Nov 25

Mets’ Alderson Graded Highly By Ownership

I have been hearing how Sandy Alderson will be held accountable for the Mets’ performance this summer and I don’t believe that to be the case, regardless of what happens with David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

Alderson is getting A’s across the board, because those handing out the grades aren’t the fans or the press, or even his colleagues. Grading Alderson are the Wilpons, who are passing him with gold stars because he is doing exactly what is expected of him.

Alderson was brought in here at the urging of Wilpon’s friend, Commissioner Bud Selig, with the purpose of bringing some stability by slashing payroll for a floundering franchise.

To that degree, he has done his job.

Alderson acted to clean up the Mets’ toxic contracts by cutting Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and despite it being too late, finally Jason Bay.

He also traded Carlos Beltran for prospect Zach Wheeler, and got rid of Francisco Rodriguez, who embarrassed the team by getting into a fight with his father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

Best of all for the Wilpons, is he took the Mets into the 2012 season with a $100 million payroll, some $43 million less than in 2011. A good part of that was because of the decision to let go of Jose Reyes, thereby shedding the Mets of another potentially burdensome contract for a player with an injury history.

Doing so might help the Mets extend the contracts of Wright and Dickey, that is, if the team wants to make that call. As of now, talks seem stagnant.

The Mets have a myriad of holes and issues, with few immediate answers. On the plus side are young pitchers Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Wheeler to give them a promising rotation from which to build.

Losing Wright and Dickey would be damaging to the Mets on the field, but they will benefit from compensatory draft picks. At worst, the Mets restart their rebuilding program, but they would further reduce payroll.

There are voids in the bullpen and outfield, and also questions in the rotation and at catcher.

Clearly, they are several years away, and based on that Alderson should be strongly judged.

However, the criteria the Wilpons are using to evaluate Alderson is in reducing payroll and toward that end, he is passing the test.

Alderson has already been evaluated by the people whose opinion of him matter most.

Nov 11

Josh Thole Will Most Likely be Back In 2013

Yesterday at the GM Meetings, Sandy Alderson spoke with reporters and emphasized that while he gets perhaps a little more payroll flexibility than he originally anticipated, that it still doesn’t change much about the kinds of players they can acquire this winter, and that they still will be looking at the bottom of the free agent market pool.

Mike Puma of the New York Post added that with regard to catcher, Alderson also said they will likely be keeping Josh Thole because of how difficult it is to find just one catcher, let alone two.

Thole, who earned $498,000 in 2012, is arbitration eligible and could easily double his salary and earn close to one million dollars in 2013.

As we highlighted on Mets Merized Online, it’s slim pickings at catcher. I keep hearing many Mets fans mentioning the name of Blue Jays elite catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud as a potential target for the team. But they have as much inclination to trade their top prospect as we do Zack Wheeler, so unless we’re talking a swap of top prospects, it is unrealistic to view him as someone the Mets could potentially go after.

Any team that has a solid catcher that they are willing to trade understands the scarcity of quality at that position and would demand a premium in return and rightfully so. We would do the same in their position.

As far as Thole goes, he’s cheap and has very little offensive value, but he’s shown a good ability to catch a knuckleball, and has developed a good relationship with R.A. Dickey.

Nov 10

Who Will Want To Come To Mets In Future?

This usually is a fun time of the year when you get to speculate where the top free agents will land. The Mets make it easy on us, because we know they won’t go after anybody of substance.

No offense, Mike Nickeas.

The most popular theory is the Mets will jump into the free-agent market when, 1) the Wilpons sell the team, 2) when they resolve their financial problems, or 3) when hell freezes over.

For the sake of the argument, let’s assume No. 2.

We know Sandy Alderson is here at the request of the commissioner to help the Mets get their financial house in order.

But, when will that be, and what will things look like when they do?

It’s an oversimplification to assume after next year when Johan Santana’s contract is off the books. Jason Bay is gone, but reports say the buyout is deferred, so that is money still owed.

It’s wrong to assume the Mets will suddenly have flexibility, snap their fingers and start writing checks. Let’s figure three years from now they might be able, or is it willing?

