Dec 06

What If The Mets Can’t Get Curtis Granderson?

Let’s suppose for a moment the New York Mets don’t sign Curtis Granderson. What then?

There will undoubtedly be cries of the Mets not wanting to spend and others that they don’t have the resources they claimed they had. It is hard to say which is true.

As far as outfielders go, there aren’t a lot of remaining options. We know they won’t bring back Carlos Beltran or pay through the nose for Nelson Cruz or Shin-Soo Cho.

I’ve always like Nate McLouth, but heard nothing in that regard from the Mets. There was some reported interest in Corey Hart, but that has cooled.

What are they going to do, have an encore with Rick Ankiel, Xavier Nady, Jeff Francoeur or Jason Bay?

Honestly, if they don’t get Granderson and aren’t interested in McLouth, they might be better off going with Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Eric Young in their outfield.

There’s some school of thought that if the Mets can’t be competitive this year, they might just wait until next winter to spend. This idea can’t be any worse.

The Mets have been pointing to this winter as one in which they would spend and the fan base bought into that promise. To come away empty again would be destructive and only increase the sense of distrust between the Mets and their fans.

Matt Harvey’s absence this summer isn’t the issue anymore. The Mets must accept that and put a representative team on the field, one in which they can develop for the future, because there’s still the matter of selling tickets and putting a product worthy of watching on television. Currently, they need starting and bullpen help; and outfielder with pop; a shortstop; a back-up catcher; and a decision at first base.

They’ve accomplished none of that with the Winter Meetings three days away.

Even with Harvey, they wouldn’t have filled all these holes this winter. They must fill some holes now because they won’t be able to fill them all next year.

It would have been great to see the Mets compete for the wild card this year. While that likely won’t happen, there’s no reason to believe there can’t be some improvement. They won 74 games in 2013, and for all the good Harvey did, he still had 13 no-decisions.

Surely, one more victory a month could push them to 80 victories or even reach .500. It is possible with some help.

That’s why getting Granderson is important, and even if they don’t, they can’t cash in their chips. It might not be the playoffs, but there is something to play for.

 

Dec 05

Three Years Won’t Be Enough To Get Granderson

The New York Mets are serious about signing Curtis Granderson. But, will the three-year contract that has been |reported be enough?

At 32, Granderson would likely want a fourth year considering what is going on in the market. If Carlos Beltran, who is four years older than Granderson is reportedly talking with Kansas City for a three-year, $48-million contract, it stands to reason Granderson would want an additional year.

GRANDERSON: Talking with Mets.

GRANDERSON: Talking with Mets.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets must adjust to a “robust,’’ market, and that would include the ability to upgrade their initial offer.

The money sounds about right, but the Mets might have to jack up the annual salary if they are adamant about three years. Otherwise, they might have to go three years plus an option, or give in on the fourth year.

Either way, Granderson is the best available outfielder in the market that won’t cripple them financially. Texas’ Nelson Cruz and Cincinnati’s Shin-Soo Cho have reportedly sought deals in excess of $90 million and five years.

The Mets, understandably because of the long-term deals with Johan Santana and Jason Bay that flamed out, not to mention Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, want to shy away from lengthy contracts. David Wright was the lone exception.

Granderson would be a definite upgrade to the outfield, and despite his propensity for striking out, has the production numbers to offset that problem. He could play left, with Juan Lagares in center and Chris Young in left.

Presumably, Eric Young would play off the bench, or as has been suggested, move to second base if Daniel Murphy is traded. It is also possible Murphy could return to first base depending upon what happens to Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.

A deal is not imminent and Granderson is sure to talk to other suitors. The Yankees said despite their signing of Jacoby Ellsbury they would entertain brining back Granderson.

There are positives to getting Granderson, and his strikeouts differ from Davis’ because he will give something in return.

Granderson knows what it takes to play in New York, so there wouldn’t be that adjustment process. He could even keep his apartment.

Signing Granderson would answer one of the Mets’ numerous questions. They still need to add two starters; build depth in their bullpen; resolve the first base question; and add a catcher to back-up Travis d’Arnaud.

So, even if the Mets sign him, their work won’t be close to being done.

Nov 19

Mets In Tenuous Building Position

With the New York Mets’ timetable for being competitive 2015 because of Matt Harvey, just how much should that impact the contract length of any free agent they might sign?

Will they look at that player being here well beyond 2015, or should they simply go two or three years, as has been suggested with somebody like Curtis Granderson?

What’s the point of having Granderson for just one season with Harvey?

Reportedly, the Mets currently are balking at anything longer than three years, which along with the dollar amount is why they aren’t in it for Shin-Soo Choo.

Choo has a decent production track record, but nothing that warrants four years and over $100 million. From any team.

Frankly, there aren’t many players if any that a team could build around. Arguably, the players with the greatest probability of being productive in four-plus years is Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano, neither whom the Mets will consider because of price.

On a side note, it is laughable to hear Cano is still parked at $310 million over ten years. He’s worth half that, both in years and money, but that’s something that won’t concern the Mets.

The best way to acquire a young talent to build around is through the trade market, which is what teams are attempting to do with the Mets regarding their young pitching.

Who knows how Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will develop? But, unless the Mets can get back several highly touted position players in return, there’s no point in dealing. Trading them for a present-day position player not considered a top prospect is foolish.

Conversely, the Mets have little in their farm system outside of pitching that would pique the interest of a team. Whom they are peddling now – Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and possibly Daniel Murphy – are more suited to go in a package rather than be a trade centerpiece. Ditto for Ruben Tejada and Eric Young.

Mets’ throw-ins because of their dwindling value are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. Both have shown nothing that would prompt they are building blocks. The position players that are the most attractive are the ones the Mets want to keep, namely Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares.

