Dec 05

Alderson frank about future.

General manager Sandy Alderson, on WFAN today, equated the Jose Reyes departure to that “of losing somebody after a long illness … you can prepare for it, but when it happens it is a hard thing to accept.’’

ALDERSON: Tough times ahead.

With Alderson forecasting a $100-million payroll for 2012, Reyes would have been an injury risk they couldn’t afford, no matter how popular he was with the dwindling fan base.

It is team sport sure, but it can’t be forgotten the Mets only reached the playoffs one time in Reyes’ nine seasons with the team.

“I’ve been saying from the first day that the payroll was too high to sustain at the current levels of revenue,’’ Alderson said.

Signing Reyes for the $17.7 million he’ll get from the Marlins, plus the $24 million due Johan Santana, plus the $16 million for Jason Bay and $15 million for David Wright would have added up to $72.7 tied up for four players. As it is, the Mets will pay $55 million for three players, one of which – Santana – they don’t know what they’ll get.

With the Mets losing $70 million last season – that’s what they say, but they haven’t opened their books – and their debt on Citi Field and from loans taken against the team and SNY which total over $1.4 billion, it was clear keeping Reyes would have been a pipedream.

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Sep 30

Don’t expect much this winter.

Sandy Alderson said not to expect the Mets to spend much for than $5 million last winter and he held true to his word, and still they paid out $147 million in salaries this summer. He just said the payroll will probably not be much more than $120 million next year, and that’s after taking Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo off the books and not picking up the option on Carlos Beltran.

Alderson said there’s money to re-sign Jose Reyes, but strongly suggested the Mets won’t be able to do much more than him, and this is a team with a multitude of holes, most of them pitching.

The free-agent market has several marquee names, but outside of Reyes, they won’t be big players, and current indications the Mets won’t bust a gut on their shortstop. They’ll make an offer that won’t be accepted, Reyes won’t give the Mets a hometeam discount and he’ll be gone.

There’s also a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated, and don’t expect any big spending before then. There are a lot of pending issues and unique financial circumstances surrounding this team.

I’ve been following the Mets long enough to realize nothing with them ever gets done easily and this winter won’t be an exception.

Sep 15

Today in Mets’ History: Record-wise the Mets were actually better last year at this time.

Last year at this time, we knew the playoffs were out of the question for the Mets, but they were at .500 at 73-73 and trying to salvage their season.

There was a twinge of optimism because we figured there would be a changing of the guard, with a new regime making things right again.

It’s what baseball does. It gives us optimism and hope.

So, we all hoped this year would be better. It would be a rebuilding year, but it would be better than the past two dreadful seasons because new blood would be running things.

I thought for a moment it was possible, the Mets would rally to salvage the season and finish at .500 or better.

It would have been a sign of true progress.

There have been positives this year, but they have been off-set by the inevitable injuries and other negatives. There’s a new regime, but there’s so much economic uncertainty swirling around the Mets that we can’t honestly say things will improve any time soon.

Never should the Mets be playing today to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Washington Nationals. It tells of how things soured, and underscored the Mets’ inability to get over the hump.

The Mets had several spurts this season, but answered them with several slides. Win five, lose five, isn’t the answer.

Scoring four runs in the first three games of this series, and last night their anemic offense took away from a strong performance from Mike Pelfrey. However, I’ve written “strong performance,’’ from Pelfrey before only to watch him get torched in his subsequent start. In many ways, he personifies what has happened.

The Mets stranded ten last night and 40 over their last four games, and have left 1,558 on the season, tops in the majors. I don’t want to hear about their ability to get runners on base and even score (sixth in the NL). The point is they don’t score enough to overcome their spotty pitching.

The Mets have lost 24 games by one run, which is a reflection on both their pitching and offense. Improving one without the other doesn’t guarantee they take the next step.

I never expected them to compete for the playoffs this year. And, when they made a run and were four games over .500 in late July, you always expected the other shoe to fall.

Carlos Beltran was traded, and the Mets lost five straight at the end of July and early August. They fought back to get a game over .500, then had two five-game losing streaks within two weeks to fall eight under.

