Feb 01

Report: Mets Considering Valverde As Closer

Maybe Sandy Alderson believes the Mets might be ready to compete this year.

That was my first impression – perhaps wishful thinking – after reading an ESPN report they are considering signing former Detroit closer Jose Valverde to replace Frank Francisco. No problems there. Actually, I have no problem with anybody replacing Francisco, who was a bad signing.

Valverde saved 35 games last year for the Tigers before unraveling and was replaced in the postseason by a committee pen. Valverde’s agent is Scott Boras, but the Mets say they need this on their terms, with a reported $4 million base plus incentives. Valverde earned $9 million last year, but with how he finished nobody will bite on that figure.

With spring training less than two weeks away – my, where did the winter go? – Valverde falls under the category of beggars can’t be choosers. If he’s signed and does well, he can try the market again. There are always a multitude of relievers every winter.

Reportedly, the Mets thought of asking Roy Oswalt to convert to closer like John Smoltz, but he was cool to the idea. He might have second thoughts if he doesn’t get any offers. Actually, if the Mets are in a spending mode, why not invite Oswalt and give him a minor league contract to start? They signed Shaun Marcum to a one-year deal as the fifth starter, but does anybody believe the Mets will make it through the season with only five starters? Not happening.

As Alderson attempts to build a bullpen at the last minute, he should not consider bringing back Francisco Rodriguez, who punched his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field, hurt himself and was traded to Milwaukee. The Mets don’t need that headache.

Evidently, this does not bode well for Bobby Parnell’s future with the Mets. He’s had several chances but spit the bit. It was thought he could get another chance if Francisco – who was injured at the end of last season – faltered again.

Parnell pitched well in place of Francisco, but there was admittedly no pressure on him. If Alderson thought the Mets could not be competitive this year, it would have been the perfect opportunity to force-feed the role to Parnell. If I’m Parnell, I’d be wanting to leave town.

By adding Valverde, Alderson believes the Mets could make something of the summer, but even with an improved bullpen there remains an enormous hole in the outfield, a thin bench and several questions in the rotation.

Jan 26

ESPN Reports Mets Have Interest In Oswalt

Despite their recent $4-million signing of Shaun Marcum, ESPN reported the Mets have interest in free-agent Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt, 35, has missed considerable time the past two seasons with lower back problems. He was 4-3 with a 5.80 ERA in 17 appearances last year with Texas. He worked solely in relief last September.

Operating under the theory you can never have enough pitching, even if it is older and broken down, the Mets don’t have anything to lose if they sign him to a minor league contract.

Let’s face it, they aren’t going to pay big money for a free agent (and most of them are already gone). If they can catch lightning in a bottle, then it is worth the signing. If not, then they are out only a minimal amount.

I’m not saying Oswalt is who I want. I’m just saying beggars can’t be choosers.

Jan 19

Mets’ Farm Team Cyclones To Host Lame Promotion

I don’t know with any certainty the truth in the Manti Te’o hoax. Only he does. I am not thrilled ESPN supposedly interviewed him, but there is no video. How does a network make that concession.

Let us give him the benefit of doubt for a moment and Te’o is a victim and was duped. Then that makes the Mets’ Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones’ promotion lame on so many levels. It would be capitalizing on someone’s misfortune. But, if Te’o were in on it, then why would they want to associate themselves with such a sick thing?

The Cyclones announced June 21 will be Fictitious Friday and with Sidd Finch taking on Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights. The team also said the Beatles will perform a pre-game concert. There will also be a petting zoo for the kiddies, with a unicorn, Minotaur and mermaid.

Just one contrived thing after another. Not so much funny and clever as it is forced. You can’t force humor.

In explaining the promotion, Cyclones GM Steve Cohen said: “Everywhere you look, there seems to be another story about an athlete that was covering up something.

