Feb 03

Alderson Done Shopping

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said this afternoon the team is done shopping for the winter, but that doesn’t mean something won’t get done during spring training. Let’s hope so, because I’m not convinced the bullpen still doesn’t need some work.

Toward that end, Alderson’s decree means Tyler Clippard won’t be signed to a major league contract. Clippard wants a two-year deal.

For the Mets, a major league deal means someone must come off the 40-man roster. The acquisitions of left reliever Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes cost the Mets reliever Carlos Torres (cleared waivers and became a free agent) and Darrell Ceciliani (designated for assignment and traded to Toronto for cash).

“We just lost Ceciliani because we had to make a roster spot,” Alderson told ESPN.  “We’re at the point now where we have to balance what we might lose player-wise on the 40-man with what we might gain. … Giving a major league contract, you lose some flexibility – the ability to move people in and out. You almost make a commitment that I’m not sure we’re prepared to make right now with what’s on the market.”

For now, it is just as well the Mets are done. Like I said, it doesn’t mean things might not happen in spring training. As Opening Day gets closer and teams trim their rosters, there’s a new wave of free agents to hit the market. Who knows? If Clippard isn’t signed he might be available and willing to take one year.

Or, maybe there will be somebody better than Clippard.

 

 

Feb 01

Mets’ Bullpen Still Needs Work

With pitchers-and-catchers two weeks away, the Mets still have work to do with their bullpen. Signing left-hander Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal. As it is now, the Mets’ bullpen is constructed with closer Jeurys Familia, set-up man Addison Reed, lefties Bastardo, Jerry Blevins and Sean Gilmartin, and right-handers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett and Hansel Robles.

CLIPPARD: Still a possibility. (AP)

CLIPPARD: Still a possibility. (AP)

Perhaps the Mets’ biggest pen question outside of depth is Familia. He came out of nowhere when Jenrry Mejia was suspended and developed into a dominant closer. However, he didn’t have a great postseason which begs the question: Did the workload catch up with him?

The Mets haven’t given up on re-signing Tyler Clippard, who appeared in 32 games for them and was 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA. He struck out 26 and walked 10 in 32 innings before running out of gas and losing the set-up role to Reed. Somebody will have to go if Clippard is signed, and the guess here is could be Goeddel.

I’m all for brining back Clippard, but not for two years. I would give him one year plus an option which would kick in based on the number of appearances. If he hadn’t lost steam at the end I would consider it, but not given with what we saw last year.

Bartolo Colon will likely re-join the bullpen when Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list. Mejia will start the season on the suspended list. It is also possible Rafael Montero could open the season in the bullpen. Should Montero open the year in the minor leagues, the hope here is it won’t be in the rotation but in the

For all the potential of the Mets’ starting rotation, a thin bullpen makes it vulnerable.

 

Jan 31

Time To Evaluate All All-Star Games

Good morning. On this bright and sunny – but cold – Sunday morning. Plenty of snow despite the sun. On this last day of January, with the Super Bowl a week away, what better time to talk about the All-Star Games, in all sports?

With the NHL and NFL All-Star Games today it got me to thinking – as I usually do – about the nature of the All-Star Games. They have become obsolete with no compelling reason to watch any of them. All of the sports, with the exception of football, feature some kind of skills competition the day prior to the game.

The hockey skills are the most interesting, mostly because I don’t see that much hockey. The NBA’s three-point demonstration is far more challenging than the slam dunk competition. Jumping over a car or running the length of the court does nothing for me. The slam dunk show does symbolize what the sport has become, which is a “look at me,” exhibition.

The NBA game itself is a playground game of one-on-one duels broken up by an occasional demonstrations of trick passing, which is to remind us these exceptional athletes can pass when the mood strikes them. Of course, the NBA game wouldn’t be complete without some bitching and moaning from LeBron James, who despite the limited rosters complains because there aren’t three Cavaliers on the team. He especially notes the absence of Kyrie Irving, who had played in all but 18 games when the teams were announced.

Then again, this is James, who earlier this week boasted of his “high basketball IQ.” For somebody supposedly so smart, how come he can’t figure out such basic things as roster size, not to mention something so basic as to get along with his coach?

There is no designated skills competition in the NFL game, primarily because there isn’t a headhunting exhibition. The NFL game is the one that should first be abandoned. A player gets fined for skipping the NHL game even with a legitimate injury, which shows the importance the league places on the game. Conversely, seven New England Patriots will skip today’s game in a hissy fit for losing to Denver. Not a peep from the NFL office or the supposedly sophisticated Boston media which goes mostly spineless when it come to the Patriots.

This brings us to the baseball All-Star Game, whose highlight, unfortunately, is the Home Run Derby. Not only do some players bring a malaise to the game, but the idea of making an exhibition game determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series is beyond stupid.