A staple of this team has been to rally and play with heart, to show us it cared. They pulled within a game of .500, but lost seven of eight on this homestand.

It is this homestand that made me feel some disappointment for the first time. I thought with the Cub and Nationals they could get over .500 to make a symbolic gesture at improvement.

Win or lose today, the Mets close with Atlanta, St. Louis, the Phillies and Reds. They are limping to the finish and .500 – which is mediocre to begin with – is no longer a possibility. They will be hard pressed to equal last year’s 79-83, and that would be disappointing.

The attitude under Terry Collins is much better than it was under Jerry Manuel, but the talent level hasn’t necessarily improved.

There are a myriad of issues facing the Mets in the offseason that should warn us the road is still long.

* Will the Mets keep Jose Reyes?

* Will Johan Santana be 100 percent?

* What happened with Mike Pelfrey and what direction will he take?

* Can Bobby Parnell be the closer, and can the Mets build a reliable bullpen bridge to him?

* Will they ever get anything out of Jason Bay?

* Will David Wright be a power hitter again?

Those are just the headline issues. There are issues surrounding Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, everybody in the rotation and at second base.

There’s also a collective bargaining agreement that makes the offseason uncertain, plus the Wilpon’s financial issues.

Gone is the poison that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, but this team still has a long way to go.


 



 



Apr 26

Santana update. Could he be dealt?

The Mets arrive at Nationals Park this afternoon with the news Johan Santana’s rehab is progressing, but not to where the team is willing to put a definitive timetable on his return. And, it won’t until he starts throwing off the mound, and even then any date will depend on his pain threshold.

SANTANA: Positive update.

While the news is encouraging, I’m not counting on Santana being a viable pitcher this season, and that even if he does return it will take time before he rounds into form, if at all.

The goal for Santana is to recover from his surgery and regain his strength, however long it takes, and not worry about him going seven or nine innings. Just get out to the mound, period. The intent should be to get him ready for 2012, and if not, at least ensure he answers any health questions a contending team might have if it wants to pursue him in a trade.

Personally, I’m not holding out any hope Santana makes it through the rest of his contract uninjured considering he’s already had three surgeries since joining the Mets.

If I’m the Mets and I can pull off a trade, I’d jump on it. You have to considering their legal and financial restraints. They’ll have Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and probably Francisco Rodriguez off the books after this season. They would be lucky if they could add Santana’s contract to that list.

The plan is to continue throwing off flat ground – he’s currently at 100 feet – through May, then get on the mound followed by rehab games. Santana said this spring he wants to reach 180 on flat ground before getting on the mound.

Santana posted an update on his Twitter account.

The positive outlook is by the All-Star break, and pitching coach Dan Warthen said he’s hoping for a dozen starts.

The Mets spent their day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this afternoon, with no reports so far of any no-shows. Last season, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran blew off the trip which is a favorite of owner Fred Wilpon. Beltran said earlier he would make the appearance.

 

Mar 31

Reviewing the Mets’ issues going into the season.

I hope you’re all doing well, anxious for another season of watching the Mets. While the Yankees faced Detroit this afternoon at the Stadium, the Mets worked out in preparation to play the Marlins tomorrow night.

When the Mets opened spring training six weeks ago, I proposed a list of ten issues surrounding the team that would dictate the course of the season. Spring training only partially answered those questions.

Here’s the top issues surrounding the Mets and the progress made:

Q: WHAT WILL BE THE OWNERSHIP FALLOUT?

A: This is still an on-going issue that won’t be going away any time soon. The Wilpons remain adamant they were played and have no intention of selling the franchise outright. The family is looking for a limited owner, but heavyweights such as Mark Cuban and Donald Trump say they don’t want to pay up to $500 million for what is tantamount to a season ticket with free parking. The Wilpons still want full control and aren’t willing to offer up part of SNY in a deal. The Mets’ inactivity during the winter was emblematic of their financial stress, and although GM Sandy Alderson said the team would have the resources at the trade deadline, nobody is expecting much, especially if they’ll be listening to offers for Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

Q: HOW WILL TERRY COLLINS IMPLEMENT THE NEW CULTURE?

