Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.

 

Dec 14

How Big A Step Back Did Mets Take Last Summer?

In many circles, the Mets were favorites to reach the World Series in 2017, and by most accounts, injuries derailed those aspirations. They finished manager Terry Collins’ last season as manager 22 games below .500 after scuttling their roster at the deadline.

That seems to be a lot of ground to make up even after adding depth to their bullpen with the free-agent signing of Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal.

Several reviews of the Mets’ Winter Meetings’ needs mention a set-up reliever, and outfielder/first baseman and second baseman as to what is on GM Sandy Alderson’s shopping list, and cite Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker by name.

The Mets traded all three last summer for a group of relievers that might not make the Opening Day roster.

Surely, if the Mets kept all three, and still added Swarzak, they might still be regarded as a serious contender, even with the health questions surrounding Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

The best chance to re-sign a free agent is to make sure he doesn’t leave in the first place, but that requires an ability to spend. Whether they bring back Bruce, all three, or stun us and sign a name player, it will cost money. The bottom line is the Mets have to spend it if they are going to win. That is the idea, isn’t it?

Nov 03

Mets Sign Cabrera, Blevins

As expected, the Mets picked up the one-year, $8.5-million option on Asdrubal Cabrera, an indication of their lack of confidence on David Wright making a successful return from the disabled list.

Signing Cabrera also is clear indication the Mets won’t make a run at free-agent Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier.

“Asdrubal can help us all around the infield,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The season didn’t end the way we wanted but that didn’t stop him from playing hard right to the very last out of the season. Asdrubal is a great tutor to our younger players and a leader in the clubhouse. We’re happy to have him back.’’

Cabrera, the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop last year, will play third and fill in at second. Cabrera, who asked to be traded last year after manager Terry Collins asked him to play second, has done an about-face.

Being injured, losing a step and your starting job, not to mention getting older will often cause a player re-evaluate his position. The Mets’ inability to trade Cabrera at the deadline also gave him an indication of what the free-agent market could be for him.

“I want to come back here because I feel this team is going to be in the playoffs again really soon,’’ Cabrera told reporters at the end of the season. “We’ve got talent.’’

Despite several stints on the disabled list last season (ligament damage in his right thumb), Cabrera hit .280 with 14 homers in 135 games.

Signing Cabrera doesn’t necessarily preclude the Mets not bringing back Jose Reyes, who is a free agent and can also play second and third, but is a better choice to back-up Rosario.

The Mets also picked up the one-year, $7-million option on lefty reliever Jerry Blevins.

“Jerry always takes the ball,’’ said Alderson. “He was a stable force in our bullpen all year long. With Jerry, the addition of AJ Ramos and having Jeurys Familia for the entire season, we feel we have the nucleus for a much-improved pen. Getting Jerry back makes me a lot more confident about the late innings as we go forward in 2018.’’

Despite the potential of the Mets’ pen, Blevins endorsed bringing back Addison Reed, who was traded to Boston in July but is a free-agent.

“I’d like to see them maybe go out and sign Addison Reed,’’ Blevins said. “We’re going to need some steady, solid arms in the bullpen next year.’’

VEGAS LIKES METS: At least one Las Vegas oddsmaker is banking on the Mets battered pitching staff being healthy next season. Bovada has the Mets at 22-1 to win the World Series, ahead of three 2017 playoff teams: Arizona (28-1), Colorado (40-1) and Minnesota (66-1).

The Mets are listed eighth, behind Houston (5-1), the Dodgers (11-2), Cleveland (15-2), Washington (10-1), Boston, the Cubs and Yankees, all at (11-1).

Sep 22

What Should Be Alderson’s 2017 Regrets

“I always think of things I could have done differently.’’ – Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Today at Citi Field

Yeah, me too, Sandy. There are plenty of things I wish you had done differently when it came to building the 2017 New York Mets.

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

The following decisions are what I wish Alderson had done differently:

Extending Yoenis Cespedes’ contract.

I didn’t like it then and after how this season unfolded, I certainly don’t like it now. I wrote at the time I thought it was a mistake based on: 1) the $110 million earmarked for Cespedes over four years would be better spent on other areas considering all their holes; 2) Cespedes’ injury history, including last season with the Mets; 3) his history of failing to hustle, which has hurt them on multiple occasions this season.

Failure to be patient with Matt Harvey.

When Harvey’s velocity was down during spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said based on his thoracic surgery, he wouldn’t be full strength until the end of May. So, instead of Harvey starting the season on the disabled list, his return was pushed and he was reinjured.

Letting Noah Syndergaard call his MRI shots.

Arguably the season’s dumbest quote belonged to Alderson when his response to why he didn’t force Syndergaard to undergo an MRI, he said he couldn’t force him into the tube. Well, he should have prevented Syndergaard from pitching until he took the MRI. Syndergaard made his next start, partially tore his right lat and spent the next four months on the DL The season was effectively over that day when Syndergaard was injured. Now, he’ll start Saturday and pitch one inning.

Failure to construct a quality bullpen.

Alderson has failed to build a bullpen every offseason since he was hired and last winter was no different.

Trading Jay Bruce.

Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive next summer, but if that’s to be the case, it stands to reason they’ll need a left-handed bat with power. In addition to Bruce, Alderson traded Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed for a handful of middling relief prospects. It remains to be seen if any of them will be around next season.

Keeping Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith in the minors.

The season was already lost, but Rosario and Smith languished in Las Vegas. Why? The moment Duda was traded Smith should have been brought up. Ditto Rosario when Asdrubal Cabrera was injured. Just not a smart move by whom Alderson’s biographer calls the game’s smartest GM.

 

Aug 03

The Mets Should Consider Bringing Back Collins

The Mets have not played well this season, that much is a given. However, the overriding explanation for this year’s disappointment has been injuries – primarily to their starting pitching.

Ok. Let’s give them that … let’s say if Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz had been sound all year and joined Jacob deGrom and their vaunted rotation actually was a rotation, and it performed, then how good is this team?

BRUCE: Bring him back. (AP)

BRUCE: Bring him back. (AP)

Assuming GM Sandy Alderson can actually build a bullpen this winter, then are the Mets in a rebuild or just retooling?

There are indications they’ll bring back Jose Reyes – to serve as a mentor for Amed Rosario – and following their inability to deal them at the deadline, there have been reports of bringing back Jay Bruce, who hit his 29th homer in Wednesday’s 10-5 victory in Colorado, and Asdrubal Cabrera.

If all this is true, then what about Terry Collins? If Collins returns, then presumably much, if not all, his coaching staff would come back.

Much of what frustrates me about Collins is how he manages his bullpen, but most of that stems from what Alderson has given him to work with – which is why I questioned the Addison Reed trade. I know it was his walk year, but I wanted Alderson to make overtures of bringing him back, much like I want them to extend Bruce.

Collins is not the perfect manager, but for the most part his players hustle for him, and he’s been around long enough in the Mets’ system to have grown up with them.

I don’t know what Collins wants to do, but if it is to continue managing, then it should be with the Mets. Making a commitment to Collins and his staff would alleviate some of the indecision a losing team carries into the offseason.

If the conclusion is what happened this year is primarily because of injuries, then bring back Bruce, and Cabrera – to help groom Rosario and as a hedge for David Wright – and Collins.

But, those conversations should be going on now, not in October.