Nov 20

2011 Player Review: Daniel Murphy, IF

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with utility player Daniel Murphy. Saturday: Lucas Duda. Sunday: Justin Turner.

DANIEL MURPHY, IF

THE SKINNY: Murphy is a gritty, aggressive player with a high on-base percentage, but without a position and a propensity for being injured. Murphy, a natural third baseman, can’t play there because of David Wright. He didn’t take to left field, but seeming found a home at first base, but when he was injured it opened the position for Ike Davis. The Mets tried him at second base, but he sustained a knee injury at the position. Through it all, Murphy managed to hit, with a lifetime .292 average.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: Coming off an injury, the expectations were limited, but the hope was if healthy he’d play second base and come off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Murphy was having an outstanding year offensively with a .320 average, six homers and 49 RBI in 109 games before he sustained a torn MCL in August while covering second base on a steal attempt and missed the remainder of the season.

JOHN’S TAKE: GM Sandy Alderson said at the GM meetings in Milwaukee that Murphy was available in a trade, but who would deal for him without knowing of healthy he is. Murphy has a propensity for getting injured and has limited defensive abilities. If every Met played as hard as him the team would be a lot better off. I can’t see the Mets dealing him now because of his baggage, but if he stays healthy and continues to hit, he might be attractive in July. Then again, if he’s healthy and hits, he would be valuable to the Mets. Probably as a second baseman if he finally takes to the position and Jose Reyes leaves.

JOE’S TAKE: I’m a big Daniel Murphy fan. He has a great approach at the plate and is one of the Mets’ most disciplined hitters. Just 26, Murphy has become a doubles hitting machine – collecting 75 of them over 1,030 career at-bats. It’s such a shame that a hitter this good doesn’t have a true defensive position he could call home. He’s a natural third baseman, but with Wright entrenched there, the Mets have tried to squeeze Murphy into a variety of other positions just to get his bat in the lineup. Rumors abound that he could end up being the Mets everyday second baseman in 2012, but I have a huge problem with that. It may very well be that Murphy’s greatest value to the team will ultimately be as component in a trade to a team where he could play third base or DH. Until that happens, enjoy Murphy’s at-bats and hold your breath when he takes the field. I’ll have more on Murphy tomorrow on MetsMerizedOnline.com.

Nov 19

Just thinking ….

Several things going on with the Mets, but nothing of imminence about to happen. Thought I’d throw out these thoughts to you:

* If Jose Reyes is that deep into talks with the Marlins, then it stands to reason Miami’s key player – Hanley Ramirez – is on board with it and the idea of moving to third base. The Marlins would be stupid to alienate their best player by going after somebody who plays the same position without running the idea past him. To think otherwise would be naive.

* Sandy Alderson came out of the GM meetings in Milwaukee saying Daniel Murphy was available. If the Mets are willing to listen to offers for David Wright, then it is logical to think so is everybody else. Murphy has shown in his limited window an ability to hit for average and get on base, but he’s also demonstrated a propensity for getting hurt and an inability to play a position. Murphy might go as part of a package, but seriously, do you see any team calling the Mets and saying, “we have to have Murphy,” so what will it take? Plus, coming off an injury, who will bite on that without knowing if he can play? Murphy will be with the Mets in spring training.

* Work has already begun on moving in the fences, which I think is a gimmick move that will eventually back fire. The Mets didn’t win at home last year, so the thinking has to be to come out and at least watch them hit more home runs. Trouble is, with the Mets’ suspect pitching, so will the opposition. So, what the Mets might add in terms of run production, they will give up as many, if not more. And, I don’t care about Wright’s ego. He shouldn’t be thinking about home runs anyway, but concentrating on striking out less and getting on base more.

* Did you see where Anna Benson will be on a show “Baseball Wives?” More classy programming. Unless she’s in a bikini, or less, it is Must Miss TV.

 

 

 

Nov 14

Alderson talks with Reyes’ agents; team likely to tender Pelfrey, but not Capuano.

At the GM meetings in Milwaukee, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged speaking with the Jose Reyes camp, but figures weren’t given. Alderson described the talks as “early” and “amicable,” which won’t get your blood boiling.It is hardly inspiring, is it?

Alderson said it isn’t guaranteed the Mets will get an opportunity to match another team’s offer. The Mets won’t necessarily get the last chance to talk with Reyes, which has been customary in numerous instances between teams and their free agents. For example, the Yankees often tell agents to come back to them to get a chance to beat it, which they often do.

Reyes might have had a good meeting with the Marlins, but again, it is still early in the process. There can’t be a bidding war with only one team.

There’s no way anybody can be optimistic about the Mets’ re-signing Reyes, or for that matter, doing anything significant this winter. A team in need of pitching, the Mets aren’t interested in bringing back Chris Capuano, despite him giving them a productive season.

