Nov 04

Cuddyer Not Happening For Mets

An early surprise at the start of the free-agent Hot Stove season is the Colorado Rockies’ decision to give 35-year old outfielder Michael Cuddyer a $15.3 qualifying offer.

CUDDYER: Not happening.

CUDDYER: Not happening.

That’s bad news for the Mets, who were reported to be interested in Cuddyer. There’s no way the Mets will go that high, especially for a player who missed two months because of hamstring issues.

Sure, he won the NL batting title in 2013, but that was two years ago. He only hit 10 homers last season, and only hit as many as 20 twice since 2009. For an average defender, that’s not a lot of right-handed power.

Even more discouraging is his average of playing in only 93 games in each of the past three years. I can’t see the Mets paying over $15.3 million for a part time player with declining production.

By keeping Cuddyer, the Rockies could be shopping Carlos Gonzalez, but he’s no bargain either. Injuries limited him to only 70 games last season.

Gonzalez will make $16 million, $17 million and $20 million in the next three years. In 2010, Gonzalez, 29, hit 34 homers with 117 RBI and a .376 on-base percentage and .974 OPS, by far his best season.

But that was four years ago and he had protection in the order from Troy Tulowitzki.

There’s been speculation for years the Mets would mine the Rockies for Tulowitzki and/or Gonzalez, but they were too pricey. Then it was Cuddyer, but they won’t afford him, either.

Time to look elsewhere.

Nov 02

Do Mets Regret Wright Contract?

While the news is encouraging regarding David Wright’s rehab program on his sprained left shoulder, the Mets must be wondering about his future and the eight-year, $138-million contract they gave him that could financially tie their hands through 2020.

Wright missed the last three weeks of the season and all reports say he’ll be ready for spring training. Wright’s rehab program ended Saturday and barring any setbacks he will avoid surgery and begin his regular offseason program.

WRIGHT: Do Mets regret contract? (Getty)

WRIGHT: Do Mets regret contract? (Getty)

Said Wright: “No setbacks, we’re moving forward. That’s all you can ask. I’m going to get checked out by the doctors. We’ll see how that goes and that will kind of determine what’s next as far as the plan moving towards next year.’’

Staying healthy has been a problem for Wright in recent seasons. In addition to last year, he missed 45 games with a hamstring strain in 2013, and in 2011 a stress fracture in his lower back limited him to 102 games.

Nobody doubts Wright’s effort, work ethic or competitive desire. They just don’t know if he can stay on the field.

The Mets are looking for power from Wright, whose best season was 2008 when he hit 33 homers with 124 RBI, 115 runs scored, 189 hits, 42 doubles and a .924 OPS. He hasn’t hit 30 homers, scored over 100 runs, hit as many doubles or had as high a OPS since. Only once since then did he drive in over 100 runs.

Just as important is he’s played in as many as 150 games twice since 2008.

The Mets signed Wright long-term because he’s the face of the franchise and what he means to the fan base as much as for his offensive potential. Considering the flack they took for letting Jose Reyes depart, they couldn’t afford to let Wright go.

However, he’s 31 and they have to be thinking if they regret this contract.

Dec 11

Terry Collins Said David Wright Deals With Pressure

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – David Wright told me yesterday how much Curtis Granderson will mean to the New York Mets on the field and in the clubhouse.

One thing Wright will never admit is, as team captain, whether he ever felt he was drained by being “the man’’ and if Granderson would alleviate pressure. Doing so would admit feeling the pressure. That’s something he’s never done, and won’t ever. It isn’t in his professional DNA.

WRIGHT: Handles pressure.

WRIGHT: Handles pressure.

Manager Terry Collins can read a player by looking into his eyes and watching body language. He was asked if he ever sees a sign of mental fatigue from Wright.

“The answer is no, I don’t,’’ Collins said.  “David Wright is the consummate pro.  He knows exactly what’s expected, deals with it, and he deals with it with a smile.’’

There are times when he tries to carry the Mets on his shoulders. He’s done that for years, but team leaders always fall into that trap. That’s what team leaders do.

“Does he once in a while try to be the guy?  Yes,’’ Collins said.  “But he’s supposed to because he is the guy.  That’s why I think he’s a great player.’’

When the Mets need a key hit, Wright often delivers. He has a .375 average and 1.123 OPS when the Mets win and .243 average and .700 OPS when they lose. He hits .295 with men on base and .284 with runners in scoring position. His .407 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position is indicative of teams pitching around him.

Since Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado left, Wright has been the go-to guy for the Mets in critical situations. He’s always said he relishes those situations.

