Nov 15

2011 Player Review: Ruben Tejada

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free-agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. Today, we’ll start evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada.

RUBEN TEJADA – 2B/SS

THE SKINNY: Ruben Tejada’s reputation is that of a slick glove but a spotty bat. Tejada’s natural position is shortstop, but when Jose Reyes was healthy and Daniel Murphy wasn’t, he played a solid 50 games at second base in 2010. Tejada played both positions last year and his .284 was better than anticipated.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: Tejada started the season in the minor leagues to play mostly shortstop in anticipation of Reyes leaving this winter. The Mets also wanted Tejada to work on his offense.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: As expected, Tejada opened the season in the minor leagues as the Mets used Brad Emaus and Murphy at second base. However, when Emaus fizzled and Murphy was injured, Tejada was recalled. When Reyes twice went on the disabled list he played shortstop and Justin Turner played a lot of second. Tejada hit .284 with a .360 on-base percentage. He developed a reputation of not being flustered at the plate and drove in 36 runs in only 328.

JOHN’S TAKE: Tejada has a long way to go to be in Reyes’ caliber and there will be a substantial void to fill. Several scouts said the Mets should be encouraged by Tejada’s progress, but it should be remembered it was only half a season and early impressions can be misleading. With the Mets in full rebuilding and cost-cutting mode, Reyes is not expected to return and the team won’t spend or trade to replace him. With the Mets at least three years away from contending status, this will be Tejada’s opportunity to prove he’s capable of handling the job. The Mets don’t have any immediate options other than Tejada to take over shortstop. Under normal circumstances, a player of Tejada’s limited major league experience wouldn’t enter spring training as the frontrunner for the job. However, these are far from normal circumstances for the Mets.

JOE’S TAKE: No Met position player progressed more than Ruben Tejada did in 2011. Initially, Tejada was dispatched from last season’s second base spring training battle despite outperforming the field. He started the season in Buffalo while Brad Emaus began his very short-lived tenure as the Mets starting second baseman. On May 18, Tejada came up and for the most part never looked back, and guess what? The 22-year old delivered. He had one bad month in July, take that away and he batted .312 in 82 games and showed an uncanny ability to turn it up a notch when runners were on base. In fact his .305 average with “runners on base” was better than… Well lets not go there. I’m looking forward to seeing what this young kid will do for an encore. I’m a big fan.

Nov 10

Have resigned myself to Reyes leaving.

Let’s face it, Ruben Tejada isn’t as good as Jose Reyes. Then again, Reyes is far from a lot of the great shortstops who have played this game. Replacing Reyes isn’t like Mike Bordick replacing Cal Ripken.

Reyes is a very good player, but there have always been obstacles that prevented him from being great. He gets injured, he loses focus, there are times he loafs, his on-base percentage could be better.

Reyes, who makes his living with his legs, was a non-entity on the bases after coming off the disabled list. He was playing to protect himself so he could win his precious batting title and preserve himself for the free-agent market.

There’s always been a twinge of selfishness about Reyes that gets ignored by his endearing smile. The feeling projected is he’ll take the best offer because this is about money. Sure, he wants to stay in New York, but that’s only if the Mets pony up the most.

While Reyes wants the most possible, the Mets will lowball him. There will be some team out there willing to give Reyes the years and a contract north of $100 million. If he can get that, more power to him.

But, it won’t be the Mets. And, considering their position it shouldn’t be the Mets. Sometimes cutting ties is difficult, but it needs to be done. I’m at peace with Reyes wearing another uniform.

Oct 03

Immediate Mets’ issues

There’s a sentiment the Mets over achieved this year, but that is more a case of lessened expectations. While their desired off-season budget will preclude much activity toward improvement, that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues needing to be addressed:

DECIDE ON JOSE REYES: Actually, they already have, but aren’t ready to reveal the numbers. For public relations purposes, the Mets don’t want to appear to be pushing Reyes out the door, but it is clear he is the first domino and every thing they do revolves around him. What the Mets can’t afford to do is get strung out dealing with Reyes ultimately to have him go elsewhere and have their other options get snapped up. From the direction they take on Reyes you’ll ascertain where the Mets are immediately headed. Should they determine they can live without Reyes – or need to live without him – they will be saying there’s considerably more rebuilding to be done. Bringing him back says they believe they are ready to compete, but it makes no sense to do so if they aren’t willing to spend in other areas.

