Nov 12

Mets Don’t Figure To Be Dealing A GM Meetings; Lose Byrd To Phillies

On the day the New York Mets extended manager Terry Collins’ contract, GM Sandy Alderson said he had the resources to make a $100-million plus deal.

ALDERSON: Whats's his budget? (AP)

ALDERSON: Whats’s his budget? (AP)

Not surprisingly, he backed off that stance at GM meetings in Orlando, telling ESPN: “We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright. Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again – not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building.

Just how much the Mets will spend Alderson didn’t say, but for a team in search of offense, it was interesting to see him pass on bringing back Marlon Byrd, who reportedly reached a two-year, $16-million deal with the Phillies.

Undoubtedly, the decision was based more on finances, and there was nothing wrong with Byrd’s clubhouse presence – or production, for that matter – that would chase away the Mets.

Why then did they pass?

Byrd, 36, rejuvenated his career this summer with the Mets and Pittsburgh, batting .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBI. That’s the kind of production the Mets crave, but considering his 50-game drug suspension the previous season, did the Mets believe it was for real?

Byrd was unquestionably motivated to turn around his career, but at that age the Mets must wonder was 2013 a fluke? One year with incentives with an option would have been acceptable, but two years made Alderson pause. It was the same thing with Jerry Hairston the previous winter. Alderson knew Byrd would want a multi-year deal, and considering he made less than $1 million last year, the thinking was he’d get $8 million for two years at most. Not $16 million.

Byrd, a 12-year veteran returns to Philadelphia, where he began his career. He also returns to a park more conducive to producing higher power numbers.

Alderson appears to want to take Boston’s approach by going with several middle-tier free agents and not relying on the super bat. However, considering what Byrd got, just how much are middle-tier free agents worth?

“I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players,’’ Alderson said of $100-million packages. “It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.’’

The Mets were burned by extending multi-year contracts to players injured, non-productive or too old in their careers. Many of those deals with given by Omar Minaya, but it must be remembered the Mets had a better core than and these players were expected to be the final pieces.

However, things didn’t work out over the long haul with Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Frank Francisco, Scott Schoeneweis, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, and the list goes on.

Alderson has cleared the payroll and his reluctance to get involved with a $100-million package, or even something like the $66-million given Bay is understandable.

Considering the big picture with Byrd, that might have been a good decision. That could be based on who Alderson does sign, assuming he signs somebody.

 

Dec 18

I’m Satisfied With The Mets This Winter, Aren’t You?

Presumably, Sandy Alderson knows more about baseball scouting than we do, so what’s not to like about the trade of R.A. Dickey for prospects?

Based on surface viewing, the Mets’ desire to trade Dickey was to maximize what they could get for a 38-year-old with a trick pitch and only one outstanding year on his resume.

ALDERSON: Why is he smiling?

That’s all understandable and a move to be cheered, perhaps in three or four years when Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard rock our world and become stars.

No, make that future All-Stars, you know, like Mets’ prospects before them: Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge, Francisco Martinez, Jenrry Mejia and Carlos Gomez.

And, add them to stellar free-agent signings and trades for Jason Bay, Kaz Matsui, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, Orlando Hernandez and Johan Santana. In fairness, Santana had his great Mets’ moments, but he’s also had a consistent run of injuries. Injuries are hard to project, but the Mets knew he logged a lot of innings before giving him all that money. I mention injuries, because that’s the red flag on d’Arnaud.

The sum total of those parts is a track record of skepticism and non-believability of Mets’ management, and it isn’t just Alderson. Fool me once shame on you; fool me a dozen times then shame on both of us. Alderson, the supposed baseball genius, is still a front man for ownership.

Quite simply, the Mets guessed and projected wrong so many times before so why should we believe them now when they say d’Arnaud and Syndergaard will be different?

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Oct 08

Forecasting What Mets Have To Spend Next Year

The Mets might have received a favorable ruling in the Madoff case, but that doesn’t the economic climate around Citi Field is that much better.

Hardly, in fact, with a sub-par showing at the gate, caused largely in part by the club’s failure to improve their bullpen and outfield at mid-season, which led to a second-half collapse.

With a team going 15 straight home games without scoring more than three runs, who is going to come out?

The burgers aren’t that good.

The Mets’ payroll was $100 million this year and is forecast to be much the same in 2013. It is possible to reach the playoffs with a sub-$100 million payroll as Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore and Oakland are still standing. The Athletics’ payroll is nearly half that of the Mets, and they also play in a two-team market, so it can be done. The Nationals, of course, finished 24 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East.

It takes superior scouting and farm system, prudent trades and free-agent signings, and a patience to let your young talent develop. The Mets have done precious little in those areas and since 2005 have relied on veteran free agents that were either too old on the down side of their careers, or became injured and non-productive.

Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine gave the Mets some good moments. Both had physical issues and the team couldn’t build around them.

Frankie Rodriguez, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo were all too pricey and failed in their expectations. The Mets are saying they really won’t be able to do anything in the free-agent market until after the 2013 season when Santana and Bay are off the books.

Other signings, such as Guillermo Mota, Julio Franco, JJ Putz and Scott Schoeneweis – that’s a name I almost forgot about – were simply bad as the Mets overpaid in dollars and years.

Outside of Jon Niese and possibly Matt Harvey, what has come out of the farm system? David Wright, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada are the only homegrown position players who had substantial seasons. Lucas Duda and Josh Thole are to be determined, Mike Pelfrey has been hit or miss, is now injured and likely won’t be tendered a contract.

