Jan 29

Four Mets Facing Make-Or-Break Seasons

As spring training approaches so might the anxiety level of several New York Mets, all understanding this can be a make-or-break season for at least four of them.

* Let’s first start with the obvious, Ike Davis, whom the Mets had been trying to trade this winter. The Mets’ inability to trade Davis stems from their highly publicized efforts to do so, their high asking price and the glut in the first base market.

Davis struggled through two miserable first halves, and knows his high-propensity for striking out and poor overall hitting approach is wearing thin with GM Sandy Alderson. He knows he can’t produce another .205 average, nine-homer season won’t cut it and the Mets won’t offer arbitration again.

* Ruben Tejada was on the way out as the starting shortstop, but Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew wanted too much. Alderson said despite speculation Drew is out of their plans.

Tejada ended the season with a fractured leg, but recovered and worked out twice at a Michigan fitness camp. His effort in Ann Arbor impressed manager Terry Collins, but Tejada needs to show it at the plate and not let his concentration wander in the field.

* Jon Niese as last season’s Opening Day starter. He won his first two starts, but things quickly unraveled following back-to-back sub-32 degree starts in Minneapolis and Denver. Tightness in his back led to shoulder discomfort that forced him on the disabled list.

Niese made only 24 starts and finished 8-8 after winning 13 games in 2012 while pitching while throwing 190.1 innings over 30 starts.

Niese is signed through 2017, and while the Mets have an investment in him, they do get the occasional phone call inquiring.

* Travis d’Arnaud was supposed to get the starting job early last season, but an injury pushed his promotion back. He was one of the key pieces in the R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto.

There are issues with his ability to call a game, block pitches, and above all, his offense.

He had such a small window of opportunity in 2013 that the Mets wouldn’t pull him after a Davis-like start. At least, you wouldn’t think so.

However, if d’Arnaud has a miserable season wire-to-wire, the Mets would listen to proposals, but by that time his value would have dropped.

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Jan 16

Mets Matters: Bobby Parnell In Camp; Ike Davis Settles

What? You expected Bobby Parnell to say otherwise? The New York Mets’ closer, who is already in Port St. Lucie, told reporters he will be ready for the start of the season.

mets-matters logoParnell underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Sept. 10, was cleared to resume baseball activities several weeks ago

“I’ve been throwing for several weeks now, taking it nice and easy,’’ Parnell said. “I’m getting into the baseball activities slowly, and with some professional eyes on me.’’

Parnell said part of taking it easy was in reporting early.

DAVIS, TEJADA AVOID ARBITRATION: First baseman Ike Davis and shortstop Ruben Tejada, both of whom are coming off miserable seasons, avoided arbitration by settling with the Mets.

Davis, the subject of trade rumors all winter, hit .205 with nine homers and 33 RBI in 2013, good for a $375 thousand raise up to $3.5 million.

Nice work if you can get it.

Davis had been reportedly linked in trade talks with Milwaukee, but the Brewers today signed Mark Reynolds, who strikes out even more than Davis.

After the season, the Mets said shortstop was a priority, but after Jhonny Peralta signed with St. Louis and Stephen Drew’s asking price too high for GM Sandy Alderson’s liking, said they are inclined to give Tejada another chance.

The Mets weren’t pleased with Tejada’s effort last year, but his performance in attending a voluntary fitness camp changed their mind.

Tejada agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal.

The Mets have five players remaining for arbitration: Parnell, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 08

Granderson Signing Doesn’t Answer All Mets Concerns

We can no longer say the Mets won’t doing anything in the Hot Stove League. While I have been cool on Chris Young, landing Curtis Granderson gives the Mets’ offseason a warmer sense of legitimacy and that more could be coming.

General manager Sandy Alderson projects a payroll in the low-$90 million level, and even with the Granderson and Young signings, the Mets will have more to spend to reach that plateau.

There could be more flexibility if they are able to trade Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, which would be roughly a combined $8 million they could take on.

Last month Alderson said there were a half-dozen teams interested in Davis, and even Lucas Duda fielded some inquiries, but nothing has come of that since.

The Mets’ priority remains starting pitching. Ricky Nolasco and/or Phil Hughes would have looked good in the back end of the Mets’ rotation, but both signed long-term deals totaling $73 million by the small-market Minnesota Twins. Jason Vargas got $32 million over four years from the small-market Kansas City Royals. All this could have the Mets looking harder at Bronson Arroyo, who earlier had been talking to the Twins.

