Jan 31

Sandy Alderson: More Work To Do

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in two weeks, the New York Mets aren’t finished adding to their spring training roster, said GM Sandy Alderson.

ALDERSON: Not done.

ALDERSON: Not done.

Speaking at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia this week, Alderson said he liked the direction the team is headed, defended his offseason spending, but insisted there’s more work to be done.

“We’re still looking for more players,’’ Alderson said. “The offseason develops over time in segments, and right now there are still a lot of players out there. The question with teams is: How much money do they have left and what are their needs?’’

Despite committing to $85 million in salaries this winter – Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young were the major signings – the Mets still have a myriad of issue.

First base, catching, shortstop, the outfield alignment, the batting order and rotation order will be determined from within, but the Mets’ primary need is the bullpen, which has been an issue since Alderson was hired.

What the Mets don’t know is whether Bobby Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, will be ready. If not Vic Black is first in line to assume the closer role, but that’s based more on his ability to throw 95 mph. than anything else.

The Mets will be looking to bolster their bullpen in the next two weeks, and during spring training as players are released from other teams. Even so, Alderson said he likes the direction the Mets are headed and his strategy is paying off.

“I like our team for a couple of reasons,’’ Alderson said. “The last three years, the strategy I have tried to articulate is threefold: acquire talent and develop talent, create more payroll flexibility – we had a lot of long-term contracts that were just not performing – and third, third, try to win as many games as you can without compromising one and two.

“Now we’ve turned a corner a little bit, and I’d say that now we want to win as many games as we can while being mindful of one and two.’’

Alderson did not define a successful season, but some in the Mets’ organization are privately saying the immediate goal is to finish .500 or better.

ON DECK: Later today, I’ll look at the Mets’ leadoff options.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

Jan 24

Mets Blew It With Ike Davis On Many Levels; So Did His Father

Ike Davis’ father, former Yankees reliever Ron Davis, has ripped into the New York Mets. The elder Davis said the Mets screwed up handling his son, which, while correct on some levels, can’t make things any easier for Ike if he stays with the team.

Ron Davis is correct, but partially.

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

Yes, he’s correct in that this began not with the Mets’ intent to trade Ike Davis, but for how public they made it.

“I think that’s why the Mets have really screwed up in that situation – because they’ve publicly done it so much,’’ Ron Davis said. “It’s saying to my son, `Hey, we don’t want you anymore.’ ’’

Well, yes and no.

The issue isn’t what it said about Ike Davis, but in what it tells other teams, `We don’t want Ike Davis, but please take him off our hands.’

The first rule in making a trade is to not devalue the talent you’re trying to unload. If you don’t think the player is worth anything, then why would other teams?

Another rule is to understand the value of the talent you’re trying to deal and don’t go in with the idea of fleecing the other team. The teams the Mets were talking to, notably Milwaukee, said GM Sandy Alderson’s asking price – the Brewers’ fifth starter – was too high.

So, the Mets did not want Davis and then asked for too much. But, that isn’t the whole story with how the Mets mishandled Davis.

With Ike Davis coming back from the ankle injury and the virus, the Mets might have rushed him back in 2012. Despite a horrid first half, the Mets didn’t send him back to the minors to work on his mechanics. Instead, they kept him around, a gamble that paid off when he had a strong second half to finish with 32 homers.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

He was even more lost last year, but despite all signs saying Davis needed to go to the minors, the Mets ignored them in the hope of another strong second half. Long after it became apparent Davis was lost at the plate was when they sent him down. Then, they clearly brought him back too soon, which only compounded their mistake.

Alderson also screwed up by not having a defined objective for Davis after the season. Alderson had enough of a sampling of Davis to know what he should do.

That he didn’t want him was clear in the effort to trade him, but that intent should have been understated and with a lower asking price. By this time, teams were waiting out the Mets in hope they would release him. However, Alderson was playing chicken holding out for more.

Then, Alderson blew it more by offering Davis arbitration. Why would they do that for a player they clearly didn’t want?

While the Mets blew it on several levels with Ike Davis, I would be remiss in not calling out Ron Davis on a few things.

OK, you’re unhappy with how the Mets handled your son. Anybody can see that, but ripping the Mets does nobody any good, especially your son. The last thing a major league player needs is to have a Little League father upsetting things in the papers and clubhouse. What could the other players be thinking You want to rip the Mets? Fine. Do it after he’s out of the organization.

