Jan 10

Bruce Agrees With Mets

I am pleasantly surprised, no, make that floored the Mets finally signed a free agent, and glad it was outfielder Jay Bruce. Primarily, because I didn’t want to see him traded in the first place.

Multiple media outlets reported Bruce agreed to terms on a three-year, $39-million contract. The deal is pending a physical and it is not immediately known if it contains a no-trade clause. Presumably, it does considering the Mets had previously dealt last year for minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan.

The Mets acquired Bruce, now 30, from Cincinnati in 2016. He struggled with the Mets initially but found his stroke in late September. I never bought into the nonsense that he was overwhelmed by New York, and proved that with 29 homers with the Mets before GM Sandy Alderson’s fire sale last season.

Bruce finished 2017 with a career-high 36 homers and 101 RBI in 146. He also hit two homers with four RBI in the AL Division Series.

I’ve always liked Bruce, but don’t think he’ll make the Mets appreciably better unless they are willing to make additional moves. Bruce is scheduled to make $13 million this year, which is only slightly more than the $10 million they were reportedly believed to have budgeted for 2018.

Initial speculation had Bruce seeking $80 million over four years, but there was little interest outside of the Mets, who as of last week hadn’t made an offer. Outside of familiarity, also tipping the needle in favor of the Mets is willingness to play first base in case things don’t pan out with Dominic Smith.

With Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto recovering from injuries, the outfield is considered to be a need.

Dec 21

Mets Extend Alderson To More Of The Same

Mets fans got an early Christmas present yesterday in their stocking late yesterday afternoon. It was a lump of coal with the announcement GM Sandy Alderson’s extension, speculated to be two years in a year-to-year format.

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

That means next winter’s free-agent market – with Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw highlighting the most prominent class in years – will presumably not include the Mets as shoppers.

They aren’t even expected to retain their own marquee free agent Matt Harvey.

That means Mets fans can expect their team’s biggest free-agent ventures will be more along the lines of pursuing veterans well past their prime, such as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Alderson’s Mets’ zenith came in 2015 when everything fell together after the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and the team caught fire and reached the World Series.

Cespedes was re-signed that winter to a $110-million, four-year package that has financially crippled the Mets since. Alderson then cast off Daniel Murphy, the post-season hero who became an All-Star with Washington.

The Mets reached the postseason again in 2016, but were bounced in the wild-card game by San Francisco. The Giants, like the Mets, have fallen onto hard times, but San Francisco just traded for All-Star Evan Longoria while New York is debating on Gonzalez, whom they’ll get for a song with the Braves picking up the bulk of his contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the major league minimum of $545,000, with the Braves paying the balance of his $22.4 million contract.

But, the major-league minimum – with Alderson operating the franchise as the Wilpon’s wish – is what the Mets are about these days.

Dec 04

Why Would Bruce Return?

Published reports indicate the Mets are one of six teams interested in signing Jay Bruce. While Bruce said he’s open to returning to New York and playing first base, that’s probably a negotiating tactic. Why limit the field, which would decrease your value?

BRUCE: Why would he return? (AP)

BRUCE: Why would he return? (AP)

Most recently, Colorado and Seattle, have come into play, teams that offer great cities, but also complementary power in their lineups which would take pressure off Bruce of having to be the entire offense.

Plus, both teams are closer to reaching the playoffs than the Mets. If either, or any team, is willing to pay the $90 million over five years he is seeking – which the Mets are not – why would he return?

In coming back to the Mets, there’s potential of contending if the pitchers hold up physically. As of now, Jacob deGrom and possibly Noah Syndergaard, seem to be the only reliable starters.

The Mets, despite scuttling their offense for a handful of relievers last summer, are still searching for bullpen help. Whoever they sign will also have to play first. While Bruce said he’s willing, don’t forget he complained of back stiffness after a few games last year.

The Mets finished 22 games below .500 in 2017 and enter this season with a new manager and a myriad of questions and concerns, of which Bruce can only address one or two.

Unless the market completely dries up, or the Mets all of a sudden get giddy with their money, there’s little in the way of compelling reasons why Bruce would come back. It can’t be for sentimental reasons as he was booed after the coming here and traded away last year.

The best chance they had of bringing him back was to not trade him in the first place.

Nov 26

Who Is The Mets’ True Rival

It was rivalry weekend in college football, and while watching Ohio State-Michigan, I couldn’t help but wonder about the Mets’ greatest rivalry. From Day One, there hasn’t been one team that cause Mets’ fans blood to boil over the decades.

A rival is one where the teams compete for the common prize year after year. Often there is bad blood and geography often plays a role. Sometimes there’s a historical event that triggers the rivalry.

The Yankees and Red Sox are a prime example, with the tensions ignited by Boston selling Babe Ruth to New York. Although the Yankees dominated for decades, there was the element of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. In fact, the two superstars were briefly traded for each other in 1947 during a drinking binge between the two owners one night at Toots Shore’s saloon in Manhattan, but was called off the following morning when Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey called the Yankees’ Dan Topping and backed out.

Yawkey did say he’d go ahead with the if the Yankees threw in their rookie left fielder: Yogi Berra.

New York consistently beat out the Red Sox until the Yankees’ historic collapse in the 2004 ALCS. The rivalry still sizzles today, as does Dodgers-Giants and Cardinals-Cubs.

Nothing the Mets have comes close.

With the Mets’ roots planted from the Dodgers and Giants, I wonder wasn’t the interest primarily about fans of the two teams coming out to Shea Stadium to see their old favorites rather than a disdain for either?

Coming into the National League in 1962 with Houston, one would have thought Mets-Astros would materialize, but the teams were so bad until the Mets came out of nowhere in 1969 to win the World Series. That was the same year Major League Baseball realigned into two divisions.

The Astros were just another stop on the schedule until they played in a dramatic NLCS in 1986, won by the Mets. But the sparks from that series turned to be dying embers.

However, Mets’ rivalries varied by the decade.

In 1969 into the early 1970s it was the Cubs. It was the Cardinals in the 1980s. There was compelling baseball played against the Barry Bonds’ Pirates in the early 1990s, but later in the decade and into the 2000s until now the Braves and Phillies created the most tension.

However, the temperature against the Braves and Phillies mostly depended on who is hot at the time. With all three playing under .500, are you really hooked when they play? The same goes for Washington. It’s been ten years since the NL East went down to the final weekend.

What about the Yankees, you ask?

The Yankees’ “rivalry’’ is a manufactured product created by interleague play. They don’t compete in the same division, just in the same city and for the back pages on the tabloids.

Interleague has run its course. It only matters against the Yankees in the World Series.

Let me ask you: When the schedule comes out which games do you circle?

Oct 26

How About Darling As Pitching Coach?

I don’t know who is on Mickey Callaway‘s short list of pitching coach candidates, so I felt compelled to offer a suggestion. This guy knows pitching and is familiar with Mets’ pitchers and their problems over the years. Plus, he’s a combination of old school with a knowledge of analytics, and has strong ties to the Mets.

I’ve never asked Ron Darling if he has any interest in coaching, but he brings so much to the table. The current Mets pitchers are familiar with Darling and I presume he has their respect. He knows where Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have struggled and why they’ve been injured.

In addition, he could be a perfect buffer in helping Callaway get acclimated to New York. He could certainly help in bringing Callaway and his new staff together.

One thing I know about Darling after listening to him all these years is his disdain for walks, something that crippled Mets’ pitchers this season.

I don’t know what Callaway is thinking, but it’s worth putting a call into Darling to find out what he’s thinking.