Aug 07

What If The Mets Signed Alex Rodriguez In 2000?

Alex Rodriguez’s career has less than a week remaining following today’s announcement he will stop playing Friday to become an adviser/instructor for the team with whom he fought, embarrassed and will pay him $27 million to walk away.

Whatever you think of Rodriguez – he’s a polarizing figure both ways – I will always attach two words to his career: “What if?”

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

What if he didn’t use PEDs? What if he never left Seattle? What if he went to Boston instead of the Yankees? What if he wasn’t such a distraction off the field? What if he didn’t break down physically at the end?

Regarding the Mets, I wonder “what if Rodriguez signed with them instead of Texas after the 2000 World Series?”

It was the winter of that year and the Mets were among a handful of teams interested in signing Rodriguez. Some had him as the front-runner. The Mets’ GM at the time, Steve Phillips, cited several factors in backing away, including reportedly a refusal to meet Rodriguez’s non-salaried demands of a private plane and luxury box; an office with four employees in Shea Stadium; and a billboard presence.

Phillips made a point of saying he wasn’t going to turn the Mets into a “24-plus-one-roster” and destroy the chemistry of the team. Then, of course, there was his salary. The Mets were willing to go over $120 million, which is what Cleveland’s Manny Ramirez signed for with Boston that year.

However, the Rangers’ ten-year, $252-million contract was beyond comprehension.

What if the Mets were willing to give Rodriguez what he wanted? What if?

The Mets were coming off a World Series appearance and obviously a good team. Adding Rodriguez to a lineup that already included Mike Piazza could have devastated the National League, and it wouldn’t have been hard to envision another World Series. Maybe two. Maybe more.

If that was the case, might Bobby Valentine survived, and in doing so, the Mets avoided the parade of Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel and now Terry Collins?

Would we have ever seen the Sandy Alderson era?

With Piazza and Rodriguez hitting back-to-back, how many more homers could each have hit having the other for protection?

In 2000, the Mets were nine years away from moving into Citi Field. If they signed Rodriguez, would that have delayed or sped up the plans for Citi Field, which hit the drawing board in December of 2001?

On the field, what would Rodriguez have prevented or enabled the Mets to do?

For one thing, signing Rodriguez would have delayed bringing up Jose Reyes, unless they were intent on playing him at second base. They certainly would have had no use for Kaz Matsui with Rodriguez at shortstop.

Then again, if the Mets’ thinking at the time were to move Reyes to third, would that have delayed the arrival of David Wright?

The Mets went back to the playoffs in 2006, but how far might they have gone with an infield – from third to first – of Wright, Rodriguez, Reyes and Carlos Delgado?

With Rodriguez, would the Mets have been in position to go after Delgado and Carlos Beltran? As pricey as Rodriguez’s contract was, if his presence put the Mets in the playoffs several times, how would this have impacted the Wilpon’s financial situation?

Reyes, Rodriguez, Wright, Delgado and Beltran would have comprised a formidable offense, and if they still added Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, then Johan Santana, could the Mets have been a dynasty in the 2000s?

There are no guarantees in sports, but it’s fun to speculate how different things might have been. Mets’ history and overall baseball history would surely have changed had Rodriguez ended up in Shea Stadium during the winter of 2000.

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Aug 01

Bruce To Mets Heating Up

The Mets got into the Jay Bruce talks rather late, but multiple reports have emerged as them being a front-runner to add the left-handed hitting corner outfielder from Cincinnati. Going to the Reds would be prospects, possibly including outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who had quickly become a Citi Field favorite, or infield prospect Dilson Herrera.

Bruce is in the final months of a six-year, $51-million contract that includes a club option of $13 million ($1 million buyout for 2017). He’s currently making $12.5 million this year.

I like Bruce, and liked him last year when the Mets offered Zack Wheeler for him before landing Yoenis Cespedes. However, if the Mets’ intention is to use him solely as a rental, I would pass and keep Nimmo or Herrera.

