Jan 03

Wilpons To Refinance; They Aren’t Going Anywhere

As you greet the third day of the new year, Mets fans can digest the reported news (ESPN and The Post for starters) that ownership has refinanced $450 million in loans borrowed from SNY.

How this is structured, I don’t know, but it protects the Wilpons from having to make an overwhelming payment that would prevent them from retaining the team.

Presumably, the money will be used to pay off existing debt – including the structured court-ordered payments from the Ponzi scandal – with little going in the direction of player additions. (Save $25 million owed Johan Santana in his final season with the Mets).

It basically means what you think it means, that things are likely to remain the same in the foreseeable future. Look for nothing substantial in the rest of the free-agent market, and as in previous years for management to sit on their hands at the trade deadline.

GM Sandy Alderson has successfully slashed $50 million from the budget of the team he inherited, which was what he was hired to do.

The Mets were willing to commit up to $20 million to R.A. Dickey before they traded him for prospects, but now without that obligation there’s no word what they will spend that money on. Alderson said the team will have greater flexibility after the 2013 season when Santana is off the books, but he also said not to look for a big splash in the free-agent market.

With FA spending not an option for at least two years, and the Mets refusing to part with their young pitching in trades, and having little else to deal on the major league level, the team’s direction is to wait … and wait … and wait, until their prospects develop. And, of that there are no guarantees.

When you look at the Mets in comparison to the rest of the NL East, Washington has shown a willingness to spend, and Atlanta and Philadelphia proactive adding to a superior core. The Marlins seem in comparably bad shape – if not worse – than the Mets, but at least they are warm down there.

When you look at the rest of the National League, the Dodgers, Giants, Reds and Cardinals are all immediately better, financially more solvent and better run than the Mets. Even Pittsburgh, which hasn’t had a winning season in two decades, is more aggressive.

So, when people ask how long it will be until the Mets are competitive or relevant again, it is difficult to forecast. It might be two, three years before Matt Harvey blossoms and Jon Niese reaches his potential. There’s room for growth with Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell.

But, even if those things happen, we still don’t know who’ll be in the outfield or bullpen. We don’t know who’ll be in the rotation. We don’t know about catcher. We don’t know where David Wright will be in his career.

What we do know is the Mets have a myriad of questions, aggressive teams in their division and no definitive spending timetable.

We do know we have a long wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 13

Talk Of Mets Dealing Niese Absurd

Anybody who believes the Mets are serious about trading Jon Niese is either: a) nuts, b) misinformed, c) clueless, or d) all of the above.

I’ve heard reports the Mets will trade either R.A. Dickey or Niese in their effort to acquire a power-hitting outfielder.

NIESE: Not going anywhere. (AP)

They seem almost desperate in their attempts to trade Dickey, but Niese isn’t going anywhere for a multitude of reasons.

Although Niese’s career high is 13 victories, he’s more potential than production at age 26. He’s young, left-handed, throws hard, has had success on the major league level, but most importantly, is inexpensive considering the market.

Cheap, actually.

Niese, in one of the few smart contract moves we’ve seen from the Mets in recent years, is signed to a five-year, $21.5 million contract. In short, the total value of his deal is less than what the Mets are reportedly willing to pay Dickey.

If Niese were in the NFL or NBA, he’d be holding out this spring. As it is, he’s locked in through 2016 with club options for 2017 and 2018.

In looking at the big picture for the Mets, Niese has more value than Dickey, and assuming he stays healthy and continues to improve, he’ll be here longer than the three years Dickey originally sought. If things progress, the Mets will have won the first Niese contract.

For all their talk about pitching depth, the Mets have issues that seem to be ignored by GM Sandy Alderson that can’t be overshadowed no matter how big a bat they get.

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Nov 29

Wright Should Take Offer, But What Happens Next For Mets?

If the latest numbers are to be believed, then the Mets have done their due diligence and David Wright should have the deal that could enable him to finish his career in Flushing. If he plays in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field wearing another uniform, then that’s his decision.

The reported seven-year, $125-million contract would give him the longevity he craves while making him the highest-paid, fulltime third baseman in the sport. Afterall, Alex Rodriguez does split his time as a DH and on the disabled list. Nobody will ever get a contract like Rodriguez’s again.

Wright has been adamant about wanting to be like future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, and a player he grew up idolizing – Cal Ripken – in wanting to play his career with the same team.

Wright is one of the few players I believe in when he says things such as that. Jose Reyes, I always thought, would take the last dollar possible. Wright never struck me as such.

There is a question about deferred money, but I don’t think of that as anything more than a retirement plan. That shouldn’t that insurmountable an obstacle.

I understand the need to retain Wright and have long been on board with it. However, it stands to reason that keeping him – and hopefully, R.A. Dickey – means absolutely nothing it the Mets remain the same.

Based on his numbers the past three seasons, that’s an extremely generous offer from the Mets. Yes, they would be overpaying, but they would be purchasing more than just a third baseman. Wright is the face of the franchise and should represent a commitment toward winning.

Keeping Wright and doing nothing else to build the team accomplishes nothing. The Mets’ current plan appears to be keeping Wright, perhaps Dickey, and a lot of hoping, such as:

* Johan Santana remaining healthy and productive in his final season as a Met.

* Breakout seasons from Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.

* A strong full first season from Matt Harvey.

* Josh Thole learns how to hit, hopefully with some power.

* Ike Davis adds to last year’s 32 homers.

* Ruben Tejada at least duplicates last year.

* Wright, for all that money, returns to becoming a power hitter.

* The outfield trio – if the season started today – of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter can play as starters instead of role players. And, if not, somebody falls into their laps.

* They somehow, some way, piece together a bullpen.

 

Nov 25

Mets’ Alderson Graded Highly By Ownership

I have been hearing how Sandy Alderson will be held accountable for the Mets’ performance this summer and I don’t believe that to be the case, regardless of what happens with David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

Alderson is getting A’s across the board, because those handing out the grades aren’t the fans or the press, or even his colleagues. Grading Alderson are the Wilpons, who are passing him with gold stars because he is doing exactly what is expected of him.

Alderson was brought in here at the urging of Wilpon’s friend, Commissioner Bud Selig, with the purpose of bringing some stability by slashing payroll for a floundering franchise.

To that degree, he has done his job.

Alderson acted to clean up the Mets’ toxic contracts by cutting Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and despite it being too late, finally Jason Bay.

He also traded Carlos Beltran for prospect Zach Wheeler, and got rid of Francisco Rodriguez, who embarrassed the team by getting into a fight with his father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

Best of all for the Wilpons, is he took the Mets into the 2012 season with a $100 million payroll, some $43 million less than in 2011. A good part of that was because of the decision to let go of Jose Reyes, thereby shedding the Mets of another potentially burdensome contract for a player with an injury history.

Doing so might help the Mets extend the contracts of Wright and Dickey, that is, if the team wants to make that call. As of now, talks seem stagnant.

The Mets have a myriad of holes and issues, with few immediate answers. On the plus side are young pitchers Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Wheeler to give them a promising rotation from which to build.

Losing Wright and Dickey would be damaging to the Mets on the field, but they will benefit from compensatory draft picks. At worst, the Mets restart their rebuilding program, but they would further reduce payroll.

There are voids in the bullpen and outfield, and also questions in the rotation and at catcher.

Clearly, they are several years away, and based on that Alderson should be strongly judged.

However, the criteria the Wilpons are using to evaluate Alderson is in reducing payroll and toward that end, he is passing the test.

Alderson has already been evaluated by the people whose opinion of him matter most.

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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