Mar 13

Mets’ Alderson Bluffing On Shortstop Situation

There are times I’m not sure the New York Mets’ Sandy Alderson understands what it means to be a general manager in this market. Other times I am positive he doesn’t.

Take for instance, his caustic remark the other day when asked about the relevance to Atlanta’s signing of Ervin Santana – even if it meant forfeiting a draft pick – in contrast to the Mets sitting on their hands about the mess that is their shortstop situation.

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’ ” Alderson told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.’’

You don’t? What else would you call it, then?

The Mets continue to say they have confidence in Ruben Tejada, yet their actions are to the contrary.

If they were enthusiastic about Tejada, then why do they keep monitoring Stephen Drew in the long-shot hope agent Scott Boras lowers the price? Would they still consider trading for Nick Franklin if they had confidence in Tejada? Would they wonder about Wilmer Flores if Tejada was their answer?

Meanwhile, Alderson said Tejada isn’t under a microscope, but considering what is swirling around him, what else would you call it?

“We continue to look at how he’s doing, but it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.’’

In classic GM speak; Alderson is saying everything is on the table, including Tejada not being the starter. There’s no other way this can be interpreted.

Meanwhile, of the internal options, Alderson won’t weigh in on Flores, although those in the organization and scouts continue to say he doesn’t have the range or footwork to play shortstop.

Alderson and manager Terry Collins must also buy into this, otherwise wouldn’t he get more of a chance?

As for when Flores might get another chance to play shortstop, Collins said: “You guys are asking me what’s going to happen in four days, and I don’t know what’s going to happen at 9 o’clock tonight.’’

That’s hardly comforting. By the way, two weeks isn’t a lot of time remaining. My guess is Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop because Alderson is too paralyzed to pull the trigger on any other options.

ON DECK: Gamer/fifth starter situation.

 

Mar 12

The Importance Of John Lannan As The Second Lefty In The Bullpen

John Lannan signed with the New York Mets to compete for a spot in the rotation, but circumstances dictate he might have a more valuable role out of the bullpen.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1,’’ Lannan said Tuesday about possibly working in relief. “They’ve been pretty transparent with that.’’

The Mets figure to keep seven relievers, but with Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp earlier this week, it leaves Scott Rice as the only left-hander and an increased importance in Lannan.

Lannan starts today against St. Louis, but after that, figures to get substantial time out of the bullpen in a situational role. In today’s specialized game, teams can’t afford to get by with just one left-handed reliever, especially in the lefty-loaded hitting National League East, which goes beyond Chipper Jones, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Jones retired, and Howard and Utley are on the decline, but the latter two still have their moments with the Phillies, as does Domonic Brown.

Washington could start as many as four lefty hitters in Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth and Denard Span.

The Braves have Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward, and the Marlins have Greg Dobbs and switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Obviously, that’s more than Rice can handle, and something we don’t know if Lannan can do. He’s made 148 major league appearances, all as a starter. He’s only started seven of 95 minor league games.

This is not something easily picked up, especially with three weeks remaining in spring training.

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

This is a gamble, no question.

 

Mar 11

Mariners Still Looking To Move Franklin, Scouting The Mets

franklin

If you think it’s too late for teams to swing deals, think again. The Mariners are still actively scouting the Mets according to a report by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. He states that Seattle has been religiously attending Mets games, and doubled their scouting contingent in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

It’s no secret that Seattle is shopping shortstop Nick Franklin and MLB Trade Rumors suspects they are readying a proposal for the Mets and are trying to determine a fair asking price. I agree with them. Check in often to see how the MLB odds will be impacted by whether or not the Mets and the M’s can come to an agreement.

Seattle is presumably looking for a young pitching prospect in return of similar value. Obviously, Noah Syndergaard and even Rafael Montero are off the table, but can the Mets tempt the Mariners with a pair of lesser pitching prospects like a Jacob deGrom and Michael Fulmer?

The Mets have no shortage of young arms with high upside, but are they ready to move one or two of them to get the upgrade they need at short?

Sandy Alderson continues to say that he’s quite happy with Ruben Tejada at short and that we shouldn’t expect any changes to the roster between now and Opening Day. However, I’m praying that it’s just a bluff, and we do know that he has acknowledged interest in Franklin as recently as last month.

The 22-year old Franklin batted .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, 42 walks, 45 RBI and a 2.3 WAR in 412 plate appearances last season. Obviously that’s quite an offensive upgrade over anything that Tejada can produce.

The experts say that Franklin won’t stick at shortstop and that his fringe to average arm and range make him better suited for second base. But can he be any worse than Tejada who is also a second baseman albeit masquerading as a shortstop for the Mets the last three seasons?

For what it’s worth, Franklin is having a great Spring for the M’s batting .333/.368/.667 with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in 18 at-bats.

Mar 11

Mets Could Use John Lannan In Bullpen

Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter to left-hander John Lannan, who just wants to be on the New York Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Lannan, 29, was brought into camp to compete for the fifth-starter role with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka appears to have the inside track, but Lannan will start Wednesday against St. Louis.

LANNAN:  Will pitch for food. (AP)

LANNAN: Will pitch for food. (AP)

However, the demotion of reliever Josh Edgin to the minor league camp leaves Scott Rice as the only lefty in the pen, and the Mets are seriously considering Lannan in that role.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning about working in relief. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.’’

Lannan has appeared in 148 major league games, all as a starter. He’s only worked out of the bullpen seven times in 95 minor league games, so there’s obviously a lot to learn.

The times Lannan did work in the pen he knew when he was to enter the game and had time to warm up. This will be different.

“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,’’ Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.’’

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

Lannan is coming back from surgery in the offseason to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee. So far, he’s pleased with his camp, having given up two runs on hour hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in two appearances.

Lannan still believes he can start on this level, and at his age, he’s worth keeping around in whatever role. Pitching is such a commodity and the Mets have several issues in their rotation, so even if he makes the roster in the pen he could start again.

ON DECK: Mets vs. Cardinals result.

Mar 11

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.