Nov 19

Mets Matters: Sandy Alderson Dishes On Jay Z, Payroll And Other Issues

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson dished on a variety of issues Tuesday in a conference call with reporters, beginning with dinner meeting with Jay Z, the agent for the Yankees’ Robinson Cano.

No, the Mets aren’t players for Cano, and as I wrote earlier, it was at the agent’s invitation, and Alderson and Jeff Wilpon had their reasons for accepting.

mets-matters logo“They requested a meeting,’’ Alderson said. “We had a nice dinner. They made a presentation. We talked generally. And that was it. As I said, we were approached.’’

After the season Alderson said he had the resources to offer a $100-million package, but later backed off that stance, and reiterated it again at the general manager’s meetings.

“I had said last week that I didn’t foresee contracts in the $100 million range for the Mets this offseason,’’ Alderson said. “I think that statement still pertains. On the other hand, we are committed to improving the team. And we will explore whatever possibilities arise, however remote the eventual outcome.’’

The Mets accepted the invitation as a courtesy, knowing they would never consider Cano based on economics.

Someday, Jay Z might represent a player of interest to the Mets, and it would do the organization no good to diss an agent sanctioned by the Players Association.

NO CONTACT WITH PERALTA: Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta has been reportedly been linked to the Mets as the answer to their shortstop void.

Alderson said he has not had any contact with Peralta’s agent.

ALDERSON SUGGESTS PAYROLL WILL RISE: Alderson acknowledged a rising market, evidenced by Colorado giving LaTroy Hawkins a one-year, $2.5-million contract and Philadelphia giving Marlon Byrd $16 million over two years.

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ said Alderson, who added the 2013 payroll was $87 million.

“If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that. And consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that.’’

Not unexpectedly, Alderson made no promises. Although, the Mets did sign left fielder/first baseman Brandon Allen, 27, to a minor league contract.

Allen has a .203 career average with 12 homers in parts of four seasons with Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

This is not the big signing we had been waiting for.

GETTING IN SHAPE: At the end of the season each player is given a physical and put on a conditioning program.

Four Mets – Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and draft pick Dominic Smith – are taking it further and are attending a four-week fitness camp in near Ann Arbor, Mich.

Tejada, in particular, caught the organization’s ire for not reporting to spring training on time or in shape.

It’s a positive act by Tejada, whose shortstop job is in jeopardy. Tejada is also recovering from a fractured leg sustained in late September.



Nov 19

There Is No Plan For Wilmer Flores

For the longest time Wilmer Flores was considered the Mets’ most promising minor league position player. We finally had a peek at him last summer, but it was far too little to find out where he fits.

FLORES: What are they thinking?

FLORES: What are they thinking?

He played a lot of third base when David Wright was injured, which I thought was a mistake. Flores would never supplant Wright at third, so those were wasted at-bats.

The Mets played him briefly at second in place of Murphy, which was another mistake because there aren’t any imminent plans to replace Murphy.

The played him some at first base, which in a platoon with Lucas Duda could be a possibility.

The rap on him is his range, which put shortstop out of the scenario. However, is it really much of a problem? There are shortstops without great range which compensate by positioning. This was never explored on the minor league level. Instead, he was played at positions – third and second – which were blocked above.

Meanwhile, shortstop remains a black hole for the Mets. I would have liked Flores to play shortstop in winter ball, and want to see him there in spring training, just to see what he can do.

Shortstop is one hole the Mets need to fill, and how do they know Flores can’t do it unless they play him there. It’s not as if he could do any worse.

Nov 19

Moving Eric Young And Ditching Daniel Murphy Not A Good Plan

It has been suggested the New York Mets might consider moving Eric Young to second base and deal Daniel Murphy.

This isn’t a good idea on several levels.

YOUNG: Leave him in left.

YOUNG: Leave him in left.

The first is finding somebody to take Murphy, who, with David Wright injured last season was the Mets’ most consistent offensive weapon.

The Mets could move Murphy to first base, where there is already a logjam. That could be alleviated if they can trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, or perhaps even both.

The Mets apparently have given up on Davis, but hold out hope for Duda because of his power, something Murphy lacks, especially at a position such as first base that places a premium on power. At best, Murphy might be good for 15 homers.

They might be able to live with a Murphy-Wilmer Flores at first base if they can get the power elsewhere. A full season from Wright could give them some of that power, but where else would it come from if the line-up remains the same?

What has Travis d’Arnaud shown us to think he’ll be a big bat? Back-up catcher Anthony Recker has shown more.

As of now, there’s nothing coming from the outfield. As of now they are looking for one bat while giving Lagares a chance. Moving Young to the infield would create another hole, so that idea should be quashed on that reason alone.

LATER TODAY: There’s no plan for Wilmer Flores

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 16

Greater Urgency For Mets To Move Ike Davis

The New York Mets’ Sandy Alderson is more of Sabremetrics practitioner than most general managers, which goes in part for his preference of Lucas Duda over Ike Davis at first base.

Alderson favors on-base percentage over power, and Duda – despite not having a good year – scored over Davis in both categories in 2013. Apparently long forgotten are Davis’ strong first impression and the 32 homers he hit in 2012.

Both had sluggish starts last year, but Davis’ was far worse and more prolonged, and when they returned in the second half, the frustrated Davis continued being a strikeout machine, hit with limited power and did little else to get on base.

Mercifully, he was injured.

Duda is rated higher in Alderson’s eyes because of the following:

* He has a higher on-base percentage, which somewhat offsets his strikeouts. Davis has shown little improvement, or even desire, to limit his strikeouts.

* The belief is if he’ll continue being selective at the plate he’ll develop the aggressiveness that will increase his run production. To the contrary, Davis has shown little, if any, improvement in pitch selection.

* Duda has shown more of an ability to use the whole field, while Davis still is determined to pull everything.

* While Davis is better defensively, Duda isn’t terrible at the position. And, beside that, just how many games are decided defensively at first base?

* Davis could have had a higher upside at the start of his career, but where is it now? The feeling is getting more pronounced that Davis is as good as he’ll get.

* Duda makes considerably less money, which always remains an issue for the Mets.

* Currently, more teams are interested in Davis because the belief is he just needs a change of scenery. That makes his potential greater to those from the outside. Meanwhile, Duda’s total sampling is limited to the outside.

The Mets have two first basemen they are interested in shopping, but clearly a greater sense of urgency to get rid of Davis.