Dec 21

Mets Extend Alderson To More Of The Same

Mets fans got an early Christmas present yesterday in their stocking late yesterday afternoon. It was a lump of coal with the announcement GM Sandy Alderson’s extension, speculated to be two years in a year-to-year format.

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

That means next winter’s free-agent market – with Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw highlighting the most prominent class in years – will presumably not include the Mets as shoppers.

They aren’t even expected to retain their own marquee free agent Matt Harvey.

That means Mets fans can expect their team’s biggest free-agent ventures will be more along the lines of pursuing veterans well past their prime, such as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Alderson’s Mets’ zenith came in 2015 when everything fell together after the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and the team caught fire and reached the World Series.

Cespedes was re-signed that winter to a $110-million, four-year package that has financially crippled the Mets since. Alderson then cast off Daniel Murphy, the post-season hero who became an All-Star with Washington.

The Mets reached the postseason again in 2016, but were bounced in the wild-card game by San Francisco. The Giants, like the Mets, have fallen onto hard times, but San Francisco just traded for All-Star Evan Longoria while New York is debating on Gonzalez, whom they’ll get for a song with the Braves picking up the bulk of his contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the major league minimum of $545,000, with the Braves paying the balance of his $22.4 million contract.

But, the major-league minimum – with Alderson operating the franchise as the Wilpon’s wish – is what the Mets are about these days.

Dec 11

Why Are Mets Even At The Winter Meetings?

Why are the Mets even at the Winter Meetings? We knew all along they wouldn’t land Giancarlo Stanton, but even Adam Lind might be out of their league. The Mets’ plan is to wait for the price to drop for a quality reliever or a second baseman.

So basically, what the Mets’ roster looks like today is pretty much what it will look like on Opening Day.

STANTON: Mystery is over. (Getty)

STANTON: Mystery is over. (Getty)

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets wanted bullpen help, but Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson are now off the board – at $11 million a season which the Mets were never going to pay – and reportedly their first target Bryan Shaw wants three years, which they’ll never give.

The Mets’ plan is to wait out the market and hope somebody falls into their lap.

“We are not going to chase players. There are a lot of guys out there,’’ Alderson said. “We think there are some values out there to the extent the market gets overheated. I don’t think we will jump into the inferno, but we want to improve our bullpen.’’

Yeah, and I want to win the lottery.

Ian Kinsler and Jason Kipnis have been mentioned as possible trade targets, but Alderson said: “Our farm system right now is not brimming with prospects, so in that sense, making a trade isn’t as attractive. On the other hand, making a trade, giving up a minimal number of talented players for maybe someone who can help us on a shorter deal or what have you, there are pluses and minuses to each approach.’’

What that means, is the Mets are willing to trade but only if they don’t have to give up anything.

So, they aren’t going to sign any free agents and won’t make any trades. What they will do is hope for their pitchers to get healthy.

Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Nov 20

Mets Trying To Light A Fire Under Smith

Dominic Smith is done with the Mets if they are able to sign – and each one of these guys will get at least three years – Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind, then where does that leave Smith?

Certainly not on the fast track to Flushing.

SMITH: Mets trying to motivate Smith. (Getty)

SMITH: Mets trying to motivate Smith. (Getty)

Smith did not distinguish himself last summer – but did hit nine homers in 183 plate appearances – and GM Sandy Alderson indicated as much, saying he “didn’t win [the job] in September.’’

Smith was the Mets’ second-ranked prospect at the time of his promotion, but despite the surprise in his power, he was a disappointment in his plate discipline and on-base percentage, and defense, which was supposed to be his strong suit. In addition, Alderson was upset, and rightfully so, about Smith’s conditioning.

“Dominic’s going to have to be careful about his conditioning, certainly in the next few years, if not throughout his career,’’ Alderson said at the GM Meetings last week. “He was in excellent shape coming into Spring Training. … As happens with any long season, fitness dissipates and he’s put on some weight.’’

If the Mets surprise us all and sign a free-agent, Smith will undoubtedly open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s fine for 2018, but what about the following two years?

Barring an injury, that would leave Smith stuck in the minor or a reserve, because for the money the Mets would pay a free-agent, he’d have to be above Smith. And considering his play last season, Smith would have to tear it up in the minor leagues in 2018 to build up his trade value.

Smith hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and struck out 49 times [with only 14 walks] in 49 games. Those are lousy numbers that don’t merit coming into spring training with a job waiting for him.

So, what are the Mets’ first base options?

There’s signing a free-agent, of course, which seems a long shot because the Mets don’t want to spend the money. They could go into next season with a platoon of Smith and Wilmer Flores, which probably is how they’ll go, or they could stick with Smith.

I think the free-agent talk, coupled with the criticism about his weight, is designed to light a fire under Smith.

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.