Feb 12

Mets Today: Spring Training Starts

Pitchers and catchers report to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie today and another season is underway.

It’s a drive-by reporting option. All they have to do is to make GM Sandy Alderson or manager Terry Collins aware they are in town.

Actually, many of them are already in camp and have been working out. So there aren’t any who have notified management they won’t report on time.

ON DECK

I would like to begin a “Today in Mets’ History” segment today. I have done this sporadically in the past and plan to have it up and running again.

Later today, I’ll also have a post on the four most pertinent issues the Mets must resolve in spring training.

THANKS TO ADAM RUBIN

One person who won’t be in Florida today is Adam Rubin, who left ESPN to take a job in public relations. I have tremendous respect for Rubin, who covered a beat better than any other reporter I ever met.

He is a tireless worker and I became a better reporter competing against him.

I’ll always remember his professionalism, driving across Florida to places like Kissimmee, Lakeland, and Fort Myers. When I moved to the Mets’ beat after covering the Yankees for eight seasons, he was the first person to call to welcome me to the beat. He introduced me to people and helped give me the lay of the land.

And, after I left the beat, he reached out to me and sent me a gift when he heard I was injured and hospitalized in 2014 to wish me well. And, when I resumed writing when I left the hospital after six months, he posted a link to my blog on a daily basis.

I’d like to thank Adam for his friendship and competition and wish him well in his new venture.

Feb 04

Mets Agree To Terms With Blevins; Finish Offseason Shopping

Apparently, the Mets got tired of stringing along Jerry Blevins and according to several reports agreed to terms with the situational left-hander and Fernando Salas Friday evening before GM Sandy Alderson headed out for his Super Bowl parties.

Blevins will get $6 million for one year, plus an option. Salas will get a year. With the two agreements, the Mets finished work on their bullpen and concluded their offseason shopping.

Before kudos are sent out to Alderson for his patience, remember Blevins, 33, made $4 million last season while going 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA. So, realistically, how much money did he really save the Mets? A million? Not much more than that, really.

Considering Toronto was also after Blevins, and the Mets are still awaiting word on a suspension of Jeurys Familia, what’s the purpose of Alderson dragging his feet? It tells me the Mets are seriously aware of their spending, which can’t be encouraging if they must make a move at the break.

So, in a thumbnail wrap of the Mets’ offseason moves:

* They picked up the $13-million option on outfielder Jay Bruce as a hedge to possibly losing Yoenis Cespedes.

* They signed Cespedes to a four-year, $110-milliion contract.

* They signed Neil Walker to a $17.2-million qualifying offer.

Everything the Mets did was expected, although the dual signings of Bruce and Cespedes – they might have overpaid for the latter – created a logjam in their outfield.

Jan 23

Looking At Muddled Mets’ Outfield

First, let me apologize for the no-show the past few days. I’ve been recovering from an eye procedure and things are rather blurry.

However, what remains clear to me are what are the Mets’ needs with spring training less than a month away. ESPN recently wrote the Mets are looking for a center fielder, but with possibly six outfielders on the roster, that can’t possibly be their top priority.

Could it?

If it is, then that has to be an indictment of how poorly this roster has been constructed. They already have a Gold Glove Award winner in Juan Lagares, to whom they signed to a four-year contract. The Mets aren’t happy with Lagares’ ability to hit right-handed pitchers. If that’s the case, then why give him a long-term deal?

They are toying with the idea of moving Curtis Granderson from right to center. Because they signed Yoenis Cespedes, who refuses to play center – when they brought him back after the 2015 season it was under the belief from him he would play center – it means finding a place for Michael Conforto.

Last spring, when Cespedes was healthy and in center, and Conforto was on a tear, manager Terry Collins said he was the Mets’ future No. 3 hitter.

Now, they don’t know where Conforto will play, other than it won’t be in left. That’s because they promised the position – and $110 million over the next four years – to Cespedes.