Do you remember that star-studded outfield of prospects Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez? Gomez was in the Santana trade, but other than that, the Mets got noting from the trio that was supposed to patrol their outfield for a decade.

While four teams in the playoffs have payrolls less than the Mets, none are as expensive market as New York. The Mets face the problem of working extensions for Wright and R.A. Dickey within that $100-million parameter, but not much higher.

Since Wright is already on the books for $15 million for next year and Dickey for $5 million, that’s $20 million of their extensions already accounted for in 2013. The Mets could backload their contracts to ease some of the strain, but they still have $79.5 million of the $100 million already earmarked for six players.

In addition to Wright and Dickey, the Mets are committed next year to Santana ($25.5 million plus a $5.5 million buyout); Bay ($16 million plus a $3 million buyout); Frank Francisco ($6.5 million) and Jon Niese ($3 million).

That means they must spread $20.5 million among 19 players to complete their 25-man roster. Of that, figure in a raise to maybe $3.5 million for Davis, who is arbitration eligible.

There’s not a lot of wiggle room, and definitely not enough to sign a big-ticket free-agent. They will have to rely on minor league promotions and free agents signing for no more than $1 million.

Good luck with that.

Oct 01

Mets’ Collapse In 2007 More Than Lost Season

Little did anybody know it at the time, but the Mets’ historic and stunning collapse at the end of the 2007 season, blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play was more than just a horrific finish.

After all, they went on to blow a late-season lead in 2008, also.

The collapses began a spiral effect of costly decisions that brought to light the Mets’ financial crisis. The Ponzi scandal, no doubt, had a huge impact regardless of the club’s comments that the baseball operations weren’t also severely influenced.

One bad decision lead to another costly mistake and we find ourselves with another losing season, another lost summer, and the very real prospect of them losing both David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

Wright told ESPN’s Adam Rubin over the weekend he could see it ending with him and the Mets. When Rubin asked Wright following the Chipper Jones’ ceremony if he could see himself playing his entire career with the same team.

Wright knew it was possible when the Mets didn’t retain Jose Reyes. For years we heard the All-Star left side of their infield, and although there’s a plausible explanation for the shortstop’s departure, it was a thanks-I-needed-that slap in the face for Wright.

“I always thought Jose would be back, that it was just a lot to do about nothing,” Wright said. “We’ve known each other since 2001. You’re talking about playing around or with each other for 11 years. Yeah, of course it opens your eyes. It makes you realize in a lot of ways there is an ugly business side to this — whether it’s from the player’s perspective or the team’s perspective.”

Wright is arguably the premier position player in club history, but there are no assurances, especially considering the past.

The following are some of the most critical decisions that put the Mets in position where they had to cut $50 million in payroll this season to make them a mid-level franchise in the country’s biggest market.

1) JOHAN SANTANA: Yes, he threw the franchise’s first no-hitter this year and has had other special moments, but the fact remains they were bidding against themselves in dealing with the Twins. Minnesota’s asking price was steep, which forced Boston and the Yankees to pull out. I don’t care about the handful of prospects as they’ve amounted to little, but the trade was contingent on signing Santana to an extension and the Mets drastically overpaid to the point where they’ve received precious little the last few years and are put in a weak position for this offseason. Santana has been frequently injured during his tenure with the Mets and there’s no guarantee about next year.

In addition, the for the amount of money Santana is getting, the Mets could have filled numerous holes, including the rotation and bullpen.

2) FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: When Rodriguez’s own team, the Angels, want him back that should have been a red flag. Rodriguez saved his fair share of games, but paid him an extraordinary amount considering there were no other bidders. They should have taken a harder line approach in their negotiations.

3) JASON BAY: Next year is it for Bay, whose contract, injury history and lack of production make him non-tradable. What’s worse, is the Mets were moving into a new ballpark at the time and stated they were building their team around pitching and defense.  At the time, pitching was the overriding need. Again, a red flag should have been when the Red Sox were so willing to let him go. The Mets have received virtually nothing for the $66 million they’ll pay Bay.

4) OLIVER PEREZ: Speaking of red flags, shouldn’t it have been a tip off when nobody else seriously flirted with him in his free agent season? Instead, the Mets signed him long term and by the end he had lost his fastball and became a clubhouse pariah when he refused a demotion to work on his mechanics.

5) LUIS CASTILLO: I could see bringing him back, but for four years? Seriously, what was Omar Minaya thinking? Castillo was already on a downhill slide, which was only accelerated by injuries. His contract, along with Perez’s, symbolized the Minaya regime.

There were more, of course, multi-year deals to Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez, Julio Franco and Guillermo Mota, but those five, for the magnitude of dollars and not properly evaluating the market did serious damage to this franchise which might not be over.

After 2006 and 2007, the Mets didn’t properly evaluate their team. They thought they were better than they really were.

 

 

 

Nov 02

They should take a risk.

The Mets have made a string of bad signings when it comes to aging, injured, unproductive  or otherwise scarred players. Moises Alou, Julio Franco, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota. We could spend all day adding to the list.

SIZEMORE: Worth a risk.

It isn’t a great free-agent market, but there’s a name on the list worth rolling the dice with despite his recent injury history. The Cleveland Indians failed to exercise their option on outfielder Grady Sizemore, who, at 29, was once one of the game’s blossoming stars, but only played in 210 games the past three seasons.

A gamble, no question, but a thought keeps running through my head: What if he pans out?

Burdened by knee and abdominal injuries the past three years, Sizemore hit just .234 last summer, but prior to that was a three time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. That’s a substantial resume; certainly better than any other Mets’ outfielder.

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