Why would anybody want to come here?

Think about it, what’s the attraction?

* David Wright and R.A. Dickey could be gone, and if Wright stays he’ll be three years older and perhaps on the downside of his career.

* The assumption is the Mets will undergo more losing, thereby taking away the part of the market that wants to go to a contender.

* We don’t know how the Mets’ top pitching prospects will pan out.

* Ike Davis could leave as a free-agent.

* Most teams build around their farm system and use free agents to complement. But, what core do you see with the Mets, especially if they trade some of their young pitching?

* There’s always the money, but do they really want to sign a Jayson Werth type?

Nov 09

Sandy Alderson: Talks Slow With R.A. Dickey And David Wright

Speaking at the GM meetings in California, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said it was conceivable R.A. Dickey could win the Cy Young Award next week and then be traded. It’s another way of saying, “these are the Mets, anything is possible.”

“It would be a little unusual to trade a Cy Young winner,” Alderson said. “ … We’d love to retain him. We’re trying to.”

Alderson said talks with Dickey and Wright are on-going, but currently slow. He hoped picking up their 2013 options ($16 million for Wright; $5 million for Dickey) would jump-start talks, but that hasn’t happened.

“Maybe it was a little bit unrealistic on my part to think that we’d get something done,” said Alderson. “But I think it was important for me to emphasize that we were going to get going early, in order to avoid any speculation about a Jose Reyes-type approach to this. So in that sense it was probably a good idea to emphasize speed but unrealistic to expect that this was all going to be concluded quickly.”

That’s fair enough.

Alderson said the Mets’ position of strength is their starting pitching, and although we doesn’t want to trade Dickey, Jonathan Niese or Dillon Gee, “it’s logical for us to consider that.”

That’s also fair, but in doing so it could weaken the staff if Matt Harvey doesn’t progress as planned.

I have no problem, right now, with Alderson’s approach. The dialogue is there with Wright and Dickey, and unlike Reyes, both know they are wanted. How much they are wanted, is shown by the dollars.

LATER TODAY: Concluding the Mets Player Review series with a look at the bench.

 

Oct 10

Top 10 Disappointments From The Mets 2012 Season

On Monday, me and John Delcos brought you the Top 10 Positives from the Mets 2012 season, and as promised here are our Top 10 Disappointments from the 2012 season in no particular order…

Doing Nothing At Trade Deadline

Kevin Burkhardt said the players looked at the front office’s inaction at the trade deadline as a “kick in the teeth”. The team had begun to slide after losing their closer, their ace and a very effective Dillon Gee as they headed into the break. Up until deadline day, including the day before, Alderson kept telling the media that the Mets were buyers although nothing was done in June or July. On the day of the deadline, Alderson showed up to Citi Field with Jersey Shore’s Snooki. While Snooki took pictures with the players at one end of the dugout before the game, Sandy Alderson was at the other end announcing that the Mets were not buyers because of their poor recent performance. “How can I justify being a buyer in light of how poorly this team is playing?” When reporters quickly caught up with Terry Collins and told him the news, his response was “You’re kidding me right?” – Joe D.

The Poison Bullpen

After spending nearly all of their available resources and making the bullpen their number one priority last Winter, the results are in and the much ballyhooed bullpen overhaul proved to be a colossal failure. The Mets’ pen ranked last in the majors in just about every statistical measure, and their 4.75 ERA was the worst mark in the last two decades for the Mets. The sad part is that the biggest failure, Frank Francisco, will be back at a cost of $6.5 million in 2013. That’s a lot of cash for a team that will only have about $5 million to spend after raises this offseason. – Joe D.

Losing Back-to-Back Series to the Cubs

On June 3, Jon Niese beat the Cardinals to lift the Mets to a season-high eight games over .500. With the Mets playing well and a growing sense of optimism, the Mets couldn’t build on that and at the end of the first half lost consecutive series to the Cubs. To be a contender, a team must beat up on the weak, and that’s the Cubs. Instead of closing the first half on an up note, the Mets lost two of three at home to Chicago in the first-half finale and closed with a sour taste. They would never recover, and lost 11 of 12 coming out of the break and the season was over. – John D.

