New York Mets: Burton Lifland

Mets morning briefing 3.23.11

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
6:22
AM ET
R.A. Dickey starts in Jupiter on Wednesday against the Cardinals. He then heads to Nashville for the birth of his son. Jason Isringhausen will try to throw a bullpen session, with his career at a potential crossroads. And Carlos Beltran, well, we'll see ...

On to the day's news reports:

Jose Reyes tells Newsday's Jim Baumbach he will make a concerted effort to raise his on-base percentage, which was only .321 last season. Writes Baumbach:

With free agency looming after this season, Reyes clearly knows his best chance at a big payday is not only by staying healthy, but also by becoming a more complete hitter. And in order to accomplish that, he's forcing himself to understand that he doesn't need to think "hit" all the time. "Walks, I need to make that a part of my game again," Reyes said. "Last year I wanted to get a hit every time I got to home plate because in 2009 I only played, like, 30-something games. So I just wanted to do so good every time. This year is going to be different. I'm not thinking like that."

Of the 89 major leaguers to have 600 plate appearances last season, Reyes tied for 74th in on-base percentage.

David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News talks with Luis Castillo, after his eventual arrival at Phillies camp Tuesday. Castillo must beat out fellow ex-Met Wilson Valdez as injured Chase Utley's placeholder at second base, or win a bench job from a group that also includes Josh Barfield, John Mayberry Jr., Michael Martinez, Pete Orr and Delwyn Young. Writes Murphy:

Castillo blamed his late arrival on a "miscommunication between me and my agents," which is the same thing Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters. The Phillies expected the second baseman to arrive in time to play against Toronto today, one of nine games the team has left before it opens the regular season on April 1. "More importantly, I'm here, and I'm excited to be here," Castillo said. "I'm healthy. I feel good. I'm ready. I'm here to play baseball and help this team win some games." Asked what the Phillies told him about the opportunity he will get here, Castillo responded, "Right now, I know Valdez is doing a good job and Utley is hurt right now. I'm trying to find a job here. I want to compete and I want to win the job. I want to play. I have 10 days to prove and try to get ready."

Dan Martin of the Post also chronicled Castillo's arrival. The ex-Met continued to maintain he feels he did not get a legit shot with the Mets. "[Collins] wouldn't give me a chance to play," Castillo said upon arriving at Phillies camp. "I told him if he didn't give me the chance to play that I don't know if I have to be on the team. He decided to release me."

• Independent lawyers tell Newsday they don't expect former Gov. Mario Cuomo to be able to compel a settlement in trustee Irving Picard's $1 billion-plus lawsuit against Mets owners. Certainly, they say, there's little chance anything would materialize before a June 29 hearing in which U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland will rule on the defendant's motion to toss the case (which would be a long shot). Writes author Anthony M. Destefano:

Sources familiar with the case and outside legal experts point to the latest exchange between the two sides in the form of dueling news releases and court filings. "I don't think there is anything magical Mario [Cuomo] can do," said attorney Howard Kleinhendler of Manhattan, who represents other Madoff victims.

• The Times delves into the legal wrestling going on, with Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz's lawyers demanding Picard turn over documents and the trustee denying those requests for the time being, until he's compelled to put all his cards on the table. Writes Richard Sandomir:

The team’s owners have now charged that Picard has been deceptive in employing that tactic. They charged in a court filing Sunday that he had withheld some evidence that deeply undercut his lawsuit’s central allegation: that Wilpon and Katz continued to invest with Madoff, and profit greatly from those investments, in the face of repeated warnings that he might not have been clean. ... In denying Wilpon and Katz’s lawyers access to the contested evidence -- called precomplaint discovery -- Picard is not violating any rules, said two law professors with expertise in civil procedure who are not involved in the litigation.

• After watching Beltran go 2-for-8 and require a pinch-runner in minor league games Tuesday, Newsday's David Lennon concludes the right fielder -- who has yet to play right field in a game this spring -- likely will start the season on the DL, even though that's not the organization's official position. Remember, Beltran's DL stint can be backdated to the point where he only needs to miss three-regular season games. That is, as long as he limits his spring work to the minor league side and does not appear in a Grapefruit League game. Regarding appearing full throttle in a spring game, Beltran tells Lennon: "I have to be smart. I just can't throw myself out there like that. It doesn't work that way. Just because it feels great doesn't mean I'm healed 100 percent, you know?"

