Dec 22

Mets Add Journeyman Outfielder De Aza

We knew the Mets weren’t going to bring back Yoenis Cespedes and diving deep into the free-agent market is not their style. They needed a left-handed hitting outfielder and addressed that void with Alejandro De Aza.

DE AZA:  Signed to platoon with Lagares. (AP)

DE AZA: Signed to platoon with Lagares. (AP)

De Aza was signed to platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He’s a role player and nothing more.

He might be slightly better than Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but nothing to get excited about. His most relevant numbers are he’s 32; will make $4.5 million in 2016; has played for five teams in eight years, including three last season and hit .267 with a .331 on-base percentage last year.

He can play all three outfield positions and has some speed, with 86 career stolen bases. But, that doesn’t mean he’s a base running threat as he’s been thrown out 41 times. De Aza played for Baltimore, Boston and San Francisco last season. Three teams in one year, and five before the age of 32 tells you something, doesn’t it? It tells me this is no big deal; nothing to get excited about. This also tells me De Aza fits in with the Mets’ recent history of operating on the cheap.

We’re talking about a player who’ll be no better than the 23rd, 24th or 25th player on the roster. We’re not talking about somebody who will return them to the playoffs.

Actually, for my money they might be better off just playing Lagares full time and skipping the platoon.

 

Dec 15

Mets Matters: Collins Wants Outfield Bat; Blevins Signs

Mets manager Terry Collins weighed in on a few items Tuesday at the club’s annual Holiday Party at Citi Field:

mets-matters logo* He said it would be “nice” to add a bat to replace the retired Michael Cuddyer. Collins told reporters: “I know that they’re working to try to try to find some back-up pieces that will help us out a little bit.” Dexter Fowler and Denard Span have been linked to the Mets, but both might be too expensive and balk at the idea of platooning with Juan Lagares.

* Lefty reliever Jerry Blevins was signed to a one-year contract. Blevins retired all 15 batters he faced in seven appearances with the Mets last year before a Dee Gordon line drive broke his arm and forced him to miss the season. While rehabbing at Port St. Lucie, fell off a curb and re-broke his arm in early August.

* Collins said Wilmer Flores will get time in spring training at first base. It’s not a bad idea. First base isn’t as easy as it looks, but if he can handle it that gives them a back-up for Lucas Duda. Cuddyer backed up Duda last season. “We’ve certainly got to go into spring training and give Wilmer a chance to play around the infield a little bit more  – to put him at some different positions to where we can give guys days off,” Collins said.

Dec 12

Cuddyer’s Retirement Adds To Mets’ Coffers

It seemed a decent idea at the time, but in the end Micheal Cuddyer gave the Mets more in retirement than anything he did on the field. Signed to a two-year deal to provide right-handed outfield pop, injuries sabotaged his first season with the Mets.

CUDDYER: Retires with money on table. (Getty)

CUDDYER: Retires with money on table. (Getty)

In announcing his retirement on an internet website, Cuddyer saves the Mets roughly $12.5 million. That’s not enough to bring back Yoenis Cespedes, but that, plus the roughly $56 million they won’t have to pay Ben Zobrist gives the Mets financial flexibility.

“With one year left on my contract, it is especially difficult to imagine not suiting up in a Mets uniform for one more year,” Cuddyer wrote. “But after 15 years, the toll on my body has finally caught up to me.”

How much of the $12.5 million the Mets will keep hasn’t been announced as there is a probability he will receive some as a buyout.

Cuddyer’s retirement leaves the Mets two outfield holes to fill: 1) a right-handed bat off the bench, and 2) the left-handed platoon for center fielder Juan Lagares.

 

Dec 01

Alderson Named MLB Executive Of The Year

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is an analytics guy, and while there’s debate at to whether that’s the be-all-and-end-all of building a team remains in question, there is no doubt as to his role in taking this team to the World Series.

For that, he was named Major League Baseball’s executive of the year by Baseball America.

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

“Sandy is the best leader I’ve ever been around,’’ Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told Baseball America. “ He lets you do your job. He respects you. And he wants your input. In the world today, his ‘yes’ means yes and his ‘no’ means no. That’s one of the best things about him. He’s always in the forefront. He’s not afraid to take arrows. He’s just a great leader.’’

The following are the moves that helped take the Mets to their sixth World Series:

Matt Harvey: When Harvey bucked management and fought to pitch at the end of the 2014 season, Alderson held his ground. While Harvey’s innings became an issue because there was no apparent plan, in the end Harvey pitched in the postseason and enters the offseason healthy.

Michael Cuddyer: I liked this move even though he didn’t post the numbers the Mets wanted. However, with David Wright out for nearly five months Cuddyer proved a stabilizing veteran presence in the clubhouse. He’ll enter 2016 as a role player.

Noah Syndergaard: When Dillon Gee went down, Syndergaard was brought up and we got to see him several months before his scheduled call-up date.

Michael Conforto: As with Syndergaard, the hesitation in bringing him up because of the Super Two issue. Actually, if Cuddyer hadn’t struggled and been injured, we might not of have seen Conforto until September. Alderson bucked the traditional way the Mets had done things and brought up a player with star potential.

Yoenis Cespedes: When the Carlos Gomez deal with Milwaukee for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores fell through, Alderson acted quickly and traded for Cespedes, who jumpstarted their dormant offense.

The Rotation: The Mets gambled and inserted Steven Matz in the playoff rotation and used Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon in the bullpen. Without that move there’s a chance they wouldn’t have gotten past the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Alderson deserves this honor. But his biggest job is to do it again.

Sep 13

Lagares Auditioning For Playoff Roster Spot

While it is clear Juan Lagares lost his center field job to Yoenis Cespedes, what is in question is a possible postseason roster spot, and he’s yelling: “Don’t forget about me.’’

Lagares, buried on the bench behind Cespedes and later Kirk Nieuwenhuis, personified what has been going on with the Mets lately.

LAGARES: Auditioning for playoff spot. (AP)

LAGARES: Auditioning for playoff spot. (AP)

These Mets refused to give the Braves that third strike or third out. Sunday’s game was lost – that is L O S T – when Lagares came to bat in the ninth.

He fell behind 1-and-2, fouled off a couple of pitches before lining a ball into the right-center gap Cameron Maybin couldn’t hold after a diving attempt.

Curtis Granderson, who has excelled leading off, drew his second walk of the game, 12th of the month and 83rd of the season. Then Daniel Murphy, who isn’t a power hitter, crushed a game-tying three-run homer.

The three runs the Mets scored in the tenth inning was a formality, and with it, the Mets had their 82nd victory for their first winning season in seven years.

The Mets are on an unconscious roll the past six weeks, or since the deal for Cespedes, and it would be easy for a young player such as Lagares to get down on himself.

Lagares is 5-for-9 this month, with three of those hits coming off the bench. He’s started only one game in September. Those are numbers manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson will need to evaluate when deciding the postseason roster.

We know the outfielders will include Cespedes, Granderson, Michael Conforto – there’s no way they can even think about not keeping him now – and Michael Cuddyer. If they want a fifth outfielder the candidates are Nieuwenhuis, Lagares and Eric Young.

Nieuwenhuis offers a left-handed bat off the bench and Young gives them speed and a stolen base threat. Lagares offers a right-handed bat – as does Cuddyer – and defense. But, they won’t take out Cespedes for defense in the playoffs.

Where does that leave Lagares? Today he demonstrated his head is still in the game. If not for the playoffs, then for next season.