Jul 31

Analyzing where the Mets stand today.

If the Mets were truly in a fire sale mode there was more they could have done prior to the 4:00 p.m., trade deadline. As a competitive team that to many overachieved through July, the Mets had plenty of chips they could have played to bolster their depth.

Chris Capuano and Jason Isringhausen both could help a contender, but are the types of players the Mets would need to plug in next season Capuano has been effective and warrants a chance to pitch for a spot in the rotation next spring.

Like all teams, the Mets need a closer, and unless Bobby Parnell makes progress the remaining two months – and during spring training – who is to say Isringhausen won’t get that chance for one more season? His potential to contribute in that forum likely exceeds whom he might have brought it. Isringhausen becomes even more important to the Mets when one watches Parnell struggle as he did this afternoon in Washington.

The one Met I thought might go was outfielder Scott Hairston, who homered twice this afternoon at Washington. He would have been perfect as a spot starter or pinch hitter, which is why Atlanta made a late run at him. But, with Beltran gone and questions persist surrounding the Mets’ outfield, there’s nothing wrong with having him around another year.

There’s something different about the make-up of this Mets’ team that was missing in previous seasons when the playoffs were not an option with two months remained in the summer. Then, there was nothing to play for. Now, they are playing to build a foundation.

Manager Terry Collins has impressed to his team these Mets are being seriously evaluated for 2012. When he said the Mets are trying to win as many games as possible, while the wild-card remains a long shot creating a winning chemistry is not out of the realm of possibility.

With today’s loss, the Mets are 7.5 games behind Atlanta for the wild-card with three teams they must leapfrog.

The Mets probably had a better chance to make a late wild-card run had they kept Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, but with October a distance away, they made the right trade decisions to prepare themselves for the future in that they freed salary and acquired a power arm to develop.

In the interim, this team has played shorthanded, but with a grit and intensity is worth building around. Hopefully, their offensive deficiencies created by losing Beltran could be offset with David Wright’s return from the disabled list. Then again, we’re always waiting for Jason Bay to hit.

So far, Isringhausen and others have offset losing Rodriguez in the bullpen.

When teams talk fire sales usually there are more bodies leaving than just Rodriguez and Beltran.  What remains intact is something for the Mets to build on, as what we have now is not the sign of desperation we envisioned coming out of spring training.

 

Jul 26

Reaction to prospect of non-tendering Pagan.

I chuckled this afternoon when I read an account suggesting the Mets could non-tender Angel Pagan this winter after this disappointing season. Pagan has not built on last year’s strong showing, but that hardly means the Mets are looking to dump him. If they were, they’d be shopping him now, but aren’t.

PAGAN: Odds say he'll stay.

Pagan is making $3.5 million this year and arbitration eligible. It isn’t as if he’ll break the Mets’ bank this winter.

The Mets are precariously think in the outfield now, and will only get thinner once Carlos Beltran is traded. Fernando Martinez is hardly proven he’s ready to play full time next year, let alone stay healthy.

Jason Bay has a spot in left because he has a contract that can’t be traded and maybe they’ll give Lucas Duda a chance in right. Who’s going to play center all season? Jason Pridie? Scott Hairston? Hardly.

Pagan has been a disappointment, but showed us something last summer to warrant another chance. Of course, all of this would be a moot point if the Mets signed a free-agent outfielder or traded for B.J. Upton.

It’s not happening. Expect to see Pagan again in 2012.

Jul 18

Today in Mets’ History: This year looking like last summer.

Mets got this break during collapse.

The Mets are entering a strangely familiar territory.

Last year the prevailing midseason issue after the break was whether Jerry Manuel could take control of his team and guide them either into the postseason, or to at least make a wild-card run.

It didn’t happen. On this date last season, the Mets broke a three-game losing streak coming out of the All-Star break with a series-salvaging 4-3 victory at San Francisco in 10 innings.

The game featured an atrocious call by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that swiped a victory from the Giants. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Cuzzi called out Travis Ishikawa at the plate, saying he slide under Henry Blanco’s tag.

Replays proved otherwise, but most damning was Blanco’s comments: “He was safe all the way. Everybody was surprised when he was called out.’’

BOX SCORE

With the victory, the Mets moved to 49-43, five games behind in the National East. Not bad on the surface, but the Mets were in the midst of losing seven of nine games, and would go on to lose six of their next eight, all on the road.

This season, the Mets dropped two of three coming out of the break to Philadelphia, and overall have dropped five of their last seven games.

