Feb 02

Who Are The Mets’ Tradeable Assets?

There are three ways to build a team: drafting, free-agency, and trading. GM Sandy Alderson admitted the other day the Mets won’t meaningfully participate in two of them.

Alderson said the Mets might add a free-agent, but it won’t be a significant one. After all, would you call either Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez as significant? We can discount Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes because that’s breaking even.

SYNDERGAARD: Most valuable trade asset.  (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Most valuable trade asset. (AP)

The Mets don’t want to sign a big-ticket free agent because they don’t want to give up a compensatory draft pick as to build up their thin minor league system.

So, if they won’t significantly spend and have a weak farm system that leaves the trade market. But, who exactly do they have to trade?

PITCHERS: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the most valuable in terms of what they can bring back. Of the two, I would sign deGrom long-term contract and see what Syndergaard might return. Syndergaard has a higher upside in the trade market because he’s younger, throws harder and has a team-friendly contract. He’s almost like Matt Harvey was five years ago.

So, the faster way to accumulate young talent would be trading Syndergaard. I know the Mets don’t want to but it might be something to consider.

The Mets won’t do it, of course, and one justifiable reason is to hedge against the unraveling of their vaunted rotation that hasn’t made a complete turn one-through-five, ever. Twice Harvey had season-ending surgery, but the Mets won’t deal him because they are holding onto the hope he’ll realize his potential. Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t going to bring him back, so their hope of getting something for him is for him to get off to a good start and deal him at the deadline.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler also have injury histories that hurt their trade value, and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo won’t bring much in return.

As far as their relievers go, that Mickey Callaway is considering a closer-by-committee downgrade the value of the back-end relievers, and that includes Jeurys Familia, who is recovering from surgery.

Frankly, the only reliever who might have some value is AJ Ramos, but then again what did the Mets have to give up to get him?

Outside of deGrom and Syndergaard, the best chance for the Mets to improve themselves with their pitching is to hope they stay healthy and live up to their potential.

But, hoping is not a sound strategy.

CATCHERS: Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki can be had, but what does it say about their value when the Mets have been trying to upgrade here?

FIRST BASE: If there was genuine interest in Adrian Gonzalez they had their chance to sign him. Dominic Smith didn’t impress during his window so his value is down. If the Mets are serious about rebuilding they’ll hold onto Smith because he is young with potential.

SECOND/THIRD BASE: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes won’t draw any interest until the trade deadline, and even then it will be questionable. Wilmer Flores drew interest in 2015 and could again, but it would have to be at the deadline and as part of a package.

As for there’s David Wright, whose contract, no-trade clause and injury history make him untradeable.

SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario is young, fast, has a team-friendly contract and a huge upside. He’s somebody you don’t trade unless you get exceptionable young talent in return.

LEFT FIELD: A healthy, productive Yoenis Cespedes should interest most teams. It did for three teams before he came to the Mets. As with Wright, Cespedes’ contract that includes a no-trade clause make him untradeable.

CENTER FIELD: Michael Conforto is coming off shoulder surgery and will miss the first month of the season. The Mets could get something of value for him because he’s good, young, has a huge upside and manageable contact. But, those are the reasons why they shouldn’t even consider it.

Juan Lagares has an injury history and manageable contract, but he doesn’t have a resume of production.

RIGHT FIELD: Any team that wanted Bruce had their opportunity to sign him as a free agent and not give up any talent.

Maybe the Mets could trade him at the July deadline in 2020.

So, just who do the Mets have to trade that would greatly improve them?


Feb 01

It’s Truck Day

The equipment truck left for Port St. Lucie this afternoon with the bats and balls, and of course, the hopes of Mets’ fans everywhere. Spring training is the best time of year because it is when dreams are born.

GM Sandy Alderson was there to say goodbye and address the smattering of fans, many of them who consider the truck a seasonal rite of passage.

