Aug 06

Mets In Nationals’ Heads

The Mets aren’t saying, but I would guess they were thrilled to hear of the comments made by Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth this week.

On the heels of being swept by the Mets, Nationals outfielder – and NL MVP frontrunner – Harper, when asked about the Mets, snapped: “I don’t give a crap about what the Mets are doing.’’

CLiTBzaUMAE6ODqHarper is diving into braggadocio, but with the Nationals trailing the Mets by two games, he sounds like a man trying to quell his own doubts.

Same goes for Werth, who all but discounts the Mets when he said the NL East still belongs to the Nationals, that it is their division to lose.

“I think it’s a matter of time really,’’ Werth said. “We’re a great second-half team. … Half our team has been hurt all year. That’s the reality of it. When we all get back, we’re right there, in first place.

“We’re [two games out] But I think going forward we can get all back healthy and get rolling and it’s our division to lose.’’

He might end up being right, but pennants aren’t won in the papers; they are won on the field and currently the Mets have the Nationals’ attention, regardless of what their players say.

Both Harper and Werth speak with a sense of entitlement, that all they have to do is show up. It is reminiscent of the Nationals’ front office when it shut down Stephen Strasburg at the end of the 2012 season, acting under the assumption the playoffs were a given.

They are not.

It doesn’t work that way, and the mere fact they are commenting about the Mets, seemingly by-passing them as threats is interesting. The Mets, wisely haven’t responded. Nor should they.

That the Nationals are talking tells me the Mets are in their heads. And, will stay there for a while.

The teams have six games remaining with each other, Sept. 7-9 in Washington and Oct. 2-4 at Citi Field.

Interesting doesn’t begin to describe it.

Aug 05

If They Want Him, Mets Must Act Quickly On Cespedes

Conventional wisdom says Yoenis Cespedes is a two-month rental for the Mets, with hopefully an October extension. Nobody expected GM Sandy Alderson to get him, much less keep him long-term.

However, Cespedes said he’d like to stay. Maybe it is gamesmanship on his part, but assuming he means it and he has the warm-and-fuzzies for the Mets, now is the time for the full-court press.

CESPEDES: It's now or never. (AP)

CESPEDES: It’s now or never. (AP)

If the Mets want him, Alderson must strike hard and fast. Signing Cespedes will give the Mets a jumpstart to their Christmas shopping.

“This is something I can’t control,’’ Cespedes told reporters Tuesday in Miami, conveniently overlooking the fact if he’s set on staying he can if they want him. “I don’t know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time, because I like the atmosphere.’’

Cespedes has a contract clause stating the Mets must release him before the free-agency period begins if they don’t want to sign him. This means is if he’s released after Aug. 31, he can’t re-sign with them until May 15, 2015. That means they sign him now or kiss him goodbye.

The Mets could fool around and say they want to re-sign him, but renege. They could do with him what they did with Jose Reyes.

That would tick off a lot of people.

Aug 04

What’s Future Of Lagares With Mets?

Let’s assume the Mets succeed in signing Yoenis Cespedes to a contract extension. Then factor in Michael Conforto for a spot next year – you know he won’t make the Opening Day roster as a role player.

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

And, with Michael Cuddyer signed for one more year and Curtis Granderson for two, what does that mean for Juan Lagares?

After his 2014 Gold Glove Award season, in an unprecedented move for them, the Mets signed Lagares to a five-year deal based primarily on defense and the hope he hits. For the most part Lagares remains an offensive liability with a propensity for striking out, a lack of plate patience and low on-base percentage.

Cespedes, Cuddyer, Granderson and Conforto all represent an offensive upside over Lagares. That the Mets attempted to deal him to Milwaukee in the botched Carlos Gomez trade speaks volumes of the regrets the Mets are having. This is even more underscored by the Mets’ willingness to try Cespedes in center field.

If the Mets sign Cespedes, we can figure them trying to deal Lagares this winter, and with it a virtual certainty he won’t last the five years of his contract.

Aug 01

Of The New Guys, Who Stays?

Unquestionably, the Mets are a better team today than a week ago. They added depth with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe; strengthened their bullpen with Tyler Clippard; and gave their offense a tremendous boost with Yoenis Cespedes.

Do they have enough now – remember, they can always add more in August with waiver deals – to overtake Washington? Yes, they are good enough to not only compete, but to win.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Short stay in NY. (AP)

The NL East is theirs for the taking.

They are also better because they get to keep Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. Regardless of whatever else Flores does in his Mets career, he permanently carved out a space in franchise lore.

Flores gave us a rare peak into the personal, emotional life of a professional athlete. He showed up these guys are human beings and capable of hurting with something other than a sprained ankle. Flores showed us frustration and anguish, and although you are young and rich, you can also feel the sting of rejection and embarrassment.

The whole country saw his tears Wednesday night before it fell through. Then, it saw him enjoy raw exhilaration with his game-winning homer Friday night?

Just wondering, but did his feet ever touch the ground? Yes, there are times when reality trumps fantasy.

So, I figure Flores will stay for a while, and be joined by Wheeler a year from now. But, what of the others? Let’s handicap the four acquisitions as to who they could keep next year?

CESPEDES: He’s the big prize, of course, at 29. But, he’s also going to want a monster contract. The Mets are his fourth team, which has to tell you something. If he turns out to be a good soldier with no incidents, then maybe, but I think the Mets will balk at his asking price, which would have to be a package of over $100 million. LEAVES

CLIPPARD: With Jenrry Mejia out and Jeurys Familia struggling in the second half it wouldn’t be surprising if he muscles into a closer role. He won’t be cheap, but he’s probably worth considering. STAYS

JOHNSON: I don’t know what will happen with Flores or David Wright, but Johnson is a reliable, versatile bench player. He’ll have some value, but don’t be surprised if they dumpster dive. LEAVES

URIBE: He’s already made a positive mark, but he’ll be 37 in March and I believe the Mets will seek younger options, including Dilson Herrera. LEAVES

 

The Mets picked quality this week and got to hold onto Flores and Wheeler. The latter contacted Alderson after the deal fell through and asked to be traded.

We’ll see next July, but for now the Mets have done well, and Flores continues to walk on air.

Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.