Nov 12

Mets Don’t Figure To Be Dealing A GM Meetings; Lose Byrd To Phillies

On the day the New York Mets extended manager Terry Collins’ contract, GM Sandy Alderson said he had the resources to make a $100-million plus deal.

ALDERSON: Whats's his budget? (AP)

ALDERSON: Whats’s his budget? (AP)

Not surprisingly, he backed off that stance at GM meetings in Orlando, telling ESPN: “We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright. Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again – not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building.

Just how much the Mets will spend Alderson didn’t say, but for a team in search of offense, it was interesting to see him pass on bringing back Marlon Byrd, who reportedly reached a two-year, $16-million deal with the Phillies.

Undoubtedly, the decision was based more on finances, and there was nothing wrong with Byrd’s clubhouse presence – or production, for that matter – that would chase away the Mets.

Why then did they pass?

Byrd, 36, rejuvenated his career this summer with the Mets and Pittsburgh, batting .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBI. That’s the kind of production the Mets crave, but considering his 50-game drug suspension the previous season, did the Mets believe it was for real?

Byrd was unquestionably motivated to turn around his career, but at that age the Mets must wonder was 2013 a fluke? One year with incentives with an option would have been acceptable, but two years made Alderson pause. It was the same thing with Jerry Hairston the previous winter. Alderson knew Byrd would want a multi-year deal, and considering he made less than $1 million last year, the thinking was he’d get $8 million for two years at most. Not $16 million.

Byrd, a 12-year veteran returns to Philadelphia, where he began his career. He also returns to a park more conducive to producing higher power numbers.

Alderson appears to want to take Boston’s approach by going with several middle-tier free agents and not relying on the super bat. However, considering what Byrd got, just how much are middle-tier free agents worth?

“I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players,’’ Alderson said of $100-million packages. “It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.’’

The Mets were burned by extending multi-year contracts to players injured, non-productive or too old in their careers. Many of those deals with given by Omar Minaya, but it must be remembered the Mets had a better core than and these players were expected to be the final pieces.

However, things didn’t work out over the long haul with Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Frank Francisco, Scott Schoeneweis, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, and the list goes on.

Alderson has cleared the payroll and his reluctance to get involved with a $100-million package, or even something like the $66-million given Bay is understandable.

Considering the big picture with Byrd, that might have been a good decision. That could be based on who Alderson does sign, assuming he signs somebody.

 

Oct 19

Reyes: Time to move on.

There’s a lot of swirling issues around the Mets’ decision to bring back Jose Reyes, but it really comes down to one burning question: Can the Mets win with him?

Based on Reyes’ tenure with the team, the answer is no. That the Mets with Reyes are a better team is little doubt, but they are not a playoff caliber team as they are presently constructed. Nor are they a serious contender.  Even if the Mets decide to bring back Reyes, there are too many holes to consistently compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in their division, and San Francisco and St Louis outside it.

We also know Washington and Florida will be more aggressive financially than the Mets.

And, that’s the short list. Nine National League teams and 18 teams overall had a better record this summer than the Mets. Will bringing back a frequently-injured player – who twice went on the DL last season – with a long-term, $100-plus million contract make the Mets substantially better?

No.

Rebuilding is a long, arduous process to which I don’t have all the answers. I do have the keys, however, and that is strong starting pitching and a bullpen, and defense. Those qualities, which the Mets’ don’t possess, will not be readily obtainable if a bulk of their resources are spent on a speed player with leg issues who will undoubtedly break down during his contract.

I like Reyes. He’s always been one of the more personable Mets to deal with, but that doesn’t make him the right answer, the right fit, at this time.

The trade value for Reyes was highest after the 2008 season, but that wasn’t going to happen because the Mets believed they would remain a contender with a few offseason tweaks. They had Johan Santana fall into their laps the previous winter, but after going through a second late-season collapse and a managerial firing, thought minor tinkering would be enough.

They were wrong.

The 2008 season was the last healthy, full-season for Reyes. It was the last winning season for the franchise, which believed its fortunes would turn in a potential gold mine in Citi Field.

However, there would soon be injuries to David Wright, Santana, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. The pitching collapsed as Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine didn’t develop as antiticpated. Hoped for lightning-in-the-bottle signings such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Bay, Orlando Hernandez and Shawn Green fizzled. There were other miserable signings in Perez, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota that made the Mets look foolish and desperate.

The Mets made one GM firing and two managerial firings since Beltran took that called third strike in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, who are playing in their third World Series since 2004.

The window slammed shut on the Mets and Reyes.

What we remember and cherish about Reyes was his unabashed enthusiasm and running as an unbridled colt from 2005-08, but he’s three years removed from being that player because of injuries.

Reyes’ stolen bases have steadily declined, and he wasn’t even a threat to steal after his second stint on the disabled list. Reyes wasn’t the same player, and with the competitive part of the season dwindling away, he didn’t run as to risk injury which could have cost him his precious batting title and money in free agency.

That he removed himself from his last game isn’t enough to cut ties with him, but it is enough to get an accurate glimpse of his priorities. Lots of players turn it on in their walk years, and that’s the lasting impression Reyes left us.

His injuries contributed to the fall, but wasn’t the main reason the team fell to its depths of mediocrity and helplessness the past three years.

The main reason was, and remains, its inadequate starting pitching. There are no assurances of a healthy return from Santana or Pelfrey improving, and all five spots in the rotation have significant questions attached, as do the six or seven spots in the bullpen.

