Oct 18

Mets Wise To Pass On Cuban Abreu

Several people I spoke with and greatly respect said they were disappointed the Mets didn’t make a run at Cuban free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68-million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Considering the success of Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, all of a sudden tapping the Cuban market is the hot thing. Teams get burned touching hot objects.

Abreu, 26, last played on an international stage during the World Baseball Classic this spring and batted .360 with three homers and nine RBI. Prior to that, he batted .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI in 63 games in the 2010-11 season, but sustained a shoulder injury. The previous season, he batted .399 with 30 home runs and 76 RBI.

No doubt, impressive numbers, but the obvious question is: How good was the competition. Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw don’t pitch in Cuba.

The eye-popping number for Abreu isn’t his power against questionable competition, but the $68 million, which is very real money.

That is a lot of money on a question, albeit an important one for the 2014 Mets. They already have two first basemen in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but both have greatly under produced and the Mets aren’t happy with either.

The White Sox traded Jake Peavy and Alex Rios to free up money for Abreu, and now have to deal with their own free-agent in Paul Konerko.

It has been suggested in this corner the Mets might be better if they eschewed big-money free agents and go the route Boston did, with veteran free agents who would command less money and would contribute a winning presence, such as Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.

The Red Sox will play Game 6 of the ALCS Saturday night.

Yes, Konerko is an older player, but he can’t do any worse than Davis or Duda. If nothing, his work ethic might benefit some of the younger players.

The Mets have been down this road before, but Konerko could add something while Abreu was a passing fancy.

We know very little about Abreu as a player against quality competition, but there are many questions when deciding to go the international route. Mainly, do the Mets want to sink in $68 million in a player they know precious little about?

After freeing themselves under Sandy Alderson of the contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana and Jason Bay (there’s still some deferred money there), but last thing the Mets want to do is sink money in another long-term deal, especially with the possible results so precarious.

Maybe Abreu will pan out for the White Sox. If so, good for them. But, the last thing the Mets need is another long-term headache.

The Mets were wise to sit this one out.

Oct 17

Mets Won’t Go Long Term With Murphy, Gee Or Parnell

Should the New York Mets make any long-term contract offers, expect them to be made to those outside the organization.

The Mets locked up Jonathan Niese to a five-year, $25.5 million deal last season, but reportedly won’t make similar offers to extend those still under team control, a short list that includes Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell. As of now, the Mets aren’t prepared to dole out to avoid their free-agent seasons.

Murphy and Parnell are signed through 2015 and Gee is signed through 2016. Because of their contractual status, all three are extremely tradable and the Mets will listen to offers.

Gee is arbitration eligible, but isn’t expected to break the bank. Neither would Murphy when it is his turn, and Parnell is currently coming off neck surgery.

Considering their financial structure, the Mets have exactly what they want with these players: low-cost certainty within the next three years.

The Mets announced Thursday outfielder Mike Baxter was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and lefty reliever Robert Carson was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels.

Baxter, the local kid from Whitestone who got the chance to play for his childhood team, hit only .189 with four RBI this season. He will always be remembered for making a circus catch to preserve Johan Santana’s 2012 no-hitter.

Baxter was injured on the play, which manager Terry Collins said impacted him this season.

Carson, 24, meanwhile threw hard and made a good first impression in 2012, but served up nine homers in 19.2 innings this year.

The Mets also removed ineffective relievers Greg Burke and Sean Henn from the 40-man roster. Both are expected to become free agents.

Oct 15

What Is Mets’ Interest In Their Own Free Agents?

In looking at the free-agent market, the New York Mets will first consider which of their own eight they might think of bringing back.

It isn’t an impressive list, but there are several the Mets might think of returning. If they don’t bring back they can always find their replacements in the market.

The filing period begins five days after the end of the World Series. Here’s the eight:

David Aardsma: He had some decent moments coming out of the bullpen, but nothing that screams, “we gotta have him back.’’ Aardsma was 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 appearances. He allowed 53 base runners in 39.2 innings, so we’re not exactly talking about a slam-the-door reliever. Walking 19 and giving up seven homers isn’t good for such a limited time.

