Nov 24

Making Cases For Pelfrey And Torres To Return

After writing about Jon Niese and untouchable Mets yesterday, I thought I’d take a different approach and consider those Mets believed to be out the door.

Say hello to Mike Pelfrey and Andres Torres. Both long thought to be gone, but upon further review cases can be made for their return.

PELFREY: Making a case for his return. (Daily News)

The 28-year-old Pelfrey made $5.68 million in an injury shortened 2012 and is expected to hit the market with a career 50-54 record. He is arbitration eligible with Scott Boras as his agent, all which should make the Mets deathly afraid.

Quite bluntly: Even at 20 percent off his 2012 salary, the Mets think that is too high, which is why they won’t tender him and say good-bye after a disappointedly short-lived career in Flushing. He had a couple of solid seasons, even All-Star worthy in 2010, but regressed in 2011 and was hurt last year.

He never reached the level expected of a first-round pick while others, such as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain sprinted past him into elite status. Unquestionably, Pelfrey has the physical tools to excel, but dramatically underachieved. A combination of a lack of poise – who can forget the three-balk game? – poor pitch selection, mechanics, and although he’ll deny it – spotty confidence – lead to mediocrity.

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Nov 23

Jon Niese One Of Few Untouchable Mets

When I look at the current Mets’ 40-man roster there are few players where it would take a lot to pry away from the team. Matt Harvey is one of them, in fact, there’s a thought of re-doing his contract as to buy out his arbitration years.

I keep Harvey, of course. And, prospect Zach Wheeler.

NIESE: An untouchable Met.

Also on the list is Jonathan Niese, who signed a long-term deal that will carry him through 2016, with option years for 2017 and 2018, going as high as $11 million in the last year. A hard-throwing left hander with a positive history and contract controllable for four more years is a bargain.

Considering Niese’s production, contract and being a lefty, it’s small wonder he is the name most often brought up when Mets GM Sandy Alderson is contacted. That’s also the reason the Mets would be foolish to part with him.

As Niese continues to develop, and dare I say it, approach 20 wins and becomes an All-Star, I can see the Mets picking up those options and extending the contract.

Niese is a rare commodity in today’s economics. Harvey could see a long-term offer is he proves the real deal in 2013.

Signing Niese when they did was a smart move and akin to the long-term deal David Wright is on. That’s why they won’t deal him. He and Harvey are on a short list, one that doesn’t include Wright and R.A. Dickey.

The Mets want to keep both but admit they could be dealt. They are currently talking to more teams about Dickey than Wright, presumably because the knuckleballer is on a $5 million contract for 2013 while Wright is more than triple that amount.

Trading Dickey and/or Wright in the offseason would be have the obstacle on them being free-agents after next season and would likely be contingent on the other team getting the opportunity to negotiate its own contract extension, similar to what the Mets did when they traded with Minnesota for Johan Santana.

That other team would be stuck with the task of negotiating with Dickey for roughly $50 million and Wright for perhaps as high as $120 million. Few teams want to assume that burden, which is why Jeff Wilpon said last week he’d rather let them walk and take the draft picks.

From the player’s perspective, the concept of free-agency is deciding where you go and for how much. Chances are both players, unless they are blown away with an offer, would walk after being traded.

The Mets won’t have any such dilemma with NIese, which is why he’ll be in Flushing for a long time.

 

 

Nov 17

Memo To Mets: Stop Screwing Around And Sign Dickey And Wright

The press release came via email as it always does and my first reaction was: How insignificant is Brian Bixler?

He means something to his family, but hit .193 with two homers and seven RBI last season for Colorado and Washington. Yup, that will have them breaking down the doors at Citi Field.

Another meaningless signing by the Mets, who continue to insult their dwindling fan base. Those are Jason Bay numbers and you know what happened to him.

Bixler is a utility player, of course. Bay? He’s home collecting his fortune, and as we all expect is about to sign with another team where he’ll suddenly be transformed into the slugger who once posted impressive numbers in Pittsburgh and Boston.

The only signings I am interested in now are that of R.A. Dickey and David Wright. The Mets showed signs of life in the first half last season and the primary reasons were Dickey and Wright. I know they were 14 games under .500 with them and could be 14 under with them.

That’s not the point. They can’t get any better, can’t appease their fans, and can’t generate any more excitement without them.

Not only the 2013 Mets, but for years to come, they would be sending the message of irrelevance to their public, to future free agents and Major League Baseball if they don’t keep their two best players.

When Wright hit the skids in the second half, arguably the only reason worth watching the Mets was Dickey. In fact, they juggled the rotation to give him extra starts at Citi Field. Dickey wanted the chance to pitch, and say thank you, to those that cheered him. The Mets wanted a few more fannies in the seats to buy hot dogs and beer.

