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Monday, September 7, 2009
Updated: September 9, 1:29 AM ET
Return of the Mets not as impossible as it seems

ESPN.com

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Mets' recovery won't be as hard as it seems once they get a healthy Johan Santana back next year.

By Peter Gammons, ESPN

Though some days they may bear a gruesome resemblance, these are not the 1962 Mets, nor will they begin a demolition process and start selling Tom Seaver down the Ohio River.

Those lineups some days had better been forgotten. The pipes and the workmanship at Citi Field may be faulted, similar to the lack of work done on building up inventory to have in place in Buffalo and Binghamton.

But none of us can begin to comprehend the financial crush and the emotional betrayal that Bernie Madoff laid on the Wilpon family. Because they have refused to use Madoff's $525-700 billion theft as any kind of excuse for the sitcom that this season became, we don't know how it has impacted operations; we do know that they have cut out the Instructional League (centering on their Dominican camp, partly necessitated by the pullout of other East Coast Instructional League teams) and seemed all too happy to get out from under Billy Wagner's contract and not have to shell out $3-5 million for the draft choices he would have brought them next June.

This is not hopeless. Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran should be fine in 2010. So should David Wright. So there are three of the top 15 to 20 players in the National League, and that's before even beginning to try to figure out what Jose Reyes is at this point in his career.

And they're not going to be able to restock the franchise by trading any of the above. That doesn't happen these days, as the Twins found out when they traded Santana.

However, here is some advice for the Wilpons: Hire a really strong, competent, forceful CEO with a widespread understanding of the business, development and people. The list should start with Sandy Alderson, and as he becomes the face of the organization, he should begin with these promises:

1. They will not allow the commissioner's office to determine whom they draft, and use their market and SNY television network advantage to acquire talent through the draft and the international stage.

2. Stop worrying about comparisons with the Yankees, because in the Hal Steinbrenner/Brian Cashman Era, they are not fading.

An Alderson or Pat Gillick or Gerry Hunsicker can help Omar Minaya assemble all he needs in terms of the organization.

Then they address their needs.

1. One quality starting pitcher. Santana should be back. As we saw with Mike Pelfrey on Sunday, it is there. Jonathon Niese looks to be a quality back-end guy, as does Bobby Parnell. So go try to sign a front-end pitcher. John Lackey wants close to CC Sabathia cash, which may be tough to do with the Santana contract. They can do what Colorado did, find a Jason Marquis; in this case, it could be to accept Bronson Arroyo's contract … there are ways, and the bullpen should be fine. Maybe Brad Holt and/or Jenrry Mejia can help by June. A big key is sitting down with Scott Boras and forcing Oliver Perez to get serious about his future.

2. Catcher. They may be tempted to take a short-term solution like Jason Varitek, but more likely they will make a deal for a younger catcher like Arizona's Chris Snyder, the Angels' Jeff Mathis, Colorado's Chris Iannetta or Cleveland's Kelly Shoppach.

3. One corner bat. Even with Carlos Delgado's contract off the books, going above $15 million for Jason Bay or Matt Holliday and taking on a free-agent pitching contract may be tough for the Wilpons right now. So they will have to be creative, using Daniel Murphy at first or in left. Jeff Francoeur may continue to make strides and deserves every opportunity.

With Holt, Mejia, first baseman Ike Davis (.905 OPS between Single-A and Double-A), Fernando Martinez, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada (who led the Eastern League in chances and double plays) knocking at the door, the farm system is nowhere near as bad as has been colored.

Beltran, Wright and Santana are core players; heck, Luis Castillo has a .397 on-base percentage. They need Reyes, they need Pelfrey, they need Perez, and it's not hapless and hopeless.

