Nov 13

Alderson Takes Long List To GM Meetings

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is in Florida for the General Managers Meetings, which is pretty much batting practice the Winter Meetings. Alderson will kick the tires with agents on potential free-agents and on his colleagues on possible trades.

Here are the holes Alderson wants to fill:

Rotation: The Mets have one proven arm in Jacob deGrom, and another they hope is back in Noah Syndergaard. Everybody else is a significant question: Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are all coming off injuries; Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero are coming off so-so seasons, and can start or relieve.

The Mets are seeking a veteran arm that hopefully can give the Mets at least 180 innings. Jason Vargas and Lance Lynn have been mentioned as possibilities.

Bullpen: Despite the trades Alderson made last summer, none of those relievers established themselves to the point where they are the proven arm to fit in behind Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. They could always bring back Addison Reed or go with Cleveland Bryan Shaw. Both will command over $7 million, but after picking up Blevins’ option, and going through arbitration with Familia and Ramos, they already have three relievers making over $7 million.

Position players: They already committed to Asdrubal Cabrera, but will he play third or second? Let’s face it, they aren’t going to spend the money or have the prospects to acquire Todd Frazier, Dee Gordon, Jason Kipnis, Logan Morrison or Jay Bruce.

If the Mets had Bruce in the outfield, with Frazier at third, Gordon or Kipnis at second and Morrison at first, they could have a pretty formidable offense, but if their rotation isn’t sound it would be irrelevant.

 

Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.

Nov 09

Is There A Fit Between Bruce And Mets?

Published reports say the Mets are encouraged because they hear free-agent Jay Bruce is willing to play first base. However, they can’t be thrilled Bruce is seeking an extension of at least $90 million over four years.

Perhaps that’s like screening your calls. Throw out a figure that you know GM Sandy Alderson won’t meet.

BRUCE: Where's the fit? (AP)

BRUCE: Where’s the fit? (AP)

If the Mets are sincerely interested in Bruce it says several things: 1) they aren’t enamored with prospect Dominic Smith, and/or, 2) they aren’t encouraged about the physical health of Michael Conforto (left shoulder) or Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring).

Assuming neither Conforto nor Cespedes are ready by Opening Day, the Mets will have an outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares and Nori Aoki. Ooops, I forgot, they let Aoki go.

I advocated bringing back Bruce last summer while he was still a Met. Who knows? Doing so might have cost less. Generally, if you show some love to your own players they might return the favor with a home-team discount.

However, after trying him at first base on the fly last summer because they were reluctant to bring up Smith, then trading him, Bruce has no loyalties to the Mets.

This could be Bruce’s last contract, so he’ll want to go where: 1) he’ll be paid, 2) he’ll be appreciated, and 3) he has a chance to win.

Do you see any of that happening with the Mets?

 

Nov 08

Adding To Bullpen Will Cost Mets

Even without the top-shelf names of Wade Davis and Greg Holland, the list of relievers the Mets are reportedly considering for their bullpen is pretty intriguing – and potentially expensive.

Addison Reed ($7.75 million in 2017), Luke Gregerson ($6.25 million), Bryan Shaw ($4.9 million), Mike Minor ($4 million), Brandon Kintzler ($2.9 million) and Matt Albers ($1.4 million) are sure command sizeable raises, but even more when you consider the Mets already have three relievers already at the back end of their bullpen.

Closer Jeurys Familia ($7.425 million) and AJ Ramos ($6.55 million) are arbitration eligible, and assuming they win their cases will earn at least $8.5 million, and Jerry Blevins option for $7 million has already been picked up. That already adds up to at least $24 million for three relievers, and you figure up to four more. If one of them is reportedly Shaw, who played under new Mets manager Mickey Callaway last season in Cleveland, that works in their favor.

What doesn’t is the depth in the Mets’ bullpen at the back end. Reed and Gregerson should both command over $8 million, while Shaw should get at least $7 million. Now, you’ve all followed the Mets for a long time, and do you really think they will pay at least $7 million to four or five relievers?

That’s to start. All these free-agent relievers are looking for opportunities to close, and if they are asked to sacrifice that role to come to the Mets, they likely would want to be paid like a closer in order to take a lesser role.

I’m not saying the Mets won’t add a reliever, or if any of the relievers they added in their midseason purge of their offensive power will make it, or if any of the arms currently on their roster will develop. I’m saying that knowing how the Mets do things, if they go outside the organization to add to their bullpen it will cost them.

 

Nov 07

Why Mets Won’t Get Dee Gordon

On the surface, adding Dee Gordon seems like a good idea, but is it really?

Gordon is 29 with a lifetime .293 average. Twice he’s had over 200 hits and five times has exceeded 30 stolen bases in a season. Three times he’s had over 50 steals and led the league.

GORDON: Won't get him. (Getty)

GORDON: Won’t get him. (Getty)

Who wouldn’t want that kind of production for the Mets – and from a position of need at second base? However, there are also some not-so-flattering numbers.

There’s no denying his speed and ability to steal bases, but he only has a .329 on-base percentage. In seven years, he only has 136 walks, with a career-high 31 in 2014. Not good for a leadoff hitter.

Also, not good is his extra-base production. For all that speed, you’d think he’d have more doubles. He hit 24 is his All-Star seasons of 2014 and 2015, and 20 last year. That comes from hitting the ball too much in the air (.153 average with only 13 hits in 85 at-bats). That’s not good in a park like Citi Field.

Even so, he’ll draw interest. The Marlins will want pitching, but whom do the Mets have that is healthy? More to the point, whom would the Marlins take?

Then there’s the matter of money.

Gordon made $7.8 million last season, which is doable. However, he has three years plus an option remaining. He will make $10.8 million this year, followed by $13.3 million, $13.8 million and a $14 million option in 2021.

If Gordon’s on-base percentage and extra-base hit production was complementary to his speed, that would be a more reasonable contract. As it is now, it is enough for the Mets to pass.