“It’s been a slow offseason,’’ Alderson told the small group of fans. “But I want to put that in context because that has been true across all of baseball. In fact, the Mets have really been as active as anybody.’’

Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes are returning to a team that finished 22 games below .500, and along with them Anthony Swarzak and an over-the-hill Adrian Gonzalez.

Unless the Mets’ young and battered pitching staff return healthy and live up to expectations, it’s hard to fathom those four additions lifting Mickey Callaway’s team to contending status. That likely won’t happen even if they add Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez or even a reunion with Neil Walker.

The Mets’ payroll is currently $137 million with little wiggle room.

Even if the Mets were to sign Mike Moustakas – which Alderson dismissed – that’s not nearly enough to put them over the top.

A big-ticket free-agent would cost the Mets draft-choice compensation and the loss of international pool money, something Alderson said is essential in “improving what is now a less-than-robust farm system.’’

Building from within is the most reliable and cost-effective way of building a team. The Mets tried that with their young pitching but have been derailed because of injuries.

The other ways of building are through trades and free-agency and Alderson has already said the latter is out. Quite frankly, the Mets have very few tradable assets other than their young – and most injured – pitching.

Are they willing to go there?

Jan 29

Mets Need To Find Out About Smith And Not Gonzalez

Do you remember last season when the talk surrounding the Mets was why weren’t they bringing up Dominic Smith?

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

They didn’t because the Mets already had a first baseman; because they still thought they had a chance to compete; and, most importantly, they didn’t think he was ready for prime time.

Well, they traded Lucas Duda; the injuries mounted and their season spun out of control; they finally brought up Smith and GM Sandy Alderson was correct – or partially so.

Smith, supposedly a defensive wizard, was erratic in the field. He hit with more power than expected, but his average and on-base percentage were worse than expected, and his attitude and conditioning weren’t what the Mets hoped.

Based on Smith’s limited window the Mets don’t believe he’s ready. Hopefully, Smith learned from last summer and rededicated himself and this might be the year he finds his game.

But, barring a dramatic turn, it won’t be in Flushing as the Mets for the start of this season at least are committed to Adrian Gonzalez. I would have preferred the Mets opened the season with Smith and given him a shot to live up to the expectations. With the Mets not anticipated to contend this year, this would be the perfect opportunity to see what the Mets have in the prospect.

Seriously, would Gonzalez put the Mets over the top? Of course not, and neither would Smith regardless of how well he plays this year.

But, the most important thing regarding Smith is to get an idea of what the Mets have in him. And, playing Gonzalez would only set the Mets back at least a year.

Just a ridiculous decision by Alderson.

Jan 26

Small-Market Brewers Shame Mets

The Milwaukee Brewers have long been regarded as a small-market franchise while the Mets play in the country’s largest market. Yet, events over the past 24 hours paint the two franchises with different brushes: The Brewers as a team that wants to win while the Mets continue to take the cheap way out and give their fans no reason to come out this summer.

In a span of less than two hours last night the Brewers engineered a trade for outfielder Christian Yelich, a budding superstar, and then signed outfielder Lorenzo Cain to the largest free-agent contract of the winter.

Either of those moves separately would have improved the Mets, who yesterday signed Jose Reyes for $2 million to play a utility infield role if they sign either Todd Frazier or Neil Walker or Eduardo Nunez.  Any of those three combined with Reyes won’t substantially elevate the Mets to contending status.

As of now, the Mets can only be projected to finish ahead of Derek Jeter’s dumpster fire in Miami, who had scuttled their team to save money. In addition to the revenue the Marlins will make from the television networks, they will get another $50 million from the sale of MLB Advanced Media.

So, what Jeter is doing is what George Steinbrenner always hated – and something he always accused the Mets of doing – which is pocket the money derived from the networks and revenue sharing and not put it back into improving the team.

The Brewers ponied up four prospects for Yelich and $80 million over five years for Cain, prices that would force GM Sandy Alderson hang up the phone.



Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.