Dec 09

Mets Want To Upgrade Rotation; Considering Bartolo Colon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Starting pitching is the priority and the New York Mets want to leave Florida having signed at least one starter. Ideally, two.

General manager Sandy Alderson does not want to dip into his minor league reserves of Jacob deGromRafael Montero, or Noah Syndergaard. Not yet, anyway. A starter would have to come from the outside, and Bronson Arroyo is the most notable name.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

Arroyo will cost the Mets more in money and prospects, than what they want to spend.

Reportedly, they talked with Bartolo Colon, but he’ll got more than what they want to spend. Alderson was non-committal on his own pitching free agents, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang?

“I don’t think we’re totally comfortable with what we have in the organization,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of quality. We even have some depth. But to replace two spots in the rotation with the kids coming out of our system, I think, is a little much to expect coming out of spring training.’’

Alderson said it is likely they could be in the rotation by the middle of the season, which is a deterrent in negotiations. What pitcher wants to come to New York if he knows he’ll be bounced from the rotation?

It doesn’t seem likely either Arroyo or Colon – both of whom are older than 36 – will want to want to sign with the Mets knowing they won’t have a job by midseason. However, adding both could put the Mets in a competitive role for 2014 and not have them wait until 2015 when Matt Harvey will be ready coming off Tommy John surgery.

Remember, Harvey’s return isn’t guaranteed, and Zack Wheeler doesn’t have a full season on his resume.

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Nov 30

Mets Blow It By Not Going After Phil Hughes

Since the New York Mets need pitching, it was discouraging to read reports they are not players for Phil Hughes.

Of all the players in the free-agent market I thought the Mets had a chance to sign, the 27-year-old Hughes was it, and with him, had the biggest chance to produce at minimum cost. Yes, he was 4-14 last season, but he is two years removed from winning 16 games.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

Hughes wants two years, but the Mets will only guarantee one year. I’d give him two years in a second, maybe even two plus an option.

Hughes, who made $7.15 million last year, would have been worth the gamble.

Everybody has a bad year, and Hughes is no exception. When things are off, as they were last year – either mechanically or mentally – balls tend to fly when you get your pitches up in a bandbox.

Citi Field, with its spacious dimensions, would have been perfect for him. The same reason the Mets are willing to trade Ike Davis is the same reason they should take a run at Hughes – for the change of scenery.

Hell, last season when Mark Teixeira went down, I wrote the Mets should trade Davis for Hughes. It made sense then and it makes sense now.

What doesn’t make sense is not giving Hughes at least two years at the same time you give $7 million to Chris Young. What is going on here?

Frank Francisco got two years, but not Hughes?

When Citi Field was built, it was done with the idea of building around pitching and defense. The Mets currently say they want to build around their young pitching, but pass on a young arm that had success in New York and pitched in a World Series?

What is Sandy Alderson thinking about?

Hughes has never had an arm injury, which makes him even more attractive. With Matt Harvey not available until 2015 – and even then we don’t know what he’ll be – and the jury not out yet on Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero, the gamble on Hughes turning it around would have been a good one.

The chance to sign a young pitcher, who is healthy, relatively inexpensive and who has tasted success in New York doesn’t come around every day and the Mets blew it.

What Alderson seems to be looking for is Justin Verlander to decide he wants to pitch pro-bono in New York.

The decision to sign Young was ridiculous and not well thought out, but the bottom line his Alderson thought he was worth the risk.

Hughes would have been a much better choice. The clock is ticking for Alderson and Young and Hughes have been bad decisions.

Really bad.

Nov 21

Why Not Go With Rafael Montero Now?

I understand the New York Mets’ position on wanting to delay Rafael Montero’s promotion to the major leagues so they can delay the arbitration process by a year.

But, why?

MONTERO: Why not?

MONTERO: Why not?

We’re talking up to six years down the road and who knows what the Mets’ financial landscape will be by then? Who knows what will become of Montero over the next half decade. Maybe he gets traded. Maybe he blows out his arm. Maybe he becomes a big star and the Mets sign him long term.

If Montero has a solid spring training, they shouldn’t they bring him up right away. Why delay if he’s ready?

If Montero is getting batters out during spring training, then let’s see what he can do during the regular season. All indications are he has a plus-fastball and other quality pitches, so let’s see if he can learn how to pitch on the big stage. The Mets should not be thinking of delaying paying him by a year, but by giving him a chance to develop his mental toughness a year earlier.

Pitching in the major leagues – even if it means taking his lumps – would be more beneficial to Montero’s development than breezing in Triple A for two-and-a-half months.

Remember, this is supposed to be a write-off year with Matt Harvey gone, so why not?

If Montero pitches to his expectations, he should give the Mets at least the nine victories Harvey gave them before his injury. And, if he doesn’t, then so what? He would learn from the experience.

Often you hear the argument teams don’t want to rush a player because they fear they’ll destroy his confidence. However, if a player’s confidence is so fragile that it would be ruined in a couple of months, then how mentally tough was he to begin with?

Actually, the Mets’ stance on bringing up Montero in June might hinder their chances of signing a middle-tier free agent, including a guy like Aaron Harang, because the perception is he’d lose his spot in the rotation in two months. If I’m Harang, that has to be part of my thinking on returning to the Mets.

However, if the Mets said everything was wide open, that could mean the difference. I say go with Montero and still sign veteran pitching. If Montero pans out, then they’d have a trip to trade at the deadline.

ON DECK: Here’s a possible answer to the Flores dilemma.

Nov 04

Barry Zito Could Plug A Hole In Mets’ Rotation

There are already over 150 players who filed for free agency, but one who could be an interesting fit for the New York Mets might be Barry Zito.

If given the choice of trying to fill a back-of-the-rotation hole between Johan Santana and Zito, I would make a run at Zito, even though he had a miserable 5-11 record and 5.74 ERA in 2013 for the simple reason he is healty.

ZITO: Worth thinking about.

ZITO: Worth thinking about.

Zito, at 35, obviously has seen better days, but he is one year removed from going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA while making 32 starts in 2012. He made 25 starts last season.

Instead of picking up an $18 million option for 2014, the San Francisco Giants will give him a $7.7 million buyout. To get Zito, the Mets wouldn’t have to spend close to either figure.

Zito didn’t live up to the expectations of his seven-year, $126-million contract with the Giants, but he did do this: for the most part remained healthy; made at least 25 starts in all but one season; and worked at least 180 innings in all but two.

He only went 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA, but was always a team player who willingly worked out of the bullpen when the Giants opted to go with their younger options. He always took the ball, which is what the Mets need with the holes left by the Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia injuries.

General manager Sandy Alderson has a familiarity with Zito from his time in Oakland, and the veteran left-hander fills a definite need for the Mets, who lack two starters in the back end of their rotation until Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom are ready to be promoted.

Citi Field’s vast outfield would accommodate the fly ball pitcher, and more importantly, he will be able to eat innings and be a positive influence to the Mets’ younger pitchers.

No, the Mets wouldn’t have to go overboard on a contract, instead, give him one loaded with incentives such as games started and innings pitched. In 14 seasons, he has averaged 34 starts and 206 innings pitched, while going 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA. His career WHIP is 1.334. The Mets would have killed for that stat line last season.

Alderson stated the Mets will prepare to not have Harvey, and doing so requires they plug the back end of their rotation with an innings eater. Is Zito somebody the Mets can build around? No. But, he is a pitcher who can fill an obvious void and likely won’t be a liability in doing so.

Plus, his unselfishness can enable the Mets to use him in long relief or a spot starter until their minor league options are ready.

The Mets say they won’t spend lavishly in the market and aren’t interested in an injury reclamation project. Zito can fill their void with a one-year deal plus an option. It’s a no-lose situation for the Mets, who weren’t going to go after a big name. Remember, in filling this hole, don’t look at the attractive names the Mets wouldn’t get anyway, but who is available they can sign to immediately help them.

LATER TODAY:  Free agent options within the NL East the Mets might consider.

Nov 03

Wilpon’s Comments About Core Reveals Mets Have Little To Trade

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has subsequently modified his statement about his team having only four core players, later adding Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

It’s not a substantial increase, but highly revealing in two main aspects.

First, it highlights the areas where the Mets are weak and need building. That would be two starters, bullpen depth, first base, shortstop and the outfield. By my count, that’s 18 players.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

Of course, the Mets won’t be able to turn over their roster by that much, but there will undoubtedly be significant changes.

Realistically, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang will be gone, and with a reluctance to tap into their minor league system for starters until at least June and Jenrry Mejia not certain to be ready, that’s a high priority for Sandy Alderson.

Parnell isn’t a given for spring training, leaving the entire bullpen to reconstruct. Vic Black could move into the closer role, but most everything else is to be defined. Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice should be a part of things, but there are injury and experience considerations. If all are counted, that still leaves at least two spots.

Eric Young and Juan Lagares could be two of the three outfielders, but that leaves right field open and numerous questions are circulating about the production the Mets could get from them.

Thoughts of moving Young to second base and possibly Murphy to first are premature, because the Mets envision more power at first than Murphy could provide. Young definitely won’t supplant Murphy and send the latter to the bench as it would delete the Mets’ overall most productive hitter from the line-up.

And, please, Murphy is not a centerpiece to a trade, he is a complementary part.

That gives us the second revealing aspect of Wilpon’s comments about the Mets’ core. If there’s little there, and whether you’re talking the original four players or the updated seven, it’s not significant. That means there’s also little to trade, so if you’re thinking the Mets will go into the general manager meetings and later the winter meetings with a lot of chips, you’re sadly mistaken.

What the Mets have, they want to keep. Outside their core, all they have are pieces of a package. With the injuries to Matt Harvey and Mejia, the Mets want to hold onto their young pitching prospects – defined as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – because they’ll likely need them later.

So, whatever improvements the Mets make this winter will be cash deals.