Dec 11

Mets Add Bartolo Colon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Who knew? The New York Mets were straight with us when they said they weren’t finished as they announced the signing of Bartolo Colon today to a two-year, $20-million contract.

Just like that, the Mets addressed a massive hole in their rotation. Should the 40-year-old Colon pitch anything like he did last year with Oakland, the Mets all of a sudden must be elevated to at least wild-card contender status.

COLON: Important signing.

COLON: Important signing.

Seriously, they’ve added enough, and if their existing talent improves, the Mets can realistically be expected to be better. They didn’t add young, vibrant expensive names, but added enough talent to where they should be taken seriously.

They aren’t on a par with Washington and Atlanta for the NL East Division lead, but the additions of Curtis Granderson and Colon should be worth at least seven more victories this season, and perhaps more when Matt Harvey returns in 2015.

The Mets won 74 games last year, and reaching .500 would take at least one more victory a month, which is entirely doable. With two wild card slots, .500 or slightly better will make October possible.

Colon’s age is somewhat of a gamble, because, after all, how long can he go? Even so, he’s been an innings-eater, which is exactly what the Mets need. Colon was second in the AL in ERA at 2.65 and finished sixth in the Cy Young balloting.

The Mets’ rotation now consists of Colon, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Each comes with questions:

* Colon: He can’t last forever, but has showed no signs of breaking down.

* Niese: He’s coming off shoulder surgery and has an injury history in his short career.

* Wheeler: Manager Terry Collins said Wheeler could be capable of 200 innings. That’s a little ambitious considering the leash Harvey was on last year, but if he develops as hoped the Mets will have something special.

* Gee: Pitched 199 innings last year. Can he do it again? Gee is underrated, but a valuable commodity.

Colon brings a lot to the table, including a calming, veteran presence that can only benefit Wheeler and Harvey next season.

What he also does is buy time until Noah Syndergaard is ready. The Mets still need a fifth starter, which could be Jenrry Mejia if he’s healthy, or they could force-feed Rafael Montero.

In another development, Seattle signed Corey Hart away from Milwaukee, which leaves the Brewers needing a first baseman. Yes, the Brewers have been linked to Ike Davis, but word is they want to make a run at Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney.

Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are all in the market for first basemen.

I don’t expect the Mets to deal Davis by the end of the week, but then again, nobody anticipated them landing a name starter this week.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 10

Mets’ Reluctance To Go Multi-Year On Contracts Works Against Them In Pitching Hunt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The New York Mets’ reluctance to offer multi-year contracts and their young pitching depth are working against them in their quest for a veteran pitcher.

“We’d be hesitant to give a multi-year contract, but doesn’t mean we wouldn’t,’’ Alderson said.

WHEELER: The model route to the majors.

WHEELER: The model route to the majors.

However, any free agent only hears the first part of that statement.

The Mets are high on their young pitching talent of Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, and Alderson cited those arms for the reason to be cautious in offering multiple years.

“I think the type of talent we have coming. That’s the primary consideration,’’ Alderson said of what’s holding him back in making a major signing.

That scenario works both ways, as a veteran pitcher could be reluctant to sign on for a job that might disappear after three months.

Alderson said the Mets are interested in bringing back Daisuke Matsuzaka, but nothing is imminent on that front. Apparently, Aaron Harang is not an option to bring back.

“We haven’t had any real dialog yet,’’ Alderson said of Matsuzaka. “But, Dice-K is on our list.’’

In each of the last two years the Mets took their time in promoting Matt Harvey and Wheeler to the major leagues, and Alderson doesn’t plan to deviate from that approach now.

“I think we have the possibility of pushing guys a little harder,’’ Alderson said. “But, we’d ideally we’d like to follow that prior approach. It’s not an unusual path. … Ideally, we’d like to ease guys in, but these aren’t ideal times.’’

However, there are such things, as the elbow injury to Harvey, that makes the desired path not possible.

Alderson doesn’t have to look any further than Harvey’s surgically-repaired elbow to know even the best plans can change.

ON DECK: Jenrry Mejia not close to being ready.

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Nov 03

Wilpon’s Comments About Core Reveals Mets Have Little To Trade

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has subsequently modified his statement about his team having only four core players, later adding Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

It’s not a substantial increase, but highly revealing in two main aspects.

First, it highlights the areas where the Mets are weak and need building. That would be two starters, bullpen depth, first base, shortstop and the outfield. By my count, that’s 18 players.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

Of course, the Mets won’t be able to turn over their roster by that much, but there will undoubtedly be significant changes.

Realistically, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang will be gone, and with a reluctance to tap into their minor league system for starters until at least June and Jenrry Mejia not certain to be ready, that’s a high priority for Sandy Alderson.

