Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 20

How The Market Is Shaping Up; Things Could Happen This Week

When will the New York Mets do something of consequence this off-season isn’t hard to imagine. If recent history is an indicator it likely won’t be until the market is defined, which comes after the Winter Meetings.

However, the week preceding Thanksgiving can get busy. Not much happens usually happens around Thanksgiving. There’s usually activity after the holiday leading up to the Winter Meetings and after until Christmas.

HUDSON: Returning West.

HUDSON: Returning West.

Then, more stuff gets done after the New Year with what’s left of the market leading up to spring training. That’s usually when the Mets have done their work.

So far, there’s been some interesting news, including LaTroy Hawkins signing with Colorado for $2.5 million. He’s somebody I was hoping the Mets would bring back before at 41 because he could still throw in the low-to-mid 90s and for his clubhouse presence.

Hawkins was an astute pick-up last year, and with Bobby Parnell coming off surgery, he would have filled a spot in the bullpen.

The Yankees brought back shortstop Brendan Ryan, who I touted for his defense. I’d still rather have him than Ruben Tejada. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens with Jhonny Peralta, who, as of now, would represent the Mets’ biggest splash in the market. Philadelphia brought back catcher Carlos Ruiz for two years, out-bidding the champion Red Sox.

Perhaps the most interesting acquisition is San Francisco signing Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million contract. The 38-year-old Hudson is coming off ankle surgery.

Hudson is the latest in several costly, and expensive, decisions the Giants have made the past few years. The first was signing Angel Pagan – whom the Mets gladly shipped out – to a four-year deal. Then, they extended Tim Lincecum’s contract two years for $35 million when there were no indications he’d be a hot commodity on the market.

However, the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 with pitching-based teams, so they are doing something right.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which Hudson clearly would be. However, Alderson has a history with Hudson when they were with Oakland and I was wondering if he at least reached out the pitcher.

Currently, agents and general managers are talking and posturing – that includes Alderson – but the market is still forming. Mostly, parameter dollar amounts have been exchanged. With the Mets there hasn’t been much in terms of specifics.

In addition to shortstop, the Mets need two starters, bullpen depth and a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Nov 19

Mets Matters: Sandy Alderson Dishes On Jay Z, Payroll And Other Issues

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson dished on a variety of issues Tuesday in a conference call with reporters, beginning with dinner meeting with Jay Z, the agent for the Yankees’ Robinson Cano.

No, the Mets aren’t players for Cano, and as I wrote earlier, it was at the agent’s invitation, and Alderson and Jeff Wilpon had their reasons for accepting.

mets-matters logo“They requested a meeting,’’ Alderson said. “We had a nice dinner. They made a presentation. We talked generally. And that was it. As I said, we were approached.’’

After the season Alderson said he had the resources to offer a $100-million package, but later backed off that stance, and reiterated it again at the general manager’s meetings.

“I had said last week that I didn’t foresee contracts in the $100 million range for the Mets this offseason,’’ Alderson said. “I think that statement still pertains. On the other hand, we are committed to improving the team. And we will explore whatever possibilities arise, however remote the eventual outcome.’’

The Mets accepted the invitation as a courtesy, knowing they would never consider Cano based on economics.

Someday, Jay Z might represent a player of interest to the Mets, and it would do the organization no good to diss an agent sanctioned by the Players Association.

NO CONTACT WITH PERALTA: Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta has been reportedly been linked to the Mets as the answer to their shortstop void.

Alderson said he has not had any contact with Peralta’s agent.

ALDERSON SUGGESTS PAYROLL WILL RISE: Alderson acknowledged a rising market, evidenced by Colorado giving LaTroy Hawkins a one-year, $2.5-million contract and Philadelphia giving Marlon Byrd $16 million over two years.

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ said Alderson, who added the 2013 payroll was $87 million.

“If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that. And consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that.’’

Not unexpectedly, Alderson made no promises. Although, the Mets did sign left fielder/first baseman Brandon Allen, 27, to a minor league contract.

Allen has a .203 career average with 12 homers in parts of four seasons with Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

This is not the big signing we had been waiting for.

GETTING IN SHAPE: At the end of the season each player is given a physical and put on a conditioning program.

Four Mets – Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and draft pick Dominic Smith – are taking it further and are attending a four-week fitness camp in near Ann Arbor, Mich.

Tejada, in particular, caught the organization’s ire for not reporting to spring training on time or in shape.

