Dave Murray takes a look at some old baseball card follies.

Toby Hyde’s got a new job and is blogging his excellent road trip.

I wonder where Steve Keane got that autographed card of Ron Gardenhire. Bot Gardy looks thin. Keane is alos posting a countdown to days until spring training begins.

Mets Fever’s Ed Ryan give his take on the Frank Catalanotto signing.

The Real Dirty Mets Blog has today in Mets infamy. Happy birthday to Bob Apodaca and Rafael Santana. No way Santana’s only 52 though.

Only the mad genius that is Metstradamus can channel the Mets via the Twilight Zone.

Anthony De Rosa of Hot Foot takes down Jerry Manuel’s interview.

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The Daily News Anthony McCarron has a nice piece this morning on minor league free agent signee, Mike Hessman

Hessman is the active leader in minor league homeruns with 311. That’s a lot of jacks no matter where you are playing. He provides organizational depth and a badly needed power. Hessman will play for the Mets at some point during the year.

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This post was written by bobsikes on January 31, 2010

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Former ESPN statisician David Pinto has running his numbers to perdict potential outcomes this season. Last night he posted Mets minor league signee, R. A. Dickey.

He probably has a split contract and will begin the season in Buffalo. The Mets likely see him as a staff saver, an emergency innings eater that can start or relieve. The tendency is to scoff at signings like these, but everyone needs pitchers like Dickey. He’ll pitch pitch for both New York and Buffalo this year.

UPDATE: Here’s Pinto’s take on Elmer Dessens.

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This post was written by bobsikes on January 31, 2010

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Jane Jarvis.

It makes me miss Shea even more.

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This post was written by bobsikes on January 30, 2010

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Darryl Strawberry had never left the Mets?

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This post was written by bobsikes on January 30, 2010

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The Post’s Kevin Kernan is one of my favorite NY sports writers and has a nice piece this morning in the Post about Gregg Jefferies.

Jefferies is candid about his Mets days, but I don’t believe that there was as much resent for him replacing Wally Backman amongst the team as is indicated in Kernan’s piece. Much of the problems that Jefferies and the Mets suffered occured as a result of the organization’s plans for him. After Jeffereries extremely successful late season stint in 1988, the plan was to have him play third base. Who can blame them? He was that good and it was while he was playing 3B.

Howard Johnson was long rumored to be traded during the off-season in a deal which would bring lefthander Mark Langston to the Mets. The trade would allow Jefferies to play third. Talk continued during the spring, but the deal never materialized. The Mets made the decision during spring training to make Jefferies a second baseman – a position for which he was never suited for and had played only a handful of games. .

It was a disaster and Jefferies stuggled terribly in 1989, proving to be a drag on the entire team. The club’s energy slowly bleed. Looking for a boost, on June 18th the Mets traded Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra to the Phillies for Juan Samuel. A career second baseman, Samuel had been moved to centerfield by the Phillies before the start of the season. When Jefferies poor season continued, many were calling for Jefferies to be optioned to AAA Tidewater. Davey Johnson was the lone voice in the organization that desired keeping him and ended up being one of Johnson’s rare faulty assessments.

While Jefferies was a recluse and had no friends on the club, players were sympathetic of the situation he’d been put into. The club was in second place and many wanted the Mets to send Jefferies down, to bring Samuel in from center to play second and for Mookie Wilson be inserted into centerfield everyday.

It never happened. Wilson was dealt to Toronto on the same day Frank Viola was acquired and Samuel was sent to the Dodgers that winter. The Cubs won the division by six games and the Mets did not appear in the post-season again for another decade.

With Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter at the end of their careers and soon be gone, the Mets looked to build their everyday line-up around Johnson, Darryl Strawberry and Jefferies. Frank Cashen’s momentous decision to low-ball Strawberry in contract negotiations during the 1989 season sent the vulnerable gifted star into a personal tailspin. He would leave after the 1990 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Realizing that Jefferries was not a player they could not build around he was traded along with Keven McReynolds after the 1991 season for Brett Saberhagen. Bobby Bonilla was signed the same winter. The Mets slid into mediocrity finishing 5th in 1992 and last in 1993.

One can easily hypothisize that the Mets fall in the later half of the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s can be traced to the organization’s handling of Jefferies. If Jefferies had been sent down during the 1989 season, it would have served to alleviate the tremendous pressure that had been put on him. His presence had almost become cancer, not all of his own doing. The drama palyed out daily on WFAN and in the newspapers. Page Six fodder came from the Mets’ clubhouse. Optioning Jefferies would have been the most prudent decision. If the Mets – sans Jefferies had rebounded and wrested the division from the Cubs in 1989, the club’s legacy and direction would have been far different.

