Sep 24

Sandy Alderson’s Greatest Hits

For all the griping and moaning done about GM Sandy Alderson’s performance and contract extension, I would be remiss if I didn’t examine some of the positives.

Remember, in evaluating Alderson, you must consider what he was primarily brought in for – to cut payroll. That was his job description; secondly he was to bring in young blood.

ALDERSON: Did some good..

ALDERSON: Did some good..

Let’s call these Alderson’s Greatest Hits:

CLEARING OUT THE DEADWOOD: For several seasons the Mets carried the unproductive and self-centered Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Their contracts prevented them from being dealt and they didn’t produce, yet the Mets kept them.

In trying to create a positive atmosphere, Alderson cut ties, which opened the door for fresh blood.

Although Jason Bay didn’t have an attitude problem like Perez and Castillo, he was non-productive, but Alderson worked a buy-out with the swing-and-miss outfielder.

NOT BRINGING BACK JOSE REYES: Yes, he might arguably be the most exciting player in franchise history, but considering the Mets’ financial plight, there was no way they were going to meet the Marlins’ $106 million offer.

Toward the end of his Mets’ tenure, Reyes started to break down – he went on the DL twice in his last year here – and evidenced by his last game, he clearly wanted to get out of town.

Perhaps this was clumsily handled, but Reyes was going to chase every dollar and the Mets weren’t in the ballpark with him. This went a long way toward extending David Wright.

TRADING FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: The Mets didn’t get much in return, but they did get rid of a bulky contract.

TRADING CARLOS BELTRAN: Alderson traded the injury prone outfielder for Zack Wheeler, one of the jewels in the Mets’ young rotation. As there was no way they were going to bring back Beltran, they couldn’t have done better. Especially, since Beltran was going to walk and his contract stipulated no compensatory draft pick.

TRADING R.A. DICKEY: Dealing a Cy Young Award winner is a difficult decision, but like Reyes, it was doubtful they could have re-signed him.

In return, the Mets received pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Rookie of the Year candidate catcher Travis d’Arnaud and catcher John Buck.

SIGNING MARLON BYRD: They pulled this out of thin air. Byrd gave the Mets a good half-season before he was traded with Buck to Pittsburgh for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

SAYING NO TO MATT HARVEY: Let’s face it, Harvey is good, but also a diva. He wanted to pitch this season against the advice of Alderson and the medical staff. Several times he whined about pitching, but unlike previous Mets’ management, Alderson held firm and Harvey stayed in one piece for at least another year.

Dec 28

Top Ten Mets Stories For 2012: Dickey, Wright, Santana And Others

The clock is winding down on 2013, which, if you’re a Mets fan is a good thing because it was another fruitless season at Citi Field.

Before we kiss the year good-bye, or as Gary Cohen would say, “It’s outta here!’’ let’s go back and look at the top ten Mets stories of this very forgettable season:

1. TRADING R.A. DICKEY: My argument for it being the top Mets story is it defines and underscores what is going on with this franchise.

Dickey had arguably one of the most remarkable seasons for a Mets pitcher in winning 20 games and the Cy Young Award with a knuckleball, and as it would turn out, pitching hurt.

Dickey was a feel-good and inspirational story, and despite roughly a $5 million difference, the Mets dealt him for prospects – the key one coming off an injury – that are two or three years away.

The message sent wasn’t Happy New Year, but this team is still not ready for prime time.

2. RESIGNING DAVID WRIGHT: They were supposed to sign both Wright and Dickey to tell its disgruntled fan base that the Mets were building for the future.

Wright was imperative because he’s the most popular Met and the face of the franchise. We shall see how the Mets will build on extending Wright. The first move was to deal Dickey.

3. DICKEY’S INCREDIBLE SUMMER: Once thought of as a stop-gap fifth starter, Dickey pitched to elite status this summer in winning the Cy Young Award.

However, Dickey was more than a pitcher, but a symbol of persistence who could identify with the common fan. More than any other Met, Dickey is us and showed his guile and grit every fifth day.

4. JOHAN SANTANA’S NO-HITTER: Perhaps in other seasons it would rank higher, but it came with several asterisks.

First, it was tainted, preserved by a blown umpire’s call that ironically robbed former Met Carlos Beltran. Then, there were the 134 pitches as the game was extended by the bad call.

Santana followed the no-hitter with a career-high six straight losses and again ended the season on the disabled list.