I hate to be someone who says, “the way things used to be,” but in this case that’s the way it is. From the stuffing of the ballot box (there’s some degree of checks and balances when they limit the voting to only 35 votes, but you can log on under a different screen name and vote again) to the Derby to the home field, the baseball game has lost its meaning.

And, that’s too bad because the All-Star games used to mean something. Part of the reason is the mystery of the other league is gone. Growing up in Cleveland, I rarely got to see the Dodgers or Giants. I used to drive to Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, or watch the Mets when my family visited New York. But, that curiosity is gone with the gimmick of interleague play and cable television. These days you can see all the San Diego Padres games you want, whether you live in Cleveland, Alaska or the Congo. The mystery is gone.

This year the Padres will host the game. Last year it was Cincinnati. Next year it will be the Marlins. That’s three National League parks in a row. The game is no longer rotated by leagues, but as a reward for building a new stadium. That’s why the Mets got their game, and Minnesota. Actually, it will be more accurate to say in most cases it is a reward for coaxing the taxpayers to pay for the new buildings (this was not the case with the Mets).

Yet, MLB, like the other sports, puts make-up on their games to hide the ugliness that their All-Star Games have become. But, as the saying does, “if you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig.”

But, if I want pig, I’ll eat BBQ ribs. There’s no need to watch any of the All-Star games because there’s nothing compelling about any of them. Too bad, because they used to have value and I used to love watching.

Spring training is 18 days away, so I thought I’d get a head start on my bitching and moaning.

Jan 28

Collins Gives First Thoughts On Lineup

Terry Collins gave his first inkling as to the Mets’ 2016 lineup. Collins gave it to Mike Puma of the NY Post. But, it’s not as if it is etched in stone because, after all, it is the Mets’ lineup and he had over 150 of them last year.

1. Curtis Granderson, RF: I still prefer a traditional leadoff hitter, but Granderson’s on-base percentage last year was stellar. So, give the options of forcing a square peg into a round hole, Granderson is the best available choice.

2. David Wright, 3B: In his prime, Wright was the ideal No. 3 hitter. But, that was a long time ago. He’s no longer prime time. Would be nice to see him return to that form.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, CF: A classic No. 3 hitter is the best combination of power and average and Cespedes is the best the Mets considering Wright’s current situation.

4. Lucas Duda, 1B: Has averaged over 27 homers the last few years despite periods of extreme streakiness.

5. Neil Walker, 2B: Where Daniel Murphy would have fit in.

6. Michael Conforto, LF: The first impression was a good one. Let’s hope he lives up to expectations.

7. Travis d’Arnaud, C: No surprises here, but it does say Collins has his mind made up as to his starting catcher.

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Obviously, he goes here.

9. Pitcher: Let’s hope Collins doesn’t fool around and move up his pitcher to No. 8.

I don’t have any problem with what Collins has laid out as his lineup. Considering his players and options this really is the best-case scenario. But, it will change. It always does.

 

Jan 26

Mets Matters: Big Boy Payroll

The Mets’ deal with Yoenis Cespedes ($27.5 million in 2016) will put their payroll at a reported $138.8 million for this summer. It’s the organization’s highest since the days of Omar Minaya’s days as general manager.

mets-matters logoThe Mets still have unsettled arbitration cases with second baseman Neil Walker and closer Jeurys Familia.

As for Cespedes, his contract should become official after his physical today.

The following are the Mets’ contracts for 2016 (per ESPN):

Cespedes, $27.5 M.

David Wright, $20 M.

Walker, $10.6 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Asdrubal Cabrera, $8.25 M.

Bartolo Colon, $7.25 M.

Lucas Duda, $6.725 M.

Alejandro De Aza, $5.75 M.

Antonio Bastardo, $5.375 M.

Addison Reed, $5.3 M.

Matt Harvey, $4.325 M.

Familia, $4.05 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Jerry Blevins, $4 M.

Ruben Tejada, $3 M.

Juan Lagares, $2.5 M.

Jenrry Mejia, $960.556 K.

Josh Edgin, $625 K.

Travis d’Arnaud, $600 K.

Kevin Plawecki, $600 K.

Wilmer Flores, $600 K.

Michael Conforto, $600 K.

Jacob deGrom, $600 K.

Noah Syndergaard, $600 K.

Steven Matz, $600 K.

Zack Wheeler, $600 K.

Erik Goeddel, $600 K.

Hansel Robles, $600 K.

Sean Gilmartin, $600 K.

FLORES HAS ANOTHER ROLE:  In addition to backing up Wright at third, Walker at second and Asdrubal at shortstop, he’ll also do the same for Duda at first base although he has never played the position before on the major league level.

Michael Cuddyer had the role last year. Plawecki has limited experience at first in the minors.

ROBLES HEARING NOT SET:  Robles’ appeal for a three-game suspension levied for a quick pitch thrown at the head of Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp, Sept. 30, is expected to be heard during spring training.

In addition, Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension for his late slide that broke Tejada’s right leg, has also not been heard.