Jan 06

Free Agent Market Came And Went For Mets

There were several free agents, if the Mets had the willingness and/or ability to pay, that could have improved them to the point where it could be a competitive summer.

And, I’m not talking about big-ticket players Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson and Rafael Soriano. The Mets were never going to be players for them, anyhow.

The Mets were beaten out by some notorious small market or small spending teams such as Pittsburgh (Jason Grilli, Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano), Tampa Bay (James Loney and Joel Peralta), Minnesota (Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey), Cleveland (Swisher and Mark Reynolds), Baltimore (McLouth), Arizona (Brandon McCarthy and Cody Ross), Kansas City (Jeremy Guthrie).

I’d include Oakland, but Bartolo Colon? Really?

However, Michael Bourn, Matt Capps, Jonny Gomes, Dan Haren, Nate Schierholtz, Nate McLouth and John Lannan could have given life to the Mets. And, none from this latter group who were signed received a package of greater than $13 million.

Perhaps, two or three – a pitcher and outfielder – could have impacted the dynamics and attitude of the roster and given the Mets something to build on during spring training.

Much of who is left are broken down (Grady Sizemore), older (Kevin Millwood), potentially too expensive (Carl Pavano or ex-Mets (Xavier Nady, Francisco Rodriguez, Ronny Cedeno, Jon Rauch, Endy Chavez and Kelly Shoppach).

Others, such as Brad Penny, Shaun Marcum or Derek Lowe won’t make enough of a difference.

There’s always next winter for extravagant spending.

 

Nov 07

So Much More To Do Now Than Two Years Ago

What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.

Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.

So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it, and don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.

Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?

First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.

Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity?  Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.

Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.

Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.

Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.

Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.

Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.

Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…

Progress?

Sep 12

Mets Matters: Bay’s Concussions; Daniel Murphy Scratched

Speaking to the media prior to tonight’s game, manager Terry Collins said Jason Bay’s concussions have contributed to his poor showing at the plate. Bay, who is in tonight’s line-up, is hitting .158 with seven homers and 18 RBI in 198 plate appearances.
“I just think that those concussions take an effect on guys,” Collins said. “There are times when you see everything you thought that he could bring to the table — great defender, a good thrower, power, a tremendous teammate. And then, all of a sudden, there will be some times where he struggles. He has no answers to it. This time in his career, we know it’s still there. Hopefully with the winter recovery, maybe you’ll get something next spring that will really come forward.”
I’m not saying Collins is wrong, but it does raise a couple of questions. The first is, how can the concussions be an issue when Bay was struggling mightily before he was injured? The second is, if the concussions were an issue, then why was Bay cleared to play? If there is a residual effect of the concussions, shouldn’t Bay have been shut down longer.
Another issue, is if the concussions are really the root of Bay’s problems, then shouldn’t the Mets consider releasing him if the contract is insured?
Also:
* Daniel Murphy was scratched from tonight’s game with lower-back stiffness and is day-to-day. Ronny Cedeno will replace him.
Murphy said he woke up sore and doesn’t expect he’ll be out of the line-up for any significant length of time.
When you look back on 2012, Murphy’s development at second base has been one of the positives.
* The 2013 schedule was released today and the geniuses in MLB scheduled the Mets and Yankees to each open their season at home on April 1. The Mets will play San Diego while the Yankees play Boston. Speculation is the Red Sox-Yankees game will be moved to Sunday night to accommodate ESPN. That Sunday falls between the NCAA Final Four and Championship game.
When you come to think about it, MLB should take advantage of that Sunday for Opening Day when the sports schedule is pretty much vacant. Opening Day in baseball used to be a special day when it owned the schedule. Now, only the NFL has an opening night where it corners the market in the schedule.
Sep 10

Home Not So Sweet For Mets

There are a myriad of statistics to explain what has happened to the Mets this season, but there’s one that stands out like neon. The Mets are 4-18 at home since the All-Star break. They have scored three or fewer runs in 17 of those games, including their last ten straight.

 

Overall, they are an unacceptable 30-38 at home as they begin a three-game series tonight against the Washington.

 

They haven’t had a futility stretch in scoring like their last ten since 1988. The franchise record is 11 straight, achieved – is that the proper word? – in 1979 and at the end of the 1966 season and start of 1967.

 

They are facing Gio Gonzalez tonight before what should be a small smattering of people with nothing else better to do. The Mets drew less than a combined 75,000 for the three-game series against Atlanta. The Jets drew over 79,000 yesterday.

 

Traditionally, contenders aim to win at home and be .500 on the road and the Mets have failed in both accounts.

 

With the Mets not expected to substantially increase their payroll next season, I wouldn’t expect there to be dramatically different team than the current edition. We’ll have to wait until they clear $50 million in salary for Johan Santana and Jason Bay after next year to see what they put on the field for 2014.

 

The Mets, 4-11 this season against the Nationals, will start this line-up tonight:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Ronny Cedeno, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Scott Hairston, rf

Ike Davis, 1b

Kelly Shoppach, c

Jason Bay, lf

Andres Torres, cf

Collin McHugh, rhp

Aug 06

Analyzing Mets’ Road Trip

After winning three of four in San Francisco, dropping a series at San Diego is a let down. But, the flip side is you have to be a little high to get down.

Considering they lost 11 of 12 on their previous homestand, I’ll take the 6-5 and be happy. Who among us was brimming with optimism when they took off for the West?

Obviously, the most important development on the trip was Matt Harvey, regardless of yesterday’s game. The Mets now have an arm they can be hopeful of giving them six. They can build from there.

Ruben Tejada and Ronny Cedeno are playing well, making up in part for David Wright’s slump. Yes, Jason Bay is still on the team, but Ike Davis flashed a glimpse of why we should be excited about him and Bobby Parnell threw an inning in San Francisco that was cause for some optimism. That might be a stretch, but look at the whole bullpen picture.

Sometimes you can get in trouble when you big-picture things, but in that vein, the Mets are giving us reason to hang around and watch. I didn’t say “get excited,” but keep us interested in their development.

Many of us got too excited from the first half and those two weeks in July were deflating. However, considering their inactivity in the offseason and dismal spring training, if you were told the Mets would be knocking on .500’s door a week into August, wouldn’t most of you have taken it?

I mean, given Johan Santana’s uncertainty, not to mention stint on the DL, and losing Mike Pelfrey for the season, I’d venture most would have jumped at it.

We all knew going in this was a building season and we’ve seen some good things. This trip helped remind us of them. I would be interested to see what September brings, and I really never thought I’d write that line in March.