Secondly, don’t blame Citi Field for your son’s troubles. His problem is not with the ballpark, but his approach to hitting. Quite simply, he doesn’t know how to hit.

His comment last spring that, “I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. Strikeouts come with that,’’ tells you all you need to know about Ike Davis as a hitter.

Ron, you were a big league pitcher. Are you telling me you can’t look at your son’s hitting approach and say how you would attack him? C’mon. If you really wanted to help him, you’d study the video and tell him he needs to be more patient, he needs to stop trying to pull everything, he needs to use Citi Field to his advantage and hit balls in the gaps.

That’s how you would help your son. Not by being a Little League father. Ike Davis doesn’t need your coddling; he needs tough love.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 23

Mets Agree To Terms With Duda

The New York Mets have traditionally avoided the messy process of arbitration by agreeing to terms with Lucas Duda for $1.6375 million. That figure surpasses Duda’s career earnings over the previous three season combined.

Duda hit .223 with 15 homers and 33 RBI last season and filed for $1.9 million. The Mets countered for just over $1.3 million. Of all his numbers last season, most impressive was a .352 on-base percentage, up from .329 the previous season.

Where Duda fits in with the 2014 Mets is uncertain.

It was initially thought Duda would compete with Ike Davis for the first base job, but this was immediately after last season. At the time, Mets manager Terry Collins didn’t see it was possible Duda and Davis would be on the team together as they were essentially the same type of player.

Then, it was believed Duda would start as the Mets were trying to trade Davis. But, when they couldn’t unload Davis, GM Sandy Alderson said it was possible Duda and Davis could be on the Opening Day roster, and the idea of Duda in the outfield was revisited.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 20

Factors Suggest Ike Davis Will Start At First Over Lucas Duda

Recent developments with Lucas Duda indicate the New York Mets are probably more likely to go with Ike Davis at first base.

Duda, who hit 15 homers with 33 RBI last season, had been earmarked for the job, especially coupled with the Mets’ desire to trade Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson spoke openly this winter about trading Davis.

However, with the Mets unable to trade Davis, and with them offering arbitration, it became obvious the underachieving first baseman wasn’t going anywhere.

I believe Davis will prevail for the following reasons:

* It has become increasingly difficult to trade him, especially since projected trading partner Milwaukee signed both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay.

* Duda filed for $1.9 million and the Mets countered with $1.35 million. Meanwhile, Davis and the Mets settled for $3.5 million. Based on the salary, it is more likely the Mets start Davis. However, Duda’s salary, whatever an arbitrator decides, would be high for a minor league player.

* If the Mets decided to keep both on the Opening Day roster, as Alderson suggested is possible, and with Duda expected to get outfield time during spring training, logically Davis would go to first.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 12

How Can Ike Davis Not Be Upset By The Trade Talk?

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently told MLB.com Ike Davis was not annoyed by the persistent trade talk since the end of the season.

“I don’t think any of this talk over the winter has bothered him,’’ Alderson said. “I think he’s anxious to get to spring training and show what he can do.’’

I can buy him being anxious for spring training, if for no other reason, than to prove he can play so he can get out of Dodge.

If you’re the Mets and think Davis isn’t bothered by the talk of him being a bust and of him being traded, then do you really want him back? If you’re the Mets, you don’t want to hear Davis is in a good mood as Alderson said, but royally hacked off.

What Alderson said and what Davis told the New York Daily News are two different things. Davis sounded hurt, which should be construed as a positive.

“I want to go back,’’ Davis said. “I want to have another chance. I want to win with the Mets. I don’t want to leave on this kind of note.’’

But, he seems resigned to the possibility of him leaving.

I’m no longer thinking the Mets will work a deal with Milwaukee, or to anybody else for that matter, before the start of spring training, which is little more than a month away.

If the Mets are to trade Davis, it will be closer to the start of the season, after teams have gone through spring training and know what holes they have in their line-up.

Until then, Davis isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the asking price for those on the line with Alderson.

“We’re not going to move Ike just to move Ike – or any other player for that matter,’’ Alderson said. “This is a trade market, not a yard sale, and right now we’re perfectly happy to go into spring training with Davis and [Lucas] Duda both on the team.’’

Alderson insists the Mets aren’t actively talking with anybody about Davis, and such discussions would come suddenly; say after an injury strikes down somebody else’s first baseman.

While the Brewers have been most prominently mentioned, the call could come from anywhere.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos