Nov 23

Not Buying Murphy Return

There were several articles last week claiming the Mets still would attempt to bring back Daniel Murphy, who rejected a $15.8-million qualifying offer. The reports said the Mets would make a sincere run at Murphy, who might bite on an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest.

Nearly everything I’ve read said the Mets might still make an offer because of Murphy’s affection for the team and New York. But, are those really good enough reasons? If that was the case, their decision would be based more on sentimentality than talent.

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets?  (Getty)

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets? (Getty)

The reported market for Murphy is $50 million over four years. The qualifying offer entitles the Mets to a compensatory draft pick plus the right to keep negotiating. It does not signal the Mets’ desire to keep him because they think he’s part of their future.

We don’t know what Murphy is seeking and what the Mets are willing to offer. The only numbers we know of are of the speculative nature.

We also know Murphy is 30 years old, so this will likely be his final shot at the brass ring. I can’t see him leaving money on the table to go back to a team that never had him on the top of their pecking order.

Murphy also hit 14 homers last season and went deep in six consecutive games in the playoffs. What we don’t know, and this includes the Mets, is whether that power surge was a fluke or a sign he’s added that element to his game.

The Mets are also reportedly interested in Kansas City free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is five years older than Murphy, and is a better player who is more versatile. However, the speculated numbers for Zobrist is $60 million over four years.

Zobrist brings more to the table than Murphy, and I think the Mets will shy away because of the price. This might make Murphy more palatable. But, I keep going back to well how Wilmer Flores adjusted to second base and potential of Dilson Herrera.

If those two can adequately fill the void left by Murphy, and I believe Flores can do so, then the Mets should be all right at second base. In that case, the money spent on Murphy or Zobrist, would be better spent adding a center fielder because I’m not sold on Juan Lagares and rebuilding the bullpen.

Nov 14

Ricco: Mets To Outline Offseason

We’re two weeks removed from the World Series and the Mets already took care of two orders of business: 1) they signed manager Terry Collins to a two-year extension, and 2) made a $15.8-million qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy, which he rejected Friday afternoon.

With Sandy Alderson unable to attend the GM Meetings because of a medical procedure, assistant GM John Ricco said the Mets achieved what they set out to do this week.

“Obviously with Sandy not being here, the goal was to make sure we touched base with various clubs and agents that we thought might fit what we’re looking for,” Ricco said at the conclusion of the meetings. “I think we clearly were able to do that, between J.P. [Ricciardi], Paul [DePodesta] and I. We had a lot of different meetings. We were able to get a pretty clear idea on some clubs – on some other clubs, not so clear – what they’re looking to do.

“And also we met with agents for the key [free-agent] players we think might be fits. So we head back. We’ll regroup with Sandy back in New York and further define the plan for the offseason.”

Ricco said the Mets are exploring free-agent Ben Zobrist; inquired into the availability of Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons before the Braves traded him to the Angels; and reiterated the team will not trade any of their core pitchers. Ricco also indicated the Mets do not want to trade catchers Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki and said they are satisfied with another year with Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter.

Ricco and the other assistant general managers are expected to meet with Alderson at the beginning of next week to outline their offseason priorities.

Oct 17

Murphy And Harvey Lead Mets In Game 1

Matt Harvey was brilliant, while Daniel Murphy was spectacular from the beginning – and at the end – and together they combined to give the Mets a 4-2 victory in Game 1 of the NLCS over the Chicago Cubs at a frigid Citi Field.

The Mets were 0-7 against the Cubs in the regular season, but one more time, this isn’t the regular season. It is rapidly becoming a special offseason for the Mets, after their scintillating performance in disposing of the Dodgers in the NLDS and what we saw tonight.

MURPHY:  Does it again. (Getty)

MURPHY: Does it again. (Getty)

Harvey put down the first dozen Cubs he faced, and after taking a line drive in the back of his pitching arm in the sixth, worked into the eighth.

Here is how fortunate Harvey was … after the ball hit his arm it floated into the air and bounced off his back. Without that bounce, the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler would have beaten Harvey’s throw to first.

“I wanted this game bad,’’ Harvey said. “The most important thing was starting this thing right. I knew I had to set the tone early.’’

Working on regular rest, Harvey gave the Mets 7.2 innings, and gave up only four hits and struck out nine. He is expected to start Game 5 when the NLCS returns to New York.

Meanwhile, Murphy who accounted for all three runs in the Mets’ Game 5 win in Los Angeles, put the Mets on the board with first-inning homer off Jon Lester. Murphy has hit four homers this postseason, one of Jake Arietta and Lester, and two off Clayton Kershaw.

Murphy then ended the game when he robbed Tommy La Stella of a hit with a diving stab.

Of course, Murphy credited everybody but the hot dog vender after the game before charming us with his typical Gomer Pyle “aw shucks’’ attitude.

“This is a lot of fun,’’ Murphy said. “I like doing these interviews because it means we won. What a nice start to the series.’’

