Dec 04

Jacoby Ellsbury Signing Defines Mets Vs. Yankees; Time Running Out For Granderson

As if the New York Mets and their frustrated fan base needed another reminder of their status in town, they got a punch-in-the-gut this morning with the news Jacoby Ellsbury had agreed to a seven-year, $153-million contract with the Yankees.

Yes, the Yankees, the team that said they wanted to go below a $189 million payroll while Mets GM Sandy Alderson, despite saying he has the resources, isn’t likely to go over $90 million.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

Alderson will say the Mets aren’t competing with the Yankees, and he’s right to a four-game, interleague degree, but he’s wrong everywhere else. There’s competition for the back pages, for free-agents, for attention from the on-the-fence New York fan, for TV ratings and time on the radio talk-shows.

Today, the callers will take a break from bashing the Nets and Knicks – and deservedly so – to hailing the Yankees, and yes, ripping the Mets for their inaction. Also, deservedly so.

It’s a great deal for the Yankees as they obtain a dynamic outfielder – which was Alderson’s prime objective this winter – that will more homers in Yankee Stadium hitting from the leadoff position, while at the same time, weakening their rival Red Sox.

This came after giving $85 million to catcher Brian McCann. And, they are hot after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, which will entail a hefty posting fee to go along with a huge salary.

Then, there’s the matter of Robinson Cano.

Meanwhile, the Mets’ biggest splash this winter, if you don’t include Chris Young, is having dinner with Jay Z, Cano’s flamboyant agent.

That meeting garnered attention for one day, but these signings by the Yankees to go along with their courtship of Cano, have them in the headlines nearly every day this offseason.

The free-agent outfield market had four premium names: Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson. Ellsbury’s deal set the bar, meaning if history is an indicator, the prices for the others should increase.

This means if the Mets are serious about Granderson they had better act quickly because the meter is running. Who knows? It might already have clicked past Alderson’s price range.

The Mets weren’t going to overpay for Ellsbury or Choo, but they might have to for Granderson for nothing else, to save some face this winter.

But, Granderson would fit the Mets for several reasons:

* He would give them left-handed power. Yes, his numbers were elevated in Yankee Stadium, but of his 43 homers hit in 2012, 26 were at home and 17 on the road. Granderson hit 41 in 20111, with 21 at home and 20 on the road.

* He could play anywhere in the outfield, and has the speed to play center.

* All indications are he’s a good clubhouse presence, plus, he knows what it takes to play in New York.

While the Ellsbury signing screams the Yankees are back, it doesn’t mean the Mets have to limp away. There’s still time for them to do something, but it is running out.

Dec 03

Are The Mets And Curtis Granderson A Fit?

The New York Mets talked with outfielder Curtis Granderson. The meeting reportedly took place in San Diego. Although the Mets would not confirm a meeting, it was reported by several media outlets.

Granderson turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees, so that gives you an idea of where he’s coming from. He wants a pay-day. The Mets already signed free agent Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract, so if the Mets landed Granderson it would probably send Eric Young to the bench, re-opening the hole he filled last season.

GRANDERSON: On Mets' radar/

GRANDERSON: On Mets’ radar/

Granderson, 33 in March, would provide left-handed power, but is ranked behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz in the free-agent market, so getting him wouldn’t be as costly. Granderson reportedly wants four years, but the Mets could approach him with three plus an option. I don’t believe a flat three would get him to Flushing.

Because of injuries – a broken forearm in spring training and later a broken pinkie finger – Granderson is coming off a terrible season in which he played in just 61 games and hit .229 with seven homers and 15 RBI.

The Yankees wanted to bring back Granderson – hence the qualifying offer – but their pursuit of Beltran sings a different tune.

While Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, Granderson’s injuries were freakish in nature – hit by a pitch – and he will likely look at the 84 combined homers in 2011 and 2012.

That’s a lot of production, but Anderson must consider the Yankee Stadium bandbox and realize Granderson won’t hit like that in Citi Field. Alderson would have to take that approach with any power hitter on the market. Ellsbury is the line-drive, speed outfielder who would be perfect, but the Mets won’t give him the six years or $100-million-plus package he’s seeking.

So, if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, there’s the salary Granderson would want; his recent injury history and age; and the questionable nature of his numbers.

If you’re the glass-half-full kind, there’s the potential power he could provide; that he fills a need and despite his negatives is a step up.

There are players I’d rather the Mets get over Granderson, but they won’t pay that kind of money. Assuming $51 million over three years ($17 million a season), Granderson would be a relatively economical upgrade in the outfield.

He would fall under the category of being the best the Mets could get.

LATER TODAY:  What non-tendered players the Mets could bring back.

Nov 23

Nate McLouth Would Have Been Better Choice Than Chris Young For Mets

The New York Mets might get lucky with Chris Young the same way they did with Marlon Byrd last season. It could happen.

However, are you betting on it?

McLOUTH: A better choice.

McLOUTH: A better choice.

I am not buying for a second they’ll make a play for Nelson Cruz, but there are others I would have liked to see them get over Young.