All indications are the Mets will tender Mike Pelfrey, who could make as much as $6 million for going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA, a significant regression from 2010 when he appeared to have a breakout season.

The Mets’ rotation currently has plenty of questions attached to every pitcher:

* How healthy is Johan Santana and what does he have left?

* Can Mike Pelfrey live up to expectations and rebound to his 2010 form?

* Was Dillon Gee a fluke?

* How healthy is Jon Niese?

* What can they expect from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?

Bring back Capuano would have provided more depth and competition, but not doing so means the Mets are extremely cost conscious which reminds us as to Alderson’s objective, which is to stabilize the team’s financial structure.

Alderson was hand picked by Commissioner Bud Selig to save the Mets and prevent Major League Baseball from taking over the franchise as they did the Dodgers.

There’s been speculation since Alderson was hired he’d eventually be Selig’s successor as commissioner, and the Mets are considered to be a test for him. Alderson’s job description is to streamline the Mets’ finances and bring some solvency to the organization.

MLB doesn’t want to commandeer the Mets and force a sale as they did the Dodgers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t if things don’t improve.

 

 

 

Nov 05

Will there ever be a new culture?

We heard a lot about the Mets’ culture changing when Sandy Alderson was hired as GM and Terry Collins as manager. The atmosphere changed t0 a degree, but the Mets’ talent level remained roughly the same with once again, the pitching faltered and took the team down with it.

Looking back on the season there were three significant story lines outside of the newness of the front office and manager. The first half when the Mets found themselves over .500, the swirling question was whether, or when, they would deal Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

When the pitching went south it was about the thinness of the rotation and weak bullpen, highlighted by not having a closer, who was in Milwaukee because the team feared Rodriguez’s option.

The season was played against the backdrop of the Mets not being able to re-sign Jose Reyes because they wouldn’t want to – or don’t have – the resources to retain the All-Star shortstop.

All three were about money and the Wilpon’s legal and financial troubles because of the Madoff Ponzi scandal. The Wilpons received positive news in the courts that would reduce the damages, but those damages would still be significant. And, it doesn’t help that the team has a $25 million debt to Major League Baseball.

You can change the manager, general manager and upper management and that could change the culture somewhat, but real change begins with ownership and that hasn’t changed. With the budget always an overriding issue, we can never expect things to really change and Mets being an elite franchise.

Oct 06

Warthen survives coaching staff purge.

Since you can’t change all the players, you might as well change the coaching staff.

WARTHEN: The answer?

 

The Mets made a big deal of saying this year they’ve changed the culture of the franchise, but shouldn’t some of that credit go to the coaching staff?

If things were so improved, then how come only two coaches are staying on?

Only pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens will remain in their current roles for 2012. Rising star Chip Hale, bench coach Ken Oberkfell, first base coach Mookie Wilson and bullpen coach Jon Debus are gone.

Stunning actually, considering how this team’s attitude had supposedly changed. Then again, did it really after watching Jose Reyes take his bow and leave?

Triple-A manager Tim Tueful is now the third base coach and his pitching coach at Buffalo, Ricky Bones, takes over as bullpen coach.

They’ll fill the bench coach and first base coach positions in the next few weeks. Wally Backman is not being considered for a major league job, but instead will take over for Teuful at Buffalo.

The Mets raved about Hale, so it makes you wonder why he didn’t get the bench job. Or, why he felt the need to leave.

The speculated answer as to the departures was a chemistry issue with Terry Collins. Hale was invited to stay in another capacity, but bolted for the bench job in Oakland. He obviously didn’t see a future here, or a co-existence with Collins.

Oberkfell, who managed on the Triple-A level for six years with the Mets, was not invited to stay. Sandy Alderson gave a song-and-dance about doing a nice job but needing somebody with a “different set of experiences,’’ clearly GM speak for a clash in personalities.

The only surprise is Warthen, who presided over one of the worst staffs and rotations in the majors. Perhaps he got a pass because of the injuries to Johan Santana and Jon Niese, and helped make Chris Capuano a positive reclamation project, but pitching is clearly an issue with this team.

Mike Pelfrey regressed tremendously and the Mets used 16 different relievers in the pen, few of them consistently effective. Bobby Parnell, whom the club envisions as its closer, has definite shortcomings. There isn’t a starter without a significant question next to his name.

Only one starter, Dillon Gee, had a winning record, and only R.A. Dickey had a sub-4.00 ERA among the starters. The staff walked 514 hitters this year, down from 545 the previous season. The Mets ranked ninth worst this season as opposed to seventh in 201o, so we’re not talking that great of an improvement.

Without question, pitching is the Mets’ main priority, and I wonder, with no influx of talent expected from the trade and free-agent markets, what makes Alderson think Warthen has the answers now after not having them since taking over for Rick Peterson in 2008?