Nov 06

2012 Mets Player Review: David Wright

DAVID WRIGHT, 3B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Fortunately, one expectation of David Wright did not come true, and that is the Mets would trade him by the deadline. Wright’s situation wasn’t quite like Jose Reyes’ in that Wright has an option for 2013, but the fear of losing him was there, nonetheless. A six-time All-Star who missed 60 games in 2011 because of injury, it was hoped he would return intact and prove his durability by playing a full season. And, if so, he might regain his power stroke. With the fences brought in, it was figured his homer numbers would increase as it was 2008 when he last hit 30.  Since then, Wright has frequently been injured – including a horrific beaning in 2009 when he hit 10 homers with just 72 RBI, but struck out 140 times. Prior to that year, Wright’s strikeout high was 118 in 2008. It was hoped by shortening his stroke and being more selective, Wright would cut his strikeouts and increase his homers, vitally important for a team lacking in power.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Wright proved his durability and the trade deadline passed with the Mets playing surprisingly well and the third baseman sizzling at .351, but with only 11 homers. Even so, Wright had 59 RBI at the break and a dazzling .441 on-base percentage and 1.004 OPS. Translated, he was on base all the time. However, Wright succumbed to the pressure of trying to carry the Mets, and when they sputtered and went into a second-half freefall, so did his numbers. He hit 10 homers with 34 RBI while batting .258 in the second half. His OPS dropped 254 points to .750. Even with the team in a collective second-half drought, Wright’s overall clutch numbers were good, as he hit .349 with two outs and runners in scoring position and .296 after the seventh inning with the game in a one-run balance either way. Above all else, the second half proved the Mets needed complementary bats to Wright’s and how valuable he is to the team.

LOOKING AT 2013: And, by 2013, I mean this winter because Wright will not negotiate during the season. GM Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said the offseason priorities are to sign Wright and R.A. Dickey and not go into their walk years. Reportedly, there is a $100 million package on the table, but talks have been sluggish. It is doubtful anything was discussed last week. It is a very real possibility that if Wright is unsigned by spring training he might be dealt by July. How much of a home team discount Wright gives the Mets is uncertain, but if he hits the free-agent market he will test it, and like Reyes, receive an offer Alderson can’t match.

NEXT: Jason Bay

Nov 05

2012 Mets Player Review: Ruben Tejada

RUBEN TEJADA, SS

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Perhaps no Met endured as much preseason scrutiny as shortstop Ruben Tejada. Although he played well in 2011, hitting .284 in place of the injured Jose Reyes, this year the job was his and he would be judged as a starter. Tejada played a combined 105 games at second base in 2010 and 2011, but would be the fulltime shortstop last summer as the Mets began a new era. The Mets were satisfied with Tejada’s defense, with some in the organization favoring him over Reyes. However, Reyes is an offensive presence and the Mets were pleasantly surprised at Tejada’s average and .360 on-base percentage in 2011, but didn’t know if his numbers were a fluke or a real indicator of what could be expected. A player with no power, Tejada should help himself by being patient, but strikes out too much and draws too few walks.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: With so much going on with the 2012 Mets, they were fortunate not be saddled with a shortstop hole. It would be foolish to say Tejada completely replaced Reyes, but considering the void left the Mets got more than they could have expected. Tejada committed only 12 errors with a .974 fielding percentage. Tejada has good range, which is especially important considering he needed to shade towards second to compensate for second baseman Daniel Murphy. Tejada hit .289 after hitting over .300 for much of the season. However, his on-base percentage fell 27 points to .333 and his OPS dropped 11 points to .685. Tejada provided little run production (one homer and 25 RBI) and struck out 73 times compared to 27 walks. Tejada hit mostly first or second in the batting order, and was equally effective, hitting .293 and .292, respectively. Like most Mets, Tejada had a dramatic drop-off in the second half. Tejada hit .325 with 30 strikeouts in the first half, but fell to .269 with 43 strikeouts after the break.

LOOKING AT 2013: Tejada gave the Mets enough this summer to where they don’t need to concern themselves with shortstop in 2013. The Mets realize Tejada’s offensive limitations as far as run production. Andres Torres did not show anything as a leadoff hitter and likely won’t be brought back, so expect Tejada to get a shot at that responsibility. Hitting .289 again would be welcomed, but Tejada must increase his on-base percentage by cutting his strikeouts and walking more. Tejada should also attempt to be more aggressive on the bases. Considering the type of player Tejada is, he must also cut down on his frequency of fly balls, which is almost equal to that of balls hit on the ground.

NEXT: David Wright

Nov 05

Cody Ross To The Mets? Don’t Bet On It.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, The Mets could target free agent OF Cody Ross this winter.

“The Mets have a glaring need for outfield help”, Puma points out, and “multiple baseball officials yesterday pointed to Cody Ross as a possible free-agent target for the team.”

The righthanded hitting Ross batted .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI in 476 at-bats for the Red Sox this season. He was particularly effective against lefthanded pitching against whom he batted .295/.373/.636/1.010.

Ross, 32, signed a one-year deal with Boston last season for $3 million dollars.

While the Mets had shown interest in Ross last season, when he was coming off a poor .240 campaign with the San Francisco Giants. I simply can’t see that level of interest now when he will be much more costly and is lobbying for a 3-year deal, although I’m betting he won’t get more than two years guaranteed. Click to view odds. If Ross does get a third year it most likely will come in the form of a vesting or team option.

They way things stand now, the New York Mets can’t even afford to bring back Scott Hairston who proved to be the only productive player in their outfield. It’s a shame that a team that plays its game in the sports mecca of the world, New York City, are not only going to let an outfielder like Scott Hairston walk, but that they are still grappling with extending their face of the franchise David Wright and their ace R.A. Dickey as we speak.  How palling and frustrating is that?

Anyway, getting back to Cody Ross, I just don’t see how he can fit into the team’s budget unless a significant player was traded to make room for him on the payroll.

It’s common knowledge that the Mets have only about $10 million or less to spend this offseason which makes it difficult to see how they can net someone like Ross who will cost in upwards of $5-6 million per season and that he’s looking for a multi year deal.

Then there’s the other question of whether Ross would even choose to play for the Mets over the 6-7 other teams who are said to be very interested in him including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

I think this is a great rumor to entertain Mets fans, Ross would certainly fit in very nicely. But unfortunately it’s a rumor that has no legs.

Nov 03

2012 Mets Player Review: Ike Davis

IKE DAVIS, 1B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: After sitting out most of 2011 with what can best be described as a bizarre ankle injury, Ike Davis reported to spring training optimistic, only to be slowed by a virus that sapped his energy and strength. The Mets had always loved Davis’ power potential when he slugged 19 in his first season and finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year voting. He got off to a fast start last season and was on a 30-homer pace when he had seven by the time he was injured in an infield collision with David Wright in Colorado. When Davis first came up, he quickly impressed with his patience and ability to go to the opposite field. But, by the end of that season they were semi-concerned about his strikeouts (138) but more enamored with his potential.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: The 2008 first-round pick was anxious to put his injuries behind him, but got off to a miserable start, going hitless in his first five games and finishing April batting .185 with three homers and seven RBI. Davis was chasing everything out of the strikezone and barely sniffed a walk. The more he struggled the more he tried to pull and pitchers toyed with him. Davis didn’t reach .200 until June 27, and didn’t stay over it for good until July 4. Davis began to find his power groove after the All-Star break, ironically, at a time when the overall Mets’ offense went into a tailspin. Davis finished the season hitting .227 with a .308 on-base percentage and .771 OPS, 32 homers and 90 RBI. One has to wonder had he hit just .250 what that might translate into additional run production. Strikeouts were again a problem with 141 and only 61 walks.

LOOKING AT 2013: Last season ended with Davis the topic of trade rumors, particularly to Boston. The  Mets deny it, but Davis, 25, made only $506,690 last season. He’s affordable, young and still loaded with potential, making him one of the few marketable Mets. However, those reasons make him exactly the type of player the Mets should build around, so I don’t see him going anywhere, especially with Lucas Duda – his potential replacement at first – so unproven. There remain a lot of holes in Davis’ offensive game. He’s largely undisciplined and should add at least 50 points to his on-base percentage. By being more selective, he would invariably add to his power numbers. With Davis and Wright hitting back-to-back, the Mets have decent power in the middle of their line-up.

NEXT: Daniel Murphy

Nov 02

2012 Mets Player Review: Josh Thole

 

JOSH THOLE, C

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: For the second straight year, the Mets had high expectations for Josh Thole. When Thole broke in with the Mets in 2010, they liked his patience at the plate, ability to go to the opposite field and how he handled the staff. So somebody that inexperienced at the position he did remarkably well. Perhaps they overrated him as he was one of the few bright spots in a dismal season. However, he regressed in 2011, both offensively and defensively. Considering his small major league window, the Mets were counting on him to regain his plate presence, both in working the count and going the opposite way. As he developed physically, there was also the hope of him hitting for more power. Defensively, his familiarity with the staff created the hope he’d improve in calling a game. Other weaknesses included throwing out base stealers and blocking balls in the dirt.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Thole regressed this summer as he did in 2011. There were too many wasted at-bats, a lack of patience and little production. Thole hit .234 with one homer, 21 RBI, and a low .294 on-base percentage and a miniscule .584 OPS. In 104 games he had only 75 hits. He should have produced more simply by accident. He also struck out 50 times to only 27 walks. In comparison back-up catcher Kelly Shoppach homered three times with 10 RBI in 28 games with the Mets. Defensively, GM Sandy Alderson pointed to R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese as an endorsement of Thole’s game-calling, but he conveniently omitted his 18 passed balls (mostly with Dickey) and that he threw out only 17 base stealers in 74 attempts while weakness in throwing out potential base stealers for a paltry 23 percent.

LOOKING AT 2013: The Mets have a myriad of holes and catching is one of them. Shoppach contributed a little, but not to where he’s high on the Mets’ bring-back list. Because the Mets have little on the minor league level and more pressing needs, there’s not a high priority to replace Thole, who made $498,000 in 2012 and is eligible for salary arbitration. Even if Thole wins in arbitration, he won’t break the penny-conscious Mets. Perhaps more than any other Met, Thole has the most to prove. He’s been at this level for four seasons and should have shown considerably more by now. His career numbers are a .261 average, with seven homers and 87 RBI. By now he should do better than that in a single season.

NEXT: Ike Davis