBI in 154 at bats. Plus, he’s fanned 28 times in 38 games. All this after signing a 7-year deal for $142M. Boston is 17-20 and in third place in the AL East.

Jason Bay of the Mets is hitting .216 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in 74 at bats. He’s in the second of a 4-year, $64M contract. Last season, he amassed 6 HR and 47 RBI while hitting .259, before having his season end prematurely due to a concussion. A year before he signed, Bay clubbed 36 HR and drove in 119 runs for Boston. Can someone say “Green Monster?”

John Lackey, signed by Boston last year to a 5-year, $82.5M, is a blazing 2-5 with an 8.01 ERA. That projects to 8 wins for $16-plus million this year, or $2M per victory on the Lackey front.

Derek Jeter, hit .270 last year, his worst performance since his rookie year. Months later, he wanted a 5-year, $105M contract. So much for Yankee pride. The Yankees balked and settled for 3 years at $51M. So far, Jeter’s hitting .260 with a whopping five extra-base hits in 150 at bats. That figures to 20 extra base hits for the season.

The Red Sox will battle the Yanks for a wild card spot but the Mets and Nationals are going nowhere except the golf course come October.

So why would Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo fork over so much money for one player who probably won’t get the Nats out of last place?

Don’t ask fans – they won’t know whether they continue to attend games or not.