Feb 08

Mets Get Encouraging News On Smith

Of all I’ve heard about the Mets this winter the most encouraging is the positive news about Dominic Smith’s conditioning. Whether it be Adrian Gonzalez’s presence, GM Sandy Alderson’s comments or whether last season’s window was a wake-up call is irrelevant.

All three conspired to grab Smith by the scruff of his neck and shake some sense into him.

SMITH: Has lost his gut. (AP)

SMITH: Has lost his gut. (AP)

Smith, who hit for more power than anybody anticipated, is in the best shape of his career after dropping 30 pounds this winter.

“I feel more athletic than I’ve ever been,’’ Smith told The Post. “In spring training, I’ve always looked the part, but as far as my mobility and loosening up some hips and being more flexible, more agile as an athlete, I feel like this is the most advanced I’ve been for sure in my career.

“I feel the difference. I feel like my whole posture is better. The way I walk around is better. My body doesn’t hurt. I just feel more like an athlete. And that’s something that I didn’t have in the past.’’

Of course, there are stories every spring about players reporting to camp in the best shape of their careers, but just being in shape isn’t enough. Let’s hope Smith’s good feeling about his conditioning will filter down to his plate discipline and patience.

If Smith can couple his conditioning and improve his walks-to-strikeouts ratio (14-to-49 for a .262 on-base percentage and .198 batting average) it would go a long way in him becoming the player the Mets envisioned.

As far as Gonzalez goes, he would have been a great pick-up five years ago but the Mets couldn’t have afforded him. I’d rather Smith plays full time and reaches his potential and Gonzalez come off the bench.

Feb 06

Frazier Helps Mets Four Ways

Unquestionably, the Mets are better today after reportedly agreeing to terms with third baseman Todd Frazier on a two-year, $17-million deal.

Frazier improves the Mets four ways:

  • He gives them a proven, veteran third baseman for the next two seasons.
  • He alleviates the David Wright issue. There’s no reason to think about him returning now.
  • He allows Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base, which he prefers.
  • He strengthens the bench because it enables them to concentrate on Jose Reyes in a platoon at second and third.

Frazier hit 67 homers in the last two years, but Mets manager Mickey Callaway told The Post there’s more to him than just power.

“He’s a baseball player,’’ Callaway said. “And you know what he did at the end of the season when we were preparing to play the Yankees, he made some adjustments at the plate. He stopped chasing balls.

“He stopped trying to go down there and flick that ball to left, he was laying off balls that he was going after in the past. You look at his average (.213), but that’s going to change if he continues to do what he did the last month of the season.’’

“He’s a great defender. He’s a great baserunner, too. He can really, really run the bases. Every time we’d go into town and played him, our bench coach, who controlled the running game, would come up to me and say, ‘We’ve got to make sure to keep Frazier close at first, he gets that running lead.’ He puts pressure on the other team.’’

Frazier improves the Mets, but does he make them overcome the 22 games needed to reach .500?

Hardly.

Feb 02

Who Are The Mets’ Tradeable Assets?

There are three ways to build a team: drafting, free-agency, and trading. GM Sandy Alderson admitted the other day the Mets won’t meaningfully participate in two of them.

Alderson said the Mets might add a free-agent, but it won’t be a significant one. After all, would you call either Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez as significant? We can discount Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes because that’s breaking even.

SYNDERGAARD: Most valuable trade asset.  (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Most valuable trade asset. (AP)

The Mets don’t want to sign a big-ticket free agent because they don’t want to give up a compensatory draft pick as to build up their thin minor league system.

So, if they won’t significantly spend and have a weak farm system that leaves the trade market. But, who exactly do they have to trade?

PITCHERS: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the most valuable in terms of what they can bring back. Of the two, I would sign deGrom long-term contract and see what Syndergaard might return. Syndergaard has a higher upside in the trade market because he’s younger, throws harder and has a team-friendly contract. He’s almost like Matt Harvey was five years ago.

So, the faster way to accumulate young talent would be trading Syndergaard. I know the Mets don’t want to but it might be something to consider.

The Mets won’t do it, of course, and one justifiable reason is to hedge against the unraveling of their vaunted rotation that hasn’t made a complete turn one-through-five, ever. Twice Harvey had season-ending surgery, but the Mets won’t deal him because they are holding onto the hope he’ll realize his potential. Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t going to bring him back, so their hope of getting something for him is for him to get off to a good start and deal him at the deadline.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler also have injury histories that hurt their trade value, and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo won’t bring much in return.

As far as their relievers go, that Mickey Callaway is considering a closer-by-committee downgrade the value of the back-end relievers, and that includes Jeurys Familia, who is recovering from surgery.

