Nov 12

Mets Don’t Figure To Be Dealing A GM Meetings; Lose Byrd To Phillies

On the day the New York Mets extended manager Terry Collins’ contract, GM Sandy Alderson said he had the resources to make a $100-million plus deal.

ALDERSON: Whats's his budget? (AP)

ALDERSON: Whats’s his budget? (AP)

Not surprisingly, he backed off that stance at GM meetings in Orlando, telling ESPN: “We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright. Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again – not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building.

Just how much the Mets will spend Alderson didn’t say, but for a team in search of offense, it was interesting to see him pass on bringing back Marlon Byrd, who reportedly reached a two-year, $16-million deal with the Phillies.

Undoubtedly, the decision was based more on finances, and there was nothing wrong with Byrd’s clubhouse presence – or production, for that matter – that would chase away the Mets.

Why then did they pass?

Byrd, 36, rejuvenated his career this summer with the Mets and Pittsburgh, batting .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBI. That’s the kind of production the Mets crave, but considering his 50-game drug suspension the previous season, did the Mets believe it was for real?

Byrd was unquestionably motivated to turn around his career, but at that age the Mets must wonder was 2013 a fluke? One year with incentives with an option would have been acceptable, but two years made Alderson pause. It was the same thing with Jerry Hairston the previous winter. Alderson knew Byrd would want a multi-year deal, and considering he made less than $1 million last year, the thinking was he’d get $8 million for two years at most. Not $16 million.

Byrd, a 12-year veteran returns to Philadelphia, where he began his career. He also returns to a park more conducive to producing higher power numbers.

Alderson appears to want to take Boston’s approach by going with several middle-tier free agents and not relying on the super bat. However, considering what Byrd got, just how much are middle-tier free agents worth?

“I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players,’’ Alderson said of $100-million packages. “It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.’’

The Mets were burned by extending multi-year contracts to players injured, non-productive or too old in their careers. Many of those deals with given by Omar Minaya, but it must be remembered the Mets had a better core than and these players were expected to be the final pieces.

However, things didn’t work out over the long haul with Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Frank Francisco, Scott Schoeneweis, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, and the list goes on.

Alderson has cleared the payroll and his reluctance to get involved with a $100-million package, or even something like the $66-million given Bay is understandable.

Considering the big picture with Byrd, that might have been a good decision. That could be based on who Alderson does sign, assuming he signs somebody.

 

Sep 28

Reflections of Willie

With the Milwaukee Brewers in town, and Jerry Manuel presumably in his last week as Mets manager, it is not surprising the attention being placed on Willie Randolph and the inevitable comparisons to his successor.

RANDOLPH: Looking back.

I covered Randolph in 2006 until 2008 when he was unceremoniously fired, and found him to be knowledgeable but sometimes too thin skinned. I won’t use the word paranoid because I’m not a psychiatrist and believe that’s too harsh and unfair an assessment.

I attributed Randolph’s demeanor to it being his first job and his inability to let go of being passed by for other opportunities.

And, to be fair, Randolph had reason to be cautious as the Mets presented him with several untenable obstacles. Willie spoke highly of Omar Minaya the other day, but part of that was being a gentleman. Fact is, there was an uneasy tension between Randolph and the front office caused in large part by the constant undermining presence of Tony Bernazard, who literally was a management spy and who fed information to players that caused a gap in the clubhouse.

Minaya was at fault for letting that situation develop and not pulling in the reigns on Bernazard. Eventually, Bernazard did himself in and his reputation has kept him from landing another baseball job.

That Carlos Delgado sabotaged Randolph’s relationship with the Latin players, and it was allowed to happen by the front office, was distasteful and really despicable. Delgado’s presence undoubtedly hampered Randolph’s relationship with Jose Reyes to name one. It was information fed by Bernazard to Delgado that damaged whatever relationship the player could have with his manager.

The Mets came within one hit of reaching the World Series in 2006, then collapsed in 2007. The collapse that summer was historic, but traceable to the front office not addressing the needs of starting pitching and not bringing back the bullpen that was a strength of the 2006 team. The collapse would have happened sooner, and perhaps not been as dramatic, if not for the strong start that spring.

The bullpen was again a problem in 2008, but the Mets hung around until the final weekend. There was another collapse that year, but not as dramatic. The team hung around long enough for the interim tag to be removed from Manuel.