“You know, when the game is on the line, you look and guys are turning to David Wright to be the guy that comes through,’’ Collins said.  “I think he handles it great.’’

Granderson, despite his propensity for striking out, hit over 80 homers in 2011-2012. When he hit 41 homers in 2011, his home-road breakdown was 21-20, so he can hit outside of Yankee Stadium. Granderson is not an easy out, so pitchers might be less reluctant to pitch around Wright, at least in theory.

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

Nov 30

Shopping In The Fruits and Nuts Section Again

fruit-and-nutsThe Mets are now looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Anything can happen, but the three offseason predictions I made for the Mets before the hot stove season started, seem to all be coming to fruition.

Back in September amid all the high hopes and expectations I said:

1. The Mets would not go after any players who’ll cost more than $10 million annually.

2. The Mets would not pursue any of the players who declined their qualifying offers.

3. The would not spend more than $25 million this offseason.

They were my educated decisions based on many of the vibes I was getting from the team coupled with my belief that this team is still not out of the woods financially no matter what they would have us believe.

When they signed Chris Young I knew in my mind that it would be their biggest splash of this offseason. I’m sure Young will help a little, but not nearly enough to make difference. I don’t believe he’ll come close to the numbers Marlon Byrd produced out of right field last season. Byrd came out of nowhere to generate 34 doubles, 24 home runs, and 88 RBI while batting .291 with a .518 Slugging Pct. and a .847 OPS. Young has never posted an .800 OPS in his eight-year career and the closest he ever came to numbers like Byrd’s was four years ago in the band box known as Chase Field, and even then he batted just .237.

Andy Martino wrote before the holiday, that the Mets “spooked” by Byrd’s two-year, $16 million deal with Philadelphia. That deal was exactly what MLBTR predicted in early October and less than what Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman predicted he would get. So it’s amazing that they were spooked. But not surprising. I once went into a fancy restaurant with $200 bucks in my pocket and with a date I was trying to impress at the time. I remember being spooked when I opened the menu and there were no prices listed for any of the dishes.

Anyway, the Mets are now looking at third-tier options which is a nice way of saying they are scraping the bottom of the free agent barrel. There’s no such thing as fourth-tier options.

Tomorrow I’ll post some of the scrapheap guys I’d like to see the Mets take a shot on… Feel free to post your own in the meantime.

May 06

Lucas Duda Unfairly Criticized On Plate Approach

Ever since Lucas Duda burst into our consciousness in 2010, nobody has been satisfied with his plate approach. Too many strikeouts and not enough walks, I frequently wrote. He gives away too many at-bats. He tries to pull too much and doesn’t use the entire field.

All valid in the early Duda critique.

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

Now, unbelievably, he’s become too selective, too patient at the plate. No matter how hard I try, I don’t get this one.

Even Keith Hernandez, who has forgotten more about hitting than most of us will ever know, has been after Duda on his patience. Hernandez believes Duda should be more aggressive with runners in scoring position. Yesterday in that position, Duda worked deep into the count. And, as the at-bat continued and the talk was for him to be more aggressive, Duda lashed a 3-and-1 pitch through the right side of the infield for a RBI single in a perfect piece of hitting.

Until that swing, the conversation was about Duda’s growing patience, as if it was a fatal, fundamental flaw  instead of a strength.

Duda has a .417 on-base percentage, in large part to 21 walks. While the season is still young, his on-base percentage and OPS are the best of his career. For much of the spring he had more walks than strikeouts, but that has reversed.

However, what people are noting most are his six homers with only 11 RBI. Surely, with that much power, he should have more RBI. It it is a plausible argument, but not an all inclusive one.

Pitchers, wary of Duda’s power, have been exceedingly cautious and try to get him to chase. However, when he might have swung earlier in his career, he’s now waiting them out. Instead of giving away at-bats, he’s learned to take the walk, but that’s not a flaw.

Do you really want to see Duda be another Ike Davis, who gives away countless at-bats by flailing a pitches he has no chance of hitting?

The best thing for Duda would be to continue being patient and taking his walks. If somebody – are you listening Davis? – provided more protection behind him, then Duda might see more pitches, fastballs to be exact, in the zone.

Trust me on this one, the last thing you want is for Duda reverting to bad habits and chasing junk. The more walks he takes, the better he’ll become at recognizing pitches. He’ll waste fewer at-bats and eventually get his pitch to drive.

The expectations for Duda to walk less and swing more have been brought on by the Mets’ overall woeful offense.  The problem isn’t in Duda is taking too many pitches, but others in the batting order are not.