Dec 06

The Questions David Wright Should Have Asked The Mets

David Wright spoke of a new day at his press conference yesterday, saying: “There’s a hundred different factors that went into this decision. But before any of them could be taken into consideration, number one had to be that commitment to winning. And, I got the answers that I wanted to hear.”

WRIGHT: What is he thinking?

Oh, to be a fly on that wall. I wonder what questions Wright asked and what the Wilpon’s answers were. Wright didn’t say, but if I were him these are the questions I would ask:

1) “I am staying, which saves you from taking a PR hit. I am deferring money, so how are you going to spend it?”

2) O.K., you got a break in the Madoff case. How long will that continue to be a factor in not getting players to help me?”

3) “What is going on with R.A. Dickey? You do realize our pitching isn’t all that great to begin with and will be worse if he leaves, so are you going to sign him?”

4) “We all know Johan (Santana) is gone after this year, so how are you going to spend that $25 million in 2014?”

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Dec 06

Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Mets’ CEO Jeff Wilpon said GM Sandy Alderson would have an increased budget for 2013 and the team “will be competitive.’’

What exactly he meant by that, he wouldn’t specify. Does it mean the Mets will be a playoff contender or at least a .500-caliber team? Just exactly how much will the budget be increased? When Wilpon spoke of payroll flexibility, in the wake of the commitment to David Wright, he didn’t do so in terms of actual dollars.

PAGAN: Rarely ran like that with the Mets.

Alderson said the outfield pool is currently at the deep end with Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. I thought if the Mets splurged they might have a shot at Victorino, but I wasn’t thinking $39 million. Victorino actually turned down $44 million from Cleveland for a chance to play for a contender, and the Indians aren’t exactly a free-spending team.

Alderson said “we’ll get outfielders,’’ but what he didn’t add on was, “… we have to because the rules say we need to play with three.’’

Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter – left to right – is what the Mets currently have if the season started today.

Duda made a splash two years ago, but struggled badly last season; Nieuwenhuis made a good first impression in 2012 after Andres Torres was injured, but major league pitching caught up with him (those curveballs can be nasty); and Baxter is a role player who gets exposed after long bouts of playing time.

Hopefully, Duda learned something from being shipped off to the minors and he’ll have a breakout year. But, he’s never done it over a full season, so the hopes are mostly wishful thinking.

As far as Nieuwenhuis goes, he made a splash with his ability to work the count, put the ball in play and hustle. It would be asking a lot from him to develop into a fulltime leadoff hitter, assuming manager Terry Collins will place him at the top of the order.

I heard interest in Ryan Ludwick, but he’s not coming here.  Ludwick made $2 million last year while hitting 26 homers and driving in 80 runs for Cincinnati. He’ll command a hefty raise, and I’m betting the Reds will give it to him.

Speaking of hefty raises, Scott Hairston, easily the most productive outfielder the Mets had last season, should get at least two years, or one and an option, for hitting 20 homers last season. Great off the bench, his playing time gradually increased.

The Mets will need a guy like him. Hey, here’s an idea … sign him.

Now that the Mets have committed $140 million to Wright, what about the rest of the roster? Dickey is still out there, and there have been no significant additions to even suggest the Mets’ offices have been open since the end of the season.

 

Dec 05

The Curious Case Of Trying To Trade R.A. Dickey

TRYING TO TRADE R.A. DICKEY (AP)

If GM Sandy Alderson spent as much energy trying to sign R. A. Dickey as he has trying to trade him, the contract would be done by now.

Alderson told reporters in Nashville he’s seeking a “difference maker,” for Dickey, which means a power-hitting outfielder, preferably from the right side. A difference maker, by definition, would mean a proven commodity, as Alderson said he’s seeking immediate help, not somebody the team will “hope” be a player in two or three years.

Alderson is apparently hitting a wall when it comes to asking for other team’s prospects, and he’s viewing this as an exchange of $5-million contracts.Trouble is, where is Alderson going to find such a presence for only $5 million?