We know Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury were out of their price range. Supposedly, they liked Corey Hart. How about Nate McLouth?

McLouth, 32, hit .258 with a .329 on-base percentage – both superior to Young – and drew 53 walks in 593 plate appearances. He also homered 12 times, equal to Young’s production. And, he did it for $2 million. Plus, he stole 30 bases, plays good defense and always hustles.

You can’t convince me for a second Young was a better choice. They got Young, who is two years younger, for $7.25 million. Don’t you think they could have gotten McLouth for two years at $8 million?

There aren’t a lot of great choices out there, but Young was a bad one in that they gave a lot of money for somebody with little production.

Sandy Alderson values on-base percentage, and clearly had a better option in McLouth. Too bad he didn’t make a harder run at him.

Nov 16

Sandy Alderson Said Mets Will Spend; No Promises Made

How much the New York Mets will spend on free agents this winter is undetermined, but what we can ascertain is it will not be enough to satisfy everybody. This much we know is general manager Sandy Alderson will not just throw money at a player to placate the grumbling fan base.

There’s an old saying if a baseball manager or general manager acted solely to please the fans in the stands he’ll soon be sitting with them, and Alderson will not act out of emotion.

“No fan is probably ever going to be satisfied with what his or her team is spending on players. It’s kind of too bad that the measure of commitment, the measure of loyalty to the fan base, is measured in dollar signs,’’ Alderson told ESPN today.

“That be as it may, we’re going to spend more money this year than we’ve spent in recent years, just in terms of what we have to spend. You know, last year we only spent about $5 million on free agents. So this is going to be a new day. We have it to spend. We have to spend it wisely. That’s what we’re trying to do.’’

We’ve heard that before from Alderson, which puts us in an “I’ll believe it when I see it,’’ position.

Alderson promised nothing this afternoon in his ESPN interview. Essentially, the said they’ll do more than last winter, which was basically Shaun Marcum.

We all want the Mets to not only compete, but win. Barring a miracle it won’t happen. You might point to the “Miracle Mets’’ of 1969, but remember that team had a core of a solid pitching staff highlighted by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Plus, it was a different game back then.

Even if the Mets were to start writing checks there’s no guarantee they’ll win. Look how much the Yankees have spent recently and look where it got them.

What has it gotten the Dodgers the past two years? The Nationals? The Tigers? The Phillies? The Angels?

The bottom line is there’s not one free agent out there – not Jacoby Ellsbury, not Shin-Soo Choo – or trading for David Price – that will guarantee the Mets the World Series.

Hell, even if the Mets do it traditionally right through their farm system there are no assurances. Hell, Matt Harvey’s elbow injury should have taught us that lesson.

However, gradual building, which the Mets tell us they are doing, does provide the Mets odds.

I believe the Mets will make some moves this winter, and the recent inactivity doesn’t mean they won’t do anything.

The Mets won 74 games last year, and if they get two innings eaters in the back end of their rotation, improve at shortstop, build depth in their bullpen and add an outfield bat – in that order – they should have a better team.

Those additions, while low key, along with a full season from David Wright, and improvement from Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, the Mets should improve enough to win at least one more game a month, which would put them at .500.

And, this is regardless of whether they trade Ike Davis, Lucas Duda or both.

If that happens and Harvey comes back healthy in 2015, plus a few more holes are patched, then they can make a run at the postseason.

Hell, even if that does occur, there’s no givens. There never is in baseball.

Nov 14

What We Learned About Mets From GM Meetings

The general managers meetings ended without the New York Mets making a sound just as we knew they would. It was that way for everybody else, too.

The GM meetings are for laying the groundwork for the offseason, and this much we have learned from the Mets:

Despite what I wrote about maybe taking a second look at Ike Davis, it won’t happen. With a half-dozen teams inquiring about him, he’s gone. The Mets are in a delicate situation with Davis. It’s obvious they want to get rid of him and teams know that, so they’ll lowball the Mets. Sandy Alderson knows that, but he also knows Davis’ greatest value is living up to his potential the Mets projected of him and not just give him away.

Jhonny Peralta seems to be the Mets’ objective for shortstop with Stephen Drew out of their price range. Defense up the middle is paramount and Drew will get his money somewhere.

Curtis Granderson is there for the taking in the outfield, where he can play center or a corner position. It’s clear the Yankees don’t want him, and it is also obvious he’ll come a lot cheaper than Shin-Soo Choo, who’ll be overpaid by whomever signs him. Ditto for Jacoby Ellsbury. This much we know about Granderson: 1) he’ll hit for some power, but not as much as he would if he were at Yankee Stadium, 2) he’ll strike out a lot, and 3) he knows how to play in New York.

Bronson Arroyo can be had for a reasonable cost to help fill the back end of the rotation. It appears the Mets have little, or no interest, in Barry Zito or bringing back Mike Pelfrey. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang are still available, but apparently there’s no rush there.

In previous seasons the Mets used to let the market come to them, but this winter it might be prudent for them to hustle for their first choices.

Better overpay early then come away empty later.