Mar 21

Mets Matters: How Rotation Should Be Handled In First Week

It shouldn’t be all that hard for the Mets to figure out what to do with their starting rotation in the first week of the season. Should it?

This much we already know: 1) Matt Harvey will get the opener, Sunday night, April 3, in Kansas City, 2) Jacob deGrom‘s wife is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child, April 5, which could be deGrom’s game, and 3) the Mets have, unbelievably, three days off in the first week.

Let’s first start with deGrom, who struck out five in four scoreless innings Monday against Miami. It’s very possible deGrom might not be in Kansas City and with his wife for the second game of the season. And, if his arm is there, his mind likely won’t be.

mets-matters logoSo, why not just tell deGrom right now to be with his wife and give the Game 2 start to Noah Syndergaard? It seems to me that would settle things down.

Manager Terry Collins said Monday Syndergaard would pitch in the season’s second game, but it could be in relief of deGrom. “Piggy-backing is the term, but it they are going to do it, make it with Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon. And, whomever is not used then pitch him in relief of deGrom for Opening Day at Citi Field, Friday.

The way things are looking now, it appears the starters won’t get much more than six innings in their first game.

DEGROM NOT BRINGING HEAT:  DeGrom has pitched statistically well this spring (0.90 ERA) but his fastball isn’t where he wants it, and that’s usually the first pitch he’ll command in spring training. DeGrom was clocked around 95 mph., last year, but was 91-93 Monday.

“I feel like it will come,” deGrom told reporters. “I’m getting everything back in line mechanics-wise, everything will be there. It’s spring training. I’m not worried about it all.”

DeGrom’s fall off in velocity raises the question that in the Mets’ effort in protecting their pitchers and cutting them back early this spring, that perhaps they didn’t give them enough work to build up their strength and stamina.

AROUND THE HORN:  David Wright was hitless in three at-bats and played five innings at third base. “This is just, for me, a normal spring-training build-up now,” Wright told reporters. “There’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I know it took a little while to get going, but we’re going now. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just like a normal spring.” … Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hasn’t played since March 10 with a strained left knee, should be available as a DH this week. … Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud will make the cross-state trip to Tampa for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Matz will start for the Mets.

 

Nov 23

Not Buying Murphy Return

There were several articles last week claiming the Mets still would attempt to bring back Daniel Murphy, who rejected a $15.8-million qualifying offer. The reports said the Mets would make a sincere run at Murphy, who might bite on an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest.

Nearly everything I’ve read said the Mets might still make an offer because of Murphy’s affection for the team and New York. But, are those really good enough reasons? If that was the case, their decision would be based more on sentimentality than talent.

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets?  (Getty)

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets? (Getty)

The reported market for Murphy is $50 million over four years. The qualifying offer entitles the Mets to a compensatory draft pick plus the right to keep negotiating. It does not signal the Mets’ desire to keep him because they think he’s part of their future.

We don’t know what Murphy is seeking and what the Mets are willing to offer. The only numbers we know of are of the speculative nature.

We also know Murphy is 30 years old, so this will likely be his final shot at the brass ring. I can’t see him leaving money on the table to go back to a team that never had him on the top of their pecking order.

Murphy also hit 14 homers last season and went deep in six consecutive games in the playoffs. What we don’t know, and this includes the Mets, is whether that power surge was a fluke or a sign he’s added that element to his game.

The Mets are also reportedly interested in Kansas City free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is five years older than Murphy, and is a better player who is more versatile. However, the speculated numbers for Zobrist is $60 million over four years.

Zobrist brings more to the table than Murphy, and I think the Mets will shy away because of the price. This might make Murphy more palatable. But, I keep going back to well how Wilmer Flores adjusted to second base and potential of Dilson Herrera.

If those two can adequately fill the void left by Murphy, and I believe Flores can do so, then the Mets should be all right at second base. In that case, the money spent on Murphy or Zobrist, would be better spent adding a center fielder because I’m not sold on Juan Lagares and rebuilding the bullpen.

Feb 17

Mets’ Numbers To Be Retired; Don’t Forget Kranepool

Well Adam, since you asked, yes I have several Mets in mind, including an iconic figure who often gets lost in the franchise’s lore, who should have their numbers retired. In his daily “Morning Briefing’’ column ESPN’s Adam Rubin proposed the question what Mets should have their uniform number retired.

