Nov 23

Jon Niese One Of Few Untouchable Mets

When I look at the current Mets’ 40-man roster there are few players where it would take a lot to pry away from the team. Matt Harvey is one of them, in fact, there’s a thought of re-doing his contract as to buy out his arbitration years.

I keep Harvey, of course. And, prospect Zach Wheeler.

NIESE: An untouchable Met.

Also on the list is Jonathan Niese, who signed a long-term deal that will carry him through 2016, with option years for 2017 and 2018, going as high as $11 million in the last year. A hard-throwing left hander with a positive history and contract controllable for four more years is a bargain.

Considering Niese’s production, contract and being a lefty, it’s small wonder he is the name most often brought up when Mets GM Sandy Alderson is contacted. That’s also the reason the Mets would be foolish to part with him.

As Niese continues to develop, and dare I say it, approach 20 wins and becomes an All-Star, I can see the Mets picking up those options and extending the contract.

Niese is a rare commodity in today’s economics. Harvey could see a long-term offer is he proves the real deal in 2013.

Signing Niese when they did was a smart move and akin to the long-term deal David Wright is on. That’s why they won’t deal him. He and Harvey are on a short list, one that doesn’t include Wright and R.A. Dickey.

The Mets want to keep both but admit they could be dealt. They are currently talking to more teams about Dickey than Wright, presumably because the knuckleballer is on a $5 million contract for 2013 while Wright is more than triple that amount.

Trading Dickey and/or Wright in the offseason would be have the obstacle on them being free-agents after next season and would likely be contingent on the other team getting the opportunity to negotiate its own contract extension, similar to what the Mets did when they traded with Minnesota for Johan Santana.

That other team would be stuck with the task of negotiating with Dickey for roughly $50 million and Wright for perhaps as high as $120 million. Few teams want to assume that burden, which is why Jeff Wilpon said last week he’d rather let them walk and take the draft picks.

From the player’s perspective, the concept of free-agency is deciding where you go and for how much. Chances are both players, unless they are blown away with an offer, would walk after being traded.

The Mets won’t have any such dilemma with NIese, which is why he’ll be in Flushing for a long time.

 

 

Nov 21

Wilpon Lays Out Scenarios For Wright And Dickey

At least they are talking.

Mets CEO Jeff Wilpon said there’s dialogue between the team and David Wright and R.A. Dickey, then added he’s optimistic about keeping them.

WILPON: Facing a future without Wright and Dickey.

What else is he going to say? “No, I think they’ll both leave.’’ Yeah, that will sell a lot of tickets.

You have to be skeptical whenever any side in a negotiation says something on the record, as much of the time it is posturing and sending a message to the other party. Parties will talk with the media when it is their best interests.

The most interesting thing said was having a preference to letting them play out their options and taking the draft picks rather than orchestrating a trade. That’s the route they chose with Jose Reyes after not even making an offer. This time, numbers have been exchanged.

Draft picks are cheaper than major league players. It also makes one wonder if they don’t believe they’ll get much in return, or would be able to keep the new players.

Reportedly, Wright is seeking a seven-year, $125-million package, while the Mets are offering much less.

How far is the divide? I don’t know, but presumably the Mets are offering roughly $100 million over five, which isn’t bad, but not a superstar deal.

I’m not crazy of deals longer than five years because of the injury factor, so I’d inclined to front load the contract.

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Nov 20

Should Mets Emulate Yankees’ Deal And Sell Parts Of SNY?

The Yankees, as usual, are on the cutting edge of things and recent news of them selling off parts of the YES Network to News Corporation (owner of FOX Sports) has me wondering if the Mets should do the same with SNY.

Under the terms of the deal, the Yankees would still own the majority percentage and therefore have control over the programming, which includes the Brooklyn Nets. When the Yankees launched YES in 2001, it was valued at $800 million. Today it is reportedly worth $3 billion and the Yankees would receive $270 million.

Say hello to Josh Hamilton?

The Yankees would also have buy-back options and opportunities to make more money later. As long as they maintain the greater shares – with the provision the minority owners can’t merge to form the majority – they will be in great shape. Hell, even if they aren’t the majority owners, who will want to tinker with the Yankees’ programming? It would be beyond dumb.

The Yankees weren’t the first team to have a regional network (the Braves, Red Sox and Cubs did at the time, but their brand was more valuable). Interestingly, the Dodgers attempted such a deal with FOX, but Bud Selig wouldn’t allow it and forced the sale by owner Frank McCourt. The Dodgers were eventually sold to the Magic Johnson group for $2 billion.

Obviously, the Mets can’t cut a similar deal with News Corp., but there is CBS, NBC and COMCAST. There are several dance partners available for a major deal. Another option would be to sell minority shares of SNY to several investors.

A Mets’ deal wouldn’t make as much as the Yankees, but they should net enough to take care of their debts, including the settlement from the Madoff ruling.

It makes me wonder why the Mets would do this. They would still maintain control of SNY’s programming and their team. They just wouldn’t have the whole pie.

Everything the Mets do screams of financial distress. They did receive a favorable ruling in the Madoff case, but don’t have to pay anything for two more years. That ruling could keep the handcuffs on for several more years and possibly preclude them from being aggressive in the free-agent market for another five years, which could have them at the end of an extension with David Wright, assuming they get that done.