Reportedly, the Mets have talked with Boston, Kansas City, Toronto and Arizona, but their asking price is too high in terms of prospects.

Timing is everything, and unfortunately for Dickey his is muddled and mixed. On one hand, he’s coming off a Cy Young Award season. However, the other hand is 38 years old and grips what many in the game still regard as a gimmick pitch.

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Dec 04

Could Orioles Be A Player For Josh Hamilton?

HAMILTON: Pointing towards Baltimore? (AP)

There are answers that can only be found by looking into a man’s eyes. Even then, there’s an element of doubt.

Looking into R.A. Dickey’s eyes, the Mets must know he wants to play here and believes his Cy Young was no fluke. Even so, there’s always some pause.

If there’s a reluctance with Dickey, imagine that with Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who, when healthy and off the wagon, is one of the sport’s top five talents, if not the best.

We know the Mets won’t, and the Yankees say they want to cut payroll to be below $189 million for the 2014 season and beyond, so they aren’t player for Hamilton.

That doesn’t mean it is an empty market for him. The Rangers are playing it wisely and letting Hamilton field offers. They believe they have sufficient talent without him, but also think Hamilton might come around and believe the team that cared for him is his best option.

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Dec 04

Despite R.A. Dickey And Jon Niese, Mets Still Have Pitching Concerns

Undoubtedly, the outfield is a huge void GM Sandy Alderson will try to fill with scraps. So too, is the bullpen. But, don’t forget the rotation despite the presence of Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, assuming, of course, there will be a Dickey.

I keep hearing how the Mets’ young pitching is a position of strength, but in reality it is a position of potential, and there is a difference. And, I would be hesitant to say vast potential.

There were many mistakes in the Omar Minaya regime, but one of the biggest – and most understated – was the decision to overestimate the team following the 2006 season. “We just missed the World Series by a strike,’’ was the thinking.

How wrong they were. Even had Carlos Beltran done something with that pitch, there were concerns with the Mets’ pitching and bullpen which came to fruition during the collapses of 2007 and 2008.

Despite the flashes and strong showing in 2012, that’s the story today when you big-picture their staff. If all breaks well, then there is a lot to like about the Mets’ pitching. But, if it doesn’t – and we know it all won’t be good – then we are back again faced looking at a team with huge holes.

JOHAN SANTANA: He is once again coming off an injury, which he has done almost annually since signing with the Mets. Santana had a good start in 2012, but hit a wall and was eventually injured. Nobody can say with authority what the Mets can expect from him other than he’ll cost $25 million. Santana will be gone after this year, so even if he has a good season that’s a hole that must be filled in 2014. That hole would be even bigger if Dickey is traded or leaves as a free agent.

R.A. DICKEY: How can the Mets reasonably anticipate anything from Dickey when they are listening to trade offers? Even should the Mets re-sign Dickey to an extension, there’s still the question if 2012 was a one-shot deal. I like Dickey, but it is undeniable he has a short track record.

JON NIESE: If Dickey leaves, then Niese becomes the de facto ace of the staff. Niese has an upside, but how big we do not know. Last year was his best at 13-9, and it was his only winning season. How can you place all your chips on him when the most he’s ever won was 13 games?

DILLON GEE: Gee is coming off an injury, and like Niese has a small track record. Gee hasn’t been projected higher than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the first place, so to consider him a stalwart would be a misnomer. Gee is still missing from his resume a full season. Give him that and we’ll have a guess at his ceiling.

MATT HARVEY:  While good things are projected of Harvey, not a career do ten games make. The projections for Harvey are higher than they ever were with Mike Pelfrey and Niese. Harvey made an undeniably strong first impression last year. Now he must build on it. There are a lot of teams that haven’t seen Harvey yet, and those that had will have a book on him.

THE BULLPEN:  As the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, then a pitching staff is as strong as its bullpen and we know the Mets’ pen is weak. It was a hole Alderson couldn’t patch together with nickel pieces last winter. Wonder if he’ll do better with dime pieces.