Feb 03

Another look at Mets’ woeful pitching.

ESPN had an interesting post when it examined the starting rotations of the NL East teams. They still have Johan Santana listed as No. 1, which is puzzling.

What I found most interesting is that every team’s No. 3 starter would qualify as the Mets’ No. 1.

Edwin Jackson is reportedly on his way to Washington, where he’s the projected third starter behind Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. The Braves’ No. 3 is Tommy Hanson. Miami’s third starter is Ricky Nolasco and Philadelphia’s is Cole Hamels.

The Mets’ projected rotation is Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee.

It’s all about pitching and this is a grim reminder of the Mets’ status.

Jan 30

Around the corner …. a brick wall.

Pitchers and catchers report to St. Lucie in three weeks and where is the sense of optimism that comes with the approaching baseball season?

SANTANA: Contract weighs down Mets.

In the past three years the Mets entered spring training without realistic hope save wishing they could muster a competitive season to keep their dwindling fan base interested and enthused.

This year included.

It is not healthy when the fans’ biggest hopes are for the owners to sell and not trade their marquee player. The core three of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran is down to Wright, and nobody would be surprised if he got off to a fast start and the Mets dealt him in July. Believe me, the vultures are calling.

Continue reading

Oct 25

Mets have precious few pieces to trade. Plus poll on dealing Wright.

There are three ways for a team to build: free agency, drafting and trading.

With a stated budget of just over $100 million, Sandy Alderson’s free-agent options are limited, especially if he dives into the deep end of the Jose Reyes pool. He’ll be looking to plug holes in the bullpen and rotation with middle-tier talent. Cheap bench players are always available.

WRIGHT: Most tradeable Met?

There is potential in the minor league system, but it is the lower minors, which the Mets want to avoid delving into. Solid drafting is the best way to lay the foundation and the Mets are making progress in that direction and figure to keep their young talent.

 

That leads us to trading, and things aren’t rosy in that department, either.

David Wright, who has been in decline the past two seasons, has the biggest upside and a manageable contract. He’s a cornerstone, especially if Reyes leaves, and the player who intrigues other teams, believing a change of scenery would benefit him. A Wright trade would mean serious re-building for the Mets, but he’s the player who would bring the most in return.

Trading him is a franchise-defining decision.

Other than Wright, what is the market value for some of the others?

Josh Thole: Young, inexpensive with more potential than production. Thole did not perform to expectations and wouldn’t draw attention from a team wanting a starting catcher. Teams needing a catcher have more experienced options in the free-agent market. It’s hard to believe anybody would trade for him to be a starter.

Ike Davis: Could be attractive, but after missing much of the season with an ankle injury he represents a risk. Young, inexpensive and loaded with potential – if healthy – he’s the ideal piece for the Mets to keep and build around.

Ruben Tejada: Impressed a lot of scouts and would draw interest, but the Mets will need him at shortstop if Reyes goes or at second if he stays. He’s not going anywhere.

Jason Bay: You must be joking. People are saying all the time that the Mets should trade Bay. What planet are they on? Bay has not played well since signing as a Met; he’s been injured and has a hefty contract. Can you see the line forming now? The Mets have two hopes for him: 1) he stays healthy and meets expectations to salvage the final two years, or 2) if that doesn’t happen, then he doesn’t get the necessary at-bats and games for his option to kick in. Two more years.

Angel Pagan: Regressed this year to the point where the Mets might not tender him. He’d sign somewhere as a bench player, but nobody will trade for him.

Lucas Duda: Scouts love his power potential and he played decent defense in right field. He would be part of a larger package, but wouldn’t be someone teams would want to trade for to build around. Besides, the Mets’ outfield forecasts as weak, so he’s getting the full time shot in right.

Fernando Martinez: Had been sought after in previous years, but is a fragile, injury risk whose value has declined. Too bad they can’t turn back the clock two years. If the Mets can swing something with him, they should do it, but his real value to them would be to stay healthy and reach his potential, which is becoming less and less likely.

Johan Santana: Nobody knows how healthy he is, which means he’s staying put for now. Should Santana come back and be solid and healthy in the first half, you could see the Mets trying to deal him if they aren’t in contention. Even if they were, they might pull the trigger on a trade to free up salary. This bears watching, but not until June and July.

Mike Pelfrey: Has a manageable contract and is young. He regressed this season, but there’s still potential for the right pitching coach. But, if they trade him, he would thin out an already spotty rotation. The Mets will keep him and hope he improves. If not, then it might be time to cut him loose. There could be takers at the trade deadline.

Jon Niese: Coming off an injury and who knows if he’d pass the physical? Mets love his potential, so he’s not going anywhere.

R.A. Dickey: Teams don’t trade for journeyman knuckleball pitchers in the off-season. They wait for the trade deadline. He’s been arguably the Mets most consistent starter, but he’s a No. 4 according to most scouts, maybe a No. 5. He’s somebody a contender might covet in July, but he’s not going to bring back a lot of talent.

Dillon Gee: Surprised a lot of people this season. But, the pitching deficient Mets won’t move him. After a great start, Gee had a rocky second half, which makes him a question to the Mets, not to mention any team with interest.

Bobby Parnell: Young and a power arm is always attractive. Not so much is his command and thought process on the mound. There are no assurances the Mets will make him their closer as there are numerous reports saying that is their greatest need. If Parnell can’t convince the Mets he’s closer worthy, then what must other teams be thinking? Right, he’s a bullpen piece who needs a lot of work. Not a long line here.

 

So, if you look at the Mets’ trade options, dealing Wright would net the most, but you have to wonder what considering he’s several years removed from his best season. There are limited other options to deal and they are most suited for moving at the trading deadline.

Sep 23

Capuano non-trade underscores Mets’ pitching concerns

That the Mets turned away Boston’s overture for Chris Capuano can only mean he’s in their plans for next year. Sandy Alderson’s string of reasons for why the deal didn’t go through may all ring true, but the Mets looking ahead is the primary explanation.

Capuano pitched well enough this year to warrant an extension, but the Mets’ interest in retaining him suggest the team’s long-standing concerns over its starting pitching.

CAPUANO: Mets want him back.

The 11-12 Capuano is a 57-64 lifetime pitcher with an ERA north of four runs a game. He is what he is, which is a No. 5 quality starter. Capuano, a risk that paid off, is a left hander, which makes him worth the gamble again, especially considering the Mets’ questions in that area.

Johan Santana is recovering from shoulder surgery and  had setbacks. The Mets can’t write him in with ink for next year, and who is to say if he returns he’ll even be close to his former self? As far as Santana is concerned, the Mets can’t bank on anything with him.

Jonathan Niese also pitched well at times this season, but finished on the disabled list with a pulled side muscle and therefore is a concern. This is twice now Niese finished a season on the disabled list with a pulled muscle.

There are no givens with the rest of the rotation, either, with the possible exception of R.A. Dickey, he of the unpredictable pitch. After a slow start, Dickey has closed well.

Mike Pelfrey remains an enigma. He regressed greatly this season to the point where questions are being asked if he’ll ever live up to expectations. Can anybody honestly say they have confidence in Pelfrey, when time after time he has spit the bit?

Then there’s Dillon Gee, who started hot, but hit a rocky stretch. There’s no guarantee he won’t regress like Pelfrey. Other teams have scouts, too, so he’s not surprising anybody anymore.

The Mets have pitching prospects below, but Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are at least two years away and Jenrry Mejia is coming off Tommy John surgery.

Chris Schwinden will be invited to camp in the spring, but he doesn’t get one salivating.

You can scan the free agent lists all you like, but the Mets won’t spend for a long term deal for a CJ Wilson, Rich Harden or Mark Buehrle. There are the likes of Freddy Garcia and Jason Marquis and a handful of other retreads they’ll scan, but hardly anything you could build around.

The Mets are hardly dealing from a position of strength when it comes to their 2012 rotation, so wanting to bring back Capuano is the obvious thing to do. That is, of course, if they can sign him.

Sep 20

No answers from here on out.

With the Mets out of contention awhile ago, it was hoped September would be the month where some 2012 answers could be found. It has not turned out that way.

GEE: Rocky finish to a good year.

Only .500 remains, but the Mets must run the table for that to occur, and that would mean nine straight against Cardinals, Phillies and Reds. They couldn’t win nine straight against their own minor league system.

The one slot where it was hoped could be definitive was the closer role, but Bobby Parnell has spit the bit. He’ll get another chance in spring training, that is, unless the Mets sign a qualified, veteran closer, but that would require some spending. That’s not going to happen, either.

Ruben Tejada has played well, but not well enough to see if he will be able to assume Jose Reyes’ role. We might never know that answer.

The only comfort I see has been Lucas Duda in right. So far, he’s fielded the position cleanly, but we need a full year at the plate and in the field to see for sure. And, there are usually hills and valleys in the first year as a starter.

I like how R. A. Dickey is finishing, and Chris Capuano and Dillon Gee pitched well enough this year to warrant a chance in next year’s rotation. Gee, however, is struggling, with his ERA jumping nearly a run a game over his last ten starts.

There’s too many unanswered questions Sandy Alderson must spend the winter trying to answer. There are holes in the rotation that can’t be masked by a thin bullpen. There’s a lack of power from David Wright and Jason Bay. Angel Pagan has regressed. There’s nothing that suggests Johan Santana will make it back.

There’s also no indication the Mets will be a heavy player to retain Reyes.