Jan 05

Mets Have Catching Concerns

Of all the New York Mets’ questions entering spring training, perhaps the most intriguing is at catcher, where an inexperienced Travis d’Arnaud is the starter without a veteran mentor.

Last year, he had John Buck. However, when d’Arnaud was injured, the job became Buck’s with young Anthony Recker as back-up. By the time d’Arnaud was ready for Citi Field, Buck was heading for Pittsburgh.

The Mets could use Buck back this year as a caddy for d’Arnaud, but manager Terry Collins said he’s comfortable with Recker as the back-up. But, it’s January, not July and the Mets aren’t riding a six-game losing streak and heading to the West Coast.

Truth is the window is small for both d’Arnaud and Recker, and we don’t know what either could do with 550 at-bats over a full season. That’s a major concern, as is both their abilities to call a game and settle a pitching staff.

Mets pitchers last year had a comfort dealing with Buck they didn’t have time to develop with d’Arnaud. Mets pitchers did have some sense of comfort with Recker, who produced more at the plate than d’Arnaud.

Teams have carried weak-hitting catchers before, but usually they had enough offense elsewhere to compensate. This Mets’ team doesn’t have that luxury.

Of the two, for a young catcher, defense and handling a staff take precedence over offense, but as a young player it is only natural d’Arnaud will fret if he’s not hitting.

The problem is the Mets don’t know what they have in d’Arnaud, either at the plate or behind it. Ditto for Recker. Those are significant concerns.

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

Dec 11

Mets Not Sure Bobby Parnell Will Be Ready For Spring Training

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The New York Mets don’t know whether closer Bobby Parnell will be ready for spring training as he continues his rehab following neck surgery on a bulging disc.

Parnell is to be re-examined next week.

PARNELL: Will he be ready?

PARNELL: Will he be ready?

“Hopefully he will be able to start resuming some baseball activities,’’ manager Terry Collins said.  “But I don’t know where he is at the moment.  He’s feeling better.’’

Parnell lost 30 pounds since surgery, which sapped his strength. He has to regain the weight and stamina. Collins said he hasn’t spoken with Parnell, which, honestly, comes as a surprise. You’d think he’d check in.

“We’ve got to wait to see how he shows up, where he’s at in a month,’’ Collins said.  “He hasn’t done much yet, so he’s got to get himself in shape.  I think get his legs underneath him and start throwing.  We’ll just have to wait to see.  Bobby has always been a guy that’s down there in January anyways.’’

Maybe so, but Parnell hasn’t reported before following neck surgery.

After several so-so seasons bouncing around the bullpen, Parnell seized the closer role last year when Frank Francisco went down with an elbow injury.

Parnell saved 22 games in 49 appearances, and produced a 2.16 ERA over 50 innings. Always a power pitcher with a high strikeout ratio, Parnell learned to pitch last season, and drastically improved his control evidenced by a 44-12 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Parnell gave up only one homer and had a 1.00 WHIP.

If Parnell isn’t ready for spring training, and at this time no assumptions should be made that he will be, Vic Black, whom the Mets acquired from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd-John Buck trade, is presumably first in line to replace Parnell.

Black throws a wicked fastball, and like Parnell is a strikeout pitcher.

The Mets are looking for bullpen help and might consider released Indians closer Chris Perez, who will come with baggage.

Last year, Perez and his wife were busted for marijuana possession after he was mailed the dope to his house … addressed to the dog. Reminds me of the episode of “Married With Children” when Al Bundy applies for and gets a credit card in his dog Buck’s name.

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

Dec 10

What’s On Tap For Mets Today At Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – I’ll have a post this morning on how the Mets’ reluctance to offer multi-year deals could be working against them in their quest to acquire starting pitching.

COLLINS: Will talk today.

COLLINS: Will talk today.

This afternoon, manager Terry Collins will address the national media, and invariably answer questions about his rotation, bullpen and the first base situation. Alderson will also talk to the media this afternoon. If there are questions you’d like answered from Collins, please write them as a comment on this post and I’ll do my best to get them asked.

Alderson said nothing was imminent on the Ike Davis front, but a team to keep an eye on are the Pittsburgh Pirates. Speaking of the Pirates, there is no interest in bringing back catcher John Buck. The Mets have not said anything about bringing back Buck.

I plan on hosting another Q & A on Twitter today. I will announce a time later. Speaking of which, I ask that you follow me on Twitter. Thanks.

LATER THIS MORNING: The Mets’ reluctance to give multi-year contracts, plus their young pitching depth, are working against them in their quest for starting pitching.

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

Oct 31

Potential Free Agents From World Series Teams And Possible Mets’ Interest

The champagne on the carpet Boston Red Sox clubhouse isn’t even dry and there’s wonder which players from both World Series teams will be back, and if not, might the Mets be interested, or more to the point, will they have a chance?

