Nov 17

Is It A Coincidence Mets Tix Go On Sale After A Week Of Positive Storylines?

There were at least a half-a-dozen storylines that came out of the General Managers Meetings this week that if played out in the positive would change the perception of the Mets heading into the player acquisition phase of the offseason.

Among the storylines GM Sandy Alderson admitted:

ALDERSON: How positive is he really?  (AP)

ALDERSON: How positive is he really? (AP)

* Interest in relievers Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw, which would substantially increase the depth and quality of the bullpen. Alderson, however, wouldn’t disclose his budget.

* A willingness to discuss an extension for Jacob deGrom, which would fall under the classification of progressive thinking. Also falling in that category were promises to overhaul the medical staff.

* Not discounting partial interest in Japanese slugger Shohei Ohtnai. In fairness, Alderson said the Mets were open but did not say they were hot of the outfielder who also wants to pitch. Nobody expects the Mets will jump into the deep end of the Asian pool, but at least Alderson didn’t shoot it down entirely.

* Being open to trading some of their pitching depth, mentioning Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero. In the small print under the headlines is the limited trade value of the above starters, who will be needed if injury problems with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler continue.

* Positive news in Michael Conforto’s recovery from shoulder surgery to repair a torn posterior capsule. Also found in the small print was that possibly being able to swing the bat in late January doesn’t guarantee to be ready by Opening Day.

If all these storylines played out in the positive for the Mets, there would be a lot more to look forward to in 2018. It was a busy week in Orlando, and I mention these potentially positive storylines because today the Mets put single-game tickets on sale. Coincidence? You decide.

 

Nov 13

Alderson Takes Long List To GM Meetings

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is in Florida for the General Managers Meetings, which is pretty much batting practice the Winter Meetings. Alderson will kick the tires with agents on potential free-agents and on his colleagues on possible trades.

Here are the holes Alderson wants to fill:

Rotation: The Mets have one proven arm in Jacob deGrom, and another they hope is back in Noah Syndergaard. Everybody else is a significant question: Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are all coming off injuries; Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero are coming off so-so seasons, and can start or relieve.

The Mets are seeking a veteran arm that hopefully can give the Mets at least 180 innings. Jason Vargas and Lance Lynn have been mentioned as possibilities.

Bullpen: Despite the trades Alderson made last summer, none of those relievers established themselves to the point where they are the proven arm to fit in behind Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. They could always bring back Addison Reed or go with Cleveland Bryan Shaw. Both will command over $7 million, but after picking up Blevins’ option, and going through arbitration with Familia and Ramos, they already have three relievers making over $7 million.

Position players: They already committed to Asdrubal Cabrera, but will he play third or second? Let’s face it, they aren’t going to spend the money or have the prospects to acquire Todd Frazier, Dee Gordon, Jason Kipnis, Logan Morrison or Jay Bruce.

If the Mets had Bruce in the outfield, with Frazier at third, Gordon or Kipnis at second and Morrison at first, they could have a pretty formidable offense, but if their rotation isn’t sound it would be irrelevant.

 

Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.

Oct 23

Callaway Era Begins

Sure, it was a gamble, and nobody knows how Mickey Callaway will pan out as the 21st manager in Mets’ history, but after listening to him this afternoon GM Sandy Alderson deserves credit for thinking outside the box.

I wondered yesterday whether Callaway represents a risk as to whether Alderson reached out and got the Mets a nugget or whether he was seduced by a hot “flavor of the month.”

NEW METS ERA

           NEW METS ERA

Alderson said the Mets had on their board a list of roughly 35 names and after their research, they whittled it down to six. Originally, Alderson planned a second round of interviews, but Callaway blew him away with his session.

“All of us came out of [Callaway’s interview] excited for the possibility that Mickey would be our manager,’’ Alderson said. “That’s a visceral reaction, not one that you can put down on a checklist, but to me that said everything. I think it was consistent throughout.’’

Callaway said the feeling was mutual.

“When I sat in the room and listened to the words that Sandy, [assistant general managers J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco] and [Chief Operating Officer] Jeff [Wilpon] were saying to me and the questions they were asking me, I knew right then we were going to be in alignment in what we wanted,’’ Callaway said. “That’s why I was so excited when I called my family after. The team itself, the pitching is something that can be some of the greatest guys on the planet. So that obviously is very exciting to me.’’

Callaway impressed today at Citi Field with his enthusiasm and charisma.

“First, we’re in the greatest city in the world,’’ Callaway said. “This is one of the greatest franchises in the world. … When I look at the New York Mets, I see a team that can contend and compete with anybody and that’s what we’ll work hard to do.’’

Secondly, and this might be most important, is his pitching background. If the Mets are to get back to the postseason, they must pitch. The 42-year-old Callaway built a staff in Cleveland that included Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller that led the majors in ERA (3.30), strikeouts (1,614) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.1).

Callaway favors fastballs and curveballs opposed to the sliders under former pitching coach Dan Warthen. It will be interesting to see if there is a reduction in the number of sliders thrown and how it might cause a decrease in the injuries that crippled the staff for the past two years.

Callaway has already spoken with several players – but only singled out David Wright – and said he was eager to start making calls. But, one of his first orders of business is working with Alderson and his staff on finding a pitching coach.

“We already have a partial list, we want to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible,’’ Alderson said. “I think Mickey and the front office will work collaboratively to find someone that he’s comfortable with. One of the things that we’re going to do over the next few days is put together a list of potential pitching coaches.

“I think that it’s important to recognize that yes, Mickey is a former pitching coach and it’s important for us because that’s our strength. But at the same time, Mickey will be focused entirely on the 25-man roster and the pitching coach will be very important.’’

While Terry Collins’ name wasn’t mentioned today, there was a disconnect between several of the younger players and the former manager. Callaway vows that won’t happen with him.

“We’re going to care more about the players than anyone has before. We’re going to value their work. Value their dedication,’’ Callaway promised. “I’m going to reach out to the players. I know they got the news obviously from some other source than myself, but I’m going to reach out to them, let them know how excited I am, and we’re going to start this very, very important 2018 offseason. These next three months are going to be critical to what we try to do in the season and we’re going to get to work right away.’’

And, there’s so much work to be done.

Oct 22

Breaking News: Mets To Name Callaway As Manager

Multiple reports are saying the Mets have named Mickey Callaway, the pitching coach of the Indians since 2013 as their new manager, beating out a huge pool of candidates.

Kevin Long, Manny Acta, Bob Geren, Robin Ventura, Joe McEwing and Alex Cora were reportedly among those GM Sandy Alderson was considering.

Callaway will replace Terry Collins, who was forced out and took a position in the team’s front office after a disastrous, injury-filled 70-92 record this season.

Like everybody else considered, Callaway represents a gamble as it remains to be seen whether Alderson reached out and got the Mets a nugget or whether he was seduced by a hot “flavor of the month.”

Callaway, 42, built the Indians’ pitching staff into one of the best as they led the majors in ERA (3.30) and strikeouts (1,614), shutouts (19), complete games (7) and finished third with an opponents’ batting average of just .236. But, don’t forget, he’s not bringing Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer or Carlos Carrasco with him.

Among Callaway’s first priorities is getting, and keeping, the Mets’ young pitchers healthy as the Mets’ season imploded with injuries to Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.