Steve Popper of the Record says the Mets have a plan to put Beltran in three Grapefruit League games next week if his knees allow. ... I'm skeptical that happens. Because then if Beltran lands on the DL, the backdating is out the window and he misses a full 15 regular-season days. Frankly, it sounds like something the last front office would do.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger looks at the Tuesday activities of Angel Pagan and Beltran. Pagan was pulled in the second inning of a game in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers because his back stiffened, but he insists he will be back in the lineup Thursday as scheduled. Beltran continued to take small steps toward being ready for the season. ... Here are similar accounts in the Post and Daily News.

• Isringhausen, who played catch Tuesday after being shut down for three days with elbow inflammation, knows he's at a make-or-break point in his career. He's supposed to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. "I don't have much time left," Isringhausen tells The Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa. "If I try to throw [Wednesday] and I can't do it, that could be it for me. I know this."

Sandy Alderson candidly noted that putting Izzy on the major league roster from a money perspective is not a concern. He's only slated to make $500,000. The problem is that if he breaks camp with the team, the Mets could lose another pitcher from the organization. Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak, D.J. Carrasco and Taylor Buchholz appear safe, and Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato certainly merits being included too. So taking Izzy with the last slot should mean Manny Acosta and Pat Misch get exposed to waivers. Blaine Boyer, who has drawn positive reviews, is on a minor league deal and can go directly to Triple-A, although one teammate continues to think Boyer will make the roster. Left-hander Mike O'Connor is on a minor league deal, too.

David Waldstein of The New York Times looks at the maturation of Josh Thole behind the plate. Thole caught in high school, but he primarily played first base from the 2005 draft until May '08. That's when first-string St. Lucie catcher Sean McCraw's hitting woes opened the door for Thole to become a full-time catcher, and he ran with it. Writes Waldstein:

Many of the Mets pitchers say Thole’s pitch-calling is noticeably improved. “When he first came up in 2009, I thought he was OK as a pitch-caller,” [Mike] Pelfrey said of Thole’s debut with the Mets that September. “But when he came back last year, he was a totally different man to the point where he’s become a guy you recommend. I want to throw to this guy.”

George King, the Yankees beat writer for the Post, quotes Brian Cashman on the team's interest in Oliver Perez. "[Team president] Randy Levine asked me to look into it," Cashman tells King. "I have no interest. It's not a fit, not something that makes sense based on what we have seen." ... Even former Mets teammates are skeptical Perez will appear in the majors this season.

BIRTHDAY: Left-hander Mike Remingler was born on this day in 1966 in Middletown, N.Y. He made 15 appearances (nine starts) for the Mets in 1994 and '95 during a 14-year major league career.

Mets morning briefing 3.2.11

March, 2, 2011
3/02/11
6:39
AM ET
Jay Horwitz has no shortage of headaches to deal with this morning. (Oh, by the way, R.A. Dickey faces the Cardinals in Jupiter today.)

Here's a look at Wednesday's news reports:

• The Mets will be receiving no more significant loans from Major League Baseball after borrowing $25 million from that source in November, according to The New York Times.

Writes David Waldstein:

Baseball’s decision to restrict the Mets’ access to further emergency funds probably leaves the team’s beleaguered owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, without their best remaining source of cash as they struggle to maintain control of the team in the face of a $1 billion lawsuit brought by the trustee for victims of the Bernard L. Madoff fraud. ... The two people briefed on the situation said baseball could conceivably re-evaluate its position in the coming months if it thought it needed to protect its larger interests, like trying to avoid a fire sale of one of its elite clubs. In addition, with opening day a month away, baseball could make a modest short-term loan to help the Mets avoid defaulting on certain payments, like player salaries.

• A spokesman for JPMorgan Chase said a New York Post story saying the Mets and MLB were leaning on the bank to extend further loans to the team is "inaccurate." Spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli told Newsday: "We are not in discussions to syndicate any new loans to the team." ... A source did remind ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets' owners have said they are seeking avenues to better liquidity beyond selling a portion of the team.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch says the Mets need new owners, and he doesn't mean minority partners. Writes Klapisch: The Wilpons insist everyone under the Met umbrella is safe -- they’re good for every last cent in the 2011 season. But who can believe anything this ownership group says anymore? They’ve been lying about their desperate financial state ever since Madoff’s arrest in December 2008.

