Jan 04

Mets Should Have Short Leash With Chris Young

One of the more interesting questions leading into spring training is how long a leash should the New York Mets give outfielder Chris Young. Of course, even more perplexing is why they signed him in the first place.

YOUNG: Strikeout machine.

YOUNG: Strikeout machine.

I’m not on board with manager Terry Collins’ proclamation he believes Young is the Met most poised for a surprise season. Considering his recent numbers, hitting .225 would be a surprise, but that’s not what Collins had in mind.

The problem is the Mets will pay this guy $7 million, which means he’ll play. However, him in the lineup is an obstacle for Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker, Eric Young and any other outfield prospect.

After wishing – remember, wishing is not a plan – for big years from Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and dozens of others, the Mets have been burned many times. Young’s track record includes 32 homers seven years ago, but also averages 148 strikeouts per 162 games throughout his career.

He also has a career .235 average with a.315 on-base percentage, which certainly gets me amped. Young clearly is a high-priced gamble, but not one I’d give a lot of patience to.

My hope is he gets off to a fast start which would enable the Mets a chance to deal him. Other than that, if he gets off to a miserable start, in a rebuilding year I wouldn’t waste a lot of time. I’d cut my losses and see what others can do.

I still don’t know what Sandy Alderson had in mind when he signed Young.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 02

Mets’ Top Questions Heading Into Spring Training

With the forecast for up to ten inches tonight and temperatures possibly getting down to five degrees, what better time to think about the New York Mets, if for no other reason, to wonder about spring training?

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

Let’s face it, neither one of New York’s basketball teams is worth thinking or talking about. Those seasons are all but over.

But, spring training? The thought of Florida, and the drive from the airport in West Palm to Port St. Lucie gets the juices flowing.

The Mets say they aren’t finished this winter, but it appears they’ve completed their heavy lifting. Here’s what I consider the top half-dozen issues facing the Mets:

1) Who will be the fifth starter?

A: As of now Jenrry Mejia seems to have the inside track after undergoing elbow surgery. Mejia pitched well at times last season, but the organization suggested his ultimate role is to be determined. Despite the presence of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard in the minor leagues, neither promotion is imminent and the Mets will need a fifth to round out the rotation. If he’s physically ready, Mejia needs the ball. Who knows, he could even prove be a valuable trade chip.

2) Who plays first base?

A: At this rate, Ike Davis will be on the spring training roster. Milwaukee is supposedly their best trading partner, but the Brewers don’t appear in any rush to deal. Perhaps, they are waiting for the Mets’ asking price to fall. Perhaps, they are waiting for the Mets to release him outright. That might not happen as the Mets could be thinking of the July 31 trade deadline. The Mets appear to favor Lucas Duda at first base, and keeping Davis around could prove a distraction. If Davis isn’t going to play, do everybody a favor and let him go.

3) Will Bobby Parnell be the closer?

A: The Mets say they don’t know if Parnell, who is recovering neck surgery, will be ready. If not, Vic Black will get the ball in the ninth inning. Slowly, the Mets have added pieces to their bullpen. There’s always an arm or two that will emerge in spring training. The Mets recently added Ryan Reid, 28, from Pittsburgh. Reid throws in the low 90s and last year was 7-2 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.197 WHIP with Triple A Indianapolis. There could be room for him.

4) What is to become of Travis d’Arnaud?

A: He goes in as the starter, but he didn’t hit enough in his opportunity to warrant the job. Manager Terry Collins said he has faith in Anthony Recker as a reserve, but held back on expressing confidence as a starter. The Mets are more likely to grab a veteran catcher off the waiver wire in spring training rather than make a deal.

5) Who is the leadoff hitter?

A: That remains open, but Eric Young could retain his role if he starts in left field. It is apparent the Mets won’t trade Daniel Murphy and move Young to second base. This could change if Juan Lagares has a strong spring training at leadoff. The Mets have made no promises regarding Lagares, but this much should be obvious: Lagares is better off getting at-bats and playing time in the minor leagues rather than sitting the bench in the majors. To say Lagares has proven all he can in the minors is erroneous thinking. Lagares is far from a being a proven major league hitter, especially considering his propensity for striking out.

6) How much patience will the Mets give Ruben Tejada?

A: There’s nothing imminent in the trade market for shortstop and signing Stephen Drew wouldn’t be a good move. Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t close enough to contender status to warrant signing the veteran the Red Sox didn’t bring back.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 13

Mets Have Hole At Top Of Order; Juan Lagares No Sure Thing To Stick

The way things currently stand, the New York Mets don’t have a leadoff hitter. The tried nine last season before settling on Eric Young.

The signing of Curtis Granderson sends Young to the bench, that is, unless the Mets trade Daniel Murphy and move Young to second base. However, the Mets are asking a lot for Murphy, so there’s nothing imminent there.

 

LAGARES: Needs to hit to stay.

LAGARES: Needs to hit to stay.

Chris Young has the speed, but strikes out too much to be a consistent leadoff hitter. Juan Lagares also has speed, but also strikes out too much with a 96-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 392 plate appearances. The Mets would want somebody with better than a .281 on-base percentage at the top of the order.