Clearly, what Mets pitcher isn’t without a concern, either physically or performance wise?

Wright has been in decline since the Matt Cain beaning, Bay never produced, and Ike Davis missed more than half the season with an ankle injury. That puts questions at third, in left, and at first. Lucas Duda will be getting a chance to play his first full season in right, Angel Pagan regressed in center, and who will play second if Ruben Tejada takes over shortstop?

Where can you look on the field to find solace and comfort, knowing that position is in good hands?

Reyes is only one player, and not a healthy one at that.

To those who suggest the Mets might be even worse without Reyes, you are probably correct. But, we all know the Mets’ house-of-cards finances will preclude them immediately getting better in the free-agent market. And, don’t forget, with or without Reyes, the payroll is to be slashed by up to $30 million.

We also know what passes for pitching in the free-agent market are mostly mediocre back of the rotation answers and there is little help from the minor league system.

Record-wise, the Mets are roughly in the bottom third with few immediate answers. With or without Reyes, that’s where they are, and their only hope of moving up is to use the money earmarked for Reyes and attempt to plug holes.

Because, if that myriad of holes remains empty, so too will be the seats at Citi Field. At one time, Reyes represented the future of the Mets. Now, there’s no future with him.

 

Jan 05

Jan. 5.10: You asked for it, you got it.

Both Harry and Ray in a recent thread expressed interest in reading about Omar Minaya’s best deals. There have been more than a few. Some of his bad ones were actually good in the beginning, such as Oliver Perez and Guillermo Mota.

There were also decisions on Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Alex Cora and signing David Wright and Jose Reyes to long term extensions. The John Maine trade was good. Nobody could have thought he would be injured. Getting Xavier Nady was a good deal.

We must remember, that in all fairness, the Mets came within an inning of the World Series in 2006. Minaya put that team together.

Julio Franco, Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez all had moments, but the negative reviews came with the subsequent contract extensions.

So, let’s have some fun with this today and talk about Omar Minaya’s Greatest Hits.

Nov 12

Available free agent relievers ….

The following relievers will be available this winter in the free-agent market. Joe Beimel and Juan Cruz are intriguing, but are they worth throwing piles of money at? I’m not so sure.

Unquestionably, the Mets’ bullpen was horrible last season, but GM Omar Minaya’s analysis is wide ranging. Were the individuals simply bad and past their prime, or just had a bad season? To what degree were injuries a factor (Aaron Heilman)? How much did throwing out of their roles determine the results?

The Mets will add a body or two from this list, but I don’t see a major overhaul. If they don’t deal Heilman, and I’m starting to lean in the direction of them keeping him, the set-up relievers might not change that much.

I can see Heilman, Schoeneweis, Ayala, Feliciano and Smith coming back. I can also see Parnell or Kunz getting a shot. Then there’s the closer they’ll add, and the more I think of it, the more I can visualize it being Trevor Hoffman.

Here’s the list of available free-agent relievers:

Jeremy Affeldt CIN
Luis Ayala NYM
Joe Beimel LAD
Joe Borowski CLE
Juan Cruz ARZ

Brendan Donnelly BOS
Alan Embree * OAK
Scott Eyre CHC
Kyle Farnsworth DET
Casey Fossum DET

Brian Fuentes COL
Aaron Fultz CLE
Tom Gordon * PHI
LaTroy Hawkins HOU
Mark Hendrickson LAD

Trevor Hoffman SD
Bobby Howry CHC
Jason Isringhausen STL
Steve Kline SF
Brandon Lyon ARZ

Damaso Marte * NYY
Tom Martin COL
Julio Mateo PHI
Guillermo Mota MIL
Will Ohman CHC

Darren Oliver LAA
John Parrish SEA
Chris Reitsma SEA
Dennys Reyes MIN
Juan Rincon CLE

Francisco Rodriguez LAA
Brian Shouse MIL
Rafael Soriano ATL
Jorge Sosa NYM
Mike Stanton * CIN

Salomon Torres * MIL
Derrick Turnbow MIL
Oscar Villarreal ATL
David Weathers CIN
Dave Williams NYM

Matt Wise NYM
Kerry Wood CHC

Sep 24

The Minaya Extension

The news is Omar Minaya will be the Mets’ general manager for the next four years. How many of them will be championship seasons? None … if the bullpen isn’t repaired.

Quite simply, the Mets are a better team today than they were when Minaya was hired. There is discontent from the fandom to be sure, but that’s in large part because the expectations remain high after the 2006 disappointment.

So, what are your thoughts on the Minaya Era? By no means are the following lists conclusive, but there to give you a working reference.

Highlights

1. Signing of Carlos Beltran.
2. Signing of Pedro Martinez, which gave the franchise credibility.
3. The trade for John Maine.
4. Acquiring Carlos Delgado.
5. His ability to bolster the bench (Tatis, Easley, Chavez, etc.)
6. The acquisition of Oliver Perez after the Xavier Nady injury in 2006.
7. The trade for Johan Santana.
8. The Lastings Milledge trade.

Lowlights

1. The extension given Luis Castillo.
2. The two years given Guillermo Mota.
3. His reliance on older players such as Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou.
4. The inability to repair the bullpen after last season.
5. The organization’s handling of the Ryan Church injury.
6. The Lastings Milledge trade.
7. The handling of Willie Randolph.
8. Not trading Aaron Heilman when he had the chance.