Dec 13

Talk Of Mets Dealing Niese Absurd

Anybody who believes the Mets are serious about trading Jon Niese is either: a) nuts, b) misinformed, c) clueless, or d) all of the above.

I’ve heard reports the Mets will trade either R.A. Dickey or Niese in their effort to acquire a power-hitting outfielder.

NIESE: Not going anywhere. (AP)

They seem almost desperate in their attempts to trade Dickey, but Niese isn’t going anywhere for a multitude of reasons.

Although Niese’s career high is 13 victories, he’s more potential than production at age 26. He’s young, left-handed, throws hard, has had success on the major league level, but most importantly, is inexpensive considering the market.

Cheap, actually.

Niese, in one of the few smart contract moves we’ve seen from the Mets in recent years, is signed to a five-year, $21.5 million contract. In short, the total value of his deal is less than what the Mets are reportedly willing to pay Dickey.

If Niese were in the NFL or NBA, he’d be holding out this spring. As it is, he’s locked in through 2016 with club options for 2017 and 2018.

In looking at the big picture for the Mets, Niese has more value than Dickey, and assuming he stays healthy and continues to improve, he’ll be here longer than the three years Dickey originally sought. If things progress, the Mets will have won the first Niese contract.

For all their talk about pitching depth, the Mets have issues that seem to be ignored by GM Sandy Alderson that can’t be overshadowed no matter how big a bat they get.

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Dec 12

Infuriating Alderson Dumps On Mets Fans

The words seared into my consciousness.

I previously defended Sandy Alderson, thinking as a hired gun his job was to pare payroll and ease the Mets’ financial strain, which he did.

ALDERSON: Playing Scrooge.

However, there is no defending what he said yesterday at the Mets’ Annual Christmas party, one where they asked R.A. Dickey to dress as an elf.

I usually applaud honesty, but this time it would have been better had Alderson kept his mouth shut. If you’re surrendering the season before Christmas, don’t come out and say it, not with good will in the air.

“I would expect the roster would look similar to what it did at the end of last season – with some exceptions,” Alderson said.

Ouch … that hurt, but deep down we expected that to be the case all along.

Yeah, and those exceptions will put the Mets over the top. Yeah, and I still believe Santa Claus and the M & M talking candies do exist.

Alderson doesn’t think much of the FA market and the Mets have precious little to trade. If he thinks that cupboard is bare, what does he think he has on his roster?

Even less.

Gone from last year’s train wreck will be Tim Byrdak, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, along with Jon Rauch, Mike Pelfrey, Ramon Ramirez, Kelly Shoppach, Andres Torres and Manny Acosta. Some could be missed, but all their roles still need to be filled.

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Dec 06

Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Mets’ CEO Jeff Wilpon said GM Sandy Alderson would have an increased budget for 2013 and the team “will be competitive.’’

What exactly he meant by that, he wouldn’t specify. Does it mean the Mets will be a playoff contender or at least a .500-caliber team? Just exactly how much will the budget be increased? When Wilpon spoke of payroll flexibility, in the wake of the commitment to David Wright, he didn’t do so in terms of actual dollars.

PAGAN: Rarely ran like that with the Mets.

Alderson said the outfield pool is currently at the deep end with Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. I thought if the Mets splurged they might have a shot at Victorino, but I wasn’t thinking $39 million. Victorino actually turned down $44 million from Cleveland for a chance to play for a contender, and the Indians aren’t exactly a free-spending team.

Alderson said “we’ll get outfielders,’’ but what he didn’t add on was, “… we have to because the rules say we need to play with three.’’

Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter – left to right – is what the Mets currently have if the season started today.

Duda made a splash two years ago, but struggled badly last season; Nieuwenhuis made a good first impression in 2012 after Andres Torres was injured, but major league pitching caught up with him (those curveballs can be nasty); and Baxter is a role player who gets exposed after long bouts of playing time.

Hopefully, Duda learned something from being shipped off to the minors and he’ll have a breakout year. But, he’s never done it over a full season, so the hopes are mostly wishful thinking.

As far as Nieuwenhuis goes, he made a splash with his ability to work the count, put the ball in play and hustle. It would be asking a lot from him to develop into a fulltime leadoff hitter, assuming manager Terry Collins will place him at the top of the order.

I heard interest in Ryan Ludwick, but he’s not coming here.  Ludwick made $2 million last year while hitting 26 homers and driving in 80 runs for Cincinnati. He’ll command a hefty raise, and I’m betting the Reds will give it to him.

Speaking of hefty raises, Scott Hairston, easily the most productive outfielder the Mets had last season, should get at least two years, or one and an option, for hitting 20 homers last season. Great off the bench, his playing time gradually increased.

The Mets will need a guy like him. Hey, here’s an idea … sign him.

Now that the Mets have committed $140 million to Wright, what about the rest of the roster? Dickey is still out there, and there have been no significant additions to even suggest the Mets’ offices have been open since the end of the season.

 

Dec 02

Dickey Remains Mets’ Priority As Winter Meetings Open

They’ll start showing up today for the Winter Meetings, and when they do, the Mets will have a lot on their plate, but little hope of cleaning it.

Their first priority, now that David Wright is done, will be to extend R.A. Dickey’s contract. Dickey prefers three years, but would take two if the dollars are higher. You can bet Dickey’s agents will point to the $12-million, one-year deal the Yankees offered Andy Pettitte.

DICKEY: Do you trade a Cy Young winner?

Although Dickey is the Cy Young Award winner, he’s still only done it for one season at a high level, while Pettitte has over 200 victories and is regarded as one of the game’s best postseason pitchers.

While they are trying to re-sign Dickey, the Mets will also be exploring the trade market for him. However, considering Dickey’s age, career productivity and that many still regard the knuckleball as a gimmick pitch, the Mets might not get in return what they’d like.

Any team trading for him would likely want the chance to negotiate an extension, but their apprehensions would be the same as the Mets. Dickey’s best option might be to take the most money he can in a one-year deal – which would still set him for life – and enter the market next year.

The Mets’ next priorities are to build their outfield and bullpen, and bolster their catching.

There are four name outfielders, of which the Mets have no shot at any of them. Josh Hamilton has the greatest upside, but also the most baggage. The Rangers won’t give him a five-year plus contract, but could offer substantially less and see if he’ll turn his life around.

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Nov 28

Updated Offer To Wright; Dickey Talks Slow

The updated numbers for David Wright appear right, perhaps close enough for an agreement.

It was first reported yesterday the Mets made a $100-million offer for six years, but then a second report was for $125-million over seven years. Both are suitable proposals, but Wright seems determined for a seven-year deal that would run through at least 2020.

WRIGHT (R): Who will greet him at the plate in 2013? (AP)

At this stage of the game it is splitting hairs between six years and an option or seven years. In all probability, the seven-year offer would also contain an option, perhaps multiple options that kick in based on games played and plate appearances.

Major League sources said it was unlikely a deal would be reached before the Winter Meetings next week, which isn’t surprising as there are always loose ends in such a contract.

Meanwhile, the R.A. Dickey talks are slow, despite the organization penciling him into their 2013 rotation. Both Wright and Dickey maintain their decision could be impacted on the other. The Mets obviously deem their All-Star third baseman the top priority, as they should.

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