Jul 19

Mets Top Five Second Half Questions

We know this is a lost season for the Mets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face four significant questions in the second half. How they answer them could determine whether they will be competitive next year or five seasons from now:

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere.  (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere. (SNY)

1. QUESTION: Who will run the show?

ANSWER: In the wake of GM Sandy Alderson’s absence, the trio of assistants John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi will do the daily lifting, but the major decisions will be made by COO Jeff Wilpon. It’s up to you to determine if that’s good or bad. If the Mets are to make an exhaustive GM search in the offseason, it would likely preclude any major trades between now and July 31. One assumption we can make is if the Mets go outside for a general manager it would stand to reason the new hire will want to name his own manager and Mickey Callaway will be let go.

2. QUESTION: What becomes of the Mets aces?

ANSWER: It’s not likely neither Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will be traded by the current GM trio. Those decisions aren’t made by out-going general managers. There’s been some talk of Zack Wheeler and/or Steven Matz being traded, but I don’t think that will happen, either. The Mets take their time building up to making major decisions, and if I’m Wilpon and know I’m going to name a new GM, then I want that hire to assess where the club is positioned in the short term. Personally, if the Mets get, and stay, healthy, I can see them improving in 2019, but I can’t see them competing. That’s just too big of a leap to make.

3. QUESTION: Who will be gone by the end of the month?

ANSWER: The two biggest reported names on the block are Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera. Closers are especially at a premium, so Familia might be the best move to make. Cabrera is having a solid season, and there are several teams needing a second/third baseman. With Dustin Pedroia injured, the Red Sox can use a second baseman. Wilmer Flores is being showcased, but tears alone won’t keep him in Queens this time. They could always trade Jay Bruce again, but he’s injured. I can also see they taking calls about Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. If they aren’t going to play him, then Dominic Smith has to either be traded or sent to the minors. Yoenis Cespedes has a no-trade clause, so he’s not going anywhere. Lefty reliever Jerry Blevins could also be dealt.

4. QUESTION: What’s going on with Cespedes?

ANSWER: He played nine innings at first base in a rehab game yesterday. First base is an intriguing because of his legs. Cespedes, 32, has been on the DL with a strained right hip flexor since May 16. He’s expected to be activated from the DL on Friday, but with Cespedes, you never know. With this being a lost season, the Mets might as well see what he can do at first base. Cespedes has been a dismal signing, and this is his chance to salvage his career in New York. The Mets are an organization void of young talent, but if Cespedes plays first for the rest of this season and next year, it could stunt the development of the franchise’s second-ranked prospect, Peter Alonso. Chances are we’ll see Alonso as a late-season call-up. Either way, it seems like the end of the line for Smith.

5. QUESTION: Will we see The Captain this year?

ANSWER: For a while, there was thought we might see David Wright before Cespedes. Wright has been throwing and taking batting practice, and there’s speculation he might return this season. Still, there’s no timetable for his return. If not, there’s always next spring training.

 

Apr 27

Fast Start Has Saved Mets

We always knew this day would come, Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was hired in large part for his optimism, will now be forced to put into practice. Once 11-1, the Mets limp into San Diego tonight with a 15-8 record, having lost their last three series and their closer Jeurys Familia having blown three of his last five save opportunities.

Still, Callaway doesn’t appear flustered.

MATZ: Struggling.. (AP)

                             MATZ: Struggling. (AP)

“It would be frustrating if we weren’t where we’re at in the standings,” Callaway said after Thursday’s 4-3 extra-innings loss in St. Louis. “We’re still in a pretty good spot. What has happened the last week, or week and a half or whatever is not going to continue to happen. It’s just not going to happen.”

Keep a good thought, Mickey.

On a positive note, the best way to stop a fall is with your best pitcher and that’s Jacob deGrom.

On the flip side, the Mets are developing a staggering list of negatives, primarily with their pitching, considered to be their team strength entering the season.

Matt Harvey, 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, is already out of the rotation, and Steven Matz (1-2, 4.98) and Zack Wheeler (1-1, 4.24) haven’t pitched well enough to stay in.

Closer Familia is floundering and AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins have done nothing worthy of replacing him.

Should the Mets opt to promote Robert Gsellman and/or Seth Lugo from the bullpen to the rotation, that would consequently weaken the pen.

Offensively, the Mets are down to their third and fourth catchers and combined they are hitting less than .125.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .203. Yoenis Cespedes hit a 463-foot homer in St. Louis and is on pace to hit 34 homers. Big deal, he’s also on pace to strikeout 277 times. Not even his projected 155 RBI can make up for that many wasted at-bats.