It’s a positive act by Tejada, whose shortstop job is in jeopardy. Tejada is also recovering from a fractured leg sustained in late September.

 

 

Nov 19

Mets In Tenuous Building Position

With the New York Mets’ timetable for being competitive 2015 because of Matt Harvey, just how much should that impact the contract length of any free agent they might sign?

Will they look at that player being here well beyond 2015, or should they simply go two or three years, as has been suggested with somebody like Curtis Granderson?

What’s the point of having Granderson for just one season with Harvey?

Reportedly, the Mets currently are balking at anything longer than three years, which along with the dollar amount is why they aren’t in it for Shin-Soo Choo.

Choo has a decent production track record, but nothing that warrants four years and over $100 million. From any team.

Frankly, there aren’t many players if any that a team could build around. Arguably, the players with the greatest probability of being productive in four-plus years is Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano, neither whom the Mets will consider because of price.

On a side note, it is laughable to hear Cano is still parked at $310 million over ten years. He’s worth half that, both in years and money, but that’s something that won’t concern the Mets.

The best way to acquire a young talent to build around is through the trade market, which is what teams are attempting to do with the Mets regarding their young pitching.

Who knows how Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will develop? But, unless the Mets can get back several highly touted position players in return, there’s no point in dealing. Trading them for a present-day position player not considered a top prospect is foolish.

Conversely, the Mets have little in their farm system outside of pitching that would pique the interest of a team. Whom they are peddling now – Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and possibly Daniel Murphy – are more suited to go in a package rather than be a trade centerpiece. Ditto for Ruben Tejada and Eric Young.

Mets’ throw-ins because of their dwindling value are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. Both have shown nothing that would prompt they are building blocks. The position players that are the most attractive are the ones the Mets want to keep, namely Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares.

The Mets aren’t willing to shop in the expensive aisle; they have precious little trade pieces on both the minor and major league levels; and they aren’t willing to deal their best young talent.

Honestly, I don’t believe 2015 will be the magic winter because not much is likely to change by then.

LATER TODAY:  Moving Eric Young to second base not a good idea.

Nov 18

Ruben Tejada Has Grievance With Mets

I have no idea whether the New York Mets deliberately delayed recalling shortstop Ruben Tejada last September, nor do I care. ESPN reported Tejada’s agents are considering filing a grievance against the Mets because the move delays Tejada’s free-agency eligibility until after the 2017.

That’s three years from now, and there’s a better than reasonable chance Tejada won’t be with the team by then. The advantage in delaying Tejada’s eligibility is it could make him easier to trade, something the Mets would do faster than it takes the moody shortstop to sometimes run to first base.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

That Tejada would rather spend his energy fighting with the Mets on something they had a right to do instead of trying to improve his game, shows where his head is. Actually, the Mets could hasten his free agency by releasing him now, but they are holding out somebody might bite.

The bottom line is Tejada has been a disappointment, both in the field and at the plate. Tejada has been a thorn to manager Terry Collins by his lackadaisical attitude, which included not reporting to spring training earlier than he hoped two springs ago. Tejada had no obligation to do so, but considering he went into spring training with the inside track on the job vacated by Jose Reyes.

It showed disinterest on Tejada’s part. Luckily for him, he salvaged his season by hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. It appeared Tejada could fill the void, but last year he had miserable start defensively and at the plate. He was later injured and went to the minor leagues. Tejada was activated, but showed little signs of improvement and ended the season breaking his leg.

If any party has a grievance here, it is the Mets for how Tejada has performed.

The Mets are attempting to upgrade at shortstop, but are out of it financially with Stephen Drew. The Yankees re-signed Brendan Ryan Monday, which takes a reasonably priced defender off the market.

Reportedly, the Mets are targeting Jhonny Peralta, who served a 50-game suspension for failing the MLB’s drug policy. Peralta is a lifetime .268 hitter with a .330 on-base percentage and has averaged 18 homers and 82 RBI during is 12-year career with Cleveland and Detroit. In seven of those seasons he struck out more than 100 times, and had two more years with 95 or more.

However, those numbers are suspect because of the PED infraction, and must also be looked at skeptically when considering what he might hit at spacious Citi Field.

The two-time All-Star made $6-million last year with the Tigers.

Peralta, if his numbers weren’t a fluke, would instantly upgrade the Mets’ at-times anemic offense. His defense isn’t as good as Tejada’s, but when Tejada is playing with his head in the clouds, his defense isn’t red hot, either.