We talked last year about Murph maybe leading off, but I haven’t gone there,’’ manager Terry Collins said.  “I know Chris Young led off some in Arizona.  But until, again, I see what the pieces are in the clubhouse, I don’t have to write a lineup until the end of February.’’

An intriguing possibility is Ruben Tejada, that is, if he plays the way he did two seasons ago.

“If Rueben Tejada does what we know he can do, he could be that guy because he gets on base,’’ Collins said.  “He gives you great at?bats and gets on base.’’

If not Tejada, Eric Young could resurface if Lagares doesn’t pan out, which is a distinct possibility. Lagares was impressive in center field, but his offense is lacking. There has been some thought of him in a platoon role, which would be a mistake.

If Lagares is on the 25-man roster leaving spring training, he needs to play. Playing off the bench is counterproductive to his development. But, if he plays, he needs to hit. What he gave the Mets last season at the plate won’t cut it.

“I don’t know what it will be.  I don’t know that you can put a number to it,’’ Collins said of Lagares’ offensive potential.  “He’s a guy defensively.  But in order for us to have the success we want, everybody’s got to hit.’’

Quite simply, the Mets aren’t good enough offensively to carry Lagares. He hits, he plays. If not, he should open the season in the minor leagues.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 12

Wrapping Up Mets At Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The New York Mets left the Winter Meetings a better team than when they arrived. They haven’t been the busiest team this offseason, and didn’t make the biggest splash, but they have been far from dormant and above all, kept their word on being proactive.

COLON: Surprise addition.

COLON: Surprise addition.

Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson took considerable heat for being dormant and talking a good game, but the additions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon were not talk. They aren’t the highest profile free agents, but will make an impact on the 2014 Mets assuming their health.

GRANDERSON

* Fills outfield spot they’ve had open since the beginning of last season.

* Adds left-handed power bat to give protection to David Wright.

* Provides veteran presence in the clubhouse along with a player who understands what it takes to play in New York.

COLON

* Fills one of the two slots for a starting pitcher for 2014, and assuming Matt Harvey’s return the following season, completes the 2015 rotation.

* Adds a pitcher who threw 190 innings in 2013 for Oakland, so we’re talking about durability.

* Adds mound presence young arms can learn from.

In addition to Granderson and Colon, this also came from Mets’ manager Terry Collins:

* Bobby Parnell might not be ready for spring training.

* As of now, Ruben Tejada is their shortstop.

* He’s prepared to go into spring training with both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the roster.

* He’s prepared to have Anthony Recker as the back-up catcher to Travis d’Arnaud.

* Wilmer Flores is in better shape, which could enable him to play the middle infield.

* The Mets don’t have a leadoff hitter if Eric Young doesn’t play.

* Said Chris Young is poised for a surprise season.

The Mets still have a way to go and must address the following:

* Find a resolution to the Davis situation. Sandy Alderson spoke with the Brewers on his way out of town, but Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said nothing is happening there.

* They need another starter, at least for the first two months of the season until they are ready to bring up Rafael Montero.

* The acquisition of a veteran back-up shortstop behind Tejada.

* Bullpen depth in anticipation of Parnell not being ready.

* Determine who will be their leadoff hitter when Eric Young doesn’t play.

Although the Mets were more active than many anticipated, I felt they let several opportunities slip through their grasp, among them:

* Did not pursue Phil Hughes. Who would you rather have, a 27-year-old Hughes for $24 million over three years or a 40-year-old Colon for $20 million over two years?

* Despite needing bullpen help, didn’t make a run at Joba Chamberlain, who signed with Tigers.

* Could have had Nate McLouth over Chris Young. McLouth signed today with Washington.

There’s still a lot of time and a lot of work to do before spring training.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 10

Manager Terry Collins Touches On All Things Mets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – New York Mets manager Terry Collins addressed a myriad of issues surrounding his club two months away from spring training.

Among them:

* He has the mindset both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will be on the roster in February, and he’ll “adjust’’ accordingly.

* Said one of the reasons why Davis hasn’t reached his potential is because he presses trying to hit home runs.

COLLINS: Optimistic.

COLLINS: Optimistic.

* He’s prepared to start the season with Ruben Tejada at shortstop. Collins said Tejada understood, “his career is at stake.’’

* Zack Wheeler should be able to throw 200-plus innings. Collins said he liked Wheeler’s composure and ability to throw strikes when asked if he’s ready to take a Matt Harvey step.

* He’s prepared to have Anthony Recker as the back-up catcher.

* Is not worried about strikeouts from Curtis Granderson and Chris Young because they offset the strikeouts with run production. Collins named Young as the player most poised to be a surprise this season. Collins indicated Granderson will hit fourth behind David Wright.

* Is pleased with Wilmer Flores attending fitness camp in Michigan. Said he’s added quickness and speed and did not rule out playing some shortstop.

* With Eric Young delegated to the bench, said there’s no clear-cut candidate to hit lead off. Named Daniel Murphy and Tejada as possibilities.

* Has not come up with an outfield rotation, but Juan Lagares will be in it.

* Said he’ll wait until what he sees in spring training before deciding if Bobby Parnell will be ready. Vic Black is the presumed closer if he is not.

Collins said pitchers and catchers will report to Port St. Lucie for spring training on Feb. 15.

ON DECK:  Jeff Wilpon dishes on how Mets’ offseason plans changed with Harvey’s injury.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos