Oct 22

Would Boston’s Free-Agent Building Approach Benefit Mets?

Yesterday, I suggested what the New York Mets could learn from the St. Louis Cardinals in building their team. Today, let’s examine how the Red Sox were built and what the Mets can take from their approach.

The Cardinals’ philosophy of first building from within followed by judicious trades and free-agent signings has always been the traditional and preferred method.

Throwing millions and millions into the free-agent market is costly and risky. The Mets don’t have the resources of the Yankees or Dodgers to throw good money after bad.

ELLSBURY: Will he be too costly for Mets?

ELLSBURY: Will he be too costly for Mets?

There’s pressure to win in both markets, but there’s a greater intensity in Boston – and New York – while there’s a degree of patience in the Midwest. That explains in part why St. Louis has 17 homegrown players on its roster, while the Red Sox have ten.

There was a venomous culture in Boston last season as the Red Sox, burdened by several cumbersome contracts – similar to what the Mets faced when Sandy Alderson took over – and a few cancerous personalities in the clubhouse.

“Say, could you pass some fried chicken this way?’’

The Red Sox cleared nearly $200 million in salaries when they unloaded Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers midway through last year’s disastrous 69-93 summer under Bobby Valentine. They did so because even in a lost season the Red Sox were thinking about this summer. That’s something the Mets never fully explored when they had Jose Reyes and others to dangle.

The Red Sox were far quicker and more decisive than the Mets have been in ridding themselves of too costly and ineffective players, such as Oliver Perez, Ike Davis, Francisco Rodriguez and Luis Castillo to name a few of close to numerous bad deals since 2006, the last time the Mets saw October.

Rather than sink their savings into different long-term, costly signings, the Red Sox signed a handful of productive, yet cost-effective, players in: Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million); catcher David Ross (two years, $6.2 million); first baseman Mike Napoli (one year, $5 million); shortstop Stephen Drew (one year, $9.5 million); outfielder Jonny Gomes (two years, $10 million); and dynamite closer Koji Uehara (one year, $4.25 million plus option).

None bowl you over; collectively, they helped the Red Sox win 97 games.

Boston also extended by two years and $26 million the contract of its own free agent, designated hitter David Ortiz. They also avoided arbitration by offering Jacoby Ellsbury a one-year, $9-million deal. Some signings, such as pitcher Ryan Dempster’s two-year, $26.5 million deal, didn’t pan out. He’s now in middle relief and would be a starter for the Mets.

The Red Sox also hit it with trades, including pitcher Jake Peavy, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and and former Mets first-base prospect, Mike Carp.

Boston’s success in the free-agent and trade markets was overwhelmingly successful. Although Alderson said he could have the leeway to offer a $100-million contract to one player, he would be better off in taking Boston’s approach and attempt to patch several of the Mets’ many holes.

Alderson knows the success the Red Sox enjoyed is rare and shouldn’t be expected, especially since the Mets won’t offer similar deals. However, the idea of pursuing players with playoff success – Napoli and Victorino – is a sound way to augment their present composition of youth and few proven major leaguers.

The Mets are unsettled at first base, but are kidding themselves if they think they could get Napoli by offering a slight raise. Napoli was to get a three-year, $39-million deal, but that fell through when a degenerative hip condition was discovered. He’ll likely get his three years this winter.

As for Victorino, the Mets had their chance to sign him, but now it is too late. They must consider between Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz, what they might each cost, and their various baggage.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Red Sox attempt to retain Ellsbury, but there are already reports the Tigers are interested in either him or Choo, the latter who is reportedly seeking four years.

The Red Sox took a shotgun approach last winter, and still wound up with a $155-million payroll while hitting most of their targets. It worked because their scouts did their homework; they got lucky; and they already had a core to build around. The Red Sox were also forced to be aggressive last winter because of their restless and demanding fan base. Every year it is the same motivation for them and the Yankees.

The Mets’ fan base is already looking at 2015 when Matt Harvey returns. Few are expecting a contender next summer without him. The Mets also don’t have as good a core as Boston had and won’t come anywhere close to what the Red Sox spent, but could go as high as $100 million, maybe a little more.

Everybody in the division save the Miami Marlins will spend more. If the Mets are to emulate the Red Sox, they’ll have to dig deeper and that’s not something they’ll be inclined to do.

Oct 19

Mets Sever Ties With Arrested Catcher

It was interesting to see the Mets’ decision to release minor league catcher Alex Luciano Machillando Romero who was arrested for felony shoplifting in July while in Port St. Lucie.

The Mets have had their share of bad characters before, but often kept them on a long leash with multiple opportunities.

Not only did Romero steal the clothes, but punched a store officer and fled police. All in all, some something he’d like to have on the back of his baseball card.

He paid a $568 fine and served 12 days of jail time. He did not play again after the incident.

I wonder what took them so long to make the cut.

Being a professional athlete isn’t a license to behave like a thug. Perhaps he’ll get another chance somewhere else, but the Mets sent a clear message they won’t tolerate such behavior in their organization.

Good for them.

Oct 18

Mets’ New Radio Home Is WOR 710 AM

wor710Looks like the New York Mets won’t be homeless after all…

Reports are now coming in that the Mets are close to a deal with Clear Channel Media to broadcast their games on WOR (710 AM), according to Neil Best of Newsday and Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News.

The good news here is that Howie Rose will still be broadcasting as the radio voice of the Mets, however whether Howie’s  2013 co-pilot, Josh Lewin, will join him is still uncertain.

As was the case with WFAN, WOR will likely simulcast Mets broadcasts on one of their many FM stations.

The last few years have not been good for the Mets in terms of Radio and TV ratings.

The Mets and WFAN split after this season severing a 27-year partnership, while SNY experienced a drop of 31.6 percent in viewership from the previous season.

Oct 16

2013 Season Review: Dillon Gee

dillon gee

DILLON GEE, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

Coming off surgery, the expectations were minimal because the Mets didn’t know what they were getting. The surgery was to repair an artery in his shoulder after experiencing numbness in his hand and fingers. As a “feel’’ pitcher, this type of injury was especially serious because it prevented him from getting a grip on his breaking balls and change-up, which were essential to his success. When healthy the book on Gee was is reliability as he pitched at least five innings in 17 starts in 2012, and 12 of those starts were defined as quality. However, like a lot of Mets’ pitchers there was a problem with run support, as he finished 6-7. His 97-29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio was good. If healthy, the Mets slotted him in as the No. 3 starter behind Matt Harvey and Jon Niese.

CAREER STATS

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2013 SEASON REVIEW

Gee said he felt good, but it was clear he didn’t have it in the beginning of the season as he was 2-6 with a 5.68 ERA in late May and there talk whether he was lose his job in the rotation when Zack Wheeler was to be promoted to the majors. Then it was as a switch was turned on as he gave up a run in 7.1 innings and struck out 12 in a victory at Yankee Stadium, May 30. All of a sudden, Gee’s change-up was working and Gee went on a roll where he worked into the seventh inning or later in 10 of his next 12 starts. When Harvey went down, Niese had a shoulder issue, and Wheeler was finding his way, Gee emerged as the Mets’ most reliable pitcher. Gee finished at with a 12-11 record with an impressive 3.62 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and a 3-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Most importantly to Gee, he started 32 games and threw a career-high 199 innings.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says: Gee thinks, and rightfully so, that he should throw 200 innings every year. With Harvey gone for the season, he and Niese are slotted 1-2 in the rotation, followed by Wheeler and as of now two question marks. Gee said his health issues are behind him, and the numbers substantiate that claim. Gee is not a power pitcher, but his fastball looks better when his change-up and breaking balls are working. Gee has won 13 games (2011) and 12 (last year), so with a little run support and improved bullpen it is conceivable he could be a 15-game winner. If he makes all his starts and throws 200 innings, then the wins should fall into place. Gee enters the 2014 season as a given in the rotation, and with it, higher expectations than he’s ever had.

Joe D. Says: I love the Dillon Gee story… He comes back from a career threatening blood clot that required arterial surgery and delivers a solid campaign in which he led the team in wins while posting a career best 3.64 ERA and 2.1 BB/9. He got off to a rusty start in April, but got progressively better as the season wore on and posted some of the best second half numbers in the National League with a 2.74 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and an opposing .280 on-base percentage.

