Jan 03

Safety Nets Could Be Gone For Collins In 2015

When the New York Mets extended Terry Collins the past few years, they did so with the reasoning of injuries and the inability of the front office to provide him with quality talent.

Collins shouldn’t expect those safety nets if the Mets sputter again this year.

Despite still having general manager Sandy Alderson having an aversion to spending, the Mets have been pointing to this summer because of the return of Matt Harvey.

The thinking in Flushing is a healthy Harvey will push the Mets over .500 for the first time since 2008 when they finished 89-73. Since then, ten teams qualified for the playoffs with at least that record.

In addition to Harvey’s return from elbow surgery, the Mets have issues with Curtis Granderson’s return into a potent offensive force, David Wright coming back from injuries, and their concerns with Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores becoming full-time players.

There are also questions in the rotation and bullpen, and behind the plate. Those are all important questions, but the Mets don’t seem inclined to throw money at them.

That squarely puts the onus on Collins.

Jan 02

Answers Mets Hope To Get This Season

The New York Mets have more than a few questions that could be answered after this season. How they are will determine the progress of their rebuilding phase, or if they have to start over again.

If these issues are addressed in the positive, next winter could be especially brutal. Sandy Alderson could survive, but it’s doubtful Terry Collins would be extended again.

Here are the players under the most scrutiny:

Matt Harvey: Any pitcher coming off elbow surgery is a concern, but we’re talking about the club’s marquee arm, one whom they are basing their future. If he proves healthy and has a good season, the Mets could entertain thoughts about signing him to a long-term contract to bypass his arbitration years. If he’s not healthy or is re-injured, how can the Mets go into next off-season assuming he’ll come back strong in 2016? Answer: They can’t.

WHEELER: Facing a big year. (AP)

WHEELER: Facing a big year. (AP)

Zack Wheeler: The Mets resisted trade overtures for him in the belief he’ll blossom into a star. That could happen if he learns to improve his control and reduce his pitch count. That would be the next step in his development. If this is a lackluster season and Noah Syndergaard shows something, they might listen, especially if they don’t fill their offensive holes or still have a question at shortstop.

Jon Niese: Often injured and ineffective, teams no longer clamor for him. If he halfway lives up to expectations perhaps that might enhance his trade value and it will be easier to move him. They might be able to do that at the trade deadline if he has a strong first half. If Niese is a bust this season, the Mets will be looking for another left-hander next winter.

Juan Lagares: He’s the Mets’ centerfielder based on a limited window last year. He needs to improve his on-base percentage if he’s to become their leadoff hitter. If he doesn’t make strides in that direction, the Mets could again be looking at a centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Ideally, they would like to fill both voids with the same player. They have a chance to do that with Lagares.

Curtis Granderson: Twenty homers won’t cut it. Another mediocre season will have the Mets looking again and staring at another non-productive long-term contract. Since the Mets aren’t prone to eat lousy contracts, there could be two more years of heavy strikeouts.

David Wright: He hasn’t hit over 25 homers or driven in at least 100 runs since 2010. For the most part, attribute injuries. If he’s healthy and produces mediocre-to-poor numbers, there will be even more grumbling about his contract. I’ve written Wright is the Mets’ most pressing question, even more than Harvey. A bounce-back season will answer a lot of questions.

Wilmer Flores: He enters spring training with the inside track at shortstop. The Mets eschewed several more expensive options the past two years in the hope Flores would answer this question on the cheap. If he doesn’t pan out this year, they just might be forced to pay in the free-agent market or deal one of their young pitchers.

 

Dec 18

A Case For Not Trading Gee

There’s been a lot of talk about the Mets wanting to trade Dillon Gee. I understand their reasoning and on the surface it all makes sense.

However, I wouldn’t be the contrarian I am if I didn’t examine the other side.

Sure, the rotation looks crowded with the return of Matt Harvey. But, what if his return from elbow surgery isn’t smooth? What if Jon Niese continues to falter? What if Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom regress? What if Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready?

Few things go as seamlessly as hoped, especially if you’re the Mets. You should know that by now if you’ve been following them for any length on time.

The fact remains, the Mets have potential pitching issues, and with the trade market stagnant, there’s no reason to force a trade just to free up space.

Just wait, they could use another pitcher before the season is over.

 

Dec 09

Examining Mets’ Trade Assets

I keep hearing the Mets are willing to trade and have the chips to do so. However, it is well known they aren’t willing to part with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard.

So, what’s left to deal, and what is their trade value?

As the Winter Meetings progress, let’s examine their trade assets:

Jon Niese: The pros of being left-handed with a manageable salary have been negated by mediocrity and injuries. That the Mets have hung a “For Sale’’ sign on him further lowers his value.

Dillon Gee: Could have value, but more likely at the trade deadline. Mets’ obvious desire to deal him lowers return.

Bartolo Colon: Mets eager to trade him, also. They would have to eat part of his contract. Again, more likely to attract interest at July deadline.

Travis d’Arnaud: Nobody would trade for him outright as he’s still unproven.

Lucas Duda: Has value, but if he goes who will hit home runs?

Daniel Murphy: Haven’t the Mets been wanting to deal him for years? If somebody wants him, he’s available. But, don’t expect him to draw a significant return.

Wilmer Flores: What does it tell you that the Mets are still searching for a shortstop before he even gets a chance?

David Wright: With six years and $107 million remaining on his contract, plus a recent injury history, he’s not going anywhere.

Michael Cuddyer: They just signed him.

Juan Lagares: He could have trade value for a team wanting to build with speed, defense and youth. Oh, wait, isn’t that what the Mets want to do?

Curtis Granderson: His power is in decline and he has three years and $47 million left on his contract. Sure, the Mets would like to deal him. But, who would take on that contract and what could you get?

Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell: Three power arms in the bullpen would attract interest. However, Parnell is coming off an injury that hurts his value. But, haven’t the Mets been wanting to build a bullpen for four years now?

Dec 03

So Far, Harvey Buying Into Mets’ Plans

Since it’s only December, everything must be taken at face value when it comes to Matt Harvey. You want to take him at his word, but I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t skeptical after hearing him say at this afternoon’s press conference he was on board with the Mets’ decision to limit his innings this summer.

HARVEY: It is early.

HARVEY: It is early.

Harvey bucked the Mets before, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did again.

GM Sandy Alderson said there’s a soft cap on Harvey, which is to say there’s no definitive plan. I prefer something more concrete. Even Harvey conceded 200 innings won’t happen, nor should it 17 months after surgery.

“You know what? I’m going to be happy to throw an entire year,’’ Harvey told reporters at Citi Field. “Whatever they decide, it’s in the best interests of both the team and me moving forward. I can’t wait to throw every five days and just be healthy for a full season.

“Looking forward, if you were to map out a whole season, you’re going to have to figure out some changes throughout the year in order to get to a certain point. I mean, if you make 33 starts and seven innings a start, obviously doing the math that’s over what I’m probably going to throw.’’

That’s logic talking, not the usual emotions we get from him. Alderson said the plan is to limit Harvey during the season, but have no restrictions should the Mets reach the playoffs. However, if the Mets are eliminated early, bet on Harvey being further cut.

What the Mets pledge to do is not just yank the plug on him the way Washington did Stephen Strasburg in 2012.

Harvey has been throwing on flat ground six days a week at Citi Field and plans to report to spring training Feb. 1 and face hitters right away.

All this is optimistic, but if Harvey buys into the Mets’ plans this should go smoothly.

One can only hope.