Nov 15

2011 Player Review: Ruben Tejada

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free-agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. Today, we’ll start evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada.

RUBEN TEJADA – 2B/SS

THE SKINNY: Ruben Tejada’s reputation is that of a slick glove but a spotty bat. Tejada’s natural position is shortstop, but when Jose Reyes was healthy and Daniel Murphy wasn’t, he played a solid 50 games at second base in 2010. Tejada played both positions last year and his .284 was better than anticipated.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: Tejada started the season in the minor leagues to play mostly shortstop in anticipation of Reyes leaving this winter. The Mets also wanted Tejada to work on his offense.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: As expected, Tejada opened the season in the minor leagues as the Mets used Brad Emaus and Murphy at second base. However, when Emaus fizzled and Murphy was injured, Tejada was recalled. When Reyes twice went on the disabled list he played shortstop and Justin Turner played a lot of second. Tejada hit .284 with a .360 on-base percentage. He developed a reputation of not being flustered at the plate and drove in 36 runs in only 328.

JOHN’S TAKE: Tejada has a long way to go to be in Reyes’ caliber and there will be a substantial void to fill. Several scouts said the Mets should be encouraged by Tejada’s progress, but it should be remembered it was only half a season and early impressions can be misleading. With the Mets in full rebuilding and cost-cutting mode, Reyes is not expected to return and the team won’t spend or trade to replace him. With the Mets at least three years away from contending status, this will be Tejada’s opportunity to prove he’s capable of handling the job. The Mets don’t have any immediate options other than Tejada to take over shortstop. Under normal circumstances, a player of Tejada’s limited major league experience wouldn’t enter spring training as the frontrunner for the job. However, these are far from normal circumstances for the Mets.

JOE’S TAKE: No Met position player progressed more than Ruben Tejada did in 2011. Initially, Tejada was dispatched from last season’s second base spring training battle despite outperforming the field. He started the season in Buffalo while Brad Emaus began his very short-lived tenure as the Mets starting second baseman. On May 18, Tejada came up and for the most part never looked back, and guess what? The 22-year old delivered. He had one bad month in July, take that away and he batted .312 in 82 games and showed an uncanny ability to turn it up a notch when runners were on base. In fact his .305 average with “runners on base” was better than… Well lets not go there. I’m looking forward to seeing what this young kid will do for an encore. I’m a big fan.

Nov 14

Alderson talks with Reyes’ agents; team likely to tender Pelfrey, but not Capuano.

At the GM meetings in Milwaukee, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged speaking with the Jose Reyes camp, but figures weren’t given. Alderson described the talks as “early” and “amicable,” which won’t get your blood boiling.It is hardly inspiring, is it?

Alderson said it isn’t guaranteed the Mets will get an opportunity to match another team’s offer. The Mets won’t necessarily get the last chance to talk with Reyes, which has been customary in numerous instances between teams and their free agents. For example, the Yankees often tell agents to come back to them to get a chance to beat it, which they often do.

Reyes might have had a good meeting with the Marlins, but again, it is still early in the process. There can’t be a bidding war with only one team.

There’s no way anybody can be optimistic about the Mets’ re-signing Reyes, or for that matter, doing anything significant this winter. A team in need of pitching, the Mets aren’t interested in bringing back Chris Capuano, despite him giving them a productive season.

All indications are the Mets will tender Mike Pelfrey, who could make as much as $6 million for going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA, a significant regression from 2010 when he appeared to have a breakout season.

The Mets’ rotation currently has plenty of questions attached to every pitcher:

* How healthy is Johan Santana and what does he have left?

* Can Mike Pelfrey live up to expectations and rebound to his 2010 form?

* Was Dillon Gee a fluke?

* How healthy is Jon Niese?

* What can they expect from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?

Bring back Capuano would have provided more depth and competition, but not doing so means the Mets are extremely cost conscious which reminds us as to Alderson’s objective, which is to stabilize the team’s financial structure.

Alderson was hand picked by Commissioner Bud Selig to save the Mets and prevent Major League Baseball from taking over the franchise as they did the Dodgers.

There’s been speculation since Alderson was hired he’d eventually be Selig’s successor as commissioner, and the Mets are considered to be a test for him. Alderson’s job description is to streamline the Mets’ finances and bring some solvency to the organization.

MLB doesn’t want to commandeer the Mets and force a sale as they did the Dodgers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t if things don’t improve.

 

 

 

Nov 13

Not biting on Reyes to Marlins … yet.

The early reports are in, and they are saying Jose Reyes is close to a deal with the Miami Marlins. I’m just not buying it … at least not right now.

Reyes could very well “take his talents to South Beach,” but it is just too early in the free-agent process to think this is a done deal, and it has nothing to do with the Mets not getting a chance to submit what is speculated to be an artificial counter.

Rarely do these things get done this early. There are still visits to be made to Milwaukee and Detroit, and possibly Philadelphia should Jimmy Rollins bolt for San Francisco. The Marlins might have given Reyes an offer, but do you really think he’ll bite on the first numbers? Hardly. The Reyes camp will counter, especially if the contract is only three years as has been reported.

Reportedly, the CBA is close to being signed, so that doesn’t appear to be the obstacle I originally thought.

However, there are too many steps remaining in this process – especially if Reyes is in it just for the money – for him to accept the first offer. There’s still a ways to go.

 

Nov 12

2011 Player Review: Scott Hairston, Willie Harris

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at bench players Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Tomorrow: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

SCOTT HAIRSTON

THE SKINNY: They are role players for a reason: neither Willie Harris nor Scott Hairston are good enough to be fulltime players. Harris, 33, hit .246 with two homers and 23 RBI for the cost of $800,000. Hairston, 31, hit .235 with seven homers and 24 for the cost of $1.1 million. Both were good in the clubhouse, and Hairston contributed off the bench.

REASONS TO KEEP THEM: Teams need role players and they are known quantities. … They are young enough to where they can continue to contribute. … Neither will cost the Mets much.

REASONS TO LET THEM GO: Role players are easily replaceable for a comparable cost. … If the desire is to go into a full rebuilding mode, then let’s see what’s available in the minor leagues.

JOHN’S TAKE: It isn’t as if they can’t be replaced. Traditionally, role players are the last added to the roster so their priorities are elsewhere.

Role players are more important to contenders as missing pieces, and that doesn’t describe the Mets. If the Mets want to bring them back, fine. If not, that’s fine, also.

JOE’S TAKE: Glad we decided to group these two together. It’s hard for me to be too critical of players who were specifically signed for the bench. Of the two, I wouldn’t mind keeping Hairston and I’ll tell you why, he’s right-handed – first, plays a solid outfield – second, and the dude has some serious pop left in his bat – third.

I took a look at his 132 at-bats last season and never mind for a second that he batted .235, but did you know if you prorated his numbers over 500 at-bats, Hairston would have hit 28 home runs with 96 RBI? Of course, hewon’t get that much playing time barring an unforseen disaster next season, but there’s nothing wrong with that kind of potential on your bench. Just don’t bat him against RHP.

As for Harris, he’s a great guy. I love his attitude and his presence in the clubhouse, but we have too many young outfielders we need to get up to the majors and evaluate and in that regard Harris is just clogging up the works. So let him go and start making those spectacular, hit-robbing plays in the outfield again – which he never make for the Mets.

Nov 11

2011 Player Review: Jason Isringhausen

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Jason Isringhausen. Tomorrow: Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Sunday: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, RP

THE SKINNY: It was good story at the time when the Mets reached into their past to sign reliever Jason Isringhausen. Pushing 40 and with a tattered bullpen, Isringhausen represented a no-risk proposition. Isringhausen wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, but accepted an extended spring training assignment and within several weeks the inevitable pen breakdown occurred and he was back. Isringhausen was effective for the most part, and eventually assumed the closer role after Francisco Rodriguez was traded and earned seven saves to reach the 300 milestone. However, Isringhausen struggled and eventually broke down and ended the season on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: Isringhausen showed he still knew how to pitch and when he needed it was able to pump up his fastball. … His experience and composure is beneficial to a young and inexperienced bullpen.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He doesn’t make the Mets any younger and the odds are in favor of physical problems. …. The Mets are in a rebuilding mode and he was take an opportunity away from somebody else.

JOHN’S TAKE: If there’s a younger option go with him, but is there? There is value in his experience and leadership, and if they Mets are playing well he could be important to the bullpen.

I’d be willing to invite him to spring training with the provision he could leave as a free agent should an opportunity arise elsewhere. That’s a no-lose situation. Should he make the team and prove healthy and productive, he could be a trade chip in July.
While there exist numerous other options for older, stopgap relievers, Isringhausen is a proven commodity to the Mets, who don’t have a closer, much less a set-up man.

JOE’S TAKE: Call me sentimental, but if Isringhausen is healthy and wants to forgo his retirement for another season, I would bring him back. It’s not like we can’t use the help or experience in the bullpen anyway. Izzy’s 1.28 WHIP was among the best in the Mets bullpen and even topped Parnell’s 1.47 WHIP by a considerable margin. He also didn’t implode whenever he emerged from those bullpen gates in the ninth inning like Parnell did – an important fact to consider.

I see nothing wrong with giving him the same kind of deal he received last season. Remember, Sandy Alderson specifically said on more than one occasion that he didn’t trade Izzy, despite some offers for him, because he was a great influence on the younger relievers. So what’s changed? He could still assume that role and at the same time be one of the more effective relievers out of the Mets bullpen once again in 2012.

Jason Isringhausen… You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right… Come on down…