Feb 06

Assessing The Real Value Of Harvey

This is the year the Mets pointed to with the return of Matt Harvey to their rotation. With Harvey, they hope, they could be a legitimate wild-card contender. Despite their holes, with Harvey the Mets have a good chance of winning every fifth day. He makes them a representative team, one worth watching, one that gives cause for optimism.

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

The Mets regard Harvey, who has 12 career victories in 36 starts in parts of two seasons, as their pitching rock, but he’s much more.

If Harvey turns out to become all he’s cracked up to be, and the Mets answer their other questions – including the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom – their rebuilding program could turn out to be the real thing and not Sandy Alderson’s wishful thinking.

However, Harvey’s value to the Mets transcends the numbers he posts on the mound. He’s not only the future, but gives them flexibility and other assurances.

A healthy and productive Harvey could give the Mets confidence he’s worthy of a long-term deal, which translates into financial certainty. That’s invaluable to a franchise having economic problems.

In addition, if Harvey is sound it could give the Mets the freedom to deal one of their other pitchers to address other needs. A healthy Harvey also takes away the urgency to rush Noah Syndergaard to the majors.

However, it isn’t hard to imagine the Mets’ position if the reverse is true. There could be the urgency to force Syndergaard to Flushing or overspend next year in the free-agent market.

Yes, the Mets are counting on a lot of things this season from Harvey, most importantly, to be the future they envision.

Feb 04

Mets Should Consider These Contract Extensions

History has shown us the best way, and most economical, is to build from within and complement your core with free-agent signings and trades.

The Mets have a young, but largely unproven core of talent outside of David Wright.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he's healthy.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he’s healthy.

I wrote the other day how the Mets should consider extending Lucas Duda if he duplicates last season’s production. He’s not the only one the Mets should go long-term on to avoid the arbitration years.

If these Mets prove to be healthy and have strong seasons, I would call the agents for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. We’ve seen glimpses of their potential and their value will only increase.

I might even include Jacob deGrom and Jenrry Mejia in that category.

I don’t think we’ve seen enough from Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares or Wilmer Flores to make that call. As for Jon Niese, the Mets already went long-term with him and he failed to produce so he goes to the back of the line. That is, unless the Mets don’t trade him first.

I can’t even think to put Noah Syndergaard in this grouping until he at least pitches on this level.

This much we know, the Mets are not, and will not be a free-spending team any time soon. Signing any player to a multi-year contract entails some risk, but those named are the best young prospects the organization has to offer.

To be financially solvent it is important for all businesses, including sports franchises, to have cost certainty and that comes in the form of structured salaries.

These would be good gambles.

Jan 30

The Playoffs Aren’t Out Of The Question

The latest issue of Baseball Prospectus projects the Mets to finish in second place in the NL East behind Washington with an 82-80 record, which would be their first winning season since 2008.

That would be good enough to be tied with Chicago for sixth place in the National League, but not make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Here how the publication projects the National League:

Los Angeles 97-65

Washington 91-71

St. Louis 89-73

San Francisco 84-78

San Diego 83-79

METS 82-80

Chicago 82-80

Miami 81-81

Pittsburgh 80-82

Cincinnati 79-83

Milwaukee 79-83

Atlanta 74-88

Arizona 74-88

Colorado 72-90

Philadelphia 69-93

 

Last year the Mets were tied for second with Atlanta in the division at 79-83. If the publication were correct, we would be talking of an improvement of three games with a minimum of additions with offseason.

Using the publication’s figures, the Mets need to win at least 84 games to be a wild card. To do that they must improve by five games, and are banking on that happening with the healthy returns of Matt Harvey and David Wright.

When you look at it, that’s an extra five victories a month, which isn’t unrealistic.

 

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.