Gee symbolizes what the Mets have been trying to do over the last several seasons and that is to throw strikes and command the zone. He shows that you don’t necessarily need a 98 mph fastball to succeed as long as you can spot your pitches and change speeds the way he does.

The Matt Harvey injury means his job is safe, although I wouldn’t be shocked to read a plethora of posts suggesting the Mets trade him. Gee is as close to a keeper as one could get, and with all the fireballers expected to pack this rotation by 2015, the Mets are going to need a pitcher like Gee who offers a different look that would only enhance his rotation-mates’ performances and confound opposing teams. Expect an even better season from Gee in 2014 who has lifted himself from number five starter to somewhere in the top three spots.

Oct 10

Numbers That Defined The Mets’ Season

There were a lot of statistics that added up to give the Mets their second straight 74-88 record in 2013. Here are some of the more notable, some good, some bad and some down right ugly. I am sure there are more and would love to hear your suggestions:

2: Home games sold out.

2-4: Matt Harvey’s record after 7-1 start.

4: Grand slams by Mets hitters, none who were with the team at the end of the season (John Buck, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin).

4: National League teams Mets had winning records against (Arizona, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco).

7-15-5: Record in home series.

7: Number of hitting streaks of 10 or more by hitters Mets’ hitters, led by Daniel Murphy, who had three.

8: Walk-off hits by David Wright to lead team.

8: Mets hitters who struck out at least 70 times, including three – Byrd, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis – with over 100.

8: Games pitched in by Frank Francisco, who made $6.5 million.

8-8: Jon Niese record, a drop of five victories from a career high 13 in 2012.

9: Homers by Davis, 23 fewer than in 2012.

9-12: Record in extra-inning games. Successful teams win these types of games. Overall, the Mets played 57 extra innings, the equivalent of just over six extra games.

10: Different hitters used in the leadoff spot, a void filled by Eric Young.

11-61: Record when trailing after six innings.

11-9: Interleague record, including 4-0 vs. Yankees.

12: No decisions in games started by Harvey.

13: Different pitchers used to start a game.

14-25: Record vs. NL playoff teams.

15-12: Record in July, their only month with a winning record.

15: Outfield assists by Juan Lagares, most by a rookie and tied for third in the majors.

15: Different hitters used in the sixth spot in the order.

18: Different hitters used in the seventh spot in the order.

18: Home runs by Wright to lead the team (Byrd had 21 before he was traded to Pittsburgh).

20: Quality starts by Harvey.

22-73: Record when bullpen gives up a run.

25: Percentage of potential base stealers thrown out by Mets catchers.

26: Victories by the bullpen.

26-59: Record when opponents scored first.

29-28: Record in one-run games.

31: Come-from-behind victories. This is after trailing at any point in the game.

33-48: Record at home.

34: Two-out RBI by Murphy, most on the team.

34-42: Record vs. National League East. (9-10 vs. Atlanta; 8-11 vs. Miami; 10-9 vs. Philadelphia; 7-12 vs. Washington).

46: Stolen bases by Young to lead National League.

55-38: Record when getting a quality start.

112: Games played by Wright.

130: Mets homers; opponents hit 152.

131: Different lineups used.

.147: Duda average with runners in scoring position.

188: Hits by Murphy, second in the National League.

.242: Mets’ average with runners in scoring position. The Mets had close to 3,000 runners in scoring position and only 441 of them scored. Mets’ hitters struck out 315 times in this situation and grounded into 26 double plays.

.265: Opponent’s average with runners in scoring position. Opponent’s scored 529 runs in this situation, aided greatly by 35 home runs.

.306: Team on-base percentage, 25th in the majors.

504: Innings pitched by the bullpen, just over three a game.

619: Runs scored, 684 runs allowed for a -65 run differential.

1,384: Strikeouts by Mets hitters, most in the National League, which is the equivalent of 51 games played without hitting a ball other than a foul.

2,135,657: Total attendance, their lowest since drawing 1.77 in 1997 at Shea Stadium.