May 04

Reyes trade rumors simmering again.

There’s buzz today after Jose Reyes’ stellar game Tuesday night when he reached base six times, unbelievably three times on walks.

REYES: We like his uniform dirty.

It is the kind of game the Mets routinely expect from Reyes, but one not often received the last two seasons because of a variety of injuries.

That the Mets couldn’t parlay such a performance into victory says that as potentially potent Reyes can be, this team still has weaknesses it must fix before it can return to contender status. These are holes that can be filled in part by what Reyes might bring back in a trade.

Bottom line: The Mets aren’t a contender now with Reyes and likely won’t be one if they deal him without making complementary deals.

Reyes passed the audition in the eyes of the San Francisco Giants, who, like every other team are discussing their options, of who interests them and whom they are willing to offer.

It is too early for serious trade discussions, but not too early to laying the foundation for when things heat up in June and July.

The Giants have not made and offer to the Mets for Reyes, but are doing their research. For the Giants, they will undoubtedly ask for a negotiating window, but if denied, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean should have already decided whether he will sacrifice one of their top pitching talents or prospects to acquire Reyes as a rental.

From the Mets’ perspective, general manager Sandy Alderson must decide whether the return off prospects from the Giants, or Boston, or whomever wants Reyes, is greater than the draft picks they would get should the All-Star shortstop leave via free agency.

Alderson wanted to see two things from Reyes before deciding the 27-year-old shortstop’s fate in New York. The first was Reyes’ health, especially his legs and the first returns have been positive, although I find it puzzling as to why he didn’t try to steal second late in the game.

Secondly, Alderson wanted to see Reyes perform and for the most part he has with a .325 average and 11 steals in 29 games, but there were concerns about his on-base percentage before it surged to .377 last night. Still, an elite leadoff hitter, as Reyes is supposed to be, should be north of .400.

Reyes’ career on-base percentage is .336 and he has averaged 81 strikeouts and 51 walks a year during his career. The latter two numbers need to be reversed.

Reportedly the asking price for Reyes is a package of $100 million-plus, which Alderson said the Mets can afford, although they might not have much left for little else. With Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and likely Francisco Rodriguez off the books there should be plenty of money left after this season to bring back Reyes if they really wanted.

The Mets don’t appear inclined to push things with Reyes. Alderson said he’s not adverse to talking contract during the season, although Reyes has said to the contrary.

Alderson still has time to see if Reyes remains healthy and productive. Whether Reyes stays or not, the Mets will receive something in return.

What they really must decide is if they want Reyes instead.

 

Apr 21

Your passion lives even if the Mets don’t.

R.A. Dickey throws a knuckleball, and last night he pitched well, but not good enough to win against the Houston Astros. After the game, Dickey threw high heat, not only at himself, but his teammates.

“We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are. We can’t just keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be.’’

There has not been a better analysis of the Mets this season. Maybe not for a long time.

So, let’s be brutally honest.

Their pitching, both in the rotation and out of the bullpen is not good enough to win with in the National League. It might not even be good enough to win with in Triple-A.

Fundamentals, which was supposed to be their upside, has been poor in all aspects. They have not hit for power or in the clutch. They’ve given away too many at-bats both at the plate and in the field.

And last night on the bases was atrocious, from Angel Pagan’s slide at the plate to Jose Reyes being doubled off first in the ninth inning.

It does me no joy to write this, but it is the truth. I don’t see where Jason Bay’s return will provide immediate help.

However, we all knew this heading into spring training. This was supposed to be a bridge year until payroll was cleared the Mets could be able to spend next year.

Payroll will be cleared, but probably nothing significant by the trade deadline, so let’s not expect any flashes at mid-season. Major League Baseball has taken over control of the Dodgers, and who is to say the Mets aren’t next? Who is to say the handpicked selection of Sandy Alderson as general manager isn’t close to the same thing?

Ownership is in a state of crisis, and until that is resolved things will continue to be bleak for the Mets and the crowds thin at Citi Field, where they are a dismal 1-8 for the worst home start in franchise history.

Hell, the 1962 Mets did better than that at the Polo Grounds.

Three weeks into the season and the Mets have five victories to show for their efforts. The Angels’ Jered Weaver has that many by himself.

But, this is your team. You’ve cheered for them in gloomy times before and will pull for them again. That’s what loyal fans do.

All you Mets fans on this blog and the dozens of others that follow your team. All of you who watch on SNY and tune into WFAN, and to those who read the papers every morning. You do so because the Mets are your passion.

And, they are lucky to have you.

 

Apr 15

Can’t anybody here play this game?

My title is one of Casey Stengel’s most memorable quotes and is applicable to how this season has started for the Mets. Yesterday’s doubleheader loss, coming hours after Terry Collins’ closed doors meeting, was a study in bad baseball.

