Nov 30

Shopping In The Fruits and Nuts Section Again

fruit-and-nutsThe Mets are now looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Anything can happen, but the three offseason predictions I made for the Mets before the hot stove season started, seem to all be coming to fruition.

Back in September amid all the high hopes and expectations I said:

1. The Mets would not go after any players who’ll cost more than $10 million annually.

2. The Mets would not pursue any of the players who declined their qualifying offers.

3. The would not spend more than $25 million this offseason.

They were my educated decisions based on many of the vibes I was getting from the team coupled with my belief that this team is still not out of the woods financially no matter what they would have us believe.

When they signed Chris Young I knew in my mind that it would be their biggest splash of this offseason. I’m sure Young will help a little, but not nearly enough to make difference. I don’t believe he’ll come close to the numbers Marlon Byrd produced out of right field last season. Byrd came out of nowhere to generate 34 doubles, 24 home runs, and 88 RBI while batting .291 with a .518 Slugging Pct. and a .847 OPS. Young has never posted an .800 OPS in his eight-year career and the closest he ever came to numbers like Byrd’s was four years ago in the band box known as Chase Field, and even then he batted just .237.

Andy Martino wrote before the holiday, that the Mets “spooked” by Byrd’s two-year, $16 million deal with Philadelphia. That deal was exactly what MLBTR predicted in early October and less than what Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman predicted he would get. So it’s amazing that they were spooked. But not surprising. I once went into a fancy restaurant with $200 bucks in my pocket and with a date I was trying to impress at the time. I remember being spooked when I opened the menu and there were no prices listed for any of the dishes.

Anyway, the Mets are now looking at third-tier options which is a nice way of saying they are scraping the bottom of the free agent barrel. There’s no such thing as fourth-tier options.

Tomorrow I’ll post some of the scrapheap guys I’d like to see the Mets take a shot on… Feel free to post your own in the meantime.

Nov 29

On Black Friday Where’s The Rush To Buy Mets?

Today is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year and I wonder how many are rushing to buy Mets’ tickets?

Today is a missed opportunity for the Mets, who have done little marketing for tickets. You see something on Mets.com and SNY, but there’s not been much, or any, blitz that I can see.

imagesThere are six papers that cover the team full time, and each of them today should have an ad in the sports section. There are countless other papers – dailies and weeklies – in the tri-State area that should have a Mets’ ad today and until Christmas.

Let’s not forget the radio and TV stations.

There should be a Mets store in Grand Central, or Times Square, or in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis.

The point is the shopping season is upon us and the Mets must send out reminders they are still here. Chris Young is not much of a shout out.

Nobody will drive out to Citi Field to buy tickets. It’s just not practical. But, of the dozens of significant malls in the area, I’ve never seen a Mets kiosk to purchase tickets. If there has been, and has been significant advertising I missed, then I apologize.

But, I’ve seen nothing.

I have a few old Mets Yearbooks and they have photos of the caravans the team used to have. No longer. They cut them out and instead had an event at the New York Public Library. No more.

Why not?

Early in their existence the Mets needed the attention and sought out the buying public. Let’s face it, they are no longer the hot ticket in town and must hustle again.

Yes, it will cost them some money, and quite honestly, the $7.25 million they’ll give Young would be better spend on marketing.

Start the caravan again and bring in players past, present and future to sell their brand. Station players in the mall kiosks for free autographs.

The Mets are a brand worth keeping, but they can’t expect the public to run to them at this stage, not with them dormant in the free agent market.

The Mets, until they start winning and competing, must reach out to the pubic now like any other struggling company seeking to improve their business.

The malls will be packed today and there will be a few in a sporting goods store getting a Mets T-shirt, or cap, but nobody is rushing to buy tickets.

And, that’s a problem.

Nov 26

Here’s A Marketing Strategy – Just Win!

sad mets bench

Tiffany asks…

It’s almost the end of November and the Mets offseason is two months old with two months to go. I thought this was going to be the offseason when the team would be able to add better players to the team. I’m so frustrated. What have we waited three years for?

Joe D. replies…

I feel your frustration. Our expectations were that this offseason was going to be the one that would allow Sandy to put the Mets back on the map, followed by the first of many winning seasons beginning in 2014. So far, it doesn’t feel that way. I believe we all expected to see a greater sense of urgency in attacking this offseason and addressing the team’s needs.

According to most reports, Sandy has about $23 million left to spend in his budget after signing free-agent Chris Young to a one-year deal. But there’s still a lot of work to be done and I’m not sure that we have enough resources to fix it all in one offseason.

