Jan 28

Collins Gives First Thoughts On Lineup

Terry Collins gave his first inkling as to the Mets’ 2016 lineup. Collins gave it to Mike Puma of the NY Post. But, it’s not as if it is etched in stone because, after all, it is the Mets’ lineup and he had over 150 of them last year.

1. Curtis Granderson, RF: I still prefer a traditional leadoff hitter, but Granderson’s on-base percentage last year was stellar. So, give the options of forcing a square peg into a round hole, Granderson is the best available choice.

2. David Wright, 3B: In his prime, Wright was the ideal No. 3 hitter. But, that was a long time ago. He’s no longer prime time. Would be nice to see him return to that form.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, CF: A classic No. 3 hitter is the best combination of power and average and Cespedes is the best the Mets considering Wright’s current situation.

4. Lucas Duda, 1B: Has averaged over 27 homers the last few years despite periods of extreme streakiness.

5. Neil Walker, 2B: Where Daniel Murphy would have fit in.

6. Michael Conforto, LF: The first impression was a good one. Let’s hope he lives up to expectations.

7. Travis d’Arnaud, C: No surprises here, but it does say Collins has his mind made up as to his starting catcher.

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Obviously, he goes here.

9. Pitcher: Let’s hope Collins doesn’t fool around and move up his pitcher to No. 8.

I don’t have any problem with what Collins has laid out as his lineup. Considering his players and options this really is the best-case scenario. But, it will change. It always does.

 

Dec 14

Wright’s Visit To Doc Reminder Of Key Mets’ Issue

When third baseman David Wright checked in with Dr. Robert Watkins about his back today in Los Angeles – where he spent much of his summer – to come up with a plan on treating his spinal stenosis, it served as a reminder of an underlying issue that will stay with the Mets until he retires.

It should also serve as an emphasis of what they must continue to do this winter.

The acquisition of Neil Walker was a positive because he can back-up Wright if needed and it also allows Wilmer Flores to play some third, but that’s not enough. Consideration should be given to re-signing Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, as both proved valuable this summer.

The bottom line is Wright’s health will always be an issue for the remainder of his career. They aren’t going to get Todd Frazier, but they need to pay attention to this issue.

 

Dec 11

Mets’ Remaining Shopping List

The Mets upgraded their up-the-middle defense by signing FA shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and trading for second baseman Neil Walker. They also freed up their rotation by trading Jon Niese. They are better today than they were when the Winter Meetings began.

Even so, that doesn’t mean they don’t have things left to do. Here’s what they have to do:

BLEVINS: Will he be ready? (AP)

BLEVINS: Will he be ready? (AP)

* BOLSTER THE BULLPEN:  Re-signing Tyler Clippard is an option. Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres aren’t the answers by themselves. Their primary need is to get a left-handed reliever.

Maybe Josh Edgin will bounce back from surgery. Perhaps Jerry Blevins will, also.

When you come down to it, the most certain arms in the bullpen are Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed. The Mets are currently considering bringing back Bartolo Colon, who came up big working out of the pen during the playoffs.

* CENTER FIELD:  Most of the talk is finding a left-handed hitting platoon for Juan Lagares. When you sign a player to a five-year extension and after one year are looking to platoon him, that tells me they aren’t completely sold on him. Am I jumping the gun? I don’t think so.

Personally, the Mets signed Jason Heyward, I’d be thrilled, but I don’t think it will happen. I’d rather the Mets get a full-time player than go with a platoon. The Mets have some internal options, which makes be thing the best thing they should do with Lagares is have him undergo Tommy John surgery and prepare him for 2017.

* PAY THE ROTATION: The Mets say they won’t break up their young pitching core, so they might as well sign at least one of them long-term to avoid their arbitration years. Sooner or later they’ll have to make this move, and with the estimated $30 million they saved by not signing Ben Zobrist, it should be sooner.

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Dec 10

Mets A Winter Meetings Winner

The Mets left Nashville this afternoon a better team that showed up Sunday night, even if they come home with a contract having Ben Zobrist‘s autograph.

CABRERA: Makes Mets better. (Getty)

CABRERA: Makes Mets better. (Getty)

The Mets not only upgraded up the middle defensively with second baseman Neil Walker (trade from Pittsburgh for Jon Niese) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (free agent signing from Tampa Bay), and in the process improved their bench and came away with a back-up for David Wright.

And, they did it at a minimal cost, $18.5 million in a two-year contract for Cabrera instead of the estimated $50 million they were going to pay Zobrist. The price of what Walker could make in arbitration and what Niese is to make ($9 million) is a wash.

The Mets were poor defensively with Daniel Murphy and Flores (a combined 26 errors) opposed to a combined 16 from Walker and Cabrera. However, defense is more than just errors, it is also positioning and range. For a team built on pitching, they improved in the field with no loss of production at the plate..

Flores will now fall into the role of right-handed hitting platoon with Walker; back-up shortstop; and fill-in for Wright at third.

The decision to sign Cabrera after tendering Ruben Tejada is not overkill because Flores fractured his ankle in winter ball and Tejada is still recovering from breaking his leg in the playoffs. We don’t know if they’ll be ready when spring training opens Feb. 17 (pitchers and catchers) and Feb. 24 (position players).

Assuming both are ready, they can spell Wright at third. Cabrera can do the same.

So, when you add it up, the Mets improved their up-the-middle defense, bench and found a contingency plan for Wright and will save an estimated $30 million.

I’d call it a win-win, leaving them to find a left-handed hitting platoon with Juan Lagares in center and bolstering the bullpen.

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Dec 09

Niese Traded To Pirates For Walker

Just as the Mets quickly rebounded by getting Yoenis Cespedes when the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, they did it again as they have traded for Pirates second baseman Neil Walker the day after losing Ben Zobrist to the Cubs.

WALKER: Newest Met. (Getty)

WALKER: Newest Met. (Getty)

All it cost is Jon Niese, who wasn’t in their plans in the first place. I wrote last night I wasn’t all that broken up about Zobrist falling through because he was too pricey and there were other options. Zobrist’s 162-game averages are .265 with 17 homers and 77 RBI, while Walker hit .269 with 16 homers and 71 RBI last year. The difference is one hot weekend.

Niese was to make $9 million this year, which is the projected arbitration award for Walker.

Walker doesn’t play the outfield corners like Zobrist, but like him is a switch-hitter and is four years younger. However, with Zobrist they would have him locked up for four years. Walker could only turn out to be a rental as he’ll be a free agent after this season. That could mean the Mets could be going through this again next winter if Dilson Herrara doesn’t show them anything this year.

As for Niese, 29, he was being phased out because of the Mets’ young core of arms. Niese was projected to be in the rotation until Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list, but are now expected to go with Rafael Montero. The trade of Niese could also spur the Mets to re-sign Bartolo Colon.