200 Miles From the Citi

November 14, 2010 7:52 AM

Baseball Bargain Hunting


Sunday Paper (Year 2, Volume XLVI)

The entire focus of the Mets world seems to be on who the next manager will be.

While certainly I'm interested, it's one of those decisions I have to resign myself to having no control over, so I don't get so worked up about it.

The fact remains, had the players performed, Jerry Manuel would still be the manager.

Heck, Willie Randolph could still be the Mets' manager.

So with that in mind, I have been keeping more of an eye on who the Mets might be able to get through free agency who would make a difference on the field.

We all know the Mets won't be big spenders. Cliff Lee will not end up at Citi Field.  So here are a couple of possible  free agent bargains that I could see the Mets adding (or I think they should add) for 2011:

-Jeff Francis (pictured).  Francis came back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery and did not perform well in 2010.  This probably hurts his value on the free agent market - but the Mets should swoop in and take advantage of that.  I'm sure the baseball minds gathered in the Mets front office these days have already crunched the numbers and could figure out that if Francis could have a career year like he did in 2007 (17-9, 4.22 ERA, 165 strikeouts...and not much worse in 2006 - 13-11, 4.16 ERA, 117 strikeouts) at Coors Field, he'd probably pitch well at Citi Field.  It's a low-risk move...and it could pay high dividends for whoever takes a chance on Francis.

-Well, Johnny Damon isn't really a bargain, but he's worth investing in.  Not because the Mets have a shortage of outfielders, or because they need a player who's on the wrong side of 35 years old.  He's not really an outstanding player anymore, but he's an awesome guy.  Whether it's Johnny Damon or someone else, the Mets need a clubhouse presence like Damon.  Someone who will lighten the mood in the clubhouse while also going out and playing good baseball.  Recently they've had too much of players who were light in the clubhouse but awful on the field.  (Or decent in the field and bad for the clubhouse.) Every winning team has a character like Damon - Damon himself has been that character on a few winning teams.  I know Damon doesn't come cheap, but the Mets need someone like him who will help turn them into winners.

-Orlando Hudson is also intriguing for me.  It's about two years too late for the Mets to get Hudson, and I don't know that he's any better than Luis Castillo, but it'd be nice to see a change at that position.

Just a few thoughts.  Who knows if there are trades still to come which would throw more positions up for grabs.

*Today's game against Cleveland is a chance for the Jets to send a message.  If they struggle with the Browns, it just gives people another reason to doubt them.  If they beat them soundly, the way they should, they can't be ignored as a force in the NFL.  (Although, they still may not get their due until they go to Pittsburgh in December...and then only if they win that game.)

*As though you needed another reason to love Rex Ryan, he goes and pulls off this piece of awesomeness this week (in case you missed it, that's Rex dressed as his brother Rob, defensive coordinator with Eric Mangini's Browns):   

*I will not be dropping down for 10 push ups every time the Jets commit a penalty today, but I don't think it's stupid at all if other Jets fans do.  I like the solidarity.  I'm curious to see if it happens with the players on the sidelines during the game.  Or on the field.  Is that legal?  The ball would be dead when the flag goes down anyway, it's not like the players would be quick-snapped or anything.  I think it would be kind of cool if the push-up thing carried over into the game.

*Did you see the video of Chad Pennington getting amped to Eminem at practice with the Dolphins this week? Still love the guy.

*NFC South update:  Ever since I wrote about losing faith in them, the Falcons have come out strong.  I was long asleep, but Thursday night (love that Thursday night football is back!) they pulled out an exciting win - after the Ravens took the lead with a minute left, the Falcons came back with a  touchdown with 20 seconds left on the clock to get the win.  They might be back on solid footing in my mind.

Secondly, this week pits the Panthers at the Buccaneers.  The Bucs will probably win, but you know how I love that NFC South road team. My pool has the Panthers getting six-and-a-half.  I know Carolina's terrible, but I'm following the trend and taking the points.  I would not be shocked if a field goal decides this game.

*Loving the TV situation this football season.  And so glad we're not spending money on the NFL Sunday Ticket.  I get the Jets this week, as the Patriots are the Sunday night game.  And next week, it looks like I'll get the Jets again - it should be a CBS doubleheader, and the Pats-Colts is 4pm.  So I should be able to get Jets-Texans at 1pm.  Then I'll be at the Thanksgiving night game, and the one after that is a Monday nighter.  Unprecedented.

*RIP Dave Niehaus.  The MLB Extra Innings package is great for not just allowing me to see games from around the majors, but also hear different broadcasters from around the majors as well. Some are good, some are bad - some stand out more than others.  I'll never forget the first time I stayed up late for a Mariners game and was rewarded with Niehaus' gravelly voice. I came back often after that...despite never enjoying the men alongside him.  Baseball has lost too many great voices in recent years (Harry Kalas, Ernie Harwell, now Niehaus).  While I'm happy to have had the chance to hear them all in some fashion over the years, I'm very sorry they're gone.

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