Nov 13

Murphy Rejects Mets; Both Sides Win

As expected, Daniel Murphy rejected the Mets’ $15.8-million qualifying offer this afternoon, a decision that makes a winner out of both sides.

Here’s how the Mets are winners:

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

1) They will receive a compensatory draft pick, which is what they really wanted in the first place.

2) With Murphy gone, the Mets are able to pursue free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is a better player, and if unable to sign him, are free to move Wilmer Flores from shortstop to second base, where he’s stronger defensively. The Mets can also explore playing Dilson Herrera at second base if they prefer.

3) With no financial obligations to Murphy, the Mets have $15.8 million free to spend elsewhere.

4) Whatever retooling plans the Mets have, they can move on to them quickly.

Here’s how Murphy is a winner:

1) The Mets can still sign Murphy if they choose, but aren’t expected to make the effort. Doesn’t that really mean they didn’t want him in the first place?

2) Coming off a stellar postseason, Murphy is in the prime earning years of his career. Had he accepted the qualifying offer, he would have delayed free agency by one year, and taken a huge gamble that likely wouldn’t have been rewarded with a multi-year contract. He’ll likely be offered a contract the Mets wouldn’t come close to making.

3) Much has been made of Murphy’s defensive limitations, but now he’s free to sign with an American League team and be a designated hitter.

4) The Mets yanked Murphy around for years at a variety of positions and numerous times attempted to trade him. Now, he’ll be able to sign with a team that really wants him.

Where will Murphy go? The Dodgers and Yankees are two teams prominently mentioned, but Houston and the Angels are other possible suitors.

Jan 17

Murphy A Goner After This Year

Barring something out of the blue, Daniel Murphy is entering his last contract with the Mets in agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal. In doing so, they avoided arbitration. Murphy’s figure was $8.6 million while the Mets’ countered at $7.4 million.

If the Mets really wanted to keep Murphy, they would have done so by now. He’s a free agent after this year, so barring something unforeseen he’s gone. Then again, if they find a taker, he could be out of here by the trade deadline.

Murphy will end his major league career, probably in the American League where there’s a designated hitter, as a reliable and serviceable player who always hustles, and who’s shortcoming is he doesn’t have a lot of power.

He’s playing his fourth position with the Mets, an indication of the organization’s lack of position-player depth, and his willingness to be a team player.

In an era of self-centered players, Murphy is something of a throwback, and the Mets won’t necessarily be better off when he leaves. In fact, they could, and have, done a lot worse.

Normally, the Mets avoid arbitration and this winter is no different as they’ve already come to terms with Dillon Gee ($5.3 million), whom they want to trade, shortstop Ruben Tejada ($1.88) and Bobby Parnell ($3.7 million).

Who’s left are Lucas Duda (wants $4.7 million; offered $3.75 million) and Jenrry Mejia (wants $3 million; offered $2.1 million).

When you look at the numbers exchanged, there’s usually a million-plus difference, which says a lot about the organization. It wouldn’t be a bad guess that when these players enter their free-agent year, they’ll also soon be ex-Mets.

Nov 10

Mets’ deGrom Should Win NL Rookie Award

The New York Mets should be in the national baseball news today as the postseason awards start this afternoon. It’s just another step in the Mets’ climb toward relevancy.

In an informal poll of voters, pitcher Jacob deGrom is favored to become the Mets’ fifth rookie of the year winner, joining Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). For those believing in omens, the Mets played in the World Series within two years of each previous winner.

DeGROM: Gets my NL Rookie vote. (Getty)

DeGROM: Gets my NL Rookie vote. (Getty)

To say deGrom could be the next Seaver or Gooden is a stretch, but there is a lot to like about him and it isn’t farfetched  to say he’s ahead of Zack Wheeler, and he’s definitely part of the core of young arms.

What was most impressive about deGrom was his composure and ability to command his secondary pitchers. These are things Wheeler must improve. Wheeler also has a tendency to run up his pitch count, frequently forcing an early exit. The Mets could count on deGrom getting into the sixth inning.

A ninth-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, deGrom made the first of his 22 starts, May 15, and made an immediate impression by giving up just one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the Yankees. He gave us a glimpse of his 96-mph. fastball and darting slider with six strikeouts and only walked one and gave up four hits.

