Nov 08

2012 Mets Player Review: Outfielders Lucas Duda And Andres Torres

LUCAS DUDA, OF

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The expectations were in the form of wishful thinking when centerfielder Andres Torres and right fielder Lucas Duda reported to spring training. Unwilling or unable to add quality outfielders in the offseason – take your pick – the Mets opted for the bargain basement route. The Mets sent the underperforming Angel Pagan to the Giants for the non-productive Torres. A change of scenery has worked before and the Mets were hoping it would again. Theoretically, Torres was going to bring speed and a high on-base percentage at the top of the order while patrolling Citi Field’s spacious outfield. The hope for Duda was two-fold: 1) provide power to a line-up void of it, and 2) learn how to play right field.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Torres’ nightmare season began the first week when he strained his left calf and went on the disabled list. Torres was sluggish upon his return and was hitting .213 by the end of May. Torres hit .230 (11 points below his career average) with a paltry .327 on-base percentage, .664 OPS and just 13 stolen bases. He also struck out 90 times. Yes, the injury set back Torres, but he also played poorly when he was in the line-up. It was a learning process for Duda, first in learning major league pitchers while playing a new position. The Mets became enamored with Duda’s power potential when he hit 10 homers in 100 games in 2011. Things soured for Duda last year to the point where he was sent to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics and approach at the plate, and he wasn’t happy about it. Duda played in only 121 games, with 105 in right field where he committed four errors and showed limited range. Offensively, he hit 15 homers with 57 RBI, both well below what the Mets were hoping. Perhaps Duda’s most significant offensive stat was his 120-51 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. That’s an awful lot of nothing.

LOOKING AT 2013: Torres made $2.7 million last season and is arbitration eligible. As weak as their outfield is, the Mets won’t tender him. Kirk Nieuwenhuis played well when he replaced Torres last year, and barring an unforeseen addition, will get a chance to win the job in spring training. Meanwhile, Pagan will hit the free-agent market and make big bucks. There was a rumor of the Mets dealing Ike Davis and moving Duda to first. I’m not buying. Duda could move to left now that Jason Bay is gone, which is a better position for him. Wherever Duda plays it won’t cost the Mets much. He made $497,318 last season.

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Nov 07

Both Sides Win As Mets Sever Ties With Jason Bay

Usually not much happens at the GM meetings, especially for the Mets. But this afternoon they reached an agreement to terminate Jason Bay’s contract and granting him unconditional free agency. That’s a big deal as it eliminates a black cloud that has been hovering over the Mets the past three years.

The Mets owe Bay $16 million for 2013 with a $3 million buyout for 2014. Terms of the buyout were not disclosed, but assume Bay got something.

In a statement released by the Mets, Bay said: “I still feel I have plenty to give to this game and that I can play baseball at a high level. But after serious consideration, both sides agree that we would benefit from a fresh start. I’m grateful we were able to reach an agreement to allow that to happen.”

Bay’s performance and the need for a fresh start was reminiscent to some degree to the termination of Oliver Perez’s contract. Neither Bay nor Perez were producing, but while Perez rejected a minor league assignment to work on his mechanics and became a clubhouse pariah, Bay remained popular with his teammates and never stopped running.

As I posted earlier today in Bay’s 2012 review profile, the Mets were just biding their time until the end of his contract. Both sides win in this as Bay gets his money and a chance to move on and the Mets free themselves of a production headache, although they’ll still be on the hook for a considerable sum.

The important thing from the Mets’ perception is they can move ahead freely and won’t be mired in the dilemma of how to handle Bay, who ended last year in a platoon role. If the Mets can acquire a right fielder, it could allow them to move Lucas Duda to left field, considered an easier position.

Bolstering the outfield has been designated as a priority. Kirk Nieuwenhuis initially played well, but eventually faltered and was optioned down. Scott Hairston had a good year off the bench, might price himself out of the Mets’ plans if he wants a multi-year deal.

Bay wasn’t a fit from the outset when they signed him as a free-agent from Boston prior to the Mets’ move into Citi Field. At the time, the Mets said they were building their team around pitching, speed and defense, so naturally they signed a right-handed power hitter. Bay played surprisingly good defense and always hustled, but his production was never there.

Maybe the Mets’ first clue about Bay was when the Red Sox didn’t make a serious attempt to re-sign him and rescinded an offer.