Santana has pitched well in spots, but it will always be remembered that for the $134 million contract he never pitched in a playoff game for the Mets and frequently was injured.

The last three years was a matter of merely counting down to the end of his contract.

5. JASON BAY BOMBS OUT: Santana’s contract might be arguably the worst FA deal doled out by the Mets. If not him, then definitely Bay, who between injuries gave the Mets no production.

The Mets were eventually able to buy out Bay on a differed basis, which considering what he gave the team, really doesn’t leave them in a hole for 2013.

As with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, it was best to move on.

6. ALDERSON SITS AT THE BREAK: After letting Jose Reyes leave without an offer, GM Sandy Alderson vowed the team would have the resources to add pieces at the trade deadline if it were competitive.

Before the break the Mets once were eight games over .500 and 46-40 at the break. However, cracks in the bullpen were forming and Alderson did nothing. By the time he was inclined to make a trade, the second half-collapse had begun and it was too late.

7. SECOND-HALF COLLAPSE: At one point the Mets went 15 games at home in which it scored three or fewer runs. Hard to fathom, but true.

Dickey and Ike Davis’ strong second half is what the Mets needed to struggle to finish 14 games under .500.

The second-half collapse included Santana’s six-game losing streak, Dillon Gee’s season-ending injury and the bullpen’s implosion.

8. IKE DAVIS HITS 32 HOMERS: It was frequently written Davis has 30-homer potential. Now, it is true and he’s the singular most power threat in the line-up as Wright’s homer production has dropped and Lucas Duda is still a question.

There were trade rumors of Boston having interest, but with the Mets basically void of power, Davis isn’t going anywhere.

9. METS SURVIVE REYES’ DEPARTURE: One of the more overriding issues with the Mets entering the season was how it would adjust to losing Jose Reyes.

Ruben Tejada more than ably filled the role as the Mets proved they could lose with or without Reyes. Tejada won’t become an offensive match to Reyes, but he was more than adequate and definitely was on a par defensively.

10. TEAM DOES NOTHING AT WINTER MEETINGS: The Mets didn’t counter losing Dickey with anything productive.

In fact, the Mets end 2012 in worse shape than it started the season. In addition to the normal injury-related questions to their pitching, the Mets now need to add a starter to replace Dickey.

The Mets aren’t likely to bring back Scott Hairston, who was a role player for them in the first place and have three questions in the outfield. There’s also concerns in the bullpen and at catcher.

So, the biggest story for the 2012 Mets is they’ve gotten worse.

Dec 04

Despite R.A. Dickey And Jon Niese, Mets Still Have Pitching Concerns

Undoubtedly, the outfield is a huge void GM Sandy Alderson will try to fill with scraps. So too, is the bullpen. But, don’t forget the rotation despite the presence of Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, assuming, of course, there will be a Dickey.

I keep hearing how the Mets’ young pitching is a position of strength, but in reality it is a position of potential, and there is a difference. And, I would be hesitant to say vast potential.

There were many mistakes in the Omar Minaya regime, but one of the biggest – and most understated – was the decision to overestimate the team following the 2006 season. “We just missed the World Series by a strike,’’ was the thinking.

How wrong they were. Even had Carlos Beltran done something with that pitch, there were concerns with the Mets’ pitching and bullpen which came to fruition during the collapses of 2007 and 2008.

Despite the flashes and strong showing in 2012, that’s the story today when you big-picture their staff. If all breaks well, then there is a lot to like about the Mets’ pitching. But, if it doesn’t – and we know it all won’t be good – then we are back again faced looking at a team with huge holes.

JOHAN SANTANA: He is once again coming off an injury, which he has done almost annually since signing with the Mets. Santana had a good start in 2012, but hit a wall and was eventually injured. Nobody can say with authority what the Mets can expect from him other than he’ll cost $25 million. Santana will be gone after this year, so even if he has a good season that’s a hole that must be filled in 2014. That hole would be even bigger if Dickey is traded or leaves as a free agent.

R.A. DICKEY: How can the Mets reasonably anticipate anything from Dickey when they are listening to trade offers? Even should the Mets re-sign Dickey to an extension, there’s still the question if 2012 was a one-shot deal. I like Dickey, but it is undeniable he has a short track record.