The Mets close out July with a make-up game tonight at Citi Field, followed by three home games with St. Louis. Then they are on the road to Florida for three, Cincinnati for three and Washington for three.

Even with the positive news about Jose Reyes’ rehab game tonight, the Mets are in for an interesting couple of weeks until the trade deadline.

Last year they unraveled, but they had little to give up as nobody wanted Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo. This season there are more attractive things on the Mets’ rosters for contenders.

Carlos Beltran is currently the big prize. He’s healthy, playing well and has adjusted to a new team. The Mets could bring a prospect or two in return, more, if they extend a negotiating window to the team in attempt to land Beltran long term. Of course, Beltran’s agent is Scott Boras, and his preference in similar situations is to play the open market.

Boras is not likely to do anything to help the Mets, who will not receive compensatory draft picks if he leaves as a FA.

Reyes, who hopes to play tomorrow, is also available, but the Mets would like to keep him, and will do so unless they are bowled over. If that were to happen, the team would want a chance to negotiate with Reyes long term. The Mets will get more of a package in this situation rather than if they sell him to a team as a rental.

The Mets have several other players teams could covet in support or bullpen roles, including: Angel Pagan, Scott Hairston, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen, and tonight’s starter, Chris Capuano.

Here’s tonight’s lineup behind Capuano:

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, 2B

Daniel Murphy, 3B

Scott Hairston, RF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Jason Bay, LF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Chris Capuano, LP

 

Jul 16

Niese continues to shine; Hairston comes through.

The more he pitches, the better he gets. Even if he doesn’t know how to grow a beard, he’s showing he knows how to pitch.

NIESE: Getting better and better.

Without Johan Santana, the Mets don’t have an ace, but the closest they have is Jonathan Niese, who won his ninth game Saturday in an 11-2 rout of the Phillies.

Entering the season, it was thought Mike Pelfrey would continue to develop, but this has been a disappointing season for him. Conversely, Niese is making big strides, and beating the Phillies with seven strong innings was one of them.

Also a storyline was Scott Hairston, who homered and drove in five runs in an audition for the right field job in case the Mets deal Carlos Beltran, as they are likely to do.

Hairston was a late starter after Beltran came down with flu like symptoms. Beltran could sit again Sunday. Manager Terry Collins gave Hairston notice as soon as he got to the park, and unlike Jerry Manuel, didn’t wait until game time to make a decision. Hairston said that’s key for a role player.

“I found out I was in the lineup right away. It gave me a couple of hours to prepare,’’ Hairston said. “I’ve played in this role for the last few years. It’s a very difficult role. I rely on that experience.’’

While Beltran said he wants to play out his career with the Mets, it is expected the team will trade him as this is the final year of his contract, one that doesn’t offer arbitration which would give them compensatory draft picks.

Jul 14

Reading the tea leaves on dealing Beltran.

Sandy Alderson is working the phones this afternoon about Carlos Beltran. There’s a chance he could be taking more calls than making them.

“Carlos’ situation is well-known, and it’s not surprising given his situation and performance this year that a lot of interest has been expressed,’’ Alderson said. “We have not pursued that interest in great length to this point.’’

BELTRAN: Attracting interest.

As an All-Star, Beltran is probably the premier outfielder and bat in the trade market, so the Mets aren’t completely without leverage.

Where the Mets don’t have leverage, is that Beltran’s contract precludes him from being offered arbitration so they won’t get any compensatory draft picks.

The balance of Beltran’s contract is for roughly $8 million, so the Mets must decide if that’s worth the price to pay to gamble on staying in contention.

Unless the Mets are bowled over, Alderson said he’s willing to ride this out until the trade deadline, and even longer.

While the trade deadline is July 31, the Mets can move Beltran after that in a waiver deal. In that situation, Beltran must clear waivers before he can be traded.

Alderson’s stance is actually a good negotiating ploy. Everybody knew the Mets were desperate to deal Rodriguez, but by showing a willingness to wait on Beltran it’s possible he could force some general manager to blink and offer up a better prospect.

The Giants and Red Sox are the teams reported to have the most interest in Beltran. ESPN reported the Tigers might be players for Beltran.

As far as the Yankees, their primary objective is pitching.  Even with Alex Rodriguez out for at least a month, the belief is the Yankees still have enough offense.

If the Mets go all out in the trade market, they have several pieces that could prove attractive to a contender, including Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen, Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Willie Harris.

All have served a purpose for the Mets this season, but all can be replaced in the winter.