• With an appeals court scheduled to hear arguments from Irving Picard lawsuit targets about why clawback (money withdrawn over money invested) is an invalid way of determining victims, the Daily News continues to place the responsibility with the Securities and Exchange Commission, writing:

In a letter to SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and three colleagues gave Schapiro six days to furnish the House Financial Services Committee information about what she knew, and when she knew it, about the holdings of David M. Becker, who just left after completing his second tour as the SEC's top lawyer.

Becker's mother had a fund through Bernard Madoff, and her estate was liquidated by the family in 2005, in between Becker tours at the SEC.

As for the appeal, it's based on the Securities Investors Protection Act of 1970, with the assertion being that whatever was on an investor's final statement should be factored in to determining loss. Judge Burton Lifland, who is presiding over the Picard case against Fred Wilpon, has ruled that's an irrelevant number, and money in versus money out should be the standard, since Madoff could have picked any numbers out of the sky to place on his statements.

The Daily News then quotes lawyers supporting the appeal, who say there's a "persecution" of the Wilpons. It apparently found no one who thought Lifland's original ruling was valid. The paper also said interest in buying a minority share of the Mets is going gangbusters. "It is the most hotly pursued sports deal I've ever seen," a source told the newspaper.

Jeff Pearlman in The Wall Street Journal profiles the "schlump"-ish Horwitz, the Mets' PR man, who was hired by Frank Cashen in 1980 despite spilling orange juice on the Mets general manager during the interview. Horwitz only has missed games after his mother's death and because of the chicken pox during a 31-year career with the club. Plenty of stories have been known before, such as Horwitz as Fairleigh Dickinson sports information director pitching a story about a one-armed soccer player to the New York newspapers.

Writes Pearlman:

In 2003, Horwitz decided to attend his 40th high school reunion. The person he was most excited to see was Sandy Penk, a cute majorette who had been his boyhood crush. In anticipation of the big evening, Horwitz broke out his 1986 World Series ring, which he rarely wore. "I wanted to impress her," he says. "To show off a little." One problem: Upon arriving at the site of the reunion, Horwitz was crestfallen to learn that he had the wrong date, and the event had already taken place. "As if that wasn't bad enough," he says, "my fingers had gotten so fat, I had to have the ring cut off my hand. It's sitting in my house somewhere, split in two."

Steve Popper in the Record says Dwight Gooden made a 10-minute phone call to a fan on behalf of the Mets, hoping that would close a sale on tickets. It didn't. Mets executive VP for business Dave Howard nonetheless says the pace of ticket sales is ahead of last year. "We have actually made major investments in restructuring the department, adding personnel, becoming a more proactive and targeted organization," Howard tells Popper. "We’ve also invested significantly in a new customer relationship management system that will allow to us to pre-qualify leads. The facts are the sales effort in the ticket office has received substantial investment in terms of personnel and money. The net effect results have been good so far. When you look year to date, we’re selling the same types of tickets as last year, and we’ve actually sold more this year that we had at this point last year."

Mike Pelfrey discusses the death of sports pyschologist Harvey Dorfman with Newsday's David Lennon. Pelfrey spoke with Dorfman regularly after games and even visited him in North Carolina a year ago.

Writes Lennon:

Confrontations were part of the Dorfman method. Pelfrey's best memories involved being challenged by him, like the time he made the mistake of telling Dorfman how locked in he was for that night's start. "You were focused?" Dorfman asked Pelfrey. "Then what did the catcher's glove look like? What kind of glove does he have?" When Pelfrey stammered, "I don't know," the message was delivered. "Then you weren't ---- paying attention!" Dorfman shot back. "You're just feeding me full of BS right now."

