Nov 24

Mets’ Shortstop Question Defines Winter

To get an accurate read on how the New York Mets feel about themselves, look no further than their handling of the shortstop position.

It’s an oversimplification to call them cheap for not going after Troy Tulowitzki because the asking price, both in what the Rockies would demand in players and the salary the Mets would have to pay would have been exorbitant.

Everybody, of course, knows the Red Sox are always serious about winning, so signing Hanley Ramirez is something in the Boston’s DNA.

The Mets won’t go that high-end, but there is talk they might go after Stephen Drew, but he’s not the missing piece to their puzzle. He might be a better, more experienced and expensive alternative to Wilmer Flores.

However, is Drew the player the Mets want to build around? He might cost them $4 million, but if he proves himself he would likely walk after 2015 and the Mets – who deem themselves competitive this year – would be searching for a new shortstop next year.

And, teams considering themselves contenders aren’t usually in the market for a shortstop.

Alexei Ramirez or Starlin Castro have been linked to the Mets, but they don’t want to surrender their young pitching.

That brings us full circle to their shortstop at the end of last, which is Flores. He represents their least expensive option. He could also be their future, if they were to give him a full shot at the position.

And, if it didn’t work out, then they could always go get a shortstop next year.

Meet the new winter, just like the old one.

Nov 23

Backman Paying His Dues; Should Get Another Chance

It is clear Wally Backman wants to manage in the major leagues. His decision this week to accept an offer to manage in the Dominican Republic indicates the Mets, and other teams, should take that pursuit seriously.

BACKMAN: Paying his dues.

BACKMAN: Paying his dues.

Backman was hired to replace the fired Jose Offerman for Licey in the winter leagues, when he could have taken the rest of the offseason off shows how badly he wants to gain experience and refine his craft.

The Mets haven’t announced it, but Backman is expected to return to manage Triple-A Las Vegas.

Backman has been trying to get another job at the major league level since he was hired, then fired, in a four-day span by Arizona ten years ago for off-the-field issues and then, according to the Diamondbacks, lying about them.

Baseball has forever been giving people second chances – excluding Pete Rose, of course – and it should be about time he’s given one. The Mets didn’t give him an opportunity to be their bench underneath Terry Collins, giving the impression he was being snubbed by his own organization.

There have been numerous managerial openings in recent winters and Backman’s phone hasn’t rung and that’s not right.

Nov 22

Could Former Met Davis Land With Nats?

The reports came so close together that they invariably are linked. First, Ike Davis was released by Pittsburgh, and then Met-killer Adam LaRoche bolted the Nationals and signed a two-year, $25-million deal with the White Sox.

So, what does two plus two equal? I can see it adding up to Washington signing the former Met.

DAVIS: Could he go to Washington?

DAVIS: Could he go to Washington?

Davis hit 11 homers with 51 RBI and a surprising .344 on-base percentage last year. There was so much going on with Davis’ head last season, then the trade, that it was almost inevitable he wouldn’t have a breakout year.

Davis made $3.5 million in 2014, so he shouldn’t command a big salary. And, by putting him in a powerful lineup where he doesn’t have to carry the full load – Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth – he could be worth a roll of the dice.

There were a lot of reasons why Davis didn’t make it with the Mets. After a promising start there were injuries and slumps, the latter having its roots in a misguided approach where he didn’t care about strikeouts and tried too much to pull the ball for home runs.

“I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs,’’ Davis once told me. “Strikeouts are going to happen.’’

That, and trying to power-pull the ball through a shift were aggravating to watch.

It wasn’t too long that those lunging catches over the dugout rail were forgotten.

If he learned, it wouldn’t be a bad move by the Nationals.

Nov 21

Greetings From Ohio

Good morning. As many of you know, I was seriously injured and can’t walk. I disappeared from the blog, but when I returned you welcomed me back and I am grateful. I am now in Ohio for a few weeks to go to the Cleveland Clinic for more tests and treatment. I am very optimistic.

I promise I won’t fade this time.

It is bitter cold here. Snow, but not as bad as Buffalo. Even without practicing this week, and probably not having their full roster, they’ll still beat the Jets.

All this makes me think about spring training. I could stand for it being 60 degrees warmer. Then again, can’t we all?

I’ll be back later with thoughts on the Mets and free agency in general. Take care. JD

Nov 20

Six-Man Rotation Won’t Happen For Mets

With the topic of cutting Matt Harvey’s innings comes the idea of a six-man rotation.

One reader threw it out there and my response was it was too bold for the Mets’ thinking. That’s part of it, but there other variables.

Baseball doesn’t change easily, and there was a time when the five-man rotation was a novelty. Six? It could happen sometime, but I don’t sense the Mets will be the trailblazers.

Here’s why I don’t think it will happen:

* Pitchers are creatures of habit, which are hard to break. They are accustomed to their present workload of starting every fifth day and adding another day would break that routine. Some might not mind, but Harvey, for one, would pitch a fit.

* Teams have made a considerable investment in their pitchers, and going to a six-man rotation would take away as many as seven starts a year. While that would be perfect for this season and Harvey, it won’t translate over the long haul. These guys want to pitch, and missing seven starts is a lot.

* The Mets have a plan for Noah Syndergaard, and it doesn’t include pitching before June and disrupting his Super Two status. Syndergaard will pitch this season, but not at the cost of moving up his arbitration year.

* The Mets are in position where things could break their way with their rotation and the last thing they want to do is make a move which would force all five starters to make an adjustment.

Six starters sounds good, but it won’t happen.