Mar 15

Tejada Move All About Money

Just because the Mets went to the World Series last season it doesn’t mean they are done with their penny-pinching ways. Yes, Tuesday’s decision to place shortstop Ruben Tejada on waivers was all about saving money.

It can’t be about anything else when you consider if he’s claimed on waivers by Thursday the Mets will save themselves the $3 million owed him for the 2016 season. If he’s not claimed the Mets can cut him and only pay him $500,000.

TEJADA: Tejada waived. (Getty)

TEJADA: Tejada waived. (Getty)

Never mind starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera might begin the season on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his left knee and the other reserve infielder, could be needed to back up David Wright at third and Lucas Duda at first.

Once criticized for not always being in good shape when he reported to spring training, Tejada has worked exceedingly hard to recover from his fractured right leg sustained by Chase Utley‘s hard takeout slide in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.He’s played very well,” manager Terry Collins said. “He came

“He’s played very well,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He came in [camp] in great shape and he’s played very well. He’s swung the bat good. We’ll just wait to see what’s going on.” It

It isn’t all that hard to figure out. If not claimed by Thursday, the Mets will undoubtedly cut him and save themselves $2.5 million. Of course, they could attempt to trade him – St. Louis and the Dodgers could use a shortstop – but why should they give up a prospect or player when they conceivably sign him as a free agent if they are patient?

 

Mar 11

Mets’ Depth Will Come To Play Early

Depth was to be a Mets’ strong point this year, and it will come into play a lot earlier than anticipated with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera expected to miss the start of the season with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. Ruben Tejada, who lost his job after Cabrera was acquired and recently has been the subject of trade rumors to St. Louis, is starting again.

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

“[Cabrera] may not be ready for opening day, and that’s one of the reasons we have the depth on our roster that we have now,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday. “If he’s ready in three or four weeks, it’s essentially the first week of the season and we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Cabrera was in New York Friday at the Hospital of Special Surgery to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection. He was injured Thursday when he was running the bases and didn’t slide.

“I was running – with the fly ball  to second, and thinking slide,” Cabrera said. “I saw the bad throw, so I tried to stay up. I felt something in my knee. It’s sore right now.”

With Cabrera in the first season of a two-year, 8.5-million contract, the Mets hoped to unload Tejada – who will make $3 million in 2016 – for a prospect before losing him to free-agency next winter.

Timing is everything, and right now it isn’t good for Cabrera. It’s better for Tejada, and it could be good in the long run for the Mets. When Cabrera returns – and there are no setbacks – and if Tejada plays well and proves his leg is sound, it could enhance his trade value.

 

 

Mar 06

Why Utley’s Suspension Was Dropped

Mets’ fans won’t be pleased with this, but Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension was dropped by Major League Baseball. Utley was suspended for his aggressive take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg.

Baseball’s policeman, Joe Torre, called the slide illegal for being a “rolling block” occurring away from the base. The suspension resulted from an outcry by Mets’ fans and New York media, and I believe was issued to avoid an ugly scene when the NLDS moved to Citi Field.

Utley appealed – as was his right – and didn’t play in the games in New York.

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

Here’s why I think the suspension was dropped:

* The umpire’s have discretion to eject a player if they deem it to be a dirty play and they did not.

* There was a take-out rule already in place dictating the runner must be able to reach the bag with his foot or hand and apparently the umpires believed this to be the case with Utley. (watch video)

* Replays showed Wilmer Flores‘ throw put Tejada in an awkward position, one in which he turned into Utley’s slide. This was not the runner’s fault.

* That Utley did not play in the two New York games could be viewed as a de facto suspension.

* Reaction among those in MLB is mixed between dirty and just aggressive. There was hardly a consensus in either position.

* MLB adopted a new rule on break-up slides.

When asked about the suspension Sunday, Tejada told reporters: “I don’t care really. I don’t care. I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. So I don’t care about what’s going to happen there or what’s the decision they take there.”

Said Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The most important thing is that the rule was changed.”

 

 

Mar 03

Mets Lineup Against Nationals

Here’s the Mets lineup against Washington for today’s exhibition opener. The note next to the player’s name is his expected Opening Day role:

Alejandro De Aza, DH: Role player. Mets say they aren’t shopping him.