With the logjam in center, that means there’s not an immediate place for Brandon Nimmo. As of now, he could probably be ticketed to Vegas.

If they move Granderson to center, that leaves Jay Bruce in right. They traded for Bruce after Cespedes was injured and the Mets’ offense sputtered. Bruce’s option was picked up despite a poor few months with the Mets.

Why?

GM Sandy Alderson was clear in saying it was to guard against Cespedes opting out of his contract and signing elsewhere. Alderson also wasn’t shy in saying if Cespedes returned he would trade Bruce.

You don’t sign a player as a hedge. You sign a player only if you value and want to keep him. How Alderson handled Bruce greatly reduced his trade value and now the Mets are expecting him for spring training and possibly Opening Day.

So, as of now the Mets have $110 million earmarked in left field; a Gold Glove Award winner in center they don’t trust with a bat; a center fielder moving over from right; a right fielder they don’t want; and two highly-touted prospects they don’t have immediate plans where to play.

 

 

Dec 08

Alderson Still Searching

The Mets left Washington this morning the way they often do after playing the Nationals – empty handed. The Mets’ big off-season move consisted of extending Yoenis Cespedes, which they did before leaving New York, but their other objectives were left unfulfilled.

ALDERSON: Still has work to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: Still has work to do. (AP)

They failed to deal Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson, bolster their bullpen or find a catcher. However, Alderson said the Winter Meetings shouldn’t be defined by three days of lobby fishing in a swanky Washington resort hotel.

“I think we laid some groundwork, as they say, and I’ve had conversations that will continue when we get back to New York,” Alderson told reporters this morning before leaving. “We were pleased with the face we had some dialogue. We’ll pursue things over the next couple of weeks.”The Mets want to trade Bruce (who’ll make $13 million in 2017) and/or Granderson ($15 million). Alderson said the preference is dealing Bruce – although many teams like Granderson – but if he could swing also swing a deal for Granderson, make no mistake, he’ll jump at the chance to save $28 million.

The Mets want to trade Bruce (who’ll make $13 million in 2017) and/or Granderson ($15 million). Alderson said the preference is dealing Bruce – although many teams like Granderson – but if he could also swing a deal for Granderson, make no mistake, he’ll jump at the chance to save $28 million.

However, Alderson’s phone isn’t ringing for either.

“Outfielders, hitters, there’s still a quite of few of them out there. Clubs are still trying to sort out their priorities,” Alderson said. “I think when there’s that kind of supply, things are going to go a little a slower initially as everybody considers their options.”

It’s slow going for the Mets because most teams would rather sign a free agent than give up prospects or players. This could drag into January and might not get done until spring training it at all.

While Alderson insists his priority is a playing time situation in the outfield, reportedly he won’t entirely spend the savings on the bullpen. There are reports Jerry Blevins wants at least $5.5 million and that the Mets are interested in Texas’ Jeremy Jeffress, 29, who had a 2.33 ERA in 59 games last year and is arbitration eligible.

ESPN reports the Mets’ current payroll to be $146 million.

Nov 14

Walker Accepts Mets’ Qualifying Offer

Coming off back surgery, Neil Walker had little choice but to accept the Mets’ $17.2-million qualifying offer. He had to figure surgery would have limited interest, so it was best to take the guaranteed money and try the market again next offseason.

It was a no-brainer on his part, just as the qualifying offer was to the Mets.

“Happy to say I’m back in Orange and Blue in 2017! Let’s go Mets,” Walker posted on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Walker, who came to the Mets in a trade for Jon Niese, helped carry them for much of the season before undergoing season-ending back surgery to repair a herniated disk. The 31-year-old Walker, who replaced NL MVP candidate Daniel Murphy, hit .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBI before his season ended.

ESPN reported the Mets’ 2017 payroll commitment is now roughly $124 million. That could go as high as $150 million should the Mets bring back Yoenis Cespedes.

Had the Mets not retained Walker, second base could have come down to Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera. They will now be relegated to the bench roles.

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