As Murphy continues to rake, so does the storyline of his pending free-agency. The Mets aren’t likely to sign him to a multi-year deal, but they could lock him up with a $16-million qualifying offer. If they don’t, GM Sandy Alderson will be hard-pressed to explain his reasoning, especially if the Mets go on and win the World Series.

Meanwhile, considering the Mets built a three-run lead, it is curious as to why, considering their lead, the cold and the bruise on the back of Harvey’s arm, why manager Terry Collins let him work into the eighth before going to closer Jeurys Familia.

If this goes seven games as many expect, Collins will have to use his normal regular season relievers.

Doesn’t he?

Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Oct 12

Harvey Must Keep Head About Him While Others Are Losing Theirs

We all know Matt Harvey has a mind of his own, but his mind tonight had better be in sync with Mets manager Terry Collins.

Harvey made veiled threats at retaliation towards Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley for his take out slide that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg Saturday night in Los Angeles. Collins wants no part of it.

HARVEY: Must focus on the big prize. (AP)

HARVEY: Must focus on the big prize. (AP)

“Play baseball,” was Collins’ message to Harvey. “Play the game. This is too big a game. We need to not worry about retaliating. We need to worry about winning. The one thing you don’t need to do is get yourself in a situation to put yourself on the bad side. I understand everything that happened.”

That message should apply to all the Mets. No beanballs, no vicious slides.

“As frustrated as we are, as upset as we are, we feel so bad for Ruben, but you know, the one thing we can’t do is cost ourselves a game, and this particular game, because we’re angry,” Collins said. “We can play angry, but we gotta play under control.”

Tonight’s objective is to beat the Dodgers, plain and simple. There should be nothing else on Harvey’s agenda, but considering the innings fiasco, plus being late for last week’s workout, there’s been negative press directed at Harvey.

Until then, Harvey has always been given the benefit of doubt by the New York media and fans primarily because he has been vocal about pitching in the playoffs for the Mets. That all sounds good, but the bottom line is Harvey needs to produce in that scenario.

He gets his chance tonight, and if he’s smart, he needs to heed Collins’ words and just concern himself with the baseball and not the vigilante business.

Oct 12

Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

You knew it wouldn’t be as easy for the Mets as Chase Utley simply taking his two-game suspension and quietly waiting until Game 5.

As for Matt Harvey, who always has a swirl of non-pitching issues about him, now has one more thing to contemplate: Should he impose his own brand of frontier justice by drilling Utley in the back if he plays?

“We’re definitely moving forward with him in our minds,’’ Harvey said at the Mets workout Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

HARVEY: What's he thinking  as Utley appeals?  (MLB)

HARVEY: What’s he thinking as Utley appeals? (MLB)

Like most everything Harvey says, it is open to interpretation, just like his following comment, which at first means winning is the best revenge, but ends with a clipped warning.

“I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what’s best for the team,’’ Harvey said at the workout. “For me, in my mind, that’s going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board.’’

That’s the perfect response, but he couldn’t let it go, and added: “But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do.’’

Harvey nailed Utley in an April game, so we know he’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, if he hits him this time, would part of his intent be to clean his reputation with his teammates?

Many Mets players, notably David Wright, have not been enamored with Harvey after his innings-limits fiasco was brought to light by agent Scott Boras, and most recently for showing up late for a workout last week, reportedly after partying the night before.

Utley’s decision to appeal Major League Baseball’s knee-jerk reaction to suspend is not surprising. Baseball executive Joe Torre a former player, manager and leader of the Players Association, knows hardball plays of which this was, and the emotions of it happening in New York.

Torre said numerous times when he managed the Yankees the players take care of these things themselves, and that’s probably what he is afraid of. This happened Saturday night so the emotions and tensions remain raw. It is easy for him to think things could break loose, especially when fueled by the anger of a crowd with lynching on its mind.

Torre rightly wanted to defuse a potentially ugly situation, but in doing do may he be wrongly persecuting Utley?

Sure the slide was late, Torre said so at the time. But, at the time he did not deem it dirty. Neither did the umpires, who had the authority to call the runner out and eject him from the game.

While Torre said the slide violated the rules, he never called it dirty when he issued the suspension. What are we supposed to make of that? Did Torre change his mind by simply watching the replays, or by reading the quotes from the Mets’ clubhouse and hearing the ire of the man of the street?

What about the neighborhood play, you ask?

It does not apply because Daniel Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag and put him in a position where he could not defend himself. Replays showed Tejada put himself at risk for attempting to spin and then throw. The spin put him directly in the path of Utley’s slide.

There are rules in place, which Torre quoted, designed to protect the fielder. Apparently, the umpires did not feel they were violated. However, Harvey does and we are all wondering how he will respond. He would be foolish if he did because it could mean an ejection for him or an injury if the result is a brawl.

Of course, MLB is likely to uphold the suspension, which raises an interesting question: What if Utley were to get the Players Association involved or pull a Tom Brady and take this to court?