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

Joe Torre Goes Into Hall Of Fame; Joined by Tony La Russa And Bobby Cox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. –  Joe Torre hoped it would happen, but he never dared think it would. The former New York Mets player and manager, who later carved his legacy as four-time World Series manager of the Yankees, was selected to the Hall of Fame today by the veteran’s committee.

The announcement was made at the Walt Disney Swan resort hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Torre will go in with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox. All three won over 2,000 games and World Series titles. All three are incredibly deserving.

TORRE: Former Met goes into Hall of Fame.

TORRE: Former Met goes into Hall of Fame.

Also deserving, but left out were Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom Torre said, “changed my life for giving me that opportunity,’’ and Marvin Miller, the former director of the Players Association.

As much as friends told Torre – who currently works in the commissioner’s office – his nomination was a given, he never let his mind wander there.

“That’s what they said when we were up 3-0 against the Red Sox, and looked what happened,’’ said Torre of the Yankees’ infamous collapse in the 2004 ALCS. “As much as I would have like it to happen, I never obsessed over it.’’

Torre has little to say about his time with the Mets other than, “I started with the Mets when they weren’t spending anything,’’ and that he wasn’t the manager for two weeks when the club dealt Tom Seaver to Cincinnati.

Torre, a lifetime .297 hitter, finished his playing career and was named manager shortly thereafter.

Torre, who managed the Mets, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals, won 2,326 games, fifth all time, along with six pennants. He wore his 2003 World Series ring.

While he credited Steinbrenner for the opportunity, he saved his greatest gratitude for his players.

“You can’t win the Kentucky Derby unless you are on a thoroughbred,’’ Torre said of the team that won titles in 1996, 1998-2000. “They had so much heart and backbone.’’

Cox, a former Yankee, managed Toronto and Atlanta, and won the World Series.

“When you’re voted into the Hall of Fame, your life changes,’’ Cox said. “Hopefully, two guys who helped get me here – Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux – will be there with me. … They are the guys who got me here.’’

Glavine – a former Met – and Maddux are 300-game winners, traditionally an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.

La Russa began his managerial career at age 34 with the Chicago White Sox, and blossomed to dugout stardom with Oakland and St. Louis.

“The best way to describe the feeling is `stunned,’ ’’ said La Russa. “I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable in that club.’’

ON DECK: A trade the Mets should make.

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?