Dec 06

What If The Mets Can’t Get Curtis Granderson?

Let’s suppose for a moment the New York Mets don’t sign Curtis Granderson. What then?

There will undoubtedly be cries of the Mets not wanting to spend and others that they don’t have the resources they claimed they had. It is hard to say which is true.

As far as outfielders go, there aren’t a lot of remaining options. We know they won’t bring back Carlos Beltran or pay through the nose for Nelson Cruz or Shin-Soo Cho.

I’ve always like Nate McLouth, but heard nothing in that regard from the Mets. There was some reported interest in Corey Hart, but that has cooled.

What are they going to do, have an encore with Rick Ankiel, Xavier Nady, Jeff Francoeur or Jason Bay?

Honestly, if they don’t get Granderson and aren’t interested in McLouth, they might be better off going with Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Eric Young in their outfield.

There’s some school of thought that if the Mets can’t be competitive this year, they might just wait until next winter to spend. This idea can’t be any worse.

The Mets have been pointing to this winter as one in which they would spend and the fan base bought into that promise. To come away empty again would be destructive and only increase the sense of distrust between the Mets and their fans.

Matt Harvey’s absence this summer isn’t the issue anymore. The Mets must accept that and put a representative team on the field, one in which they can develop for the future, because there’s still the matter of selling tickets and putting a product worthy of watching on television. Currently, they need starting and bullpen help; and outfielder with pop; a shortstop; a back-up catcher; and a decision at first base.

They’ve accomplished none of that with the Winter Meetings three days away.

Even with Harvey, they wouldn’t have filled all these holes this winter. They must fill some holes now because they won’t be able to fill them all next year.

It would have been great to see the Mets compete for the wild card this year. While that likely won’t happen, there’s no reason to believe there can’t be some improvement. They won 74 games in 2013, and for all the good Harvey did, he still had 13 no-decisions.

Surely, one more victory a month could push them to 80 victories or even reach .500. It is possible with some help.

That’s why getting Granderson is important, and even if they don’t, they can’t cash in their chips. It might not be the playoffs, but there is something to play for.

 

Nov 30

Mets Blow It By Not Going After Phil Hughes

Since the New York Mets need pitching, it was discouraging to read reports they are not players for Phil Hughes.

Of all the players in the free-agent market I thought the Mets had a chance to sign, the 27-year-old Hughes was it, and with him, had the biggest chance to produce at minimum cost. Yes, he was 4-14 last season, but he is two years removed from winning 16 games.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

Hughes wants two years, but the Mets will only guarantee one year. I’d give him two years in a second, maybe even two plus an option.

Hughes, who made $7.15 million last year, would have been worth the gamble.

Everybody has a bad year, and Hughes is no exception. When things are off, as they were last year – either mechanically or mentally – balls tend to fly when you get your pitches up in a bandbox.

Citi Field, with its spacious dimensions, would have been perfect for him. The same reason the Mets are willing to trade Ike Davis is the same reason they should take a run at Hughes – for the change of scenery.

Hell, last season when Mark Teixeira went down, I wrote the Mets should trade Davis for Hughes. It made sense then and it makes sense now.

What doesn’t make sense is not giving Hughes at least two years at the same time you give $7 million to Chris Young. What is going on here?

Frank Francisco got two years, but not Hughes?

When Citi Field was built, it was done with the idea of building around pitching and defense. The Mets currently say they want to build around their young pitching, but pass on a young arm that had success in New York and pitched in a World Series?

What is Sandy Alderson thinking about?

Hughes has never had an arm injury, which makes him even more attractive. With Matt Harvey not available until 2015 – and even then we don’t know what he’ll be – and the jury not out yet on Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero, the gamble on Hughes turning it around would have been a good one.

The chance to sign a young pitcher, who is healthy, relatively inexpensive and who has tasted success in New York doesn’t come around every day and the Mets blew it.

What Alderson seems to be looking for is Justin Verlander to decide he wants to pitch pro-bono in New York.

The decision to sign Young was ridiculous and not well thought out, but the bottom line his Alderson thought he was worth the risk.

Hughes would have been a much better choice. The clock is ticking for Alderson and Young and Hughes have been bad decisions.

Really bad.

Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 21

Ike Davis Doesn’t Want To Leave Mets; There Are Reasons Why He Shouldn’t

Supposedly, the New York Mets have a half-dozen potential trading partners for flawed first baseman Ike Davis.

However, based on service time, Davis has no ability to void a trade. Even so, that doesn’t mean he’s open to the idea of leaving.

DAVIS: Wants to stay.

DAVIS: Wants to stay.

Davis told the Mets’ website on MLB.com he doesn’t want to leave Citi Field for Milwaukee, Tampa Bay or the launching pad in Baltimore.

“I just want a chance to play,’’ said Davis, who hit .205 with nine homers and 33 RBI in a frustrating season punctuated by a lengthy stay in the minor leagues. “Honestly, I’ve loved my time with the Mets. I’m still a Met right now and I don’t want to get traded. But that part of the game is not up to us. You want to stay, but you don’t have any say in it.’’

There are several compelling reasons why the Mets could re-consider their stance to shop their once-future centerpiece slugger:

* He has shown an ability to hit with power evidenced by 32 homers in 2012, a season that featured a lengthy first-half slump.

* There might not be a good enough offer for him, or some other team might snag Lucas Duda in a trade first, leaving first base open.

* Duda might not prove to be the answer, either.

The arbitration process, considering Davis’ season, might be kind to the Mets (he made $3.1 million last year).

* At 26, Davis is a year younger.

* It has always been something with Davis, either a slump or injury, so he hasn’t had an uninterrupted season with the Mets. Giving Davis another year could give him time enough to figure it out for 2015, the year they pencil in to be competitive with the return of Matt Harvey.

If it happens, Davis said he would suck it up and accept what the baseball gods give him.

“That’s life, man,’’ Davis said. “You can’t just sit there and cry. You’ve just got to move on. Like this year: I’m not going to sit here and pout because I’ve been bad. No, I’m going to work my butt off and see if I can be better next year. That’s the only way to live life.’’

Both Duda and Davis have a high propensity for striking out, but the Mets might prefer the former because of a slightly better on-base percentage last season (.352-.326).

 

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.