I railed at the Miami Marlins yesterday for the trade that gutted their franchise and the same feelings apply to the Mets, only worse.

At least the Marlins made a decision – as bad as it was – and acted on it. The Mets? The perception is they are doing nothing. Talks are stagnant. If they let Dickey and Wright leave without pursuing them as they did Jose Reyes, that’s being passive-aggressive and it is worse.

Things could get better if they build around Dickey, Wright, Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. That’s been the promise anyway. If they get better that’s when they will see a relief in their finances.

You have to spend money to make money, now do it and don’t bother us with any more Brian Bixler type signings.

Nov 13

Will Trading Dickey Really Help The Mets?

The latest speculation has the Mets shopping R.A. Dickey for a power hitter, but I wonder if it would really improve them, both in 2013 and/or the future.

I don’t know what the Mets could actually get for Dickey, because there are some red flags for a team interested. Let’s face it, he’s a knuckleballer and there’s still a stigma that it’s a gimmick pitch hard to control. And, last year was his best at age 38, and want to bet some teams believe that to be a fluke?

DICKEY: Would the Mets really benefit by trading him? (AP)

It’s not fair, but such thinking does exist.

Another factor is that Dickey is not signed beyond 2013. Any team that deals for him would have to be given an opportunity to negotiate with him, and if he’s determined to be a free agent that won’t be a breeze. I also don’t see many teams trading a young slugger for a 38-year-old pitcher, who, before last season was a journeyman.

If Dickey is dealt – and last year wasn’t a fluke – then the Mets’ rotation would be considerably weaker. Johan Santana broke down at the end of last year and I’m not counting on him pitching to the worth of $25 million. Jon Niese is a No. 3 starter until he proves otherwise and if Santana falters he would move to No. 1. Dillion Gee is coming off surgery and Matt Harvey has a limited resume.

The rotation, save a healthy Santana, is far more potential than proof.

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Oct 21

2012 Mets Player Review: Matt Harvey

MATT HARVEY, RHP 

 PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The expectations of Matt Harvey were minimal for this summer. The Mets’ 2010 first-round pick out of North Carolina – and the seventh choice overall – was to continue his development in the minor leagues. The best-case scenario had him continuing his development at Triple-A Buffalo and join the Mets as a September call-up, when he would make two or three starts to give the big club an idea of whether he would fit into their plans for 2013. Even when the Mets’ rotation started to crumble, the talk was he wasn’t ready and GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to rush him to the major league level. The scouting report on the 23-year-old Harvey was he had a plus-fastball, good secondary pitches and the ability to keep his composure on the mound. At similar points in their careers, Harvey was rated ahead of Mike Pelfrey, the Mets’ first-round pick in 2005.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Harvey was 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 20 starts for the Bisons before the Mets promoted him in late July. Minor league hitters batted .233 against him and he had 112 strikeouts and only 48 walks in 110 innings, numbers that clearly indicated he was overpowering batters. With the Mets’ rotation in shambles, Alderson had no option but to elevate him to see what he could do on the next level. At the time, the Mets were fading and the summer was spiraling out of control. Unable or unwilling to make a midseason acquisition – take your pick – Alderson had to do something to keep the dwindling attention of Mets fans and Harvey was the answer. Harvey pitched 5.1 scoreless innings at Arizona, July 26 to win his major league debut. He struck out 11 and walked three to have Mets fans drooling about the possibilities. However, he was victimized by the Mets’ dismal offense and lost his next three starts – they gave him only four runs in those games – but there was still a lot to like about Harvey’s game, especially his willingness to challenge hitters and his walks-to-strikeouts ratio. Unlike Pelfrey, Harvey possessed a poise and calmness about him. His command was exceptional and his stuff overpowering. He seemed to get a strikeout whenever the situation demanded. Harvey finished his first year at 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He struck out 70 with 26 walks in 59 innings, and batters hit a paltry .200 with a .338 slugging percentage against him. The Mets shut him down after his Sept. 19 start against Philadelphia to conserve his arm.

LOOKING AT 2013: I don’t know if the Mets will conserve his innings next summer the way the Nationals did Stephen Strasburg. Let’s hope not, but if they are inclined to jump on that bandwagon, let’s hope they don’t yank the rug out from under him in September, but perhaps have him skip a start once a month. That would mean six starts and possibly up to 42 innings for the summer. The Mets are counting on him to be in the rotation on Opening Day and develop into a solid, consistent starter. Actually, they are counting on him to become a star. Anything less than that would be a disappointment.

NEXT:  A look at the other pitchers who started games for the 2012 Mets.