I think the playoffs are slipping away and they need more than Bruce to push them in.

Also talking with Cincinnati are the Giants and Rangers. The Dodgers were in it earlier, but those talks stalled.

Aug 01

Mets Still Talking …

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, the Mets remain in “buy mode” and as of this morning were still talking with Cincinnati about left-handed hitting corner outfielder Jay Bruce and Milwaukee about catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

Both players have manageable contracts, no-trade clauses that don’t include the Mets and would help their listless offense. They might not help in the way Yoenis Cespedes did last season, but would improve what we’ve been seeing for the better part of three months.

BRUCE: Still hope. (AP)

     BRUCE: Still hope. (AP)

As as far as Lucroy is concerned, those talks might have fizzled by now. The last offer on the table for Lucroy was catcher Travis d’Arnaud and either minor league infielder Dilson Herrera or outfielder Brandon Nimmo (but not both).

However, the Brewers backed off when they appeared to trade Lucroy to Cleveland. Only after Lucroy turned down the trade, were talks revisited. At that time the Brewers might have asked for both Nimmo and Herrera, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

If the Brewers trade Lucroy, it most likely appears it will be to Texas.

As for Bruce, the Mets talked with Cincinnati about him last season before landing Cespedes (they were willing to give up Zack Wheeler). The Mets face competition for Bruce from the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Detroit and the Rangers have also engaged the Reds.

Interestingly, both Bruce and Lucroy could be free-agents this winter if the teams they are with do not pick up their club options for 2017. Of course, by that time the playoffs would have come and gone.

With nothing imminent in terms of obtaining a bat, the Mets are still interested in adding bullpen depth and have been linked to Joe Smith (a former Met now with the Angels) and Jim Johnson (Braves).

Whomever the Mets land, the top priority seems to be a player who is not under contract for next season, which kind of says it all.




May 20

No Longer Super, But Is Harvey A Supernova?

UPDATED: Reflecting he’ll make next start.

Prior to Matt Harvey‘s start against Stephen Strasburg at Citi Field Thursday night was the obvious question in the wake of the latter’s $175-million contract extension to bypass free agency.

However, after Harvey was ripped last night, 9-1, by Strasburg and the Nationals, red flags continue to fly.

After speculation he might be skipped in the rotation for his next start, manager Terry Collins said Harvey would make his next appearance.

Considering Harvey gave up nine runs in 2.2 innings Thursday against Washington, it’s easy to understand why the question was raised.

HARVEY: What next? (AP)

HARVEY: What next? (AP)

Harvey had no answers other than to say he’s still searching.

The booing Harvey endured might have been the worst he has ever heard. It even prompted the story Bryce Harper felt pity towards him, which is the last thing Harvey would want.

There was a sharp contrast between Harvey and Strasburg last night, and nobody was thinking about the original question.

Both are young pitchers carrying a huge potential check to be cashed; both had Tommy John surgery; and both have Scott Boras as an agent, one with a hard-boiled reputation of exploring the market and not leaving much – if anything – on the table.

If Strasburg got $175 million, what would Harvey earn after the 2018 season?

In anticipating the future market, it wouldn’t be hard to image a figure north of $200 million, perhaps as high as $225 million. Considering that, wouldn’t the prudent thing be to sign Harvey long-term now?

Whatever Harvey might get, it would pay for lots of clubbing, supermodels and Rangers games. However, to get all that, Harvey needs to win lots of games. I advocated for the Mets to lock up their young arms, beginning with Harvey. After he labored against the Rockies, I wrote it was premature to give up on him.

I advocated the Mets lock up their young arms, beginning with Harvey. After he labored against the Rockies, I wrote that was now premature. But, as long as he’s healthy, and he insists he is, Harvey is too valuable to abandon. However, if you’re the Mets you can’t blame them if they don’t do anything currently with Harvey.

Harvey might be healthy, but he could also turn out to be a supernova that has burned as bright and hot as he’ll ever be.