Pelfrey's agent, Scott Boras, told ESPNNewYork.com Tuesday regarding Dorfman's passing: "Harvey was someone I've known for really almost 30 years. I saw the benefits of what he was doing with players, and eventually I hired him to be a part of our staff because he was so influential in the structuring and advancing of players' lives and their performances. He really pioneered the introduction of psychology into the mainstream of baseball -- and that's on and off the field, because he helped executives of the teams he worked for as well as the players. He certainly had a major presence in this game, because I think a lot of teams wanted to certainly follow the lead that Harvey Dorfman brought to the game, and his ability to impact players and improve their lives."

• Boras spoke with me Tuesday about Beltran's move to right field as well. He also discussed the matter with the Daily News, telling Andy Martino there's no way Beltran will be a DH next season after becoming a free agent. "Carlos Beltran is a great athlete, and I find it hard to believe that there would be three outfielders on a major league team that would match Carlos on a level to suggest he would be DH," Boras tells the Daily News. "The idea of him being an everyday player [in the outfield] is what we have in mind." As for another client, Oliver Perez, Boras said: "I don't know how to quantify what chance you're being given to make the team, [but] it is certainly in their interest and our interest to have him be a member of the Mets. Ollie showed up in great shape, and he fully understands his situation."

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger recaps the reasoning behind scratching Francisco Rodriguez from Tuesday's scheduled Grapefruit League appearance. K-Rod was in New York on Monday to update the course on the completion of the Venezuelan phase of his weekly anger management classes. Because he had not thrown for a couple of days, the Mets pushed back Rodriguez's first 2011 Grapefruit League appearance to Thursday.

Mike Puma in the Post notes Mets staffers believe Jon Niese will have a better season because he now knows how to pace himself to avoid wilting late in the season.

• The Star-Ledger also takes a look at Niese, who tossed three scoreless innings Tuesday against the Nationals. McCullough writes:

Can he better his performance from last year? The Bill James Handbook projects a similar line: 10 wins, a 4.31 ERA, a 3.82 fielding-independent pitching mark (which removes fielding from the ERA equation). If not spectacular, that sort of production would have value.

BIRTHDAY: Chico Fernandez, who played for the 1963 Mets, was born on this date in 1932 in Havana, Cuba. In recent years, he had been a Mets spring-training infield instructor.

Mets morning briefing 3.1.11

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
6:29
AM ET
Francisco Rodriguez represents the Mets in a game for the first time since being suspended following his August incident with his girlfriend's father at Citi Field, and Jon Niese also makes his first Grapefruit League appearance, as the Mets travel to Viera to face the Nationals on Tuesday.

On to the day's news reports:

• No shortage of Carlos Beltran coverage about his decision to initiate the move to right field. I write how that certainly avoided a minefield for Terry Collins. And while Beltran did the right thing, it was not exclusively selfless. The move also is likely to make Beltran more marketable when he is a free agent next offseason. Read reports about Beltran's move at ESPNNewYork.com, the Times, Record, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post and The Wall Street Journal.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch says the cycle of constant financial and other bad news endured by the Mets "was broken Monday when the Mets, refocusing on baseball, lifted the curtain on their new right fielder, Carlos Beltran." Klapisch goes on to note that while Beltran may have been thinking about his own long-term best interest, it still went far more smoothly than what may be looming with Derek Jeter and his future at shortstop as the Yankees' captain gets closer and closer to age 40. Writes Klapisch: "Joe Girardi says he can’t imagine bringing up the subject of a position change with his 36-year-old captain. Instead, Girardi is crossing his fingers, hoping Jeter comes to him first or, even more unlikely, that Jeter retires before he loses whatever range he has left."

• ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor also feels the embattled Mets got a break with Beltran taking the initiative.

• Newsday's Steven Marcus says a list of candidates expressing ownership in a minority share of the Mets has been submitted to Major League Baseball for vetting. There are no specific names in the report, though.

Anthony Rieber of Newsday very briefly caught up with Bobby Valentine in Stamford, Conn., and heard a familiar answer regarding his interest in owning the Mets -- namely, he "talked to a number of people interested in purchasing part of the New York Mets, but I'm not formally with any group that is actively pursuing this venture." A baseball source has told ESPNNewYork.com that Valentine has spoken with serious financial backers and is lining up a bid to buy at least a portion of the Mets.

