Nov 05

Will there ever be a new culture?

We heard a lot about the Mets’ culture changing when Sandy Alderson was hired as GM and Terry Collins as manager. The atmosphere changed t0 a degree, but the Mets’ talent level remained roughly the same with once again, the pitching faltered and took the team down with it.

Looking back on the season there were three significant story lines outside of the newness of the front office and manager. The first half when the Mets found themselves over .500, the swirling question was whether, or when, they would deal Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

When the pitching went south it was about the thinness of the rotation and weak bullpen, highlighted by not having a closer, who was in Milwaukee because the team feared Rodriguez’s option.

The season was played against the backdrop of the Mets not being able to re-sign Jose Reyes because they wouldn’t want to – or don’t have – the resources to retain the All-Star shortstop.

All three were about money and the Wilpon’s legal and financial troubles because of the Madoff Ponzi scandal. The Wilpons received positive news in the courts that would reduce the damages, but those damages would still be significant. And, it doesn’t help that the team has a $25 million debt to Major League Baseball.

You can change the manager, general manager and upper management and that could change the culture somewhat, but real change begins with ownership and that hasn’t changed. With the budget always an overriding issue, we can never expect things to really change and Mets being an elite franchise.

Nov 04

Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

It is easy to recognize what losing Jose Reyes might mean to the Mets on the field: they would be without an impact leadoff hitter, steal threat and solid defensive shortstop.

I’m on record as saying the Mets won’t be able to retain him and shouldn’t get reeled in on a long-term deal. In signing Reyes long-term, the Mets are subject to the very real chance he’ll break down physically and won’t be able to duplicate last season’s walk-year production.

I still feel that way, but there is another way to interpret the potential of losing Reyes, and that is in future free-agent markets. It is something the Mets should strongly consider.

If the Mets let one of their cornerstones depart, how would free-agents in the 2012 markets and beyond interpret that decision? If the Mets cant’s hold on to one of their own, how would they treat a newcomer? And, considering the Mets’ recent history of handling injured players (Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran), what could they be thinking about Reyes the past three years, especially since it is well known Jerry Manuel rushed him back two years ago?

Players talk, believe me, and the Mets don’t have a stellar reputation among the MLB Players Association. Sure, there will be players toward the end of their careers and who have been injured that would be willing to take the Mets’ money, but any impact players will undoubtedly have second thoughts. As it is, if Reyes leaves, David Wright could be next out the door. He has more than hinted as such.

Let’s face it, the Mets can never compete with the Yankees in dollars for free agents, and they can not in terms of tradition or a winning reputation. The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran, and even at the end agent Scott Boras tried a last attempt with the Yankees. There is a belief Beltran chose the Mets because they are less in the limelight than the Yankees.

Citi Field isn’t the magnet for free-agents the team might have hoped, but we have to believe that is more to do with the Wilpon’s financial situation than anything else, including the stadium’s cavernous dimensions.

Alderson said the team wouldn’t “punt” in 2012, but it doesn’t forecast to a busy winter. And, the team is at least two years from being a legitimate contender. It could be even longer if their financial situation persists, if prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler don’t pan out. and Wright leaves. The Wilpons have gotten better news on that front, but are not in the clear. And, there are never any guarantees when it comes to prospects.

The Mets flirted with .500 this season when Reyes was healthy, and there’s reason to believe they could take a step if their pitching improved. There’s also no reason to believe the Mets will spend in that direction.

I don’t know where the Mets are going to be should Reyes leave, or where they would be if he stays and their pitching doesn’t get better. But, if he leaves and the Mets don’t throw significant money in improving that staff, the future doesn’t look good and there will be fewer mercenaries willing to help.

 

Nov 03

The market is open.

The free-agent market is open for business and the Mets’ exclusive window for Jose Reyes has slammed shut without an overture from GM Sandy Alderson, which isn’t good business.

Alderson did not meet with Reyes, which is surprising. Why not take the guy and his wife out to dinner and tell him they would like to keep him. If this is a negotiating ploy, I don’t see it.

Reyes’ camp reportedly is not interested in a home team discount, so the interpretation is this will be a cool parting.

The Mets’ have their reservations on Reyes’ health, which is obvious, and do not want to set the market for their shortstop. I maintain they want to see how much the market will shrink to see if Reyes will come back to them as Johan Santana did several years ago.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs won’t be players, leaving San Francisco, the Angels, Philadelphia if it doesn’t sign Jimmy Rollins, and NL East Rivals Washington and Miami.

If I were Alderson, I’d be more concerned about Miami and the Nationals than I would Philadelphia. With or without Rollins, and even without Ryan Howard at the start of the season, the Phillies are better than the Mets. You can throw a blanket over the Mets, Miami and Washington.

One must ascertain from their stance on Reyes that Alderson doesn’t consider the Mets to be as close to contention as their flirtation with .500 would indicate. If he truly believed the Mets were close, even for a wild-card, it would seem they would be more aggressive in retaining Reyes.

