Feb 20

I’m Liking How Mets Are Protecting Pitchers Early

The Mets are starting early this spring in protecting their young rotation. They eliminated any speculation as to what they will do with the announcement they won’t use their starters for the first five exhibition games.

They’ll still get their work in, but they’ll shave off a couple of innings they’ll work in spring training. Traditionally, each starter in the rotation should get 30 innings and work themselves up to 100 pitches by Opening Day.

“We’re addressing it just by what we do this spring,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters in Port St Lucie. “We will probably cut down four or five innings on almost everybody in the spring. … We’ll still try to get to where they’re close to 100 pitches to open the season.”

Warthen said the first game for a projected starter will be March 8 when the Mets play the Braves in Orlando. Warthen indicated the decision to skip the first week is a reaction to the Mets making the World Series, which necessitated the young pitchers to work an extra month. All those young arms reached career highs in innings pitched, some by as many as 60 innings as in the case with Noah Syndergaard.

Then there was Matt Harvey, who started the season projected to throw 180 innings and wound up with 216.

The Mets aren’t expecting anything less this summer.

Feb 15

If Harvey Is Up For Deal, Mets Should Talk

Until today, the most definitive theory about the Mets signing Matt Harvey to a long-term contract extension was the prevailing belief his agent Scott Boras would play the market and hold out for the last dollar. We concluded this based in large part by what Harvey said last year during his innings fiasco when he said he hired Boras to take care of his career.

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

Harvey said today what we already knew, that the Mets hadn’t opened negotiations and don’t even have a timetable of doing so.

Harvey, who is under Mets’ control until after the 2018 season and will make $4.325 million this season, today said he’s not ruling out anything. He said he was open for discussion, but don’t forget spring training hasn’t started yet and Boras is still in the equation.

“I think whatever comes up is going to come up,” Harvey told reporters today in Port St. Luice. “I’ve never shied away from it. I’ve never said I wouldn’t consider it. But I haven’t heard anything considering that.”

Jacob deGrom has been more open about his willingness to sign a long-term extension, which is why I recently wrote he should be the Mets’ first choice, followed by Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz before Harvey. The reason for Harvey being down on the list was the presumption Harvey wasn’t interested because of Boras.

Zack Wheeler will be a free agent after 2019 season, with deGrom eligible after 2020, followed by Syndergaard and Matz after 2021.

Harvey will be arbitration eligible for the next two years, so his salary will continue to spike assuming he remains healthy and pitches to expectations. The 26-year-old Harvey was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts, and despite the innings issue he logged 216 innings, which included the playoffs.

Traditionally, pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery – Harvey had his in 2013 and missed all of 2014 – and with no innings limits projected for this season, there’s reason for optimism. Assuming the Mets can sign Harvey to a three-year deal, that would cover two arbitration years and his first season of free-agent eligibility.

There’s risk, of course, but if he stays healthy and produces it is a win-win for the Mets. Considering there’s the rest of the rotation to consider and several high-salaried Mets could be off the books over the next few years, this could be the time to act.

Feb 11

Mets Should Sign DeGrom First

OK, you’ve just been named general manager of the Mets and have the task of signing one of the Mets’ young pitchers to a long term contract. Who’s your choice to sign first? Rank for me your five in the order of which you’d sign him and give me a reason for your reason.

My five are:

Jacob deGrom: He told The New York Post he would be receptive to a long-term contract, which puts him ahead of class. He’s had his health issues, but he’s also had two good years, which puts him at the top for me.

Noah Syndergaard: He’s six years from free agency, but he’s also the hardest throwing of the group and showed in the World Series that he’s not afraid.

Steven Matz: Like Syndergaard, his free agent window is down the road. I like he’s left-handed.

Matt Harvey: Why so low? For the simple reason he will probably cost the most, and by his own admission wants to test the market after the 2018 season. I can’t shake the feeling he wants to leave as he’s never said he wants to remain a Met. He should have no innings limitations this year, and could be primed for a breakout year. If he does what is already a high price will get more expensive.

