Dec 10

Mets’ Reluctance To Go Multi-Year On Contracts Works Against Them In Pitching Hunt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The New York Mets’ reluctance to offer multi-year contracts and their young pitching depth are working against them in their quest for a veteran pitcher.

“We’d be hesitant to give a multi-year contract, but doesn’t mean we wouldn’t,’’ Alderson said.

WHEELER: The model route to the majors.

WHEELER: The model route to the majors.

However, any free agent only hears the first part of that statement.

The Mets are high on their young pitching talent of Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, and Alderson cited those arms for the reason to be cautious in offering multiple years.

“I think the type of talent we have coming. That’s the primary consideration,’’ Alderson said of what’s holding him back in making a major signing.

That scenario works both ways, as a veteran pitcher could be reluctant to sign on for a job that might disappear after three months.

Alderson said the Mets are interested in bringing back Daisuke Matsuzaka, but nothing is imminent on that front. Apparently, Aaron Harang is not an option to bring back.

“We haven’t had any real dialog yet,’’ Alderson said of Matsuzaka. “But, Dice-K is on our list.’’

In each of the last two years the Mets took their time in promoting Matt Harvey and Wheeler to the major leagues, and Alderson doesn’t plan to deviate from that approach now.

“I think we have the possibility of pushing guys a little harder,’’ Alderson said. “But, we’d ideally we’d like to follow that prior approach. It’s not an unusual path. … Ideally, we’d like to ease guys in, but these aren’t ideal times.’’

However, there are such things, as the elbow injury to Harvey, that makes the desired path not possible.

Alderson doesn’t have to look any further than Harvey’s surgically-repaired elbow to know even the best plans can change.

ON DECK: Jenrry Mejia not close to being ready.

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Dec 09

Mets Want To Upgrade Rotation; Considering Bartolo Colon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Starting pitching is the priority and the New York Mets want to leave Florida having signed at least one starter. Ideally, two.

General manager Sandy Alderson does not want to dip into his minor league reserves of Jacob deGromRafael Montero, or Noah Syndergaard. Not yet, anyway. A starter would have to come from the outside, and Bronson Arroyo is the most notable name.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

Arroyo will cost the Mets more in money and prospects, than what they want to spend.

Reportedly, they talked with Bartolo Colon, but he’ll got more than what they want to spend. Alderson was non-committal on his own pitching free agents, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang?

“I don’t think we’re totally comfortable with what we have in the organization,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of quality. We even have some depth. But to replace two spots in the rotation with the kids coming out of our system, I think, is a little much to expect coming out of spring training.’’

Alderson said it is likely they could be in the rotation by the middle of the season, which is a deterrent in negotiations. What pitcher wants to come to New York if he knows he’ll be bounced from the rotation?

It doesn’t seem likely either Arroyo or Colon – both of whom are older than 36 – will want to want to sign with the Mets knowing they won’t have a job by midseason. However, adding both could put the Mets in a competitive role for 2014 and not have them wait until 2015 when Matt Harvey will be ready coming off Tommy John surgery.

Remember, Harvey’s return isn’t guaranteed, and Zack Wheeler doesn’t have a full season on his resume.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Nov 21

Mets Dragging Feet On Matsuzaka And Harang

Earlier this week I suggested things could heat up in the Hot Stove and this might be the time for the New York Mets to strike.

And, I didn’t mean Prince Fielder, or Brandon Allen for that matter.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson agreed the other day things could get warm, but wouldn’t say how close he’d get to the “Stove.’’

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ Alderson said. “If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that.’’

OK, he acknowledges it. Then what?

“And, consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that,’’ Alderson added.

The operative word in all that was “if.’’

Well, are the Mets going to participate? A robust market means spending and Alderson’s checkbook is still under wraps.

Alderson said the team has been more active, but that has to mean working the phones because we’re not seeing anything public outside of Allen, the departures of Mike Baxter and LaTroy Hawkins, and, of course, the ones who got away – or are about to.

Because we’re not going to see Matt Harvey outside of a courtside shot of him at the Knicks game Wednesday night, the Mets are in need of pitching first and foremost. I’m aware of the crying for a power outfielder and the need of a shortstop, but the Mets only have three starters. Nothing happens without pitching.

It would have been sweet to get Josh Johnson, but that wasn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang could get away. Late season pick-ups last year, both provided quality innings at the back end of the rotation. In a combined 11 starts, only twice – both times by Matsuzaka – did they not get out of the fifth.

Alderson said he wanted veteran innings at the back end, and these two are as veteran as you can get. And, what they gave the Mets is what they are seeking now. Sure, the Mets want to do better. But, better means spending more.

