Dec 03

K-Rod pleads guilty; what of his Mets’ future?

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty this morning of assault, a move that spared him jail time but will bring him an additional 52 weeks of anger management classes.

RODRIGUEZ: Pleads guilty; at least one more year

His plea also bought him an additional season with the Mets for $11.5 million. It was the best case scenario for the closer who not only lost his temper but is losing his fastball.

For one more year at least, the Mets will have a closer. He Rodriguez finishes 55 games in 2011, he could stand to make an additional $17.5 million for 2012.

If Rodriguez does not finish 55 games and he fails a physical after the 2011 season, the Mets will have a $3.5 million buyout.

That, along with the books cleared of Oliver Perez and Carlos Beltran, would open up the Mets’ wallet to be big players in the 2011 free-agent market.

Rodriguez is young enough at 28 where he could regain his form, but there are concerns that with his motion and delivery the downhill slide might not be reversible.

All this is very interesting. Will the Mets limit his appearances to stay away from the option kicking in? If they have a competitive team all summer I doubt it, especially if Bobby Parnell doesn’t perform and show he’s capable of assuming the closer role.

Of course, if the Mets don’t shore up their rotation and the bridge to Rodriguez, he won’t have that many save opportunities to begin with.

Nov 23

Some issues for Collins

The thing that stood out most in listening to Terry Collins this morning is his emphasis in “playing the game the correctly.’’

Collins promised an accent on fundamentals with a team that too often disregarded them in the past. This is a team that gives away too many at-bats, both at the plate and on the mound, and loses focus.

That is the culture Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins vowed to change.

One thing apparent in Alderson’s comprehensive search and handpicking of Collins as manager is the continuity between the front office and field staff. There will be no more players taking their issues over the manager to the general manager.

That was the chemistry in Anaheim when the players revolted against Collins, and with the Mets when Tony Bernazard sabotaged Willie Randolph, and the last two years when Jerry Manuel managed without the respect of his players.

Collins said the right things, but there’s more I’d like to hear from him:

THE CORE: Collins wants the game played correctly, but hasn’t elaborated on what he doesn’t like about David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Wright put up decent numbers last season, but they were somewhat deceiving because of his strikeouts. Wright still gives up too many at-bats to kill rallies. The right way also means increasing Reyes’ on-base percentage. Injuries have limited Reyes from running and if he’s healthy will Collins turn him loose?

CARLOS BELTRAN: Collins mentioned how badly Beltran wants to win. The team will keep Beltran because of his contract.  Collins hasn’t said yet whether he wants Beltran to move to right field to make room for Angel Pagan in center.

THE BULLPEN: The Mets will offer arbitration to Pedro Feliciano. If he accepts the Mets will have a proven lefty specialist. With the assumption Francisco Rodriguez is back as closer, the next order of business in the pen will be designating a set-up man. Presumably, that will be Bobby Parnell. The Mets must now fill four spots in the bullpen. How many could be filled from the minor league system Collins oversaw last summer?

THE ROTATION: With Johan Santana on the shelf indefinitely, the Mets have three starters heading into the winter meetings: Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey and Jon Niese.

With the Mets not expected to be free-spending in the free-agent market, their options are from within, trades and middle-tier arms in free agency.

Collins must operate on the assumption there won’t be any significant additions so his thoughts on Dillon Gee are important. As it is now, no matter how healthy the Mets are with Jason Bay and Beltran, it means little without a strong rotation.

Alderson wants to unload Oliver Perez, but that’s a monumental task. Assuming the worst, that Perez is still here in the spring, how does Collins envision using him?

SECOND BASE: There are three candidates: Luis Castillo, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy. If Murphy can handle the position defensively, he offers the best bat.

Collins knows Tejada from the minor leagues and probably has an idea of his ceiling.

JENRRY MEJIA: As of now, the Mets regard Mejia as a potential starter.  With Collins’ background in player development he likely has his ideas of how he was used last year and what his timetable might be.

Oct 07

Mets never had chance at Halladay

Watching Roy Halladay make history yesterday made me wonder if he could have made it for the Mets.

HALLADAY: Never would have been a Met

Reportedly, the Mets rejected a trade proposal from Toronto that would have had them sending Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez to the Blue Jays.

It would be great to have Halladay, especially in light of Johan Santana’s injury, but it never was going to happen.

Why?

Because it wasn’t true, said then Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

It was absolutely wrong,” Ricciardi told USA Today. “We didn’t exchange names with the Mets. I felt so bad for [Mets GM] Omar [Minaya] because there was no truth to it. None. Now, he’s the one who has to answer why they didn’t get Halladay.’’

