Oct 30

Van Wagenen And Wilpon Gloss Over Conflict Of Interest Issue

Both former-agent and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon glossed over the conflict-of-interest issue at today’s Citi Field press conference.

As a player agent for Creative Artists Agency, Van Wageman’s responsibility was to negotiate the most lucrative contract for his clients. As the 13th general manager in Mets’ history, his responsibility is to build a team, which isn’t always in the best interests of the players he’s worked for over the past 18 years.

It was one of the first questions asked this afternoon, and before Van Wagenen could answer, Wilpon interrupted and claimed he spoke with the Commissioner’s Office and Major League Players Association chief Tony Clark and said, ”we have provisions in Brodie’s contract to deal with any conflicts of interest.”

What those provisions are, neither Wilpon nor Van Wagenen would say. Van Wagenen, who, as expected, appeared polished and highly professional, said: ”The goals between players and management are more in line than people think.”

How so, Van Wagenen wouldn’t elaborate, leading to speculation there’s still believed to be a cobra-mongoose relationship between the two sides.

This summer, Van Wagenen said the Mets should sign his top client Jacob deGrom to a long-term extension and reiterated that today: “I believe Jacob deGrom is an incredible talent and I hope to keep him for a long time.”

As deGrom’s agent, the pitcher undoubtedly shared highly confidential information with his agent, such as how long he plans to say; what he would sign for; his problems with management and manager Mickey Callaway; issues with his teammates; and issues with playing in New York, all which the player wouldn’t want Mets management and ownership to know.

However, Van Wagenen is now part of Mets’ management, and since he can’t un-hear something, what will he do now?

Sep 04

Bruce Optimistic About Move To First Base

Jay Bruce is apparently serious about first base. And, we know the Mets are about him playing the position, otherwise, Peter Alonso would be with the team. Bruce has been in touch with former Cincinnati teammate Joey Votto, and he’s sought out the Giants’ Brandon Belt and Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for tips on the position.

BRUCE: High on first.  (AP)

BRUCE: High on first. (AP)

And, when the Mets return home he plans to talk with Keith Hernandez, a defensive wiz at the position.

`”If I am going to do this I want to be good at it, and I think I can be good at it,” Bruce said.

So far, the Mets are happy with what they’ve seen from Bruce, both on the field and with his effort in trying to learn the new position.

“I think he looks good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He is getting more and more comfortable over there the more games he plays. I think he is going to have the whole offseason to work at this if this is the route we are going to go, and [infield coach] Gary DiSarcina and myself feel like he can do the job at first base from what we have seen so far.”

Dominic Smith will rejoin the Mets this week, but the team has cooled on him after his poor performance in the second half. When Bruce was on the disabled list Wilmer Flores got the most time at first, and Callaway said he’ll see some time this month, but September is mostly for the Mets to get a feel for Bruce at the position.

Bruce is signed through 2020 and owed another $28 million after this season. Assuming Bruce works out at first base, the  Mets anticipate Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing mostly in left and right field, respectively, with Austin Jackson getting a shot at center.

“Obviously [Bruce] is going to get more and more time over there and we are going to continue where he’s at,” Callaway said. “But he feels comfortable and the coaches like what they have seen so far, so we are definitely excited that he can be our first baseman next year.”

Bruce said he’s comfortable fielding the position, but he’s challenged by the positioning on bunts, relays and cutoffs.

”’I don’t think fielding the position is going to be an issue for me as far as straight-up ground balls,” Bruce said. ”I feel I can get off the bag far enough to have the range and stuff like that. But it’s going to be the nuances that are going to be the most important.”

 

 

 

Aug 27

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Struggles Again

Noah Syndergaard might lead the Mets with a 9-3 record, but he still has a lot to work to do after being knocked around Monday night by the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s just been rhythm for me,’’ said Syndergaard, who gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings. “I feel like I’m wasting my ability to throw a baseball.’’

Jerry Blevins took the loss in relief, but that didn’t make Syndergaard feeling any better.

Overall, Syndergaard threw 102 pitches, which is way too many for six innings.mets matters

WRIGHT UPDATE: David Wright’s 20-day window to complete a minor league rehab assignment which expires Friday. Rosters can be expanded the next day, but the Mets haven’t indicated if he will be brought up.

Wright could be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.

“I think that we’re just really trying to focus on the next day with David,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “It’s been such a long road and I think it would be unfair to everyone to have any kind of expectations other than just knowing we support whatever he is doing just day to day.”

Wright is owed about another $30 million through 2020.

“My goal is to certainly to make it back and if it doesn’t work out … at some point you have got to play,’’ Wright said. “You can’t just continue to sit here and rehab all year. I haven’t thought much about it, but since I have been in the big leagues it’s been over two years, so at some point if physically I can do it, great, and if physically I can’t, that’s a whole different conversation.”

BAUTISTA ON TRADE BLOCK: The Mets are talking to Philadelphia on a trade for Jose Bautista after the Phillies claimed him on waivers. The teams have until Tuesday to work out a deal.

The Mets considered dealing Bautista at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline but didn’t like the offers. Bautista is 37 and not in the Mets’ plans. The Phillies know they don’t have to offer much, so the Mets better not be holding out for much.

If the Mets want to trade Bautista, they are pretty much obligated to take what the Phillies offer. Callaway said Brandon Nimmo will come off the disabled list tomorrow, which almost assures there will be a deal.

