Feb 01

Mets’ Bullpen Still Needs Work

With pitchers-and-catchers two weeks away, the Mets still have work to do with their bullpen. Signing left-hander Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal. As it is now, the Mets’ bullpen is constructed with closer Jeurys Familia, set-up man Addison Reed, lefties Bastardo, Jerry Blevins and Sean Gilmartin, and right-handers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett and Hansel Robles.

CLIPPARD: Still a possibility. (AP)

CLIPPARD: Still a possibility. (AP)

Perhaps the Mets’ biggest pen question outside of depth is Familia. He came out of nowhere when Jenrry Mejia was suspended and developed into a dominant closer. However, he didn’t have a great postseason which begs the question: Did the workload catch up with him?

The Mets haven’t given up on re-signing Tyler Clippard, who appeared in 32 games for them and was 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA. He struck out 26 and walked 10 in 32 innings before running out of gas and losing the set-up role to Reed. Somebody will have to go if Clippard is signed, and the guess here is could be Goeddel.

I’m all for brining back Clippard, but not for two years. I would give him one year plus an option which would kick in based on the number of appearances. If he hadn’t lost steam at the end I would consider it, but not given with what we saw last year.

Bartolo Colon will likely re-join the bullpen when Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list. Mejia will start the season on the suspended list. It is also possible Rafael Montero could open the season in the bullpen. Should Montero open the year in the minor leagues, the hope here is it won’t be in the rotation but in the

For all the potential of the Mets’ starting rotation, a thin bullpen makes it vulnerable.

 

Jan 28

Collins Gives First Thoughts On Lineup

Terry Collins gave his first inkling as to the Mets’ 2016 lineup. Collins gave it to Mike Puma of the NY Post. But, it’s not as if it is etched in stone because, after all, it is the Mets’ lineup and he had over 150 of them last year.

1. Curtis Granderson, RF: I still prefer a traditional leadoff hitter, but Granderson’s on-base percentage last year was stellar. So, give the options of forcing a square peg into a round hole, Granderson is the best available choice.

2. David Wright, 3B: In his prime, Wright was the ideal No. 3 hitter. But, that was a long time ago. He’s no longer prime time. Would be nice to see him return to that form.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, CF: A classic No. 3 hitter is the best combination of power and average and Cespedes is the best the Mets considering Wright’s current situation.

4. Lucas Duda, 1B: Has averaged over 27 homers the last few years despite periods of extreme streakiness.

5. Neil Walker, 2B: Where Daniel Murphy would have fit in.

6. Michael Conforto, LF: The first impression was a good one. Let’s hope he lives up to expectations.

7. Travis d’Arnaud, C: No surprises here, but it does say Collins has his mind made up as to his starting catcher.

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Obviously, he goes here.

9. Pitcher: Let’s hope Collins doesn’t fool around and move up his pitcher to No. 8.

I don’t have any problem with what Collins has laid out as his lineup. Considering his players and options this really is the best-case scenario. But, it will change. It always does.

 

Jan 25

Pros And Cons For Bringing Back Cespedes

While there are no absolutes, it seems safe to conclude there are mostly positives in the Mets’ decision to bring back Yoenis Cespedes.

CESPEDES: Pros and Cons of deal. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Pros and Cons of deal. (Getty)

THE PROS

1. Keeping the peace:  Who couldn’t predict the negative static had Cespedes ended up with Washington and the Mets entered the season with a gaping holes in their outfield and in their lineup? Going to the World Series and not bringing back a player instrumental in getting there would have created a sour feeling heading into the season.

2. They got what they wanted regarding the money:  Cespedes wanted at least five years and the Mets didn’t want to give more than three. In essence, the contract of $75 million over three years, translates to four years regarding the dollars.

3. They filled their power need: With nobody knowing what to expect from David Wright and Michael Conforto, there was a need for right-handed power from an outfield bat. Unquestionably their offense is better. They can now keep Wright at the top of the order and sandwich Cespedes between Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda.

4. It allows roster flexibility:  With Alejandro De Aza signed for outfield depth, the Mets could start the season with Juan Lagares in the minor leagues and use that roster spot to add a reliever.

CONS

1. Has potential short-term benefits:  With an opt out after one year, the Mets be forced to be looking for another center fielder next winter.

2. He’d better produce for that kind of money:  Cespedes will get $27.5 million in 2016, which is a lot of money if he has a bad year.

3. The money won’t erase his flaws:  Cespedes has a career .319 on-base percentage, plus he has a tendency to loaf a bit on the bases and in the field. Mets’ players insist Cespedes is an ideal teammate, but what else did you expect them to say?

 

Jan 24

With Cespedes Back, What Happens With Lagares?

With Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets, what’s the plan now for Juan Lagares?

As with most decisions, it all depends on health? Runners clearly took their liberties last summer on Lagares’ arm, and if he’s still ailing, now might be the time to explore Tommy John surgery.

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

However, what are their options if Lagares is healthy?

Of course, they might want to consider trading him, but with Cespedes able to opt out after the season that might be premature. If he does the Mets will be searching for a new center fielder next winter.

Considering Lagares was injured and regressed – both with the bat and glove – regardless of how friendly his contract is, his trade value regressed.

However, with De Aza on the roster, the most prudent option could be for Lagares to open the season in the minor leagues, where he’ll play full time and get the necessary at-bats for his development. Another advantage is it would free up an additional roster spot, perhaps for another reliever.

With Cespedes and De Aza, I’m wondering how much playing time Lagares would receive.

Jan 21

Wright Remains Mets’ Most Overriding Issue

Yesterday I examined the top ten issues facing the Mets with spring training five weeks away. It isn’t hard for me to pick out the player shouldering the most pressure.

The bullpen is the positional area of most concern, but individually the player remains David Wright. Somehow, last year the Mets withstood playing without him for over four months, but several things combined to make that possible, notably the ineffective Washington Nationals and acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes.

WRIGHT: We want to see that smile again. (AP)

WRIGHT: We want to see that smile again. (AP)

Will the Mets be as fortunate if Wright goes down this year?

Baseball-reference.com projects Wright to hit .275 in 2016 with nine homers and 37 RBI, which would be terrible news for the Mets. The scary part is based on Wright’s recent injury history I can envision that before I can him returning to 30-homer form.

Wright hasn’t hit 30 homers since 2008 and has only hit at least 20 twice since then. He has a combined 31 in his last three years, and only once since 2013 has he played in as many at 130 games. Including the 2009 season, he’s had as many as 500 at-bats only four times.

You can talk about OPS and WAR all you want, but all statistics are predicated on at-bats and Wright hasn’t had many in recent years. Look, readers of this blog know I am one of Wright’s biggest supporters, but I can’t ignore the facts he hasn’t been healthy lately.

He missed over four months last year with spinal stenosis, and that he even returned late in the season was remarkable. Considering the good feelings about his return, recovery and playing in the playoffs, it would be another devastating blow is he were to go down again.

The Mets did not add a right-handed hitting power bat during the winter, perhaps with the outside hope Wright would come back close to form. As of now, they won’t have Cespedes back and it could be a dangerous gamble if they are thinking they can make another at-the-wire trade.

Let’s face it, as long as Wright is here he’s the face of this franchise, but if he’s hurt again and doesn’t produce, that contract with five years and $87 million remaining will be an albatross.

Imagine how much better things will be if Wright plays in 130 games, hits at least 20 homers and drives in 80 runs. Could make for another fun year, and for me that’s why Wright is the Mets’ most overriding issue.

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