Nov 08

Mets have been fair with Reyes.

To those who believe the Mets haven’t been fair with Jose Reyes, I beg to differ. Reyes is coming off a five-year, $33.75 million contract. Five years ago, when the Mets’ playoff window seemed wide open, they signed cornerstones Reyes and David Wright to long-term deals at a time in their careers when they didn’t have to.

The Mets did so because Reyes was starting to raise a family and was concerned about money. The Mets weren’t being totally altruistic because their belief was Reyes was becoming an impact player and wanted to avoid arbitration and put off free agency.

Signing them young is usually a good move, but in retrospect with Reyes, the case could be made they paid him for three injury-riddled years. Even so, the market has dramatically grown more expensive the past five years, so the reverse is true that the deal might have kept Reyes from getting more.

So, it’s a gamble by each side.

This time, there would be more of a gamble by the Mets because of Reyes’ recent injury history. With Reyes seeking nearly triple of his last deal, that’s a lot of money earmarked for a player with a propensity for breaking down.

While it is true that nobody can realistically expect Reyes to give the Mets a hometown discount and leave money and years on the table, so is the reverse in that how can one expect the team to give extra years and dollars to a player who may not be healthy during his contract?

The wild card in any contract is an injury, and that is the case with Chris Capuano. The Mets took a gamble on Capuano last winter when they signed the left-hander off an injury. The Mets were rewarded when Capuano proved healthy and received a solid season. Now, Capuano wants two years, something the Mets aren’t willing to do.

 

Nov 07

The dealing has begun shaping market for Reyes; Mets miss out on pitching.

Jose Reyes has his first suitor and it isn’t the Mets. As suggested, the Miami Marlins spoke to Reyes, something we knew would happen once friend Hanley Ramirez said he’d be willing to move to third base from shortstop.

CABRERA: Does his trade lessens Giants' interest in Reyes?

Thoughts Ramirez would be wasted at third are nonsense, as his value to the Marlins is as an offensive force. The Mets made no overtures to Reyes during their exclusive negotiating window following the World Series, and aren’t expected to until they see how Reyes’ bidders set the market.

Reportedly, Reyes wants at least $100 million and six years. Sources with the Mets are saying they don’t want to go more than four years at around $18 million.

The Marlins want to move into their new stadium with an impact signing. They have some good, young pitching, but lack a proven leadoff hitter to set the table for Ramirez.

As I suggested, the Mets should view the Marlins and Washington as more a threat to snagging Reyes from them than the Phillies. However, even with the Marlins’ interest, it is premature to think he’s already looking for a home on the beach.

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Nov 07

Good for Backman

I like that Wally Backman was finally offered the Mets’ Triple-A managerial job. It appeared Backman would take a bench coach job with Washington, which I said he should take because at the time the Mets didn’t offer him the Triple-A position.

Well, the Mets did offer that job and it is good he stays in the organization.

Backman could learn a lot by working with Davey Johnson, but he would learn significantly more by making his own decisions. Backman would stand to better his future position by managing in Buffalo rather than interning under Johnson.

Of course, we don’t know who will be on the managerial market when Terry Collins leaves, but should Backman steadily progress and he’s still in the organization, it stands to reason he’ll have the inside track for the Mets’ job.

Yes, Backman is showing loyalty to the Mets, and the organization is doing the same for him. But, this is also a business decision for Backman, who realizes his fastest road to the majors goes through Buffalo.

 

 

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.