Parnell isn’t a given for spring training, leaving the entire bullpen to reconstruct. Vic Black could move into the closer role, but most everything else is to be defined. Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice should be a part of things, but there are injury and experience considerations. If all are counted, that still leaves at least two spots.

Eric Young and Juan Lagares could be two of the three outfielders, but that leaves right field open and numerous questions are circulating about the production the Mets could get from them.

Thoughts of moving Young to second base and possibly Murphy to first are premature, because the Mets envision more power at first than Murphy could provide. Young definitely won’t supplant Murphy and send the latter to the bench as it would delete the Mets’ overall most productive hitter from the line-up.

And, please, Murphy is not a centerpiece to a trade, he is a complementary part.

That gives us the second revealing aspect of Wilpon’s comments about the Mets’ core. If there’s little there, and whether you’re talking the original four players or the updated seven, it’s not significant. That means there’s also little to trade, so if you’re thinking the Mets will go into the general manager meetings and later the winter meetings with a lot of chips, you’re sadly mistaken.

What the Mets have, they want to keep. Outside their core, all they have are pieces of a package. With the injuries to Matt Harvey and Mejia, the Mets want to hold onto their young pitching prospects – defined as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – because they’ll likely need them later.

So, whatever improvements the Mets make this winter will be cash deals.

 

Oct 29

Mets’ Matt Harvey Reports Progress After Surgery

While watching those hot young arms the St. Louis Cardinals are showcasing to the nation during the World Series, no doubt you might be wondering about the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

Six days after undergoing Tommy John surgery, while attending Monday night’s Rangers’ home opener at Madison Square Garden, Harvey told the Daily News he was ahead of schedule.

HARVEY: Reports progress.

HARVEY: Reports progress.

Before getting too excited you must remember Harvey – who did not study medicine at the University of North Carolina – also announced surgery wasn’t necessary before he realized it might be the only way he misses one season instead of two.

“I am just doing range of motion stuff now, but today was the first day I could take the bandages off and I was at Hospital for Special Surgery working and everybody thinks I am ahead of schedule,’’ Harvey said. “We were able to straighten it today and I think they were surprised I could do that, already. So the rehab is ahead of schedule.’’

Yes, it would be great if Harvey could come back next September and pitch the Mets into the playoffs, but try not to get carried away.

Sure, Jenrry Mejia returned ten months after surgery, but he’s had a second surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

All humans are different. They have different thresholds of pain; they recover differently and not always at the same rate. When it comes to pitchers and Tommy John surgery, it seems all pitchers get it and the recovery rate has been especially high. However, it isn’t a given Harvey’s recovery and rehab will fall into that category, especially considering his propensity for pushing himself. He did not report back discomfort this season and made several starts with soreness in his forearm before an MRI revealed a tear.

We can only hope for the best in that regard, and that the Mets aren’t seduced by encouraging news and attempt to push him. There could be setbacks and the best thing is to go on planning without him and hope for the best in 2015.

If nothing else, the World Series has demonstrated how much pitching outweighs hitting as far as being a team priority.

For all the talk about David Ortiz, remember the Red Sox took Games 4 and 5 on the strength of production from the non-descript Jonny Gomes and David Ross, and the pitching of a deep bullpen in Game 4 and Jon Lester in Game 5.

And, quite simply, the Cardinals are here based on their young arms. When enticed by teams to part with the likes of Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, general manager Sandy Alderson should note what the Cardinals have done with their pitching and what the Red Sox have done in patching their lineup with veteran, and relatively inexpensive, bats.

The Mets won 74 games this season, but before writing off 2014, remember only nine of those wins were by Harvey. He had 12 no-decisions. If the Mets can pick up a veteran arm in free-agency to compensate for those nine wins, and if Wheeler takes the next step and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee continue to improve, a .500 season, if not a winning year, is possible without diving into the deep end of the free-agent market and get stuck with a contract they’ll soon regret.

 

 

Oct 06

Mets Have Little To Offer In Trade Market

The New York Mets say they will spend on free agents this winter, in large part because they have little to offer up in the trade market.

Really, their only chance to immediately improve is to write checks.

What losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season also does, is it greatly reduces the Mets’ inability to execute trades. In the wake of Harvey’s injury, general manager Sandy Alderson said he would be reluctant to deal Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or any of the Mets’ other young pitching this winter to acquire the power hitter they are seeking.

Alderson said he has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s an even greater need to hold onto their pitching.

There’s nothing on the minor league level regarding position players that are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up, that also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to the major league level.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher. Eric Young is a role player, while Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis?  How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have been doing for years. Alderson’s words aren’t ringing hollow. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter.