Nov 21

Why Not Go With Rafael Montero Now?

I understand the New York Mets’ position on wanting to delay Rafael Montero’s promotion to the major leagues so they can delay the arbitration process by a year.

But, why?

MONTERO: Why not?

MONTERO: Why not?

We’re talking up to six years down the road and who knows what the Mets’ financial landscape will be by then? Who knows what will become of Montero over the next half decade. Maybe he gets traded. Maybe he blows out his arm. Maybe he becomes a big star and the Mets sign him long term.

If Montero has a solid spring training, they shouldn’t they bring him up right away. Why delay if he’s ready?

If Montero is getting batters out during spring training, then let’s see what he can do during the regular season. All indications are he has a plus-fastball and other quality pitches, so let’s see if he can learn how to pitch on the big stage. The Mets should not be thinking of delaying paying him by a year, but by giving him a chance to develop his mental toughness a year earlier.

Pitching in the major leagues – even if it means taking his lumps – would be more beneficial to Montero’s development than breezing in Triple A for two-and-a-half months.

Remember, this is supposed to be a write-off year with Matt Harvey gone, so why not?

If Montero pitches to his expectations, he should give the Mets at least the nine victories Harvey gave them before his injury. And, if he doesn’t, then so what? He would learn from the experience.

Often you hear the argument teams don’t want to rush a player because they fear they’ll destroy his confidence. However, if a player’s confidence is so fragile that it would be ruined in a couple of months, then how mentally tough was he to begin with?

Actually, the Mets’ stance on bringing up Montero in June might hinder their chances of signing a middle-tier free agent, including a guy like Aaron Harang, because the perception is he’d lose his spot in the rotation in two months. If I’m Harang, that has to be part of my thinking on returning to the Mets.

However, if the Mets said everything was wide open, that could mean the difference. I say go with Montero and still sign veteran pitching. If Montero pans out, then they’d have a trip to trade at the deadline.

ON DECK: Here’s a possible answer to the Flores dilemma.

Nov 21

Mets Dragging Feet On Matsuzaka And Harang

Earlier this week I suggested things could heat up in the Hot Stove and this might be the time for the New York Mets to strike.

And, I didn’t mean Prince Fielder, or Brandon Allen for that matter.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson agreed the other day things could get warm, but wouldn’t say how close he’d get to the “Stove.’’

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ Alderson said. “If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that.’’

OK, he acknowledges it. Then what?

“And, consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that,’’ Alderson added.

The operative word in all that was “if.’’

Well, are the Mets going to participate? A robust market means spending and Alderson’s checkbook is still under wraps.

Alderson said the team has been more active, but that has to mean working the phones because we’re not seeing anything public outside of Allen, the departures of Mike Baxter and LaTroy Hawkins, and, of course, the ones who got away – or are about to.

Because we’re not going to see Matt Harvey outside of a courtside shot of him at the Knicks game Wednesday night, the Mets are in need of pitching first and foremost. I’m aware of the crying for a power outfielder and the need of a shortstop, but the Mets only have three starters. Nothing happens without pitching.

It would have been sweet to get Josh Johnson, but that wasn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang could get away. Late season pick-ups last year, both provided quality innings at the back end of the rotation. In a combined 11 starts, only twice – both times by Matsuzaka – did they not get out of the fifth.

Alderson said he wanted veteran innings at the back end, and these two are as veteran as you can get. And, what they gave the Mets is what they are seeking now. Sure, the Mets want to do better. But, better means spending more.

Matsuzaka pitched well in September after pitching coach Dan Warthen tinkered with his mechanics and got him to speed up his delivery. My concern is he pitched well enough for him to catch another team’s eye and might be willing to give him two years. The presumption is the most the Mets will offer is one year plus an option. That would mean the Mets would lose him.

It’s still November, and there’s plenty of time remaining, but that’s not the issue. It’s a matter of who will be remaining when the Mets are ready to do more than talk on the phone.

ON DECK: Why not go with Montero now?

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

Sandy Alderson Said Mets Will Spend; No Promises Made

How much the New York Mets will spend on free agents this winter is undetermined, but what we can ascertain is it will not be enough to satisfy everybody. This much we know is general manager Sandy Alderson will not just throw money at a player to placate the grumbling fan base.

There’s an old saying if a baseball manager or general manager acted solely to please the fans in the stands he’ll soon be sitting with them, and Alderson will not act out of emotion.

“No fan is probably ever going to be satisfied with what his or her team is spending on players. It’s kind of too bad that the measure of commitment, the measure of loyalty to the fan base, is measured in dollar signs,’’ Alderson told ESPN today.

“That be as it may, we’re going to spend more money this year than we’ve spent in recent years, just in terms of what we have to spend. You know, last year we only spent about $5 million on free agents. So this is going to be a new day. We have it to spend. We have to spend it wisely. That’s what we’re trying to do.’’

We’ve heard that before from Alderson, which puts us in an “I’ll believe it when I see it,’’ position.

Alderson promised nothing this afternoon in his ESPN interview. Essentially, the said they’ll do more than last winter, which was basically Shaun Marcum.

We all want the Mets to not only compete, but win. Barring a miracle it won’t happen. You might point to the “Miracle Mets’’ of 1969, but remember that team had a core of a solid pitching staff highlighted by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Plus, it was a different game back then.

Even if the Mets were to start writing checks there’s no guarantee they’ll win. Look how much the Yankees have spent recently and look where it got them.

What has it gotten the Dodgers the past two years? The Nationals? The Tigers? The Phillies? The Angels?

The bottom line is there’s not one free agent out there – not Jacoby Ellsbury, not Shin-Soo Choo – or trading for David Price – that will guarantee the Mets the World Series.

Hell, even if the Mets do it traditionally right through their farm system there are no assurances. Hell, Matt Harvey’s elbow injury should have taught us that lesson.

However, gradual building, which the Mets tell us they are doing, does provide the Mets odds.

I believe the Mets will make some moves this winter, and the recent inactivity doesn’t mean they won’t do anything.

The Mets won 74 games last year, and if they get two innings eaters in the back end of their rotation, improve at shortstop, build depth in their bullpen and add an outfield bat – in that order – they should have a better team.

Those additions, while low key, along with a full season from David Wright, and improvement from Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, the Mets should improve enough to win at least one more game a month, which would put them at .500.

And, this is regardless of whether they trade Ike Davis, Lucas Duda or both.

If that happens and Harvey comes back healthy in 2015, plus a few more holes are patched, then they can make a run at the postseason.

Hell, even if that does occur, there’s no givens. There never is in baseball.

Nov 13

Ike Davis Draws Interest; Should Mets Have Second Thoughts?

The New York Mets seem determined on dealing Ike Davis, and considering his lack of production and injury history over the past three years it’s a reasonable position.

ESPN reported the Mets are drawing interest for Davis from several teams, and it can be concluded the following are the primary reasons: 1) he has a track record for power, hitting 32 homers in 2012; 2) he’s a solid defensive first baseman; 3) he’s cost-efficient, having made $3.1 million this year; and 4) he’s young, at 26, meaning there’s time to turn it around.

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

For those very attractive reasons, and that teams have been cool on Lucas Duda, might be reason for the Mets to reconsider and give Davis another shot.

The general belief from scouts is Davis is young enough to resurrect his career, and a change-of-scenery with different coaching might have him again hitting bombs.

The Mets can give him a raise and they can give him another chance, but what they can’t give him is the different coaching and change-of-scenery.

Part of the rap on Davis is he’s reluctant to take coaching advice, but that’s stuff you hear privately and something he vehemently denies. Criticism that is easily verifiable is his propensity for striking out, a low on-base percentage, and an all-or-nothing mentality at the plate.

Alderson told ESPN at the general managers meetings in Orlando Wednesday he’d like to make a move soon, but, as always, reiterated he won’t make a move just to make a move.

“In our situation, we’d like to do something early,” Alderson said. “It would be great, if it’s the right move, and if that kind of thing is possible. It may be. It may not be. We’re working at it, but I can’t predict anything.’’

The teams reportedly interested in Davis are Houston, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Colorado. Naturally, they’d prefer to deal him to the American League.

From Davis’ perspective, each of those teams have better hitters’ parks than Citi Field, with Camden Yards and Coors Field particularly enticing.

Alderson acknowledged sensing urgency from the often-disappointed Mets’ fan base, but that’s no reason to make a panic move.

Speculation of a trade involving Davis would most likely be as part of a package, or one team dealing a disappointment for another. Nobody will surrender somebody of substance one-on-one for Davis.

Not that Davis has gone wire-to-wire without problems – either injuries or dreadful slumps – but if the Mets deal him they would be going with the largely unproven Duda. Another first base option could be Daniel Murphy, but dealing him opens a hole at second base unless they acquire a left-fielder and move Eric Young to the infield.

Reportedly, the Mets spoke with free-agent shortstop Jonny Peralta Wednesday.

The Mets’ top four priorities are at least two starters; shortstop; a power-hitting outfielder; and bullpen depth.

NOTE: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award balloting Wednesday.