Oct 13

Looking ahead to 2010 ….

Just a blog note: This is the 800th post since I started this blog. Thanks to you for reading and your responses. You don’t always agree with me, and in fact, a lot of you don’t, but I always appreciate the give-and-take.

This blog carried me in a lot of ways as I job search and I’m always grateful for the input of my readers. For as long as I am in the area and have access to the Mets, I will continue the blog. Thanks.

Brand New World Awaits.

Brand New World Awaits.


That being said, let’s take a quick look at 2010. In projecting the Mets’ line-up, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be much difference from the group that played so well this summer.

The Mets have promised trades and free-agent signings that could make it all better, but if history is an indication, there will be more smoke than fire.

Here’s what I see:

CATCHER: Brian Schneider is gone. They would like to add a veteran presence, preferably one with some offensive capabilities. That unknown would platoon with Omir Santos, who played well then faded down the stretch after Josh Thole was added. I’m projecting Thole to start the season in the minor leagues, but he’ll play during the year. There’s a lot of promise there, but he’s learning the position and now to hit on this level.

MURPHY: Showed enough to get chance at first.

MURPHY: Showed enough to get chance at first.


FIRST BASE: The Mets haven’t said they won’t re-sign Carlos Delgado, but those odds are long, especially since he never came back from the disabled list and was reinjured during his rehab. Daniel Murphy, who was force-fed the position, showed improvement over the past two months where they should be comfortable with him in the position until Ike Davis is ready – assuming, of course, Davis does get ready. Adam LaRoche and Aubrey Huff are available on the free-agent market, but neither will lift the franchise to the next level. LaRoche likely will stay with Atlanta.

SECOND BASE: Who would have thought Luis Castillo would hit .302 this year. The Mets believe they might find a taker, but they are dreaming. There are still two years and $12 million on his contract, and just because he stayed healthy for one season doesn’t mean he will in the future. Castillo’s offense was surprising, but his defense regressed. If the Mets can deal him they should, but that’s so unlikely.

THIRD BASE: David Wright has three years and $39 million remaining on his contract. He’s the face of the franchise and here for the duration. There were noticeable flaws in Wright’s game this season, notably dramatic drop in home runs and alarming spike in strikeouts despite hitting over .300. Wright will work with hitting coach Howard Johnson in an attempt to regain his power stroke. And, the power drop wasn’t just Citi Field because he didn’t go deep on the road, either. This is a big offseason concern, and the hope of Wright hitting for more power will shape the Mets’ offseason thinking.

WRIGHT: Needs to regain power stroke.

WRIGHT: Needs to regain power stroke.


SHORTSTOP: A hamstring injury that will require surgery limited Jose Reyes to 36 games in 2009. They expect him back, but nobody is making any promises as to what they believe they’ll get. No doubt, a quality back up should be added, and that means Alex Cora. For the Mets not to have a healthy Reyes, or an ineffective one in 2010, wouldn’t be a reach.

LEFT FIELD: The free agents are enticing. Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Bobby Abreu, and yes, even Manny Ramirez. A quick rundown: Bay will stay in Boston; Abreu likes the Angels; Holliday’s price tag will scare the Mets; and everything about Ramirez should frighten the Mets. There might be a middle-of-the-board option, but isn’t that the same thing as saying Angel Pagan? I’d like Holliday, but my gut tells me the Mets won’t spend.

CENTER FIELD: There are two years and $37 million left on Carlos Beltran’s contract, one with a no-trade clause. Beltran wants an extension, but his injury history should give the Mets pause on that option. A healthy Beltran should help fill the power void.

RIGHT FIELD: Jeff Francoeur will be a free agent in two years, and if the Mets are smart, they’ll lock him up before then. He played with a grit the team has long been accused of lacking.

STARTING ROTATION: If the Mets changed nothing, and that wouldn’t be a shock, they’ll have this rotation: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and either Jon Niese or Bobby Parnell. All of them have issues. Santana, Perez, Maine and Niese have injury issues; Pelfrey took a step back and Parnell’s confidence could be shot. The free-agent market isn’t deep, with the Angels’ John Lackey the premier choice, but he’ll be pricey and has an injury background.