 TOP PROSPECT MIGHT NOT COME UP: The Mets haven’t had much to cheer for this summer, but unbelievably are dragging their feet and haven’t said if they will bring up first base prospect Peter Alonso when rosters can be expanded.

Even more head-scratching is Callaway saying they are concerned with Alonso’s defense. And yet, they are willing to play outfielder Jay Bruce at first base.

“It’s not just about swinging the bat here,” the first-year manager said. “It’s about defense as well. We want to make sure he’s in a good spot in his overall game and the things we’re going to value in this organization moving forward.”

Yeah, go fiigure.

Aug 25

How The Mets Should Play Out Their Schedule

The Mets just released their batting order for today’s game and it has Wilmer Flores playing first base and Jay Bruce in right field.

Why?

Although they have not been mathematically eliminated, we all know their season has been over for months. Right now, the Mets are operating in limbo with their three-headed general manager, which puts Mickey Callaway’s job for 2019 on shaky ground.

BRUCE: Needs to play first. (AP)

BRUCE: Needs to play first. (AP)

There has been no mention in the media as of yet whether the Mets have begun their general manager’s search other than compiling names. If any of the candidates are their assistant general managers, the Mets don’t have to wait until the season is over. If Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon’s choice is John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi or Omar Minaya, he can make the announcement now.

I’m concerned the Mets are dragging their feet to where they will miss out on their first choice. That being said, the Mets can still plan for 2019, and that begins with telling Callaway whom he should be playing and why.

If the Mets are sold on Flores as their first baseman of the future, then so be it, but we know that’s not true. We also know they have soured on Dominic Smith, who we also know can’t play the outfield.

Here’s what the Mets should do:

1)  From now until the end of the season, first base has to be Bruce’s position. As it is configured now, the outfield doesn’t have a place for Bruce with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing the corners and Austin Jackson and Juan Lagares in center.

The Mets have talked about playing Bruce at first base, so if they don’t trade him – again – before the August 31 deadline, they should make the move permanent, because next season I want Conforto and Nimmo playing the corners. Including today’s game against the Nationals, the Mets have 34 games remaining, which is roughly a full spring training’s worth, to find out what can Bruce do at first base.

Should the Mets deal Bruce, then Smith should get the majority of the reps at first base. There is no reason why Flores should play first over Bruce and Smith.

Assuming Flores comes back next season it should be coming off the bench and play a rotation of a game at third, one at second and one at first. That accomplishes two things: 1) it gives Flores enough playing time to keep him sharp in the field and at the plate, and 2) it enables next year’s manager to rest Todd Frazier, Amed Rosario and Bruce once a week.

2) Jeff McNeil should get the reps at second base. This would also be an appropriate time to see if he can fill in at third and shortstop in a pinch.

The Mets should go into the offseason with second base a minor concern. It should be McNeil’s job to lose going into the offsason.. He had two morre hits today.

3) If the Mets are serious about a six-man rotation, which I doubt they are, then go for it. There are enough games remaining to go through a six-man rotation five times. That would be Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas and Seth Lugo.

Giving deGrom a chance to win a Cy Young Award is fine, but let’s face it, the most games he could possibly win are 13, which shouldn’t be enough to catch Max Scherzer, who is 16-6, and Aaron Nola, who is at 15-3.

It has been a lost season for Vargas, but he’s come off the disabled list and has pitched three strong games in a row.

I would like to see Lugo get some starts as to enhance his trade value. If anything, I would consider shutting down Matz for the final month. He’s been horrid lately and has a sore arm. Running Matz out there five more times can only hurt him. If he shows no progress in his next start tomorrow, then out he goes.

4) Figure Robert Gsellman as next year’s closer. With Jeurys Familia gone and AJ Ramos on the disabled list, this could give them a heads-up on their winter shopping.

If the Mets do these things, it won’t solve all their problems, but could settle one or two issues, or at least give their incoming general manager something to work with.

 

 

Jul 26

Mets Have To Believe Cespedes’ Days Are Over

Sure, the Mets caught a bad break in losing Yoenis Cespedes for the rest of this season and probably up to August of next year. However, the one thing the Mets must resist is the notation to think ”he’ll come back to superstar form in 2020.”

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

They have to avoid that line of thought because, after all, these are the Mets we’re talking about, so everything breaking right usually doesn’t happen. The best position for the Mets is to learn from their David Wright experience and just move on.

They have to believe they got the best of Cespedes, but with that means they have to accept the worse. They have to believe Cespedes is gone forever, and everything they might get from him in the future is a bonus.

But, they can’t believe they never collect on that bonus.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets won’t alter their short-term plans to accommodate losing Cespedes, and they shouldn’t change their long-term plans, either.

”Certainly, when you don’t have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently,” Ricco said, when asked if Cespedes’ surgery changes the Mets’ long-term strategy. ”At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it’s a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we’re going to change our plan moving forward.”

He’s right on that. Trading somebody like Jacob deGrom for a power bat in the outfield isn’t the prudent move now, because where the Mets are situated today, losing a solid arm in exchange for a handful of home runs won’t make them any better. And certainly, it won’t elevate them to contender status.

Even with a healthy and productive Cespedes, the Mets aren’t a contender. The Mets shouldn’t concentrate on acquiring a Cespedes-type bat until they do reach contending status.

And, it isn’t imminent.

Currently, the Mets’ outfield consists of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista. When he returns, throw Jay Bruce into that mix. This isn’t to say the Mets don’t need a healthy and productive Cespedes, but they can’t count on that now.

Or ever again.