Here are the most intriguing names:

Jon Lester: Don’t even think about it. Lester, who beat the Cardinals twice and arguably, could have been the Series MVP, just competed the final season of a five-year, $30-million contract with an option for 2014. His yearly salary numbers are reasonable by Mets’ standards, but the Red Sox have said they’ll resume negotiations. If they fail to reach an agreement, they can always pick up the $13 million option and try again later.

ELLSBURY: Could be too pricey for Mets.

ELLSBURY: Could be too pricey for Mets.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Reportedly, after the 2011 season the Red Sox offered him a $100-million package, which was rejected by agent Scott Boras, who countered with $130 million. The following season, despite injuries limiting him to 74 games, the Red Sox made another offer of $75.25-million deal over five years, which was again turned down. Ellsbury improved this year, and Boras already planted the seeds saying 11 teams are interested. Although Sandy Alderson said the team has the resources to offer a $100,000-million deal, it won’t be spent on a hitter who isn’t a middle-of-the-order force.

Stephen Drew: The Red Sox said they’ll tender a contract to the shortstop, despite Xander Bogaerts the heir apparent for the job. Shortstop is a necessity for the Mets because they can’t rely on Ruben Tejada, but would they go over $10 million – which Drew made – to fill the position or will they hope for the best with Tejada? Teams are built on defense up the middle, but Tejada regressed in that area.

Mike Napoli: Initially the Red Sox offered Napoli a three-year, $39-million contract, but took it off the table and gave him $5 million when a physical revealed a degenerative hip condition. Napoli proved he was healthy as he played in 139 games and drove in 92 runs. Trouble is, he did it at first base, where the Mets have a glut of unproven and underachieving options.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: The $4.5 million he made this season fits into the Mets’ budget and there’s a need for a veteran presence to back up Travis d’Arnaud. There are other options, including bringing back John Buck.

Carlos Beltran: Reportedly, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon reached out to Beltran at the All-Star Game and the club and veteran outfielder made amends. During his stay with the Mets, Beltran gave them everything he had and was under appreciated. Beltran made $13 million this season and hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI. He’ll be 37 next year.

Chris Carpenter: A shoulder injury prevented Carpenter from pitching this year, in which he made $10.5 million. There have been reports he will retire this winter. If he’d like to pitch another year, it might not be possible with all the Cardinals’ young arms.

Rafael Furcal: The Mets said they will eschew injury reclamation projects, which will probably exclude Furcal, who did not play this season because of torn ligament in his elbow. However, they are faced with their own shortstop, Tejada, recovering from a broken leg. Furcal made $7 million this year, and at 37, won’t get near that, from the Mets or anybody else.

Oct 13

Rebuilding Mets’ Bullpen Not Monster Task As It Has Been

In each of Sandy Alderson’s previous three winters with the New York Mets, he listed building the bullpen as a priority. It will be the same this winter as well.

Horrendous in the first half of last season, the Mets’ bullpen stabilized into respectability in the second half of the season to finish with a 3.98 ERA.

Unlike previous seasons when Alderson’s bullpen needed a complete overall, the Mets already have several slots filled, but still need to improve their overall depth.

“We need to have more quality arms in the bullpen,’’ Alderson said. “We never had a real strong bottom half of the bullpen. The key will be to have more arms, quality arms out there that we can rely on.’’

Frank Francisco was a bust as the closer, but in his place Bobby Parnell emerged as reliable in that role. However, he lost a considerable amount of weight following surgery to repair a herniated disk. Assuming Parnell returns for the start of the season, the Mets’ pen could also feature LaTroy Hawkins – as a reliable set-up reliever – Vic Black, lefty specialist Scott Rice, long man Carlos Torres, and Gonzalez Germen.

Black was acquired in the deal that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh. He throws in the high 90s and will likely get a chance at the closer role if Parnell isn’t ready.

In previous seasons the Mets had to search for six or seven arms. As of now, they could already have six and are merely looking for depth. Their lack of depth was exposed when after Parnell was injured and Torres was temporarily moved to the rotation.

Rice and Hawkins were two feel-good stories. After spending 14 years in the minor leagues, Rice finally got his chance to play in the major leagues and appeared in 73 games. Meanwhile, the 40-year-old Hawkins still touched the radar gun at 95 mph., and when Parnell was injured, he took over the closer role and saved 13 games with a 2.93 ERA.

Germen emerged as a power arm and Torres was valuable as a combination long-man, spot-starter and situational reliever. Torres’ versatility is something the Mets’ bullpen hadn’t had since Darren Oliver in 2006.

Previously, the Mets would piece together their bullpen, but this time most of their heavy lifting has already been completed. Of course, with Matt Harvey gone for 2014, their pen stands to be taxed.