Dec 22

Mets’ Issues That Must Be Answered Positively To Reach The Playoffs

The Mets can be a playoff team, but a lot of things must break their way before there’s meaningful October baseball at Citi Field. With it being apparent they won’t make any substantial additions between now and Opening Day, they’ll have to improve enough to win at least an additional ten games with their current roster.

That’s a tall order.

Here’s what must happen:

Matt Harvey: How will he rebound from elbow surgery? It’s one thing for him to say he’s ready, but it’s another for him to actually do it on the mound. Remember, his high-water mark is nine victories. While the results have been positive for others with his surgery, everybody is different.

Zack Wheeler: For him to reach the next level he must economize his pitches. The Mets need him to last longer than the sixth inning. The more he works, the less reliant the Mets will be in their bullpen.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

Jon Niese: The lone lefty must do better, and for this to happen, he must stay healthy. A career that began with promise has been a disappointment.

Bartolo Colon: He proved last year he’s capable of 200 innings and the Mets need close to that again. He figures to be the fifth starter, so that could keep him fresh.

Jacob deGrom: The second year is tougher because teams have a book on him. When they adjust to him, he must adjust back. What he has in his gut is stuff you can’t teach.

Bobby Parnell: Terry Collins says he will be the closer if healthy, but let’s hope he’s not rushed.

Jenrry Mejia: Presumably the Mets will use him in a set-up role if Parnell is healthy. If he ends up closing he needs to show it again, this time over a full season. One thing the Mets can’t afford is to jump at trading him without knowing about Parnell.

Jeurys Familia: With his stuff, the Mets must find him a role. The one thing I don’t want to see is a closer by committee.

Vic Black: What is his role? He has great stuff. Again, no closer by committee.

Josh Edgin: The situational lefty needs help. Will Scott Rice give it to him? If not, the Mets risk burning him out.

Travis d’Arnaud: He showed positive glimpses last year, but not enough to where you can say he’ll be there for ten years. He needs time to prove himself, but I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing what Anthony Recker can do with more playing time.

Lucas Duda: He showed he could hit for power and field the position. But, he has to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. The expectations are higher than ever.

Daniel Murphy: Was easily the Mets’ most consistent hitter in 2014, plus he wasn’t as bad as people think defensively. Just keep on slapping line drives.

Wilmer Flores: This is a major issue. I’m concerned Collins will panic and yank him when he struggles which could undoubtedly happen. There will be pressures on him he hasn’t faced. How much time? Maybe two months. Perhaps to the All-Star break. Of course, it could depend on how the Mets are playing at the time.

David Wright: To me, he is the Mets’ most pressing issue. A healthy and productive Wright sets the table for the offense and eliminates all those nagging questions about his contract.

Michael Cuddyer: The Mets jumped at signing him early in the process when they could have upgraded higher had they waited and were willing to spend. Will that gamble backfire?

Juan Lagares: Has to prove he can hit on the major league level, which includes improving his on-base percentage to where he can hit leadoff. There’s no problem with his glove.

Curtis Granderson: Will being reunited with hitting coach Kevin Long help him regain his stroke and confidence?

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

* There are only two wild-cards and with teams in the West and Central greatly improved, there might not be room for a team in the East. The Nationals are just too good to be overtaken. As of now, the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds and maybe the Cubs seem good enough to either win their respective divisions or go as a wild card. I can see any of those teams winning at least 88 games.

* As is the case every year, staying healthy is paramount and the Mets have health questions regarding Harvey and Wright.

* What will their tact be at the trade deadline? They did nothing the past two years, but will Alderson be more aggressive if the Mets get off to a fast start? Speaking of which, they can’t afford to struggle out of the gate.

* Who is available coming out or spring training? Roster cuts in late March always must be taken seriously as they can’t afford to pass on an upgrade.

What won’t happen is for all of these to be answered in the positive because stuff like that just doesn’t occur. But, a lion’s share must be met to give them a fighting chance.

 

 

 

Dec 21

Mets Matters: Wright Starts Hitting

While much of Major League Baseball was active in a swirling trade market, the Mets were getting ready for Christmas.

