Aug 05

If They Want Him, Mets Must Act Quickly On Cespedes

Conventional wisdom says Yoenis Cespedes is a two-month rental for the Mets, with hopefully an October extension. Nobody expected GM Sandy Alderson to get him, much less keep him long-term.

However, Cespedes said he’d like to stay. Maybe it is gamesmanship on his part, but assuming he means it and he has the warm-and-fuzzies for the Mets, now is the time for the full-court press.

CESPEDES: It's now or never. (AP)

CESPEDES: It’s now or never. (AP)

If the Mets want him, Alderson must strike hard and fast. Signing Cespedes will give the Mets a jumpstart to their Christmas shopping.

“This is something I can’t control,’’ Cespedes told reporters Tuesday in Miami, conveniently overlooking the fact if he’s set on staying he can if they want him. “I don’t know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time, because I like the atmosphere.’’

Cespedes has a contract clause stating the Mets must release him before the free-agency period begins if they don’t want to sign him. This means is if he’s released after Aug. 31, he can’t re-sign with them until May 15, 2015. That means they sign him now or kiss him goodbye.

The Mets could fool around and say they want to re-sign him, but renege. They could do with him what they did with Jose Reyes.

That would tick off a lot of people.

Jul 28

Pointless Second Guessing Begins After Tulowitzki-Reyes Trade

In the wake of the Troy Tulowitzki-Jose Reyes deal comes the predictable second-guessing on why the Mets weren’t active for either. Reportedly, they asked about Tulowitzki, but we’ve been hearing that for years. Maybe the Rockies didn’t call the Mets for a last chance to make a deal simply because they knew they wouldn’t bite.

And, they shouldn’t have. And, they shouldn’t have gone after Reyes, either.

REYES: Reunion would have been bad idea. (AP)

REYES: Reunion would have been bad idea. (AP)

They were smart to pass on both and for similar reasons, primarily health and financial. Both have injury histories in recent years and the Mets already have a $20-million-a-year player who is breaking down in David Wright.

For a rebuilding team, why add another?

Nobody knows what prospects the Mets dangled, but they were wise not to spend their blue-chip pitchers. With the prime prospects off the table, it boiled down to lower-tier prospects and perhaps the Rockies liked what the Blue Jays offered over what the Mets were willing to spend. When it comes to prospects, it’s all subjective.

I know Mets fans are enamored with both players, and either would have been a good fit four or five years ago. Times change. Either player, healthy and in their prime, would have been terrific, but the Mets weren’t willing to pay the price. And, both are health risks and Reyes is past his prime.

Tulowitzki is having an All-Star season, but I keep waiting for the release he’s going back on the DL. He’s 30, but hasn’t played in as many as 150 games since 2009.

As for Reyes, there were a multitude of reasons why the Mets let him walk after the 2011 season: 1) it was a choice between him or Wright as to whom to give the $100-million contract; 2) Reyes, a player who makes his living with his legs, was showing break-down signs; 3) they knew Reyes wanted every last dollar.

Only once since 2008 did Reyes play in as many as 150 games, and that was 2012, his first year with the Marlins when he played in 160. The next year, because of another leg injury, he played in 93 his first season with Toronto.

You rarely saw Reyes run in the second half of the 2011 season, his last in New York. That’s because he went on the DL twice with leg injuries and was saving himself for the free-agent market. That he left his final game on his own after locking up the NL batting crown was indicative of how much he wanted to leave, and his whining the Mets never pursued him was just for show. Point is, Reyes only wanted to stay if the Mets broke the bank and begged him, and the Mets wanted him to leave. They did make a reasonable offer (less than $100 million) but didn’t chase him.

Reyes is 32 and his best running years are behind him, as including this year he has 61 steals in the past three years. He has a .322 on-base percentage with a 38-17 strikeouts-walks ratio, not good for a leadoff hitter.

I know Mets fans like Reyes, and for a time he put on a dynamic show. Yes, he’s the franchise’s best ever shortstop, but you have to wonder why he’s on his fourth team since 2011.

It has been said some of the best trades are the ones you don’t make and such is the case with both players.

Jul 22

Tejada Shining At Most Important Time

In 2012, the Mets’ first year without Jose Reyes as their shortstop, they gambled on Ruben Tejada. Nobody thought Tejada could duplicate Reyes’ dynamic style of play, but if he would give them something offensively, with his defense they could live with him.

TEJADA: Coming through. (AP)

TEJADA: Coming through. (AP)

Tejada was superb that season hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. In fact, the Mets thought so highly of Tejada, at that time manager Terry Collins believed he could be the leadoff hitter the team so desperately needed.

