Dec 04

It’s Official: Mets Announce Cano, Diaz Deal

VAN WAGENEN with CANO and DIAZ and WILPON

VAN WAGENEN with CANO and DIAZ and WILPON

Brodie Van Wagenen had his picture taken today with Robinson Cano. Also in the photo was reliever Edwin Diaz, the centerpiece to the deal and COO Jeff Wilpon, who will pick up the balance of Cano’s $120 million contract.

On the surface, I am against this trade because of the money owed Cano and his 36 years. That’s just two reasons. The reason to like the deal is in the interest of fairness and for what Van Wagenen said.

”This trade should be a signal to our players and to our fans that words alone will not define this franchise,’’ Van Wagenen said. ”We did not make this move to have this be the last move. We have talent already on the roster. We want to bolster the team, improve our production next season and add more players around this. That’s our mission.”

Going to Seattle are prospects Jared Kelenic and Justin Dunn, and Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista.

You could look at this as two trades. The first is the prospects for Diaz, which I’d do, but the Mariners wouldn’t bite on that without the Mets taking on Cano and his contract.

Cano is owed $24 million a year for the next five, and taking on Bruce and Swarzak will make the first year a wash. But that doesn’t change the fact there are four years left the Mets will be paying $96 million for an aging second baseman – a position where they don’t have an immediate need.

Plenty of holes remain, and with them, substantial rumors, such as trading for Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, but it might cost them either Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. Then there are the on-again, off-again rumors of trading Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard is staying, and that was cemented with the Cano deal. As far as trading either Nimmo or Conforto, I don’t want to part with either, but I would have to in order to get Kluber.

Kluber, Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard would give the Mets one of the best staffs in the majors, and enable them to trade either Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz to fill their remaining holes of a catcher, first baseman, center fielder and at least four arms in the bullpen.

Now, if Van Wagenen can do that, then maybe he will make that big splash after all and do what few expected, which is change the culture.

I still don’t like getting Cano, who is at the tail end of his career, which was punctuated by a PED suspension and a reputation of being disinterested and a lack of hustle.

It takes years to evaluate a trade and on the surface, the Mets gave away too much for the promise of Diaz, because, after all, there’s a glut of relievers on the market, and maybe Cano has a spark left.

However, if Van Wagenen is true to his word, then there’s no telling how far the Mets will go.

 

Oct 31

Four Items On Van Wagenen’s Plate

New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said there are 11 parts to his plans to remaking the Mets. He wouldn’t elaborate what they were, but it is believed he touched on one when he said he wanted Mickey Callaway to return as manager.

I’m speculating the following four are on his list:

Increase the Payroll: They should come in no higher than $160 million. Given the money they’ll save with David Wright’s retirement ($15 million for this summer) and what insurance will pick up with Yoenis Cespedes not likely to return before July, offset by raises earmarked for Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo and what the Mets might do in upgrading their bullpen, don’t expect them to splurge on free agents Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

The Mets are expected to bring back second baseman Jeff McNeil to a raise and need to bring in a center fielder, a catcher and perhaps a first baseman, not to mention a significant reliever. Whether that reliever is top shelf or middle tier, it will cost.

Keep the Rotation Intact: The Mets entertained trading all of their starters last season, and are expected to keep them all this winter. DeGrom and Syndergaard will get hefty raises. Since they aren’t anticipated to do a bullpen game for the fifth slot, they’ll need a fifth starter. Is it Seth Lugo, Jason Vargas or Robert Gsellman, or somebody from the minors?

Van Wagenen will confer with Callaway, John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi this week to get a handle on the rotation. The rotation is potentially the team’s strength and the first four must be kept, but it will increase payroll.

Improving the Lineup: Don’t expect the Mets to dive deep into the free-agent or trade markets despite the optimism Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon portrayed. The Mets must upgrade at catcher and I don’t see them tendering a contract to Travis d’Arnaud. First base is a concern and decisions must be made on Peter Alonso or Dominic Smith, or will Van Wagenen fool around with Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores or Todd Frazier? If the Mets are serious about winning now they must improve catcher and first base. They could have traded for Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona, but that boat sailed when they picked up his option yesterday. The radio call-in shows in New York were filled with callers chiming for Machado, but that would be a horrible mistake.

I was against signing Cespedes because the money would have been better spent on filling the numerous holes the Mets have and still do. Considering Machado is reportedly due twice as much as Cespedes, think of all the improvements the Mets could make.

Upgrade the Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Joe Kelly are the most enticing names in the market. Of course, all will want long-term, expensive contracts. Former GM Sandy Alderson failed to build a bullpen and consistently used the scrap-heap approach. Van Wagenen has to sign a name reliever, and that discounts the possibility of a reunion with Jeurys Familia. Rookies Tyler Bashlor and Drew Smith, and Lugo or Gsellman all pitched well last season at times.

They need to sign one of the four because they desperately need a closer. Bringing back Familia would be a step back. The Mets have plenty of inexperienced hard-throwing relievers, who didn’t distinguish themselves last summer. They have a half-dozen hard-throwers but need at least two or three to show something during spring training.

These four items say the Mets aren’t ready to win now. And, there are at least seven more issues to go.

 

Sep 19

Mets Offense As Bad As The Numbers Say

The Mets were shut out for the 12th time this season tonight in Philadelphia, which along with injuries and their bullpen, accurately defines the Mets’ most serious deficiency this summer.

The offensive breakdowns can be attributed to injuries primarily to Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

The rankings, for lack of a better word, are just ugly. With ten games remaining, they rank:

26th in runs scored with 646, with only the Padres, Giants and Marlins in the National League behind them.