CASEY: What would he think of this?

It made me wonder what would have happened had the Mets not focused on fundamentals during spring training.

From the outfield defense – what were you thinking Scott Hairston? – to Brad Emaus butchering a  ball at second, to the Daniel Murphy’s inexplicable baserunning, to the lack of clutch hitting and pitching, the day was a complete washout.

They were competitive, but still lost. The Mets have not learned to put away a team – they lead in every game of the four games they lost to Colorado – from either an offensive or pitching perspective.

Talent-wise, we knew going into the season that the Mets didn’t have enough to compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NL East, but I, like most, bought into Collins’ emphasis on fundamentals.

It just hasn’t happened, and had they been able to execute fundamentally on defense and at the plate, they might have overcome some of their pitching weaknesses. It hasn’t happened that way.

What was Murphy thinking trying to go to third from second on a ball hit in front of him? He clearly lost track of the outs. How hard is it to count to three? Hairston’s effort on that fly ball was weak. A veteran like that needs to show more.

Bottom line: Game 1 never should have come down to David Wright’s fly ball to the warning track.

As much as baseball is a team sport, it is also an individual one. Before each pitch, a player should know what his responsibilities should be. And, prior to each at-bat, he should know what his objective should be, such has hitting a fly ball or advancing a runner.

These guys have coaches to remind them, but their objective is something they should have long since known since high school ball. It’s not Collins or the coaches, it is them. They should know to hit a ground ball to the right side with a runner on second and no outs. They should know not to chase on 2-0 at the plate. They should know where to position themselves and what base to throw to. They should know whether or not they should run depending on where the ball is hit.

And, at the plate, they should have better command of the strikezone and know how to work a walk. Again, not enough walks and too many strikeouts.

These are major league players and they should show more beyond their skill set.

And, I haven’t begun to think about the pitching, which has been atrocious. By the way, my confidence level on D.J. Carrasco tonight in Atlanta isn’t good. When Tuesday’s game was rained out and the Mets knew they had a doubleheader yesterday, and definitely when Chris Young was pushed back, they should have held back one of their minor league starters.

The bullpen was taxed already, even prior to the doubleheader, and realistically they will go deep into their pen with Carrasco pitching (considering he’s one of the relievers). Also, with Mike Pelfrey not showing much so far and Young’s arm tender, they will use everybody this weekend.

Not a good job anticipating by Sandy Alderson and Collins.

However, after yesterday’s lost afternoon, the one thing that separates itself from the bad baseball was the use of Francisco Rodriguez in the second game. With the game out of reach, and knowing Rodriguez’s contractual status of needing 55 completed games for his $17.5 million to kick in, why would the Mets let him finish a game in a non-save situation?

It made no sense whatsoever.

 

 

 

 

Mar 22

No kudos for Alderson on Perez, Castillo.

Let’s be careful not to go overboard in praising the Sandy Alderson regime for the sacking of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. Credit to Alderson goes in finally convincing the Wilpons eating $18 million in salary was the prudent option.

The actual decision itself was a no-brainer in that neither would be a viable contributor to the team, both were an emotional and psychological drains in the clubhouse, and to adequately change the culture of the Mets they must be purged.

There was no real thinking that had to be done and the key was in the timing. Alderson knew he couldn’t trade either in the off-season because of their salary, performance and injury histories. His only hope for Castillo was he could find his game and prove enough in spring training to warrant going north; for Perez was he could regain his fastball and hook on in a relief role.

Both were long shots, but Alderson had no choice to bring them to spring training and let it play itself out.

Since neither distinguished himself in the positive, it was time to make the move. With Opening Day rapidly approaching and the Mets playing at a .500 pace and little room for optimism, Alderson needed to make a spark and this was it.

This was a move the Mets needed to make so let’s not throw roses at Alderson for doing the obvious.

Mar 20

Waiting out the Mets

ESPN is reporting the Phillies are close to signing Luis Castillo to fill in for the injured Chase Utley. If not the Phillies, it would be somebody else. The same goes for Oliver Perez when the Mets finally release him, presumably on Monday.

There was no chance the Mets had of trading either because teams knew they were dealing from a position of strength with Sandy Alderson. There is no reason for any team to offer a player to the Mets when they know they could wait them out and just sign them when they were cut loose. More importantly, by waiting out the Mets the new team wouldn’t assume those contracts, but only be responsible for the major league minimum of $414,500.

Sandy Alderson admitted Castillo was released in large part because of his perception by Mets’ fans. The same reasoning will also apply when it comes to Perez. Alderson and manager Terry Collins will meet Monday to discuss Perez’s fate. After giving up back-to-back homers Saturday, the inevitable is probably hours away.