Jun 06

Figuring A Busy And Critical Offseason For Mets

Whatever happens with David Wright this summer, we know the Mets must make a decision on his future and formulate a plan for 2017 should something sideline him for a third straight year.

Wright won’t be their only decision and GM Sandy Alderson figures to be busy:

CESPEDES: Can see him opting out. (AP)

CESPEDES: Can see him opting out. (AP)

CATCHER: Rene Rivera is their best defensive option, but neither he nor Kevin Plawecki has produced with the bat. For that matter, neither has Travis d’Arnaud. That is when he’s able to play.

FIRST BASE: If the Mets decide first base is Wright’s eventual landing spot, what becomes of Lucas Duda? He’s still at least a month away from coming off the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back and assuming he returns nobody knows what they’ll get from him. He’s arbitration eligible so the Mets might not make an offer as it is doubtful they’ll want him as a backup.

SECOND BASE: Base on how he’s performed, it should be a no-brainer to bring back Neil Walker. But, will they look at him the way they did Daniel Murphy? How much are they willing to pay and for how long? The extra year is always an obstacle. If Walker hits 30 homers, don’t count on the Mets matching his price and he could make a killing this winter.

THIRD BASE: There is nobody among us who doesn’t want to see Wright return to his All-Star form. His on-base percentage and homers were reasonable when he was playing, but his strikeouts and RBI were telling negative stats and he wasn’t good defensively. We shall see if Wilmer Flores is the answer, but it has only been three games. If he fizzles this position must be addressed.

If Fores does well, that will increase the pressure to do something with Wright, who is clearly having problems fielding the position. They can’t trade him, but they could move him to a different position. Or, and this is delicate, they could talk about buying him out.

Everything has to be on the table with him.

OUTFIELD: Despite his slump, I’m not worried about Michael Conforto, but is left his best position? Their ideal defensive outfield has Yoenis Cespedes in left and Juan Lagares in center, so could Conforto play right? If not this year, then perhaps they could test him there in the Arizona Fall League or send him to play winter ball. Curtis Granderson isn’t having a good year and is under contract for one more season.

Considering how he’s playing, Cespedes is sure to opt out after this year to test the market. Why wouldn’t he? If Cespedes bolted that would solve the problem of moving Conforto and they might extend Granderson if he finishes strong.

Frankly, I was surprised to see what the Mets gave Cespedes, but the opt-out clause could make that chump change. Do you see the Mets re-working his contract to give him extra years and money that could surpass $100 million? Not me.

There are a lot of dominos in the outfield.

BULLPEN: Their least agita-inducing reliever is Addison Reed. They might need to make a decision on either him or Jeurys Familia as the closer. Either way, is there really a reliable arm in that bullpen? It was superb in April, but there have been visible cracks since. I’m not yet willing to make the comparison of Familia to Armando Benitez, but my confidence level is being tested.

I would have loved a 7-8-9 bullpen like the Yankees, but the Mets don’t have the reliable arms, largely because they can’t depend on Hansel Robles.

ROTATION: I know many of you won’t like this, but after Sunday’s game in Miami – and if he really has turned the corner – perhaps they should seriously consider trading Matt Harvey this winter. His salary is reasonable and if healthy he should bring something back in a trade. I still think he will walk after the 2018 season and leave the Mets with only a draft pick.

Trading Harvey, coupled with the monetary savings if Cespedes left, could fill several voids.

If they went long-term on a pitcher, I would go after Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz ahead of Harvey. I believe they’ll cost less in the long run and won’t create as many headaches. Can they keep all three? Who knows, but if they signed them it would be for less than if they waited for their free-agent years. Pay more now to avoid arbitration and use the savings to plug holes.

Health is always a risk in signing a pitcher long-term, but if they continue to pitch to expectations, there is no question they will cost a lot more when they become free agents. Pay more now to avoid arbitration and use the savings to plug holes.

As much as people like to say, Bartolo Colon can’t pitch forever. What happens with him is largely contingent on Zack Wheeler, and there’s no guarantee what they get from him when he returns – if he returns – after the All-Star break. The longer Wheeler stays down, the less chance they have to move Colon at the deadline.

