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 30

Looking back at 2010

As the clock winds down on 2010, a disappointing, yet transitional season for the New York Mets, let’s take a moment to look back at the significant moments, games and issues of the season.

Spring training began with a myriad of issues and questions that never dissipated during the long and tumultuous summer.

Among the more intriguing moments and issues were:

The turnover: Sandy Alderson in for Omar Minaya as general manager and Terry Collins in for Jerry Manuel as manager. Manuel seemed in trouble from the outset with early reports Bobby Valentine would take over. That didn’t happen, but this will be the year where the Met could have turned around their culture. We shall wait and see. So far, Alderson has played it conservatively in terms of player acquisition. To date, Alderson’s plan is to hope for the physical returns of Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay and that nobody else gets injured. It doesn’t sound like much, but the goal is to build a base for 2012 when deadweight salaries are cleared off the books.

Blanking the Phillies: On the field the Mets had two spurts that pushed them into contention, but nothing stood out at Citi Field like the three-game, shutout sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, featuring R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi  and Mike Pelfrey.

Draining the Bay: The Mets’ free-agent splash of signing Jason Bay from Boston busted out. A slow start that never got started flamed out with a concussion that kept him out for most of the second half. The $66 million hire that was supposed to energize the Mets’ offense produced just six homers.

Beltran’s relationship and knees sour: Botched communications between Beltran and the Mets front office over off-season surgery led to a rift that only shows signs of thawing under the new administration. Beltran returned after the All-Star break but never showed consistent signs of being healthy and strong. In actually, this was mishandled at the end of the 2009 season when Beltran should have had surgery instead of waiting.

Reyes never settles: Jose Reyes missed the first month of the season with a thyroid illness, then returned to the lineup as the No. 3 hitter. Manuel stuck when the results were clear it wasn’t working and later conceded it was a mistake. Reyes ignited when he was returned to the top of the order, then strained an oblique muscle and was never the same. This injury was compounded when Manuel rushed him back into the lineup.

Mike Pelfrey’s development: Pelfrey took a major step forward, regressed at midseason then showed recovery signs to win 15 games. With a little bit of luck he could have won 18 or 19. With Johan Santana out at the beginning of the season Pelfrey will have to pick it up again to assume the ace role. The pessimistic feelings about Pelfrey at the beginning of the season were replaced by confidence and optimism.

Oliver Perez and John Maine implode: The Mets had questions entering the season about their rotation that were answered in the negative with Perez and Maine. If one player personified the troubles of the Minaya regime it would have to be Perez, who lost his spot in the rotation, and then refused an assignment to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics. Perez forced himself back on the 25-man roster after a stay on the disabled list, then languished untouched in the bullpen until the last game of the season when Manuel pitched him as a parting gift.

The rise of RA Dickey and development of Jon Niese: Out of adversity, Dickey, Niese and Takahashi stepped up and filled the voids left by Maine and Perez. They kept the Mets competitive until the All-Star break. Dickey was rewarded with a new contract and he and Niese will enter spring training with rotation spots. Takahashi left as a free agent.

Johan Santana injured: The Mets were cooked by the time Santana’ shoulder was injured late in the second half. Santana didn’t pitch with his usual brilliance on a consistent basis and undergoing surgery for the third straight off-season must raise concerns of his durability during the remainder of the contract. If not Pelfrey, the Mets need to start thinking about a No. 1 in their rotation for the future.

The emergence of Angel Pagan: With Beltran out Pagan emerged as a budding star in centerfield and will win a spot in the 2011 outfield. Pagan improved dramatically in his outfield and base running decisions and developed into one of the team’s clutch hitters.

The young kids come through: The Mets’ long-maligned farm system bore signs of progress with first baseman Ike Davis and catcher Josh Thole, both of whom enter spring training penciled in the lineup. Both showed rawness, but enough glimpses to warrant optimism. Ruben Tejada also saw time but will open the season in the minors. As far as young pitchers go, Bobby Parnell improved over 2009 and will compete for the closer’s role.

David Wright goes deep: After hitting ten homers with 72 RBI in 2009 and sustaining a concussion, there were concerns about Wright’s ability to hit the long ball. Those questions were answered with 29 homers and over 100 RBI, production that could have been higher with a healthy Beltran and Bay. There aren’t any questions now about Wright’s power.

Twenty-inning marathon: In a thrilling display of endurance the Mets won at St. Louis, 2-1, in 20 innings. Santana started and was superb with seven scoreless, but the Mets’ bullpen was clutch in extra innings, leaving the bases loaded in the 10th, 12th and 14th innings, and 22 runners overall. Pitching on his throw day, Pelfrey earned the save.

K-Rod explodes: Maybe the ugliest moment of the season came when Francisco Rodriguez punched out his father-in-law outside the family room at Citi Field. Rodriguez was arrested and the Mets sought to void his contract. The two reached an agreement, but the relationship remains tenuous. If Rodriguez finishes 55 games this season his option for $17.5 million will kick in.

Dec 01

Timetable for Santana?

Mets manager Terry Collins, speaking on WFAN, threw out the first timetable on Johan Santana, saying maybe around June. Does anybody have any faith it will be sooner than that?

SANTANA: Collins saying June.

The Mets must prepare for life without Santana for this year, and possibly longer, consider the nature of his injury and this is the third straight year in which he’s been injured and has become a annual health issue.
The Mets can’t afford this year, or next, to assume Santana will automatically be an ace. They won’t spend anything this winter, but after the books are cleared they have to be thinking about landing a big time free-agent for the 2012 season.
The free-agent pitching market is thin, and the Mets have two holes to fill in their rotation. With the loss of Hisanori Takahashi and likely Pedro Feliciano, they also have considerable work to do in their bullpen.
On a positive note, Collins said he will approach Carlos Beltran about playing right field and the health reports are good on Jason Bay. Second base, he said, is wide open.
Sandy Alderson said the Mets could be competitive this season, but everything has to break right, and that means the healthy returns of Beltran, Bay and Reyes, and consistency in the starting rotation.
Hopefully, next week at the winter meetings Alderson will make a big enough splash to fuel optimism.
Nov 29

Listening to offers about Reyes doesn’t mean he’s leaving.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving weekend with your families.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately that the Mets’ new management is listening to offers for shortstop Jose Reyes. The responsible thing for the Mets to do is to listen to proposals, but that doesn’t ensure he’s going anywhere. He’ll be a free agent after this season so the prudent thing would be to ascertain the market before thinking about a long term extension.

There are teams with shortstop holes, namely San Francisco and Boston, but the Mets will want a lot in return. With a player of Reyes’ potential, who can blame them?

However, teams thinking about Reyes have to be cautious for several reasons:

1) Because he’ll be a free agent, they’ll want a window of opportunity to sign him to an extension because they don’t want to overpay for a rental.

2) Reyes is coming off back-to-back years in which injuries sapped his playing time and his health remains an issue.

3) Reyes is two years removed from being the dynamic leadoff hitter and impact player we expect from him.

4) With holes in their rotation and bullpen, not to mention now the hole at shortstop, the Mets’ asking price would be high.

For those reasons, I don’t see the Mets easily finding a trading partner. I would rather see the Mets pay Reyes the $11 million for 2011 and give him the year before making any decision on him, whether it be signing or dealing him.