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Carlos Beltran, Zack Greinke and the new Diamondbacks

In a stylistic salute to the great Jackie Harvey of The Onion...

Item! The Mets shut down Carlos Beltran due to tendinitis in his left knee.

Not good for the Mets or Beltran, obviously. For the short term, if Beltran can't start the season healthy, the Mets will go with Nick Evans or Fernando Martinez in rightfield.

But that probably doesn't matter much. It's not like the Mets have a significant chance of making the playoffs, with or without Beltran. The Mets' greatest concern right now should be that their chances of trading Beltran in July diminish with each setback.

If Beltran spends the entire year with the Mets and produces minimally, that will reduce the final grade on the Mets' seven-year commitment to Beltran. Remember, Beltran's contract forbids the Mets from offering him arbitration, so the Mets won't be getting any draft picks as compensation for losing him. And that's sort of besides the point, anyway, as the Mets would never risk Beltran accepting such an arbitration offer.

What grade would you give the Mets right now, six years in? I'd say a B-, with three great years (2006 through 2008) balanced out by a lousy 2005, injury-shortened 2009 and poor, limited 2010.

Item! Zack Greinke will miss the start of the regular season due to a cracked rib suffered from playing basketball.

Maybe it's unfair - you could argue that Greinke's only mistake was getting caught, if you will - but to me, this makes the Yankees look better for not making a serious run at Greinke. How could any ballplayer play basketball after the Aaron Boone incident?

If Greinke was missing the start of the Yankees' season due to this carelessness...my goodness, would he and the Yankees' front office would be getting roasted in the yakosphere (copyright Neil Best). 

Brewers GM Doug Melvin says that Greinke won't be punished financially

Item! Jerry Crasnick wrote an interesting article on the Diamondbacks and their past underachievements. Here's a great quote from GM Kevin Towers:

"When Pat (Gillick) first got into baseball, he thought 70 percent of the game was skill set and 30 percent was character and makeup. Now he thinks it's the other way around. To get to this level, you have to have talent. What separates good teams from mediocre teams are guys with character, will, passion and desire. They pull for one another and play as a team. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you're selfish and don't play well together or handle adversity well, you're not going to win."

Big words coming from Towers, an accomplished GM, who cites the new Hall of Famer Gilllick. But there is obviously more nuance to the equation than that, no?

Whenever this "Talent vs. toughness" desire, I flash back to the 2007 and 2008 Mets, because they were accused of having plenty of the former and not enough of the latter. I look at how the '07 Mets actually hit very well in September, and that their pitching just fell apart. And I think of the thin lineup the '08 Mets fielded on the final day of their season.

I wouldn't dispute the notion that the Diamondbacks - a roster featuring a group of talented youngsters armed with long-term commitments - didn't maximize their talent these past couple of years. That their clubhouse very well might have been too comfortable. That a manager like Kirk Gibson and a coaching staff filled with accomplished former players can help create a better atmosphere.

But I also wouldn't underestimate how undone the Diamondbacks were these past few years by an absolutely horrendous bullpen, which put up a 5.74 ERA last year, a 4.61 ERA in 2009 and a 4.09 ERA in 2008.

Item! According to a Florida lawsuit, the Yankees offered Aroldis Chapman a contract worth more than $54 million when the Cuban lefty was a free agent two offseasons ago.

I am highly skeptical of this allegation. Why would Chapman have left $24 million on the table? And I simply don't see the Yankees - particularly at that juncture, coming off the 2009 World Series title - making that sort offer under Brian Cashman's relatively conservative approach. Let's see if and how the Yankees respond.

Item! Twitter is great.

Item! The Yankees' starting rotation derby is going well. 

The smart money still goes with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia winning the fourth and fifth starters' jobs, with Sergio Mitre assuming the long reliever duties and Bartolo Colon...well, what exactly do you do about Colon, if he continues to pitch like this?

Do you give him a rotation spot and see if you can get a good month out of him, before his inevitable decline? Tell Nova that he'll start the year at Scranton, to stay tough and pitch well and he'll be up before he knows it?

The best answer is, "Let's see if Colon can keep this going." The Yankees don't have to make this decision for another three weeks. But they have to be pleased with the onslaught of positive results.

Item! Oliver Perez pitched poorly again for the Mets.

It's all over but the releasing now for Ollie. The idea of him being a Mets situational reliever is laughable. The club could score some positive PR by simply releasing Perez today, rather than waiting another few weeks.

--Have a great day.

--UPDATE, 10:02 a.m.: This is worth throwing in here: Chase Utley's right knee hasn't gotten better, and while the Phillies are of course trying to downplay this, it doesn't sound good at all.

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