Trade talks never got to the name-exchanging stage for several reasons, beginning with Halladay having a no-trade clause in his contract with the Blue Jays and there was no hint of him wanting to come to New York.

Continue reading

Sep 20

Where to plug the holes?

I’m looking at the Mets’ payroll for 2011 and see around $130 million is already spent, much of it on players who could make a minimal impact, if at all. Money will be spent on Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Francisco Rodriguez, but what will the return be?

Castillo will get his money, even if he doesn’t play full time at second base. This is one of the few spots where the Mets could upgrade. They also must upgrade their rotation, bullpen and bench.

Every other position, I see, is already accounted for.

I see Ike Davis and Josh Thole as building blocks. Even though they could get something in return, I don’t see them dealing David Wright and Jose Reyes. Jason Bay, assuming he’s healthy, will come back in left field.

Beltran is virutally untradeable with an $18.5 million contract for next year (the Mets would have to pick up most of it in a deal) and having been injured for much of the past two years. He’ll be back and Angel Pagan will move to right, that is, unless the new manager can convince Beltran to switch from center.

The Mets don’t figure to spend heavily, so they’ll hope for a repeat from RA Dickey, and continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese. They might pick up a middle-tier arm to minimally off-set the projected loss of Johan Santana.

And, if they can’t shed K-Rod’s contract, they’ll hope he’ll be sound following thumb surgery. They’ll try, but might not be able to re-sign Hisanori Takahashi, and they’ll hope Bobby Parnell further develops. They’ll swap out their other bullpen pieces with mediocrity and hope for the best.

They’ll hope from the best from Bay and Beltran, hope Wright and Reyes have better seasons, and that Pagan wasn’t a fluke.

It really doesn’t matter who they bring in here as GM and manager, their hands are tied with their existing contracts and the way the roster is configured.

They don’t figure to be much better, if anything, other than they are today. They will bide their time into they clear some salary off the books for the 2012 season.

Sep 10

Missed opportunities ….

You’re a Mets’ fan, so you’ll watch the final games of another disappointing season. Some will watch with the morbid fascination of a rubbernecker passing a freeway accident. Others will watch because its your team and you won’t see them again until April.

Others will try to watch with an analytical eye towards next year. In that regard, there have been several interesting story lines to watch, but they’ve been ignored by the Mets.

1) Carlos Beltran: The Mets missed an opportunity to try Beltran at one of the c0rners in preparation for 2011. He’s impossible to deal because of his contract and injury history, and Angel Pagan has proven to be a better center fielder. This is being shortsighted, typical of the Mets in so many ways. What would have been the harm in trying him in right for a few games? The more information, the better. And, I don’t buy that is a move you do in spring training. Beltran is an accomplished outfielder; he could’ve moved relatively easily.

Jerry Manuel doesn’t have the backbone in the best of times to do this move, so with his lame duck status he doesn’t need the aggravation.

2) Oliver Perez: The Mets hate Oliver Perez and Oliver Perez hates the Mets. The only way the Mets rid themselves of that contract is to see if he has any trade value. You can’t do that with him buried in the pen. Get over it, Perez won this battle. It’s time for the Mets to salvage something. Their only hope is if he’ll find something pitching in the Mexican Leagues.

The Mets and Manuel went eye-to-eye with Perez on this, but there was no way they could have won. Since they wouldn’t eat the contract, they needed to find another use for Perez and they didn’t. Perez deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but Manuel and Minaya didn’t handle this well, either.

3) Hisanori Takahashi: The Mets like Takahashi as a reliever, but Takahashi fancies himself as a starter. Takahashi did well in that role in several opportunities, enough to where he’ll attract some attention. Takahashi holds the cards in this, and can you picture him staying when there’s money to be made as a starter? Nope.

With Francisco Rodriguez out and perhaps questionable for next year, the Mets could need a closer. The closer in waiting is Bobby Parnell, he of the 100 mph., fastball. The Mets have control of Parnell, not Takahashi. Parnell is the one with the closer’s future. He should’ve been given the opportunity to close. Instead, in this lost season Manuel thought Takahashi gave him a better chance to win a handful of games. Big deal. This was an opportunity lost to learn something.

There comes a time in a season when the competitive fires are doused and the playoffs stop becoming a dream. For the Mets, the end started with the West Coast trip after the All-Star break, with the finishing touches put on after losing consecutive series to Philadelphia and Atlanta.

From that point on, the season was lost and the balance should have been directed toward looking ahead to next year.

Who knows? Perez is probably a lost cause, but the answers on Beltran and Parnell could have been useful.