Nov 06

Mets Make Qualifying Offer To Murphy

The Mets’ first order of postseason business was extending manager Terry Collins for two years, and their second step was to make Daniel Murphy to a one-year, $15.8-million qualifying offer. He has a week to respond.

As with Collins, the Murphy deal was a no-brainer for the following reasons:

MURPHY:  Mets expected to make offer. (Getty)

MURPHY: Mets expected to make offer. (Getty)

1) If Murphy rejects the offer the Mets would receive a compensatory draft pick from the team that signs him.

2) The Mets are currently reluctant to give Murphy the reported figure of $50 million over four years. Before going long-term with Murphy, the Mets must first figure out if his post-season power run was an aberration or a sign of things to come.

3) That question could possibly be answered this year. Keeping Murphy around for another year could also enable them to figure out David Wright’s physical status and bide time for Ruben Tejada to heal.

If those two health issues are realized, Murphy would be a capable insurance policy.

If Murphy’s power surge is not a fluke the Mets will probably have to cough up more than if they signed him to a multi-year deal now, but that’s a gamble they would have to take.

Should the Mets be willing to go long-term on Murphy, he could give them a home-team discount.

“I like it here, and I’d like to come back,’’ Murphy said after the World Series. “I feel blessed to have been a Met this long.’’

Murphy was a 13th-round round pick of the Mets in 2006.

Among the teams that might have interest in Murphy are both Los Angeles teams, San Francisco and the Yankees.

NOTEBOOK:  The team said center fielder Juan Lagares will not require surgery on his right elbow. Lagares had a breakout season in 2014 and was rewarded with a multi-year contract, but regressed this season and had difficulty throwing. … Outfielder Michael Cuddyer underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury. He will make $12.5 million in 2016. … LH reliever Josh Smoker was added to the 40-man roster. … A published report from Washington said the Mets could be interested in outfielder Denard Span, who was not given a qualifying offer by the Nationals.

Nov 05

Extending My Apologies To Sandy Alderson

In my coverage of the Mets, from my days as a newspaper reporter to this blog, I have been a proponent for being stand-up. I have applauded David Wright, Daniel Murphy, ,manager Terry Collins and others for accepting responsibility when things go wrong.

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

And, I have been critical of Matt Harvey for not always doing the same.

Given that, I must hold myself to the same standards and admit I was wrong on GM Sandy Alderson on several issues this year. Among them:

* Not having a concrete plan for Harvey as to his innings limit, or at least, not being open with it.

* For his reluctance to promote outfield prospect Michael Conforto from the minor leagues when the team was in a woeful hitting slump.

* For seemingly dragging his feet on bringing in a bat at the trade deadline. And, when the Carlos Gomez trade with Milwaukee fell through, Alderson deserves considerable credit for despite the rapidly approaching deadline, kicking the tires on Jay Bruce from Cincinnati before landing Yoenis Cespedes.

The bottom line: No Cespedes, no playoffs.

Alderson told us to be patient and rewarded us.

When the Harvey news broke, Alderson went with the flow and worked with the appropriate parties to make sure it wasn’t a lingering problem. And, well Conforto made the most with his opportunity and in addition to gaining valuable experience, helped the Mets to the World Series.

He’s expected to be a starter next season and the Mets are far ahead because they already have a book on him. In both cases, Alderson did what he was supposed to do, which was act in a manner that made the Mets better. Nobody can ask for more.

There’s no rest for him as he’ll be attending the general managers meetings next week. Next year has already begun and with it a myriad of issues, from rebuilding a bullpen, and making hard decisions on Cespedes, Murphy, the middle infield and ascertaining where things are with Wright’s back.

I’ll voice my opinion as I always do, but for now, Alderson deserves to savor this season without my two cents.

So, cheers to you Mr. Alderson for making me, and countless Mets fans, eat our words. Your instincts about this team were correct and I was wrong. You had one hell of a year.


Nov 04

Alderson Holds Court Before Fainting

Before GM Sandy Alderson passed out at the press conference today at Citi Field, he offered these nuggets:

* Said he anticipates the 2016 Opening Day payroll to exceed the $103 million it was this season. “We ended up higher than the $103 [million] because of the additions we made at the [trade] deadline,’’ Alderson said. “So my hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll – I don’t know exactly what that will be – than we started [at] last year. And we’ll have room at the deadline to make acquisitions, as we did this year.’’

The key addition was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit. Whether of not the Mets can retain the free-agent-to-be, Alderson said the trade was a success.

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

* Despite their glut in starting pitching, Alderson said the Mets were open to re-signing free-agent Bartolo Colon to a bullpen role.

At 42, Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 194 2/3 regular-season innings, but went to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ Alderson said. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

* Said the probability was small of trading one of their young starters – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz – for offensive help, despite the long odds of re-signing Cespedes.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

Even so, don’t forget the Mets agreed to a deal at the deadline what would have sent Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for outfield Carlos Gomez.

* Said the Mets were undecided as to whether they will extend a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy.

Alderson, as he frequently does, danced around the issue: “Take it out of the Murphy context. I think you have to start with whether you want the player back. If you decide the answer is yes, then it’s easy to make a qualifying offer.