His piece came on the heels of an article written by The New York Post’s Kevin Kiernan suggesting Mike Piazza have his No. 31 retired. I have no argument with Kevin on Piazza, who after all, could be in Cooperstown next year or the following.

KRANEPOOL: Don't forget No. 7

KRANEPOOL: Don’t forget No. 7

Everybody suggests Piazza, so that’s not a surprise, and there are those pushing for the foundation players of the 1980s teams: Keith HernandezGary Carter, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. If you will, they were the Mets’ Core Four from that era.

I’m all for those guys having their numbers on the outfield wall at Citi Field, but the one guy I’d like to be the first to endorse is Ed Kranepool. Yes, you read correctly.

Kranepool is the first Met I remember growing up, then came Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. By the way, I think Koosman also gets overlooked as a significant Met, and yes, his No. 36 should also be on the wall.

Let’s talk about Kranepool for a moment. Is he a Hall of Fame player? No. However, he made his debut in 1962 as a 17-year-old and for much of the 1960s and 1970s, was a key offensive force for the Mets.  He ranks in the top ten in franchise history in games (1st, 1,853), at-bats (2nd, 5,436), runs scored (9th, 536), hits (2nd, 1,418), doubles (2nd, 225), triples (10th, 25), homers (10th, 118), RBI (614) and walks (8th, 454).

Many of those numbers have been dwarfed, but for a long time many of the records belonged to Kranepool, and for that, he should be honored.

The Mets’ history will always lag behind that of the Yankees because the latter has over a 50-year head start. However, the Mets have their own history and it should be recognized. Kranepool is part of that history.

So, 25 years from now, when some seven-year-old kid – 7 was Kranepool’s number – asks his grandfather about the numbers on the wall, I want one of his memories to be that of Kranepool.

 

Dec 31

Zobrist To Mets Not Happening

There are numerous times – too many to mention – when ESPN demonstrates a tabloid mentality, which is to say it throws something on the wall hoping it will stick. Such is the case when it endorsed the position of the Mets trading for Tampa Bay infielder Ben Zobrist.

ZOBRIST: Another stab in the dark. (AP)

ZOBRIST: Another stab in the dark. (AP)

There is undoubtedly a lot to like about an in-his-prime Zobrist, specifically his grind-it-out mentality all teams professing to be contenders must have on their roster. He’s versatile, always hustles, has a career .354 on-base percentage in his nine-year career with a respectable .783 OPS, all statistics ESPN used in making its case.

However, he’s not in his prime. The stats the network failed to mention are the most telling. Zobrist’s best season came in 2012 when he hit .270 with 20 homers, 74 RBI, a .377 on-base percentage and .848 OPS.

Those numbers declined the two following seasons. Also omitted are the prospects the Rays will undoubtedly seek, keeping in mind the Mets have no intention of dealing their young pitching.

Also conveniently forgotten is Zobrist will make $7.5 million in 2015, and will become a free agent after the season. There’s no way the Mets will pick up that salary and if ESPN was paying attention it would know the franchise’s financial mentality. It should be mentioned the author of the piece was not Adam Rubin.

So, the Mets will give up a handful of prospects, pay a lot of money for an infielder who has only played 52 games at shortstop the past two seasons – where the Mets have the most need – and will likely leave after the season?

Considering his gradual decline and he’s 33-years-old, this is not the move the Mets should or will make.

Oct 15

Will Another $10 Million In Payroll Make Much Difference?

As it usually is this time of year, the issue is money, specifically how much are the Mets willing to spend.

The days of $140 million payrolls for them are long since gone. It was around $83 last season and ESPN’s Adam Rubin said they might go as high as $93 million. I trust Rubin’s reporting. As far as I am concerned, he’s the best reporter on the Mets’ beat.

searchIt’s not how much you spend, but how it is supposed to be spent. Therein lies the problem, in that none of us know what GM Sandy Alderson is capable of doing with a lot of money.

He was hired to cut payroll, not add to it and dip into the free-agent market. Assuming a $10 bump in payroll, most will go to raises and arbitration cases. Another $10 million won’t substantially improve the Mets, who have questions at shortstop, left field and maintenance of their bullpen.

This also doesn’t account for on-the-fly patching, which could not only be at catcher – where Travis d’Arnaud is no sure thing – but any position.

The Mets’ problems have been identified, but another $10 million won’t make much difference. Not if they want to be competitive.