Zack Wheeler: His rehab from Tommy John has been positive by all accounts and he should be ready to come off the DL in late June or early July. Before his injury there were scouts who had him ranked ahead of Harvey. The main reason why I have him behind Harvey is because he needs to put another full year in to prove he’s healthy. As with Syndergaard and Matz, his free-agent year is enough down the road – plus he has a limited resume – which doesn’t make them immediate priorities.

 

 

Feb 04

Alderson Hints Cespedes Deal Could Lead To Bigger Things

Mets GM Sandy Alderson hinted at Wednesday’s press conference that the Yoenis Cespedes deal indicates a change in philosophy for the organization.

Let’s hope so. Long accused of running things on the cheap, Alderson said the $75-million contract should change that perception.

”Sometimes we have a habit – we do in an organization and fans as well – of thinking about the guys we have now, but thinking more about when we’re going to lose them than enjoying the moment,” Alderson said. ”That moment hopefully lasts two, three, four, five years. But I think maybe if the Cespedes signing says anything, is that there are no possibilities that will be dismissed out of hand strictly for financial reasons.”

In particular, let’s hope that will apply to signing their young pitching to long-term contracts. The popular sentiment is the Mets can’t keep them all, referring to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

Maybe not, but the can try to keep them for as long as possible.

”When you’re talking about long-term deals with younger players, there needs to be sort of a mutual interest in doing so,” Alderson said. ”And typically we find out about that mutual interest a little bit later, closer to spring training or even in spring training. So, we’ll just see if that happens.”

Harvey, signed for $4.325 million, will be 27 in March and a free agent after the 2018 season. His agent is Scott Boras, whose reputation is to test the market and not leave money on the table. He’ll be the first test.

Then there is deGrom, (28 in June) who will be arbitration eligible next year and a free agent following the 2020 season. Syndergaard (24 in August) and Matz (25 in May) could become free agents after the 2021 season. Wheeler (26 in May) could become a free agent following the 2019 season.

Money will be coming off the books when the contracts for David Wright, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson expire, but the don’t the Mets have to replace those players as well?

The market for pitching doesn’t seem to show a ceiling, but if the Mets’ core perform to their potential, they’ll test it.

Jan 26

Mets Matters: Big Boy Payroll

The Mets’ deal with Yoenis Cespedes ($27.5 million in 2016) will put their payroll at a reported $138.8 million for this summer. It’s the organization’s highest since the days of Omar Minaya’s days as general manager.

mets-matters logoThe Mets still have unsettled arbitration cases with second baseman Neil Walker and closer Jeurys Familia.

As for Cespedes, his contract should become official after his physical today.

The following are the Mets’ contracts for 2016 (per ESPN):

Cespedes, $27.5 M.

David Wright, $20 M.

Walker, $10.6 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Asdrubal Cabrera, $8.25 M.

Bartolo Colon, $7.25 M.

Lucas Duda, $6.725 M.

Alejandro De Aza, $5.75 M.

Antonio Bastardo, $5.375 M.

Addison Reed, $5.3 M.

Matt Harvey, $4.325 M.

Familia, $4.05 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Jerry Blevins, $4 M.

Ruben Tejada, $3 M.

Juan Lagares, $2.5 M.

Jenrry Mejia, $960.556 K.

Josh Edgin, $625 K.

Travis d’Arnaud, $600 K.

Kevin Plawecki, $600 K.

Wilmer Flores, $600 K.

Michael Conforto, $600 K.

Jacob deGrom, $600 K.

Noah Syndergaard, $600 K.

Steven Matz, $600 K.

Zack Wheeler, $600 K.

Erik Goeddel, $600 K.

Hansel Robles, $600 K.

Sean Gilmartin, $600 K.

FLORES HAS ANOTHER ROLE:  In addition to backing up Wright at third, Walker at second and Asdrubal at shortstop, he’ll also do the same for Duda at first base although he has never played the position before on the major league level.

Michael Cuddyer had the role last year. Plawecki has limited experience at first in the minors.

ROBLES HEARING NOT SET:  Robles’ appeal for a three-game suspension levied for a quick pitch thrown at the head of Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp, Sept. 30, is expected to be heard during spring training.

In addition, Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension for his late slide that broke Tejada’s right leg, has also not been heard.