Oct 10

What Is The Market For David Wright And R.A. Dickey?

If the Mets believe they’ll keep David Wright and R.A. Dickey on the cheap they are sadly mistaken. If neither are signed in the next couple of months both are likely to enter the free-agent market, at which point they’ll likely go elsewhere.

I can’t see either coming back to the Mets if they let them enter the market.

There have already been reports the Mets will offer Wright a package for around $100 million and aren’t willing to go more than two years on Dickey.

Sandy Alderson said last week the Mets wanted to move quickly, but your definition and the Mets’ are different, as the club has proven to move at a glacier pace on other key issues.

Wright will make $15 million next season while Dickey is on the books for $5 million. If extensions are reached, they should make considerably more, although it is conceivable they could backload a contract for Wright. Because he’s 38 and this is his last chance for a free-agent market killing, the same can’t be said for Dickey. So, if the Mets don’t go more than three years for him, then he’s a goner.

There are difficulties in trading both, notably that they will be free agents after the 2013 season. No team would be willing to deal for them if they know they’ll leave after the season.

A team trading for Wright must consider his recent production. He had a solid, but not extraordinary season in 2012, hitting .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. His last big season was probably 2010 when he hit 29 homers, and he hasn’t hit 30 since 2008. Wright has always been a complementary piece rather than a centerpiece. His best years were when Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran with him and he hit fifth. Wright batting third or fourth hasn’t been as productive.

In explaining Wright’s power decline the past few years, it is part injuries and part hitting unprotected in the line-up. The percentage of each is hard to ascertain.

We must assume the Mets wouldn’t trade Wright to the Phillies or the Braves, both with a reported need for a third baseman. The Red Sox, however, are a different story as they are in the American League and no direct threat to the Mets.

That being said Wright has a greater value to the Mets than he would any other team. That could reduce his trade value to some degree.

Regarding Dickey, he has an extraordinary value to the Mets based on his story and what he did this year. The Mets shouldn’t be worried about his durability, but have to wonder if this season was a fluke. A journeyman throughout his career, Dickey had an ace-type season in 2012 winning 20 games.

Can he do it again?

That’s something everybody is wondering, including those teams that might want him. Do you break the bank for a pitcher who has had only three winning seasons since 2001?

When you factor all the circumstances surrounding Wright and Dickey, both have limitations that might make the return as lucrative as one might think.

 

Oct 09

Count Upton, Cabrera Off Mets’ Radar

There’s plenty of intriguing possibilities, only if the Mets were willing to take a financial gamble, which Sandy Alderson said they are not inclined to do.

As I posted yesterday, the Mets have $79.5 million of their earmarked $100 million to spend on six players: Johan Santana, RA Dickey, David Wright, Jason Bay, Jon Niese and Frank Francisco.

B.J. Upton would be terrific in Citi Field, supplying defense to aid the pitching staff and offense. At 28, he’s just the kind of player you could sign to a multi-year deal and build around. Trouble is he comes with some attitude baggage and the Mets would be wary of surrounding their young talent around him. That’s one of the reasons they were willing to eat the contracts of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

Upton would be much better on a veteran laden team – like the Yankees – that has the leadership to keep him in line. When the Mets sputtered in the second half and Terry Collins suggested they were quitting, that’s the scenario where Upton might pack it in.

The guy I am especially intrigued about is Melky Cabrera, who would cost less than Upton because of his own baggage.

On the plus side, Cabrera could cover left field and adds a lot offensively. This year, and last season with Kansas City, he proved he can hit. But, he was making $6 million this year and even with a pay cut that’s too rich for the Mets’ blood.

Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for using a performance enhancing drug. His team, the Giants, wouldn’t let him go on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues as he is allowed and kept him off the postseason roster. What does that tell you about there desire to bring him back?

On top of the suspension, he and his idiot agent cooked up a crazy cover story that included the design of a website. That might have been worse than the drug use itself.

Cabrera, who led the National League in hitting this year and it a damage control move asked that he not be awarded the title, would likely get a short term deal because he’s a risk. Who wants to sink time and money for a player that could get nailed again? You don’t have to pay during a suspension, but you do have to fill the spot if he’s suspended.

Excluding the drug use there’s another question about him and that’s the number of teams he’s played for at a young age. In a seven-year span Cabrera has played for the Giants, Royals, Yankees and Braves, or just under two years a team.

There’s something wrong with that picture.

 

Oct 08

Ten Positives From The Mets’ 2012 Season

John Delcos and Joe DeCaro have collaborated before on several projects and are contributors to each other’s blogs. We will be working again this offseason beginning with today’s feature on the Top Ten Positives to take away from the Mets’ overall disappointing season. Tomorrow we’ll examine the Top Ten Negatives. So in no particular order we give you our top ten positives you can take away from the 2012 campaign:

Dickey Has Remarkable Season

R.A. Dickey entered the season as one of the more consistent Mets’ starters over the past two years. Maybe he was a No. 3 starter at best, but with a tantalizing knuckleball emerged as the unquestioned Mets’ ace while going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, 230 strikeouts and 1.05 WHIP in 233.1 innings. The numbers made for arguably one of the top ten seasons for Mets starter. Dickey also led the NL with five complete games, including consecutive one-hitters in June.-John D.

