Jan 17

Daniel Murphy Not Concerned

So, Daniel Murphy told ESPN he’s not concerned that the Mets haven’t signed a major league free agent, and like David Wright, is satisfied with the club’s direction.

Well, what else did you expect him to say?

MURPHY: GM in training.

Murphy, the man without a position stuck at second base, isn’t in position to rock the boat. The arbitration-eligible Murphy banged the drum for Scott Hairston and Chris Young, both of whom would fill needs but not necessarily raise the Mets to the next level.

Murphy sounded like a Sandy Alderson groupie when he said “we don’t want to get quite get sucked into maybe some of the prices that are going on right now for outfield.’’

In other words, forget about re-signing Hairston, who is asking for $8 million over two years. The Mets aren’t enamored by either the years or dollars. Put it this way, Hairston is asking for $4 million in 2013. In comparison, the anticipated outfield as of now in Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter might not make $2 million combined.

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Jan 05

Mets Who Could Be On The Block In July

It’s not even spring training, so what better time to fast forward to July and project what Mets could be dealt at the deadline?

JOHAN SANTANA: Assuming he’s healthy and producing, and the Mets not in the playoff hunt, who can’t see the Mets trying to get out from whatever they can of what is left of his contract? If Santana is on his game, a contender should be interesting.

CHRIS YOUNG: Should the Mets sign him as their fifth starter and the season bogs down, if he shows anything in the first half, some contender is sure to be willing to give up a middle prospect for a veteran who’ll make a half-dozen starts. If the Mets aren’t going anywhere, what’s the point of keeping Young around?

FRANK FRANCISCO: Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t bringing him back for 2014. So, deal him for a prospect and give the closer job to Bobby Parnell. Parnell is too young and has too much upside to deal him how. If the Mets aren’t doing anything this year, I’d be game for trading Francisco now and seeing what Parnell can do.

DANIEL MURPHY: If there’s an AL team that needs a DH or a bat off the bench, then Murphy could be ideal.

It is easy to see why Jon Niese or Ike Davis would be attractive – price and production – but those reasons are why the Mets would want to keep them. David Wright isn’t going anywhere, and players such as Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis haven’t built enough of a resume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 06

Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Mets’ CEO Jeff Wilpon said GM Sandy Alderson would have an increased budget for 2013 and the team “will be competitive.’’

What exactly he meant by that, he wouldn’t specify. Does it mean the Mets will be a playoff contender or at least a .500-caliber team? Just exactly how much will the budget be increased? When Wilpon spoke of payroll flexibility, in the wake of the commitment to David Wright, he didn’t do so in terms of actual dollars.

PAGAN: Rarely ran like that with the Mets.

Alderson said the outfield pool is currently at the deep end with Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. I thought if the Mets splurged they might have a shot at Victorino, but I wasn’t thinking $39 million. Victorino actually turned down $44 million from Cleveland for a chance to play for a contender, and the Indians aren’t exactly a free-spending team.

Alderson said “we’ll get outfielders,’’ but what he didn’t add on was, “… we have to because the rules say we need to play with three.’’

Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter – left to right – is what the Mets currently have if the season started today.

Duda made a splash two years ago, but struggled badly last season; Nieuwenhuis made a good first impression in 2012 after Andres Torres was injured, but major league pitching caught up with him (those curveballs can be nasty); and Baxter is a role player who gets exposed after long bouts of playing time.

Hopefully, Duda learned something from being shipped off to the minors and he’ll have a breakout year. But, he’s never done it over a full season, so the hopes are mostly wishful thinking.

As far as Nieuwenhuis goes, he made a splash with his ability to work the count, put the ball in play and hustle. It would be asking a lot from him to develop into a fulltime leadoff hitter, assuming manager Terry Collins will place him at the top of the order.

I heard interest in Ryan Ludwick, but he’s not coming here.  Ludwick made $2 million last year while hitting 26 homers and driving in 80 runs for Cincinnati. He’ll command a hefty raise, and I’m betting the Reds will give it to him.

Speaking of hefty raises, Scott Hairston, easily the most productive outfielder the Mets had last season, should get at least two years, or one and an option, for hitting 20 homers last season. Great off the bench, his playing time gradually increased.

The Mets will need a guy like him. Hey, here’s an idea … sign him.

Now that the Mets have committed $140 million to Wright, what about the rest of the roster? Dickey is still out there, and there have been no significant additions to even suggest the Mets’ offices have been open since the end of the season.

 

Nov 29

Wright Should Take Offer, But What Happens Next For Mets?

If the latest numbers are to be believed, then the Mets have done their due diligence and David Wright should have the deal that could enable him to finish his career in Flushing. If he plays in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field wearing another uniform, then that’s his decision.

The reported seven-year, $125-million contract would give him the longevity he craves while making him the highest-paid, fulltime third baseman in the sport. Afterall, Alex Rodriguez does split his time as a DH and on the disabled list. Nobody will ever get a contract like Rodriguez’s again.

Wright has been adamant about wanting to be like future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, and a player he grew up idolizing – Cal Ripken – in wanting to play his career with the same team.

Wright is one of the few players I believe in when he says things such as that. Jose Reyes, I always thought, would take the last dollar possible. Wright never struck me as such.

There is a question about deferred money, but I don’t think of that as anything more than a retirement plan. That shouldn’t that insurmountable an obstacle.

I understand the need to retain Wright and have long been on board with it. However, it stands to reason that keeping him – and hopefully, R.A. Dickey – means absolutely nothing it the Mets remain the same.

Based on his numbers the past three seasons, that’s an extremely generous offer from the Mets. Yes, they would be overpaying, but they would be purchasing more than just a third baseman. Wright is the face of the franchise and should represent a commitment toward winning.

Keeping Wright and doing nothing else to build the team accomplishes nothing. The Mets’ current plan appears to be keeping Wright, perhaps Dickey, and a lot of hoping, such as:

* Johan Santana remaining healthy and productive in his final season as a Met.

* Breakout seasons from Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.

* A strong full first season from Matt Harvey.

* Josh Thole learns how to hit, hopefully with some power.

* Ike Davis adds to last year’s 32 homers.

* Ruben Tejada at least duplicates last year.

* Wright, for all that money, returns to becoming a power hitter.

* The outfield trio – if the season started today – of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter can play as starters instead of role players. And, if not, somebody falls into their laps.

* They somehow, some way, piece together a bullpen.

 

Nov 09

2012 Mets Player Review: The Bench

KIRK NIEUWENHUIS, OF

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Our player review series concludes today with a look at the bench, which wasn’t without questions. With Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda starting, that thinned the bench. Mike Nickeas was behind the plate; Justin Turner a capable reserve in the infield; and Scott Hairston and Mike Baxter were in the outfield. Kirk Nieuwenhuis opened the season in the minor leagues. The Mets liked Jordany Valdespin’s speed and ability to make things happen on the bases. In Nickeas, the Mets had a capable receiver, but not much offense; Turner had success as a pinch-hitter;  and Hairston and Baxter showed occasional power. Of the two, Baxter is the better defensive player.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Hairston proved capable – perhaps too capable – in the outfield as he ended up starting when Duda was optioned and Jason Bay alternatively struggled and was hurt and hit 20 homers. Baxter saved Johan Santana’s no-hitter with a spectacular catch in left field and also provided some pop. Nieuwenhuis got an early opportunity when Andres Torres pulled up lame (calf) the first week of the season and played very well for about two months before major league pitching caught up with him (you’ll keep getting breaking balls off the plate until you prove you can hit them). Kelly Shoppach was brought in late in the season to back-up Josh Thole and hit for sporadic power. Speaking of power, Valdespin provided a long-ball spark as a pinch-hitter.

LOOKING AT 2013:  Hairston was so good he’ll command a multi-year deal in the free-agent market, something the Mets don’t want to do. Say good-bye, although with what they have returning in the outfield they should think twice. With Bay gone and Torres not expected to be tendered, Nieuwenhuis will get a chance to earn a spot during spring training. He can handle the job defensively, but needs to cut down on his strikeouts and increase his on-base percentage considering he’s not expected to hit for power. Valdespin played some second base in the fall league, which should enhance his value. Valdespin could also benefit by Bay’s departure. Turner could be brought back, and if not, there will be plenty of alternatives on the market. Shoppach had his moments, but the Mets won’t pay over $1 million for a back-up when the starter makes half that amount. GM Sandy Alderson said there won’t be any big-ticket free agents, but inexpensive reserve outfielders and a catcher could be found.