Dec 30

Ten Storylines For Mets In 2014

It was an interesting year for your New York Mets. No playoffs and no .500 record as expected, but for the most part they played aggressive baseball. There was improvement.

The following are ten of the more important Mets’ story lines from the 2014 season:

1. The loss of Matt Harvey: Despite his distracting chirping about wanting to pitch in 2014, and where he wanted to rehab, the Mets held firm and kept him out for the season following elbow surgery. The Mets say his rehab went well and he will be ready for Opening Day. Harvey will work on an innings limit for 2015, and start the home opener.

2. The decline of David Wright: He was named captain and signed to a lucrative contract, but was injured again and only hit eight homers with 63 RBI. Wright last hit 20 homers in 2012 and drove in 100 runs in 2010. He last played in at least 150 games in 2010.

3. The emergence of Jacob deGrom: Nobody saw this coming as most of the preseason attention went to Zack Wheeler, but deGrom went 9-6 and was named NL Rookie of the Year. With Harvey, the three form the nucleus for a potentially solid rotation.

4. Failure to find a leadoff hitter: With Wright struggling, somebody had to be a consistent presence at the plate and it was Daniel Murphy. He was most effective hitting second, but there should have been some consideration to batting him first as for the second straight season the Mets failed to generate a leadoff hitter.

5. The inability to find a shortstop: There was to be a competition between Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada, but it never materialized. At the end of the season Flores did most of the playing. There was again the show this winter of searching for a shortstop, but nothing happened. Flores enters spring training as the frontrunner.

6. The emergence of Juan Lagares: Nobody can cover centerfield like Lagares, who even showed signs of becoming a base stealer. Now, if he could only cut his strikeouts and improve his on-base percentage the Mets might finally have a leadoff hitter.

7. They finally got a power hitter: Lucas Duda assumed the first base job full time after Ike Davis was traded to Pittsburgh and responded with 30 homers and 92 RBI. Amazingly, Duda took some heat for being too patient.

8. Jon Niese continued to struggle: A young, hard-throwing lefthander with a manageable contract made him alluring to other teams. Unfortunately, an injury history and string of mediocre seasons – only two double-digit victory years in his seven-year career – took away his appeal.

9. They filled an outfield hole: Michael Cuddyer was signed to a two-year contract to presumably play left field. The projection is he’ll bat fifth behind Duda.

10. They spent some money, but maybe not wisely: Curtis Granderson was signed to a four-year deal last winter, but coming off an injury in 2013, hit only 20 homers with 66 RBI, paltry production for $13 million. He had some success leading off and might get another shot if Lagares spits the bit.

Dec 18

A Case For Not Trading Gee

There’s been a lot of talk about the Mets wanting to trade Dillon Gee. I understand their reasoning and on the surface it all makes sense.

However, I wouldn’t be the contrarian I am if I didn’t examine the other side.

Sure, the rotation looks crowded with the return of Matt Harvey. But, what if his return from elbow surgery isn’t smooth? What if Jon Niese continues to falter? What if Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom regress? What if Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready?

Few things go as seamlessly as hoped, especially if you’re the Mets. You should know that by now if you’ve been following them for any length on time.

The fact remains, the Mets have potential pitching issues, and with the trade market stagnant, there’s no reason to force a trade just to free up space.

Just wait, they could use another pitcher before the season is over.


Dec 07

Patience Is Mets’ Winter Meetings Approach

The Mets enter the Winter Meetings with three needs, but don’t expect any to be met soon because of their approach of waiting out the process.

They are seeking a shortstop, a right-handed bat off the bench and left-handed reliever.

The Mets want an upgrade over shortstop Wilmer Flores, but for now aren’t biting on Stephen DrewAsdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie. They could have had any of the three if they wanted and their thinking is to wait this out to see if their asking price will drop.

Another possibility, Didi Gregorius, was acquired by the Yankees in a trade. The Mets aren’t inclined to deal to fill any of their needs unless a team takes either Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee. Because determining the free-agent market usually comes before trades, the problem facing the Mets in dealing their pitchers is teams needing pitching first want to see where Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields land.

So, for now, waiting appears to be the Mets’ course of action. No surprise there.


Nov 30

Mets’ Trade Options Limited

The Winter Meetings begin a week from today, but the Mets’ time in San Diego figures to be uneventful because they only have one commodity to spend – and saying that is a stretch.

It is fashionable to say the Mets have lot of young pitching and they do, but they aren’t willing to trade Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. You can appreciate them reluctant to trade any of these foundation building blocks.

GEE: Trying to move him.

GEE: Trying to move him.

But, the Mets are more than willing to trade Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. The common denominators are they are at the back of the Mets’ rotation and make the most money.

Another common thread is none are expected to bring much in return, which means don’t anticipate anything happening. At least, anything of significance.

Two will be the Opening Day rotation because Syndergaard won’t be brought up prior to June to preserve his Super Two status. Bet on it being Niese and Colon, with Gee possibly going to the bullpen in long relief.

However, at $5 million, that’s steep for the bullpen, and more so for the minor leagues.

With other options, both of the trade and free-agent variety available in the market, teams could shy from Niese ($36.5 million over four years if both options are picked up) and Colon ($11 million).

Niese’s contract, injury history and mediocrity make him especially hard to trade.

If the Mets move any of the three, it might be more likely to happen at the trade deadline.


Oct 10

Neither Niese Nor Gee Will Bring A Bat; Not Even Together

I read several articles, both on blogs and in the mainstream media, debating whether the Mets should trade either Jon Niese or Dillon Gee in an attempt to add a power bat, preferably to play left field.

There’s a flaw here, namely in the belief either pitcher could bring a bat in return. That won’t happen as neither has a track record that would have another team salivating. Even if you packaged them both it wouldn’t be enough to get them a masher.

To get a slugger, the Mets would have to add considerably to the package and include one of their young arms. Niese’s trade value is limited and Gee’s isn’t any better. Getting a slugger would entail giving up much more, and even then there’s the matter of extending the contract of the hitter.

The Mets currently aren’t inclined to give up their young pitching and not willing to sign a hitter, whether it be a free agent or one included in a trade, to a long-term, contract in the $100 million range. That’s not their mindset, so subsequently don’t be surprised if next year’s team resembles the 2014 model.

The Mets’ current thinking is hoping for Matt Harvey’s return, Zack Wheeler’s development and a bounce-back year from David Wright.