Wright Holds The Records

Wright is the unquestioned face of the Mets and ends the season as their career hits leader, and first in several other categories. Perhaps, he was the NL’s best player in the first half, but struggled in the second half under the pressures of trying to carry the offense. Wright finished at .306 with 21 homers, 93 RBI, .391 on-base percentage and .492 slugging percentage. GM Sandy Alderson said re-signing him and Dickey were the off-season priorities.-John D.

Tejada Replaces Reyes

One on the key concerns entering the season was whether Ruben Tejada would be able to replace All-Star shortstop. Reyes can be a dynamic offensive presence and a dropoff was to be expected. Tejada played an outstanding shortstop and had three hits in the season finale at Miami to finish at .289 (Reyes finished at .287), giving the Mets more production than they could have expected. Will Tejada surpass Reyes as a player? Probably not. But, did he give them one less thing to worry about this offseason? Yes.- John D.

Madoff Settlement Comes Early

The Bernie Madoff scandal was a black cloud over the franchise for two years and threatened to be so again this year. The Mets’ financial distress was instrumental in the team cutting ties with Reyes and trading Carlos Beltran at last year’s trade deadline. The fear was the possibility of dealing Wright hanging over the team as a storyline in the first half. The Mets received a positive outcome in the Madoff case and won’t have to begin paying for two more years. The Mets still won’t be big spenders this winter, but it could have been a lot worse.-John D.

Harvey Makes Strong First Impression

There was initial debate as to whether Matt Harvey was ready, but he more than dispelled that concern in ten starts where he gave up three runs or less in nine of them and went at least into the sixth in six. Harvey pitched with a guile and poise beyond his years, and statistically was impressive with a 70-26 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 1.15 WHIP. Harvey was so impressive with his composure that the Mets already penciled him into their 2013 rotation.

Johan’s No-hitter and Whitestone Mike

June 1, 2012 will forever be remembered as the day that New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history. When the Mets ace rallied from a 3-0 count to strike out Cardinals third baseman David Freese to end the game, Met fans everywhere erupted with emotion as 50 years of Mets no-hitter futility had finally come to an end. Santana struck out eight batters as the Mets handily beat St. Louis 8-0, but if not for a spectacular catch in the seventh inning by outfielder Mike Baxter, this story could have had an all too familiar and unhappy ending. However, there was plenty of joy in Mudville on this day.

Scott Hairston Busted Out In 2012

Hairston has produced at a level that far exceeded anything else any Met outfielder did in 2012. His 20 homers ranked third on the team and he enjoyed the most productive season of his nine-year career. With a slugging over .500 and an .803 OPS in just 377 at-bats, he proved to be an absolute steal at his $1.1 million price tag. He’ll fetch a nice payday this Winter and will most likely not be with the Mets, but either way, he provided some nice thrills and some big hits for us in 2012.

Niese Was Very, Very Nice

Some may have questioned the decision to give Niese a five year $25 million dollar extension at the start of the season, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any doubters now. The Mets’ young left-hander turned in his most solid effort of his career establishing career highs in almost every single pitching category that matters. More importantly than that was the fact he logged a complete season and pitched effectively at the end as he did in the beginning of the season. Niese finished with a 13-9 record and posted an impressive 3.40 ERA and a 1.172 WHIP in 190.2 innings and has entrenched himself as one of the most dependable arms in the front of the rotation.

Ike Davis’ Second Half

It was a tale of two seasons for Ike Davis in 2012. After battling rust from a year-long layoff and suffering the effects of Valley Fever, Davis ended the first half with a slash of .201/.278/.388 in 295 plate appearances. Terry Collins resisted the calls for sending him down to the minors as they had done with Lucas Duda, and Ike rewarded Collins with a huge second half comeback that saw him slug 20 of his 32 home runs while posting an .888 OPS. Davis became an intimidating presence at the plate and his strong finish bodes well for what could truly be a tremendous breakthrough season in 2013. But will that happen in a Mets uniform?

Murphy Proved To Be Capable At Second

Nobody imagined that Daniel Murphy would last the entire season as the Mets everyday second base and yet he did just that while drawing raves from Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson who proclaimed the experiment a success. At the plate Murphy did what he always does and that is hit a ton of doubles (40), make good contact while scoring and driving in a bunch of runs. He finished the season batting .291 and when you compare that to other second baseman in the game, he was in the top third. If nothing else, he makes second base less of an urgent need for now plus increased his trade value to other teams.

Those are the positives as we saw them, and of course there are plenty of negatives as well. We’ll consider those tomorrow.

Oct 08

Forecasting What Mets Have To Spend Next Year

The Mets might have received a favorable ruling in the Madoff case, but that doesn’t the economic climate around Citi Field is that much better.

Hardly, in fact, with a sub-par showing at the gate, caused largely in part by the club’s failure to improve their bullpen and outfield at mid-season, which led to a second-half collapse.

With a team going 15 straight home games without scoring more than three runs, who is going to come out?

The burgers aren’t that good.