“If you decide no, then you get to the question of, for gamesmanship purposes, whether making a qualifying offer is a good idea. Murph has been a great player for us over the years. He’s been a Met over his entire career. So we’re going to make that decision a little later this week.’’

Alderson fainted because he had not eaten breakfast and was dehydrated. He was examined by a Mets trainer and deemed all right.



Nov 04

Mets Do Right By Collins

The Mets did right by manager Terry Collins, and more to the point they didn’t waste any time doing it. Less than 72 hours after their season ended – and by Collins’ admission on his bad decision – the Mets extended their 66-year-old manager for two years.

Accused of being tyrannical in his previous stops in Anaheim and Houston, Collins gave his players a lot of leeway. He said he “trusts my players,’’ and in the end that might have cost him when he went against his better judgment and allowed Matt Harvey to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 of the World Series.

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

No need to remind you of what happened.

It is key the Mets acted quickly as to not let how the disappointing way the season ended to fester.

The Mets opened the year after six straight losing seasons, but Collins insisted during spring training they were good enough to compete – as is. Yes, the Washington Nationals had a bad year, but the Mets were 90-72 to give Collins a 394-416 record during his Mets’ tenure.

Want to bet that will be over .500 by the time he retires after the 2017 season?

“My job is to pretty much make sure the players are on board with everything we’re doing,’’ Collins said. “So, I think I’ve changed a lot there.’’

Collins was voted the NL Manager of the year by The Sporting News and is up for a similar honor by the official Baseball Writers Association of America award.

“I think it’s well deserved,’’ Wright said. “Credit should be given to TC and his coaching staff for aiding and preparing us for this success. This preparation started years ago, and I’m thrilled this coaching staff has helped lead us to a World Series appearance.’’

Collins’ coaching staff – hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Dan Warthen, first base coach Tom Goodwin, third base coach Tim Teufel, bullpen coach Ricky Bones and bench coach Bob Geren – will be retained. However, Geren will interview for the Dodgers’ vacant managerial spot.


Nov 03

Top Ten Mets’ Offseason Questions; Collins Not One Of Them

Fortunately, the Mets don’t have to make any decisions immediately when their judgment will be clouded by emotion. These are complex decisions that go beyond the simple and naive approach had Lucas Duda made that throw everything would have been all right.

Duda’s was emblematic of just one of the many off-season concerns facing GM Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon’s checkbook, and that is improving their defense, which is paramount considering they will attempt to make a return trip to the World Series based on their pitching.

With the Mets having signed manager Terry Collins to a two-year extension today, they took care of their first order of business, which was deserving and also eliminated the possibility of the Game 5 meltdown lingering.

Here are the most pressing questions the Mets hope to answer before they face the Royals again, which is Opening Day, 2016:

1) What to do with Cespedes?

Situation: The Mets probably wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had they not traded for Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit. However, you can’t say they wouldn’t have made the World Series, because Cespedes did little in the postseason. Cespedes’ defense and effort were questioned and even exposed in the playoffs. They are expected to make a token offer, but not come close to the seven years and over $120 million he is reportedly asking.

2) What to do with Murphy?

Situation: The Mets are expected to make a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy, but not a long-term deal. Murphy had a historic run in the first two rounds, but added little outside a critical error in Game 4 of the World Series. The Mets must decide if Murphy’s show of power was a fluke or indication he has developed into a power hitter, and if it is the latter, is that enough to overcome losing Cespedes.

3) What to do with Flores?

Situation: A deal fell in July that would have sent Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee. It was a defining moment to the season. Flores showed he wasn’t a liability on defense, but will the Mets be happy? If they let Murphy go and Tejada’s broken leg has healed, Flores would move to second.

4) Can they improve their catching?

Situation: Travis d’Arnaud improved as a hitter when he came off the disabled list and he calls a good game. However, the Royals exposed his inability to throw out runners. Based on their limited exposure to him, the Mets must decide if Kevin Plawecki is any better and who might bring back the most in a trade.

5) Will they follow through with Conforto?

Situation: Manager Terry Collins said Michael Conforto would be a full time player and that includes hitting against left-handed pitching. As of now, the outfield should read Conforto, Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson, from left to right.

6) How healthy is Wright?

Situation: David Wright missed over four months with spinal stenosis and had no complications when he returned. However, can he last an entire season? Their answer could determine what they might do with Murphy.

7) How will they rebuild the bullpen?

Situation: Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese were the Mets’ best bridge relievers to Jeurys Familia in the postseason. Addison Reed was a plus, but Tyler Clippard faded in the end. The Mets are counting on left-hander Jerry Blevins to recover from a broken arm.

8) How much will they spend?

Situation: Reportedly, the Mets already have $92 million tied into salaries for 2016. The Mets were fortunate to land Cespedes at the trade deadline. I think they need to load up during the winter because I don’t now if they can do it again,

9) Will they trade Niese?

Situation: They were unable to last winter, but will try again this offseason. Will the Mets be willing to spend Niese’s salary out of the bullpen?

10) Will they incorporate innings limits again?

Situation: Jacob deGrom withered in the end and Matt Harvey‘s pitch count came into play in Game 5. Whether if be innings or pitch counts, make a decision, announce it and stick with it this time.