“People don’t know who, or what, to believe any more. That got us thinking, we should have a night where our fans don’t have to worry about what’s real and what’s not, we’ll just tell them everything planned for that night is a hoax.’’

The event seems forced and by the time June rolls around, the Te’o thing could be forgotten. But, what if it’s true? What if he were duped? That would be capitalizing on someone’s misfortune which is extraordinarily weak.

It will come off like a bombed skit on Saturday Night Live. A clever idea gone sour.

By the way, if the Cyclones really wanted to make a point about a hoax, they should have a steroid night with character athletes playing Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. And, if they did that, somebody will be sure to ask about Mike Piazza, only that hits too close to home.

This idea is weak from the start and the sooner it is abandoned the better.

Jan 17

Daniel Murphy Not Concerned

So, Daniel Murphy told ESPN he’s not concerned that the Mets haven’t signed a major league free agent, and like David Wright, is satisfied with the club’s direction.

Well, what else did you expect him to say?

MURPHY: GM in training.

Murphy, the man without a position stuck at second base, isn’t in position to rock the boat. The arbitration-eligible Murphy banged the drum for Scott Hairston and Chris Young, both of whom would fill needs but not necessarily raise the Mets to the next level.

Murphy sounded like a Sandy Alderson groupie when he said “we don’t want to get quite get sucked into maybe some of the prices that are going on right now for outfield.’’

In other words, forget about re-signing Hairston, who is asking for $8 million over two years. The Mets aren’t enamored by either the years or dollars. Put it this way, Hairston is asking for $4 million in 2013. In comparison, the anticipated outfield as of now in Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter might not make $2 million combined.

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Jan 03

Wilpons To Refinance; They Aren’t Going Anywhere

As you greet the third day of the new year, Mets fans can digest the reported news (ESPN and The Post for starters) that ownership has refinanced $450 million in loans borrowed from SNY.

How this is structured, I don’t know, but it protects the Wilpons from having to make an overwhelming payment that would prevent them from retaining the team.

Presumably, the money will be used to pay off existing debt – including the structured court-ordered payments from the Ponzi scandal – with little going in the direction of player additions. (Save $25 million owed Johan Santana in his final season with the Mets).

It basically means what you think it means, that things are likely to remain the same in the foreseeable future. Look for nothing substantial in the rest of the free-agent market, and as in previous years for management to sit on their hands at the trade deadline.

GM Sandy Alderson has successfully slashed $50 million from the budget of the team he inherited, which was what he was hired to do.

The Mets were willing to commit up to $20 million to R.A. Dickey before they traded him for prospects, but now without that obligation there’s no word what they will spend that money on. Alderson said the team will have greater flexibility after the 2013 season when Santana is off the books, but he also said not to look for a big splash in the free-agent market.

With FA spending not an option for at least two years, and the Mets refusing to part with their young pitching in trades, and having little else to deal on the major league level, the team’s direction is to wait … and wait … and wait, until their prospects develop. And, of that there are no guarantees.

When you look at the Mets in comparison to the rest of the NL East, Washington has shown a willingness to spend, and Atlanta and Philadelphia proactive adding to a superior core. The Marlins seem in comparably bad shape – if not worse – than the Mets, but at least they are warm down there.

When you look at the rest of the National League, the Dodgers, Giants, Reds and Cardinals are all immediately better, financially more solvent and better run than the Mets. Even Pittsburgh, which hasn’t had a winning season in two decades, is more aggressive.

So, when people ask how long it will be until the Mets are competitive or relevant again, it is difficult to forecast. It might be two, three years before Matt Harvey blossoms and Jon Niese reaches his potential. There’s room for growth with Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell.

But, even if those things happen, we still don’t know who’ll be in the outfield or bullpen. We don’t know who’ll be in the rotation. We don’t know about catcher. We don’t know where David Wright will be in his career.

What we do know is the Mets have a myriad of questions, aggressive teams in their division and no definitive spending timetable.

We do know we have a long wait.