Nobody wants to believe that, but when you’re dealing with $200-million contracts, you must consider all the possibilities.

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Sep 05

Harvey Not Blameless In Mess

On a day Matt Harvey was in the process of possibly letting down his Mets teammates, they were picking up their diva pitcher. As Harvey let the Mets and their fans twist in the wind about the number of innings he’ll throw this season, the Mets and Bartolo Colon were rocking the Marlins Saturday night.

Harvey said the politically correct thing about concentrating on Tuesday’s start in Washington and added:  “As far as being out there, being with my teammates and playing, I’m never going to want to stop.”

HARVEY: Diva not blameless. (AP)

HARVEY: Diva not blameless. (AP)

However, the stop sign is set at 180 innings and Harvey has already thrown 166.1. Harvey reiterated agent Scott Boras’ comments from Friday his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, had set a limit for him.

Presumably, Andrews set this limit entering the season, which would mean the Mets and Harvey knew all along. Given that, why wouldn’t the Mets come up with a defined plan and why would Harvey fight the Mets on the six-man rotation and push at times during the season to pitch when the prudent thing would have been to rest him?

However, that question suggests Andrews came up with this number recently. When asked numerous times this season, neither Harvey nor the Mets acknowledged the limit confirmed Saturday, with less than a month remaining in the season.

“I’m the type of person, I never want to put the ball down,” Harvey told reporters. “Obviously I hired Scott, my agent, and went with Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy. As far as the surgeon and my agent having my back and kind of looking out for the best of my career, they’re obviously speaking their mind about that.”

It must be noted the interests of Boras and Andrews don’t coincide with that of the Mets.

Meanwhile, the Mets are saying Harvey will make four more starts and work a “reasonable” number of postseason innings. However, they have not defined “reasonable.” Also, Harvey would not say if he would exceed 180 innings or would be around for the postseason.

However, in an incredible amount of hubris, Harvey said: “The biggest thing is getting us to where we need to be. I’m thrilled that we’re into this conversation because that means I’m healthy and pitching and had a lot of innings throughout the year.”

Harvey said he spoke with Andrews and his agent, but not whether he spoke with Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Reportedly, that will occur Monday in Washington.

“Dr. Andrews said his limit was 180,” Harvey said. “That’s what Scott, or Dr. Andrews had said. But, for me, I’ve got 166 innings. I don’t know any much more than what I have to do Tuesday. And that’s go out and beat the Nationals.”

How about winning the NL East? Or, how about pitching in the postseason? Harvey didn’t mention either of those things.

Harvey dodged all relevant questions. and instead threw out the same old cliches.

“Like I said, I’m going out Tuesday to try to beat the Nationals,” Harvey said. “That’s our focus right now. I’ve stayed out of it. … I’ve heard both sides. I’ve heard different sides all along. My job as an athlete and as a player and as part of this team is to concentrate on one start at a time.”

One start at a time? What nonsense. Stayed out of it? Please, even more nonsense.

He stayed out of it by squawking about innings and pitch counts? He stayed out of it by pushing to pitch when he was ill and should of rested? He stayed out of it by pushing to stay in games when he should have been pulled? He stayed out of it by complaining about the six-man rotation, which was designed to protect him?

When Andrews came up with 180 innings isn’t sure, but Harvey said it had been “awhile” that it had been reached. Whenever it was, Harvey shouldn’t have done anything this year that would conflict with efforts to conserve his innings, but he clearly did.

No question the Mets mishandled this by bowing down to their diva’s demands, but a major reason why your team could be without Harvey soon is because of the pitcher himself.

If Harvey were as smart and the team player he proclaims to be, the Mets wouldn’t be in this position. They also wouldn’t be in this mess if Alderson if he stood up to the temperamental Harvey.

However, in trying to keep a positive focus on things, if Harvey isn’t available for the postseason, that will leave him time to watch the Rangers’ preseason. I mean, that’s what’s important, right?