Jan 10

Bruce Agrees With Mets

I am pleasantly surprised, no, make that floored the Mets finally signed a free agent, and glad it was outfielder Jay Bruce. Primarily, because I didn’t want to see him traded in the first place.

Multiple media outlets reported Bruce agreed to terms on a three-year, $39-million contract. The deal is pending a physical and it is not immediately known if it contains a no-trade clause. Presumably, it does considering the Mets had previously dealt last year for minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan.

The Mets acquired Bruce, now 30, from Cincinnati in 2016. He struggled with the Mets initially but found his stroke in late September. I never bought into the nonsense that he was overwhelmed by New York, and proved that with 29 homers with the Mets before GM Sandy Alderson’s fire sale last season.

Bruce finished 2017 with a career-high 36 homers and 101 RBI in 146. He also hit two homers with four RBI in the AL Division Series.

I’ve always liked Bruce, but don’t think he’ll make the Mets appreciably better unless they are willing to make additional moves. Bruce is scheduled to make $13 million this year, which is only slightly more than the $10 million they were reportedly believed to have budgeted for 2018.

Initial speculation had Bruce seeking $80 million over four years, but there was little interest outside of the Mets, who as of last week hadn’t made an offer. Outside of familiarity, also tipping the needle in favor of the Mets is willingness to play first base in case things don’t pan out with Dominic Smith.

With Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto recovering from injuries, the outfield is considered to be a need.

Jan 02

Five Things I’d Love To See Happen With The Mets

Here we are, two days into the new year and I’ve already broken one resolution. It was the one about eating junk food, not about criticizing the Mets.

There’s plenty of time left for that, but for now let’s take a look at the top three things I’d like to see happen with the Mets this year, not including winning the World Series.

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

I’m not even holding out for a winning season, or for them to even be competitive. The following are five individual things or events I am rooting for to happen to the Mets this season:

The Captain: The odds are getting longer and longer, but I sure would like to see David Wright complete a successful comeback following rotator cuff surgery. Maybe not 2006 revisited, but to play again without pain and make the throw from third to first as if it was effortless.

Those arms: I’m not thinking about any of them winning a Cy Young Award. Or winning 20 games. Or even each starting 34 games. What I want to see is just one time this summer the rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler make all their starts in a row. I don’t even care if all five lose their starts. I just want them to make them.

Stay healthy: There will be some injuries, of course, but let’s have nothing like those that shelved Michael Conforto, Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. Injuries have long been used as the explanation for the losing. I just want Mickey Calloway to not have to write out 125 different lineups this summer. No Mets manager has had something like that since, well, who knows when? Maybe Davey Johnson in 1986.

Solve Murph: Daniel Murphy has had his way since the Mets cast him aside. Murphy left as a free agent, but make no mistake he was pushed away much like Jose Reyes when he left as a free agent. Murphy has also owned the Mets since signing with the Nationals. In the 38 games Murphy has played against the Mets he has 54 hits, of which nine are homers adding up to 35 RBI and a .386 batting average and a .435 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.135 OPS.

Spend some money: Wouldn’t it be nice for ownership to call GM Sandy Alderson and demand he spend some money and bring some talent to Flushing.

I’m not holding my breath, especially on the last one.

 

Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.

Aug 21

No Surprise, Matz To Have Season-Ending Elbow Surgery

As much as Steven Matz and the Mets tried to convince us to the contrary, the team finally admitted something was wrong with the left-hander’s arm and placed him on the disabled list with surgery expected to follow.

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

It only took eight lousy starts to convince GM Sandy Alderson to finally seek the exam that revealed a ulnar nerve condition that if it doesn’t respond to a cortisone injection and more than two weeks of rest, will have season-ending surgery.

Matz’s condition is similar to Jacob deGrom’s last year, but we all know people respond differently from surgery, so it is only a guess he’ll be ready for spring training.

“I think it’s something [Matz] has had to deal with and we felt this was the best time to address it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I am sure some of the issues have kept him from being the pitcher we know he can be.’’

Translated, Collins’ quote tells us: 1) this has been bothering Matz for a long time, and 2) don’t believe it when Mets’ management, or their pitchers, say there’s nothing wrong.

Since July 9, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA, numbers to be expected considering opponents are hitting .385 against him with seven homers. Matz, 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA overall, joins Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo on the disabled list.

“There’s no guarantees, especially with young, power pitching, that you are going to say these guys are all going to be healthy throughout the season,’’ Collins said. “We came into this season saying we were prepared for it, because we had seven guys. Five of them went down. I just think you need to keep as much pitching around as you possibly can because you never know when you are going to need it.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Robert Gsellman was superb in his second start since coming off the disabled list, giving up one run on five hits in 6.1 innings. … Matt Harvey gave up two runs in three innings for Double-A Binghamton in his second rehab start. … Jeurys Familia is scheduled to make consecutive appearances Tuesday and Wednesday, and barring complications could be activated this weekend when the Mets are in Washington. … Yoenis Cespedes has ten RBI in his last 11 games.

 

Aug 18

Today’s Question: What Carnage Will Stanton Bring To Mets?

After being mauled the past four games by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Mets now get the luxury of facing a career franchise killer Giancarlo Stanton.

So, today’s question is: What kind of damage will Stanton do this weekend against Mets pitchers, Chris Flexen, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom?

If the Marlins were a playoff contender this year, Stanton might be the NL MVP frontrunner. He just might win it regardless, especially if he comes close to 60 homers.

Stanton has 11 homers with 21 RBI for August after having 12 homers with 23 RBI in July.

Overall, he has 32 homers with 71 RBI and a .903 OPS against the Mets, with five homers and ten RBI coming this season. Six games remain between the two teams.

Stanton is three years into a 13-year, $325-million contract with the Marlins.