Juan Lagares, CF: On the bench with playing time severely limited after Yoenis Cespedes resigned.

Michael Conforto, LF: Opening Day starter in left. Batting third might not be a bad spot for him.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Backup at all four infield positions.

Kevin Plawecki, C: Backup catcher.

Marc Krauss, 1B: Minor leagues.

Eric Campbell, RF: Minor leagues.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Bench player.

Dilson Herrara, 2B: If he makes the team it will be off the bench.

Rafael Montero, RHP: Starter in minor leagues.

 

Feb 17

Mets’ Top Ten Spring Training Questions

Mets pitchers and catchers officially report today, something we’ve waited for since the final out of the World Series. Of course, most Mets – including position players – have already been in Port St. Lucie for several days, if not weeks, now.

Numerous questions will surface between now and Opening Day, but until then I’ve come up with a list of what I consider the ten most pertinent questions heading into spring training:

Q: What did the Mets learn from the playoffs?

A: There’s some validity to having been there. The Royals benefitted from playing the Giants in the 2014 World Series. Much of it is a team learning how to pace itself down the stretch and dealing with pressure in the postseason. Both players and managers learn about themselves, and the acquired knowledge can only help.

WRIGHT: How healthy is he? (AP)

WRIGHT: How healthy is he? (AP)

Q: Who is healthy and who isn’t?

A: David Wright’s back, of course, is the most important health question. Will Terry Collins have a concrete plan for Wright regarding playing time and rest? Lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Josh Edgin are on the mend. The target date for Zack Wheeler to come off the disabled list is late June.

Q: Will the starters have innings limitations?

A: Matt Harvey doesn’t want to hear anything about restrictions, which comes as no surprise. Harvey threw 216 innings last season – including the playoffs – and around the same number is what the Mets are hoping. There shouldn’t be any limits on Jacob deGrom, either, but the same probably won’t apply to Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Presumably, Bartolo Colon will be the fifth starter until Wheeler is ready.

Q: What is the composition of the bullpen?

A: This is the position area of most concern. Jeurys Familia is the closer and Addison Reed gets the set-up role. If Blevins and Edgin are healthy, and Antonio Bastardo pitches to expectations, the lefty question that hindered them most of last season should be alleviated. Hansel Robles must mature as does Rafael Montero. Everybody else is a question mark. Getting back to the World Series is far from a given, but it will be more likely will a productive bullpen.

Q: Will the big bat feel any contract-related pressure?A: Hopefully, Yoenis Cespedes won’t be thinking about his opt-out clause after one year and instead will play free and easy as he did last August. Wouldn’t that be something?

Q: Will the double-play combination mesh?

A: Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera are considered to be an upgrade over Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores/Ruben Tejada. Pennant winners must be strong up the middle. The Mets were lucky regarding this last year. It will take some time.

Q: Who is trying to steal center field?

A: That’s the way it appeared when Travis d’Arnaud came off the disabled list last summer. Defense up the middle includes behind the plate and d’Arnaud’s ability to combat the running game. When a runner knows he can take liberties on a catcher, it goes beyond stealing bases, which puts him into scoring position. Those are potential runs.

Q: Will the lefty power show some consistency?

A: Lucas Duda can hit eight homers in two weeks, then not go deep for a month. Curtis Granderson excelled in the leadoff slot last year and with the absence of a prototypical No. 1 hitter, he’ll need to duplicate that performance. There’s also the matter of Michael Conforto not having a falloff from last year’s strong first impression.

Q: How strong is the bench?

A: GM Sandy Alderson finally promoted Conforto and traded for Cespedes after his limited bench showed the overall weakness of the Mets’ offense. The Mets’ bench enters spring training substantially better than the 2015 version. Juan Lagares provides Gold Glove caliber late inning defense coming off the bench. Flores will sub for Wright so he should get a lot of reps at third base. He’ll also need time at first base. Alejandro De Aza gives them a left-handed bat and the ability to play all three outfield positions.

Q: Will the Mets make a deal during spring training?

A: There’s always the possibility of adding a reliever. Most likely, it would be a free-agent signing of another team’s castoff at the end as the start of the season draws closer. Barring an injury, I don’t anticipate them making any significant moves as there are no position battles.