Dec 15

Mets Nearing Trade With Toronto For Dickey

At least the Mets will have the good sense to deal R.A. Dickey to the American League, where he won’t have the chance to stick it to them several times a summer.

If the trade of Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays does happen, it will end one the most stubborn and stupid phases in franchise history, one where there have been numerous stubborn and stupid moments.

Numerous reports have Dickey, a project who turned into a Cy Young Award winner, on his way to the Blue Jays for a package that could include catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, so say good-bye soon to Josh Thole.

Talks appear to be serious, although they haven’t yet reached the stage where Dickey’s agent to talking to the Blue Jays about an extension or he’s being asked to take a physical.

Dickey underwent surgery after the season to repair an abdominal tear, an ailment that did not prevent him from winning 20 games.

The Texas Rangers were also in the hunt for Dickey, but apparently backed out because the Mets’ demands were too high.

The Mets exercised a $5 million option for 2013 on Dickey with the stated intent of working on an extension. On top of the $5 million option, Dickey wanted two more years for $26 million. Meanwhile, the Mets were offering two years at $20 million.

So, it boils down to the Mets losing one of their few bright spots on the field, plus one of their most popular players for just $6 million.

That’s chump change by today’s standards.

The Mets were peeved when Dickey used the club’s holiday party as a forum to express his displeasure at the pace of the negotiations.

Dickey said: “In the context of the market, you want what you think is fair. I feel like we’re asking for less than what’s fair because that’s how it’s been for me.

“There is a surprise sometimes when things don’t get done quickly and you already think you’re extending the olive branch. At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to. I don’t know those numbers. And, I try not to take it personally.’’

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Dec 14

Mets’ Alderson: Expectations Higher Than Realized

Sandy Alderson said there’s not much in the FA market, but the truth is the Mets vastly underestimated the value of that market.

Ryan Ludwick, who would look good in the Citi Field outfield void of any substantial talent, signed a two-year, $15-million extension with Cincinnati, the going rate for an outfielder with a limited resume.

ALDERSON: No more twiddling thumbs.

The Mets thought two years at half was too much.

Now, there’s the case of the mediocre Manny Acosta, who logged innings out of the Mets’ bullpen last year, but not productive ones. He’ll make $1.65 million next year in Japan with the potential of another $500,000 in bonuses.

I’m not bemoaning the loss of Acosta, but if he can get that, imagine what a decent reliever will bring. Undoubtedly, a lot more.

Fact is, Alderson’s expertise is buying cheap and building from the ground up. He was brought here to get things under financial control and for the most part has done his job.

Alderson previously won, but never in a city with the expectations and payroll in New York. Alderson was hired by Oakland in 1981 as the team’s general counsel and named GM in 1983, a position he held until 1997.

Those Athletics teams, under a difference economic system, produced three consecutive Rookies of the Year in Jose Canseco (1986), Mark McGwire (1987) and Walt Weiss (1988). Alderson’s tenure also included Dave Stewart, Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley and manager Tony La Russa, he of the juggling bullpen.

Under his helm, Oakland won four division titles, three AL titles and the 1989 World Series.

Clearly, Alderson’s Oakland teams had talent, a sound scouting system and different economic system. Things were also different than in New York when Alderson’s Padres won division titles in 2005 and 2006.

However, Alderson never encountered the financial distress and expectations he inherited in New York. Those expectations included wrestling the Yankees for the city’s back pages.

By all accounts, Alderson is a sharp guy, so I don’t buy he was naïve to the pressures and expectations of New York. I even believe, working in the commissioner’s office, he had a handle on the Mets’ financial problems, but perhaps not to the degree after the Madoff scandal.

I expected a gradual turnaround under Alderson, but he’s had two years so now I’m expecting more aggressiveness in putting a competitive team on the field. Then again, it must be realized Alderson doesn’t have complete control as he must answer to the Wilpons.

He grossly underestimated things at the trade deadline last year. The Mets were over eight games at one point prior to the break, but he gambled and lost they’d continue to play well.

After Johan Santana and Dillon Gee went down, there was further stress on the bullpen. By the time Ike Davis started to hit, David Wright stopped. And, of course, Jason Bay – not acquired on Alderson’s watch – never started.

I’m expecting more of Alderson in his third year. I’m expecting comes the realization losing is not an option in New York. If traditional low-spending revenue teams such as Washington and Cincinnati can be more aggressive, and a team with little offense in San Francisco can win two World Series in three years, then more is expected from the Mets.

Maybe we don’t know how bad things are behind the scenes, but we do know how bad things are on the field.

And, it has to stop.

Dec 14

Mets Won’t Benefit From Hamilton Signing With Angels

The knee-jerk reaction was obvious in the wake of the blockbuster news of Josh Hamilton signing a five-year, $125-million deal with the Angels.

Surely, the Angels could make slugging outfielders Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos available to the Mets in exchange for R.A. Dickey.

Ah, the perils of the World of Twitter.

Although the Angels won’t keep Zack Greinke, they do have pitching so where dealing a hot prospect for Dickey isn’t a necessity.

If anything, the Rangers could be a better trading partner for the Mets because they can see their window shutting fast with Hamilton’s departure and their inability to land Greinke.

