Aug 01

Mets Get Bruce From Reds; Raises Questions

Updated to include quotes from Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins.

You can still find Brandon Nimmo with the Mets. Nimmo had been traded to Cincinnati for Jay Bruce, but that changed when he reportedly failed his physical and had to be replaced by second base prospect Dilson Herrera. Minor league lefty prospect Max Wotell was also included in the trade.

BRUCE: Running to Mets. (AP)

  BRUCE: Running to Mets. (AP)

The Mets added Herrera after the Reds found something they didn’t like with Nimmo’s physical. Nimmo had a foot injury earlier this year.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson would not confirm it was Nimmo who had the medical issue, but that’s not hard to figure out since he was pulled and Herrera was added.

The 29-year-old Bruce is expected to offer the punch that has been severely lacking, hitting .265 with 25 homers and a league-leading 80 RBI, and perhaps most importantly, a .360 average with RISP. Bruce has been on the Mets’ radar for over a year when they offered Zack Wheeler last July before landing Yoenis Cespedes.

“We haven’t had time to talk about playing time will be broken down,” Alderson said. “He’ll provide a big presence in the middle of the lineup. … One player could have a significant impact. Somebody like Jay Bruce can be a catalyst.”

Q: What is Bruce’s contractual status?

A: Bruce is in the final months of a six-year, $51 million contract, which includes a $13 million option (or $1 million buyout) for 2017. Bruce is making $12.5 million this season. Alderson said the club option was essential.

“We would not have done the deal without the extra year of control,” Alderson said. “We would not have done the deal as a rental.”

Specifically, this gives the Mets a safety net should Cespedes opt out and leave after this season.

Q: Where will Bruce play?

A: With Cespedes insisting on playing left field, Bruce could go to right field with Curtis Granderson moving to center.

Q: How does the deal impact Cespedes and Michael Conforto?

A: If there is a time to put Cespedes (strained right quad) on the disabled list it is now (actually, it should have been three weeks ago). Having Bruce gives the Mets the flexibility of placing Cespedes on the disabled list now, which is preferable to risking an injury and losing him in September. What Bruce does is offer the Mets a safety net should Cespedes opt out after this season.

As for Conforto, he’ll stay up here if Cespedes goes on the DL. However, there’s a strong chance they’ll send him back to the minors and bring him up again in September unless there’s an injury before then.

Q: What about the long-term future with Granderson?

A: It’s all fluid now as Granderson has one more year on his contract and the Mets can choose not to bring back Bruce for 2017.

Q: Does it matter that even with Bruce the Mets don’t have a conventional outfield?

A: Not in the least, simply because the Mets don’t have a conventional outfield now. Bruce will report to the Mets tomorrow. Beginning Wednesday, the Mets will have five games in American League parks (two with the Yankees and three in Detroit), where they can buy some time with Cespedes.

Unbelievably, Collins said the Mets hope Cespedes might be able to play center field by the end of the week.

Q: What is the fallout with Herrera?

A: The sticking point in getting Lucroy from the Brewers was them not wanting to give up Herrera. This could enhance their chances of keeping Neil Walker, who can opt out if he wants after the season. Of course, that could mean giving him more money. Part of the reason why Alderson let Daniel Murphy walk was in part because of Herrera. Alderson said the Mets have some infield depth for next year with Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes.

Q: Anything else?

A: Right at the deadline, the Mets reaquired Jon Niese from Pittsburgh for lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo. Niese will be used primarily out of the bullpen – “I didn’t forget the job he did last year [in relief],” Collins said – but could be slotted in if another starter needed a day of rest.

Dec 04

Jacoby Ellsbury Signing Defines Mets Vs. Yankees; Time Running Out For Granderson

As if the New York Mets and their frustrated fan base needed another reminder of their status in town, they got a punch-in-the-gut this morning with the news Jacoby Ellsbury had agreed to a seven-year, $153-million contract with the Yankees.

Yes, the Yankees, the team that said they wanted to go below a $189 million payroll while Mets GM Sandy Alderson, despite saying he has the resources, isn’t likely to go over $90 million.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

Alderson will say the Mets aren’t competing with the Yankees, and he’s right to a four-game, interleague degree, but he’s wrong everywhere else. There’s competition for the back pages, for free-agents, for attention from the on-the-fence New York fan, for TV ratings and time on the radio talk-shows.

Today, the callers will take a break from bashing the Nets and Knicks – and deservedly so – to hailing the Yankees, and yes, ripping the Mets for their inaction. Also, deservedly so.

