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January 2010

Rich Coutinho

Rich Coutinho is a seasoned sports journalist who has covered the New York Mets since 1984 and currently works at 1050 ESPN Radio traveling with the team all season long. Rich has also spent time at ABC Radio and WFAN covering the team and has broken numerous stories over the years. When you want news about the Mets, Rich Coutinho has it before anyone else does.

Two Podcasts - The Countdown to Spring Training Has Begun!

David Wright on the Rebound

January 26, 2010, 7:23 PM

AP Photo

In his latest edition of The Mets Hot Stove Podcast, 1050 ESPN's Mets Insider Rich Coutinho has a sit down with David Wright who if the 2010 Mets are to rebound, will need a bounce back season.


Pelfrey Looks To Rebound

January 19, 2010, 11:10 AM

In his latest edition of The Mets Hot Stove Podcast, 1050 ESPN's Met Beat Reporter Rich Coutinho has a sit down with Mike Pelfrey who is determined to show Met fans that 2009 was nothing more than a fluke season.


Carlos Beltran Fires Back

January 14, 2010, 10:08 PM

The Mets held a conference call on Thursday confirming knee surgery had been performed on Carlos Beltran but indicated proper process was not followed because they were denied the right to seek another opinion. On Thursday Night Beltran told his side of the story.

The Met centerfielder issued the following statement in regards to the story:

I am totally surprised by the reaction to my recent knee surgery. Any accusations that I ignored or defied the team's wishes are simply false. I also spoke to Omar Minaya about the surgery on Tuesday. He did not ask me to wait, or to get another doctor's opinion. He just wished me well. No one from team raised any issue until Wednesday, after I was already in surgery. I do not know what else I could have done. The most important thing here is that the surgery was a total success and I expect to be back on the field playing the game I love sooner rather than later."

I must say this story gets stranger with each passing moment but it seems from the way the planets have lined up here Beltran did nothing wrong and it appears to speak to a lack of communication inside the Met organization. And we are talking about important communication here regarding perhaps your best player and one you have a considerable financial investment in both this year and next year.

One thing for sure here is that the relationship between Beltran and the Mets must be repaired because he is essential to the success of this team in 2010. It seems like the surgery was the right thing to do and it also appears both the Mets doctors and Beltran's physician agreed on the course of action so why seek a third opinion?

I also think if Minaya spoke to Beltran on Tuesday wishing him well, that would certainly indicate the Met brass knew about the surgery and were willing to go along with it. Maybe the issue here is not everyone involved was aware of that sign off which is incomprehensible in this era of instant messaging, E-Mails, and blackberries. Nonetheless, communication can still break down and I could give the Mets a pass if they hadn't indicated otherwise in Thursday's conference call. It speaks to an organization with frayed lines of command making definition of roles almost impossible to discern.

And when you are talking about crucial issues like medical decisions on your $117 million investment, communication needs to be airtight or at the very least, accurate when you address the media. For Met fans, the hope here is the organization can mend the fences that were knocked down in the last 48 hours with both Beltran and his agent Scott Boras who, like it or not, has a roster of clients that could make or break a high profile franchise like the Mets in future years.

So far, the 2010 season is sounding a lot like the 2009 season but this organization has the power and resources to change that because there is talent on this roster. But those talented players need to trust their bosses whether that means Jerry Manuel, Omar Minaya, or the team's medical staff. That trust appears to be tenuous at best these days and that must improve if this organization is going to erase the painful ride of the 2009 season.

Beltran Out 10-12 Weeks with Knee Surgery

Flushing, New York
-- Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran elected to have surgery to clean out the arthritic area of his right knee by his personal physician, Dr. Richard Steadman in Colorado. But the question remains did he do it with the blessing and permission of the New York Mets?

In a bizarre twist, word began to surface last night that Beltran had the surgery to alleviate pain he was experiencing while working out in preparation for the 2010 season. It just seems from the wording of the Met press release they were surprised or even shocked about this course of events.

Of course, Beltran missed a significant portion of the season last year while suffering from a deep knee bone bruise but did return in September playing a series of pain free games. After the season, he did not complain of any pain in his knees but once he intensified his off-season conditioning, pain not only persisted but intensified.

The troubling part about this is if he did this without at least a go-ahead from the Mets organization, how could they differ so much in their course of action to get Beltran healthy? This comes on the heels of a season in which public perception was the Mets handling of medical issues was at the very least debatable and questionable.

Those debates will now continue well into 2010 as arguably the team's most important player will be on the shelf for at least most of spring training.

The Mets will likely hold a conference call tomorrow to clarify some of these questions but Met fans must feel like they are in an echo chamber reliving the day in and day out misery of a year ago.
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Is Delgado A Viable Option for the Mets?

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

New York Mets' Carlos Delgado watching a home run.

Flushing, New York-- Throughout the off-season, I got the feeling that the Mets wanted to move on from Carlos Delgado and go with Daniel Murphy as the team's first basemen. In the past couple of weeks, I am sensing that Delgado may have emerged as a option for Omar Minaya.

