Mets higher-ups were accepting compliments Monday night for their stunning new ballyard, Citi Field, which has nothing in common with the former, dreary, dumpy ol' Shea Stadium aside from its location near the intersection of the Grand Central Parkway and Roosevelt Avenue. "It's a ballpark, not a stadium,'' Mets COO
But while Mets people are all understandably thrilled to be in their comfy new confines, a slow start that has revealed weaknesses in the team's rotation, defense and lineup has offset the jubilation. Although the new season is just seven days old, Mets people seem genuinely dismayed.
"We have a good team ... on paper, anyway,'' lamented one top Mets decision maker.
There's little doubt the Mets' three straight less-than-fantastic seasonal finishes are affecting their overall angst and compounding their so-so start. Even consistently upbeat manager
If anything, Mets executives worried heading into the year about their infield defense, where range on the right side is limited and otherwise perfect third-base superstar
Manuel appeared disturbed enough by the recent events to schedule a lecture. If he does give his players a talking-to, he might want to touch on these topics:
Seemingly, the greatest thing about Citi Field is that it bears no resemblance to Shea Stadium. But here are a few more:
Scrappy Padres second baseman
This past winter Eckstein rebuffed the Mets' $1-to-2-million contract talk to serve as backup (and possible
Second base is also where the Mets wanted to employ Eckstein when they pursued him two winters ago. Mets people recall offering Eckstein a four-year deal for about $27 million, but were told by his agent that he was after figures "somewhere between [
Eckstein doesn't recall it quite that way. While he didn't want to get into the ins and outs of the failed negotiations, he said he got the impression the Mets simply preferred Castillo, whom they signed for $25 million over four years. If there wasn't a disconnect then, there definitely is now, as Mets people recalled preferring Eckstein but getting the distinct impression that they weren't close to his asking price (though he eventually signed in Toronto for one year and $5 million).
The Mets would have been better off with Eckstein, about whom one Mets person said, admiringly, "He's either a pest or an inspiration ... a pest if you're on the other team and an inspiration if you're on his team.''
In any case, Mets people definitely understand Eckstein would have been a better fit than Castillo, who was never a Manuel favorite, even going back to their Marlins days together. Eckstein wouldn't claim the Mets erred, but he did say at some point since they signed Castillo instead of him, Minaya very kindly told him he made a mistake by not signing him.
Peavy has a no-trade clause and seemed very enthused about the Padres and their surprisingly great 6-2 start when I caught up with him in the Citi Field visitors' clubhouse. He talked excitedly about the team's resolve to try to "grind it out'' and "empty the tank'' every night, pledges that apparently all the Padres made to each other at a stirring meeting on the eve of the season. "I just want a chance to win,'' Peavy said. "I've said all along I want that to be in San Diego.''
The Padres appear short on talent, but it's easy to believe their attitude is terrific with all-time great personalities
In another part of the clubhouse, new Padres owner
In fact, Moorad insisted they aren't trying to trade Peavy and that Peavy is as good as any National League pitcher when he's on, but also said "no player is untouchable.'' Moorad, a major upgrade over outgoing owner
Though he's an Alabama native, Peavy makes his year-round home in San Diego, and folks involved in the winter trade discussion with the Braves say that, ultimately, Peavy's reluctance to go to Atlanta was a factor in that trade falling through. The Braves were on Peavy's very unofficial winter list of teams he would consider, but the list was nowhere near binding, and when Peavy started to seriously consider Atlanta, staying with the Padres apparently started to look better to him.
In reality, the Cubs may have been the only team Peavy was anxious to join this winter. If he submits a new preference list -- official or otherwise -- anytime soon, it'll likely be a short one, because he may already be on the team he prefers most.
But Martinez remains in Santo Domingo, working out every day and waiting for the right call. Though friends say it isn't only about money, he's thought to be waiting for a $5 million-plus call.
"He's very patient,'' his longtime agent
The Dodgers (who placed
• No surprise,
• Of course, Milledge's demotion doesn't solve the Nats' true problem, which is having too many corner outfielders and not enough proven pitchers. Reached by phone, Nats president
• I guess there'll be no sophomore jinx for
• The Phillies look smart for locking up
• The Yankees are genuinely worried about
• So far
• I feel sorry for
• It takes a lot to make
• No surprise,