Apr 30

Mets Should Leave Kirk Nieuwenhuis Alone

The was a concern when Kirk Nieuwenhuis was brought up how he would adjust to the major leagues. Well, so far he’s been doing just fine. It is too soon to say he’s made it, but he’s fielded center field as well as Angel Pagan ever did and he’s been consistent at the plate.

So far, he gets on base and makes all the plays.

TORRES: Put him in left.

Now, with Andres Torres set to come off the disabled list for tonight’s game in Houston, the Mets want to slot him back into center and move Nieuwenhuis to left field, a position he’s never played.

I don’t see the reason.

Torres is a veteran with some left field experience. He should be the one to go to left field. Why disrupt Nieuwenhuis’ rookie season? Why make him go through another adjustment period? He’s part of the Mets’ future, while Torres is a stop gap player at best.

What has Torres done for the Mets to warrant such special treatment?

We don’t know how good Nieuwenhuis can be, but we already have an idea of what the Mets can expect from Torres, and it isn’t much. It might be different if Neiuwenhuis were playing poorly and the Mets weren’t winning, but that isn’t the case.

Leave Nieuwenhuis alone.

 

Dec 07

Ramirez supposedly not happy; Mets deal Pagan.

Word out of the Winter Meetings has Hanley Ramirez upset about being asked to move to third base. Initial reports had Ramirez saying he’d be happy to move if it meant adding his buddy Jose Reyes.

RAMIREZ: Not a happy camper?

To hear Ramirez is unhappy is ridiculous, but hardly surprising considering how some teams communicate. This should have been resolved a long time ago, similar to when the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, who knew he wouldn’t move Derek Jeter out of shortstop.

Ramirez is an immensely talented player, but also has pronounced streaks of petulance and moodiness, and can be a dog if he doesn’t get his way. This is not something a team on the rise needs. If these reports are true, the Marlins made a mistake, unless, of course they plan to deal Ramirez for pitching.

But, that’s Miami’s problem.

Continue reading

Nov 09

2011 Player Review: Angel Pagan

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Angel Pagan.

ANGEL PAGAN

THE SKINNY: You look at this guy and wonder why he’s not better with his physical tools. Pagan appeared to have a breakout year in 2010 when he hit .290 with 11 homers, 69 RBI and 32 steals. In 101 less at-bats last season Pagan hit four fewer homers with 13 less RBI. Not only were his numbers off, but he regressed in his defense and decisions on the bases. This is not a fundamentally sound player.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: The Mets are thin in the outfield, don’t have many options on the minor league level and don’t figure to get any help in the free-agent or trade markets. … Should Jose Reyes leave, the Mets don’t have any leadoff options.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He could get up to $5 million in arbitration, which is a lot considering his production. … After last summer, it appears 2010 was a fluke. … Is there any reason to believe he’ll be better?

JOHN’S TAKE: The word is the Mets will tender Pagan so this might all be a moot point. I would still rather them take the gamble with Grady Sizemore, or if nothing else, see what somebody else can do. The Mets aren’t loaded with outfield options, but if Pagan produces as he did last year, he’s not offering much.

For a team wanting to get better defensively and fundamentally, Pagan doesn’t bring much to the table. Defensively, he doesn’t judge balls well and has a below average arm. In 2010 it appeared he was ready to take over centerfield, but I don’t see that anymore. For all his speed, his .322 on-base percentage is poor and his strikeouts-walks ratio is roughly 2-to-1. Let him go and move on.

JOE’S TAKE: The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or so it would seem where Angel Pagan is concerned. A year ago fans were clamoring for Pagan to replace Carlos Beltran in center field for his defensive exploits and some even mentioned him in the same breath as David Wright for his offensive showing in 2010. Gulp.

Pagan was a big letdown in 2011. He got off to an atrocious start at the plate to start the season batting .159 in April before hitting the DL with an oblique injury and missing nearly a month. His bat looked great when he returned, but that was offset by big declines on defense and base-running.

Pagan is proving himself to be wildly inconsistent and that’s usually the sign of a platoon player or even worse – a fourth outfielder. Is it smart for this front office to pay $5 million for such a player when the utilities at Citi Field are in danger of being turned off? Probably not, but they will anyway. It’s not like they have any better options.

One year at the helm and the new Mets caretakers now have less center field depth than last November. That means they will have to keep Pagan, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it. These are strange times in Flushing.

Nov 02

They should take a risk.

The Mets have made a string of bad signings when it comes to aging, injured, unproductive  or otherwise scarred players. Moises Alou, Julio Franco, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota. We could spend all day adding to the list.

SIZEMORE: Worth a risk.