A number of Met scouts are traveling to Puerto Rico this weekend to take a look at Delgado who is playing in the Puerto Rico Winter League and I am told they are much more interested in his mobility as they are in his offense. The team always said last year that they were not worried about his bat and any fears that they might have had in that regard were likely curtailed after his home run in the Winter League on Thursday.

Still, they need to see his mobility at first base and up until now, Delgado has only served as a DH. Even if they are satisfied with what they see, the questions remains is how much are the Mets willing to pay? I would think the answer to that lies somewhere between what Troy Glaus signed for and what Vlad Guerrero ends up getting. That number should be somewhere between 4 and 5 million and a deal like that makes more sense now than it did a month ago since now Jason Bay is signed, sealed, and delivered.

The reason for that is Delgado would be viewed as a complimentary piece to the lineup and could create a pretty devastating Met order if he is healthy that would include Reyes, Beltran, Wright, Bay, and Francoeur not to mention Bengie Molina if he were to be added as well.

The pursuit of Delgado could also motivate the Molina camp to re-think their current contract negotiations which seem to be in a holding pattern right now. More importantly, it could give the team a lineup that has as much depth as any team in the league, including the Phillies. It might also allow them to shop Daniel Murphy which might make a deal for a starting pitcher more attractive than any deals currently on the table.

So, this weekend's hunting trip for the Mets scouting staff could have a domino effect on the rest of the team's off-season plans. Only time will tell.

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With Bay in Fold, What is Omar's Next Move?

Flushing, New York-- The Mets have landed the big power hitter the team desperately needed in Jason Bay. It is a move that will have a positive effect on a lineup that struggled to hit the long ball a year ago. So now Omar Minaya's task will be to add some pitchers and a catcher which will be no easy task this late in the off-season or at least that's what the "experts" would have you believe.

The focus behind the plate has always been Bengie Molina and it makes sense for both parties to bend a little as Molina wants a 3 year deal while the Mets are offering one year plus an option. The smart thing would be to meet in the middle--2 years say $13 million. Omar told me today that he was very impressed with the development of Josh Thole and that comment was designed to get into the ear of Molina's agent as much as it was to extol the virtues of Thole. I would be shocked if Molina is not in Port St Lucie this coming February because neither party really has any options. Molina provides some pop and will be the kind of gritty player here that Shane Victorino is down the turnpike.

Adding starting pitching will be a bit trickier as the "sure thing" is off the market with John Lackey heading to beantown but the Mets do have some interesting options. My sense is the team would prefer Ben Sheets if his price would come down or if his health was not so up in the air. I also get the sense they prefer Sheets over other "risky" signings like Eric Bedard for instance. The organization is a bit divided over Joel Pinhiero--some feel he would be an excellent addition while others feel his season was a by-product of the work of pitching guru Dave Duncan who has made a career out of these kinds of reclamation projects.

Doug Davis is an innings eater but my feeling is at that price, Omar might prefer Jon Garland who certainly has pitched in pennant races and could provide a good back of the rotation option. But none of these pitchers (aside from a healthy Sheets) gives the Mets what they need most--a #2 to slot in behind Johan Santana.

And so, that brings us to Carlos Zambrano who some say the Cubs are shopping others say they are not. My feeling is they are thinking about it because of their payroll situation. The team currently has close to $125 million committed to salary and that does not include unsigned players like Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto. Zambrano has a no-trade clause but he would waive it to come to the Mets. This could also provide a chance to unload Luis Castillo because if Minaya is taking Zambrano's $18 million salary he could ask the Cubs to take Castillo's $6.5 million commitment. Of course, the Mets would need to add other players to the deal as well.

It would add $11.5 million to the Met payroll but it would still allow the team to snare Orlando Hudson to replace Castillo. Of course, it would also allow them the luxury of thinking about giving Carlos Delgado a one-year deal especially if Daniel Murphy would be included in my proposed Zambrano deal.

Bay was a great addition but my gut here is Omar is just getting started.
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Minayas Patience Pays off As He Ropes in Bay

Flushing, New York-- The Mets made a firm offer to Jason Bay a few weeks ago and then were forced to play a waiting game while the free agent leftfielder anticipated a 5 year deal that would trump Omar Minaya's 4 year proposal. That offer never materialized from other suitors and Minaya's patience finally paid off when the San Francisco Giants turned their attention to Mark DaRosa. So, Bay will get a 4 year $66 million deal from the Mets which is slightly higher than the 4 year $60 million offer he received from the Red Sox earlier in the year.

This will also severely hurt Matt Holliday and his agent Scott Boras who now seem to only have a deal from the St.Louis Cardinals which he will more than likely have to accept. That deal will be higher than Bay's contract but far below the "Mark Teixiera type-money" Boras envisioned for his client.

As for the other free agent the Mets have targeted, Bengie Molina--he is in a similar predicament that Bay was in. He wants a 3 year deal but now might be willing to entertain less because the Mets have not upped their original offer of one year plus an option. And no other teams have shown the interest in the veteran catcher that the Mets have shown in him. My guess here is both camps will agree on a 2 year deal because it is an effective compromise for both parties.

The Bay deal will become official after a physical is taken and the formal announcement should take place after the New Year.

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