According to a variety of sources, the following is the list of the free-agents on the market (ages in parenthesis):

Catchers

Rod Barajas (36) – Type B
Josh Bard (34)
Henry Blanco (40)
Ramon Castro (36)
Ryan Doumit (31) – Type B
Jake Fox (29)
Ramon Hernandez (36) – Type A
Rob Johnson (28)
Jason Kendall (38)
Gerald Laird (32)
Jose Molina (36) – Type B
Dioner Navarro (28)
Ivan Rodriguez (40)
Brian Schneider (35)
Kelly Shoppach (32)
Chris Snyder (31) – Type B
J.R. Towles (28)
Matt Treanor (36)
Jason Varitek (40) – Type B

First basemen
Russell Branyan (36)
Jorge Cantu (30)
Michael Cuddyer (33) – Type A
Prince Fielder (28) – Type A
Ross Gload (36)
Brad Hawpe (33)
Casey Kotchman (29)
Mark Kotsay (36)
Derrek Lee (36) – Type B
Xavier Nady (33)
Lyle Overbay (35)
Carlos Pena (34) – Type B
Albert Pujols (32) – Type A

Second basemen
Clint Barmes (33) – Type B
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Orlando Cabrera (37)
Jamey Carroll (37)
Alex Cora (36)
Craig Counsell (41)
Mark Ellis (35) – Type B
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Bill Hall (32)
Aaron Hill (30) – Type B
Kelly Johnson (30) – Type A
Adam Kennedy (36)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Jose Lopez (28)
Aaron Miles (35)
Nick Punto (34)
Drew Sutton (29)

Shortstops
Clint Barmes (33) – Type B
Yuniesky Betancourt (30) – Type B
Orlando Cabrera (37)
Jamey Carroll (37)
Ronny Cedeno (29)
Craig Counsell (41)
Rafael Furcal (34) – Type B
Alex Gonzalez (34) – Type B
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Cesar Izturis (32)
Nick Punto (34)
Edgar Renteria (35)
Jose Reyes (29) – Type A
Luis Rodriguez (32)
Jimmy Rollins (33) – Type A
Ramon Santiago (32)
Jack Wilson (34)

Third basemen
Wilson Betemit (30) – Type B
Casey Blake (38)
Jorge Cantu (30)
Eric Chavez (34)
Craig Counsell (41)
Mark DeRosa (37)
Greg Dobbs (33)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Kevin Kouzmanoff (30)
Andy LaRoche (28)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Jose Lopez (28)
Nick Punto (34)
Aramis Ramirez (34) – Type B
Omar Vizquel (45)

Left fielders
Travis Buck (28)
Pat Burrell (35) – Type B
Johnny Damon (37)
Mark DeRosa (37)
Jake Fox (29)
Jay Gibbons (35)
Jonny Gomes (31)
Carlos Guillen (36)
Scott Hairston (32)
Bill Hall (32)
Willie Harris (34)
Raul Ibanez (40) – Type B
Conor Jackson (30)
Reed Johnson (35)
Fred Lewis (31)
Ryan Ludwick (33) – Type B
Jason Michaels (36)
Laynce Nix (31)
Wily Mo Pena (30)
Felix Pie (27)
Juan Pierre (34) – Type B
Marcus Thames (35)
Josh Willingham (33) – Type A

Center fielders
Rick Ankiel (32)
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Mike Cameron (39)
Endy Chavez (34)
Coco Crisp (32)
David DeJesus (32) – Type B
Scott Hairston (32)
Andruw Jones (35)
Nate McLouth (30)
Corey Patterson (32)
Cody Ross (31) – Type B
Grady Sizemore (29)
Dewayne Wise (34)

Right fielders
Carlos Beltran (35) – Type A, cannot be offered arbitration
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Milton Bradley (34)
Michael Cuddyer (33) – Type A
David DeJesus (32) – Type B
J.D. Drew (36)
Kosuke Fukudome (35)
Willie Harris (34)
Brad Hawpe (33)
Jason Kubel (29) – Type B
Ryan Ludwick (33) – Type B
Xavier Nady (33)
Magglio Ordonez (38) – Type B
Cody Ross (31) – Type B
Josh Willingham (33) – Type A

Designated hitters
Milton Bradley (34)
Johnny Damon (37)
Vladimir Guerrero (37) – Type B
Carlos Guillen (36)
David Ortiz (36) – Type A
Jason Kubel (29) – Type B
Hideki Matsui (38)
Wily Mo Pena (30)
Jorge Posada (40)
Jim Thome (41)