With Matt Harvey gone for the season and two holes in the rotation there are a couple of certainties: 1) Jon Niese will not be traded as some had speculated, and 2) prospect Rafael Montero will not be traded, unless a major league ready starter comes in return.

The Mets also need to increase depth in their bullpen, especially considering Bobby Parnell is coming off surgery. If he’s fine, he’ll resume the closer role. If not, Vic Black will get the first shot in spring training.

The Mets also like Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen and lefty Scott Rice. That’s five, meaning they’ll need to pick up one or two more arms.

Shortstop was a significant question after the season, but considering how the market developed it appears as if Ruben Tejada will have the first opportunity to reclaim his job. The Mets were hot for Jhonny Peralta, and also kicked the tires on Rafael Furcal, but they signed elsewhere. Stephen Drew is still available, but he’s priced himself out of consideration.

There is also a need for a veteran reserve catcher. Immediately coming to mind is to bring back John Buck, who was not brought back by the Pirates.

The Mets won 74 games last year, just seven games below .500. If they had Harvey, I would say they could be a .500 team with the addition of Granderson. But, he’s not here and what remains in a hole in the rotation.

No Shaun Marcum this time. Alderson needs to land quality starters if this will be a quality summer.

LATER TODAY: Would a Daniel MurphyBrett Gardner trade make sense?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

Dec 01

Time Is Already Running Short For Mets In Free Agent Market

It is essentially the beginning of the free-agent market, but for the New York Mets it is already nearing last call.

Frankly, I don’t see Mets GM Sandy Alderson doing anything of substance this winter. He reportedly is considering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and shortstop Rafael Furcal, both of whom are 36.

Both of whom won’t be in it for the long haul for the Mets.

Arroyo has a track record of compiling innings, which is paramount, but is said to want three years. Eventually he will break down. If I am giving three years to a pitcher in this market, I would have rather gambled on Phil Hughes – who got those three years from the small market Twins – who is 27.

With Matt Harvey out until 2015 – and there are no assurances of what he’ll be when he returns – Hughes was potentially a better building block than Arroyo.

Initially, I liked the idea of Arroyo, and still do, but not for three years. Two years at the most. Arroyo made over $16 million last year in Cincinnati – another small market team – and won’t be taking a pay cut.

He was 14-12 last season pitching behind an offense and bullpen superior to that of the Mets. What can the Mets reasonably expect from him?

Meanwhile, Furcal made $7 million last year for not playing with St. Louis because of Tommy John surgery. After the season ended Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which clearly defines Furcal.

The best shortstop option for the Mets defensively, and for his offensive style in Citi Field, was Stephen Drew, who was out of their price range. However, he would have been a key piece to build around.

Jhonny Peralta was also too expensive and came with the black cloud of a PED suspension.

If the Mets sign Furcal, they will be looking to replace him next winter. If that is the case, I’d be more inclined to give Ruben Tejada another chance.

Arroyo and Furcal are the latest names linked to the Mets, and they are clearly filler for 2014. That’s what you want?

One by one the better names in the market will be scooped up, and not by the Mets.

More and more, I see this being a barren winter for the Mets. Then again, there was Chris Young.

 

Nov 25

Mets Set Free Agent Market The Wrong Way

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson called the free agent market “robust,’’ but he’s a contributor in making it so.

We all know Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury – both good players will get their money – but they aren’t the ones driving up the market.

Salaries aren’t driven by the stars getting large salaries, but when mediocre and questionable talent are given huge paydays.

The bar gets set when Chris Young – thanks to Alderson – gets $7.25 million. The market is also influenced when a PED user such as Jhonny Peralta gets a four-year, $52-million contract from St. Louis. For all the talk about the Mets being interested, it is just as well they didn’t sink that kind of money into player whose numbers are suspect because of PEDs.

So please, I don’t want to hear Alderson moan about the high salary demands when he helped create the environment that leads to those demads. That includes being in the market for a PED user like Peralta.

Retiring commissioner Bud Selig is going after Alex Rodriguez though questionable methods, yet his legacy will also include large contracts for guys like Peralta.

Reliever David Aardsma tweeted over the weekend after learning of the Peralta deal with the Cardinals: “Apparently getting suspended for PEDs means you get a raise. What’s stopping anybody from doing it? … I had 2 major surgeries in 5 months and made it back clean, nothing pisses me off more than guys that cheat and get raises for doing so.’’

He’s right.

I don’t know how you can regulate teams against signing PED users. It’s their money and they are the ones taking the risk.

So many players have benefitted from using PEDs, and regardless of whether MLB nails Rodriguez or not, that will continue.

Which makes me wonder what’s Selig’s real objective?