Jan 27

How Mets Answered Off-Season Questions

The New York Mets faced a myriad of questions entering the off-season. Now, with spring training staring us in the face. let’s see how have they answered them.

REBUILDING THE ROTATION

With Matt Harvey lost for the season following Tommy John surgery, the Mets needed to add two starters because they had no assurances of help from their minor league system that includes Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Bartolo Colon was signed to a two-year contract, theoretically to fill the void this season and in 2015 if there was a problem in Harvey’s rehab.

Within the past two weeks they signed John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which should give them the promise of at least five innings from the fifth starter.

Colon is an upgrade over Aaron Harang, and if Matsuzaka pitches as he did in his final three starts last season, he will keep things in order until the prospects arrive.

Conclusion: They are better now than after the season, but not good enough to make them better than a .500 team without some help.

BOLSTERING THE BULLPEN

With Bobby Parnell recovering from neck surgery, the Mets’ Plan B is to make Vic Black the closer.

The Mets will bring back most of their 2013 bullpen, but there won’t be enough arms in camp to create widespread competition.

Conclusion: Things would be better if the Mets could depend on Parnell’s status, but the bullpen heading into spring training is no better than last year’s.

SETTLING ON A FIRST BASEMAN

Most Mets fans said the team should have done this last July and cut ties with Ike Davis. Unable to trade him – and initially showing signs of leaning toward Lucas Duda – it appears the Mets are back to square one by giving Davis another chance.

The Mets’ outward efforts to deal Davis only decreased his value. Duda doesn’t have much trade value, either. Neither does Wilmer Flores, who won’t be given a chance to compete for the first base job.

Conclusion: What was a season-long distraction lasted through the winter and will greet us in Port St. Lucie.

ADDRESSING SHORTSTOP

Acquiring a shortstop was a top priority during the winter, but the Mets were never in it for Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew is well out of their price range.

Prior to the Winter Meetings, GM Sandy Alderson suggested Ruben Tejada would get another chance. The Mets also brought back Omar Quintanilla as Tejada’s back-up.

Conclusion: Instead of upgrading, the Mets are reduced to hoping for Tejada to play better than he had ever been before.

ADDING POWER TO THE OUTFIELD

Curtis Granderson was signed to a four-year contract and Chris Young was given a one-year deal. Granderson is coming off an injury prone, non-productive year.

Granderson is young enough to give the Mets hope he can bounce back, although nobody expects him to duplicate his Yankee Stadium numbers at Citi Field.

Conversely, Young is several years removed from his best seasons. The Mets are hoping for lightning in a bottle from him.

Conclusion: A productive Granderson will upgrade the offense, improve the outfield and protect David Wright in the batting order. No guarantees, however.

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

Jan 21

Lucas Duda Back In The Outfield Not A Good Idea

Most ideas born out of desperation don’t usually pan out, such as the New York Mets’ decision to play Lucas Duda in left field last season. The year before it was right field, which was a greater disaster.

Duda in the outfield this year makes even less sense, as general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN was possible. Alderson said a decision would be made shortly prior to spring training on if Duda would play in the outfield, and how much time he would receive.

DUDA: Outfield not a good idea.

DUDA: Outfield not a good idea.

Sending Duda back to the outfield became a possibility with the Mets’ inability to trade Ike Davis, thereby creating the potential both could be on the Opening Day roster.

While not great, the Mets’ outfield without Duda is better than they had last year with Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Eric Young and Juan Lagares.

Should Duda become the starting left fielder, Granderson would play right and Chris Young, because of his $7.25 million contract would play center.

That scenario would keep Eric Young’s speed on the bench and decrease Lagares’ playing time. Even should Duda come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, his presence limits their playing time and deprives the Mets of another roster spot.

So this leaves the Mets to choose between Duda’s powers potential, Eric Young’s speed and Lagares’ development.

What having Duda on the 25-man roster, and playing him in the outfield, does more than anything is call into question the sense of signing Chris Young as one less outfielder would make this more practical.

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

Nov 26

Here’s How The Mets’ 2014 Roster Currently Shapes Up

The New York Mets’ 2014 roster is far from set, but as of now here’s what it looks like with Opening Day still four months away:

ROTATION

1. Jon Niese: With Matt Harvey out, Niese figures to be Opening Day starter for second straight season.

2. Dillon Gee: Was team leader in victories last year and fell short by one inning of 200.

3. Zack Wheeler: Made good first impression, but will have innings limit.

4. Jenrry Mejia: Will be fourth starter if surgically-repaired elbow allows him. If not, the Mets must shop.

5. Fifth starter: Will likely come as late winter signing as Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will wait out Super Two status.