 

Apr 04

Mets’ Bullpen Rising To Occasion

It has only been five games for the Mets, but the early returns on manager Mickey Callaway’s use of his bullpen, especially with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, have been good.

Tuesday night, Lugo relieved Matt Harvey – and two other relievers – after five innings and pitched two scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory, and today, Gsellman relieved Noah Syndergaard after four innings (92 pitches) in a 4-2 victory.

Gsellman pitched two scoreless innings in earning the victory, then was followed by single scoreless innings from Hansel Robles, AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia.

After Harvey was pulled, Ramos entered and allowed two runners to reach and got two outs before he was replaced by Jerry Blevins, who closed out the sixth. Normally, Ramos and Blevins wouldn’t have been in the game that early.

However, Callaway’s theory is to not restrict his relievers by assigned innings, but go with the best match-ups.

And, Lugo and Gsellman pitching multiple innings is something Terry Collins normally wouldn’t have done.

“Our bullpen has done a fantastic job so far this season and we have faith in them,’’ said Callaway. “Everybody is doing the right thing. We are working on the small things, like Robles for example. He went down [to minor league camp], worked on the right things and comes out today and pitches a huge inning for us. I am really proud of those guys for that.”

Robles, who I’m not a fan of, has been terrific and today struck out the side in the seventh.

It has been a good start of the season for the Mets, who at 4-1, will be in Washington for the start of a three-game series. Oh, by the way, snow is forecast for Washington this weekend.

There are a lot of reasons why the Mets collapsed last season after consecutive playoff appearances and the bullpen was as big of an explanation as any. A lot of things have to happen if they are to recover enough to be competitive. And, the bullpen has to play a big part.

So far, so good.

Nov 08

Adding To Bullpen Will Cost Mets

Even without the top-shelf names of Wade Davis and Greg Holland, the list of relievers the Mets are reportedly considering for their bullpen is pretty intriguing – and potentially expensive.

Addison Reed ($7.75 million in 2017), Luke Gregerson ($6.25 million), Bryan Shaw ($4.9 million), Mike Minor ($4 million), Brandon Kintzler ($2.9 million) and Matt Albers ($1.4 million) are sure command sizeable raises, but even more when you consider the Mets already have three relievers already at the back end of their bullpen.

Closer Jeurys Familia ($7.425 million) and AJ Ramos ($6.55 million) are arbitration eligible, and assuming they win their cases will earn at least $8.5 million, and Jerry Blevins option for $7 million has already been picked up. That already adds up to at least $24 million for three relievers, and you figure up to four more. If one of them is reportedly Shaw, who played under new Mets manager Mickey Callaway last season in Cleveland, that works in their favor.

What doesn’t is the depth in the Mets’ bullpen at the back end. Reed and Gregerson should both command over $8 million, while Shaw should get at least $7 million. Now, you’ve all followed the Mets for a long time, and do you really think they will pay at least $7 million to four or five relievers?

That’s to start. All these free-agent relievers are looking for opportunities to close, and if they are asked to sacrifice that role to come to the Mets, they likely would want to be paid like a closer in order to take a lesser role.

I’m not saying the Mets won’t add a reliever, or if any of the relievers they added in their midseason purge of their offensive power will make it, or if any of the arms currently on their roster will develop. I’m saying that knowing how the Mets do things, if they go outside the organization to add to their bullpen it will cost them.

 

Nov 06

Free Agent Market Opens; Let The Penny-Pinching Begin

Assuming published reports are accurate and the Mets have roughly $35 million to spend this offseason, just where will the money go?

Well, since the deadline for extending a $17.4-million qualifying offer to Jose Reyes passed today – which would be half that amount – it’s safe to assume they won’t do too much this winter, at least not of the big-name variety.

REYES: No qualifying offer made. (AP)

REYES: No qualifying offer made. (AP)

From what I hear Jay Bruce might want, he’s too pricey for the Mets. So is Addison Reed, so there won’t be any reunions.

Dexter Fowler won’t happen. Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, all of whom would look good in a Mets’ uniform, all received qualifying offers from their teams and have until Nov. 16 to accept. If they don’t, it’s unlikely the Mets will pursue because it would entail a compensatory draft pick.

The money the Mets figure to spend this winter will be with nine arbitration-eligible players: Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Noah Syndergaard will cost plenty; Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are all important to the Mets; Hansel Robles you can have.

That’s eight players, and it won’t be hard to figure out – since the players usually win these things – that could add up to $35 million rather quickly, especially considering they’ve already earmarked $13.5 million to pick up the options for Asdrubal Cabrera and Jerry Blevins.

So, if the reported numbers are accurate, that leaves $21.5 million left to spend in the free-agent market, but much will go to arbitration.