THE COACHING STAFF: With manager Terry Collins’ contract extended, there’s the matter of his staff. Once again, pitching coach Dan Warthen’s future is suspect. Last year, Mike Pelfrey lobbied hard to retain Warthen, but considering his anemic performance, he won’t carry much weight this time around.

ADD TO THE ROTATION: Pelfrey regressed and surprise Dillon Gee was the only starter with a record over .500; four of the five had ERA’s of 4.40 or higher; and the staff had a composite 1.378 WHIP.  Jonathan Niese and Johan Santana have injury issues, and since there are no assurances, the Mets have little alternative but to bring back Pelfrey and Chris Capuano. There are some good names on the free agent market, notably C.J. Wilson, Rich Harden and Mark Buehrle, but they aren’t going to spend much, especially if they bring back Reyes. The Mets will likely fish from the pool where guys like Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis and Freddy Garcia swim.

FIX THE BULLPEN: The Mets used 16 arms this summer and enter the offseason with a zero reliability factor in the pen. They’d like to see Bobby Parnell win the closer job, but he allowed 89 base runners in 59.1 innings pitched. That he strikes out over one batter an inning means he has the stuff, but his command of it is erratic.

ANGEL PAGAN: Pagan took a step back, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.  There are decent stopgap options in the outfield, such as Rick Ankiel, Nate McLouth and Ryan Ludwick, but again, I don’t see the Mets going in that direction. It would be good if they could plug in Fernando Martinez, but his injury history makes him unreliable.

SECOND BASE: Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips is the best available, but wants a lot and the Mets won’t  go there, especially if they bring back Reyes, because what would they do with Ruben Tejada? If Reyes goes, they could go with Tejada and Justin Turner as their double play combination.

If you’re getting the impression most of the Mets off-season tinkering will come from within and be of the middle-tier cost variety, you’re right. Sandy Alderson is already on record saying he sees a budget of around $110 million, which is $30 million less than this summer.

Figure with much of that $30 million differential was in the person of Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo, then it isn’t hard to reason next summer won’t be much different than this one.


Sep 20

No answers from here on out.

With the Mets out of contention awhile ago, it was hoped September would be the month where some 2012 answers could be found. It has not turned out that way.

GEE: Rocky finish to a good year.

Only .500 remains, but the Mets must run the table for that to occur, and that would mean nine straight against Cardinals, Phillies and Reds. They couldn’t win nine straight against their own minor league system.

The one slot where it was hoped could be definitive was the closer role, but Bobby Parnell has spit the bit. He’ll get another chance in spring training, that is, unless the Mets sign a qualified, veteran closer, but that would require some spending. That’s not going to happen, either.

Ruben Tejada has played well, but not well enough to see if he will be able to assume Jose Reyes’ role. We might never know that answer.

The only comfort I see has been Lucas Duda in right. So far, he’s fielded the position cleanly, but we need a full year at the plate and in the field to see for sure. And, there are usually hills and valleys in the first year as a starter.

I like how R. A. Dickey is finishing, and Chris Capuano and Dillon Gee pitched well enough this year to warrant a chance in next year’s rotation. Gee, however, is struggling, with his ERA jumping nearly a run a game over his last ten starts.

There’s too many unanswered questions Sandy Alderson must spend the winter trying to answer. There are holes in the rotation that can’t be masked by a thin bullpen. There’s a lack of power from David Wright and Jason Bay. Angel Pagan has regressed. There’s nothing that suggests Johan Santana will make it back.

There’s also no indication the Mets will be a heavy player to retain Reyes.

 

 

 

Aug 22

August 22 lineup at Philly

It’s always interesting when the Mets play the Phillies, but unfortunately since the teams are at the opposite end of the spectrum there’s little steam to the rivalry.

The Mets make their final trip to Philly beginning tonight, with Dillon Gee going against Cliff Lee.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order:

Angel Pagan, CF

Justin Turner, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Scott Hairston, RF

Ronny Paulino, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Dillon Gee, RP

Comments: Once again, Lucas Duda is at first base instead of right field. Assuming Ike Davis is healthy next season, he’ll play first base. However, the Mets do not have a right field option.

Terry Collins has hinted, but won’t pull the trigger on Duda playing right field for the rest of the season. Why? I don’t know.

With the competitive part of the year over, this is when the Mets should be looking for some answers, and one of them is where Duda should play.

I’d also like to see Jason Bay in the second spot of the order, as Collins also suggested earlier this year, but never tried.