Sandy needs to get past his sticker shock and realize that the most talented players are going to be costly in any free agent market. I wish he had held off on Young until he addressed the cleanup hitter need first. That should have been the top priority.

Before this Hot Stove season heated up, Sandy answered “absolutely” when asked if he was finally going to upgrade his underwhelming lineup for 2014 and give the fans a team to be proud of.

“I gotta watch those games, too, you know,” he quipped with a laugh.

Last night, the Mets had a conference call which I unfortunately missed, but I was covered by our “infamous” Ed Marcus.

Newly hired Chief Revenue Officer Lou DePaoli, discussed his plans for marketing the Mets. He said there are currently 5 million Met fans in our area and described some cool new strategies to get those fans watching, listening, and going to the ballpark again.

But I think the best way to boost fan interest and energize an apathetic fan base lies more in Sandy Alderson’s hands.

Sandy needs to get this team winning again. Winning is historically the best marketing strategy – with a proven 100% success rate in Flushing.

Sandy needs to construct a winner and if he builds it they will come. All five million of us.

Nov 25

Mets Set Free Agent Market The Wrong Way

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson called the free agent market “robust,’’ but he’s a contributor in making it so.

We all know Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury – both good players will get their money – but they aren’t the ones driving up the market.

Salaries aren’t driven by the stars getting large salaries, but when mediocre and questionable talent are given huge paydays.

The bar gets set when Chris Young – thanks to Alderson – gets $7.25 million. The market is also influenced when a PED user such as Jhonny Peralta gets a four-year, $52-million contract from St. Louis. For all the talk about the Mets being interested, it is just as well they didn’t sink that kind of money into player whose numbers are suspect because of PEDs.

So please, I don’t want to hear Alderson moan about the high salary demands when he helped create the environment that leads to those demads. That includes being in the market for a PED user like Peralta.

Retiring commissioner Bud Selig is going after Alex Rodriguez though questionable methods, yet his legacy will also include large contracts for guys like Peralta.

Reliever David Aardsma tweeted over the weekend after learning of the Peralta deal with the Cardinals: “Apparently getting suspended for PEDs means you get a raise. What’s stopping anybody from doing it? … I had 2 major surgeries in 5 months and made it back clean, nothing pisses me off more than guys that cheat and get raises for doing so.’’

He’s right.

I don’t know how you can regulate teams against signing PED users. It’s their money and they are the ones taking the risk.

So many players have benefitted from using PEDs, and regardless of whether MLB nails Rodriguez or not, that will continue.

Which makes me wonder what’s Selig’s real objective?

 

Nov 24

Mets Have Same Issues As When Season Ended

With it being 27 degrees outside, what better time to think about spring training for the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie?

Spring training will be here before you know it, and the Mets aren’t close to being ready, having not filled any of their myriad of the holes they had at the conclusion of last year’s 74-win season.

Not one, and please, don’t even attempt to justify Chris Young as an answer.

The Mets have roughly three months to address the following concerns:

ROTATION: At least the Matt Harvey question was answered, as it is better to know in the negative rather than to wonder. Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and the sampling from Zack Wheeler comprises the starters. With the uncertainty of Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery and the preference to wait on Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets have two slots to fill, with none immediately from the inside.

BULLPEN: Bobby Parnell is recovering from surgery, so he’s a question. LaTroy Hawkins is now in Colorado. A late-season pick-up last year, Vic Black will either be the closer until Parnell returns or in a set-up role. Scott Rice, Carlos Torres and Scott Atchison are expected back, but two or three other roles could be determined during spring training.

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud goes in No. 1, but the Mets are still searching for a veteran mentor. Although they never were going to get him, the Mets have to be pleased to see Brian McCann going to the American League, even if it to the Yankees.

FIRST BASE: Reportedly, there was interest in Ike Davis, but where did it go? Supposedly there was interest from Milwaukee, but that appears to have cooled. Perhaps, something will warm up at the Winter Meetings.

SECOND BASE: Daniel Murphy might be a tradable asset, but will go as a package for anything substantial. He won’t bring back much in a one-for-one trade.

SHORTSTOP: This is a major concern, but it appears Jhonny Peralta is close to signing with St. Louis, which just traded former World Series hero David Freese. That franchise just keeps rolling on. Ruben Tejada is attending a fitness camp in Michigan, so maybe they are re-signed to going with him for another year.

OUTFIELD: No, .200-hitter Young is not the answer, but acquiring him does seem to answer the question of whether Jordany Valdespin is in their plans. Juan Lagares and Eric Young have tentative spots, in center and left, but right field is open. Matt den Dekker could fill a spot, but won’t provide the offense they want.

So, nearly two months after the end of another disappointing season, the Mets are in the same position from when we last saw them.