JON NIESE: If Dickey leaves, then Niese becomes the de facto ace of the staff. Niese has an upside, but how big we do not know. Last year was his best at 13-9, and it was his only winning season. How can you place all your chips on him when the most he’s ever won was 13 games?

DILLON GEE: Gee is coming off an injury, and like Niese has a small track record. Gee hasn’t been projected higher than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the first place, so to consider him a stalwart would be a misnomer. Gee is still missing from his resume a full season. Give him that and we’ll have a guess at his ceiling.

MATT HARVEY:  While good things are projected of Harvey, not a career do ten games make. The projections for Harvey are higher than they ever were with Mike Pelfrey and Niese. Harvey made an undeniably strong first impression last year. Now he must build on it. There are a lot of teams that haven’t seen Harvey yet, and those that had will have a book on him.

THE BULLPEN:  As the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, then a pitching staff is as strong as its bullpen and we know the Mets’ pen is weak. It was a hole Alderson couldn’t patch together with nickel pieces last winter. Wonder if he’ll do better with dime pieces.

 

Dec 03

Evaluating The Reasons To Trade R.A. Dickey

DICKEY: Evaluating the trade option. (AP)

I don’t believe the Mets will trade R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings, but I won’t be surprised if that is the end result this winter.

Rarely do general managers talk about trading players by name, let alone a key player such as Dickey, but after hearing Sandy Alderson’s comments last night that’s where I am leaning despite his obvious qualifier.

“Well, we expect to talk to a lot of teams about a lot of different things,’’ Alderson told reporters last night in Nashville. “That’s why we’re here – to explore various combinations. I would suspect, yes, we will have conversations about R.A. That doesn’t mean we would prefer to go in that direction or reconcile to go in that direction.’’

Ideally, Alderson would like a quick resolution, but realizes that might be difficult depending on the scenarios presented him this week.

“It could go on for a while. I just can’t predict. … R.A’s situation needs to be resolved, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be resolved here in Nashville before Thursday,” Alderson said. “I think we’ll have a lot more information by the end of Thursday both in terms of his negotiation as well as other options. But I don’t think we have to have resolution by Thursday.’’

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Nov 15

Dickey Wins, Wants To Stay … Now Keep Him.

R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young Award last night, and emphatically reiterated his desire to remain with the Mets. That’s a good sign, and I have the feeling Dickey won’t hold out for the last dollar.

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING R.A. DICKEY

He realizes the Mets gave him what probably was his last opportunity and there is a sense of loyalty. On the flip side, he realizes this will be his last chance at a pay-day.

“I love the Mets,” Dickey said last night. “And that hasn’t changed from the first opportunity I got against the Washington Nationals in 2010. There’s a part of me that really wants to be loyal to that.”

It is imperative the Mets re-sign Dickey for three reasons: 1) what he gives them on the field, 2) what he gives the organization and means to the fan base off the field, and 3) the perception it gives other potential free agents.

It is clear what he gives the team on and off the field, but signing him sends the significant message to other free agents that the Mets aren’t fooling around and their rebuilding is in a significant stage.

Dickey wants to be a part of that process.

“I think [Sandy Alderson] has a great plan for the future of the New York Mets,” Dickey said. “I’m sure it’s going to require a little vision, I’m sure it’s going to require a lot of hard work. But anything worth having – that’s what’s required. I’m on board, and I want to be part of the solution here.”

The feeling is mutual with Dickey and the public. New York gives him opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have in other markets.  That works in the Mets’ favor.

“I love the fan base, my family loves being a New York Met, being in New York and all the stuff it has to offer outside of baseball,” he said. “It’s given me the platform to do things that far transcend the game. Whether it’s pouring myself into a charity I am really passionate about, or writing a memoir that I feel like needed to be written. All these things, I don’t know if I could’ve done them if it weren’t for New York and being a New York Met.

“I am aware of that, and I am appreciative of that. Because of that, I like being a Met, and I wouldn’t mind finishing my career as a Met.”

In a reality check mentioned for the benefit of the Wilpons, “wouldn’t mind finishing my career as a Met,” is not the same thing as willing to sign at any price.

Dickey will cost some significant money, and the Mets must decide if he’s worth it. That decision would be a no-brainer if Dickey had previous seasons like 2012, but he hasn’t. The knuckleball puts less strain on the arm, so he theoretically will be able to pitch into his 40’s. But, they must also gamble he isn’t a one-year wonder.