The Mets need work -- a lot of work -- and they need someone at the top like Alderson to channel the talents of Minaya, John Ricco, et al. The Wilpons have to realize that, as Bobby Knight always said, if you listen to the guys in the stands, pretty soon you'll be sitting up there with them.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: Sept. 6 | Sept. 3 | Sept. 2 | Sept. 1 | Aug. 31

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Ryan Howard, PHI38MoehlerTop 4: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
Adrian Gonzalez, SD36PennyTop 6: 1-0, 1 Out. None on.
Mark Teixeira, NYY34SonnanstineBot 3: 1-0, 1 Out. 2 on.
Derrek Lee, CHC31McCutchenTop 3: 0-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
Derrek Lee, CHC30McCutchenTop 1: 0-0, 2 Outs. None on.
Evan Longoria, TB29SabathiaTop 2: 0-0, 1 Out. None on.

The complete list of Monday's homers

ON DECK: TUESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

The Rays are still reeling. They lost both games of Monday's doubleheader with the Yankees, running their losing streak to six games. They trail the Red Sox by 7#&189; games in the AL wild-card race. David Price tries to stop the slide. Price had a solid outing earlier this year against the Yankees, allowing two hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings.

Phillies at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

Can Pedro Martinez follow his masterful performance in beating Tim Lincecum and the Giants with a solid effort against the Nationals? Martinez has posted his 3-0 record and 3.52 ERA by throwing strikes; he carries a 23-3 strikeout-walk ratio into this start.

Mariners at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Scott Kazmir has made one start with the Angels. It was against the Mariners. He was facing Felix Hernandez. On Tuesday, he makes his second start with the Angels. It is against the Mariners. He is facing Felix Hernandez. Kazmir pitched 6 1/3 solid innings against the Mariners, but Hernandez tossed eight shutout in a 3-0 win.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.

BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Chris Singleton

12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Chris Singleton

BBTN MINUTE: KING FELIX VS. KAZMIR

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Chris Carpenter, who tossed a one-hit, 10-strikeout gem against the Brewers in a 3-0 St. Louis win.

Shutout with 0 or 1 hits allowed, 10+ strikeouts (for Cardinals)

Chris Carpenter 2009 at Brewers
Chris Carpenter 2005 at Blue Jays
Bob Gibson 1971* at Pirates
Bob Gibson 1970 at Padres
Ernie Broglio 1960 Cubs

* No-hitter

WEB GEMS

MONDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Chris CarpenterChris Carpenter has been nearly unhittable since the end of June. On Sunday, he was almost literally unhittable. Carpenter tossed a complete-game, 10-strikeout one-hitter against the Brewers. Since that last loss on June 30, Carpenter is 11-0 in 13 starts.
WORST
Derek JeterDerek Jeter entered the Yankees' doubleheader with the Rays three hits shy of Lou Gehrig's franchise record. He exited the doubleheader still three hits shy. Jeter went 0-for-8 in the two games with the Rays. He still has 2,718 hits.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Kendry Morales When the Los Angeles Angels were unable to re-sign free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, many wondered how they would replace his offensive production. It turns out the answer was already in the organization -- Kendry Morales.

Morales had 12 homers in 407 plate appearances in stints with the Angels from 2006 to 2008, but he has exploded for 30 homers so far this season, only three fewer than the departed Teixeira entering Monday. (Teixeira went deep twice in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Rays.)

Morales ranks in the top 10 in the American League in batting average (10th), slugging percentage (second), RBIs (sixth), doubles (ninth) and isolated power (fourth), which subtracts batting average from slugging percentage and is meant to show a batter's power.

Morales hits all pitches above the league average, but his true strength has been hitting against the curveball. He ranks in the top 10 in baseball in batting average, slugging percentage and home runs against the curve.

Morales vs. curveballs (2009)

MLB rank
BA .328 10
SLG .738 2
HR 6 2

* Minimum 40 plate appearances vs. curveballs

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes

HUNT FOR OCTOBER

Here's the latest in the wild-card races:

AL WILD CARD
TEAM W-L GB POFF
Red Sox 79-58 -- 82.4%
Rangers 76-60 2.5 27.6%
Rays 72-65 5.0 1.3%
NL WILD CARD
TEAM W-L GB POFF
Rockies 78-60 -- 70.8%
Giants 76-62 2.0 28.2%
Marlins 72-65 5.5 5.9%
Braves 70-67 7.5 1.9%
Cubs 69-67 8.0 0.6%

For more on all the playoff races, see the Hunt for October