I don’t know many Mets fans who are happy these days, and probably none who would accept five or more years of austerity until they are ready to compete.

What the Mets are planning with SNY only they know, but they might do themselves some good if they look at the Bronx.

Nov 19

What Should The Years Limit Be For David Wright?

I like David Wright and want the Mets to sign him to an extension.

However, the question is: For how long?

The other day I wrote the Mets should get going and sign him and R.A. Dickey. What I should have said is they should put their best offer on the table, and if nothing else, be creative. My thoughts were the longer this drags on – especially after saying they wanted to get something done quickly – the more their price rises, as does the chances of losing them.

WRIGHT: How much? How long?

Contracts over five years are in vogue for superstars, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Alex Rodriguez all received them based on past and future performance. However, most of these teams have, or will, regret the decision. The Yankees certainly do with Rodriguez. Pujols likely gave his best to the Cardinals.

These deals are precarious, as evidenced by the contract Johan Santana signed with the Mets. Then again, the Mets regretted four with Jason Bay. Injuries are always a risk, but seldom do players produce as they did in the seasons leading up to the payday.

The Mets didn’t want to give a long-term deal to Jose Reyes because they feared him breaking down physically. The Mets had plenty of signs about Reyes’ durability, and are now getting the same indicators with Wright.

From 2005-2008, when the Mets played in Shea Stadium – and for the most part he was surrounded in the line-up with sluggers Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado – Wright was an offensive force, never hitting below .300 and never having an on-base percentage less than .388. He never hit fewer than 26 homers, drive in less than 100 runs, or have a .912 OPS.

Those numbers would have been worthy of a $100-million plus deal.

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Nov 18

Which Team Is More Dysfunctional, The Mets Or Jets?

Getting ready to watch football with the NFL Red Zone, so thankfully I am not tied down to the Jets-Rams.

TV football in New York is absolutely terrible without Red Zone because you’re tied into two teams each week, but I digress.

I was thinking which is the most dysfunctional New York franchise, the Mets or Jets?

The Jets are in the news because the Mets have faded into the woodwork until February.

The biggest disparity between the teams is economic, despite each being in a sport with sound financial footing. Each NFL team – as with each MLB team – has a predetermined foundation in the tens of millions before selling a single ticket. Both have loaded ownerships, but the difference is Woody Johnson is willing to spend while the Wilpons make their decisions against the backdrop of the Madoff scandal.

The fundamental difference is the Jets are willing to spend, evidenced by first pursuing Brett Favre, and then giving loaded contracts to Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Derrelle Revis.

In fairness, the Mets showed a similar desire with Johan Santana and Jason Bay, not to mention Oliver Perez and Francisco Rodriguez, but the last two years have been on an austerity kick.

The most obvious similarity is both share the city with a more successful and stable older brother against whom they’ll never match.

Another common thread is the lack of direction from the top as to where and how to spend.

The Mets’ bullpen has deteriorated along with their outfield and offense. Meanwhile, the Jets’ offensive line is weak, along with their offensive skill players and pass rush.

The bullpen and offensive line are fundamental building blocks in the respective sports, and neither team can compete if things remain the same.

The direction of both teams is like the Washington D.C., roadmap – it goes in all directions.

The Mets failed to build their bullpen after the 2007 collapse, and then moved into Citi Field with the stated goal of building with pitching and defense only to sign Bay.

It has been downhill since, with the real possibility of losing David Wright and R.A. Dickey. If they do, the Mets will begin another rebuilding program, just as the Jets could be after this season if they continue to implode and Johnson fires GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan, which could lead to the trading of Sanchez.

After the collapses of 2007 and 2008, preceded by losing in the 2006 NLCS, the Mets severely overestimated their team and attempted to patch their holes with veterans – Santana, Rodriguez, Bay, etc. – but are now going the farm system route.

Trouble is, there’s little underneath that’s major league ready.

Meanwhile, the Jets thought they’d compete with the Favre signing, but after he left began the Sanchez Era.

With a strong defense and sound running game – you do remember “Ground and Pound’’ don’t you? – to complement Sanchez, the Jets played, but lost, consecutive AFC Championship games. They overestimated themselves in defeat.

How the Ryan tenure began is how NFL teams are usually built. They attempted to open up their defense, but did so at the expense of the running game. In addition, the Jets never complemented their strong secondary with a pass rush.

Then, with their quarterback’s confidence fractured, the Jets inexplicably traded for Tebow for a fourth-round pick and then signed him for three years. Adding Tebow meant adding a quarterback who needed a different offensive system.

As the Mets had a disjointed clubhouse, the Jets had a poisonous locker room, marked by snakes Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. The backbiting continued this week with the verbal torching of Tebow.

Your guess is as good as mine as to determining what the Jets want to do with their inept offense, which has not been helped by their porous defense, which gives up over 150 yards a game on the ground.

Also, both teams play in divisions with rivals they can’t seem to catch in the Phillies and Braves for the Mets and Patriots for the Jets.

That brings us to a final similarity: It could be a long time before the Mets or Jets are relevant again.