Nov 13

Ike Davis Draws Interest; Should Mets Have Second Thoughts?

The New York Mets seem determined on dealing Ike Davis, and considering his lack of production and injury history over the past three years it’s a reasonable position.

ESPN reported the Mets are drawing interest for Davis from several teams, and it can be concluded the following are the primary reasons: 1) he has a track record for power, hitting 32 homers in 2012; 2) he’s a solid defensive first baseman; 3) he’s cost-efficient, having made $3.1 million this year; and 4) he’s young, at 26, meaning there’s time to turn it around.

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

For those very attractive reasons, and that teams have been cool on Lucas Duda, might be reason for the Mets to reconsider and give Davis another shot.

The general belief from scouts is Davis is young enough to resurrect his career, and a change-of-scenery with different coaching might have him again hitting bombs.

The Mets can give him a raise and they can give him another chance, but what they can’t give him is the different coaching and change-of-scenery.

Part of the rap on Davis is he’s reluctant to take coaching advice, but that’s stuff you hear privately and something he vehemently denies. Criticism that is easily verifiable is his propensity for striking out, a low on-base percentage, and an all-or-nothing mentality at the plate.

Alderson told ESPN at the general managers meetings in Orlando Wednesday he’d like to make a move soon, but, as always, reiterated he won’t make a move just to make a move.

“In our situation, we’d like to do something early,” Alderson said. “It would be great, if it’s the right move, and if that kind of thing is possible. It may be. It may not be. We’re working at it, but I can’t predict anything.’’

The teams reportedly interested in Davis are Houston, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Colorado. Naturally, they’d prefer to deal him to the American League.

From Davis’ perspective, each of those teams have better hitters’ parks than Citi Field, with Camden Yards and Coors Field particularly enticing.

Alderson acknowledged sensing urgency from the often-disappointed Mets’ fan base, but that’s no reason to make a panic move.

Speculation of a trade involving Davis would most likely be as part of a package, or one team dealing a disappointment for another. Nobody will surrender somebody of substance one-on-one for Davis.

Not that Davis has gone wire-to-wire without problems – either injuries or dreadful slumps – but if the Mets deal him they would be going with the largely unproven Duda. Another first base option could be Daniel Murphy, but dealing him opens a hole at second base unless they acquire a left-fielder and move Eric Young to the infield.

Reportedly, the Mets spoke with free-agent shortstop Jonny Peralta Wednesday.

The Mets’ top four priorities are at least two starters; shortstop; a power-hitting outfielder; and bullpen depth.

NOTE: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award balloting Wednesday.

Nov 04

Atlanta’s Paul Maholm Tops List Of NL East Free Agents That Could Entice Mets

Let’s face it, the New York Mets adding Giancarlo Stanton will not happen any time soon. Miami general manager Dan Jennings told ESPN Stanton isn’t going anywhere.

“Mr. Stanton is not available,’’ Jennings said. “He will be in right field at Marlins Park on Opening Day. We are building around him.’’

Don’t underestimate the Marlins’ ability to build quickly, evidenced by World Series titles in 1997 and 2003.

MAHOLM: Somebody Mets should consider.

MAHOLM: Somebody Mets should consider.

The Marlins are attractive because they have money and play in Miami. However, that doesn’t mean other Marlins, or other players from the NL East Division might not be able to help the Mets.

The NL East player I would most want is Braves catcher Brian McCann, but that won’t happen as Atlanta is contemplating bringing him back, and if doesn’t happen, the Mets won’t win a bidding war against the Yankees.

After him, I’ve always like left-hander Paul Maholm, who made a reasonable $6.5 million last year while going 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA while pitching 153 innings over 26 starts.

Another notable number for Maholm is that he’s only 31. While pitching for mostly poor Pittsburgh teams since 2006, Maholm has started at least 26 games every year while not working less than 150 innings in any one season.

That definitely qualifies as an innings-eater, and one that could come at a reasonable price and give the Mets several seasons. He likely wouldn’t want anything less than a two-year deal.

Considering the Mets also have bullpen holes, left-hander Eric O’Flaherty is available, especially if things don’t work out with Josh Edgin or Tim Byrdak. O’Flaherty, who made $4.3 million last year was 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and three holds in 19 appearances.

Another potential reliever is Miami’s Chad Qualls, who at 35, was 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 15 holds in 66 appearances. He did it all for $1 million, and a minimum raise should be able to get him.

Somebody who has always been a thorn to the Mets is Miami outfielder Juan Pierre, who hit .247, but with a paltry .284 on-base percentage. Pierre made 308 at-bats in 131 games, as essentially a role player, something he would also do in New York. Pierre would not be somebody the Mets should pursue as a starter as they essentially have the same player in Eric Young.

If Philadelphia doesn’t bring back catcher Carlos Ruiz, that’s somebody the Mets might consider because Travis d’Arnaud didn’t prove in his limited window he’s capable of playing full time. Ruiz made $5 million while hitting .268 with a .320 on-base percentage and five homers with 37 RBI last year.