Bay hit at least 30 homers in four straight seasons before signing a four-year, $66-million contract, but batted just .234 with 26 homers and 124 RBI in three years with the Mets. It wouldn’t be a reach to say the Mets expected him to average at least 26 homers with 124 RBI a season.

To be fair, Bay was sidelined by a myriad of injuries, including two concussions and a fractured rib, but even when healthy, he looked lost at the plate.

In a statement released by the Mets, GM Sandy Alderson said: “Jason has a tremendous work ethic. There was never any question about it. Unfortunately, the results weren’t there and we are in a results-oriented business. We thank Jason for his efforts and wish him well.”

Bay said he wants to keep playing and has no intention of quitting. He expressed no regrets other than his performance, offered no excuses and wished the fans and his former teammates well.

 

Jul 23

Mets Should Have Short Leash With Young

How long will Chris Young last tonight before things unravel? Whether it is the fifth, sixth or seventh inning – anything later is a pipe dream – it really doesn’t matter because the third time through the order is when he loses it.

There’s a few ways around it. The first is to give him 18 outs then pull him regardless. The second, and the most prudent, is to give the 18 outs PLUS the first runner. Once somebody gets on pull him because this is when things unravel.

Against the Nationals last week it was an infield hit then a homer. Just like that, the momentum shifted. I realize the Mets have no bullpen to speak of so Terry Collins can be understood for wanting to stay out of it.

But, staying with Young isn’t a great idea, either.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Ruben Tejada, ss
Jordany Valdespin, rf
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Jason Bay, lf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Chris Young, rhp

Jul 22

Mets Do Right Thing With Santana

It doesn’t matter if Johan Santana misses two starts. What matters is the temptation to overthrow in a game is removed for at least two weeks. Let’s face it, he’s a competitor and will be tempted. Hopefully, it won’t be more than that.
Of course, Santana said he could pitch. What else would you expect him to say?
Personally, I thought they would have to rest him before this. Was pushing him in the no-hitter the wrong thing to do? I don’t know. Fact is, it wasn’t just the 134 pitches, but all the ones before and since.
It was also the right thing to do and DFA Miguel Batista. He was giving the Mets nothing.
And, finally, Jordany Valdespin is in the starting lineup today. About time.
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jordany Valdespin, lf
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Lucas Duda, rf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp
Jul 13

Mets’ First Half Disappointments; Don’t Forget Pelfrey

No evaluation of the Mets is complete without a list of disappointments. While 46-40 at the break, the Mets have more to be happy about than not.  However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t laments.

PELFREY: Gone?

Had everything broken right in the first half, the Mets could be sitting on top of the NL East.

Here’s what went wrong:

The struggling bullpen: Most of Sandy Alderson’s off-season tinkering was made with improving the bullpen in mind. Frank Francisco has pitched well enough, but is a house of cards. He’s coming off a strained oblique, so there are no guarantees in the second half.  Set-up man Jon Rauch has also been hurt an ineffective.

Mike Pelfrey’s injury: Considering how well the Mets’ rotation has performed, is this a disappointment?  You’d have to say yes, because a well-functioning Pelfrey should be worth at least five victories. Compounding the disappointment is the injury to Dillon Gee, which could keep him out the remainder of the season.

Dillon Gee’s injury: Gee will have surgery to repair an artery in his shoulder Friday and could miss the rest of the year. The Mets have little depth in the farm system and are reluctant to part with their premier prospects.  The Mets, who will temporarily patch things with Miguel Batista, have two weeks before the trade deadline.

Jason Bay’s slump and injury: Is it really a disappointment when the expectations were so low to begin with? Probably not, but the team severely lacks right-handed pop. Bay should be activated from the disabled list within the next two weeks. GM Sandy Alderson said the need for right-handed power must be supplied from Bay. On a positive note, Bay’s injury should keep him from getting the at-bats needed for an option to kick in.

Ike Davis’ slump: Davis is starting to hit, but struggled most of the first half, almost to the point of the Mets considering sending him down to work on his swing. Their thinking in not doing so was the belief he already knows how to hit minor league pitching.

Andres Torres’ slump and injury: The Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan gone, Torres represents what little speed the Mets possess. Kirk Nieuwenhuis filled in well, but struggled the past three weeks.