A great might have been to be sure, but it could have been the same for Jefferies.

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If the Mets sign Frank Catalanotto, it will create some competition for jobs in spring training. He represents the 25th player. On the surface that’s a good thing, but it could suppress some of the younger players who have may have options left on their contracts.

If Catalanotto is signed and makes the club along with Fernando Tatis, it’s unlikely that either Chris Carter or Nick Evans makes the club. The Mets will probably keep 12 pitchers and two catchers. Alex Cora, Luis Castillo, Jose Reyes, Tatis, Daniel Murphy and David Wright will be the infielders. Catalanotto, Jason Bay, Jeff Francouer, Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews would be the outfielders.

Carter and Evans will get significant times at bat in prime games this spring as the club needs to see what they’ve got. It will be interesting to see what the Mets feel is their potential upsides.

One thing for certain, the Mets have addressed one of their goals in improving their AAA Buffalo roster. The bulk of the pitching staff is on the 40-man roster and will be in major league camp. Non-roster invitees that were signed to minor league contracts, R.A. Dickey and Josh Fogg will be part of the rotation at Buffalo. Jon Niese and Tobi Stoner probably will, too.

In all the Mets signed six free agent pitchers that they hope will begin the season in AAA. The benefit in this is that it allows them to keep some of their young pitching prospects at AA Bighamtom such as Brad Holt and Jenry Mejia to start the season. Ike Davis can even start the season at AA, but he’ll probably be promoted to AAA by mid season.

These are good things for individual player development in it that allows good players to have more success before being promoted. No need to rush anyone. No need to seek a “fast-track option.”

The Mets hesitancy to sign veteran free agent starting pitchers is evidence that they are banking on enhancing player development while improving the value of their personel. If for instance, Tobi Stoner and Jon Niese are effective in AAA it allows them to move a Mike Pelfrey or John Maine to improve the ball club at some point during the season.

It could be that after the season begins, the Mets will be in a far better situation to improve the club.

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Fernando Tatis is returning to the Mets.

When thought of in terms of the roster, it makes sense. He can play both infield and outfield corner positions. In an emergency, he can play second base (7 games in 2009) and even shortstop (2 games). Importantly, he knows what the Mets’ situation is. The club wants and needs Daniel Murphy to succeed at first base.

Murphy represents the only young everyday player that they are currently trying to develop at the major league level. He seems to be entering the season a stronger and better athlete. Murphy’s 38 doubles last season display significant potential for power and run production.

Any negatives impressions from last season hold less weight as Murphy never had a consistent place in the batting order. Intrestingly, he proved to be a pretty good RBI guy by hitting .345 with runners in scoring position with 2 out. Jerry Manuel’s recent comparison of Murphy to Mark DeRosa are thoughtful, and I think that he did that to motivate him. I doubt that Murphy wants to be considered as a utility player. I see him as a more durable Dave Magadan and with more power.

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President Obama’s SOTU address tonight promises to be one of the most watched in history. He has few allies tonight, but there’s an easy way to recapture a significant portion of the American electorate and take significant pressure off his party:

Announce tonight that he’s signing an executive order that ends the civilain prosecution of the 9-11 conspirators and returns them to a path toward a military tribunal. And announce that he’s signing a second order that classifies the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as an enemy combatant and cancel his Miranda status. He will be turned over to military authority and be interogated for intelleigence and eventually tried by a military tribunal.
Talk about having some shock the house value.

He’ll finally get an issue that the GOP will give him cover while taking away a hammer that they have to bash his party with. He’ll gain some considerable political capital back and be able to persue some of his domestic goals. It’s a decision that will cost him nothing politically. Essentially the move allows him to change the subject and gain the bully pulpit again.

No way he does it though.

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The signings of Jon Garland (Padres) and Ben Sheets (A’s) over the past few days were the last available options for the club to begin the season with a new #2 starter. And it was about the money. The Mets obviously felt that the talent available was not worth the cost and that it was better to see what their own pitchers can. So the Mets now will have to rely on healthy rebounds of John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Jon Niese.

We are now seeing one of the hidden problems that last seasons crushing amount of injuries resulted in. They had no chips to commit to trades.

Billy Beane thought that Ben Sheets was worth the gamble. Omar Minaya needs for Beane to be wrong.

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