Dec 23

Why Rush To Judgment On Parnell?

Among the things I find puzzling with manager Terry Collins is his propensity for making announcements without all the facts. Most recently, he said Bobby Parnell will be next season’s closer, this despite not pitching last season and nobody knowing for sure his physical status.

With Parnell shelved, Jenrry Mejia took over as closer and saved 28 games. Incidentally, Parnell’s career high was 22 saves in 2013.

So, the Mets have two capable closers, and at times last year used Jeurys Familia and Vic Black in that role. So, what’s the hurry to make an announcement before the Jets fire Rex Ryan?

We are a week shy of three months before spring training and have no idea what to expect from Parnell. What’s wrong with going to Port St. Lucie with it open between Parnell and Mejia? (Black and Familia, considering their limited experience should go in with set-up roles.)

What I don’t want is to give the job to Parnell under the assumption he’s physically ready, then dealing Mejia. What I also don’t want is for Collins to go with a closer-by-committee, which rarely works.

 

Dec 22

Mets’ Issues That Must Be Answered Positively To Reach The Playoffs

The Mets can be a playoff team, but a lot of things must break their way before there’s meaningful October baseball at Citi Field. With it being apparent they won’t make any substantial additions between now and Opening Day, they’ll have to improve enough to win at least an additional ten games with their current roster.

That’s a tall order.

Here’s what must happen:

Matt Harvey: How will he rebound from elbow surgery? It’s one thing for him to say he’s ready, but it’s another for him to actually do it on the mound. Remember, his high-water mark is nine victories. While the results have been positive for others with his surgery, everybody is different.

Zack Wheeler: For him to reach the next level he must economize his pitches. The Mets need him to last longer than the sixth inning. The more he works, the less reliant the Mets will be in their bullpen.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

Jon Niese: The lone lefty must do better, and for this to happen, he must stay healthy. A career that began with promise has been a disappointment.

Bartolo Colon: He proved last year he’s capable of 200 innings and the Mets need close to that again. He figures to be the fifth starter, so that could keep him fresh.

Jacob deGrom: The second year is tougher because teams have a book on him. When they adjust to him, he must adjust back. What he has in his gut is stuff you can’t teach.

Bobby Parnell: Terry Collins says he will be the closer if healthy, but let’s hope he’s not rushed.

Jenrry Mejia: Presumably the Mets will use him in a set-up role if Parnell is healthy. If he ends up closing he needs to show it again, this time over a full season. One thing the Mets can’t afford is to jump at trading him without knowing about Parnell.

Jeurys Familia: With his stuff, the Mets must find him a role. The one thing I don’t want to see is a closer by committee.

Vic Black: What is his role? He has great stuff. Again, no closer by committee.

Josh Edgin: The situational lefty needs help. Will Scott Rice give it to him? If not, the Mets risk burning him out.

Travis d’Arnaud: He showed positive glimpses last year, but not enough to where you can say he’ll be there for ten years. He needs time to prove himself, but I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing what Anthony Recker can do with more playing time.

Lucas Duda: He showed he could hit for power and field the position. But, he has to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. The expectations are higher than ever.

Daniel Murphy: Was easily the Mets’ most consistent hitter in 2014, plus he wasn’t as bad as people think defensively. Just keep on slapping line drives.

Wilmer Flores: This is a major issue. I’m concerned Collins will panic and yank him when he struggles which could undoubtedly happen. There will be pressures on him he hasn’t faced. How much time? Maybe two months. Perhaps to the All-Star break. Of course, it could depend on how the Mets are playing at the time.

David Wright: To me, he is the Mets’ most pressing issue. A healthy and productive Wright sets the table for the offense and eliminates all those nagging questions about his contract.

Michael Cuddyer: The Mets jumped at signing him early in the process when they could have upgraded higher had they waited and were willing to spend. Will that gamble backfire?

Juan Lagares: Has to prove he can hit on the major league level, which includes improving his on-base percentage to where he can hit leadoff. There’s no problem with his glove.

Curtis Granderson: Will being reunited with hitting coach Kevin Long help him regain his stroke and confidence?

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

* There are only two wild-cards and with teams in the West and Central greatly improved, there might not be room for a team in the East. The Nationals are just too good to be overtaken. As of now, the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds and maybe the Cubs seem good enough to either win their respective divisions or go as a wild card. I can see any of those teams winning at least 88 games.

* As is the case every year, staying healthy is paramount and the Mets have health questions regarding Harvey and Wright.

* What will their tact be at the trade deadline? They did nothing the past two years, but will Alderson be more aggressive if the Mets get off to a fast start? Speaking of which, they can’t afford to struggle out of the gate.

* Who is available coming out or spring training? Roster cuts in late March always must be taken seriously as they can’t afford to pass on an upgrade.

What won’t happen is for all of these to be answered in the positive because stuff like that just doesn’t occur. But, a lion’s share must be met to give them a fighting chance.