It isn’t a great free-agent market, but there’s a name on the list worth rolling the dice with despite his recent injury history. The Cleveland Indians failed to exercise their option on outfielder Grady Sizemore, who, at 29, was once one of the game’s blossoming stars, but only played in 210 games the past three seasons.

A gamble, no question, but a thought keeps running through my head: What if he pans out?

Burdened by knee and abdominal injuries the past three years, Sizemore hit just .234 last summer, but prior to that was a three time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. That’s a substantial resume; certainly better than any other Mets’ outfielder.

Continue reading

Oct 19

Reyes: Time to move on.

There’s a lot of swirling issues around the Mets’ decision to bring back Jose Reyes, but it really comes down to one burning question: Can the Mets win with him?

Based on Reyes’ tenure with the team, the answer is no. That the Mets with Reyes are a better team is little doubt, but they are not a playoff caliber team as they are presently constructed. Nor are they a serious contender.  Even if the Mets decide to bring back Reyes, there are too many holes to consistently compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in their division, and San Francisco and St Louis outside it.

We also know Washington and Florida will be more aggressive financially than the Mets.

And, that’s the short list. Nine National League teams and 18 teams overall had a better record this summer than the Mets. Will bringing back a frequently-injured player – who twice went on the DL last season – with a long-term, $100-plus million contract make the Mets substantially better?

No.

Rebuilding is a long, arduous process to which I don’t have all the answers. I do have the keys, however, and that is strong starting pitching and a bullpen, and defense. Those qualities, which the Mets’ don’t possess, will not be readily obtainable if a bulk of their resources are spent on a speed player with leg issues who will undoubtedly break down during his contract.

I like Reyes. He’s always been one of the more personable Mets to deal with, but that doesn’t make him the right answer, the right fit, at this time.

The trade value for Reyes was highest after the 2008 season, but that wasn’t going to happen because the Mets believed they would remain a contender with a few offseason tweaks. They had Johan Santana fall into their laps the previous winter, but after going through a second late-season collapse and a managerial firing, thought minor tinkering would be enough.

They were wrong.

The 2008 season was the last healthy, full-season for Reyes. It was the last winning season for the franchise, which believed its fortunes would turn in a potential gold mine in Citi Field.

However, there would soon be injuries to David Wright, Santana, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. The pitching collapsed as Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine didn’t develop as antiticpated. Hoped for lightning-in-the-bottle signings such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Bay, Orlando Hernandez and Shawn Green fizzled. There were other miserable signings in Perez, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota that made the Mets look foolish and desperate.

The Mets made one GM firing and two managerial firings since Beltran took that called third strike in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, who are playing in their third World Series since 2004.

The window slammed shut on the Mets and Reyes.

What we remember and cherish about Reyes was his unabashed enthusiasm and running as an unbridled colt from 2005-08, but he’s three years removed from being that player because of injuries.

Reyes’ stolen bases have steadily declined, and he wasn’t even a threat to steal after his second stint on the disabled list. Reyes wasn’t the same player, and with the competitive part of the season dwindling away, he didn’t run as to risk injury which could have cost him his precious batting title and money in free agency.

That he removed himself from his last game isn’t enough to cut ties with him, but it is enough to get an accurate glimpse of his priorities. Lots of players turn it on in their walk years, and that’s the lasting impression Reyes left us.

His injuries contributed to the fall, but wasn’t the main reason the team fell to its depths of mediocrity and helplessness the past three years.

The main reason was, and remains, its inadequate starting pitching. There are no assurances of a healthy return from Santana or Pelfrey improving, and all five spots in the rotation have significant questions attached, as do the six or seven spots in the bullpen.

Clearly, what Mets pitcher isn’t without a concern, either physically or performance wise?

Wright has been in decline since the Matt Cain beaning, Bay never produced, and Ike Davis missed more than half the season with an ankle injury. That puts questions at third, in left, and at first. Lucas Duda will be getting a chance to play his first full season in right, Angel Pagan regressed in center, and who will play second if Ruben Tejada takes over shortstop?

Where can you look on the field to find solace and comfort, knowing that position is in good hands?

Reyes is only one player, and not a healthy one at that.

To those who suggest the Mets might be even worse without Reyes, you are probably correct. But, we all know the Mets’ house-of-cards finances will preclude them immediately getting better in the free-agent market. And, don’t forget, with or without Reyes, the payroll is to be slashed by up to $30 million.

We also know what passes for pitching in the free-agent market are mostly mediocre back of the rotation answers and there is little help from the minor league system.

Record-wise, the Mets are roughly in the bottom third with few immediate answers. With or without Reyes, that’s where they are, and their only hope of moving up is to use the money earmarked for Reyes and attempt to plug holes.

Because, if that myriad of holes remains empty, so too will be the seats at Citi Field. At one time, Reyes represented the future of the Mets. Now, there’s no future with him.