Jan 30

What Would Define A Successful Season For The 2014 Mets

Some teams define a successful season by the pouring of champagne. The New York Mets are not one of them.

The Mets last tasted champagne in 2006, after beating the Dodgers in the NLCS. They last tasted the good stuff in 1986, and if a baseball hadn’t squirted between Bill Buckner’s legs, we’d have to back to 1969, the year man walked on the moon.

After five straight losing seasons, the Mets did enough adding this winter to warrant the thought this summer might be different.

It’s wishful thinking to think the Mets will play into October, but it isn’t premature to wonder what could define a successful season. After winning 74 games last year and finishing in third place, there’s room for improvement.

The Mets finished 22 games behind first-place Atlanta and 12 behind Washington, and it is unrealistic to believe they can make up those games.

However, it isn’t out of the question to think .500 can’t be reached. The additions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon – plus the anticipated improvement of Jon Niese, and dare I suggest, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada – should be worth at least one more victory a month.

With the baseball season six months long, that’s six more victories. If the Mets could squeeze out one more win, that puts them at 81-81.

That’s plausible.

So, what’s it going to take for that to happen?

For one thing, Niese must win more than eight games and Zack Wheeler must continue to progress. They also can’t afford a setback from Colon. The Mets also need improvement from their bullpen, which was more than spotty last year. That begins with Vic Black adequately replacing closer Bobby Parnell.

Offensively, David Wright needs to approach the .300, 30-homer and 100-RBI levels expected of him. Granderson won’t hit 40 homers in Citi Field, but at least 25 shouldn’t be out of the question.

It’s folly to predict what Davis might provide, but then again, any improvement would be welcome. As for Chris Young, considering what he’s done the past few years, he falls into the Davis category of “anything is better than nothing.’’

Of course, slumps and injuries can’t be forecast. However, if most expectations are reached, I’m thinking .500 is possible, with 85 reachable in the best-case scenario.

It could happen.

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 17

Four Mets Settle To Avoid Arbitration

Four more Mets avoided the arbitration process and settled their contracts for the 2014 season. Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Eric Young all agreed to terms. Still unsigned is Lucas Duda.

Murphy, who hit .286 with 13 homers and 78 RBI, settled on a contract for $5.7 million, a substantial raise from the $2.95 million. Murphy will be arbitration eligible after this year and will become a free agent following the 2015 season.

Gee, who made just over $527-thousand last year, settled on $3.625 million after winning 13 games and working 199 innings.

Gee submitted a proposal for $4.05 million to which the Mets countered at $3.2 million.

Parnell, who is recovering from neck surgery, will earn $3.7 million this year, up from $1.7 million.

Finally, outfielder Eric Young, agreed to a $1.85 million contract.

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

Jan 16

Mets Matters: Bobby Parnell In Camp; Ike Davis Settles

What? You expected Bobby Parnell to say otherwise? The New York Mets’ closer, who is already in Port St. Lucie, told reporters he will be ready for the start of the season.

mets-matters logoParnell underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Sept. 10, was cleared to resume baseball activities several weeks ago

“I’ve been throwing for several weeks now, taking it nice and easy,’’ Parnell said. “I’m getting into the baseball activities slowly, and with some professional eyes on me.’’

Parnell said part of taking it easy was in reporting early.

DAVIS, TEJADA AVOID ARBITRATION: First baseman Ike Davis and shortstop Ruben Tejada, both of whom are coming off miserable seasons, avoided arbitration by settling with the Mets.

Davis, the subject of trade rumors all winter, hit .205 with nine homers and 33 RBI in 2013, good for a $375 thousand raise up to $3.5 million.

Nice work if you can get it.

Davis had been reportedly linked in trade talks with Milwaukee, but the Brewers today signed Mark Reynolds, who strikes out even more than Davis.

After the season, the Mets said shortstop was a priority, but after Jhonny Peralta signed with St. Louis and Stephen Drew’s asking price too high for GM Sandy Alderson’s liking, said they are inclined to give Tejada another chance.

The Mets weren’t pleased with Tejada’s effort last year, but his performance in attending a voluntary fitness camp changed their mind.

Tejada agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal.

The Mets have five players remaining for arbitration: Parnell, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young.

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

Jan 13

Mets Could Have Busy Week With Arbitration Players

The New York Mets have often avoided the arbitration process by settling with their eligible players prior to the deadline, which is Friday.

The Mets have seven such players, one of whom is Ike Davis.

If an agreement isn’t reached by Friday, the team and agent will submit their salary parameters. The arbitrator will then select one of the figures. The arbitrator can’t choose a midpoint figure, or any other number.

In addition to Davis, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Eric Young, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada, are eligible.

MLB Trade Rumors projected the players will receive the following salaries along with their anticipated 2014 roles:

Murphy ($5.1 million): Contrary to reports following the season, the Mets aren’t going to trade their starting second baseman and their second most productive hitter behind David Wright.

Davis ($3.825 million): What salary Davis is projected to make is not an excessive number, making it viable for the Mets to keep him. It’s no secret the Mets have been trying to trade him all winter. Currently, general manager Sandy Alderson said there’s nothing warm in the trade market.

Parnell ($3.725 million): Underwent neck surgery that resulted in a 30-pound weight loss. Parnell has resumed baseball activities, but that’s not a guarantee he’ll be ready for the start of the season. If Parnell isn’t ready, Vic Black will be the closer.

Gee ($3.55 million): Gee threw 199 innings last year and for the first time in his career enters the season with a spot in the rotation.

Young ($1.9 million): A mid-season acquisition, Young won the leadoff spot and gave the Mets a legitimate stolen base threat. Young could lose that job if Juan Lagares starts. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young already have spots.

Duda ($1.8 million): After showing an improvement with his on-base percentage, Duda goes into spring training expected to compete with Davis for the starting job at first base. The Mets believe Duda can give them numbers, but for less than Davis would make. The Mets will also listen to trade proposals for Duda.

Tejada ($1.0 million): With Jhonny Peralta signing a four-year deal with St. Louis and Stephen Drew’s asking price being too high, the Mets are expected to give Tejada another chance at the shortstop job.

With a Friday deadline, the Mets could have several announcements this week, however, I’m getting one of a trade for Davis won’t be forthcoming.

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