It’s a great deal for the Yankees as they obtain a dynamic outfielder – which was Alderson’s prime objective this winter – that will more homers in Yankee Stadium hitting from the leadoff position, while at the same time, weakening their rival Red Sox.

This came after giving $85 million to catcher Brian McCann. And, they are hot after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, which will entail a hefty posting fee to go along with a huge salary.

Then, there’s the matter of Robinson Cano.

Meanwhile, the Mets’ biggest splash this winter, if you don’t include Chris Young, is having dinner with Jay Z, Cano’s flamboyant agent.

That meeting garnered attention for one day, but these signings by the Yankees to go along with their courtship of Cano, have them in the headlines nearly every day this offseason.

The free-agent outfield market had four premium names: Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson. Ellsbury’s deal set the bar, meaning if history is an indicator, the prices for the others should increase.

This means if the Mets are serious about Granderson they had better act quickly because the meter is running. Who knows? It might already have clicked past Alderson’s price range.

The Mets weren’t going to overpay for Ellsbury or Choo, but they might have to for Granderson for nothing else, to save some face this winter.

But, Granderson would fit the Mets for several reasons:

* He would give them left-handed power. Yes, his numbers were elevated in Yankee Stadium, but of his 43 homers hit in 2012, 26 were at home and 17 on the road. Granderson hit 41 in 20111, with 21 at home and 20 on the road.

* He could play anywhere in the outfield, and has the speed to play center.

* All indications are he’s a good clubhouse presence, plus, he knows what it takes to play in New York.

While the Ellsbury signing screams the Yankees are back, it doesn’t mean the Mets have to limp away. There’s still time for them to do something, but it is running out.

Dec 01

Time Is Already Running Short For Mets In Free Agent Market

It is essentially the beginning of the free-agent market, but for the New York Mets it is already nearing last call.

Frankly, I don’t see Mets GM Sandy Alderson doing anything of substance this winter. He reportedly is considering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and shortstop Rafael Furcal, both of whom are 36.

Both of whom won’t be in it for the long haul for the Mets.

Arroyo has a track record of compiling innings, which is paramount, but is said to want three years. Eventually he will break down. If I am giving three years to a pitcher in this market, I would have rather gambled on Phil Hughes – who got those three years from the small market Twins – who is 27.

With Matt Harvey out until 2015 – and there are no assurances of what he’ll be when he returns – Hughes was potentially a better building block than Arroyo.

Initially, I liked the idea of Arroyo, and still do, but not for three years. Two years at the most. Arroyo made over $16 million last year in Cincinnati – another small market team – and won’t be taking a pay cut.

He was 14-12 last season pitching behind an offense and bullpen superior to that of the Mets. What can the Mets reasonably expect from him?

Meanwhile, Furcal made $7 million last year for not playing with St. Louis because of Tommy John surgery. After the season ended Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which clearly defines Furcal.

The best shortstop option for the Mets defensively, and for his offensive style in Citi Field, was Stephen Drew, who was out of their price range. However, he would have been a key piece to build around.

Jhonny Peralta was also too expensive and came with the black cloud of a PED suspension.

If the Mets sign Furcal, they will be looking to replace him next winter. If that is the case, I’d be more inclined to give Ruben Tejada another chance.

Arroyo and Furcal are the latest names linked to the Mets, and they are clearly filler for 2014. That’s what you want?

One by one the better names in the market will be scooped up, and not by the Mets.

More and more, I see this being a barren winter for the Mets. Then again, there was Chris Young.

 

Aug 01

Mets Chat Room; salvaging the home stand.

Game #105 vs. Diamondbacks

Despite a 6-14 slide, the Mets remain only 6 ½ games behind front-running Atlanta in the NL East. They are a similar distance behind in the wild card.

Today’s game, with Jon Niese pitching, is very important, like they all are for the Mets these days as they can’t afford to lose any more ground before they head on the road to Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The Mets have played well at home this season, going 33-18, but have been hideous on the road at 20-33. The formula to win is to dominate at home and play .500 on the road. Had they played at that clip so far for their 53 road games they would be 27-26 at home, which would translate to a 60-44 record, or a half-game lead over the Braves in the division.

But, they have dug themselves into such a hole that playing .500 on the road is no longer an option.

Jul 16

Plenty of blame to go around on Reyes fiasco.

REYES: On the shelf.

Maybe this time they are getting it right.

Better late than never, but the Mets say they are now shutting down Jose Reyes until he’s able to swing pain free from both sides of the plate. The decision came as the outcome of last night’s pre-game circus that first had Reyes in the lineup, and then scratched with the news he’ll be put on the shelf.

The ringmaster of the circus, of course, is Jerry Manuel, who has irresponsibly bungled this from the outset.

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