BULLPEN

6. Bobby Parnell: Recovering from neck surgery, so he’s a question.

7. Vic Black: Probably the closer if Parnell isn’t ready.

8. Gonzalez Germen: Mets love his fastball.

9. Scott Rice: Last year’s feel good story to return following hernia surgery.

10. Josh Edgin: Situational lefty if healthy.

11. Jeurys Familia: Has command issues, but a high ceiling.

12. Carlos Torres: Gave the Mets something in long relief and in situational roles.

CATCHER

13. Travis d’Arnaud: Didn’t have much of a sampling, but is on the Mets Christmas card.

14. Back-up catcher: Mets wanted veteran mentor, but face a thin market. Anthony Recker is next up.

FIRST BASE

15. Lucas Duda or Ike Davis: GM Sandy Alderson says there’s interest in Davis, but we’ve seen nothing so far. Could he be the GM version of Scott Boras? Meanwhile, Duda is at a fitness camp. He looks like the front-runner.

SECOND BASE

16. Daniel Murphy: We keep hearing how the Mets would like to upgrade, but there are too many other concerns.

SHORTSTOP

17. Ruben Tejada: Without a significant addition, he could get another chance.

18. Back-up: Omar Quintanilla did a good job replacing Tejada last summer, but his bat was lacking. There’s been no movement in bringing him back.

THIRD BASE

19. David Wright: For the next seven years.

OUTFIELD

20. Eric Young: Mets don’t like his on-base percentage, which should be higher considering his speed.

21. Juan Lagares: Probably goes to right field.

22. Chris Young: Likely starter in center field.

BENCH

23-26. Wilmer Flores, Matt den Dekker, Justin Turner and Josh Satin will compete for spots. One won’t make it. Mets likely won’t do better considering their budget.

 

Feb 13

Outfield? What Outfield?

Here are some quotes from Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter who now know they have their work cut out for them this season.

But before that, here’s what the architect of the New York Mets outfield, Sandy Alderson, had to say. “I’m excited to see what we have. I’m excited to see what those outfielders can provide us.”

lucas duda

Left Field – Lucas Duda

2012: .239/.329/.389, -1.4 WAR

“You want me to go yell at Sandy? That’s how it is. He’s right. There is no outfield.”

“It’s time to help the team anyway I can. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve been in the big leagues for a little bit now so I know what to expect and I think experience is a big factor. I think I’ll build on that. People can say what they want about our outfield. We’re just going to continue to work hard.

kirk nieuwenhuis

Center Field – Kirk Nieuwenhuis

2012: .252/.315/.376, 0.0 WAR

“I’ve spent this offseason dwelling mentally on what I can do better as a player and how, as an outfielder, we can become better. The way last season ended was frustrating.”

“We know what we’re capable of doing and we’re excited for the season. All that stuff that people talk about, all that stuff is just completely out of our control. For us to dwell on that and think about that would be completely detrimental to our play on the field.”

mike-baxter-mets

Right Field – Mike Baxter

2012: .263/.365/.413, 0.3 WAR

“I’d like to do a lot more with my career than just make a catch. We’ve just got a good, scrappy, hungry group of guys. Baseball’s a game you really can’t count anybody out. Knowing the group we have here, it’s just a really resilient and hungry group that is going to go out and not be too fazed by what’s going on publicly.”

“We might not have the biggest names in the outfield, but we have hungry guys out there who are excited and prepared for this opportunity.”

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Duda, Nieuwenhuis and Baxter will get the lion’s share of playing time for the Mets in 2013. Righthanded bench options include Collin Cowgill (.269/.336/.317, 0.3 WAR) and Andrew Brown (.232/.302/.429, -.01 WAR) who both will play mostly when a southpaw is on the mound and to spell Nieuwenhuis and Baxter.

If one of them should someone pull up lame or prove ineffective, the Mets could turn to Jordany Valdespin or possibly promote Matt Den Dekker. But let’s be honest here, this situation is obviously less than ideal. Not one of these players has ever had a full major league season in their career. If this was the plan all along, it wasn’t a very good one.

I’m not buying the excuse that the appeal to protect the pick would have taken as long as three weeks. If they were genuinely interested in signing a Type-A free agent, why didn’t they file the appeal three months ago, or two months ago, or one month ago? Why didn’t they raise a fuss the second they knew their pick would be unprotected?

Let’s call this what it is, a big-time fail.

It’s too bad, because I actually have great expectations for the starting pitching, the bullpen and the catching this year as readers of this site know. It sucks that we couldn’t bring in one capable everyday outfielder to compliment that. It would have been nice.

It also sucks for the rest of the team. This will put more pressure on everyone to ramp up their performances to compensate for the deficiency in the outfield and that’s totally unfair to all of them.

I know these guys will bust their behinds out there this season and give the team their best efforts. They are a terrific bunch of likable guys with great character and a burning desire to succeed. But the thing of it is, they had those same qualities last year too.

I’ll get over this by the end of the day, and you should too. We still have a lot of bright spots on the team and despite the losses of R.A. Dickey and Scott Hairston, there’s still a lot to be excited about, and it should be a fun season to watch.

Nov 07

So Much More To Do Now Than Two Years Ago

What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.

Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.

So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it, and don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.

Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?

First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.

Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity?  Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.

Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.

Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.

Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.

Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.

Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.

Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…

Progress?