Jan 19

Gap Between Mets, Nats Wider Than You Think

The Mets finished in a second-place tie last season in the NL East 17 games behind the pennant winning Washington Nationals.

GEE: Trying to move him. (Getty)The two current storylines of these teams suggest a wider gap – much wider.

The Nationals, who won 96 games last season with the NL’s deepest rotation, will add free-agent prize Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, the Mets are taking flak for charging their players to participate in an off-season conditioning program. The Mets are also still attempting to trade Dillon Gee, and word is they don’t have to get a major leaguer in return. Shows what they think of their most reliable starter the past few seasons.

The Nationals are trying to sell the prospect of the World Series to their fan base. The Mets are still trying to sell a .500 season.

To make room for Scherzer’s contract, the Nationals are willing to trade shortstop Ian Desmond, who will become a free-agent after this year. Yes, the Mets could use Desmond to address their shortstop question, but the Nationals’ asking price would be exorbitant for a one-year rental.

Trading for Desmond could be a giant step back if he leaves, and put on the financial shackles if they signed him to an extension.

While adding Scherzer doesn’t guarantee anything, it definitely puts them in good position to be thinking deep into October.

Reportedly, San Francisco, San Diego and Colorado are interested in Gee.

The Mets would like to unload Gee before spring training, but I believe they would get a greater return if they waited until the trade deadline.

 

 

Dec 08

Hodges Falls Short Of Hall Again

What you and I both expected came to fruition when Gil Hodges was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee; in fact, no players from the Golden Era were elected.

An eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Hodges was instrumental in leading the Dodgers to seven NL pennants and two World Series titles.

To Mets’ fans, he’ll always be the recalled as the manager who guided the team to the 1969 World Series championship.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough for the voters. Damn.

Dec 06

Wondering Why Mets Opted For Cuddyer Over Morse

I don’t know if the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer just to appease David Wright. I suppose there’s some truth to that thought, but to what percentage?

Was Cuddyer the only right-handed option for the Mets? Was he their best option?

Yes, Cuddyer won the NL batting title two years ago, but for a team needing power, how much consideration did they give Michael Morse?

Morse, at 32, is three years younger. He averages 23 homers a season with a career .808 OPS and made $6 million last year. Cuddyer averages 21 homers with a career OPS and will be paid $8.5 million by the Mets in 2015.

Both can platoon with Lucas Duda at first base.

There’s not much difference in production, but for the cost conscious Mets you figure age and salary would be important.

There’s a lot that goes into signing a player. I wonder why they went in this direction.

Nov 17

Mets’ Collins Optimistic About 2015

As far as guarantees go, it was rather weak, but considering the boast came from Terry Collins it was bold enough. Not only will the Mets’ string of six losing seasons come to an end, but they should make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Pointing to a young core and return of David Wright and Curtis Granderson that should be enough to get them over the hump.

“We should be playing in October,’’ Collins told reporters this week. “Our young guys are starting to grow, with the addition of some offense, and … we’re not done. … I think 2015 is going to be a good year for us.’’

The key, or course, is Matt Harvey’s recovery from elbow surgery; development of Zack Wheeler; and a encore season from Jacob deGrom that comprise the core of a young pitching staff.

If the pitching holds up and Wright and Granderson have bounce back seasons, that should put them into contention for a wild-card berth. The NL East title? Not so much.

 

Nov 12

Dissecting The Cuddyer Signing

Michael Cuddyer said all the right things about coming to the New York Mets. He spoke of how the Mets were a team on the cusp; about playing with longtime friend David Wright; and the excitement of playing in New York.

For good measure, he mentioned how he imagined how a packed Citi Field could be when he referenced the 2013 All-Star Game.

Got you going, didn’t it?

Then he ruined the illusion by saying “it always isn’t about the money.’’

But, I’ve been covering this sport a long time, and you’ve been following the Mets a long time. What we both know, is that when it comes to the Mets, money is right there at the top. Money is always the key factor.

The Cuddyer signing tells us a lot about the Mets and their financial situation. It also raises a lot of questions, which I’ll attempt to answer:

Q: Why wouldn’t Cuddyer accept the Rockies’ $15.3 million qualifying offer and go the free-agent route again?

A: That’s his risk. He wanted two and the Rockies were offering one. There was no guarantee Cuddyer would get a second year from anyone. When he gave the Mets a deadline to give him two years or he’d take the qualifying offer, “it gave us pause,’’ said GM Sandy Alderson.

The Mets had things to consider, such as other free-agent outfield options, which would have cost more. Or, trade options, but they had few chips to play and are unwilling to include their young pitching. Or, going from within, which they didn’t have the confidence in doing. And, there was the matter of losing the draft pick, which they didn’t want to do.

The most palatable option was giving Cuddyer two years.

Q: The breakdown is the first year for $8.5 million and the second year for $12.5 million. What does that mean?

A: In giving up their first-round pick – the 15th overall selection – the Mets also save themselves $2.5 million. Given that, the Mets will have filled their outfield hole for $6 million this year, which is $1.25 less than they blew on Chris Young last year. They don’t get their pick, but that player is at least three years down the road anyway. A lot can change in that time. With the $2.5 million they save by not having the draft pick gives them a little more flexibility.

Q: Won’t the Mets feel a pinch in 2016 for the $12.5 million they’d pay Cuddyer?

A: They could, but not if they make the strides they expect. Their gamble is they’ll improve enough in 2015 and experience an attendance spike. That will pay in part for Cuddyer. Of course, that means they’ll have to win this year, or at least “play meaningful games in September.’’ But, if none of this happens by July 2016 and Cuddyer is productive, he shouldn’t be hard to trade.

Q: Was this done to appease Wright?

A: That probably factored into it, but I wouldn’t say that was their first priority.

Q: What does signing Cuddyer say about their bench and minor league system?

A: For one, is tells me they likely won’t bring back Eric Young. It also speaks to their diminishing confidence in Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis as a fulltime player. The Mets stunted their development last year and that figures to be the same this year.

Q: The Mets kept saying they wanted power, but Cuddyer has hit only 80 homers over the past five years (16 average) and only ten in an injury shortened 2014. Does this fill that need?

A: No. Cuddyer isn’t strictly a pull hitter, which is just as well because the fences aren’t coming in next year. Presumably, he uses the whole field, which is the best way. Cuddyer has only one 30-homer season despite playing his career in the Coors Field and the Metrodome. He’s only had one 100-RBI season as well.

Q: Were there other options?

A: Sure, but nobody screamed out as a “must have’’ talent. Michael Morse, Ryan Ludwick, Nate Schierholtz, Nick Markakis and Josh Willingham were all available this fall, but would have either been too expensive; would stay with their original teams; or not graded as high as Cuddyer.

Q: Where will Cuddyer play?

A: Probably right field, with Curtis Granderson moving over to left field.

Q: Bottom line this for me: Does Cuddyer put the Mets over the top?

A: By no stretch of the imagination. The Mets have questions concerning shortstop; the offensive returns of Wright and Granderson; whether Lucas Duda can do it again; the development of Zack Wheeler and return from surgery by Matt Harvey. If all that happens and Cuddyer can return to his 2013 form when he won the NL batting title.