01/07/08 10:00 AM ET
Mailbag: Effects of Pagan trade
MLB.com's Marty Noble answers Mets fans' questions
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
-- Ross S., Ossining, N.Y.
My first reaction Saturday when I heard of the trade was that importing Pagan might make Endy Chavez available to be included in a trade -- though not for Santana. Pagan isn't the dynamic reserve player Chavez is, but he has value. But when I asked, a member of the club hierarchy said Pagan had been acquired only for reasons of outfield depth.
The Mets still appear to lack the young talent needed to acquire Santana. They still are trying another pitcher for the rotation, and they're hoping A's starter Joe Blanton will become available to them.
I enjoyed your article on the Mets' 2007 season. I, for one, was screaming to the heavens way back in June that problems existed with the Mets. They lacked the killer instinct needed to bury teams. I place that blame solely on manager Willie Randolph. He continually brushed off any suggestions of trouble with the team's play. He made questionable pitching decisions and played people -- Carlos Delgado, Johnson, et al -- who should have been sitting.
He lacked the spine to stand up for or to his players and it showed on the field. Jose Reyes never should have been allowed to play when he loafed in the field or at the plate. It's pretty sad when the catcher argues about bad calls more than the manager. And now that vocal leader is gone, and Randolph and GM Omar Minaya continue to ignore the problems.
-- Daniel S., Melrose, N.Y.
Before anything else, I must ask, who is the Johnson you mentioned, Ben? He played in nine games, he had 27 at-bats. Is this a big issue? Johnson's brief tour with the Mets overlapped with the absences of Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran, Chavez and even Jose Valentin, who could have played some outfield had he been available. Lastings Milledge was assigned to the disabled list in the Minor Leagues at the same time.
Somebody had to play, and if you're upset that Johnson was the choice, your problem is with Minaya, who provides the talent Randolph uses.
As for Delgado, it's easy to say he should have been benched. He admitted last week he had a poor season. But two things: He did drive in 85 runs. And who would you have started at first base if Delgado had been eliminated? No one else was going to produce even at the diminished rate he established last summer.
As far as Randolph's spine, I believe it was quite functional. His response to Reyes not running that night in Houston was immediate and measured. Neither you nor I know what happened behind closed doors. If Randolph had come down harder on Reyes, he stood the chance of losing his leadoff man and shortstop.
To me, that's where Delgado fell short. Players respect his achievement and standing in the game. He has influence, but he is reluctant to exercise it. Chances are he would have had greater effect on Reyes than anyone else in the clubhouse except Valentin. Alou has comparable influence, but players relatively new to a team and assigned to the disabled list are not likely to assume that responsibility.
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Which brings us to the absence of Lo Duca and the resulting void that exists. Without him and Valentin, I sense the team is lacking an element, a degree of intensity. Where have you gone, Wally Backman? Lo Duca provided that. Players recognized it, and even those who weren't particularly close to him acknowledged the effect of his fire.
Without Lo Duca, Valentin and Tom Glavine, the intensity level may be dangerously low in 2008 despite the spoken resolve about making amends for last season and no matter how much David Wright tries to enhance the team energy.
In that regard, you have reason to be concerned. But again, Randolph can do little to address the situation. He doesn't bring in the talent or the personality. I thought the signing of free agent David Eckstein to play second base might have helped, but he evidently overpriced himself.
That the Mets pursued Eckstein suggests they are aware of the intensity issue.
Have the Mets finalized their coaching staff? I know there was speculation that Rickey Henderson would not return after reportedly being a bad influence on some of the players.
-- Craig R., Long Island, N.Y.
Tom Nieto will be the coach taking Henderson's spot on the staff. I get such a kick out of the Rickey-bashing. The theory in some corners was that, somehow, Henderson was at least partially responsible for Reyes not running out a ground ball in Houston. Nice attempt. The Mets series in Houston preceded the All-Star break. Henderson was appointed during the break.
And does anyone remember that Reyes stole 23 bases and scored 25 runs in August when he still was under Henderson's "bad influence"?
Who chooses the inductees for the Mets' Hall of Fame? They have made no inductions since 2002, and seem to have leanings toward members of the 1969 team, with seven members from the team inducted. Most questionable was the selection of Tommie Agee, who was on the Mets for only five seasons and had maybe three good seasons. Why haven't they inducted John Franco, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, John Stearns, and the biggest omission, their all-time home run leader, Darryl Strawberry?
-- Wayne R., no location provided.
The committee that elected the people you have characterized included announcers, reporters -- I was one -- and the employee who, at that time, had the longest tenure with the club, Bob Mandt, the former head of stadium operations. Mandt began working for the Mets in 1961, selling tickets in Grand Central Station for their first season.
Since the last election, two members of the committee, Jack Lang and Bob Murphy, have passed on, and Mandt and one of the other writers have retired.
The inductees do include primarily members of the 1969, 1973 and 1986 teams -- Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Cleon Jones, Tug McGraw, Ed Kranepool, Agee, Rusty Staub, Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. It's to be expected that the earlier teams have a greater representation. Moreover, Seaver, Koosman, Harrelson, Grote, Jones, McGraw and Kranepool were members of two World Series teams; not that World Series participation is the deciding factor.
When the next election is staged and who will elect the next inductee(s) will be determined by the club.
I expect the players you mentioned plus Mike Piazza and perhaps Al Leiter will be considered.