Feb 08

Could Wilpon mess make Wright expendable?

It wasn’t surprising to hear David Wright is already is Port St. Lucie working out long before his report date. He’s consistently been an early show. A lot of Mets arrived early which is a good and refreshing sign. What better way to begin a new culture?

WRIGHT: Could Mets' financial woes make him expendable?

Wright is correct when he said the Mets haven’t won anything, but he’s been saying that since the spring of 2007. He broke no new ground there.

“It’s to the point now where you’ve got to put up or shut up,” Wright told reporters. “When it’s all said and done, I want to win, and we haven’t done that. … We have to be a team on a mission, no question about it.”

Saying they are on a mission is one thing. Following through on that mission is something else, especially with what the Mets are saying are limited resources. Perhaps the most telling thing Wright said was his admission the Wilpon’s legal and financial struggles have distraction potential.

“Anytime you’re talking about, in the clubhouse, anytime you’re talking about something that has nothing to do with the pitcher that you’re facing that night or the hitters that you’re facing if you’re a pitcher then, you know, it’s somewhat of a distraction,” Wright told XM Radio.

And, you know there will be plenty of trade and contract talk around the trade deadline involving Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, and what moves the Mets should make.

There is one certainty in the uncertainty that is the Wilpon mess, and that is there will be limited if any spending this year, especially with the Mets likely to eat the Oliver Perez contract. The Mets, as they’ve done the past few seasons, will likely not make any additions at the trade deadline, regardless of how well they are doing. To the contrary, they will attempt to sell off some of their parts, maybe even Reyes.

We don’t know the severity of what’s to come of the Wilpons and how this could play out. Should the Mets be forced to deal Reyes in July, and the Ponzi fallout lingers into next season, who is to say Wright won’t become expendable? He’s signed through 2012 (with a club option for 2013), productive and making a salary relatively easy to unload (he’ll make $14 million this year and $15 million in 2012, with a $16 million option for 2013).

If the Mets are forced to go into full rebuild mode, Wright would bring the most back in return.

I hope it doesn’t come to this, and I believe the Mets will do everything they can to keep Wright, but we don’t know what conditions will be beyond their control in the future. And, that would be very distracting.

Jan 27

Smooth sailing not guaranteed for 2012

The conventional thinking is this is a throwaway season with the Mets not being able to compete until 2012 after the team clears its books of Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and possibly Francisco Rodriguez.

However, that’s not a given.

While the Mets should have more financial flexibility next winter, they’ll have a wide range of holes to fill including an outfielder to replace Beltran, at least two starting pitchers and possibly a closer if they don’t bring back Rodriguez.

There’s also the possibility of needing a second baseman and maybe a catcher if Josh Thole doesn’t pan out.

Take away those four contracts and the Mets will have $54 million to play with, but that’s only for one year. That’s probably enough to fill four spots, but will the Mets make four long-term signings?

That doesn’t appear to be Sandy Alderson’s way of doing things.

Another potential hole could be shortstop if Jose Reyes walks after the season.

The bottom line is the Mets could still have a lot of work to do after this season, and possibly next year as well.

Jan 14

Updating the mess that is Oliver Perez

PEREZ: Not showing it in Mexico

There are a lot of glaring differences between the Mets and Yankees, but it really stands out when you look at the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees will $35 million to Soriano to be their set-up reliever. Compare that to the $36 million the Mets are paying Oliver Perez to be a stud in their rotation.

It never happened for Perez, who has one more year on his contract.  Word is Perez is working hard in the Mexican Winter League, but we’ve heard that before.

Perez has issued 29 walks with a 5.18 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, hardly inspiring numbers.

The Mets are hoping Perez will recapture his fastball and be able to make a viable contrition. But, unlike last year, they don’t figure to wait around for him to turn it around. If he doesn’t show anything in spring training they could finally eat his contract.

Jan 12

No multi-year deal for Dickey?

DICKEY: Won't get long-term deal.

R.A. Dickey was a feel-good story for the 2010 Mets, but not good enough where his dancing knuckleball will warrant a multi-year deal.

At 36 and coming off a career-best 11-9 season, Dickey is seeking a two-year contract, but among the arbitration eligible Mets, the one most likely to get a multi-year extension is Mike Pelfrey. The Mets will play hardball with Dickey, who has a career 33-37 record.

Dickey did a remarkable job in a patchwork role in the rotation after Oliver Perez and John Maine flamed out. He was a major reason why the Mets were competitive in the early part of the season. Unquestionably, he deserves a spot in the rotation entering spring training, but his age and career record will preclude the Mets from doing more than arbitration.

And, they shouldn’t, either.

Dickey was good last year, but still not much more than a .500 pitcher. The Mets have been through this before, being seduced by one good season and rewarding with a multi-year extension. What if Dickey turned out to be a fluke? The last thing they need is to be saddled with an unproductive contract.

As much as the Mets need pitching, making a gamble investment for 2012 isn’t a good idea.

Jan 10

Do you still have faith in the Mets?

There have been countless lost seasons in this franchise’s history, many of them gone before pitchers and catchers report in February. This is looking like another one of those years.

The Mets only did minor tweaking this winter and are no better now than they were when the season ended. They are putting their stock in the season in the hopes of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran staying healthy, the continued development of Mike Pelfrey and some of their younger players, and encore seasons from RA Dickey and Angel Pagan.

In short, they are hoping everything breaks right, and even if it does, there are two holes in the rotation and a weak bullpen.

Still, the Mets are asking you to believe, with perhaps our biggest wish is for them to get rid of Oliver Perez before Opening Day.

As I look at the drifting snow and feel the cold, the warmth I usually feel this time of year because of spring training has slipped away like me on the ice this morning. Spring training is a time for optimism and hope, but this year realistic hope is around .500 at best. But, we knew this with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, who told us there would be no big spending this winter and he hoped the team would be competitive. That probably means a lot of close games before losing in the late innings.

Still, we follow the Mets because they are our team and are woven deep into our lives. We still love them like the gangly younger brother that embarrasses us. We are loyal to them because we know loyalty is about acceptance and we believe things will improve next year.

As we are distracted by football, we try to envision the snow gone, the grass green and lush and baseball occupying our spring nights. And, somewhere there is the hope this could be a fun summer regardless how it looks on paper now.