Dec 22

Mets’ Pitching Concerns Hinders McCutchen Trade Possibility

When it comes to trades involving the Mets – whether made or speculated – entails a great deal of reading between the lines. So it goes with this ember in the Hot Stove boiler involving Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates.

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

Sure, I can throw a lot of crap against the wall like I’ve read on other sites about the Mets giving the Pirates Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, and while those are all names that could get it done, it won’t happen.

We all know GM Sandy Alderson is reluctant to dip into his glut of young pitching, but this time it isn’t a matter of being afraid of pulling the trigger, but rather trying to protect the Mets’ pennant hopes for 2017.

I’ve suggested using Gsellman and Lugo for work in the bullpen as well as a protection for their young starters, of which four are coming off surgery: Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery twice in the past three years; Jacob deGrom has had two surgeries; Matz has a problem staying on the field; and Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years.

Then there’s Noah Syndergaard, who had trouble with a bone spur in his elbow in the second half, so we don’t know how that will be.

With Bartolo Colon gone and five potential starters with health concerns, you can appreciate Alderson wanting a security blanket.

But, Alderson’s apprehension goes deeper. You can also read into this the Mets really don’t know what to expect from their young rotation, and likely won’t until spring training. By that time, they might have to find ways to get Gsellman and/or Lugo innings before Opening Day.

It also tells you Alderson might be concerned the Mets’ window of opportunity is closing faster than he’d hoped.

He’s probably right on that: there’s a question about catching this year, so they’ll be shopping there next winter; they could be without Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera; nobody knows about David Wright; and the Mets might not have Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson.

Alderson is hoping the pitching can hold up and he can get enough hitting from Yoenis Cespedes and what could be a patchwork offense to carry them into October.

Sure, I’d like for them to get McCutchen, but you could see this coming. Trading for McCutchen, or making any kind of deal of that magnitude, pretty much went by the boards after they went all out for Cespedes and ended up with a glut logjam in center field.

Dec 21

What’s The Oddest Thing You’ve Seen With A Mets Logo?

It has been a slow time for the Mets and will likely continue to be that way until January when the arbitration period begins. I was at the mall this morning. Just browsing. For those who haven’t finished your Christmas shopping and are looking for something for a Mets’ fan, there is no shortage of things you can buy.

mets-logoball-2The first thing I would get if I were shopping for a Mets’ fan is the obvious choice, and that’s tickets. Individual game tickets are available. The next would be a trip to Port St. Lucie for spring training. The chance for autographs is probably the first two weeks. There are no games and you can usually get players entering the facility in the morning and during breaks in the workouts when they are on the back fields.

No guarantees, of course, but after years of watching spring training that’s a decent bet. Once the games start, if the team is on the road, players who didn’t make the trip stay back can usually be had.

After the experience of the seeing the Mets, the gift choices range from the obvious to the outrageous.

There are T-shirts, sweatshirts, jersey tops, jackets and more varieties of caps than you can imagine. I haven’t seen a Mets logo on shoes, but I probably didn’t look hard enough.

Of course, there are books, calendars, and videos. Hopefully, I’ll have a book for you this time next year. I’ve been working on a few ideas and you can bet I’ll give you a taste here.

I’ve seen jewelry, from watches to bracelets to earrings. It would be nice to gift the players championship rings, but those are earned and not given.

Among the more unusual gifts are cooking related. There’s something for grilling where you can flip your burgers and steaks with a spatula with the Mets’ logo. I think there’s even one where you can imprint the logo on pancakes. Of course, there are cups and mugs.

I’ve seen Mets’ ornaments, a Mets Pez dispenser, rugs and blankets, and collars for your dog. I think you can even get a food bowl for your best friend bearing the logo.

This is a little off course, but you can even order a coffin or urn for ashes bearing the Mets’ logo. That’s another story, obviously.

In the interim, pleasant shopping. And, when you’re out in the stores and see something odd bearing the Mets’ logo, give me a shout.

Dec 20

Mets Continue To Wait On Dealing Bruce Or Granderson

Never mind trading both, the Mets will be hard pressed to trade either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson soon.

If they do so, it won’t be until mid-January if not later. Perhaps not until spring training when most teams are trying to determine their rosters before the start of the season.

Interest in either has been tepid at best, despite the relatively manageable contracts for Bruce ($13 million) and Granderson ($15 million), primarily because the market remains crowded.

According to mlbtraderumors.com, the following free-agent outfielders are available:

Left Fielders
Cody Asche (27)
Gregor Blanco (33)
Nick Buss (30)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Coco Crisp (37)
Rajai Davis (36)
Alejandro De Aza (33)
Jeff Francoeur (33)
Josh Hamilton (36)
Craig Gentry (33)
Cole Gillespie (33)
Desmond Jennings (30)
David Lough (31)
Brandon Moss (33)
Angel Pagan (35)
Jimmy Paredes (28)
Ryan Raburn (36)
Colby Rasmus (30)
Nolan Reimold (33)
Michael Saunders (30)
Rickie Weeks (34)

Center Fielders

Peter Bourjos (30)
Michael Bourn (34)
Coco Crisp (37)
Rajai Davis (36)
Sam Fuld (35)
Austin Jackson (30)
Desmond Jennings (30)
Ben Revere (29)
Justin Ruggiano (35)
Drew Stubbs (32)

Right Fielders

Dustin Ackley (29)
Jose Bautista (36)
Gregor Blanco (33)
Peter Bourjos (30)
Marlon Byrd (39)
Franklin Gutierrez (34)
David Lough (31)
Jimmy Paredes (28)
Mark Trumbo (31)

 

That’s a sizeable group; with a good number of them likely to be had for less than what the Mets are scheduled to pay either, and many are younger.