The Mets could strengthen themselves, and potentially hurt Washington, by going after Dan Haren, somebody they’ve had their eyes on before. Haren made $13 million last season while going 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He worked 169.2 innings over 30 starts and would fit in will in 2014 and possibly longer as a back-end rotation starter.

He’s 33 and could benefit from pitching in larger Citi Field.

 

 

 

Nov 03

Wilpon’s Comments About Core Reveals Mets Have Little To Trade

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has subsequently modified his statement about his team having only four core players, later adding Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

It’s not a substantial increase, but highly revealing in two main aspects.

First, it highlights the areas where the Mets are weak and need building. That would be two starters, bullpen depth, first base, shortstop and the outfield. By my count, that’s 18 players.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

Of course, the Mets won’t be able to turn over their roster by that much, but there will undoubtedly be significant changes.

Realistically, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang will be gone, and with a reluctance to tap into their minor league system for starters until at least June and Jenrry Mejia not certain to be ready, that’s a high priority for Sandy Alderson.

Parnell isn’t a given for spring training, leaving the entire bullpen to reconstruct. Vic Black could move into the closer role, but most everything else is to be defined. Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice should be a part of things, but there are injury and experience considerations. If all are counted, that still leaves at least two spots.

Eric Young and Juan Lagares could be two of the three outfielders, but that leaves right field open and numerous questions are circulating about the production the Mets could get from them.

Thoughts of moving Young to second base and possibly Murphy to first are premature, because the Mets envision more power at first than Murphy could provide. Young definitely won’t supplant Murphy and send the latter to the bench as it would delete the Mets’ overall most productive hitter from the line-up.

And, please, Murphy is not a centerpiece to a trade, he is a complementary part.

That gives us the second revealing aspect of Wilpon’s comments about the Mets’ core. If there’s little there, and whether you’re talking the original four players or the updated seven, it’s not significant. That means there’s also little to trade, so if you’re thinking the Mets will go into the general manager meetings and later the winter meetings with a lot of chips, you’re sadly mistaken.

What the Mets have, they want to keep. Outside their core, all they have are pieces of a package. With the injuries to Matt Harvey and Mejia, the Mets want to hold onto their young pitching prospects – defined as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – because they’ll likely need them later.

So, whatever improvements the Mets make this winter will be cash deals.

 

Oct 14

Mets Have Few Spots Without Questions

Let’s assume for a moment the New York Mets’ health questions – outside from Matt Harvey – are answered in the positive heading into spring training. If that’s the case, then let’s look what issues the Mets’ don’t qualify as pressing.

They don’t have a lot.

As I see it, they are only three deep in their rotation with Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler. All have performance questions, but if healthy I’m not overly concerned.

Gee won 12 games last year and 15 should not be out of the question. The same goes for Niese. Who among us doesn’t expect Wheeler to pitch the way Harvey did before he was injured?

Who wouldn’t take that now?

As far as the position players are concerned, the Mets are set in just two spots, and possibly a third. David Wright, of course, and can we please stop trying to replace Daniel Murphy when there are other concerns?

I have no problem with Murphy at second base, and for that matter, I’m also fine with Eric Young in left field, primarily because he surfaced above nine other options to be a productive leadoff hitter. Yes, a high on-base percentage would be good to see, but he made things happen at the top of the order and lead the National League in stolen bases.

And, don’t forget, the Mets only had him for half a season.

The expectations are high for Juan Lagares in center, but he has too many offensive issues. The same goes for Matt den Dekker. Translation: The outfield remains a mess.

There are no answers in the minor leagues and little chips to use to trade. That means they will have to spend, but is there anybody out there that makes you salivate?

I wrote optimistically the other day about the bullpen, but that’s if everything comes together. They appear to have plenty of options to build around, but nothing concrete, especially considering Bobby Parnell’s injury. Should Parnell not come back that’s a source for serious worry.

The back end of the rotation is a concern just as it was last year before Jeremy Hefner and Gee started pitching well. They have options they could bring back and others in the minors, but there’s too much uncertainty.

First base is a black hole and catcher Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t proven he can hit, although the pitchers appear to like him and his defense is promising.

The Mets as we know them today will not be your team come Opening Day. And, that’s a positive.

Oct 06

Mets Have Little To Offer In Trade Market

The New York Mets say they will spend on free agents this winter, in large part because they have little to offer up in the trade market.

Really, their only chance to immediately improve is to write checks.

What losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season also does, is it greatly reduces the Mets’ inability to execute trades. In the wake of Harvey’s injury, general manager Sandy Alderson said he would be reluctant to deal Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or any of the Mets’ other young pitching this winter to acquire the power hitter they are seeking.

Alderson said he has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s an even greater need to hold onto their pitching.

There’s nothing on the minor league level regarding position players that are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up, that also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to the major league level.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher. Eric Young is a role player, while Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis?  How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have been doing for years. Alderson’s words aren’t ringing hollow. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter.