Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 09

Yankees’ Brendan Ryan Could Be Stop Gap Answer At Shortstop

The New York Mets are in the market for a shortstop, but there are red flags with the biggest names on the market.

Stephen Drew, 31, was given the $14.1-million qualifying offer by the Red Sox, which might be too pricey for the Mets’ blood. Reportedly, Drew wants a multi-year deal, but the Mets are reluctant to get bogged down on a long-term deal, considering what they’ve gone through over the past few years.

The Mets will also get competition from the Yankees, who like Drew’s left-handed bat in that bandbox of a stadium. The Yankees also need a shortstop because of the uncertainty surrounding Derek Jeter. There’s also the possibility of Jeter moving to third base if Alex Rodriguez is suspended.

Rafael Furcal, 36, is coming off an injury and a two-year, $14-million contract with the Cardinals.

There’s also 32-year-old Jhonny Peralta, who is coming off a three-year, $16.75 million contract with Detroit. Peralta has an offensive upside, but as with outfielder Nelson Cruz from Texas, there’s the specter of using performance-enhancing drugs. How much of their production is from them or the chemicals? It’s a legitimate concern.

Finally, there’s the Yankees’ Brendan Ryan, who made $3.25 million last year. Ryan would likely come at a reasonable salary and might not ask for the length of contract demanded by Drew or Peralta.

The Mets don’t know if they’ll have Ruben Tejada, who is recovering from a broken leg, and even when he was healthy last season he didn’t produce at the plate or in the field.

 

Oct 31

Potential Free Agents From World Series Teams And Possible Mets’ Interest

The champagne on the carpet Boston Red Sox clubhouse isn’t even dry and there’s wonder which players from both World Series teams will be back, and if not, might the Mets be interested, or more to the point, will they have a chance?

Here are the most intriguing names:

Jon Lester: Don’t even think about it. Lester, who beat the Cardinals twice and arguably, could have been the Series MVP, just competed the final season of a five-year, $30-million contract with an option for 2014. His yearly salary numbers are reasonable by Mets’ standards, but the Red Sox have said they’ll resume negotiations. If they fail to reach an agreement, they can always pick up the $13 million option and try again later.

ELLSBURY: Could be too pricey for Mets.

ELLSBURY: Could be too pricey for Mets.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Reportedly, after the 2011 season the Red Sox offered him a $100-million package, which was rejected by agent Scott Boras, who countered with $130 million. The following season, despite injuries limiting him to 74 games, the Red Sox made another offer of $75.25-million deal over five years, which was again turned down. Ellsbury improved this year, and Boras already planted the seeds saying 11 teams are interested. Although Sandy Alderson said the team has the resources to offer a $100,000-million deal, it won’t be spent on a hitter who isn’t a middle-of-the-order force.

Stephen Drew: The Red Sox said they’ll tender a contract to the shortstop, despite Xander Bogaerts the heir apparent for the job. Shortstop is a necessity for the Mets because they can’t rely on Ruben Tejada, but would they go over $10 million – which Drew made – to fill the position or will they hope for the best with Tejada? Teams are built on defense up the middle, but Tejada regressed in that area.

Mike Napoli: Initially the Red Sox offered Napoli a three-year, $39-million contract, but took it off the table and gave him $5 million when a physical revealed a degenerative hip condition. Napoli proved he was healthy as he played in 139 games and drove in 92 runs. Trouble is, he did it at first base, where the Mets have a glut of unproven and underachieving options.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: The $4.5 million he made this season fits into the Mets’ budget and there’s a need for a veteran presence to back up Travis d’Arnaud. There are other options, including bringing back John Buck.

Carlos Beltran: Reportedly, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon reached out to Beltran at the All-Star Game and the club and veteran outfielder made amends. During his stay with the Mets, Beltran gave them everything he had and was under appreciated. Beltran made $13 million this season and hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI. He’ll be 37 next year.

Chris Carpenter: A shoulder injury prevented Carpenter from pitching this year, in which he made $10.5 million. There have been reports he will retire this winter. If he’d like to pitch another year, it might not be possible with all the Cardinals’ young arms.

Rafael Furcal: The Mets said they will eschew injury reclamation projects, which will probably exclude Furcal, who did not play this season because of torn ligament in his elbow. However, they are faced with their own shortstop, Tejada, recovering from a broken leg. Furcal made $7 million this year, and at 37, won’t get near that, from the Mets or anybody else.

Oct 21

Mets Would Do Well To Follow Cardinals’ Blueprint

The World Series is upon us in a matter of days and the New York Mets can learn from both the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox in building their team.

Today, I’ll examine the Cardinals and see where there any familiarities. Tomorrow, I’ll look at the Red Sox.

Mets Could Learn From Cardinals

Mets Could Learn From Cardinals

The Mets say they want to build with young pitching, which has always been the Cardinals’ way. A look at St. Louis’ rotation shows the rotation highlighted Adam Wainwright is entirely homegrown. Wainwright was drafted by Atlanta – another franchise that knows how to grow pitching – but was traded and never pitched an inning for the Braves. Wainwright pitched in the Cardinals’ minor league system before he pitched in the majors for them.. A testament to how deep the Cardinals are is rookie 15-game winner Shelby Miller didn’t even pitch in the NLCS.

The Cardinals have been highly protective of Michael Wacha (the compensatory draft pick received for losing Albert Pujols), whose innings limit began on spring training and lasted through the season to the point of where he is ready for the playoffs without reservation.

St. Louis did this by not starting the innings limit in spring training but by backdating his projected starts from the playoffs. This made it easier because the Cardinals had a clear idea of how many innings Wacha would throw from each start and held firm.

Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Miller, Wacha and Joe Kelly are all homegrown and developed in the same system.

With Matt Harvey out for the year, logically more would be demanded of Jon Niese – coming off a shoulder injury – and Zack Wheeler, who was scratched from his last start because of a stiff shoulder. But, the Mets must be careful as to not have another injury like Harvey’s. That Wheeler complained after his last start is alarming.

The Mets are also looking at prospects Rafael Montero, Jacab deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Presumably, they will all have innings limitations, which should include restrictions on the minor league level and the major league level after they are promoted following the deadine to protect their Super Two status.

The Mets’ plan emulates the Cardinals. When Harvey returns in 2015, he Wheeler, Niese, Dillon Gee will form the nucleus of the rotation, with either Jenrry Mejia or Montero being the fifth starter.

It could be this way in midway through 2014 when or if Montero joins the rotation and possibly deGrom. Wainwright didn’t become a starter until his third season, and was a reliever when he threw that dynamic curveball past Carlos Beltran. This might be something for the Mets to consider with Montero.

The Mets tried Mejia as both a starter and reliever. He underwent elbow surgery this year, but should be ready for spring training.

Whatever the Mets do with him, they should pick one role and stick with it, something they failed to do under Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.

The Cardinals believe strongly in building up the middle, which is why they chose to keep Yadier Molina and say goodbye to Pujols. One might have though Pujols would stay after the Cardinals won the World Series after the 2011 season.

The Mets are attempting to do the same with Travis d’Arnaud, who is a long way of becoming another Molina – any of them.

St. Louis has a reputation of being a small market team, but it has a big market swagger in that it has won more World Series than any franchise other than the Yankees.

The Cardinals signed slugger Matt Holliday, which was a gesture to Pujols of their intent to keep him and protect him in the lineup.

The Cardinals built with prospects – a reflection of a strong scouting system and minor league system – with first baseman Allen Craig, who could be activated for the World Series; second baseman Matt Carpenter; third baseman David Freese; and outfielder Jon Jay.

This enabled them to add what they needed from the outside, notably right fielder Beltran and shortstop Rafael Furcal.

The difference between the Mets and Cardinals isn’t so much in philosophy as it is in talent. The Mets are hoping Ike Davis or Lucas Duda could be as productive as Craig. Life would be simpler for the Mets if that occurred.

Offensively, the Mets don’t have a Holliday, and there are no similar players currently in the projected free-agent market.

Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury is a proven outfielder, and could thrive in spacious Citi Field. Red flags are his health, potential salary and the reputation of production of Red Sox players after they leave Fenway Park. He also doesn’t have Holliday’s power.

Potential free-agent outfielders include Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson and Nate McLouth.

McLouth could come the cheapest; Granderson strikes out a lot and his power numbers must be carefully examined because of Yankee Stadium and the protection (outside of last year) he had in the lineup; Choo could be a one-year wonder and is a risk for a multi-year deal; and Cruz has the PED flag,

None, outside of Beltran, offer the stability of Holliday. If Beltran doesn’t stay in St. Louis, the Mets would have to consider his age and salary demands (he’ll want at least two years).

The Cardinals are an ideal blue print for any franchise and the Mets would do themselves good if they build that way.

 

Oct 05

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Options For Position Players

Supposedly, with money to spend the New York Mets are scouring the free agent market to ascertain options to address their numerous issues and holes.

GM Sandy Alderson said adding to the rotation and bolstering the depth of the bullpen is a priority. Even so, Alderson has a multitude of other issues to address, with only two positions – David Wright at third base and Daniel Murphy at second – seemingly secure.

BELTRAN: An encore?

BELTRAN: An encore?

There’s a question nearly every where else:

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud goes into spring training the starter despite a small window of performance. Anthony Recker proved more than a capable back up behind John Buck. However, d’Arnaud and Recker together is a young combination, and a veteran back up is likely to be signed.

Free-agent catching market: The best catcher on the market is Atlanta’s Brian McCann, but that will never happen. The way McCann calls a game and his leadership capabilities would be ideal for a young staff, but that’s a dream. The Braves are built on pitching and would be foolish to let McCann go. … John Buck will be on the market, and I wonder if the Mets will attempt to bring him back. They could do far worse. … Jose Molina, Dioner Navarro, Miguel Olive are available, but neither stands out. … A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be on the market, but both will want to start.

FIRST BASE: The Mets haven’t decided between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, although speculation is they’ll choose the latter and attempt to deal Davis. Duda has shown a better plate presence than Davis when it comes to working the count and having a higher on-base percentage. However, the Mets remain seduced by Davis’ power potential and have not forgotten his 32 homers in 2012. Given they have two options, it’s unlikely they’ll sign a free agent unless they work deals for both.

Free agent first base market: The guy I am most interested in is Justin Morneau. He’s healthy and his line-drive style would be ideal for Citi Field. However, he might cost too much, but if the Mets clear the roster by dealing Davis and Duda, it might be worth it to give him a call. … Mike Napoli would also be expensive. … Mark Reynolds would provide power, but if the Mets are trying to reduce their strikeouts, he’s not the best option. … In looking at the first base market, it is easy to understand Alderson’s comments on a thin selection.

SHORTSTOP: Ruben Tejada will get every chance to regain his position, but he’s recovering from a broken leg, so there’s no telling if he’ll be ready. Omar Quintanilla was more than capable off the bench and should be invited back. … I would have liked to see Wilmer Flores play shortstop. He did some in the minors, but there’s concern about his range.

Free agent shortstop market: Yunel Escobar is out there, but the Rays have an option. … Rafael Furcal and Stephen Drew would be an upgrade over Tejada. … With Derek Jeter rehabbing for the Yankees, the Mets will get competition in the market.

OUTFIELD:  The Mets like Juan Lagares and envision him in their 2014 outfield. They also like Matt den Dekker’s defense, but wonder about his offense. The Mets’ improvement coincided with the acquisition of Eric Young, who resolved their leadoff hole. Young’s speed is an asset, but some scouts don’t have him rated any higher than a fourth outfielder. The Mets say they want power in the corner outfield spots, but if they replace Young their leadoff dilemma will resurface.

Free agent outfield market: The marquee names are Shin-Soo Chin, whom I am cool on. He’ll want a lot and I don’t think he’s worth the dollars. … Jacoby Ellsbury could turn this into a productive offense, but he’ll cost a lot. … Nelson Cruz, who is coming off a PED suspension, could be had for less than expected. … There has been talk in the media about bringing back Carlos Beltran, who should go down as one the Mets’ most productive players. Mets fans never forgave him for taking that third strike against Adam Wainwright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, but they easily forget what he gave them over the long haul. Two years plus an option might get him back. … Also expensive, but somebody who could give the Mets the power they seek is Curtis Granderson, who made $13 million this season with the Yankees. … Another option who could be pricey, but is the kind of player the Mets should consider is Hunter Pence. … Nate McLouth, whom the Mets considered at one time, will be on the market.

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