Aug 07

What If The Mets Signed Alex Rodriguez In 2000?

Alex Rodriguez’s career has less than a week remaining following today’s announcement he will stop playing Friday to become an adviser/instructor for the team with whom he fought, embarrassed and will pay him $27 million to walk away.

Whatever you think of Rodriguez – he’s a polarizing figure both ways – I will always attach two words to his career: “What if?”

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

What if he didn’t use PEDs? What if he never left Seattle? What if he went to Boston instead of the Yankees? What if he wasn’t such a distraction off the field? What if he didn’t break down physically at the end?

Regarding the Mets, I wonder “what if Rodriguez signed with them instead of Texas after the 2000 World Series?”

It was the winter of that year and the Mets were among a handful of teams interested in signing Rodriguez. Some had him as the front-runner. The Mets’ GM at the time, Steve Phillips, cited several factors in backing away, including reportedly a refusal to meet Rodriguez’s non-salaried demands of a private plane and luxury box; an office with four employees in Shea Stadium; and a billboard presence.

Phillips made a point of saying he wasn’t going to turn the Mets into a “24-plus-one-roster” and destroy the chemistry of the team. Then, of course, there was his salary. The Mets were willing to go over $120 million, which is what Cleveland’s Manny Ramirez signed for with Boston that year.

However, the Rangers’ ten-year, $252-million contract was beyond comprehension.

What if the Mets were willing to give Rodriguez what he wanted? What if?

The Mets were coming off a World Series appearance and obviously a good team. Adding Rodriguez to a lineup that already included Mike Piazza could have devastated the National League, and it wouldn’t have been hard to envision another World Series. Maybe two. Maybe more.

If that was the case, might Bobby Valentine survived, and in doing so, the Mets avoided the parade of Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel and now Terry Collins?

Would we have ever seen the Sandy Alderson era?

With Piazza and Rodriguez hitting back-to-back, how many more homers could each have hit having the other for protection?

In 2000, the Mets were nine years away from moving into Citi Field. If they signed Rodriguez, would that have delayed or sped up the plans for Citi Field, which hit the drawing board in December of 2001?

On the field, what would Rodriguez have prevented or enabled the Mets to do?

For one thing, signing Rodriguez would have delayed bringing up Jose Reyes, unless they were intent on playing him at second base. They certainly would have had no use for Kaz Matsui with Rodriguez at shortstop.

Then again, if the Mets’ thinking at the time were to move Reyes to third, would that have delayed the arrival of David Wright?

The Mets went back to the playoffs in 2006, but how far might they have gone with an infield – from third to first – of Wright, Rodriguez, Reyes and Carlos Delgado?

With Rodriguez, would the Mets have been in position to go after Delgado and Carlos Beltran? As pricey as Rodriguez’s contract was, if his presence put the Mets in the playoffs several times, how would this have impacted the Wilpon’s financial situation?

Reyes, Rodriguez, Wright, Delgado and Beltran would have comprised a formidable offense, and if they still added Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, then Johan Santana, could the Mets have been a dynasty in the 2000s?

There are no guarantees in sports, but it’s fun to speculate how different things might have been. Mets’ history and overall baseball history would surely have changed had Rodriguez ended up in Shea Stadium during the winter of 2000.

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Mar 20

Thor Laying Down The Hammer

Noah Syndergaard said he’s on point so far this spring because he pitched through the playoffs and World Series. Well, if that’s the case then the optimum thing would be for the Mets to do it again this year.

SYNDERGAARD: Having great spring. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Having great spring. (Getty)

“Last year, the amount of innings I threw over my max, I felt like it helped quite a bit in terms of not losing that muscle memory over the offseason,” Syndergaard told reporters after Sunday’s outing against Boston in which he struck out five and walked none in five innings. “Once I got on the mound this offseason, it was right back where I left off.”

Syndergaard said he was consistent with his mechanics which makes him as happy as Steven Matz was unhappy before.

“I was able to locate all of my pitches for strikes, throw breaking pitches in uncomfortable counts. So, all in all, I’m very pleased,” Syndergaard said. “Overall, I’m very pleased. I kind of shocked myself a little bit with how consistent I’ve been this entire spring training. I’m looking forward to transferring it into the season.”

Syndergaard said he must get quicker to the plate in his delivery, which should help regarding cutting down on the number of stolen bases against him (15 successful in 16 attempts last year).

That should make Travis d’Arnaud happy.

 

 

Dec 02

Price Signing Could Forecast Mets’ Handling With Harvey

Not that it would have happened anyway, but Boston’s blockbuster signing of David Price Tuesday means there won’t be a trade of Matt Harvey to the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley.

I was onboard for such a deal, and the Price signing only affirmed my reason.

