Dec 14

How Big A Step Back Did Mets Take Last Summer?

In many circles, the Mets were favorites to reach the World Series in 2017, and by most accounts, injuries derailed those aspirations. They finished manager Terry Collins’ last season as manager 22 games below .500 after scuttling their roster at the deadline.

That seems to be a lot of ground to make up even after adding depth to their bullpen with the free-agent signing of Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal.

Several reviews of the Mets’ Winter Meetings’ needs mention a set-up reliever, and outfielder/first baseman and second baseman as to what is on GM Sandy Alderson’s shopping list, and cite Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker by name.

The Mets traded all three last summer for a group of relievers that might not make the Opening Day roster.

Surely, if the Mets kept all three, and still added Swarzak, they might still be regarded as a serious contender, even with the health questions surrounding Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

The best chance to re-sign a free agent is to make sure he doesn’t leave in the first place, but that requires an ability to spend. Whether they bring back Bruce, all three, or stun us and sign a name player, it will cost money. The bottom line is the Mets have to spend it if they are going to win. That is the idea, isn’t it?

Dec 11

Why Are Mets Even At The Winter Meetings?

Why are the Mets even at the Winter Meetings? We knew all along they wouldn’t land Giancarlo Stanton, but even Adam Lind might be out of their league. The Mets’ plan is to wait for the price to drop for a quality reliever or a second baseman.

So basically, what the Mets’ roster looks like today is pretty much what it will look like on Opening Day.

STANTON: Mystery is over. (Getty)

STANTON: Mystery is over. (Getty)

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets wanted bullpen help, but Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson are now off the board – at $11 million a season which the Mets were never going to pay – and reportedly their first target Bryan Shaw wants three years, which they’ll never give.

The Mets’ plan is to wait out the market and hope somebody falls into their lap.

“We are not going to chase players. There are a lot of guys out there,’’ Alderson said. “We think there are some values out there to the extent the market gets overheated. I don’t think we will jump into the inferno, but we want to improve our bullpen.’’

Yeah, and I want to win the lottery.

Ian Kinsler and Jason Kipnis have been mentioned as possible trade targets, but Alderson said: “Our farm system right now is not brimming with prospects, so in that sense, making a trade isn’t as attractive. On the other hand, making a trade, giving up a minimal number of talented players for maybe someone who can help us on a shorter deal or what have you, there are pluses and minuses to each approach.’’

What that means, is the Mets are willing to trade but only if they don’t have to give up anything.

So, they aren’t going to sign any free agents and won’t make any trades. What they will do is hope for their pitchers to get healthy.

Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Nov 22

Would You Trade A Package That Includes Cespedes And Harvey For Stanton?

Derek Jeter is hell bent on trading Giancarlo Stanton, primarily because he wants to shed the Miami Marlins of his $295-million salary. Now, we know the Mets don’t have the barrel of young talent to sway Jeter, but what if they offered a package that includes Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Hansel Robles and Juan Lagares?

I would offer it if I were the Mets, but would you?

STANTON: How much would you give for him? (Getty)

STANTON: How much would you give for him? (Getty)

This is a five-for-one trade, and the Mets would be adding to three voids in the Marlins’ 25-man roster – starting pitching, bullpen and outfield, and in doing so would slice Miami’s payroll.

Cespedes, of course, isn’t near the player of Stanton, but assuming he’s healthy, the Mets would be giving the Marlins a bat of 35-homer potential plus he would be a gate attraction for Miami’s huge Cuban population base. And, considering Cespedes has a home in Vero Beach, Fla., he might be inclined to accept the trade.

The Marlins have a strong outfield of Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, but possess little depth, which is why Lagares might be enticing to them.

The Marlins are in desperate need of starting pitching, but they would be taking a gamble about the health of Matz and Harvey. While the Mets have their issues with Robles, he’s not exactly a throw-in.

The Marlins are so desperate to get rid of Stanton’s salary they just might bite on this proposal. As for the Mets, this would be so ballsy of them to pull it off.  And, if they did, I promise I wouldn’t rip GM Sandy Alderson ever again.

Or, at least not until Opening Day.

Nov 17

Is It A Coincidence Mets Tix Go On Sale After A Week Of Positive Storylines?

There were at least a half-a-dozen storylines that came out of the General Managers Meetings this week that if played out in the positive would change the perception of the Mets heading into the player acquisition phase of the offseason.

Among the storylines GM Sandy Alderson admitted:

ALDERSON: How positive is he really?  (AP)

ALDERSON: How positive is he really? (AP)

* Interest in relievers Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw, which would substantially increase the depth and quality of the bullpen. Alderson, however, wouldn’t disclose his budget.

* A willingness to discuss an extension for Jacob deGrom, which would fall under the classification of progressive thinking. Also falling in that category were promises to overhaul the medical staff.

* Not discounting partial interest in Japanese slugger Shohei Ohtnai. In fairness, Alderson said the Mets were open but did not say they were hot of the outfielder who also wants to pitch. Nobody expects the Mets will jump into the deep end of the Asian pool, but at least Alderson didn’t shoot it down entirely.

* Being open to trading some of their pitching depth, mentioning Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero. In the small print under the headlines is the limited trade value of the above starters, who will be needed if injury problems with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler continue.

* Positive news in Michael Conforto’s recovery from shoulder surgery to repair a torn posterior capsule. Also found in the small print was that possibly being able to swing the bat in late January doesn’t guarantee to be ready by Opening Day.

If all these storylines played out in the positive for the Mets, there would be a lot more to look forward to in 2018. It was a busy week in Orlando, and I mention these potentially positive storylines because today the Mets put single-game tickets on sale. Coincidence? You decide.

 

Nov 09

Is There A Fit Between Bruce And Mets?

Published reports say the Mets are encouraged because they hear free-agent Jay Bruce is willing to play first base. However, they can’t be thrilled Bruce is seeking an extension of at least $90 million over four years.

Perhaps that’s like screening your calls. Throw out a figure that you know GM Sandy Alderson won’t meet.

BRUCE: Where's the fit? (AP)

BRUCE: Where’s the fit? (AP)

If the Mets are sincerely interested in Bruce it says several things: 1) they aren’t enamored with prospect Dominic Smith, and/or, 2) they aren’t encouraged about the physical health of Michael Conforto (left shoulder) or Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring).

Assuming neither Conforto nor Cespedes are ready by Opening Day, the Mets will have an outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares and Nori Aoki. Ooops, I forgot, they let Aoki go.

I advocated bringing back Bruce last summer while he was still a Met. Who knows? Doing so might have cost less. Generally, if you show some love to your own players they might return the favor with a home-team discount.

However, after trying him at first base on the fly last summer because they were reluctant to bring up Smith, then trading him, Bruce has no loyalties to the Mets.

This could be Bruce’s last contract, so he’ll want to go where: 1) he’ll be paid, 2) he’ll be appreciated, and 3) he has a chance to win.

Do you see any of that happening with the Mets?