Jan 19

Why The Mets Won’t Deal Nimmo

Sure, the Mets like Brandon Nimmo and don’t want to trade him. It’s understandable the Mets would rather sign a free agent than give up their young talent.

However, there’s more than just Nimmo’s upside that kept him a Met and prevented Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison from coming to New York. And, the reasons are something GM Sandy Alderson isn’t telling us.

NIMMO:  Why the Mets want him.  (Getty)

NIMMO: Why the Mets want him. (Getty)

The Mets know Nimmo can hit major league pitching on a limited basis – he hit .260 with a .379 on-base percentage last year through 69 games – and is worthy of a fulltime gamble.

If the Mets were truly a contender this season, it would have been worth the roll of the dice to trade him for McCutchen. That Alderson didn’t pull the trigger on that trade tells us the Mets aren’t ready for primetime.

Rejecting McCutchen also tells us the Mets wouldn’t be willing to offer him a multi-year deal while Nimmo is two years away from being pre-arbitration eligible.

There’s a third reason why the Mets want to hang onto Nimmo, and it is the uncertainty with surrounding the health of Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

Conforto (shoulder) will miss at least the first month of the season and nobody knows how much time Cespedes (hamstring) will miss at the start of 2018. And even if he does start the season, he missed substantial time over the past two seasons.

The Mets are perilously thin in the outfield with Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares and Nimmo the only immediate healthy bodies that represent any cost certainty.

Jan 16

Why Didn’t Alderson Make A Stronger Play For McCutchen?

A quick show of hands, please: Who has heard of Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds?

Chances are you haven’t until today when the Giants sent to the two prospects to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCuthen. The cash-strapped Pirates will also send money to the Giants to help cover McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.

“It’s no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup,’’ said Brian Sabean, Giants executive vice president of baseball operations. “Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it.’’

Which begs another question, why, if the Mets were reportedly interested in McCutchen, couldn’t GM Sandy Alderson have matched the Giants in the talent sent to Pittsburgh? Why didn’t Alderson “jump” on it?

And, that McCutchen is a free agent after this season is irrelevant because if the Mets chose not to bring him back on a long-term deal, they could at least make get a qualifying offer. And, if McCutchen rejected it, they would receive a compensatory draft pick.

If the Mets are as close to being competitive as Alderson believes they are, then why pass on McCutchen, who is only 31?

Michael Conforto could move from center to right, and Jay Bruce could switch to first base. That would be a fairly formidable lineup if the pitching stays healthy. However, Bruce isn’t enough to make the Mets a wild-card contender. Bruce and McCutchen might be. It is certainly better than Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

So, why was Alderson asleep at the switch?

The only thing I can think of is because he didn’t want to spend the money.

 

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.

 

Jan 10

Bruce Agrees With Mets

I am pleasantly surprised, no, make that floored the Mets finally signed a free agent, and glad it was outfielder Jay Bruce. Primarily, because I didn’t want to see him traded in the first place.

Multiple media outlets reported Bruce agreed to terms on a three-year, $39-million contract. The deal is pending a physical and it is not immediately known if it contains a no-trade clause. Presumably, it does considering the Mets had previously dealt last year for minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan.

The Mets acquired Bruce, now 30, from Cincinnati in 2016. He struggled with the Mets initially but found his stroke in late September. I never bought into the nonsense that he was overwhelmed by New York, and proved that with 29 homers with the Mets before GM Sandy Alderson’s fire sale last season.

Bruce finished 2017 with a career-high 36 homers and 101 RBI in 146. He also hit two homers with four RBI in the AL Division Series.

I’ve always liked Bruce, but don’t think he’ll make the Mets appreciably better unless they are willing to make additional moves. Bruce is scheduled to make $13 million this year, which is only slightly more than the $10 million they were reportedly believed to have budgeted for 2018.

Initial speculation had Bruce seeking $80 million over four years, but there was little interest outside of the Mets, who as of last week hadn’t made an offer. Outside of familiarity, also tipping the needle in favor of the Mets is willingness to play first base in case things don’t pan out with Dominic Smith.

With Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto recovering from injuries, the outfield is considered to be a need.

Dec 04

Why Would Bruce Return?

Published reports indicate the Mets are one of six teams interested in signing Jay Bruce. While Bruce said he’s open to returning to New York and playing first base, that’s probably a negotiating tactic. Why limit the field, which would decrease your value?

BRUCE: Why would he return? (AP)

BRUCE: Why would he return? (AP)

Most recently, Colorado and Seattle, have come into play, teams that offer great cities, but also complementary power in their lineups which would take pressure off Bruce of having to be the entire offense.

Plus, both teams are closer to reaching the playoffs than the Mets. If either, or any team, is willing to pay the $90 million over five years he is seeking – which the Mets are not – why would he return?

In coming back to the Mets, there’s potential of contending if the pitchers hold up physically. As of now, Jacob deGrom and possibly Noah Syndergaard, seem to be the only reliable starters.

The Mets, despite scuttling their offense for a handful of relievers last summer, are still searching for bullpen help. Whoever they sign will also have to play first. While Bruce said he’s willing, don’t forget he complained of back stiffness after a few games last year.

The Mets finished 22 games below .500 in 2017 and enter this season with a new manager and a myriad of questions and concerns, of which Bruce can only address one or two.

Unless the market completely dries up, or the Mets all of a sudden get giddy with their money, there’s little in the way of compelling reasons why Bruce would come back. It can’t be for sentimental reasons as he was booed after the coming here and traded away last year.

The best chance they had of bringing him back was to not trade him in the first place.