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 18

Who Is On Alderson’s Shopping List?

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he’s not done yet, which is odd because I didn’t even know he started. But, he added Jay Bruce you might say. But is adding the same person you traded last season really improving?

When the Mets traded Bruce to Cleveland, Aug. 9, they were nine games below .500 and 16.5 games out of first. Since they finished 22 games under .500 and 27 games out of first, I suppose you can make an argument the Mets did worse, fourth place is fourth place no matter how you cut it?

Alderson says he’ll likely add a free agent, and with third base a priority, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker are the names being floated.

MOUSTAKAS: Forget it. He’s too expensive.

FRAZIER: They might be able to afford him, but eventually will balk at the salary (he made $12 million last year). He’s limited to playing only third. That Bruce gave him a lukewarm endorsement give the Mets pause. He’ll be 31 by Opening Day.

WALKER: He can play second and third, but left the Mets on strained terms. I’m not counting on him as the answer.

REYES: Has the added benefit of being able to play shortstop and will come cheaply. Signing just Reyes is basically filling a roster spot and shouldn’t be the lone remaining move.

NUNEZ: Is the bargain of the bunch. Was on the verge of becoming a star while with the Twins but never reached the next level. He’s only 30 which is a plus, so is his $4.2 million salary. Also, a plus is that he can play anywhere in the infield, which would make bringing back Reyes not necessary.

 

Jan 09

What About Jose Reyes?

The Mets already have an idea of what will happen with David Wright‘s comeback. We know they won’t shell out big free-agent bucks for Mike Moustakas, or even lesser bucks for Todd Frazier. T.J. Rivera‘s health is a question and the Mets have nothing waiting in the minor leagues.

The Mets have a hole at third, and also one at second if something happens to Asdrubal Cabrera.

So, what about Jose Reyes?

He played well in spots in his return, has shown a willingness to play third and second, and of course, he can spell Amed Rosario at shortstop if necessary. He still has speed but doesn’t run as much as he did in his younger days. He won’t cost the Mets a lot of money, and his price tag won’t touch the $10 million they reportedly have available to spend.

Reyes has been a model citizen since rejoining the Mets, and has professed a desire to stay with the team. So, what’s the delay? The only conclusion I can think of is GM Sandy Alderson wants to squeeze every dollar from Reyes, or whomever he might sign this winter.

 

Jan 05

Mets’ Monitor McCutchen And Moustakes … More Dreaming

Two more names on the Mets’ fantasy shopping list that surfaced recently that won’t happen: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

A CBS report had the Mets interested in McCutchen and an SNY report mentioned Moustakas. The Mets need to sign both, plus another starter, and maybe a quality reliever to reach .500 let alone contend for a wild card.

McCUTCHEN: Would be a rental. (AP)

McCUTCHEN: Would be a rental. (AP)

This isn’t the first time the Mets have been linked to McCutchen, and the obstacles to pulling off a deal have always been the same: the cost in prospects it would take to pull off a trade and the money to keep him.

Compounding matters is McCutchen is entering his walk year, so do the Mets really want to give up a lot for a rental?

At 31, McCutchen hit .279 with a .363 on-base percentage and 28 homers last season but is no longer an everyday center fielder. There was a time last year where he struggled to the point to where he was dropped from third to sixth in the batting order.

He’s not the star he once was, but still pretty good – and expensive.

McCutchen will be paid $14.75 million in 2018, which is manageable even for the Mets, but I’m not making that deal for a rental that won’t put them into the playoffs. The deal also shouldn’t be made unless the Mets negotiate an extension, which should conservatively be for three years for at least $17.5 million a season.

Moustakas is 29 and hit .272 with 38 homers in 2017 and reports have him seeking $85 million over five years, or $17 million a season.

The Mets can monitor McCutchen and Moustakas all they want, but if they won’t have more than $10 million to spend this year, it stands to reason they won’t have enough to bring in either.

Either player makes the Mets better, and isn’t that the idea?

 

Apr 04

Cespedes’ Explanation Insulting

Seeing Yoenis Cespedes’ comments about his misadventures in left field Opening Day served as a reminder most players don’t care as much as fans do. His explanation was insulting.

I don’t know what I expected Cespedes to say after he lackadaisically loped into position and casually reached for Mike Moustakas’ routine fly ball in the first inning. And, dropped it because he wouldn’t do the most fundamental thing, which is to use two !@#$% hands.

CESPEDES: ``I'm human.'' (AP)

CESPEDES: “I’m human.” (AP)

Every Little Leaguer knows to do that, but not Cespedes – and to be fair most Major Leaguers, either. Maybe they don’t think it’s the “cool’’ thing to do. Maybe they just don’t give a damn.

Cespedes’ comment was as half-assed as his effort three hours earlier: “The ball just fell out of my glove. The ball just fell. I’m human.’’

Fell? It fell because he was too lazy to use two hands; too stubborn to do one of the most fundamental things in his sport. Actually, in all fairness to Cespedes, it “fell” from his glove twice, the second when he attempted to pick it up with his glove. Another screw-up, as in a play like that you reach down with your throwing hand.

I guess Mets fans should be grateful he at least reached down to pick it up.

The play, Cespedes’ comments, and manager Terry Collins’ reaction is emblematic about what is wrong with professional sports these days.

First, there’s the player who doesn’t care enough to do his best then dismisses legitimate questions. Then, there’s the manager who is too timid to do anything about it. And, worse, defends the botched play. Don’t dare call out the player who is making $27.5 million.

Instead, Collins meekly said: “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.”

I laughed because anybody who has been paying attention couldn’t be surprised.

Actually, the only person who came out of this looking good was the player victimized the most, with that being Matt Harvey.

Sure, Harvey had to be pissed – no pun intended – but he did the professional thing, which is to not publicly throw his teammate under the bus.

“It’s baseball. Things happen,’’ Harvey told reporters. “Nobody’s trying to do anything out there except to get outs and do everything we can to help the team. Errors happen. It’s part of the game.’’

So is using two hands.

ON DECK: Why this is Collins’ toughest job

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