The Mets’ payroll was $100 million this year and is forecast to be much the same in 2013. It is possible to reach the playoffs with a sub-$100 million payroll as Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore and Oakland are still standing. The Athletics’ payroll is nearly half that of the Mets, and they also play in a two-team market, so it can be done. The Nationals, of course, finished 24 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East.

It takes superior scouting and farm system, prudent trades and free-agent signings, and a patience to let your young talent develop. The Mets have done precious little in those areas and since 2005 have relied on veteran free agents that were either too old on the down side of their careers, or became injured and non-productive.

Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine gave the Mets some good moments. Both had physical issues and the team couldn’t build around them.

Frankie Rodriguez, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo were all too pricey and failed in their expectations. The Mets are saying they really won’t be able to do anything in the free-agent market until after the 2013 season when Santana and Bay are off the books.

Other signings, such as Guillermo Mota, Julio Franco, JJ Putz and Scott Schoeneweis – that’s a name I almost forgot about – were simply bad as the Mets overpaid in dollars and years.

Outside of Jon Niese and possibly Matt Harvey, what has come out of the farm system? David Wright, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada are the only homegrown position players who had substantial seasons. Lucas Duda and Josh Thole are to be determined, Mike Pelfrey has been hit or miss, is now injured and likely won’t be tendered a contract.

Do you remember that star-studded outfield of prospects Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez? Gomez was in the Santana trade, but other than that, the Mets got noting from the trio that was supposed to patrol their outfield for a decade.

While four teams in the playoffs have payrolls less than the Mets, none are as expensive market as New York. The Mets face the problem of working extensions for Wright and R.A. Dickey within that $100-million parameter, but not much higher.

Since Wright is already on the books for $15 million for next year and Dickey for $5 million, that’s $20 million of their extensions already accounted for in 2013. The Mets could backload their contracts to ease some of the strain, but they still have $79.5 million of the $100 million already earmarked for six players.

In addition to Wright and Dickey, the Mets are committed next year to Santana ($25.5 million plus a $5.5 million buyout); Bay ($16 million plus a $3 million buyout); Frank Francisco ($6.5 million) and Jon Niese ($3 million).

That means they must spread $20.5 million among 19 players to complete their 25-man roster. Of that, figure in a raise to maybe $3.5 million for Davis, who is arbitration eligible.

There’s not a lot of wiggle room, and definitely not enough to sign a big-ticket free-agent. They will have to rely on minor league promotions and free agents signing for no more than $1 million.

Good luck with that.

Oct 07

Interesting Start To MLB Playoffs; Intriguing World Series Possibilities

It has been an interesting start to the baseball playoffs. The play-in games put a different spin on things, but I’m hearing a lot of criticism of the single game format and it would be fairer to have best two-or-three. It probably would, but MLB doesn’t want to take the chance of playing in November.

A possible solution would be to incorporate at least one day-night doubleheader during the season among division opponents only. You would still have the same number of games, but a doubleheader a month would eliminate six days from the calendar, which would give MLB a week to tinker with the format.

There are a lot of interesting story lines. The one that stands out for me would be the fallout should the Cardinals run the table again like last season. In 2011, it was a special story because of how they came from behind during the season to make the playoffs and how they rallied in the World Series. This year would be an asterisk because of the “Infield Fly Game,” which will forever be a part of baseball lore.

It was predictable the MLB hid behind the “umpire’s judgment” clause and didn’t comment on whether it was a good call or not. With all this technology that showed it was a blown call, it is a shame a team is home possibly because an umpire made a bad call.

The Cardinals face the Nationals, with the first two games in St. Louis. I don’t like this format. The Nationals had the best record and shouldn’t open on the road. Who can’t see the Cardinals winning at home and stealing one on the road? There should be a reward for having the best record.

At the start of the season I predicted the Yankees and Giants in the Series and it could still happen. The Reds stole one in San Francisco despite losing their ace Johnny Cueto. He’s questionable for the rest of the series, but the Reds accomplished what they needed in getting at least a split.

In the American League, the Tigers and Orioles need to protect their home field and win the first two. Should they sweep the first two, I can see them taking one on the road. However, it is far harder to think they’ll win two on the road.

Just playing out some possible World Series scenarios that would be interesting.

ORIOLES vs, NATIONALS: Two teams horrid for so long are poised for prime time. About 50 miles apart, this has the potential to develop into a real interleague rivalry over time. Washington’s manager, Davey Johnson, used to play for the Orioles. Nobody could have forecast them meeting in the Series. The Nationals have a better rotation, but the Orioles have the better pen. Both hit for power.

ATHLETICS vs. GIANTS: Another potential geographical rivalry. They met before in the Earthquake World Series with the Athletics sweeping. The Giants might have the best rotation in the playoffs, but are already down a game.

YANKEES vs. GIANTS/CARDINALS: The Yankees’ power against the Giants’ pitching would be intriguing. Power vs. power. The New York angle for the Giants is long gone. … A Yankees-Cardinals match-up would feature the two winningest World Series teams in history.

Regardless of the World Series pairings, I’ll watch. I always do. Even when it is the Yankees or Phillies.