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.

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Dec 03

What Non-Tendered Mets Could Be Worth Another Look

The New York Mets sent five players to the free-agent market when they non-tendered Jeremy Hefner, Justin Turner, Scott Atchison, Jordany Valdespin and Omar Quintanilla.

HEFNER: Is he worth another look?

HEFNER: Is he worth another look?

None of the decisions should be considered surprising, and to get where they want to be they would need to do get better than what they had.

The question is, what to do until then? Here’s my take on the five let go:

JEREMY HEFNER: Hefner was clearly a dollar move as he wouldn’t be available any way because he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nonetheless, they could re-sign him at a lower rate and not have him on the 40-man roster.

Hefner proved to be a valuable spot-starter, but would not be considered any higher than a fifth starter.

Working against Hefner, is by the time he was cleared to return, the Mets’ rotation would have Matt Harvey back, plus the expected promotions of Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

JUSTIN TURNER: Was a valuable role player off the bench, but not somebody who could play for any length of time without his weaknesses being exposed.

The Mets could groom Wilmer Flores to replace him, but Turner can play shortstop so it would be a limited move.

Flores, however, could master the shaving cream pie to the face shtick Turner popularized.

JORDANY VALDESPIN: No way.

SCOTT ATCHISON:  He gave the Mets 47.1 innings last season out of the pen. The Mets need to replace those innings and could do it for the same $700,000 Atchison made, but for a younger arm.

OMAR QUINTANILLA: He played in 95 games when Ruben Tejada went down, and was more than capable defensively, but hit only .222 with a .306 on-base percentage.

Those two numbers have the Mets believing he’s not a fulltime answer at shortstop.

The position remains a hole, and it looks as if they could go with Tejada again. Even so, they don’t have a back-up.

COMING UP: Why the Mets did not non-tender Ike Davis.

Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 21

Why Not Go With Rafael Montero Now?

I understand the New York Mets’ position on wanting to delay Rafael Montero’s promotion to the major leagues so they can delay the arbitration process by a year.

But, why?

MONTERO: Why not?

MONTERO: Why not?

We’re talking up to six years down the road and who knows what the Mets’ financial landscape will be by then? Who knows what will become of Montero over the next half decade. Maybe he gets traded. Maybe he blows out his arm. Maybe he becomes a big star and the Mets sign him long term.

If Montero has a solid spring training, they shouldn’t they bring him up right away. Why delay if he’s ready?

If Montero is getting batters out during spring training, then let’s see what he can do during the regular season. All indications are he has a plus-fastball and other quality pitches, so let’s see if he can learn how to pitch on the big stage. The Mets should not be thinking of delaying paying him by a year, but by giving him a chance to develop his mental toughness a year earlier.

Pitching in the major leagues – even if it means taking his lumps – would be more beneficial to Montero’s development than breezing in Triple A for two-and-a-half months.

Remember, this is supposed to be a write-off year with Matt Harvey gone, so why not?

If Montero pitches to his expectations, he should give the Mets at least the nine victories Harvey gave them before his injury. And, if he doesn’t, then so what? He would learn from the experience.

Often you hear the argument teams don’t want to rush a player because they fear they’ll destroy his confidence. However, if a player’s confidence is so fragile that it would be ruined in a couple of months, then how mentally tough was he to begin with?

Actually, the Mets’ stance on bringing up Montero in June might hinder their chances of signing a middle-tier free agent, including a guy like Aaron Harang, because the perception is he’d lose his spot in the rotation in two months. If I’m Harang, that has to be part of my thinking on returning to the Mets.

However, if the Mets said everything was wide open, that could mean the difference. I say go with Montero and still sign veteran pitching. If Montero pans out, then they’d have a trip to trade at the deadline.

ON DECK: Here’s a possible answer to the Flores dilemma.

Nov 19

There Is No Plan For Wilmer Flores

For the longest time Wilmer Flores was considered the Mets’ most promising minor league position player. We finally had a peek at him last summer, but it was far too little to find out where he fits.

FLORES: What are they thinking?

FLORES: What are they thinking?

He played a lot of third base when David Wright was injured, which I thought was a mistake. Flores would never supplant Wright at third, so those were wasted at-bats.

The Mets played him briefly at second in place of Murphy, which was another mistake because there aren’t any imminent plans to replace Murphy.

The played him some at first base, which in a platoon with Lucas Duda could be a possibility.

The rap on him is his range, which put shortstop out of the scenario. However, is it really much of a problem? There are shortstops without great range which compensate by positioning. This was never explored on the minor league level. Instead, he was played at positions – third and second – which were blocked above.

Meanwhile, shortstop remains a black hole for the Mets. I would have liked Flores to play shortstop in winter ball, and want to see him there in spring training, just to see what he can do.

Shortstop is one hole the Mets need to fill, and how do they know Flores can’t do it unless they play him there. It’s not as if he could do any worse.