Tim Byrdak: He worked 4.2 innings in eight appearances because he was coming off an injury. He pitched in 72 games two years ago, but was injured in 2012. Because of his health issues, he should come relatively cheaply and might be worth offering an incentives-laden deal. If he rejects it, the Mets haven’t lost anything.

Pedro Feliciano: He is far from “Perpetual Pedro’’ but after missing the past two seasons he did find his way into 25 games. It was too small a window to measure his effectiveness. He might be worth a shot, but the Mets must ask themselves, “can we live without him?’’ Chances are they’ll answer in the affirmative.

Frank Francisco: I mention him because he’s on the list, but there’s no way the Mets want him back. Frankly, I thought the only reason they brought him up at the end of the season was in the hope of finding a trading partner.

Aaron Harang: The Mets can pick up his option and since they are two short in the rotation, he’s somebody worth considering. He started four games for the Mets, and worked six innings in three of them. Harang struck out 26 in 23 innings, so there’s some hope there. On the flip side, he also gave up five homers among his nine runs. That he gave the Mets innings is what they should look at considering he’d be a back end of the rotation starter.

LaTroy Hawkins: He’s 40 and still throws in the mid-90s. When Bobby Parnell went down he assumed the closer role and saved 13 games. Parnell is not a certainty coming off neck surgery and constructing the bullpen is a must. Frankly, I’m not sure they would get much better in the free-agent market.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: He started seven games and went 3-3 and worked into the fifth inning is all but one game. He gave the Mets 38.2 innings when they needed it desperately. GM Sandy Alderson said he was pleased with what Matsuzaka gave them. Of the eight free agents, he’s probably the most likely to come back.

Johan Santana: He wants to pitch again and Alderson said he’d keep his mind open. He’s already received a pile of money from the Mets, and unless he accepts a minor league deal, I’d be reluctant considering his health situation.

 

Oct 09

2013 Season Review: Matt Harvey

matt harvey

MATT HARVEY, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

The Mets were patient in bringing up Harvey last year and it paid off. After making a splash with 10 mostly eye opening starts and leaving a strong impression with his poise and command, it was anticipated Harvey would take the next step and become a solid starter in the rotation. Harvey outpitched his experience and numbers with an ability to mix his pitches and throw breaking pitches in fastball counts. Never mind Harvey’s 3-5 record in 2012, but instead look at his 2.73 ERA and 70 to 26 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Harvey had a dominant 10.6 strikeouts per-nine-innings average. Those 70 strikeouts came in 59.1 innings, which screams domination. With Johan Santana out, the Mets hoped Harvey would step into the No. 2 role in the rotation behind Jon Niese. When the season began the Mets did not have an innings limit on Harvey as the Washington Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg. However, that changed as the season progressed, and perhaps it was too late.

CAREER STATS

Screenshot_3

2013 SEASON REVIEW

After winning his first five decisions and seven of eight, Harvey had the world in the palm of his hand. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, showcased on the late-night talk shows and dating a supermodel, with pictures of him on the back pages in the midst of public displays of affection. All that was the result of what he did on the mound, as he overpowered hitters from the beginning and started the All-Star Game. There was talk of him being a Cy Young Award candidate. However, he lost three of his last four decisions and had 12 no-decisions before sustaining a partial ligament tear in his elbow. Harvey complained of tightness in his right forearm prior to the break, of which Terry Collins professed no knowledge. Harvey was truly dominating with 191 strikeouts in 178.1 innings, and walking just 31 with a microscopic 0.93 WHIP and 2.27 ERA.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says:

Harvey eschewed immediate surgery to opt for rest and rehabilitation before starting a throwing program in the hope of being ready for spring training. The Mets hoped Harvey could pitch in the Arizona Fall League as a test, but that is becoming remote. Harvey will be re-examined in late October or early November, and if there’s not sufficient healing in the tear, surgery is still on the table. Harvey is taking a risk that if he doesn’t have surgery, he could further tear the ligament next summer and would miss the rest of next year and 2015 as well. If he has the surgery now he could conceivably be ready next September, which would be important if the Mets are competitive. The way things are progressing it appears Harvey will undergo surgery and the Mets will shop for mid-level veteran innings eater.