A: So far, so good. There was no problem in selling right field to Beltran, although that had a lot to do with the outfielder making the choice himself because of his fragile knees. Reports are positive about the Mets’ attitude and concentration on fundamentals. There weren’t any problems with how the releases of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.were handled. The first impression has been a good one, but we’ll see how responsive the Mets are when the grind starts.

Q: HOW HEALTHY IS CARLOS BELTRAN?

A: Beltran will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, but we didn’t know that until the beginning of the week. Beltran’s health remains a concern and despite the move to right field, nobody knows how his knees will hold up and the production the Mets might receive. The only certainty with Beltran is he won’t be back next season and the Mets would love to work a deal to save some of his $18.5 million contract. An interesting dilemma would be what would the Mets do at the trade deadline with Beltran if they are contending and he’s hitting?

Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF JOSE REYES?

A: Alderson said the Mets will have the resources to sign Reyes to an extension, but would they be willing to take that chance if he’s not playing well? Reyes didn’t have a bad finish to the end of last season, but realistically he’s been a health question the past two years. Should Reyes get off to a great start his price tag will undoubtedly spike as will the attention he’ll draw from teams wanting to make a deal. This will put the Mets in the stressful situation of risking him leave as a free agent.

Q: WILL MIKE PELFREY TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

A: With Johan Santana out, Pelfrey enters the season as the ace. Pelfrey didn’t have a good spring training stats wise, but then again he didn’t last year, either and had the best season of his career. Friday’s Opening Day starter said his goal this summer is to be more consistent. A miserable July might have prevented Pelfrey from winning 20 games last year, but he said he learned from that stretch, and one of those things was not to abandon his fastball. There were still times last year when Pelfrey lost his focus and ran up his pitch count which cost him the chance to work longer and even finish games.

Q: WILL THE REAL JASON BAY STAND UP?

A.: If he does, it won’t be right away as he’ll open the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage muscle. It’s not an easy injury to overcome as it saps your power because it slows the hitter’s bat speed. Prior to the rib cage, Bay was complaining about a sore back, and even before then he wasn’t having a good spring power wise. For the $66 million package they are spending on him, the Mets expect 25 to 30 homers a year, not the six he hit last year. With Beltran not a given and Bay out, there’s the concern David Wright will feel the pressure to carry the team as he has the past two seasons.

Q: WAS R.A. DICKEY A FLUKE?

A: Evidently, the Mets believe Dickey is the real deal, otherwise they wouldn’t have given him a two-year deal. Dickey’s knuckler makes him second in the rotation, but there’s still the matter of him proving he can do it again. Dickey came out of nowhere to keep the Mets competitive in the first half, but there’s no element of surprise this year.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE BACK END OF THE ROTATION?

A: Jon Niese, at No. 3, got off to a 6-2 start, but finished 9-10. Obviously, there’s more learning that needs to be done. Chris Young and Chris Capuano will attempt to rebound from injuries as the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, respectively. Bottom line on the last two: Despite good springs there is no guarantee the Mets will get 25 starts from each.

Q: WHO’S IN THE BULLPEN?

A: Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell are the only names you’ll remember from last year, which is just as well considering what the Mets got out of their pen. The overriding issue with the bullpen is whether they’ll allow Rodriguez to complete 55 games that would enable his $17.5 million option to kick in. Parnell gets the set-up role. The rest of the pen includes D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak and Blaine Boyer. Jason Isringhausen will stay in Florida for an extended spring training, and the Mets will need him to mentor this inexperienced pen.

Q: WHO PLAYS SECOND?

A: The Mets finally did the right thing and cut ties with Luis Castillo. Then he had the nerve to say he didn’t get a real chance. Huh? Daniel Murphy stuck, but as a left-handed bat off the bench. In the end, Rule 5 draft choice Brad Emaus will start. But, winning the job and holding on to it are two different things.