The cost for Price is $217 million over seven years. The key to the deal is Price has an opt-out clause after three years for roughly $90 million. If Price can give the Red Sox a couple of playoff appearances, and perhaps a World Series title, the contract would have been worth it – if they allow him to leave.

The Yankees mistakenly chased after C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez when they exercised their clauses.

The Price contract makes you wonder what it will cost when Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz hit the market. The Mets certainly can’t afford to sign all five to mega deals at once, but they can defray some of the cost if they stagger the signings and they trade one or two of theses guys.

If you think $217 million is steep – and it is 2015 – wait until Scott Boras puts Harvey on the market in three years. Assuming Harvey pitches to expectations, Boras’ numbers for Harvey could approach $300 million.

Figuring the Mets don’t change their financial approach, there’s no way they can afford to keep Harvey and deGrom and Syndergaard.

Their best options are to fill their positional holes by dealing Harvey – who is a goner and we all know it – and offering long-term deals to deGrom and Syndergaard.

Yeah, I love the potential of the Mets’ young pitching and it would be great if they could keep the core together and fill out the rest of their roster with key free-agent signings. But, that’s not the real world. The real world has the very real, and very likely, chance of Harvey asking for a monster contact the Mets can’t afford.

I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Price signing screams trading Harvey is the thing to do.

ON DECK:  Tendering contracts deadline is today.

 

 

Nov 25

Mets Release Exhibition Schedule

MARCH

3 at Washington, 1:05 p.m.

4 vs. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

5 at Houston, 1:05 p.m.

6 vs. Atlanta, 1:10 p.m.

7 vs. Detroit, 1:10 p.m. (ss)

7 at St. Louis, 1:05 p.m. (ss)

8 at Atlanta, 1:05 p.m.

9 vs. Yankees, 1:10 p.m.

10 vs. St. Louis, 1:10 p.m.

11 at Washington, 1:05 p.m.

12 vs. St. Louis, 1:10 p.m.

13 at Miami, 1:05 p.m.

14 at Detroit, 1:05 p.m.

15 at Miami, 1:05 p.m.

16 OFF

17 at Miami, 1:05 p.m.

18 vs. Washington, 6:10 p.m.

19 at Washington, 1:05 p.m.

20 vs. Boston, 1:10 p.m.

21 vs. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

22 at Yankees, 6:35 p.m.

23 at Toronto, 1:07 p.m.

24 vs. Houston, 1:10 p.m. (ss)

24 at Boston, 1:05 p.m. (ss)

25 vs. St. Louis, 1:10 p.m.

26 at Atlanta, 1:05 p.m.

27 vs. Washington, 1:10 p.m.

28 at St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

29 vs. Miami, 1:10 p.m.

30 vs. Washington, 12:10 p.m.

The Mets open the season, Sunday night, April 3 at Kansas City. They are still trying to schedule two exhibition games outside of Florida.

 

Oct 26

Five Keys For Mets To Win

It is the day before the start of the World Series and who would have guessed I’d be previewing the Mets? I certainly wouldn’t have, but damn, isn’t this great?

FIVE KEYS FOR METS

FIVE KEYS

This is the Mets’ fifth trip to the World Series, and they’ve only been favored once, in 1986 against Boston. This time they are a pick `em against the Royals.

If the following are answered in the positive, there could be another parade down the Canyon of Heroes:

Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom go in the first two games and should be well rested. Sure, the Mets can lose both and come back to win, but those odds would be long. One of them has to win if the Mets are to win.

A Murphy-type stretch is needed: If not Daniel Murphy, then somebody needs to get hot. Nobody knows how the layoff will affect Murphy. Maybe it will be Lucas Duda, or David Wright, or Wilmer Flores. Whoever it is, somebody must turn it on.

Overcoming the aches and pains: Harvey has a bruise in the back of his throwing arm; Curtis Granderson has a jammed thumb; Yoenis Cespedes has a strained shoulder.

Building the bullpen bridge: The Mets have had to use Bartolo Colon to get to Jeurys Familia. The bullpen bridge from the starters to the closer hasn’t been strong. The Mets’ bullpen is not as strong as Kansas City’s and that will undoubtedly come into play. If the Royals are winning by the sixth inning that will be difficult for the Mets to overcome.

Shutting down the Royals early: Much has been made of Kansas City’s speed, ability to put the ball into play, and, of course, hit the long ball. The Royals’ offense is more balanced than Chicago’s, and their hitters aren’t intimidated by the Mets’ hard throwers.

There other variables, such as adjusting on the fly to an injury; coming from behind, which they never had to do against the Cubs; dealing with poor weather and bad calls; how nerves will come into play; and what happens when a key player goes cold.

The Mets have been a team of resiliency all season. They need to be that way just four more times.