Sure, the window is small, but since reshuffling their infield by putting Tejada to short, Wilmer Flores to second and Daniel Murphy to third, Tejada has produced. Maybe he has produced to the point where Collins might revisit the leadoff hitter idea, which could move Curtis Granderson‘s bat to the middle of the order.

Tejada worked his at-bat in the ninth the way he played in 2012. Tejada had a superb eight-pitch at-bat against Tanner Roark by fouling off five pitches before a RBI single to right that extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Can this last? Tejada is hitting .333 since July 3 to raise his average from .236 to .254.

Again, Tejada’s window has been small, but for now at least shortstop doesn’t have the same sense of urgency, and last night he and the Mets were fun to watch.


Jun 15

Mets Made Right Call On Reyes

The Toronto Blue Jays are in town and with them came old friend Jose Reyes. Naturally, this interleague series will lead to talk the Mets should have extended Reyes after the 2011 season. Yes, the Mets have had problems at shortstop since Reyes left, but that isn’t to say they made a mistake.

REYES: Faces Mets. (AP)

REYES: Faces Mets. (AP)

To the contrary, they made the right call on the now 32-year-old Reyes, who won the batting title in his final year with the Mets. Yes, they have struggled with the position – although Wilmer Flores is getting better – and Reyes is arguably the most exciting player in their history. But, that’s not the point.

At the time the Mets were faced with the dilemma of signing either David Wright or Reyes, and the former was considered the face of the franchise. He still is despite a back injury which has him out of the lineup indefinitely. It must be remembered Reyes whose living is based on his legs, went on the disabled list twice in his last year here and rarely attempted to steal in the second half of the season.

The Mets’ thinking in addition to favoring Wright was the strong possibility Reyes would break down, which he has, going on the disabled list – including this year – in 2013 and 2014. The injuries the last two years were with his legs.

Also, there was no way the Mets would give him close to the $106 million he got from Miami. GM Sandy Alderson didn’t handle this the right way, basically ignoring Reyes to the point where he had no choice but to leave.

Unquestionably, Reyes was one of the most popular and talented players in franchise history, but they always knew he would not leave money on the table. As it turned out, factoring in Reyes’ injuries and low on-base percentage and stolen base numbers, the Mets made the right call.

It was sloppy how they handled it, but Alderson got this one right.

Jun 07

Mets Must Overhaul Handling Of Injuries

While introducing the Sandy Alderson Era, Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon promised a different mentality emanating from the top. The Mets would be more aggressive in obtaining talent, and perhaps just as importantly, more diligent and proactive in keeping that talent on the field.

The Mets have long been criticized for their handling of injured players, including David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Ryan Church, Pedro Martinez, Ike Davis and the list goes on.

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

Injuries haven’t been diagnosed properly, players played when they should’ve been benched or were rushed back. Players also haven’t been proactive in reporting injuries, which in the case of Matt Harvey, this likely lead to his surgery. Perhaps most bizarre was when Beltran opted to have surgery on his own.

This season has been about injuries and an 11-game winning streak. That streak is why they’re where they are considering they lead the major leagues with 12 players on the disabled list.

Eight players are gone from the Opening Day roster, and three players in the starting lineup in Sunday’s game at Arizona were injury related. There’s not a day when injuries aren’t the focal point. Injuries will dictate if the Mets make the playoffs; what, or if, they’ll make any trades; and possibly, their offseason agenda.

What should also happen is a complete overhaul of their injury protocol. From the trainers, to the team physicians, to the organization’s philosophy in handling and treating injuries, everything should be on the table for review. What they are doing now isn’t working.

Why, over the years, has there been a glut of arm injuries resulting in Tommy John surgery? Why have there been so many muscle pulls and strains? Is there a problem in the offseason training program? Are players encouraged or discouraged to report aches and pains?

Do the pitchers throw too much or not enough? Is nutrition an issue? Do the players stretch enough? Is there too much weight lifting during the season?

There’s not a constant with each injury, but something isn’t right and it must change. Teams like to say, “next man up,’’ but for the Mets it seems to be “who’s the next to go down?’’ Yes, injuries are part of the game, but for the Mets it seems to be all nine innings.

What should also be noted is playoff caliber teams need to overcome injuries and adversity, and that brings us back full circle to Wilpon and Alderson. Will ownership provide the financial resources, and does Alderson have the capabilities to fill the void?

We’re waiting.