The Mets have addressed needs piecemeal, from Johan Santana to Francisco Rodriguez to Jason Bay, but never gave Randolph a full deck after 2006. The feeling was that they came close and to take the next step with essentially the same team. Hoping for improvement is not the same as adding the proper pieces to improve.

Gradually, by sticking with Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez too long, by not rebuilding the bullpen after Duaner Sanchez’s injury described in his EMR (electronic medical record) as a  fractured coracoid bone in the shoulder, by misjudging the progress made by Oliver Perez and John Maine after 2007, by hamstringing the bench with the likes of Julio Franco, poor contracts given Perez, Franco and Moises Alou, and numerous injuries, the window has slammed shut on the Mets and it doesn?t matter who is manager.

Had Randolph stayed, he couldn’t navigate through this mess, and Manuel has proven to be less capable. Let’s face it, today’s Mets are a house of cards. Their record will be better this year, but in some respects the team overachieved because of RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi, and Mike Pelfrey’s step forward.

With the payroll as it is, the injury to Santana and questions in the pitching staff, and the health issues of Carlos Beltran and Bay, this team could go south again next year.

Randolph deserves another chance to manage in the major leagues, but bringing him back isn’t the best idea. Been there, done that. Just like with Bobby Valentine.

Randolph has his faults as does Manuel, but the fact is this front office will be going on its fifth manager in ten years next season, a sure sign that the instability that comes from up top.

Jan 05

Jan. 5.10: You asked for it, you got it.

Both Harry and Ray in a recent thread expressed interest in reading about Omar Minaya’s best deals. There have been more than a few. Some of his bad ones were actually good in the beginning, such as Oliver Perez and Guillermo Mota.

There were also decisions on Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Alex Cora and signing David Wright and Jose Reyes to long term extensions. The John Maine trade was good. Nobody could have thought he would be injured. Getting Xavier Nady was a good deal.

We must remember, that in all fairness, the Mets came within an inning of the World Series in 2006. Minaya put that team together.

Julio Franco, Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez all had moments, but the negative reviews came with the subsequent contract extensions.

So, let’s have some fun with this today and talk about Omar Minaya’s Greatest Hits.

Dec 01

Omar’s infamous moves ….

This time next week, Mets GM Omar Minaya will be in Indianapolis, working the room to make a deal. The flip side is also true, agents and GMs trying to work Minaya.

And, several have been successful in doing so.

Minaya has had an interesting tenure with the Mets, making some good and bad decisions. I’m interested in your opinion of the worst Minaya deals.

Here are some of the nominations:

MINAYA: What's this year's bombshell announcement?

MINAYA: What's this year's bombshell announcement?


OLIVER PEREZ: Re-signing lefty Oliver Perez last winter to a three-year, $36-million contract could go down as one of the worst deals in Mets history.

LUIS CASTILLO: Re-signing second baseman Luis Castillo to a four-year, $24-million deal after the 2007 season. Castillo redeemed his miserable 2008 season with a good year in 2009, but signing him meant the Mets couldn’t go after Orlando Hudson or any other viable second baseman. Two more years.

MOISES ALOU: After playing in just 87 games in 2007, the Mets picked up outfielder Moises Alou’s $7.5 million option. Injuries to the 41-year-old Alou limited him to 15 games the following season. Of course, it wasn’t a great idea to have the option in there in the first place.
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Dec 01

Mets bring back Cora ….

Sorry for the late post on this. The Mets will bring back Alex Cora to a one-year, $2 million contract for the 2010 season with a vested club option for 2011.

Which means if he plays as much as he did last year, a contract would kick in for the 2011 season. Because of the Jose Reyes injury, Cora played far more than the Mets anticipated when they signed him. He’s a great clubhouse presence by all accounts, a professional Reyes and others can learn from.

They can learn from him because he’s 34 years old.

I like, and I don’t like, this move. The Mets would have had to get a utility infielder anyway, so they might as well bring back somebody who has been productive for them. That’s the plus side.

On the down side, what really would have been the demand for Cora next winter? Had he not been given the option, I’m sure the Mets could have brought him back for 2011. It’s basically a two-year deal, something that didn’t work out with Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez.

In a prepared statement, Cora said: “I am excited about coming back. We have a lot to prove as a team after what happened last year. As for me personally, there is unfinished business. I was hurt a great deal of the time and I really wasn’t able to perform like I know I can. I’m healthy now and I can’t wait to get to spring training. We all have something to prove.”

ON DECK: Mets offseason acquisitions.