Nov 12

Dissecting The Cuddyer Signing

Michael Cuddyer said all the right things about coming to the New York Mets. He spoke of how the Mets were a team on the cusp; about playing with longtime friend David Wright; and the excitement of playing in New York.

For good measure, he mentioned how he imagined how a packed Citi Field could be when he referenced the 2013 All-Star Game.

Got you going, didn’t it?

Then he ruined the illusion by saying “it always isn’t about the money.’’

But, I’ve been covering this sport a long time, and you’ve been following the Mets a long time. What we both know, is that when it comes to the Mets, money is right there at the top. Money is always the key factor.

The Cuddyer signing tells us a lot about the Mets and their financial situation. It also raises a lot of questions, which I’ll attempt to answer:

Q: Why wouldn’t Cuddyer accept the Rockies’ $15.3 million qualifying offer and go the free-agent route again?

A: That’s his risk. He wanted two and the Rockies were offering one. There was no guarantee Cuddyer would get a second year from anyone. When he gave the Mets a deadline to give him two years or he’d take the qualifying offer, “it gave us pause,’’ said GM Sandy Alderson.

The Mets had things to consider, such as other free-agent outfield options, which would have cost more. Or, trade options, but they had few chips to play and are unwilling to include their young pitching. Or, going from within, which they didn’t have the confidence in doing. And, there was the matter of losing the draft pick, which they didn’t want to do.

The most palatable option was giving Cuddyer two years.

Q: The breakdown is the first year for $8.5 million and the second year for $12.5 million. What does that mean?

A: In giving up their first-round pick – the 15th overall selection – the Mets also save themselves $2.5 million. Given that, the Mets will have filled their outfield hole for $6 million this year, which is $1.25 less than they blew on Chris Young last year. They don’t get their pick, but that player is at least three years down the road anyway. A lot can change in that time. With the $2.5 million they save by not having the draft pick gives them a little more flexibility.

Q: Won’t the Mets feel a pinch in 2016 for the $12.5 million they’d pay Cuddyer?

A: They could, but not if they make the strides they expect. Their gamble is they’ll improve enough in 2015 and experience an attendance spike. That will pay in part for Cuddyer. Of course, that means they’ll have to win this year, or at least “play meaningful games in September.’’ But, if none of this happens by July 2016 and Cuddyer is productive, he shouldn’t be hard to trade.

Q: Was this done to appease Wright?

A: That probably factored into it, but I wouldn’t say that was their first priority.

Q: What does signing Cuddyer say about their bench and minor league system?

A: For one, is tells me they likely won’t bring back Eric Young. It also speaks to their diminishing confidence in Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis as a fulltime player. The Mets stunted their development last year and that figures to be the same this year.

Q: The Mets kept saying they wanted power, but Cuddyer has hit only 80 homers over the past five years (16 average) and only ten in an injury shortened 2014. Does this fill that need?

A: No. Cuddyer isn’t strictly a pull hitter, which is just as well because the fences aren’t coming in next year. Presumably, he uses the whole field, which is the best way. Cuddyer has only one 30-homer season despite playing his career in the Coors Field and the Metrodome. He’s only had one 100-RBI season as well.

Q: Were there other options?

A: Sure, but nobody screamed out as a “must have’’ talent. Michael Morse, Ryan Ludwick, Nate Schierholtz, Nick Markakis and Josh Willingham were all available this fall, but would have either been too expensive; would stay with their original teams; or not graded as high as Cuddyer.

Q: Where will Cuddyer play?

A: Probably right field, with Curtis Granderson moving over to left field.

Q: Bottom line this for me: Does Cuddyer put the Mets over the top?

A: By no stretch of the imagination. The Mets have questions concerning shortstop; the offensive returns of Wright and Granderson; whether Lucas Duda can do it again; the development of Zack Wheeler and return from surgery by Matt Harvey. If all that happens and Cuddyer can return to his 2013 form when he won the NL batting title.

 

Dec 06

Greetings from Indianapolis ….

Sorry for the late post. It was a planes, trains and automobile travel day today to Indianapolis, which apparently turns into a ghost town when the Colts play. Nobody at the airport and the streets are empty.

To catch up on some Mets notes, there is a report they are interested in Josh Willingham, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. Not the greatest of acquisitions, but certainly a better option in left than Angel Pagan.

Oh, yeah, one more thing … can we forget about the Mets dealing Luis Castillo. Of course, they’d like to move him, but his salary, age, injury history and the fact last season might have been a fluke, all of which add up to conspire against a deal being made.

Would you trade for a player with those strikes against him? I wouldn’t, either.

Sep 28

Mets Chat Room: Saying Goodbye to Shea Edition.

Have been walking around the stands and listening to people. Mixed feelings. Shea has never been state-of-the-art, even from the beginning. But, it has been home to many of you. A place to escape a bad day, a play to dream, a place to shed tears, and most of all, a place to dream.

It’s always sad to say goodbye to a ballpark, because it is the site of so many memories. But, where blacktop will cover what is now the outfield. But, you can’t build over memories, just as you can’t build over dreams.

We say good bye to Shea Stadium today, but not really because there is still the dream of playoff baseball, and with it maybe more memories.

Now, wouldn’t that be something?

For you trivia buffs, here are the lineups, the answer to a future question.

Florida Marlins

CF Cameron Maybin
C John Baker
3B Jorge Cantu
1B Mike Jacobs
LF Josh Willingham
2B Dan Uggla
RF Cody Ross
SS Alfedo Amezaga
LH Scott Olsen

METS

SS Jose Reyes
CF Carlos Beltran
1B Carlos Delgado
3B David Wright
LF Nick Evans
2B Ramon Martinez
RF Ryan Church
C Ramon Castro
LH Oliver Perez