27th in hits with 1,212, ahead of the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Padres.

18th in doubles with 246, 52 behind league leader Atlanta.

19th in homers with 164.

21st in RBI with 619.

12th highest with 1,301 strikeouts, which has long been a franchise problem.

22nd with 64 stolen bases.

28th in batting average at .236.

21st in on-base percentage at .312.

24th with a .704 OPS.

24th in total bases with 2,014.

19th in extra-base hits with 442.

It has been said you can make statistics say anything you want, but there’s no way you can make them say the Mets have had a good year at the plate.

WHEELER SHUTDOWN: As suggested here a few days ago, the Mets have shut down Zack Wheeler for the remainder of the season. Manager Mickey Callaway said Wheeler has nothing left to prove.

“We’re really excited about the year he had, and we feel like we’d probably be taking the best care of him we can if we shut him down at this point,” Callaway said.

Corey Oswalt will take Wheeler’s spot in the rotation, beginning Saturday in Washington.

Wheeler didn’t pitch in 2015-16 following Tommy John surgery and had last year cut short with stress on his arm. After a rocky start this year, he has a 9-1 record and 1.68 ERA in 11 starts in the second half.

“[My] body after this long is starting to wear down a little bit,” Wheeler said. “But if I really needed to for the playoff push or something, I could definitely go out there and finish it up. That’s not why I’m stopping. It’s just being smart, really.

“I’ve done some thinking, and I wish the first part of the season was more like the second part. Obviously, I think overall it was a good season for me. A bit of a learning experience at the beginning. I made some adjustments, and I was able to take off the second half.”

TEBOW TO RETURN: Tim Tebow is expected to return to the Mets organization in 2019.

Tebow underwent season-ending surgery on his right hand in July to repair a fractured hamate bone. In 84 games at Class AA Binghamton, Tebow hit .273 with six homers and 36 RBI and started as the DH in the Eastern League All-Star Game.

 

Sep 09

Mets Matters: Wright Still Wants To Play

Mets captain David Wright will play in his second simulated game Tuesday and still holds out hope he’ll return this season. The Mets have pronounced no such optimism.

Reports surfaced late last week the Mets were reluctant for Wright to return this season because it would void their insurance policy that covers 75 percent of his salary.

Coming with those reports was speculation there was tension between the franchise and its face.

“The last thing that I want to portray is that there is some sort of rift between the Mets and I,” Wright said. “That’s false. There has been communication, and I know where they stand and they know where I stand, so the communication, especially recently, has been fantastic, and I look forward to meeting with [chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon] in the coming days and formulating a game plan from here until the end of September.”

Wright will meet with Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon after the simulated game to discuss the action plan for the rest of the season.

While it is understandable why Wright wants to play, but also why the Mets want him to keep sitting for this summer. However, the catch is unless Wright plays, we’ll never know if he’s physically capable of playing.

One would think that it is important to both Wright and the Mets to get that answer, even if it means it costing the team several million dollars.

DeGrom Scratched: With heavy rain in the forecast, the Mets scratched Jacob deGrom from today’s start rather than risk starting him, having him sit through a delay and losing him for the day.

Fundamentally, it was a good call, but it is one less start for him to make his case for the Cy Young Award.

The Mets, carried by starter Corey Oswalt and Michael Conforto’s two-run homer put a crimp in the Phillies’ playoff aspirations with a 6-4 victory.

Syndergaard injured: Noah Syndergaard left Saturday’s game with bruised right ribs after he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Philadelphia’s Cesar Hernandez.

X-Rays were negative.

“It’s a scary situation,” Syndergaard said. “It’s been my nightmare ever since I’ve started playing baseball. Today was just my judgment day of having a screamer come back at me. I mean, everyone was asking if I’m OK. I’m just concerned if the ball is all right.”

 

Jul 26

Mets Have To Believe Cespedes’ Days Are Over

Sure, the Mets caught a bad break in losing Yoenis Cespedes for the rest of this season and probably up to August of next year. However, the one thing the Mets must resist is the notation to think ”he’ll come back to superstar form in 2020.”

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

They have to avoid that line of thought because, after all, these are the Mets we’re talking about, so everything breaking right usually doesn’t happen. The best position for the Mets is to learn from their David Wright experience and just move on.

They have to believe they got the best of Cespedes, but with that means they have to accept the worse. They have to believe Cespedes is gone forever, and everything they might get from him in the future is a bonus.

But, they can’t believe they never collect on that bonus.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets won’t alter their short-term plans to accommodate losing Cespedes, and they shouldn’t change their long-term plans, either.

”Certainly, when you don’t have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently,” Ricco said, when asked if Cespedes’ surgery changes the Mets’ long-term strategy. ”At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it’s a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we’re going to change our plan moving forward.”

He’s right on that. Trading somebody like Jacob deGrom for a power bat in the outfield isn’t the prudent move now, because where the Mets are situated today, losing a solid arm in exchange for a handful of home runs won’t make them any better. And certainly, it won’t elevate them to contender status.

Even with a healthy and productive Cespedes, the Mets aren’t a contender. The Mets shouldn’t concentrate on acquiring a Cespedes-type bat until they do reach contending status.

And, it isn’t imminent.

Currently, the Mets’ outfield consists of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista. When he returns, throw Jay Bruce into that mix. This isn’t to say the Mets don’t need a healthy and productive Cespedes, but they can’t count on that now.

Or ever again.