Dec 07

Are the Mets any better?

I’ve been scanning some of the other blogs and was surprised some believe the Mets are better now than they were at the end of the season.

How?

Make no mistake, I always thought Jose Reyes would leave, but until they add quality from their savings, I just don’t see where you can make the argument the team is better without him.

They’ve lost the NL batting champion and replaced him with Ruben Tejada. I like Tejada’s potential, but it isn’t proven production. So, there is a downgrade at shortstop.

Gone from the rotation is Chris Capuano, replaced by …. you tell me. I’m not buying into Johan Santana until I see him pitch regularly.

Angel Pagan and Andres Torres are essentially the same player. Torres is better defensively, and the improvement is in shedding Pagan’s sometimes lackadaisical attitude. That’s not saying the Mets won this trade.

The Mets added two pitchers to their bullpen with strikeout capabilities, but you have to ask yourself if they were so good why would they have been available? I’m seeing it as exchanging one set of mediocre arms for another.

The Mets still have questions in their rotation, bullpen, first base, catcher, second base, left field and right field.

Other than shedding payroll for the promise of doing something later, I don’t see where they’ve gotten any better.

 

ON DECK (Today): The market for David Wright.

 

Dec 07

Ramirez supposedly not happy; Mets deal Pagan.

Word out of the Winter Meetings has Hanley Ramirez upset about being asked to move to third base. Initial reports had Ramirez saying he’d be happy to move if it meant adding his buddy Jose Reyes.

RAMIREZ: Not a happy camper?

To hear Ramirez is unhappy is ridiculous, but hardly surprising considering how some teams communicate. This should have been resolved a long time ago, similar to when the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, who knew he wouldn’t move Derek Jeter out of shortstop.

Ramirez is an immensely talented player, but also has pronounced streaks of petulance and moodiness, and can be a dog if he doesn’t get his way. This is not something a team on the rise needs. If these reports are true, the Marlins made a mistake, unless, of course they plan to deal Ramirez for pitching.

But, that’s Miami’s problem.

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Dec 06

If spring training were to start tomorrow ….

If spring training were to begin spring training tomorrow, the Mets would not bring to Florida that would be worthy of optimism, not with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Washington all getting better and willing to make the moves the Mets can’t afford in their present economic climate.

When asked what he would say to Mets’ fans to sell them on 2012, GM Sandy Alderson said his sales pitch would be focusing on the future, and if the team was healthy and played to its expectations they could be competitive.

We’ve heard that refrain before and we’ll hear it again,

But for now, assuming no additions to the roster, let’s see what the Mets will bring to Port St. Luice:

STARTING ROTATION

JOHAN SANTANA: Alderson said the other day he expects Santana back in the rotation. Would be nice for him go through a spring training first. There’s no guarantee when Santana will return, and if he does, how effective he’ll be. They can’t be thinking they’ll plug in a Cy Young Award winner.

MIKE PELFREY: The de facto ace last summer after a strong 2010 and Santana’s injury. He’ll get his raise for winning all of seven games. This just might be Pelfrey’s make-or-break season. If the Mets could land another starter, and they’ll need it after losing Chris Capuano to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t be adverse to trying Pelfrey as a closer. Something has to be done to shake up this guy.

RA DICKEY: After a rocky start, Dickey closed strong despite pitching injured. The fluke label should be removed because Dickey has been the Mets’ most consistent starter the past two years. Even so, he’s still a back end of the rotation guy.

DILLON GEE: Like Dickey in 2010, Gee came out of nowhere to become a viable member of the rotation. Gee sprinted out of the gate, but hitters eventually figured him out. However, on the plus side, Gee did his own adjusting. Gee passed through the organization without a lot of flash. Yes, we have to look at his first year with caution, but there’s also reason to be optimistic.

JON NIESE: Niese is another who is an injury question. When he’s been on he’s been nearly untouchable. He’s also had moments when he loses the strike zone. One of the Mets’ best decisions was not to include Niese in the Santana trade. It may turn out he’ll replace him in the rotation.

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Dec 06

Reyes took the money and ran … before pulling another hammy.

I have no problem with Jose Reyes taking the money and running. There are fewer and fewer players who’ll play their entire careers with one organization. Cal Ripken did it. Derek Jeter will do it. I thought Albert Pujols would do it, but I’m not so sure anymore.

REYES: A no brainer decision by him and the Mets.

I can’t even guess the odds on David Wright doing it now.

I never figured Reyes would be one of those players. Early in his career he begged the Mets to give him a long term deal. They did it, to him and Wright, when they didn’t have to. It was a good business decision then, but at the time Reyes was saying how he desperately needed the money for his family. It was a sign he didn’t manage his funds well, and would eventually go for the bucks.

No problem, because that’s the way of the sports world.

There are some interesting things to come out of Reyes signing with the Marlins. While the Mets never gave a formal offer their early conversations with Reyes included a base with incentives – games and plate appearances – that could have pushed it over his magic figure of $100 million. The Marlins’ money is guaranteed, so if Reyes blows out a hamstring and ends up playing 50 games a year for the Miami he’ll still get paid.

Knowing Reyes’ injury history the past three years, the Mets were right to be cautious. So, too, was Reyes. He knows he’s not durable, so it was a no brainer for him to take the guaranteed money.

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Dec 05

Alderson frank about future.

General manager Sandy Alderson, on WFAN today, equated the Jose Reyes departure to that “of losing somebody after a long illness … you can prepare for it, but when it happens it is a hard thing to accept.’’

ALDERSON: Tough times ahead.

With Alderson forecasting a $100-million payroll for 2012, Reyes would have been an injury risk they couldn’t afford, no matter how popular he was with the dwindling fan base.

It is team sport sure, but it can’t be forgotten the Mets only reached the playoffs one time in Reyes’ nine seasons with the team.

“I’ve been saying from the first day that the payroll was too high to sustain at the current levels of revenue,’’ Alderson said.

Signing Reyes for the $17.7 million he’ll get from the Marlins, plus the $24 million due Johan Santana, plus the $16 million for Jason Bay and $15 million for David Wright would have added up to $72.7 tied up for four players. As it is, the Mets will pay $55 million for three players, one of which – Santana – they don’t know what they’ll get.

With the Mets losing $70 million last season – that’s what they say, but they haven’t opened their books – and their debt on Citi Field and from loans taken against the team and SNY which total over $1.4 billion, it was clear keeping Reyes would have been a pipedream.

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