David Waldstein in the Times is skeptical Fred and Jeff Wilpon would sell to Valentine. Notes Waldstein: "Valentine was fired [as manager] after the 2002 season. The relationship has been prickly ever since, even though-- or perhaps because -- Valentine remains popular with fans. The Mets have kept Valentine at arm’s length in recent years, declining even to include him in the group of 11 managerial candidates who were interviewed after Jerry Manuel was fired last year."

• The Wilpons' lawyers will be in court Thursday arguing against U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton Lifland's ruling in a similar case that the standard for a "clawback" is money withdrawn over principal invested, the Times reports. Authors Ken Belson and Alison Leigh Cowan write: "The appeal is perhaps the last chance for the Wilpons and [Saul] Katz to stop what has turned into a legal freight train bearing down on them, several lawyers said. If the three-judge panel overturns Lifland’s judgment, the decision would erase the enormous liability that Picard wants to impose on some investors now classified as winners. In the case of investors like Wilpon and Katz, who Picard contends ignored warning signs, the trustee may continue to demand repayment of monies they withdrew." The Wilpons want the standard to include how much was showing on their statements when Bernard Madoff was shut down by authorities, which they asserted is $500 million. But Lifland has determined that is an unfair standard, because Madoff's statements were fiction -- meaning the swindler then would be deciding by his false numbers which investors were winners and losers. Madoff could just as easily have shown on the Wilpons' statement that they had $1 trillion.

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal notes how Jason Isringhausen got off to a positive start with his first spring-training appearance in three years on Monday. Collins says that if Izzy can get through March healthy, he has a legit shot at breaking camp with the team. ... Steve Popper of the Record notes that Isringhausen's assigned spot in the parking lot -- even if it's denoted by a No. 45 instead of a No. 44 -- has been moved to the prime location, closest to the clubhouse. ... The Star-Ledger also reviews Isringhausen's day, as does the Post.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden sees similar storylines between how Mickey Mantle broke into the majors and the path of 18-year-old Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, who made his Grapefruit League debut when he struck out twice against the Mets.

BIRTHDAY: Former Mets catcher Ramon Castro turns 35. Castro was traded to the Chicago White Sox on May 30, 2009 for right-hander Lance Broadway.

Mets morning briefing 2.26.11

February, 26, 2011
2/26/11
6:24
AM ET
Jenrry Mejia takes the mound as the Mets open Grapefruit League play on Saturday, but Mets morning briefing needs to snap its one-day streak of no links to Bernard Madoff/Ponzi/Irving Picard/Fred Wilpon stories with the news that the Mets confirmed they received a bailout loan from Major League Baseball in November, reportedly $25 million.

Here are Saturday's news reports:

Michael S. Schmidt and David Waldstein in The New York Times write: "The Mets have exhausted baseball’s standard bank line of credit -- tens of millions that Mr. [Bud] Selig and the sport’s owners make available to teams for a variety of reasons in the course of any year. They also have more than $400 million in debt on the team. Thus, the additional money provided by Mr. Selig -- done in secret last November -- may well have been crucial in keeping the club functioning."

The reporters go on to assert that the loan could annoy other Major League Baseball owners, and that the existence of the loan -- which has not yet been repaid -- was only disclosed to baseball's executive committee in January. Expert Marc Ganis notes that seeking a loan from Major League Baseball indicates those loans cannot be acquired through normal bank channels because of too much existing debt or other concerns and "could be taken as a sign of very significant problems." The Times also reports that fewer than a dozen prospective owners have expressed their interest to MLB for scrutiny, and to seek the right to look at the Mets' books.

• The Daily News also reported the $25 million loan from MLB.

• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro says Mets owners need to come clean. "This is about the viability and the credibility of men who own the Mets," Vaccaro writes. "And how can you possibly believe either right now? For two years, the Mets insisted that their financial issues wouldn't have a shred of influence on the baseball team, despite overwhelming pieces of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, always citing their bloated payroll as evidence that they were no cheapskates. And now it turns out they needed to essentially turn commissioner Bud Selig into a loan shark because they are -- in a word -- broke?" Vaccaro also takes a swipe at the Daily News, writing: "It's time to stop acting as if [the Wilpons] are the victim of some complicated conspiracy that involves just about everyone except the other tabloid in town, which continues to serve as their personal town crier."

