Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 21

Why Not Go With Rafael Montero Now?

I understand the New York Mets’ position on wanting to delay Rafael Montero’s promotion to the major leagues so they can delay the arbitration process by a year.

But, why?

MONTERO: Why not?

MONTERO: Why not?

We’re talking up to six years down the road and who knows what the Mets’ financial landscape will be by then? Who knows what will become of Montero over the next half decade. Maybe he gets traded. Maybe he blows out his arm. Maybe he becomes a big star and the Mets sign him long term.

If Montero has a solid spring training, they shouldn’t they bring him up right away. Why delay if he’s ready?

If Montero is getting batters out during spring training, then let’s see what he can do during the regular season. All indications are he has a plus-fastball and other quality pitches, so let’s see if he can learn how to pitch on the big stage. The Mets should not be thinking of delaying paying him by a year, but by giving him a chance to develop his mental toughness a year earlier.

Pitching in the major leagues – even if it means taking his lumps – would be more beneficial to Montero’s development than breezing in Triple A for two-and-a-half months.

Remember, this is supposed to be a write-off year with Matt Harvey gone, so why not?

If Montero pitches to his expectations, he should give the Mets at least the nine victories Harvey gave them before his injury. And, if he doesn’t, then so what? He would learn from the experience.

Often you hear the argument teams don’t want to rush a player because they fear they’ll destroy his confidence. However, if a player’s confidence is so fragile that it would be ruined in a couple of months, then how mentally tough was he to begin with?

Actually, the Mets’ stance on bringing up Montero in June might hinder their chances of signing a middle-tier free agent, including a guy like Aaron Harang, because the perception is he’d lose his spot in the rotation in two months. If I’m Harang, that has to be part of my thinking on returning to the Mets.

However, if the Mets said everything was wide open, that could mean the difference. I say go with Montero and still sign veteran pitching. If Montero pans out, then they’d have a trip to trade at the deadline.

ON DECK: Here’s a possible answer to the Flores dilemma.

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?