If you realistically scanned their 25-man roster, you can make a case for only Asdrubal Cabrera, Conforto, Granderson, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz and Familia returning for 2017. Who can’t see them low-balling Walker, Cespedes, Reed or Duda?

There were high hopes for the Mets entering the season and they will make the playoffs if they began today. However, injuries are starting to cripple them and their depth is thin. They have little to trade in their minor league system outside of Wheeler – whose health raised a red flag for prospective buyers – and with the combination of health, salary and poor production, they have nothing to trade from the major league roster.

It’s a beautiful day today and I don’t want to rain on your picnic, but even with their young core of arms, the Mets’ window of winning could be rapidly closing. If you thought Alderson did magic last year at the trade deadline, he’ll have to do even more this July.

ON DECK: Pirates Series Borders On Critical

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Jun 03

Could Outfield Be Long-Term Spot For Wright?

Reader EddieMetz threw out this idea of a possible long-term solution for the Mets about injured third baseman David Wright. The more I thought of it, the more I believe it could be a plausible idea. EddieMetz believes a permanent solution could be moving Wright to the left field.

It could work, because in the long-term third base probably won’t make it for Wright, who, including this year, will make $107 million through the 2020 season. If Wright can’t play the Mets will recover some of that money through insurance, but it would entail a giant step back in their rebuilding program.

WRIGHT: Could outfield be eventual spot for Wright? (Getty)

WRIGHT: Could outfield be eventual spot for Wright? (Getty)

A lot of players moved from the infield to the outfield, among them Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Ryan Braun, Kevin Mitchell and Robin Yount. Wright is a good athlete and in left field the ball would be coming at him at the same angle. Wright also can run and has a strong enough arm. If he takes to left field, it would have a lot less stress on his back.

Meanwhile, third base requires considerable crouching, maybe up to 150 times a game, and there’s a lot of diving at the position. As for who will play third base, there’s Wilmer Flores or Daniel Murphy.

The Mets must seriously consider this because Wright will likely come back late in the season which might not allow them much time to judge his health. The Mets must be proactive because it impacts their offseason thinking, notably what free-agent third base options are available. Alberto Callaspo, David Freese, Casey McGeheee, Aramis Ramirez and Juan Uribe will be on the market. Ramirez is getting older (he’s 36), will be pricey (he’s making $14 million this year) and is on a downhill slide; Freese isn’t the player he was with the Cardinals; and the others aren’t appealing.

It might be more prudent – and cheaper, which always appeals to the Mets – to bring back Murphy (he’s making $8 million this year), than to throw money at an unknown. It is currently believed Murphy will not be brought back.

And, considering their investment in Wright, it will be better to move him to a less stressful position physically than to keep putting him at third base, where the odds increase yearly of him being injured.

I’m not worried about this stunting the development of prospects Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, because even if they didn’t move Wright to the outfield, I don’t see either being in position next spring to supplant Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson. If Wright does move to left, Cuddyer and Granderson can platoon in right.

Both Conforto and Nimmo could be ready by the time the contracts expire for Cuddyer (after next year) and Granderson (in two years).

This is a lot to consider, and the Mets better be thinking about it now.

 

Mar 09

Mets Matters: Wilpon Meets With Collins

Mets owner Fred Wilpon met for 20 minutes with manager Terry Collins after his team was routed Monday by Miami.

mets-matters logoNo worries.

“He just wanted to talk about the club, which he loves to do,’’ Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “He loves to talk baseball. But he’s not mad at all.’’

Wilpon also told Collins he would be more visible this spring.

INJURY UPDATES: Lucas Duda was cranking them out Monday in batting practice. Duda, who was sidelined for nearly three weeks with a strained left intercostal muscle, will hit again Tuesday.

* Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who cut his left ring finger Sunday did not play, but will make the trip Tuesday to Disney against Atlanta.

* Daniel Murphy reported no problems after his return to the lineup Monday. Murphy is off Tuesday but is scheduled to play Wednesday.

* Outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo remains sidelined with a jammed left thumb.

UP NEXT: Bartolo Colon will make his second start of the spring Tuesday against the Braves at Disney. Colon threw two perfect innings in his spring debut last Thursday against Washington. … Hansel Robles, Buddy Carlyle and Akeel Morris are also scheduled to pitch.

Nov 08

Mets Hope Shortening Outfield Walls at Citi Will Prove Succesful

Citi-Field-New-Fences-2014

For the second time since moving into their new home in 2009, the New York Mets will be moving the outfield walls at Citi Field, reportedly bringing the right field wall closer to home plate, in an effort to help boost their overall homerun production, particularly power hitters such as David Wright and Curtis Granderson.

Following the 2011 MLB season, the Mets made significant changes to the ballpark dimensions at Citi Field, bringing in the left field wall by as much as 13 feet and right center field by 17 feet, and lowering the wall height to eight feet throughout the outfield.

In 2012, the first season played in their modified home, the Mets’ homerun production jumped from 108, 26th overall in the majors, to 139, with the biggest beneficiary being lefty first baseman Ike Davis, who hit a career-high 32 dingers to lead the team.

Although the Mets, who are pegged as 40/1 longshots to win the 2015 World Series in MLB Betting at sportsbooks available through www.bettingsports.com, have yet to comment on any planned modifications to the ball park, recently published aerial pics indicate that significant work on the outfield wall is already underway with the primary focus on the right center field area.

The upcoming changes are expected to be formally unveiled by the ball club in late November, and should provide a boost to the Mets’ power production, once again among the lowest in MLB in 2014, 20th overall with just 125 total. But shortening the porch also means changes are likely in store for the Mets’ pitching staff.

Veteran hurler Bartolo Colon and right hander Dillon Gee, who gave up 18 home runs in 22 appearances for the Mets this season will likely be moving on due to their susceptibility to give up long fly balls, many of which would carry as homers in the newly modified park. But with young hurlers Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, both ground ball pitchers, looking ready to take on bigger roles in Queens, the timing could not be better for the Mets.

New York is not the only ball club that has modified its ballpark’s dimensions in recent years in an effort to increase power production.

The Seattle Mariners significantly shortened the left field wall at Safeco Field prior to the 2013 MLB season, from 390 feet to 378 feet, while the right field fence was shortened by 11 feet as part of a major renovation at the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park.

The moves produced immediate dividends for both west coast clubs with the Padres jumping from a MLB third-worst 121 dingers in 2012 to 146 in 2013, while the M’s jumped from a middling 149 long balls in 2012 to 188, second best in the majors in 2013.

Nov 07

Mets Matters: Duda To Play Outfield In Japan

It’s not surprising Lucas Duda was invited to play in the MLB All-Star tour in Japan, but what is head-scratching is he’ll play in the outfield, where he failed miserably with the Mets.

Make no mistake, this isn’t to be interpreted as a move toward returning him to left field. Won’t happen, said GM Sandy Alderson.

Duda started 223 games in the outfield, and last played left in left last April after Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson were injured.

It was a good idea at the time to play Duda in the outfield because the Mets were hoping Ike Davis would be able to play first base, but we know how that turned out.

WRIGHT UPDATE: The Mets announced David Wright’s continued improvement in the rehab of his left shoulder. Wright was examined at the Hospital for Special Surgery and is scheduled to resume baseball activities in early December.

As of now, Wright is expected to be ready for spring training barring any setbacks.

Wright’s season ended early because of stretched-out ligaments in his shoulder. Wright has built up the strength in his shoulder, but the ultimate test will be after he swings a bat.

It will only be then if surgery is to be ruled out.

METS INTERESTED IN RAMIREZ: Reports out of Chicago say the Mets are one of several teams interested in trading for All-Star Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexi Ramirez.

Ramirez made the All-Star team last season, and hit .273 with 15 homers, 74 RBI and 21 steals.

Ramirez is signed for $10 million in 2015 with a $10-million team option for the following year.