The most important bit of news was that David Wright reached the next level in his rehab and is starting to swing the bat and told ESPN he’s on track to intensify his training.

Wright, who turned 32 Saturday, also plans to meet with new hitting coach Kevin Long in Phoenix sometime in January.

Wright is rehabbing his left shoulder, which forced his season to end early.

Also, the Mets traded reliever Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees for cash considerations.

The Mets also declined to get involved in the posting for South Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang.

Dec 20

One More Time: Tulowitzki Not Happening

OK, one more time: Troy Tulowitzki is not coming to the Mets.

Yes, yes, yes … there have been reports this week the Mets and Rockies are talking. I am sure they’ve spoken since the Winter Meetings. They could be exchanging holiday greetings, or talking about the weather, or trading fantasy football players, but serious dialogue about Tulowitzki isn’t one of the topics.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

To understand why it won’t happen one must first ask:  Why do the Rockies want to deal him?

It begins with health, and here there aren’t any guarantees. A healthy Tulowitzki would be great to have, but he’s coming off hip surgery that puts his power potential in question. The Mets don’t have to look any further than across town at Alex Rodriguez to understand how a bum hip makes even great players, well, bums.

Couple his questionable health with the $118 million he is owed over the next six years, and you begin to comprehend why the Rockies want to start over. Sure, they’ll have to assume some of his contract to get another team to take him off their hands, but not nearly enough to make the Mets bite.

Having played at least 140 games only once in the past five years makes him a high-risk gamble. Sandy Alderson has spent his tenure as the Mets’ general manager paring down payroll. That’s why he was brought here.

Say what you want about the Wilpons and their budget, but understand that’s not going to change. It just won’t, and it especially won’t with a high-risk gamble with the cost of one or two of their young stud pitchers, even if one of them isn’t Matt Harvey.

The Rockies are concerned about his injury history, salary and want a talented bunch of prospects in return. Given that, those are the same reasons the Mets should run away.

But you say, look at his numbers at Citi Field. OK, I will. Let’s see, five homers, 11 RBI, a .438 batting average and 1.368 OPS in 58 plate appearances over 14 games. Hmm, well, that is impressive, but it’s not the ballpark as much as it is the Mets’ pitching he’s faced over the years.

Understand, he won’t be facing that pitching if he comes here. If you’re hung up on seeing Tulowitzki play at Citi Field, the Rockies will be in for the start of a four-game series, Aug. 10.

Plenty of tickets are available.

Dec 19

Report Has Selig Getting $6 Million Annually

An ESPN report, although not confirmed by Major League Baseball, has departing commissioner Bud Selig receiving an annual $6 million salary.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

While I have no problem with MLB spending as it chooses, I find it hypocritical as the driving force of Selig’s tenure was to cut player salaries. From free agency to arbitration, Selig – always an owner at heart – acted like he had to pay each contract.

Don’t forget, Selig’s legacy includes forcing the 1994 work stoppage that lead to the killing of the World Series that year. Selig’s hardball stance called for a salary cap and revenue sharing.

The stoppage lasted through the following spring, which featured replacement players.

The damage from this labor conflict lead to bleeding losses by MLB, which it tried to fix with fabricated home run races and the steroid era. Yes, friends, that’s courtesy of Selig and the owners.

Unquestionably, MLB is enjoying its most lucrative era in history and Selig merits some praise in this windfall.

Again, its MLB’s money and it can do with it what it chooses. But, let’s not overlook the hypocrisy in Selig’s tenure. That’s also part of his legacy.

Dec 18

A Case For Not Trading Gee

There’s been a lot of talk about the Mets wanting to trade Dillon Gee. I understand their reasoning and on the surface it all makes sense.

However, I wouldn’t be the contrarian I am if I didn’t examine the other side.

Sure, the rotation looks crowded with the return of Matt Harvey. But, what if his return from elbow surgery isn’t smooth? What if Jon Niese continues to falter? What if Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom regress? What if Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready?

Few things go as seamlessly as hoped, especially if you’re the Mets. You should know that by now if you’ve been following them for any length on time.

The fact remains, the Mets have potential pitching issues, and with the trade market stagnant, there’s no reason to force a trade just to free up space.

Just wait, they could use another pitcher before the season is over.