- If you haven't been paying attention, Lastings Milledge has been running his mouth a bit about his treatment by the Mets' veterans the past two seasons.
"I can't go through anything worse than I went through in New York. It only gets better from here," Milledge said. "A lot of veterans didn't like the way I play the game. They thought I didn't respect it."Billy Wagner chimed in with his take.
Milledge added: "The vets here (on the Nationals) have no problem with me. They know I respect (the game). They know I work hard."
"Everyone in the organization babied the heck out of him," Wagner said. "We couldn't get on him too much because we were told to lay off of him. It could have been a whole lot worse for him and all we did was try to help him to help us."But David Wright was the most outspoken about Milledge's criticisms directed at his former team.
"Enough is enough," David Wright said yesterday. "You're a Washington National now. Don't worry about what happened last year or the year before that. Just go out there and try to help the Nationals win.It's unusual to hear Wright speak critically about someone other than himself, and for that alone I tend to side with the Mets on this one. This doesn't excuse the trade by any stretch, but it's entirely possible that there was more going on behind the scenes than we knew about.
"It makes no sense to bash your former team. He just needs to turn the page and worry about helping the Washington Nationals. Forget about what we're doing over here. Forget about the New York Mets."
"The veterans were never mean to him or singled him out," Wright said. "They always tried to teach him. Some of that comes through tough love. I went through it, Jose went through it. All the young guys in the game go through that tough love period. Some handle it better than others.
"Personally, I like Lastings. There were times when he messed up and he knew it and he learned from it. I don't see where this is coming from. I don't know if it's just trying to play that bitter traded guy role. I don't know what he's trying to accomplish by the things that he's saying."
- The Mets are going to do their best this season to keep Moises Alou on the field. At 41, Alou is the seventh-oldest player in baseball currently on a 25-man roster, and the oldest position player overall. This doesn't include guys like Julio Franco and Barry Bonds, who may very well wind up on somebody's ballclub this season. Willie Randolph will try to give Alou plenty of days off, subbing in Endy Chavez, Brady Clark, or whomever else, in an effort to keep Alou healthy throughout the season. We know the guy can hit, but health problems have plagued him throughout his career and last year was certainly no exception.
- In today's New York Observer, friend of the site Howard Megdal looks at some of the questions the Mets are trying to answer over the next four weeks of spring training.
Duaner Sanchez, whose brilliant first half in 2006 has led to nearly two years of pining by the Mets as he recovered from injuries sustained in an automobile accident, looks healthy, and even pitched in Monday's intrasquad game. But don't look at just ERA--see if his velocity is consistently at 92-94, as it was before the injury, and look at his control. He walked the bases loaded in his intrasquad outing, and some rust is to be expected. How quickly he sheds that rust will determine if he is ready to assume a late-inning role, or merely inspire Mota nostalgia.
- At MetsGeek, John Peterson takes a crack at the Mets chapter in the latest edition of Baseball Prospectus.
BP's analysis turns on the age of the Mets, which had the oldest pitching and the third-oldest hitting in the National League last year. They write that "having an old team doesn't necessarily mean having a bad one," but "older teams run an increased risk of injury or sudden erosion of skill, and that risk compounds with each additional elder added to the ranks."
I'm nodding along in agreement--after all, this is the point of criticism I push over and over again--until I realize that such an epic, compound failure is unlikely at this point. It's true that the Mets' long-term strategy is inadequate, even seriously harmful, but in 2008 they are still good enough to win the division easily, even without Santana. BP is "deadly accurate" and remarkably poignant as always, but here it almost seems that they are trying to fit 2008 into last year's thesis: "The Mets have finally gotten out from under the Braves only to find they've already peaked."
- Yesterday at the Geek, Chris McCown ponders the future of Oliver Perez and whether there is any place for him in Queens beyond 2008.
It's way too early to write anything in stone, but should Perez perform well enough in 2008 to get a big contract, the Mets would be wise to give it to him. Not only have the starting pitcher free agent markets been weak the last few years, but the cost to acquire a similar or weaker replacement starter through other means would probably be just as prohibitive. Trading for another starter, with the Mets system as depleted as it is from acquiring Santana, would prove difficult.
- Johan Santana makes his spring debut for the Mets. The game will be broadcast on SNY and gameday video and audio are available at Mets.com if you are a subscriber.
Friday Morning Mets Newsstand
By Eric Simon