So, why would a team give up a player or prospects when they can just sign somebody off this list, and possibly for less money?

This can’t come as a surprise for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who should be aware of the market, and has to understand that having a glut of outfielders has to drive up the asking price for a team thinking of making a deal.

The Mets could sweeten the pot with more players, but this would entail them wanting to make a bigger deal and they don’t seem so inclined to go that route.

So, they are likely to wait this out or take somebody they don’t really want just to make a trade.

Dec 17

Cold Weather Has Me Thinking Spring Training

There’s a foot of snow on the ground, the wind chill at 20 degrees, Christmas eight days and the Dolphins crushing the Jets. What better time than this to think about spring training?

Spring training has always been one of my favorite times of the year, for reasons both on and off the field.

From landing in Florida and taking off for the chill that’s still in New York, it’s a great time and a terrific experience.

The best part was the time you could spend with the players. Earlier in his career, the ten minutes David Wright said he’d give you could turn into a half-an-hour with the conversation touching a wide ranging variety of subjects, to playing the bunt, to going to the opposite field, to watching North Carolina play Duke in the ACC Tournament, to dozens of other topics.

I remember a long conversation with Carlos Beltran, who told me of his rookie season while with Kansas City. His eyes watered when he spoke of not being able to speak English.

I used to love talking pitching with Mike Mussina and David Cone, with Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez, with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. With Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner.

How great is it to go to work wearing shorts and a windbreaker?

I remember running laps around the fields after practice in Port St. Lucie. That was, until somebody on the grounds crew told me snakes came out at dusk.

Better still was playing basketball after practice, then going out for seafood and a movie. I played a lot of miniature golf and went to the dog track.

You never knew who would show up to spring training. Sandy Koufax was terrific. I ran into him one day told him of the time my dad told me “you have to see this guy pitch.’’ When he asked what game, I sheepishly told him of a game the Mets shelled him at Shea Stadium, 10-4. His response? “I remember that game, too.’’

There were others, too. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.

There have been dozens of cross-state drives passing through places like Yeehaw Junction, a truck stop of a town with a population of 240. There is also the long drive across the state on Alligator Alley, named for the obvious reason

It was a lot of fun to sit in the stands behind the plate and talk with scouts.

There was so much more. Countless hours watching the NCAA Tourney … picking my Home Run Derby team with the other writers … eating at hole-in-the-wall barbeque joints. … it is Florida, so good pizza and Italian was hard to find.

By my calculation, I spent over 120 weeks in Florida for spring training. I’m looking forward to going there again next year.

Dec 14

Harvey Optimistic, But Fingers Crossed

When it comes to Matt Harvey proclamations, I’ll believe it when I see it. How can it be any other way for the Mets’ “it’s always something” former All-Star? Harvey, who underwent season-ending surgery for the second time in three years last season, said he’s optimistic about his return from surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome.

HARVEY: So far so good. (AP)

HARVEY: So far so good. (AP)

It’s a complicated procedure because it entailed removing a rib on his right side to relieve pressure on nerves connecting between the neck and shoulder. The ailment caused a lack of feeling in his pitching hand and subsequently cut off circulation that made his hand feeling cold.

Talking to reporters at a Mets’ charity function in Queens, Harvey expressed optimism.

“I’d like to think so,” Harvey said about making a strong rebound season. “Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball. The way things are feeling now, the way the body feels, I’m feeling great.”

Harvey said he’s feeling warmth in his hand and the tingling sensation is gone.

Harvey was struggling at 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts before his season abruptly ended. In one respect the diagnosis was a positive, because after each lackluster start there was the second-guessing the 216 innings he threw in 2015 after coming off Tommy John surgery had drained him.

There are no problems so far, said Harvey.

“The ball is coming out really good right now, especially for December,” he said. “I’m feeling great. My workouts are going well. I’m just looking forward to getting down to spring training and having a good time. … Obviously being healthy through spring training and getting to the season and continuing to be healthy through the season is a big plus for me and something I’m looking forward to doing.

“As far as the offseason goes, I’m right where I want to be.”

We’ve heard this before about Harvey and we all know him being where he wants to be in December isn’t the issue.

The Mets didn’t have a definitive innings plan for Harvey in 2015, and so far there’s been no mention of a plan for Harvey. Or for Jacob deGrom, who is also coming off surgery. Or for Steven Matz, who is also coming back from surgery.