Feb 06

Frazier Helps Mets Four Ways

Unquestionably, the Mets are better today after reportedly agreeing to terms with third baseman Todd Frazier on a two-year, $17-million deal.

Frazier improves the Mets four ways:

  • He gives them a proven, veteran third baseman for the next two seasons.
  • He alleviates the David Wright issue. There’s no reason to think about him returning now.
  • He allows Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base, which he prefers.
  • He strengthens the bench because it enables them to concentrate on Jose Reyes in a platoon at second and third.

Frazier hit 67 homers in the last two years, but Mets manager Mickey Callaway told The Post there’s more to him than just power.

“He’s a baseball player,’’ Callaway said. “And you know what he did at the end of the season when we were preparing to play the Yankees, he made some adjustments at the plate. He stopped chasing balls.

“He stopped trying to go down there and flick that ball to left, he was laying off balls that he was going after in the past. You look at his average (.213), but that’s going to change if he continues to do what he did the last month of the season.’’

“He’s a great defender. He’s a great baserunner, too. He can really, really run the bases. Every time we’d go into town and played him, our bench coach, who controlled the running game, would come up to me and say, ‘We’ve got to make sure to keep Frazier close at first, he gets that running lead.’ He puts pressure on the other team.’’

Frazier improves the Mets, but does he make them overcome the 22 games needed to reach .500?

Hardly.

Feb 03

Weighing In On Collusion Issue

Baseball’s owners were found guilty of collusion once, so is it unreasonable to think they won’t try it again? After all, they’ve slowly implemented a salary cap with a luxury tax and restricted free agency with compensatory draft picks.

Also, not beneficial to the integrity of the game – at least in my opinion – are such things as scheduling, interleague play, screwing around with the All-Star Game, playing in ridiculously cold and wet weather, not having any day games during the World Series, not resolving the designated hitter issue, and an almost neurotic obsession about the length of games [see pitch clock].

These things are made possible because the agenda of the owners and commissioner’s office is almost rubber-stamped by the Players Association because its interests lay with salaries and not the issues surrounding the game. This is, in part, because in exchange for not giving the owners a hard time on drug testing the salaries keep spiraling upwards.

So, it’s reasonable to assume something could be going on behind the scenes. Agent Brodie Van Wagenen of Creative Artists Agency said the behavior of the owners “feels coordinated, rightly or wrongly,’’ but didn’t use the word collusion.

Let’s give the owners some benefit of doubt and think there are other reasons why players such as Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alex Cobb, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Carlos Gomez, Logan Morrison, Neil Walker, Lance Lynn, Jonathan Lucroy, Greg Holland and Jon Jay remain unsigned.

What could those reasons be?

• Next year’s market: It’s loaded with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Carrasco, Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, David Price, Daniel Murphy, Joe Mauer, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller. It’s far deeper than this year’s market and we’ll be talking about landmark salaries next winter. There’s also Matt Harvey, but I digress.

• Owners getting smarter: Seriously, some of them are learning most long-term contracts don’t pay off because they get little return at the end as the Mets have with David Wright, Jason Bay, Johan Santana and are on their way again with Yoenis Cespedes, and the Yankees have with Alex Rodriguez.

• Trading expensive contracts: To get out of paying long-term contracts, Marlins part-owner Derek Jeter helped sabotage the market when he traded Dee Gordon to Seattle; Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees; Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis; Christian Yelich to Milwaukee; and Pittsburgh dealt Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco.

• Salary arbitration: Although arbitration has been in play for a long time, it’s origin stems from the owners’ refusal to grant unrestricted free-agency. As a compromise, the owners adopted arbitration where the two sides each submit a salary figure that an arbitrator must pick without establishing something in the middle ground. This process caused salaries to spike more than if there was conventional free-agency. To bypass the arbitration and free-agent players, the owners outsmarted themselves by offering longer and longer contracts. That obviously hasn’t worked so the owners are trying to again manipulate the system. The economic system the owners don’t like is netting them billions, but it’s not enough.

Not all of these reasons explain the slowness in the market, just as collusion isn’t the sole explanation. But, combined they explain why the market has changed and won’t be normal for a long time.

Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.

 

Jan 09

What About Jose Reyes?

The Mets already have an idea of what will happen with David Wright‘s comeback. We know they won’t shell out big free-agent bucks for Mike Moustakas, or even lesser bucks for Todd Frazier. T.J. Rivera‘s health is a question and the Mets have nothing waiting in the minor leagues.

The Mets have a hole at third, and also one at second if something happens to Asdrubal Cabrera.

So, what about Jose Reyes?

He played well in spots in his return, has shown a willingness to play third and second, and of course, he can spell Amed Rosario at shortstop if necessary. He still has speed but doesn’t run as much as he did in his younger days. He won’t cost the Mets a lot of money, and his price tag won’t touch the $10 million they reportedly have available to spend.

Reyes has been a model citizen since rejoining the Mets, and has professed a desire to stay with the team. So, what’s the delay? The only conclusion I can think of is GM Sandy Alderson wants to squeeze every dollar from Reyes, or whomever he might sign this winter.