Dec 01

Time Is Already Running Short For Mets In Free Agent Market

It is essentially the beginning of the free-agent market, but for the New York Mets it is already nearing last call.

Frankly, I don’t see Mets GM Sandy Alderson doing anything of substance this winter. He reportedly is considering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and shortstop Rafael Furcal, both of whom are 36.

Both of whom won’t be in it for the long haul for the Mets.

Arroyo has a track record of compiling innings, which is paramount, but is said to want three years. Eventually he will break down. If I am giving three years to a pitcher in this market, I would have rather gambled on Phil Hughes – who got those three years from the small market Twins – who is 27.

With Matt Harvey out until 2015 – and there are no assurances of what he’ll be when he returns – Hughes was potentially a better building block than Arroyo.

Initially, I liked the idea of Arroyo, and still do, but not for three years. Two years at the most. Arroyo made over $16 million last year in Cincinnati – another small market team – and won’t be taking a pay cut.

He was 14-12 last season pitching behind an offense and bullpen superior to that of the Mets. What can the Mets reasonably expect from him?

Meanwhile, Furcal made $7 million last year for not playing with St. Louis because of Tommy John surgery. After the season ended Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which clearly defines Furcal.

The best shortstop option for the Mets defensively, and for his offensive style in Citi Field, was Stephen Drew, who was out of their price range. However, he would have been a key piece to build around.

Jhonny Peralta was also too expensive and came with the black cloud of a PED suspension.

If the Mets sign Furcal, they will be looking to replace him next winter. If that is the case, I’d be more inclined to give Ruben Tejada another chance.

Arroyo and Furcal are the latest names linked to the Mets, and they are clearly filler for 2014. That’s what you want?

One by one the better names in the market will be scooped up, and not by the Mets.

More and more, I see this being a barren winter for the Mets. Then again, there was Chris Young.

 

Nov 25

Mets Set Free Agent Market The Wrong Way

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson called the free agent market “robust,’’ but he’s a contributor in making it so.

We all know Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury – both good players will get their money – but they aren’t the ones driving up the market.

Salaries aren’t driven by the stars getting large salaries, but when mediocre and questionable talent are given huge paydays.

The bar gets set when Chris Young – thanks to Alderson – gets $7.25 million. The market is also influenced when a PED user such as Jhonny Peralta gets a four-year, $52-million contract from St. Louis. For all the talk about the Mets being interested, it is just as well they didn’t sink that kind of money into player whose numbers are suspect because of PEDs.

So please, I don’t want to hear Alderson moan about the high salary demands when he helped create the environment that leads to those demads. That includes being in the market for a PED user like Peralta.

Retiring commissioner Bud Selig is going after Alex Rodriguez though questionable methods, yet his legacy will also include large contracts for guys like Peralta.

Reliever David Aardsma tweeted over the weekend after learning of the Peralta deal with the Cardinals: “Apparently getting suspended for PEDs means you get a raise. What’s stopping anybody from doing it? … I had 2 major surgeries in 5 months and made it back clean, nothing pisses me off more than guys that cheat and get raises for doing so.’’

He’s right.

I don’t know how you can regulate teams against signing PED users. It’s their money and they are the ones taking the risk.

So many players have benefitted from using PEDs, and regardless of whether MLB nails Rodriguez or not, that will continue.

Which makes me wonder what’s Selig’s real objective?

 

Dec 04

Making a go with little

Sandy Alderson said it again, that the Mets have little payroll flexibility and aren’t expected to make a splash in the free-agent market.

Again, even if the Mets cut Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, they are still on the hook for $18 million between them. It’s not as if the money could be spent elsewhere.

The Mets need to find two starters, bullpen depth, a second baseman (if it is not Castillo), a back-up catcher and bench depth. Try doing that with about $10 million to spend.

There’s not much in the minor league system to help immediately. And, Ruben Tejada and Jenrry Mejia are best served in the minor leagues for this year, Alderson said. There aren’t the prospects available to make a trade similar to the one Boston did for Adrian Gonzalez. And, if there was, the Mets are committed to not spending.

Again, we can re-examine trading Jose Reyes and David Wright, but you’d be dealing your two best players. And, with Reyes, his value because of injury and lack of production the past two years, and that he’ll be a free agent after 2011, make him difficult to deal.

And, while a solid player, Wright isn’t one that would bring a boatload of talent in return. Plus, he’d leave a gaping hole at third base.

Alderson said this would be a process and he’s not lying. This is becoming more apparent as the winter meetings approach. They might be able to add a band-aid or two, but other than that, hope for 2011 is for Reyes, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran to get healthy and continued development from players such as Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and Ike Davis.

As of now, hope is the plan.

Dec 03

K-Rod pleads guilty; what of his Mets’ future?

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty this morning of assault, a move that spared him jail time but will bring him an additional 52 weeks of anger management classes.

RODRIGUEZ: Pleads guilty; at least one more year

His plea also bought him an additional season with the Mets for $11.5 million. It was the best case scenario for the closer who not only lost his temper but is losing his fastball.

For one more year at least, the Mets will have a closer. He Rodriguez finishes 55 games in 2011, he could stand to make an additional $17.5 million for 2012.

If Rodriguez does not finish 55 games and he fails a physical after the 2011 season, the Mets will have a $3.5 million buyout.

That, along with the books cleared of Oliver Perez and Carlos Beltran, would open up the Mets’ wallet to be big players in the 2011 free-agent market.

Rodriguez is young enough at 28 where he could regain his form, but there are concerns that with his motion and delivery the downhill slide might not be reversible.

All this is very interesting. Will the Mets limit his appearances to stay away from the option kicking in? If they have a competitive team all summer I doubt it, especially if Bobby Parnell doesn’t perform and show he’s capable of assuming the closer role.

Of course, if the Mets don’t shore up their rotation and the bridge to Rodriguez, he won’t have that many save opportunities to begin with.

Nov 17

Mets showed proper restraint in Uggla

Don’t be too harsh on the Mets for not going after Dan Uggla despite their need for a second baseman.

UGGLA: Did right thing in passing.

Surely, the Mets could have matched the Braves in the talent sent to Florida, but it is apparent they are looking ahead to after the 2011 season when the books are cleared to dive into the free-agent market. By that time their interest figures to be pitching, not throwing over $50 million at a defensive liability at second base, regardless of his power potential.

The Braves made the deal figuring on Uggla being a one-year rental for $7.8 million, a luxury the Mets could not afford.

Sandy Alderson is already on record saying the Mets wouldn’t be big players in the free-agent market because of the $36.5 million earmarked for Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran, plus $21 million due Johan Santana, who might not be available following surgery.

The Mets need a starter, bullpen help after losing Hisanori Takahashi and likely Pedro Feliciano, a second baseman and back-up catcher.  Even if the Mets were to rent Uggla, the money would be better spent on those areas.

Omar Minaya hamstrung the Mets with bloated contracts. The last thing they need is another one in Uggla, either in the long or short term.