The Mets aren’t willing to shop in the expensive aisle; they have precious little trade pieces on both the minor and major league levels; and they aren’t willing to deal their best young talent.

Honestly, I don’t believe 2015 will be the magic winter because not much is likely to change by then.

LATER TODAY:  Moving Eric Young to second base not a good idea.

Nov 05

Only One Player Given Qualifying Offer Interests Mets, Who Should Be Wary Of Shin-Soo Choo

Early speculation of whom the New York Mets might consider in the free-agent market could turn out to be pricey as 13 free agents received qualifying offers from their respective teams. Not surprisingly, no Met free agent was given a qualifying offer, but three Yankees – Robinson CanoHiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson – were given the $14.1 million offer.

CHOO: Mets Should Be Cautious.

CHOO: Mets Should Be Cautious.

That figure was derived at averaging the top 125 salaries from 2013, and each player offered that amount regardless of his salary last season.

The list includes Carlos Beltran, Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Granderson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kuroda, Brian McCann, Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli and Ervin Santana.

Numerous media outlets at one time had linked Beltran, Choo, Cruz, Drew, Ellsbury, Granderson and Napoli to the Mets, but only in speculative terms.

The players have until 5 p.m., next Monday to accept the qualifying offer, and if they do will have agreed to a one-year, $14.1 million contract. If the player rejects the offer his former team will be awarded either a first or second-round draft pick as compensation.

The Mets’ first-round pick – tenth overall in the draft – is protected and determined on their 2013 record of 74-88, but general manager Sandy Alderson said losing a second-round pick would not be a deterrent.

You’ll recall the compensation issue is why the Mets did not go after outfielder Michael Bourn last season. Bourn eventually signed with Cleveland and the Mets eventually settled on minor leaguer Juan Lagares in center fielder.

Of the players on the list, the Mets appear to be the most serious about the 31-year-old Choo, but reportedly won’t go beyond four years. The Mets’ needs at shortstop and outfield had them thinking about Drew and Ellsbury, but $14.1 million would be too high for Drew, but palatable for Ellsbury.

However, in many cases with qualifying offers, the team signing them does so as a mechanism to buy negotiating time to work out a multi-year deal.

The Mets are expected to swim in the middle depths of the free-agent pool, which is what Boston did last year in building its championship team with the signings of Drew, Napoli and Shane Victorino.

Choo fits into that category, but he’s not one to build around. He has averaged 20 homers and 81 RBI during his nine-year career with Seattle, Cleveland and Cincinnati. However, those are hitters parks and he was surrounded by better line-ups than what he’d have with the Mets in Citi Field.

Choo hit .285 last year – 24 points below his career-high of .309 in 2009, but drew 112 walks in compiling a .423 on-base percentage, his most important statistic.

If signed, Choo would slot into center leading to a competition in right between Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Red flags for Choo are 133 strikeouts and only 54 RBI for his 21 homers (conceding he hit at the top of the order). He averages 146 strikeouts a season during his career, something the Mets have had far too much of those. Frankly, his production doesn’t warrant the strikeouts.

Choo made $7.3 million last year from the Reds, and during his career earned a total of $17.5 million, so the qualifying offer represents a huge raise for him. However, the market doesn’t work where the Mets can make a take-it-or-leave it offer. Especially, with his agent being Scott Boras, known to not leave money on the table. It is highly likely the qualifying offer will be rejected and Choo will enter the market.

Considering he has played in 150 games only four times during his career, his career .288 average doesn’t seem like much to warrant giving four years. If I am giving four years on a player with a qualifying offer, I’d overpay for Ellsbury and know I would be getting a star. I would also rather bring back Beltran for a couple of seasons.

The most I’d give Choo is two years for $28.2 million (two years of the qualifying offer) plus an option. Anything more would be excessive considering the Mets’ other needs.

 

Nov 03

Wilpon’s Comments About Core Reveals Mets Have Little To Trade

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has subsequently modified his statement about his team having only four core players, later adding Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

It’s not a substantial increase, but highly revealing in two main aspects.

First, it highlights the areas where the Mets are weak and need building. That would be two starters, bullpen depth, first base, shortstop and the outfield. By my count, that’s 18 players.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

Of course, the Mets won’t be able to turn over their roster by that much, but there will undoubtedly be significant changes.

Realistically, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang will be gone, and with a reluctance to tap into their minor league system for starters until at least June and Jenrry Mejia not certain to be ready, that’s a high priority for Sandy Alderson.

Parnell isn’t a given for spring training, leaving the entire bullpen to reconstruct. Vic Black could move into the closer role, but most everything else is to be defined. Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice should be a part of things, but there are injury and experience considerations. If all are counted, that still leaves at least two spots.

Eric Young and Juan Lagares could be two of the three outfielders, but that leaves right field open and numerous questions are circulating about the production the Mets could get from them.

Thoughts of moving Young to second base and possibly Murphy to first are premature, because the Mets envision more power at first than Murphy could provide. Young definitely won’t supplant Murphy and send the latter to the bench as it would delete the Mets’ overall most productive hitter from the line-up.

And, please, Murphy is not a centerpiece to a trade, he is a complementary part.

That gives us the second revealing aspect of Wilpon’s comments about the Mets’ core. If there’s little there, and whether you’re talking the original four players or the updated seven, it’s not significant. That means there’s also little to trade, so if you’re thinking the Mets will go into the general manager meetings and later the winter meetings with a lot of chips, you’re sadly mistaken.

What the Mets have, they want to keep. Outside their core, all they have are pieces of a package. With the injuries to Matt Harvey and Mejia, the Mets want to hold onto their young pitching prospects – defined as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – because they’ll likely need them later.

So, whatever improvements the Mets make this winter will be cash deals.