DeGrom turned out to be the kind of workhorse the Mets need by working into the sixth or longer in 19 starts. Ten times he took a game into the seventh or longer.

DeGrom worked 140.1 innings this year, but in this era of pitcher preservation – not recognized by the Giants and Madison Bumgarner – he was pulled from his last start against Houston.

“Obviously, I wanted to make my last one, but they talked to me about it,’’ deGrom said at the time. “The decision was made for me not to, and to end the year healthy. I respect that decision and I look forward to next year.’’

The decision was made in large part by a season-low 92 mph., in his proceeding start against Atlanta, and manager Terry Collins said with a 9-6 record and 2.63 ERA, there was nothing left for him to prove. The lower speed is indicative of a tiring arm.

“We explained the big picture,’’ Collins said. “One more start isn’t going to vary any votes. One more start isn’t going to show everybody that he belongs here.

“One more start could lead to some trouble. The big picture was to make sure when this season was over that those five [rotation] guys were going to be healthy. We think we’ve reached that point.’’

By votes, Collins meant from the Baseball Writers Association, which concludes its voting after the season. Postseason performance is not included, for one reason it gives some players a larger body of work. For example, if the postseason were included, Bumgarner would easily win the NL Cy Young over the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

The other National League candidates are Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and St. Louis’ Kolten Wong. Hamilton fizzled at the end and Wong wasn’t a clear-cut standout, although he was impressive in the postseason.

The American League candidates are frontrunner Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ Dellin Betances and the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker.


Dec 17

All That’s Left For Dickey Deal Is Mets’ Fans Crying

All R.A. Dickey must do is turn his head and cough and he’ll be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s appropriate to Mets fans because they are the ones with the hernia from bearing the heavy weight of the promises the organization made them in recent years.

DICKEY: Going, going ... gone.

It is done and Dickey is gone after agreeing to a two-year, $25-million extension with the Blue Jays, which ironically is less than he sought from the Mets. If the Mets don’t feel a twinge of embarrassment in that they should.

Some of the money, along with his $5 million salary – when the Mets picked up the option they said they hoped to extend his contract – will be paid immediately of offset the tax difference between the United States and Canada. The exact dollar figure to be front-loaded is still being negotiated.

The Mets will receive catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, whose 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury, and Class A pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. The teams are also swapping catchers, Josh Thole and John Buck, to give Dickey his old batterymate.

Toronto is including an undisclosed amount of cash to help pay Buck’s $6 million salary, further indication the Mets’ financial problems are far from over.

So, the Mets are giving their Cy Young Award winner and one of their few 2012 positives for two prospects – one injured – which are nothing more than wishes in the wind. The Mets are gambling the prospects will make it, but don’t know for sure. Nobody does.

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Dec 15

Mets Nearing Trade With Toronto For Dickey

At least the Mets will have the good sense to deal R.A. Dickey to the American League, where he won’t have the chance to stick it to them several times a summer.

If the trade of Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays does happen, it will end one the most stubborn and stupid phases in franchise history, one where there have been numerous stubborn and stupid moments.

Numerous reports have Dickey, a project who turned into a Cy Young Award winner, on his way to the Blue Jays for a package that could include catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, so say good-bye soon to Josh Thole.

Talks appear to be serious, although they haven’t yet reached the stage where Dickey’s agent to talking to the Blue Jays about an extension or he’s being asked to take a physical.

Dickey underwent surgery after the season to repair an abdominal tear, an ailment that did not prevent him from winning 20 games.

The Texas Rangers were also in the hunt for Dickey, but apparently backed out because the Mets’ demands were too high.

The Mets exercised a $5 million option for 2013 on Dickey with the stated intent of working on an extension. On top of the $5 million option, Dickey wanted two more years for $26 million. Meanwhile, the Mets were offering two years at $20 million.

So, it boils down to the Mets losing one of their few bright spots on the field, plus one of their most popular players for just $6 million.

That’s chump change by today’s standards.

The Mets were peeved when Dickey used the club’s holiday party as a forum to express his displeasure at the pace of the negotiations.

Dickey said: “In the context of the market, you want what you think is fair. I feel like we’re asking for less than what’s fair because that’s how it’s been for me.

“There is a surprise sometimes when things don’t get done quickly and you already think you’re extending the olive branch. At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to. I don’t know those numbers. And, I try not to take it personally.’’

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