Matsuzaka pitched well in September after pitching coach Dan Warthen tinkered with his mechanics and got him to speed up his delivery. My concern is he pitched well enough for him to catch another team’s eye and might be willing to give him two years. The presumption is the most the Mets will offer is one year plus an option. That would mean the Mets would lose him.

It’s still November, and there’s plenty of time remaining, but that’s not the issue. It’s a matter of who will be remaining when the Mets are ready to do more than talk on the phone.

ON DECK: Why not go with Montero now?

Nov 14

What We Learned About Mets From GM Meetings

The general managers meetings ended without the New York Mets making a sound just as we knew they would. It was that way for everybody else, too.

The GM meetings are for laying the groundwork for the offseason, and this much we have learned from the Mets:

Despite what I wrote about maybe taking a second look at Ike Davis, it won’t happen. With a half-dozen teams inquiring about him, he’s gone. The Mets are in a delicate situation with Davis. It’s obvious they want to get rid of him and teams know that, so they’ll lowball the Mets. Sandy Alderson knows that, but he also knows Davis’ greatest value is living up to his potential the Mets projected of him and not just give him away.

Jhonny Peralta seems to be the Mets’ objective for shortstop with Stephen Drew out of their price range. Defense up the middle is paramount and Drew will get his money somewhere.

Curtis Granderson is there for the taking in the outfield, where he can play center or a corner position. It’s clear the Yankees don’t want him, and it is also obvious he’ll come a lot cheaper than Shin-Soo Choo, who’ll be overpaid by whomever signs him. Ditto for Jacoby Ellsbury. This much we know about Granderson: 1) he’ll hit for some power, but not as much as he would if he were at Yankee Stadium, 2) he’ll strike out a lot, and 3) he knows how to play in New York.

Bronson Arroyo can be had for a reasonable cost to help fill the back end of the rotation. It appears the Mets have little, or no interest, in Barry Zito or bringing back Mike Pelfrey. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang are still available, but apparently there’s no rush there.

In previous seasons the Mets used to let the market come to them, but this winter it might be prudent for them to hustle for their first choices.

Better overpay early then come away empty later.

Oct 23

Did Mets Fix Daisuke Matsuzaka Only To Lose Him?

Even knowing that the New York Mets would not have Matt Harvey next season, there was a slight glimmer of optimism they might have enough to piece together a rotation and spend elsewhere.

That glimmer is fading.

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen fixed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s long and cumbersome delivery, complete with a hitch. With a faster delivery, Matsuzaka showed he could be the real deal. After a rocky first two starts, Matsuzaka settled in to become one of the Mets’ most reliable starters in September. Matsuzaka finished at 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. His fastball returned with bite as evidenced by his 33-16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He averaged just under eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The Mets were interested when Matsuzaka came out of Japan, but didn’t come close to matching Boston with the qualifying negotiating offer to his Japanese team.

Matsuzaka earned $1.5 million this season from the Mets, who picked him up after Cleveland released him at the end of spring training.

The Mets also signed innings-eater Aaron Harang, Sept. 1, after his release from Seattle. Harang, who has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego and the Dodgers, is a reliable workhorse. From 2004 through this season, Harang has pitched less than 150 innings only twice, including this year when he worked a combined 143.1 innings with the Mariners and Mets.

Harang gave the Mets six innings in three of his four starts, and five in the other. He was 0-1 with a representative 3.52 ERA, but struck out 26 in 23 innings. However, he did give up five homers.

What Harang and Matsuzaka did was log enough innings to conserve the bullpen and prevent the Mets from unraveling the last month of the season.

What Harang and Matsuzaka also did was impressive to enough scouts to where somebody will make them an offer to pry them away if the Mets go low-ball. The last thing a journeyman pitcher wants to do is not leave an impression in September.

This would not be something new to the Mets, as both Chris Capuano and Chris Young proved enough in their Flushing auditions for another team to take them away.

They aren’t the only ones.

Carlos Torres, who previously pitched in Japan, Colorado and with the Chicago White Sox, was an asset as a spot starter, long reliever and situational reliever this season. In 33 games with the Mets, nine of which were starts, Torres was 4-6 with a 3.44 ERA.

He pitched 86.1 innings, which isn’t bad considering he wasn’t on their radar in spring training. He struck out 75 and walked just 17 with a career-best 1.112 WHIP.

Torres, who made $415,000 this season, will leave if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.

So, that feeling of holding the fort until Rafael Montero is ready, and to a larger extent, until 2015, is giving way to a sense the Mets might have done it again and fixed several pitchers to where somebody else will take them away from them.