Dec 08

Cubs Beat Out Mets For Zobrist

The Mets are back to Plan B, which is another way of saying Square One, as the MLB Network reported tonight with second baseman Ben Zobrist, this winter’s object of their affections agreed to a four-year, $56-million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

Mets manager Terry Collins texted Zobrist today, a clipped “We want you,” but like a teenage girl being asked to the prom, such flirting doesn’t always work.

ZOBRIST: Going to Cubs. (AP)

ZOBRIST: Going to Cubs. (AP)

Zobrist met with the Washington Nationals today and Mets on Monday, but the Cubs emerged as a late player. In the Cubs, the 34-year-old Zobrist finds a comfort level in Chicago, which is close to his offseason Nashville home. The Cubs, who won 97 games last season, offer a better line-up to protect Zobrist, a better hitter’s park, and reunites him with his former manager Joe Maddon.

Zobrist is a switch-hitter whose 162-game average is .265 with a .355 on-base percentage, 17 homers and 77 RBI. Frankly, $56 million is too much for that production. But, for a team like the Cubs that has deeper pockets.

The Cubs are also going after outfielder Jason Heyward and Miami ace Jose Fernandez, whom the Marlins say they won’t trade. The Giants and Dodgers are also reportedly interested in Fernandez. If the Cubs make those two moves they should be favored to get to the World Series. Even if they don’t, the Cubs are better situated to getting to the Series than the Mets.

To make room for Zobrist, the Cubs are discussing a trade of second baseman Starlin Castro to the Yankees. Ironically, the Mets’ loss at second base is the Yankees’ gain.

Despite being swept out of the NLCS by the Mets, the Cubs are in better position of getting into the playoffs next year, despite the Mets’ cache of young arms. In addition to second base, the Mets have holes in centerfield (they have to replace Yoenis Cespedes) and bolster the middle of their bullpen.

The Mets are also banking on a bounce-back year from David Wright and the continued development of outfielder Michael Conforto and their young pitching.

As they are presently constructed, and with the Nationals expected to be aggressive, the Mets aren’t a slam dunk to get back to the playoffs.

Clearly, they have work to do.

Dec 02

Mets To Tender Contract To Mejia

One of the Mets’ most intriguing contract questions will be answered today when they are expected to tender reliever Jenrry Mejia a contract.

Mejia, who is serving his second suspension, will miss the first 100 games of the 2016 season. The 26-year-old Mejia was to earn $2.595 million last year, but only earned a prorated portion for the three weeks he played.

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

By virtue of the collective bargaining agreement, arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts must get at least 80 percent of their previous year’s salary, which would be $2.076 million in Mejia’s case. However, considering the time Mejia missed because of suspension, and the time he will miss next year, that figure according to ESPN will be about $1 million.

Of course, the Mets can offer whatever they want, and because their bullpen needs, it makes sense to keep Mejia around in hope he turns himself around.

Also no-brainers among the Mets’ arbitration-eligible players that will be tendered contracts are Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda And Jeurys Familia.

Because of their bullpen holes, I also expect the Mets to tender set-up reliever Addison Reed and relievers Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin.

However, remaining a question is shortstop Ruben Tejada, who made $1.88 million last year. Tejada would make a good insurance policy if his recovery from a broken leg sustained in the NL Division Series heals properly.

If they cut Tejada loose, it would mean confidence in Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. The conventional wisdom in keeping with those three is predicated on the Mets not re-signing Daniel Murphy.

There still remains the possibility of the Mets signing free agent Ben Zobrist.

 

Nov 16

Syndergaard Fourth In Rookie Voting

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting today behind Chicago’s Kris Bryant (unanimous winner), Matt Duffy and Jung Ho Kang. The only Mets who realistically have a chance at winning postseason awards are Terry Collins (manager) and Sandy Alderson (executive).

ESPN, citing the Pace Law School in White Plains as its source, projects Matt Harvey to make $4.4 million in arbitration this winter, Other arbitration-eligible Mets are Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed.

 

Nov 02

Collins Falls On Sword For Harvey

There are plenty of fingers to he pointed in defeat, but the only thing I can blame Terry Collins for was not following his gut. He wanted to pull Matt Harvey; he wanted to give the ball to his snake bit closer Jeurys Familia with a clean inning.

“No way,’’ Harvey screamed at the manager who tried to protect him all year. And in defeat, Collins trusted him again.

“He said, `I want this game. I want it bad,’ ’’ Collins said. “I let my heart get in the way of my gut. … It was inexcusable.’’

HARVEY: ``No way.'' Yes, way. (Getty)

HARVEY: “No way.” Yes, way. (Getty)

If Collins stayed with his gut and the Mets bullpen blew it, he would have been vilified. If Collins pulled Harvey after the walk and the bullpen blew it then, he would have been roasted for that.

“If you’re going to send him out there for one hitter, you shouldn’t sent him out there at all,’’ Collins said.

But, it wasn’t just that decision. The Mets’ defense played poorly; the bullpen was always on shaky ground; and the offense, well, it didn’t exist. Four hits tonight were not going to get it done.

Collins accepted responsibility, but there were others to share blame.

In the end, nobody expected the Mets to get this far, and I’m talking about more than reaching the World Series. Entering the season, the goal was to get to .500. They lapped that expectation.

As the Royals celebrated in the middle of the infield and Citi Field grew quiet, the TV cameras focused on David Wright, who stared blankly to the field.

All I could think about was how empty he felt, and I hoped he would feel that way for a long time as it is a feeling to build on.

 

Oct 31

Mets’ Future Free Agents On Team

It was there for the taking, but the Mets wouldn’t have anything to do with victory and let Game 4 of the World Series slip away from them like a ground ball under Daniel Murphy’s glove.

Oh, wait, that actually did happen.

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

“You can’t give a good team extra outs,’’ said dumbfounded Mets manager Terry Collins, who also contributed to the late-inning collapse in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals, the team that won’t die.

In the end, the likely end to the Mets’ 2015 postseason came down to three players who probably won’t be here next season for not making the plays when they needed to most.

Tyler Clippard, Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes did nothing to endear themselves to Mets’ fans and GM Sandy Alderson.

However, let’s first start with Collins, who pulled Bartolo Colon before going with hot reliever Addison Reed in the seventh. You go with your hot hand and Collins should have stayed with Colon and ride him until he gave up a base runner before going to Reed.

Reed was terrific, but the template backfired on Collins when Clippard walked two in the eighth. First of all, Collins should have gone with Jeurys Familia for a two-inning save. Only trouble is Collins was reluctant to go with Familia because he had worked an inning Friday night in a blowout win in Game 3. That was lame. This time of year, your closer has to work two, maybe three nights in a row.

So, not having Familia in there falls on Collins. Also falling on Collins is not pulling Clippard after the first walk. At this stage, Clippard gets one runner before he’s pulled.

Then came a grounder to Murphy. The snake of a grounder slithered under his glove and the game was tied. Then it totally slipped away from the Mets.

“Jeurys did his job, I didn’t do mine,’’ said the always stand-up Murphy. “I misplayed it. There’s no excuse for it. We lost the ballgame because of it.’’

The Mets put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Cespedes was doubled off first on a soft liner to third baseman Michael Moustakas. Despite a runner on base ahead of him, Cespedes was running.

Where was he going? What was he thinking?

Later, he offered the lame excuse. “I thought it was going to touch the grass,’’ Cespedes said. “I didn’t think it would be a double play.’’

I don’t blame Murphy as errors happen. I don’t really blame Clippard because wildness happens. However, neither Collins nor Cespedes had their heads in the game when they needed to most.

That’s why the Mets are 27 outs from winter.