 

 

 

Dec 20

One More Time: Tulowitzki Not Happening

OK, one more time: Troy Tulowitzki is not coming to the Mets.

Yes, yes, yes … there have been reports this week the Mets and Rockies are talking. I am sure they’ve spoken since the Winter Meetings. They could be exchanging holiday greetings, or talking about the weather, or trading fantasy football players, but serious dialogue about Tulowitzki isn’t one of the topics.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

To understand why it won’t happen one must first ask:  Why do the Rockies want to deal him?

It begins with health, and here there aren’t any guarantees. A healthy Tulowitzki would be great to have, but he’s coming off hip surgery that puts his power potential in question. The Mets don’t have to look any further than across town at Alex Rodriguez to understand how a bum hip makes even great players, well, bums.

Couple his questionable health with the $118 million he is owed over the next six years, and you begin to comprehend why the Rockies want to start over. Sure, they’ll have to assume some of his contract to get another team to take him off their hands, but not nearly enough to make the Mets bite.

Having played at least 140 games only once in the past five years makes him a high-risk gamble. Sandy Alderson has spent his tenure as the Mets’ general manager paring down payroll. That’s why he was brought here.

Say what you want about the Wilpons and their budget, but understand that’s not going to change. It just won’t, and it especially won’t with a high-risk gamble with the cost of one or two of their young stud pitchers, even if one of them isn’t Matt Harvey.

The Rockies are concerned about his injury history, salary and want a talented bunch of prospects in return. Given that, those are the same reasons the Mets should run away.

But you say, look at his numbers at Citi Field. OK, I will. Let’s see, five homers, 11 RBI, a .438 batting average and 1.368 OPS in 58 plate appearances over 14 games. Hmm, well, that is impressive, but it’s not the ballpark as much as it is the Mets’ pitching he’s faced over the years.

Understand, he won’t be facing that pitching if he comes here. If you’re hung up on seeing Tulowitzki play at Citi Field, the Rockies will be in for the start of a four-game series, Aug. 10.

Plenty of tickets are available.

Dec 18

A Case For Not Trading Gee

There’s been a lot of talk about the Mets wanting to trade Dillon Gee. I understand their reasoning and on the surface it all makes sense.

However, I wouldn’t be the contrarian I am if I didn’t examine the other side.

Sure, the rotation looks crowded with the return of Matt Harvey. But, what if his return from elbow surgery isn’t smooth? What if Jon Niese continues to falter? What if Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom regress? What if Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready?

Few things go as seamlessly as hoped, especially if you’re the Mets. You should know that by now if you’ve been following them for any length on time.

The fact remains, the Mets have potential pitching issues, and with the trade market stagnant, there’s no reason to force a trade just to free up space.

Just wait, they could use another pitcher before the season is over.

 

Dec 17

Projecting Mets’ Opening Day Roster

As much as they are trying to trade Dillon Gee, realistically I believe the Mets are done for the winter and will hibernate until spring training. They might pull something off with Gee, but I doubt he will bring back much substance.

Whether it is Gee, Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese, they aren’t likely to make a worthwhile deal until the trade deadline. There are too many free agents remaining and too much time until spring training for another team willing to give up something.

Also, teams could be waiting for spring training roster cuts and non-tendered players when there will be another wave of players to hit the market.

GM Sandy Alderson knows this, but won’t say anything first, to further reduce trade value of these guys, and secondly, not to alienate the fan base when he wants them buying tickets.

Given this, as of today here’s how I envision the Mets’ Opening Day roster:

PITCHERS

Matt Harvey: Opening Day starter.

Zack Wheeler: Mets looking for breakout year.

Jon Niese: The lone lefty.

Bartolo Colon: Veteran presence.

Jacob deGrom: Hoping to avoid sophomore jinx.

Gee: Long relief or the minors.

Bobby Parnell: Terry Collins says will be closer if healthy.

Jenrry Mejia: Gets closer role if Parnell doesn’t. Gets eighth inning if Parnell is ready.

Jeurys Familia: Set up and situational role.

Vic Black: Set-up and situational role.

Josh Edgin: Situational lefty.

Scott Rice: Situational lefty.

CATCHERS

Travis d’Arnaud: Must reach the next level.

Anthony Recker: Back-up catcher.

INFIELDERS

Lucas Duda: Hoping for 30-homer encore.

Daniel Murphy: Steadiest bat in 2014.

Wilmer Flores: Has shortstop job to lose.

David Wright: Needs to stay healthy.

Ruben Tejada: Back up at short and second.

Dilson Herrera: Made a good first impression last year.

OUTFIELDERS

Michael Cuddyer: Return to batting title form might be too much to ask.

Juan Lagares: Center fielder could also bat leadoff.

Curtis Granderson: Not expecting 40, but 30 homers would be great.

Matt den Dekker: A nod to defense.

John Mayberry: Adds right-handed bat.