Excruciating Loss To The Nationals

There was no shortage of disappointing losses this summer, the most gut-wrenching coming July 17 at Washington, 5-4, in 10 innings. Down 2-0 entering the eight, the Mets took the lead on Jordany Valdespin’s three-run pinch homer only to see Bobby Parnell cough up the lead in the bottom of the inning. The Mets regained the lead, 4-3 in the tenth, but Bryce Harper tied it with a triple off Tim Byrdak and scored the game-winning run on Pedro Beato’s wild pitch. Only the Mets. – John D.

The Rotation Disintegrates

The rotation was loaded with questions going into the season, but they quickly lost Mike Pelfrey, who was having a good start reminiscent of how he pitched in 2010. Then Dillon Gee complained of numbness and artery damage was discovered in his shoulder. Finally, Johan Santana went on the DL in July with a sprained ankle, and finally was shut down in late August with a back injury. If not for R.A. Dickey’s remarkable season and Niese taking a step, they would have finished 20-plus games under .500. – John D.

Did They Quit On Terry Collins?

The players denied they quit on manager Terry Collins, but the mere fact he alluded to it gave us that perception. And, perception has a way of becoming reality. There was a disturbing lack of fundamentals in the second half, too many wasted at-bats and absolutely no clutch hitting. The starting pitching, bolstered by innings from Matt Harvey and Chris Young, didn’t pitch poorly, but the bullpen was atrocious. Quit is a strong word, but they couldn’t have played worse if they tried. – John D.

Jason Bay Continues His Slide

In his three seasons with the Mets, Jason Bay has hit 26 homers with 124 RBI. The Mets were hoping he’d average that when they signed him to a four-year, $66-million contract. This year he hit .165 with eight homers, 20 RBI. Miguel Cabrera had months like that this summer. He also contributed a .237 on-base percentage and a .299 slugging percentage. Next season will be Bay’s last with the Mets. Even if he were to have a monster year, the Mets will say good-bye. – John D.

Duda Takes Giant Step Backwards

Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins can continue to rave about Lucas Duda all they want, but the truth is that nobody regressed more in 2012 than Duda. As he enters next season at 27, he has a lot to prove after falling from a slash of .292/.370/.492 in 2011 to a slash of .239/.329/.339 this season. He struck out in more than 25% of his at-bats and as Keith Hernandez pointed out several times in September, Duda had not changed his stance or approach at the plate one bit after he returned from a stint in the minors. But Duda is very cheap and under team control for five more years and the Mets have no other options, so the praise for Duda will continue, but it’s best that you temper your expectations and not buy into the hype. – Joe D.

Outfield Of Screams

Everyone including me loves to rail against the obscene lack of production from the bullpen this season, but leave some of your outrage for the Mets outfield – who accounted for the most woeful production in the majors. Jason Bay (.165 AVG), Andres Torres (.230 AVG) and Lucas Duda (.239 AVG) combined for a .280 On-Base and a .649 OPS. Scott Hairston kept things from being even worse, but with a 2-3 year deal in his future at considerably more money, nobody expects that he will be back. This was one of the worst outfields the Mets have put on the field in over a generation. There’s no help on the way from the minors unless you’re interested in watching some K-New and V-Spin reruns. – Joe D.

Catch The Fever?

Another area of concern is behind the plate where starting catcher Josh Thole was expected to have a breakthrough season after a somewhat sold season in 2011. It never happened and what’s worse, Thole regressed so badly that it may have cost him his job and possibly even a spot on the roster. Mets catchers as a whole ranked in the bottom two in every defensive measure, but hardly made up for it with their bats. Thole batted .234, Mike Nickeas batted .174 until they finally shipped him back to the minors, and newcomer Kelly Shoppach was hardly an improvement batting .203 and striking out in an incredible one-third of his at-bats. – Joe D.

Did we miss anything? I think we pretty much covered the entire gamut.

Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and Terry Collins are led by Fred and Jeff Wilpon as they board the Bat Copter, destination unknown.