Joe D. Says:

The best case scenario for Matt Harvey in 2014, would be a return sometime around mid to late August. I can almost envision the excitement of his return – culminating in a dominating glimpse of the great season to come in 2015. The return of Harvey Day would electrify the fan base and be the perfect tonic going into the offseason and ushering in what we hope will be a run of success for the franchise beginning in 2015. Going into that offseason knowing that Harvey was back and healthy would eliminate the shadow that would be cast if he doesn’t return to make at least 2-3 starts. We need to see him back on the mound. It’s important for his teammates as well as the fans.

Oct 01

Matt Harvey Major Topic In Mets’ Organizational Meetings

Matt Harvey is a major topic of discussion for the New York Mets’ front office as they began organizational meetings today in Port St. Lucie.

General manager Sandy Alderson must operate under the assumption Harvey will not be ready to start next season, and as he has yet to begin throwing, the Mets must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Understandably, Harvey does not want surgery – who does? – and wants to rest and later rehab in the hope of being ready for spring training.

HARVEY: Mets can't bet on him for 2014.

HARVEY: Mets can’t bet on him for 2014.

“The fact that he’s not throwing now, I wouldn’t say is concerning, but we need to see some progress,’’ Alderson said. “I hope that he will be throwing shortly. I want to emphasize this isn’t a rehab program. This is a diagnostic program. We’ll see what happens.’’

If he doesn’t start throwing soon the diagnosis is this isn’t going to work and surgery should be forthcoming.

Harvey said in mid-September he would undergo a six-to-eight week throwing program instead of immediately having Tommy John surgery. That was over three weeks ago and Harvey hasn’t thrown yet. Alderson said pitching in the Arizona Fall League was a possibility, but appeared to back off that before leaving for Florida.

As of now, I would bet against Harvey pitching in Arizona.

If Harvey eventually opts for surgery he will miss most, if not all, of next season. The risk of eschewing surgery is if he starts 2014 and re-tears the ligament he would not only miss what would be left of next season but also 2015.

That means the Mets might not have him for two, instead of one year. If Harvey opts for surgery now there is a possibility he could return late next September and be ready for 2015.

Alderson said, “Harvey does influence what we do in the off-season.’’

Alderson said it isn’t likely the Mets would go after an upper-tier free-agent pitcher, but said they would explore going after an innings eater. He said bringing back Aaron Harang and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka are possibilities, noting he has only three givens in next year’s rotation: Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee.

The Mets should bring back both Harang and Matsuzaka, as both pitched well enough to warrant the spring training invite.

Alderson said Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard aren’t ready, but hopes a mid-level free agent “could get us to them.’’

Meanwhile, Harvey is working with physical therapists and isn’t close to being ready for the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 8.

“He needs to throw to a near-competitive level, pain-free, and perhaps on more than one occasion,’’ Alderson said about Harvey being ready for the Fall League.

As of now, that’s not going to happen.

The Mets’ off-season plan as of now, and it is the right option, is to sign a mid-level free agent instead of trading their young pitching for a proven starter.

“We have to be careful we don’t turn a strength into a weakness,” Alderson said. “With Matt out, it makes it a little more difficult to give up two or three guys we know are right on the cusp.’’

It is not out of the possibility Alderson might entertain bringing back Johan Santana on a reduced salary, after they buy out his 2014 contract for $5.5 million.

Santana said he isn’t ready to retire, and nobody knows his physical condition better than the Mets.

“I think that’s a possibility,’’ Alderson said. “I don’t really know what Johan’s thinking. We’ll talk to him, I’m sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch.

“We’ll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level.’’

If the Mets are to take a gamble on a pitcher coming off an injury, it makes more sense to talk to Santana – whom they know – rather than somebody they don’t know.

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