Dec 31

Zobrist To Mets Not Happening

There are numerous times – too many to mention – when ESPN demonstrates a tabloid mentality, which is to say it throws something on the wall hoping it will stick. Such is the case when it endorsed the position of the Mets trading for Tampa Bay infielder Ben Zobrist.

ZOBRIST: Another stab in the dark. (AP)

ZOBRIST: Another stab in the dark. (AP)

There is undoubtedly a lot to like about an in-his-prime Zobrist, specifically his grind-it-out mentality all teams professing to be contenders must have on their roster. He’s versatile, always hustles, has a career .354 on-base percentage in his nine-year career with a respectable .783 OPS, all statistics ESPN used in making its case.

However, he’s not in his prime. The stats the network failed to mention are the most telling. Zobrist’s best season came in 2012 when he hit .270 with 20 homers, 74 RBI, a .377 on-base percentage and .848 OPS.

Those numbers declined the two following seasons. Also omitted are the prospects the Rays will undoubtedly seek, keeping in mind the Mets have no intention of dealing their young pitching.

Also conveniently forgotten is Zobrist will make $7.5 million in 2015, and will become a free agent after the season. There’s no way the Mets will pick up that salary and if ESPN was paying attention it would know the franchise’s financial mentality. It should be mentioned the author of the piece was not Adam Rubin.

So, the Mets will give up a handful of prospects, pay a lot of money for an infielder who has only played 52 games at shortstop the past two seasons – where the Mets have the most need – and will likely leave after the season?

Considering his gradual decline and he’s 33-years-old, this is not the move the Mets should or will make.

Dec 30

Ten Storylines For Mets In 2014

It was an interesting year for your New York Mets. No playoffs and no .500 record as expected, but for the most part they played aggressive baseball. There was improvement.

The following are ten of the more important Mets’ story lines from the 2014 season:

1. The loss of Matt Harvey: Despite his distracting chirping about wanting to pitch in 2014, and where he wanted to rehab, the Mets held firm and kept him out for the season following elbow surgery. The Mets say his rehab went well and he will be ready for Opening Day. Harvey will work on an innings limit for 2015, and start the home opener.

2. The decline of David Wright: He was named captain and signed to a lucrative contract, but was injured again and only hit eight homers with 63 RBI. Wright last hit 20 homers in 2012 and drove in 100 runs in 2010. He last played in at least 150 games in 2010.

3. The emergence of Jacob deGrom: Nobody saw this coming as most of the preseason attention went to Zack Wheeler, but deGrom went 9-6 and was named NL Rookie of the Year. With Harvey, the three form the nucleus for a potentially solid rotation.

4. Failure to find a leadoff hitter: With Wright struggling, somebody had to be a consistent presence at the plate and it was Daniel Murphy. He was most effective hitting second, but there should have been some consideration to batting him first as for the second straight season the Mets failed to generate a leadoff hitter.

5. The inability to find a shortstop: There was to be a competition between Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada, but it never materialized. At the end of the season Flores did most of the playing. There was again the show this winter of searching for a shortstop, but nothing happened. Flores enters spring training as the frontrunner.

6. The emergence of Juan Lagares: Nobody can cover centerfield like Lagares, who even showed signs of becoming a base stealer. Now, if he could only cut his strikeouts and improve his on-base percentage the Mets might finally have a leadoff hitter.

7. They finally got a power hitter: Lucas Duda assumed the first base job full time after Ike Davis was traded to Pittsburgh and responded with 30 homers and 92 RBI. Amazingly, Duda took some heat for being too patient.

8. Jon Niese continued to struggle: A young, hard-throwing lefthander with a manageable contract made him alluring to other teams. Unfortunately, an injury history and string of mediocre seasons – only two double-digit victory years in his seven-year career – took away his appeal.

9. They filled an outfield hole: Michael Cuddyer was signed to a two-year contract to presumably play left field. The projection is he’ll bat fifth behind Duda.

10. They spent some money, but maybe not wisely: Curtis Granderson was signed to a four-year deal last winter, but coming off an injury in 2013, hit only 20 homers with 66 RBI, paltry production for $13 million. He had some success leading off and might get another shot if Lagares spits the bit.

Dec 20

One More Time: Tulowitzki Not Happening

OK, one more time: Troy Tulowitzki is not coming to the Mets.

Yes, yes, yes … there have been reports this week the Mets and Rockies are talking. I am sure they’ve spoken since the Winter Meetings. They could be exchanging holiday greetings, or talking about the weather, or trading fantasy football players, but serious dialogue about Tulowitzki isn’t one of the topics.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

To understand why it won’t happen one must first ask:  Why do the Rockies want to deal him?

It begins with health, and here there aren’t any guarantees. A healthy Tulowitzki would be great to have, but he’s coming off hip surgery that puts his power potential in question. The Mets don’t have to look any further than across town at Alex Rodriguez to understand how a bum hip makes even great players, well, bums.

Couple his questionable health with the $118 million he is owed over the next six years, and you begin to comprehend why the Rockies want to start over. Sure, they’ll have to assume some of his contract to get another team to take him off their hands, but not nearly enough to make the Mets bite.

Having played at least 140 games only once in the past five years makes him a high-risk gamble. Sandy Alderson has spent his tenure as the Mets’ general manager paring down payroll. That’s why he was brought here.

Say what you want about the Wilpons and their budget, but understand that’s not going to change. It just won’t, and it especially won’t with a high-risk gamble with the cost of one or two of their young stud pitchers, even if one of them isn’t Matt Harvey.

The Rockies are concerned about his injury history, salary and want a talented bunch of prospects in return. Given that, those are the same reasons the Mets should run away.

But you say, look at his numbers at Citi Field. OK, I will. Let’s see, five homers, 11 RBI, a .438 batting average and 1.368 OPS in 58 plate appearances over 14 games. Hmm, well, that is impressive, but it’s not the ballpark as much as it is the Mets’ pitching he’s faced over the years.

Understand, he won’t be facing that pitching if he comes here. If you’re hung up on seeing Tulowitzki play at Citi Field, the Rockies will be in for the start of a four-game series, Aug. 10.

Plenty of tickets are available.

Dec 11

Mets To Sign Mayberry; Void Not Filled

Let’s face it, the Mets weren’t going to get a big bopper as their right-handed bat off the bench. I liked the idea of Michael Morse. They didn’t have the chips to trade for Yeonis Cespedes, who was shipped to Detroit.

It is premature to say the Mets filled that need with John Mayberry Jr., much the way it was last year at this time when they signed Chris Young. The deal will be announced pending a physical.

Mayberry, who’ll be 31 later this month, could start in the outfield against left-handed pitching on days Michael Cuddyer plays first base. Playing for Toronto and Philadelphia last season, Mayberry hit .212 with seven homers and 23 RBI. Suffice to say, the Mets are going into this with a lot of hope.

No, that’s nothing to get excited about, but it fits in with how Sandy Alderson does things, which is to use a patchwork approach to fill holes. In this respect, you can call him a GM version of MacGyver, but without nearly the success.

Dec 04

Tulowitzki Is Wishful Thinking

Unquestionably, a healthy Troy Tulowitzki makes the Mets a better team. I read something again today about the Mets dealing for him, but if you are a true fan of the team you know that’s not how they do business.

TULO: Just wishful thinking.

TULO: Just wishful thinking.

The last star the Mets traded for was Johan Santana, but they were closer to winning then than they are now. Plus, it is debatable how that trade worked out.

At 30, Tulowitzki is still in him prime and last year’s numbers of .340, 21 homers, 52 RBI, .432 on-base percentage and 1.035 OPS through 91 games before he was injured make a compelling argument for breaking the bank.

However, if you’re a true Mets fan – and I assume most of you are – then you also know “the bank,’’ is the franchise’s North Star. Tulowitzki is owed $129 million over the next seven seasons and to the Mets’ line of thinking, that number supersedes those at the plate.

And, we haven’t gotten to the part yet about the Rockies’ demands. Sorry, but Daniel Murphy and Dillon Gee – both of whom the Mets would love to trade because of their salaries, which combined are less than $13 million – won’t cut it. This isn’t talk-radio fantasy land when you give up nothing for a star.

At least two of those young arms the team is building around have to be included. There is also the possibility that to make this deal Tulowitzki’s contract would be modified. He has a clause that prohibits him being traded more than once, so, if the Rockies deal him the Mets would not be allowed if they believe the contract is a burden. At least, not without a cost.

A red flag is Tulowitzki’s injury history, which has prevented him from playing more than 140 games only once since 2009.

If the Mets were really on the cusp, then go for it. However, there are too many variables that scream this is not the right player at the right time. The Mets finally rid themselves of burdensome contracts and are making themselves competitive again.

This is too much of a gamble.