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 Murphy-Brett 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?

 

Nov 20

How The Market Is Shaping Up; Things Could Happen This Week

When will the New York Mets do something of consequence this off-season isn’t hard to imagine. If recent history is an indicator it likely won’t be until the market is defined, which comes after the Winter Meetings.

However, the week preceding Thanksgiving can get busy. Not much happens usually happens around Thanksgiving. There’s usually activity after the holiday leading up to the Winter Meetings and after until Christmas.

HUDSON: Returning West.

HUDSON: Returning West.

Then, more stuff gets done after the New Year with what’s left of the market leading up to spring training. That’s usually when the Mets have done their work.

So far, there’s been some interesting news, including LaTroy Hawkins signing with Colorado for $2.5 million. He’s somebody I was hoping the Mets would bring back before at 41 because he could still throw in the low-to-mid 90s and for his clubhouse presence.

Hawkins was an astute pick-up last year, and with Bobby Parnell coming off surgery, he would have filled a spot in the bullpen.

The Yankees brought back shortstop Brendan Ryan, who I touted for his defense. I’d still rather have him than Ruben Tejada. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens with Jhonny Peralta, who, as of now, would represent the Mets’ biggest splash in the market. Philadelphia brought back catcher Carlos Ruiz for two years, out-bidding the champion Red Sox.

Perhaps the most interesting acquisition is San Francisco signing Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million contract. The 38-year-old Hudson is coming off ankle surgery.

Hudson is the latest in several costly, and expensive, decisions the Giants have made the past few years. The first was signing Angel Pagan – whom the Mets gladly shipped out – to a four-year deal. Then, they extended Tim Lincecum’s contract two years for $35 million when there were no indications he’d be a hot commodity on the market.

However, the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 with pitching-based teams, so they are doing something right.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which Hudson clearly would be. However, Alderson has a history with Hudson when they were with Oakland and I was wondering if he at least reached out the pitcher.

Currently, agents and general managers are talking and posturing – that includes Alderson – but the market is still forming. Mostly, parameter dollar amounts have been exchanged. With the Mets there hasn’t been much in terms of specifics.

In addition to shortstop, the Mets need two starters, bullpen depth and a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Nov 19

Mets Matters: Sandy Alderson Dishes On Jay Z, Payroll And Other Issues

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson dished on a variety of issues Tuesday in a conference call with reporters, beginning with dinner meeting with Jay Z, the agent for the Yankees’ Robinson Cano.

No, the Mets aren’t players for Cano, and as I wrote earlier, it was at the agent’s invitation, and Alderson and Jeff Wilpon had their reasons for accepting.

mets-matters logo“They requested a meeting,’’ Alderson said. “We had a nice dinner. They made a presentation. We talked generally. And that was it. As I said, we were approached.’’

After the season Alderson said he had the resources to offer a $100-million package, but later backed off that stance, and reiterated it again at the general manager’s meetings.

“I had said last week that I didn’t foresee contracts in the $100 million range for the Mets this offseason,’’ Alderson said. “I think that statement still pertains. On the other hand, we are committed to improving the team. And we will explore whatever possibilities arise, however remote the eventual outcome.’’

The Mets accepted the invitation as a courtesy, knowing they would never consider Cano based on economics.

Someday, Jay Z might represent a player of interest to the Mets, and it would do the organization no good to diss an agent sanctioned by the Players Association.

NO CONTACT WITH PERALTA: Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta has been reportedly been linked to the Mets as the answer to their shortstop void.

Alderson said he has not had any contact with Peralta’s agent.

ALDERSON SUGGESTS PAYROLL WILL RISE: Alderson acknowledged a rising market, evidenced by Colorado giving LaTroy Hawkins a one-year, $2.5-million contract and Philadelphia giving Marlon Byrd $16 million over two years.

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ said Alderson, who added the 2013 payroll was $87 million.

“If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that. And consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that.’’

Not unexpectedly, Alderson made no promises. Although, the Mets did sign left fielder/first baseman Brandon Allen, 27, to a minor league contract.

Allen has a .203 career average with 12 homers in parts of four seasons with Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

This is not the big signing we had been waiting for.

GETTING IN SHAPE: At the end of the season each player is given a physical and put on a conditioning program.

Four Mets – Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and draft pick Dominic Smith – are taking it further and are attending a four-week fitness camp in near Ann Arbor, Mich.

Tejada, in particular, caught the organization’s ire for not reporting to spring training on time or in shape.

It’s a positive act by Tejada, whose shortstop job is in jeopardy. Tejada is also recovering from a fractured leg sustained in late September.