Starting pitchers
Erik Bedard (33)
Mark Buehrle (33) – Type B
Chris Capuano (33)
Bruce Chen (35) – Type B
Bartolo Colon (39)
Aaron Cook (33)
Kyle Davies (28)
Doug Davis (36)
Zach Duke (29)
Jeff Francis (30)
Armando Galarraga (30)
Freddy Garcia (36) – Type B
Jon Garland (32)
Aaron Harang (34) – Type B
Rich Harden (30)
Livan Hernandez (37)
Hisashi Iwakuma (31)
Edwin Jackson (28) – Type B
Hiroki Kuroda (37) – Type B
Rodrigo Lopez (36)
Paul Maholm (30)
Jason Marquis (33)
Kevin Millwood (37)
Sergio Mitre (31)
Roy Oswalt (34) – Type A
Brad Penny (34)
Joel Pineiro (33)
Mitch Talbot (28)
Javier Vazquez (35)
Tsuyoshi Wada (31)
Tim Wakefield (45)
Chien-Ming Wang (32)
Brandon Webb (33)
Dontrelle Willis (30)
C.J. Wilson (31) – Type A
Chris Young (33)

Closers
Heath Bell (34) – Type A
Jonathan Broxton (28)
Matt Capps (28) – Type A
Francisco Cordero (37) – Type A
Frank Francisco (32) – Type B
Ryan Madson (31) – Type A
Joe Nathan (37)
Jonathan Papelbon (31) – Type A
Jon Rauch (33) – Type B
Francisco Rodriguez (30) – Type A

Right-handed relievers
David Aardsma (29)
Jeremy Accardo (30)
Luis Ayala (34)
Danys Baez (34)
Miguel Batista (41)
Shawn Camp (36) – Type B
Todd Coffey (31)
Juan Cruz (31)
Octavio Dotel (38) – Type A
Chad Durbin (34)
Jeff Fulchino (32)
Juan Gutierrez (28)
LaTroy Hawkins (37)
Aaron Heilman (33)
Ryota Igarashi (33)
Jason Isringhausen (39)
Brad Lidge (35) – Type B
Scott Linebrink (35)
Mike MacDougal (35)
Guillermo Mota (38)
Pat Neshek (31)
Ramon Ortiz (39)
Vicente Padilla (34)
Tony Pena (30)
Chad Qualls (33)
Jon Rauch (33) – Type B
Fernando Rodney (35)
Takashi Saito (42) – Type A
Dan Wheeler (34) – Type B
Kerry Wood (35) – Type B
Jamey Wright (37)
Michael Wuertz (33)
Joel Zumaya (27)

Left-handed relievers
Mike Gonzalez (34)
John Grabow (33)
Damaso Marte (37)
Trever Miller (39)
Darren Oliver (41) – Type A
Arthur Rhodes (41) – Type B
J.C. Romero (36)
George Sherrill (35)
Brian Tallet (34)

 

Nov 02

They should take a risk.

The Mets have made a string of bad signings when it comes to aging, injured, unproductive  or otherwise scarred players. Moises Alou, Julio Franco, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota. We could spend all day adding to the list.

SIZEMORE: Worth a risk.

It isn’t a great free-agent market, but there’s a name on the list worth rolling the dice with despite his recent injury history. The Cleveland Indians failed to exercise their option on outfielder Grady Sizemore, who, at 29, was once one of the game’s blossoming stars, but only played in 210 games the past three seasons.

A gamble, no question, but a thought keeps running through my head: What if he pans out?

Burdened by knee and abdominal injuries the past three years, Sizemore hit just .234 last summer, but prior to that was a three time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. That’s a substantial resume; certainly better than any other Mets’ outfielder.

Continue reading

Nov 01

Back in the saddle; Mets aren’t.

Greetings folks.

I just got my power back this morning, but don’t have heat. Some kind of surge during the outage blew out the furnace and they aren’t coming until tomorrow. Shivering here, and not getting any warmer learning about the Mets’ offseason plans.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets surfaced again yesterday with the news the Yankees re-signed GM Brian Cashman and reached an agreement on an extension with pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s the agressive, proactive approach.

Meanwhile, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson announced the fences would be moved in, but their exclusive negotiating rights with Jose Reyes would pass without the franchise making an offer. Alderson said this would be a “slow process.”

As I recently suggested, the Mets will let others define the market for Reyes with the hope the shortstop will find the options limited and he’ll opt to stay home. Cherry picking, they call it, and it worked in the trade for Johan Santana.

With big spenders in the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out, the Cubs not needing a shortstop and their aim on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, and the Dodgers being a mess, the market is thinner than Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg, would like.

The Phillies – if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins – San Francisco, the Angels and Washington are also reported as teams that might have an interest in Reyes. That’s a decidedly reactive approach, and further defines the comparison to the Yankees.

The likelihood of the Mets re-signing Reyes seems remote, so this might be their best chance to keep him because they won’t be the highest bidder.

The decision to move in the fences will probably cut down on the triples and increase home runs, and some will read this as an admission, or concession, they will lose their All-Star shortstop.

The decision has more to do with salvaging the contract of Jason Bay and reviving  David Wright’s career, which has shown a significant power decline the past three seasons.

Citi Field was designed for a team built on pitching, defense and speed, but the Mets have not added those kinds of players. At least, not enough of them.

I still believe that’s the most fundamental way to construct a team, but the Mets are a team in financial distress and are hoping an increase in home runs will make the cash registers ring.