Aug 23

Mets Face Bleak Offseason

How could anybody be anything but enthused about the Mets for 2013?

With GA Sandy Alderson telling us the budget hasn’t been set but don’t expect it to be much higher than it is now. Then he said trades might be the way to go. But, if the Mets aren’t willing to part with Matt Harvey or Zach Wheeler, will they purge the rest of their farm system? History says it isn’t likely.

A quick glance at the major league roster tells us there’s little to trade of value outside of David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese. I like the potential of Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, but outside of that, who would anybody want?

You’d love to trade Johan Santana and Jason Bay, but nobody wants those contracts, plus their limited production and injury histories.

There’s simply little of any value other teams would want. We are talking about a team that is ten games below .500 and facing another losing season. This is a team that since its last World Series appearance in 2000 has had five managers and four general managers. The latest, Alderson, is a fixer, brought in to clean up a mess brought on by the owner’s financial distress and hopefully field a competitive team in the process.

Considering all that, of course there’s limited talent available. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in this mess.

It wasn’t going to be pretty work, nor was it going to be easy. So far, Alderson has sliced nearly $50 million in payroll and said good-bye to Jose Reyes. He also cut ties with Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, players with bloated contracts brought in when the team considered itself a contender.

The Mets have a myriad of issues they must face with limited dollars:

1.  Re-sign David Wright: He’s had a solid season and deserves it. Plus, if you let the face of the franchise leave who is going to want to come here? After losing Reyes it would be a disastrous decision. Wright will be a FA after 2013, so any dealing of him would be limited for the fear of him leaving. There is the possibility of next year being a huge distraction if there’s an unsigned Wright at the trade deadline. Talk about a potential mess.

2. A starting pitcher: The Mets got more from Santana than they could have hoped but eventually shut him down. They have to go under the assumption he’s a health question. Also, Jon Niese has not performed as hoped and is it realistic to think they’ll get a similar year from Dickey? No. They likely won’t bring back Mike Pelfrey – remember him? – and while there’s optimism, the Mets still don’t know what they have in Dillon Gee, Harvey, Wheeler or Jenrry Mejia.

3. The bullpen: This was Alderson’s area of concentration in the offseason and it blew up on him. Frank Francisco is a disaster and Bobby Parnell has yet to grasp a role. Maybe the Mets have run their course with Dan Warthen as pitching coach, I don’t know. But, that must be examined. Are their any viable pieces? Doesn’t look that way.

4. Outfield: Bay will be back because of his contract, but I’d eat it and start fresh. Lucas Duda will get a shot in left then, but they need power from the right side. They aren’t getting it from Andres Torres or Jordany Valdespin, both of whom aren’t any better than bench players.

5. Catcher: Josh Thole has not progressed either offensively or defensively as hoped. But, he’s a healthy body right now and for the Mets, that’s a positive.

When you come down to it, that’s an impressive shopping list to fill on a limited budget. It looks as if next year’s team will look similar to this year’s Mets, with the hope for improvement coming from more production from their current roster. They need breakout years from Davis, Duda, Thole, Harvey and either Wheeler or Mejia.

They need a monster year from Wright and more power from Daniel Murphy.

They need a hell of a lot.

 

Aug 08

Mets Need To See Valdespin

The Jason Bay Platoon as begun and tonight we’ll see the left-handed side in Jordany Valdespin against the Marlins.

Good.

Actually, we should see Valdespin full time because when you come right down to it, they have no real outfielders to speak of. Arguably, their best outfielder is one who should be a role player and that’s Scott Hairston. Andres Torres hasn’t given the Mets anything to get excited about. Neither has Lucas Duda. Kirk Nieuwenhuis provided a jolt of energy for awhile, then plummeted to Earth, and later to the minor leagues where he’s nursing a foot injury.

And, of course, we all know about Bay. An ESPN poll had 76 percent eating Bay’s contract, but it’s not their money and GM Sandy Alderson will wait things out in hopes of finding somebody stupid enough to trade for him.

Until then, he’s on the bench, and we should see Valdespin in all situations the rest of the way to see what kind of player he is. This should be a six-week audition for 2013.

Here’s tonight’s line-up, which features Valdespin in left and batting sixth.

Ruben Tejada, SS
Mike Baxter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Jordany Valdespin, LF
Andres Torres, CF
Josh Thole, C
Chris Young RHP

Jul 31

Mets To Stay Quiet Today

One of the most bizarre scenes I’ve witnessed in covering ball came in the clubhouse in the old Metrodome when the Orioles were playing the Twins at the trade deadline. The target of interest was Bobby Bonilla. Back then the deadline was midnight. Bonilla sat at his locker not saying a word – yeah, that’s the hard part to believe – as the clock clicked down.

HAIRSTON: Goes deep twice last night. (AP)

Bonilla stayed and the Orioles did nothing big that year, much like the Mets this season. Winning again last night has done nothing to chance the Mets trade landscape. None of the “name” players are going, although Scott Hairston could draw some interest. Hairston, Jordany Valdespin and Tim Byrdak. All serviceable, all capable of helping somebody down the stretch.

None, however, will bring much in return. If you’re the Mets and you aren’t adding to win this year, then you’ll be building for the future. But, the Mets’ role players won’t bring much. They are better off staying and possibly building next summer’s bench.

 

Jul 23

Mets Should Have Short Leash With Young

How long will Chris Young last tonight before things unravel? Whether it is the fifth, sixth or seventh inning – anything later is a pipe dream – it really doesn’t matter because the third time through the order is when he loses it.

There’s a few ways around it. The first is to give him 18 outs then pull him regardless. The second, and the most prudent, is to give the 18 outs PLUS the first runner. Once somebody gets on pull him because this is when things unravel.

Against the Nationals last week it was an infield hit then a homer. Just like that, the momentum shifted. I realize the Mets have no bullpen to speak of so Terry Collins can be understood for wanting to stay out of it.

But, staying with Young isn’t a great idea, either.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Ruben Tejada, ss
Jordany Valdespin, rf
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Jason Bay, lf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Chris Young, rhp

Jul 23

Mets Now Fading Into Sellers?

Falling below .500, the Mets are no longer the National League’s feel-good story. That would be Pittsburgh and Washington, two perennial losers poking on top of their respective divisions.

As the Mets struggled the past weeks and faded, they resisted the urge to buy relief help, the commodity that will define this season. Mathematically, they remain alive, but watching those long faces in the dugout yesterday afternoon in the 12th inning, one can surmise the frowns greater than the math.

They might have another run in them, but they must start it against the Nationals, followed by ten games in the Pacific Time Zone. Yeah, no problem.

As the Mets transform from buyers into sellers, just who do the have worth putting on the block. David Wright, Daniel Murphy and R.A. Dickey would bring the most, but they are the core to next year and those beyond.

Any of their relievers, save Bobby Parnell and maybe Tim Byrdak can be had.  Byrdak, actually could bring something if the Mets were to call it quits. Off the bench, Scott Hairston and Jordany Valdespin might bring some value, but I’d like to keep both.

As the story of this season is written, things unraveled first with the bullpen and then the starting pitching. The offense, while not great, has been good enough to put them into contention.