Frankly, the only reliever who might have some value is AJ Ramos, but then again what did the Mets have to give up to get him?

Outside of deGrom and Syndergaard, the best chance for the Mets to improve themselves with their pitching is to hope they stay healthy and live up to their potential.

But, hoping is not a sound strategy.

CATCHERS: Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki can be had, but what does it say about their value when the Mets have been trying to upgrade here?

FIRST BASE: If there was genuine interest in Adrian Gonzalez they had their chance to sign him. Dominic Smith didn’t impress during his window so his value is down. If the Mets are serious about rebuilding they’ll hold onto Smith because he is young with potential.

SECOND/THIRD BASE: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes won’t draw any interest until the trade deadline, and even then it will be questionable. Wilmer Flores drew interest in 2015 and could again, but it would have to be at the deadline and as part of a package.

As for there’s David Wright, whose contract, no-trade clause and injury history make him untradeable.

SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario is young, fast, has a team-friendly contract and a huge upside. He’s somebody you don’t trade unless you get exceptionable young talent in return.

LEFT FIELD: A healthy, productive Yoenis Cespedes should interest most teams. It did for three teams before he came to the Mets. As with Wright, Cespedes’ contract that includes a no-trade clause make him untradeable.

CENTER FIELD: Michael Conforto is coming off shoulder surgery and will miss the first month of the season. The Mets could get something of value for him because he’s good, young, has a huge upside and manageable contact. But, those are the reasons why they shouldn’t even consider it.

Juan Lagares has an injury history and manageable contract, but he doesn’t have a resume of production.

RIGHT FIELD: Any team that wanted Bruce had their opportunity to sign him as a free agent and not give up any talent.

Maybe the Mets could trade him at the July deadline in 2020.

So, just who do the Mets have to trade that would greatly improve them?

 

Feb 01

It’s Truck Day

The equipment truck left for Port St. Lucie this afternoon with the bats and balls, and of course, the hopes of Mets’ fans everywhere. Spring training is the best time of year because it is when dreams are born.

GM Sandy Alderson was there to say goodbye and address the smattering of fans, many of them who consider the truck a seasonal rite of passage.

“It’s been a slow offseason,’’ Alderson told the small group of fans. “But I want to put that in context because that has been true across all of baseball. In fact, the Mets have really been as active as anybody.’’

Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes are returning to a team that finished 22 games below .500, and along with them Anthony Swarzak and an over-the-hill Adrian Gonzalez.

Unless the Mets’ young and battered pitching staff return healthy and live up to expectations, it’s hard to fathom those four additions lifting Mickey Callaway’s team to contending status. That likely won’t happen even if they add Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez or even a reunion with Neil Walker.

The Mets’ payroll is currently $137 million with little wiggle room.

Even if the Mets were to sign Mike Moustakas – which Alderson dismissed – that’s not nearly enough to put them over the top.

A big-ticket free-agent would cost the Mets draft-choice compensation and the loss of international pool money, something Alderson said is essential in “improving what is now a less-than-robust farm system.’’

Building from within is the most reliable and cost-effective way of building a team. The Mets tried that with their young pitching but have been derailed because of injuries.

The other ways of building are through trades and free-agency and Alderson has already said the latter is out. Quite frankly, the Mets have very few tradable assets other than their young – and most injured – pitching.

Are they willing to go there?

Jan 29

Mets Need To Find Out About Smith And Not Gonzalez

Do you remember last season when the talk surrounding the Mets was why weren’t they bringing up Dominic Smith?

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

They didn’t because the Mets already had a first baseman; because they still thought they had a chance to compete; and, most importantly, they didn’t think he was ready for prime time.

Well, they traded Lucas Duda; the injuries mounted and their season spun out of control; they finally brought up Smith and GM Sandy Alderson was correct – or partially so.

Smith, supposedly a defensive wizard, was erratic in the field. He hit with more power than expected, but his average and on-base percentage were worse than expected, and his attitude and conditioning weren’t what the Mets hoped.

Based on Smith’s limited window the Mets don’t believe he’s ready. Hopefully, Smith learned from last summer and rededicated himself and this might be the year he finds his game.

But, barring a dramatic turn, it won’t be in Flushing as the Mets for the start of this season at least are committed to Adrian Gonzalez. I would have preferred the Mets opened the season with Smith and given him a shot to live up to the expectations. With the Mets not anticipated to contend this year, this would be the perfect opportunity to see what the Mets have in the prospect.

Seriously, would Gonzalez put the Mets over the top? Of course not, and neither would Smith regardless of how well he plays this year.

But, the most important thing regarding Smith is to get an idea of what the Mets have in him. And, playing Gonzalez would only set the Mets back at least a year.

Just a ridiculous decision by Alderson.