• Newsday, meanwhile, reports that the judge presiding over Picard's lawsuit against Saul Katz and the Wilpons issued a ruling that should trouble the Mets' owners. The report states Judge Burton Lifland ruled in a similar suit that Picard had the right to pursue the "clawback" amount -- money withdrawn over principal -- as well as unspecified damages. "This is a clear sign to the Wilpons that they have not just a rough road ahead, but a very rough road ahead," Anthony Sabino, a St. John's business law professor, tells Newsday. "Lifland has set forth rulings ... where he has time and again affirmed [the] right of the trustee to bring these [clawback] cases. The Wilpons have virtually no chance of getting this case dismissed early."

• The Times' Waldstein caught the end of Mets wind sprints on Friday morning, and said Jose Reyes topped Angel Pagan in a 60-yard dash. Writes Waldstein: "Reyes and Pagan were told to start five yards behind the rest of the staggered crew, and Ike Davis was told to stand a few yards in front. Reyes and Pagan came from their positions on the blocks to pass everyone, with Reyes catching Pagan at the end to win by a fraction of a second."

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal profiles Paul DePodesta, who says the Mets will spend in the draft. Writes Costa: "Only one team has spent less money on signing amateur draft picks over the last five years. But despite the Mets' financial problems, DePodesta said they will look to be 'aggressive financially' in this year's draft. 'When our turn comes to pick in every round, we're going to take the guy that we think is the best player on the board and not worry so much about the signability portion of it,' he said. DePodesta was already preparing for the draft this week. On Tuesday, he drove to nearby Jupiter to watch the top-ranked University of Florida baseball team."

• Friday morning, I snapped a photo of Francisco Rodriguez working with Pedro Beato during the Rule 5 pick's bullpen session. And pitching coach Dan Warthen discussed K-Rod's involvement with me. Newsday's David Lennon goes directly to K-Rod, who says: "We were working on his landing. He's got to take advantage more of his legs to generate more power for his arm. ... When your stride is too short, your body tends to lock up and the ball is going to be flat. It's just going to spin, and the hitter has a better chance to see the ball. It doesn't have that snap on it. ... I'm not selfish. If there's any young guy that wants to ask me how to pitch, I'm going to respond. I'm going to let them know what I've learned in my career."'

• A week ago, Terry Collins mentioned five pitchers on firm footing for making the bullpen: K-Rod, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz and Tim Byrdak. In Byrdak's case, Andy Martino of the Daily News writes, he's not viewed as a strict lefty specialist. "We see Byrdak as someone who can be successful against righties and lefties and throw one or two innings," Warthen tells Martino. Sure enough, Byrdak was used for two innings in Friday's intrasquad game. After allowing a homer to the first batter he faced, Scott Hairston, Byrdak retired Brad Emaus on a sharp lineout to first base. Lucas Duda then ripped a double, but was stranded when Nick Evans popped out and Fernando Martinez flied out. The following inning, Byrdak went 1-2-3, striking out Zach Lutz and retiring Chin-lung Hu and Raul Chavez on groundouts.

Ryota Igarashi is owed $1.75 million this season, although he already has cleared waivers and is off the 40-man roster. He was impressive in retiring all six batters he faced in Friday's intrasquad game. Read more in Newsday.

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger talks to UNC baseball coach Mike Fox about Mets 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey. Read the ESPNNewYork.com feature here.

• The Post's Mike Puma reviews the favorable impression Jason Isringhausen is making in camp. Puma notes Isringhausen played for both Bobby Valentine and Tony La Russa. Says Isringhausen on that subject: "[Valentine] was very smart -- sometimes too smart. Kind of like Tony La Russa. Those guys are just so smart, they sometimes outthink the game too much, but you're never going to get something by them. They are so far ahead of everybody else, it seems like."

BIRTHDAYS: Jose A. Reyes -- not the Mets shortstop -- turns 28. The catcher played for the Binghamton Mets in 2007, and briefly appeared in the majors with the Chicago Cubs the previous year. ... Dave Howard -- not the Mets' executive VP -- was born on this day in 1967. He played for the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals from 1991-99.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
14 4.02 143 190
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .295
HRL. Duda 28
RBIL. Duda 86
RD. Murphy 76
OPSL. Duda .832
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 180