BULLPEN: Closer Francisco Rodriguez had breakdown signs this year with most every save opportunity an adventure. Nothing was ever easy for him. J.J. Putz can forget about having his $8.6 million option picked up. Parnell could get the set-up role, and if he does he should be left alone. Count on lefty Pedro Feliciano returning. After that, it’s back to square one in rebuilding the pen.

Oct 12

On the market ….

With Boston and St. Louis making early exits in the playoffs, the focus is on the outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and where they might land. Left field in Citi Field is a possibility, although not a seemingly strong one.

Yesterday, Bay acknowledged possibly playing elsewhere, but that seems to be more posturing than anything else. Bay loves Boston and the feeling is mutual and the two already had talks this season. I’m figuring he stays in Boston based on what has been written.

However, as much as the Cardinals would like to bring back Holliday, that might not happen because of the pending free-agency of Albert Pujols in two years. The Cardinals aren’t big spenders, but the Catch-22 is in order to retain Pujols they have to be serious about winning and protecting their big bat in the line-up.

Even so, I can see the Cardinals passing on Holliday because they could figure they could get somebody later. That’s how many of these teams think. In addition, the Cardinals’ first priority will be manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Of the four names mentioned here, personally I like La Russa and Duncan on the Mets best, but I know that won’t happen. The odds are best with Holliday.

Oct 09

Put up or shut up ….

The Mets have always been an organization that has placed a lot of premium on talking and hoping for the best. We don’t often see times when they take charge in determining their destiny. Even Johan Santana, they admit, was because the market came back to them.

We have now learned the train wreck that was the 2009 season was the fault of coaches Sandy Alomar Sr. and Luis Alicea, both with limited responsibilities. It wasn’t as if they controlled a pitching staff that walked over 600 hitters or an offense that hit less than 100 homers.

Mets ownership is saying Omar Minaya has the resources to spend in the free-agent market and the nine-lived general manager is saying he will make trades despite a thin farm system.

The Mets have their new stadium, they have their showplace, which was filled for the most part this summer. But, it won’t be long before Citi Field won’t be a magnet anymore. It happened in Camden Yards and Jacobs Field. Eventually, thirty brands of microbrew, BBQ and clam chowder aren’t a draw anymore. Fans will soon learn it is easier to go to a local pub for those things than pay the price to drive out to Queens.

The Braves improved this year as did the Marlins, and we know the Phillies will be aggressive. If the Mets don’t dramatically improve, they could be looking up for a number of seasons to come. This offseason has the potential to shape the Mets for the next several seasons. If they prove to be all talk and fizzle again, we’ll be faced with another rebuilding phase.

Oct 09

Be careful what you wish for ….

A lot of Mets fans are hoping the team will take the plunge on free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, whose defense prowess is why the Cardinals are down 2-0 in their NLDS with the Dodgers.

Holliday dropped a line drive for what should have been the final out in Game 2 yesterday and enabled the Dodgers to rally in the ninth inning. That the Dodgers rallied is not a surprise, as they won 23 games in their final at-bat this season. It was how sudden that was shocking.

There’s no doubting Holliday’s offensive ability, but his defense has been suspect and left field is a difficult position to play in Citi Field. Not that the Mets are going to splurge on what it would take to land him, but defense is a priority.

So, is his glove worth the risk just to have his bat?

Oct 06

Trade who?

One of the most interesting comments from yesterday’s damage control afternoon at Citi Field was GM Omar Minaya’s proclamation he would improve the team through the trade route.

Sounded good except for one thing.

Who will the Mets deal?

The same farm system that couldn’t produce a quality trade this summer is now being asked to come up with the chips now. To me that signals a willingness to deal players the club wanted to hold onto. That could spell that the Mets are growing frustrated with Mike Pelfrey and might listen to offers they previously would have ignored.

Also ignored in the past were overtures for Francisco Martinez.

I’m not saying it is imminent either will go, just that it wouldn’t be surprising if it did.