Feb 24

No Guarantee Mets Would Have Gotten Nelson Cruz For Bargain Price

It is an oversimplification to suggest the New York Mets could have signed Nelson Cruz for the same $8 million the Orioles did, if not a little more. Especially when juxtaposed against the Chris Young signing for $7.25 million.

I was against the Young signing, but that had nothing to do with Cruz, whom I would have balked against because of his connection to PEDs and defensive liabilities.

The Mets signed Young prior to the Winter Meetings when the market was fresh. Cruz was signed after spring training had begun.

Don’t forget at the time the Mets were apprehensive about giving up a compensatory draft pick. They didn’t have to surrender a pick for Young.

The market has dwindled dramatically since they signed Young. GM Sandy Alderson, who initially suggested he might let things play out in the market, had no way of knowing Cruz would sign for what he did, especially when the early reports had him asking for $75 million over five years.

Signing a power-hitting outfielder was a primary need and Alderson rolled the dice with Young. His odds were more in his favor later with Curtis Granderson.

But, for Cruz, who would have guessed this?

Maybe had the Mets re-visited Cruz with a low-ball offer, he could have signed with them, but the feeling is it wouldn’t have been a good fit because of the PED issue.

And, had they inked both Young and Cruz to one-year deals, the odds are good they would have needed to shop again for outfielders next winter.

As for Cruz, this is the best thing that could happen to him because it affords him an opportunity to put up monster numbers in bandbox Camden Yards and try free agency against next year.

ON DECK: Collins wants players to reveal injuries.

Feb 15

Bartolo Colon Arrives In Camp

Bartolo Colon signed with the New York Mets for the same reason most free agents go to a new team – they offered the most. At 40, Colon didn’t have many teams banging on his door. Nobody was offering $20 million over two years like the Mets.

COLON: Hired gun.

COLON: Hired gun.

“Other teams had one-year offers,’’ Colon told reporters Saturday in Port St. Lucie. “The second year really sealed the deal for me with the Mets.’’

Colon said he left it to his agent to find him a team that would be the best fit, but the fit was in the number of years and dollar amount. Yes, Colon is a mercenary, but that’s the nature of the sport.

The Mets could have had younger, more durable and potentially more productive pitchers, but they didn’t want to spend the money. This was the ultimate business relationship.

Colon, once nabbed for PED use, was 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA last year over 30 starts with Oakland, numbers he said even surprised himself. The Mets are gambling Colon has at least one more year in him to fill the void left by Matt Harvey’s injury.

The Mets don’t expect Colon to lose it overnight. As far as the second year, that’s for insurance for 2015 if the Mets’ young pitching is slow in developing.

The 265-pound Colon said he’s always pitched heavy and plans to pitch, “until my body can’t take it any more.’’

ON DECK: Wrapping up the week.

Jan 11

Rodriguez Suspension Reduced; Case Not Closed

As usually is the case with Alex Rodriguez, there is no last word. Just because arbitrator Frederic Horowitz reduced his unprecedented 211-game suspension for violation of MLB’s drug policy to 162 games.

Up next is a date in federal court. After that, who knows? Could this go to the Supreme Court?

Rodriguez won’t let this thing go, and he says it is more than about the $25 million missing 2014 will cost him.

While how Rodriguez has handled himself hasn’t endeared himself to many, and because he previously admitted using steroids prior to MLB’s PED policy, there’s little reason to believe he hasn’t used them since.

That’s not the issue.

The issue, says Rodriguez, is about fairness and his legacy. There is some degree of truth to the fairness argument.

According to the drug policy, Rodriguez’s admission wouldn’t be used against him. And, since there was no failed drug test, where did Bud Selig get the original 211 games. Seems like an arbitrary figure only because it is.

The first offense is 50 games, followed by 100. The first offense doesn’t have to be a failed test, but could be something like being linked to steroids, such as appearing on the Biogenesis list.

Even so, 13 other players, including Ryan Braun, were also on the Biogenesis list as supplied by founder Anthony Bosch. Braun failed a drug test last year, but got off on a technicality. According to the agreement, Braun would get 100 games, but was only tagged for 65.

Everybody else got 50. But, Rodriguez? He got 211.

Selig never explained his reasoning, nor did he seem fit to explain in during the arbitration process. Selig wasn’t obligated to appear, but if he felt so strongly about his decision, he should have been there to tell his story.

Part of that story, undoubtedly, would have been to explain how Selig and Major League Baseball obtained its evidence, which was purchased from Bosch after he refused to relinquish his materials.

Part of MLB’s grievance against Rodriguez was he attempted to do the same, but with the intent of destroying the documents.

So, MLB is punishing Rodriguez for trying to do what it did. Seems highly hypocritical.

How Selig arrived at 211 games is arbitrary and smells of the witch-hunt Rodriguez asserts.

We know the steroid era was borne out of MLB turning its head to what was going on in the game – giving tacit approval to the needle, the clear and the cream – as to put fannies in the seats to watch phony home run races.

It seemed like every time Rodriguez flaunted Selig’s authority it cost him games. There was nothing consistent to how Selig dealt with Rodriguez as opposed to the others given up by Bosch.

This inconsistency, coupled with MLB’s buying out of Bosch, smacks of bias and unfairness. That the arbitrator cut into Selig’s 211 games indicates he felt the original penalty was over the top.

Look, I want steroids out of the game as much as anybody. More than most. But, I want it done the right way and I don’t believe MLB has handled the Rodriguez case the right way.

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

Jul 30

Could Ryan Braun Be A Fit For Mets?

Kudos to Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio for his immediate gesture to Brewers fans in the wake of the 65-game suspension of Ryan Braun. But, will it end there? Could the Brewers want to clean up their mess by trading Braun? And if so, could the Mets be a fit?

BRAUN: What is his future? (Getty)

BRAUN: What is his future? (Getty)

Yes, Braun got off on a technicality the first time and Major League Baseball has had it in for him since. It was only a matter of time before they nailed him. Could it also be a matter of time before the Brewers decide to cut ties with Braun?

The Brewers’ best player lied to his teammates, management, fans and anybody he spoke to about performance-enhancing drugs. The quotes from players and supporters – including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – have been venomous.

With Braun gone for the season and the Brewers stagnant on the field, the team will give each fan who shows up at Milwaukee’s 12 home games in August a $10 voucher good for food, merchandise and future tickets.

“This is an investment in our fans and an investment in our brand, to do what we can do to mitigate a trying summer,’’ Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “We were finalizing something like this to give back to our loyal fans just as news of Ryan’s suspension hit. Mark decided he wanted to make a dramatic impact that would cost more money.’’

Based on their current attendance figures, it is estimated the Brewers will give their fans roughly $3.6 million in vouchers, or effectively a good chunk of the remaining $8.5 million they were to pay Braun this year. Instead of pocketing the money, the Brewers are giving it to their fans.

This is no cheap gesture.

What happens when Braun returns is anybody’s guess. He might be booed or Brewers’ fans could forgive and forget. It remains to be seen how strained his relationship with ownership and management might be. His presence could also create a clubhouse divide. There are not a lot of people happy with Braun now, including those players mentioned in the Biogenesis case. By taking a punishment without appeal, it gives credibility to Tony Bosch, which could hurt the defenses of other players.

Schlesinger spoke of the Brewers’ brand. Currently, that brand is mostly Braun, and the wonder is if they want to continue with that considering the potential of stress and negativity.

Could that strain lead to an eventual trade, and would the Mets be interested? Braun is a talented player, but with a positive test – albeit tainted – there’s the question of his true talents. It must be that way with any player linked to steroids.

Braun to the Mets is intriguing on many levels. He would be a huge upgrade, but what is his value? The asking price can’t be as high if Braun were clean. What would it require to get him in terms of talent, and would the Mets risk it based on his PED history? Would the Mets, or any team that wanted Braun, know what they are getting? The Brewers must be asking the same question if they opt to keep him.

Braun signed a five-year, $105-million contract extension from 2016-2020, and an option for 2021. That’s reasonable money for what Braun has produced, but it must be asked whether that production is he or the juice.

It would be a significant gamble by the Mets because of the length of Braun’s deal and the chance of paying for damaged goods. The Mets don’t have to look any further than across town to see what the Yankees are going through with Alex Rodriguez.

Going after Braun could generate a negative buzz around the Mets, but that’s better than no buzz.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 27

Shouldn’t Players Association Assume Some Responsibility In Cause Of Niese Injury?

Jon Niese is in the second season of a five-year, $25.5 million contract with the New York Mets. He can thank the MLB Players Association.

Regardless of how this shoulder injury plays out, Niese will collect every penny, again thanks to the MLBPA.

However, MLBPA should also bear some responsibility for the injury in the first place.

NIESE: Cold conditions led to injury.

NIESE: Cold conditions led to injury.

For years, the MLBPA’s priority in dealing with the owners in labor talks centered around money and protecting players in disciplinary and PED cases. Unfortunately, such things as interleague play, which contributed to issues as scheduling and playing conditions has been ignored.

The norm in MLB these days is the absurdity of teams playing in frigid conditions in April, traveling cross-country for one-game make-ups and waiting out four-hour rain delays. The owners are making huge financial commitments to these players, yet have them play in conditions that contribute to injuries.

It’s like owning a high-end sports car, yet leaving it out in the rain and snow. Makes little sense.

Because the MLBPA hasn’t emphasized these areas in collective bargaining, management has rammed through such things as the circumstances of having the Mets playing back-to-back series in snowy and frigid Minneapolis and Denver.

“I think it beat up his body,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters today in Denver. “ I think he had to work extra hard. It’s freezing cold. … He’s the only guy who is really starting to get warm when he’s on the mound.

“Everyone else is standing out there. He and the catcher are really the only two guys with continual movement. When he’d come in, he’d get so chilled between innings, it was tough to go back out there and get loose. So now he had to work even harder to keep himself warm. I just think it took a beating on him.’’

Niese struggled in his subsequent starts and missed one after complaining of back stiffness and soreness. With every pitch Niese placed more stress on his body. As a pitcher, the brunt of it lands on the shoulder.

Sure, it is possible his rotator cuff tear has been an accumulation of all the pitches he’s thrown, but it also is likely pitching in the cold exasperated the stress and contributed to the injury.

Somebody has to play in those games, but the Mets, with reasonable, limited-greed scheduling, shouldn’t have been there.

Major League Baseball is trying to squeeze too much into the schedule and too much out of its players, and has been given carte blanche by the Players Association, which is content to bypass playing conditions for a bigger piece of the pie.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos