What about Willie?
I know I said Buster never writes anything positive or slanted by the Mets, but I was wrong. He does when they are ex-Yankees. For those of you who do not have ESPN Insider and do not believe it, here you go.
On the Mets' pregame show Sunday, Fox Sports New York showed a clip of Mets manager Willie Randolph chatting with reporters. They wanted to know about the status of reliever Scott Strickland, who has been pitching for the team's Class AAA affiliate; Strickland had a clause in his contract that would allow him to declare free agency, and the writers asked what was going to happen with him.
Randolph gently badgered the writers, saying he wanted to talk about the players who are actually with the Mets, and when someone started asking a question about Kaz Ishii, the manager nodded his head approvingly: OK, now we're talking, let's get to a subject that's immediately relevant.
The moment encapsulated Randolph, how he once played and how he manages now: He doesn't obsess about peripheral stuff. He doesn't start any fires; he dampens them or puts them out entirely. We forget that he was a six-time All-Star with 2,210 career hits, because he was surrounded by Hall of Famers like Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter and Hall of Fame personalities like Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and Thurman Munson (if a bearish mien can be called that).
Everybody else made headlines with their words; Randolph just played, did what he had to do to prepare to play every day. He seems to be going about his work as manager in the same way, preparing for that day's game, answering questions simply and directly, steering away from issues that he doesn't find immediately pertinent.
I wondered how Willie would do as manager this year, mostly because he had never handled a pitching staff before. He had never made decisions about when a starter is tired, when he should save a specialist, when he should call on his closer.
He's done well. The Mets are not a great team – they look like they're still a year and some bullpen acquisitions away from contending. Eventually, Randolph will be judged on the club's record. But he has been an asset, managing in the same no-nonsense way that he always played, stone-faced, concentrating on the job at hand, not worrying about all the other stuff.
Bar none, the best female sport is beach volleyball and no team exemplifies that more than the Brazil team. If I did not have to fear for my life with a trip down there, I'd be on the first plane.
Mike: And you can tell when a columnist or anyone else is getting long in the tooth when they say something like "it wasn't so long ago" and then they bring up 1966? Not so long ago? For fuck's sake that's nearly 4 decades ago.
Bill: Yeah, it wasn't so long ago that we were at war with the Japanese now they play on our baseball teams. So, Bob, "where did we go wrong" with that one?
The highlight of the game for me was Heath Bell's 1.2 inning, three strikeout performance capped by a strikeout of A-Rod.
Bob Klapisch says it is make or break time for Kazuo.
- The Tides beat Richmond 2-1. Steve Coyler went 2/3 of an inning giving up no runs to bring his ERA down to 3.09 and Scott Stricland went one inning while striking out two, not walking anyone, and not allowing a hit for the save. Eric Junge pitched well for the win.
- Hagerstown got shelled by the Blue Claws 10-2.
- St. Lucie lost to Dunedin 7-6. Humber continues to pitch so-so and went 5.1 innings, gave up six hits, three runs, one walk, and one homerun. Humber struck out six and now owns a 3.97 ERA. Lastings Milledge picked up a hit and an RBI while Brett Harper picked up two hits and another homerun.
- Binghamton beat Altoona 9-2. Anderson Hernandez continues to surprise with the bat after going 3 for 5 with two runs scored, a homerun and an four RBIs last night. His average is up to .325. Aarom "Don't Call Me Aaron" Baldiris went 4 for 5 with one run scored. Yusmeiro Petit went six strong innings, giving up two hits, no runs, one walk, and struck out eight. He is 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA.
- He likes Lastings Milledge and Phil Humber.
- He is not interested in trading Cameron.
- He would trade Cammy should a great deal come along and is comfy with Diaz as their full time right fielder.
- He would trade prospects for an ace at the deadline if need be.
Q: Kevin from Staten Island asks:
Hi Allan, Let's say the Mets don't get Craig Hansen at nine. Can they get a good college closer with their 4th round pick? Also, who do like for them at nine? Thanks.
A: Allan Simpson: I'm not sure you ever get a good college closer in the fourth round--at least someone who projects as a big league closer. Those kind of guys are usually only available in the first couple of rounds, and we've got three closers projected go there--Hansen, N.C. State's Joey Devine and Texas' J. Brent Cox. We've also got Central Missouri's Nick Webber and Auburn's Michael Nix as fourth- or fifth-rounders. As for the Mets at nine, Hansen and Texas high school outfielder Jay Bruce are the players whose names we hear most.
Q: Brent from Corona, NY asks:
Thanks for your time Allan: My question is about the Mets. I recently saw Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon at the St Johns/Farleigh game. Its clear this the guy they want. Do you think there is any chance someone takes him before the Mets. And if so what team do we have to watch out for?
A: Allan Simpson: The Mets do have a strong interest in Hansen, a local boy who's the early favorite to be the first player in the '05 class to reach the big leagues. The only other team drafting before them that has shown sufficient interest is the Diamondbacks at No. 1. But Justin Upton is the clear favorite to be the first player picked and I simply can't see the D-backs drafting another Scott Boras client if they can't sign Stephen Drew.
Benny, if you go to the games, you might see Omar there. Send him my regards. Good to see Omar out there scouting the kid with his own eyes.
The other name thrown out there was Jay Bruce, an outfielder from Texas who is a high school student. He is a 6-2 lefty from Beaumont, Texas and was ranked 44th overall in terms of high school prospects on Feb. 1st by Baseball America. According to BA, "Bruce plays the outfield with poise and aplomb" and he is also one of the best pure hitters and owns a "fluid left-handed stroke".