With the Rangers clearly regressing – Michael Young is gone – the Angels are the clear frontrunners in AL West with Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout forming as good a 1-2-3 punch as there is in the sport.

Hamilton made the rounds at the Winter Meetings and was linked to several suitors, including the Rangers, Seattle,Yankees, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

It was thought with Hamilton’s dependency issues he might stay with the Rangers, the team most familiar with him. However, Hamilton didn’t have an easy going of it at the end of last season and there was the perception Texas management was blaming their slugger for the team’s collapse.

Considering Hamilton’s condition, the high-pressure markets of New York, Boston and Philadelphia were never good fits. Los Angeles has its share of distractions – with the Rangers he traveled with a chaperone and didn’t carry cash – but is a more relaxed setting.

With the Angels not short in any specific area and Torii Hunter gone, Trumbo can easily slot in as the DH. So, why deal him?

METS WON’T GET HAIRSTON: It won’t get easier in the Mets’ pursuit of an outfielder with Scott Hairston getting attention from the Yankees, Phillies, Giants and Cardinals. All are better teams, with the Yankees and Phillies playing in bandboxes.

Hairston made $1.1 million with the Mets last season and aren’t inclined to go much higher. The Mets eschewed trading Hairston last July. As they did in the Dickey trade market, the Mets got greedy in their asking despite having no chance to win and little hope of retaining him.

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Dec 13

Mets To Blame For Party Fallout With Dickey

The Mets remain peeved at R.A. Dickey for using their holiday party as his forum to discuss their contractual stalemate. Dickey is annoyed with the Mets for playing hardball with him, and wasn’t shy in bringing that up despite wearing elf ears. Cute or not, his true feelings emerged.

This isn’t a matter of sharing blame because this is all the Mets’ doing. It was their party and they knew how it work.

DICKEY: This impasse is ridiculous.

The Mets use their holiday party every year as a charity event, but to make it work they need player participation. It’s even further proof the sport is about those playing it, not those with the fortune to buy the shiny toy of a team.

If the Mets didn’t want Dickey talking bad about his situation, they should have either signed him or not invite him. Simple, actually.

When the Mets chose to have Dickey participate, they knew reporters would have access and ask the inevitable questions. They can’t be that naïve to believe otherwise.

The Mets couldn’t have seriously thought Dickey would clam up about his contract. If so, what planet are Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons from anyway?

They can’t have Dickey there to support their charities and not expect him to talk. They can’t have it both ways.

They also can’t have it both ways by demanding a lot for him in the trade market – after all, Cy Young Award winners don’t come cheap, they say  – yet lowball him in their negotiations.

It doesn’t work that way.

I understand the Mets’ apprehension about extending the 38-year-old Dickey, who has had only one stud season, and that with what the sport regards as a gimmick pitch. Even so, his two previous years were representative of a fifth starter, which is what they’ve always envisioned of him.

The Mets weren’t prepared when Dickey screwed up their thinking by winning 20 games.

Despite their concerns, Dickey is entrenched in the community and has a strong following. Even if he faltered in 2013, he wouldn’t be the clubhouse distraction turned pariah that was Oliver Perez or Frankie Rodriguez.

Those two came with high expectations. Not Dickey. The knuckleballer more than repaid the Mets for rescuing him from baseball’s scrap heap. Yes, they gave him an opportunity, but they did so with the idea of always trying to find somebody better.

Only they couldn’t. Dickey surprised them all in last year’s feel-good story. He more than repaid his debt to the team. Dickey owes the Mets nothing.

Dickey is a solid, stand-up guy who wouldn’t embarrass the organization. He supported the Mets in their charity function despite being at financial odds with them. That should say something about his character, as does everything he does off the field.

And, besides that, even if it turns out he is a one-year wonder, it would come a lot cheaper than what they paid out to Perez and Rodriguez.

It is stupid this has lasted this long.

Dec 13

Talk Of Mets Dealing Niese Absurd

Anybody who believes the Mets are serious about trading Jon Niese is either: a) nuts, b) misinformed, c) clueless, or d) all of the above.

I’ve heard reports the Mets will trade either R.A. Dickey or Niese in their effort to acquire a power-hitting outfielder.

NIESE: Not going anywhere. (AP)

They seem almost desperate in their attempts to trade Dickey, but Niese isn’t going anywhere for a multitude of reasons.

Although Niese’s career high is 13 victories, he’s more potential than production at age 26. He’s young, left-handed, throws hard, has had success on the major league level, but most importantly, is inexpensive considering the market.

Cheap, actually.

Niese, in one of the few smart contract moves we’ve seen from the Mets in recent years, is signed to a five-year, $21.5 million contract. In short, the total value of his deal is less than what the Mets are reportedly willing to pay Dickey.

If Niese were in the NFL or NBA, he’d be holding out this spring. As it is, he’s locked in through 2016 with club options for 2017 and 2018.

In looking at the big picture for the Mets, Niese has more value than Dickey, and assuming he stays healthy and continues to improve, he’ll be here longer than the three years Dickey originally sought. If things progress, the Mets will have won the first Niese contract.

For all their talk about pitching depth, the Mets have issues that seem to be ignored by GM Sandy Alderson that can’t be overshadowed no matter how big a bat they get.

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