Nov 22

To think the Mets wanted Nathan.

It certainly was eye-opening to read about what the Texas Rangers gave closer Joe Nathan, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. At 37, Nathan will get a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.

Is he worth it?

Apparently he is to the Texas Rangers, who’ll be writing the checks, and that’s all that really matters. If Nathan stays healthy and returns close to form, and Netfali Feliz makes the transition to the rotation, it would be like making two deals.

Feliz is a hard thrower, and in theory moving him to the rotation is similar to what the Mets wanted to do with Bobby Parnell. But, Parnell had his issues, such as an inability to master his secondary pitches and stretches where he loses his command.

I believe it is easier to find a reliable closer than it is a dominant starter, so I would not be adverse to giving Parnell another shot at the rotation if he gets down his secondary pitches, but there’s been no indication he’s heading in that direction.

The most shocking thing about the Nathan signing was the Mets were supposedly injured. There’s no way Sandy Alderson would have approached what the Rangers gave him, and if he believes he had a chance to sign Nathan then he’s underestimated the market.

The Phillies acquired Ty Wiggington for a player to be named later. Surely, the Mets could have matched that price. The Phillies also signed Jonathan Papelbon, who fled the sinking Red Sox. Wiggington won’t off-set the loss of Ryan Howard, but at least the Phillies are doing something.

So are the Nationals, who are talking with Mark Buehrle, and expect to be active this winter. Buehrle could be an effective innings eater, but is completely out of the Mets’ price range.

Reportedly, the Nationals are also interested in Jose Reyes, although there’s been no offter there. Whatever additions the Nationals make, it won’t be enough to catch Philadelphia and Atlanta, but I don’t think that’s the point with them.

Do you remember when Fred Wilpon once said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September?  That’s the point, especially in a front-runner oriented city such as Washington. If the Nationals play interesting ball deep into the summer and are competitive, people will come out to the park and that’s the issue.

Sure, winning would be nice, but winning is also expensive. Just being competitive – good but not too good – is the way to go for most teams because it keeps the interest up.

Detroit and Milwaukee, reportedly, also are interested in Reyes, but there’s nothing hot with either of those teams now. The strongest interest is coming from Miami, but things will get more active at the winter meetings as the new collective bargaining agreement brought no significant changes that would deter free-agent signings and teams making their budgets.

Nov 19

Just thinking ….

Several things going on with the Mets, but nothing of imminence about to happen. Thought I’d throw out these thoughts to you:

* If Jose Reyes is that deep into talks with the Marlins, then it stands to reason Miami’s key player – Hanley Ramirez – is on board with it and the idea of moving to third base. The Marlins would be stupid to alienate their best player by going after somebody who plays the same position without running the idea past him. To think otherwise would be naive.

* Sandy Alderson came out of the GM meetings in Milwaukee saying Daniel Murphy was available. If the Mets are willing to listen to offers for David Wright, then it is logical to think so is everybody else. Murphy has shown in his limited window an ability to hit for average and get on base, but he’s also demonstrated a propensity for getting hurt and an inability to play a position. Murphy might go as part of a package, but seriously, do you see any team calling the Mets and saying, “we have to have Murphy,” so what will it take? Plus, coming off an injury, who will bite on that without knowing if he can play? Murphy will be with the Mets in spring training.

* Work has already begun on moving in the fences, which I think is a gimmick move that will eventually back fire. The Mets didn’t win at home last year, so the thinking has to be to come out and at least watch them hit more home runs. Trouble is, with the Mets’ suspect pitching, so will the opposition. So, what the Mets might add in terms of run production, they will give up as many, if not more. And, I don’t care about Wright’s ego. He shouldn’t be thinking about home runs anyway, but concentrating on striking out less and getting on base more.

* Did you see where Anna Benson will be on a show “Baseball Wives?” More classy programming. Unless she’s in a bikini, or less, it is Must Miss TV.

 

 

 

Nov 18

Could Pelfrey make it out of the bullpen?

General manager Sandy Alderson earmarked getting a closer and improving the bullpen as his top priorities. Given that, why not consider erratic starter Mike Pelfrey in the closer role?

PELFREY: Could a change of roles erase that perplexed look from his face?

A switch in roles proved to be career boosts for Dave Righetti and Dennis Eckersley, and it could be worth exploring for Pelfrey, who has not developed into the consistent starter the Mets hoped.

The main thing that has derailed Pelfrey as a starter – losing focus – could be sharpened coming out of the pen because of the shortness of the appearance. Having the game on the line and only one inning to work with could be the vehicle that hones his concentration.

Pelfrey can cruise for four innings, then unravel in the fifth. As a closer, theoretically he would face only three hitters with the game in the balance. It is worth finding out if such pressure could jumpstart him.

Will it work? I don’t know, but it is something to consider because his starting career has been spotty with little signs of him developing into a consistent winner. Seriously, after watching Pelfrey so far in his career, who is convinced he’ll be a late bloomer? At 50-54 lifetime, it is time to ask what’s not working for the guy.

Reportedly, the Mets already talked to teams about him, an indication of their frustration and unhappiness. If you’re contemplating that, why not give this a shot first?

Yes, it would create a void in the rotation, but don’t you think they could easily pick up another starter with Pelfrey’s numbers, if not better? What do they have to lose?

 

Nov 05

Will there ever be a new culture?

We heard a lot about the Mets’ culture changing when Sandy Alderson was hired as GM and Terry Collins as manager. The atmosphere changed t0 a degree, but the Mets’ talent level remained roughly the same with once again, the pitching faltered and took the team down with it.

Looking back on the season there were three significant story lines outside of the newness of the front office and manager. The first half when the Mets found themselves over .500, the swirling question was whether, or when, they would deal Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

When the pitching went south it was about the thinness of the rotation and weak bullpen, highlighted by not having a closer, who was in Milwaukee because the team feared Rodriguez’s option.

The season was played against the backdrop of the Mets not being able to re-sign Jose Reyes because they wouldn’t want to – or don’t have – the resources to retain the All-Star shortstop.

All three were about money and the Wilpon’s legal and financial troubles because of the Madoff Ponzi scandal. The Wilpons received positive news in the courts that would reduce the damages, but those damages would still be significant. And, it doesn’t help that the team has a $25 million debt to Major League Baseball.

You can change the manager, general manager and upper management and that could change the culture somewhat, but real change begins with ownership and that hasn’t changed. With the budget always an overriding issue, we can never expect things to really change and Mets being an elite franchise.

Oct 29

Light up the Hot Stove season.

When David Murphy’s fly ball nestled into Allen Craig’s glove last night to end one of the most compelling World Series in history, the partying was ratcheted up a notch in St. Louis, but the Hot Stove Season began everywhere else.

Over the next five days, the Mets hold an exclusive negotiating window with their free agents: Jose Reyes, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Miguel Batista, Jason Isringhausen and Dale Thayer.

REYES: What's he thinking?

 

Of the group, the most likely to return is Capuano, who should be a priority because of the Mets’ thin rotation. The others are interchangeable among the 200 or so free agents that will hit the market.

Reyes, of course, is the one drawing the most interest here, but the Mets won’t complete a deal in this window as the shortstop is determined to test the market and history tells us this won’t get done until December after the Winter Meetings.

At the end of the season I posted the Mets’ ceiling for Reyes should be four years at no more than $20 million a season, and I see no reason to back off that sentiment. I’d actually go lower, say $17 million.

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