Nov 23

Nate McLouth Would Have Been Better Choice Than Chris Young For Mets

The New York Mets might get lucky with Chris Young the same way they did with Marlon Byrd last season. It could happen.

However, are you betting on it?

McLOUTH: A better choice.

McLOUTH: A better choice.

I am not buying for a second they’ll make a play for Nelson Cruz, but there are others I would have liked to see them get over Young.

We know Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury were out of their price range. Supposedly, they liked Corey Hart. How about Nate McLouth?

McLouth, 32, hit .258 with a .329 on-base percentage – both superior to Young – and drew 53 walks in 593 plate appearances. He also homered 12 times, equal to Young’s production. And, he did it for $2 million. Plus, he stole 30 bases, plays good defense and always hustles.

You can’t convince me for a second Young was a better choice. They got Young, who is two years younger, for $7.25 million. Don’t you think they could have gotten McLouth for two years at $8 million?

There aren’t a lot of great choices out there, but Young was a bad one in that they gave a lot of money for somebody with little production.

Sandy Alderson values on-base percentage, and clearly had a better option in McLouth. Too bad he didn’t make a harder run at him.

Nov 14

What We Learned About Mets From GM Meetings

The general managers meetings ended without the New York Mets making a sound just as we knew they would. It was that way for everybody else, too.

The GM meetings are for laying the groundwork for the offseason, and this much we have learned from the Mets:

Despite what I wrote about maybe taking a second look at Ike Davis, it won’t happen. With a half-dozen teams inquiring about him, he’s gone. The Mets are in a delicate situation with Davis. It’s obvious they want to get rid of him and teams know that, so they’ll lowball the Mets. Sandy Alderson knows that, but he also knows Davis’ greatest value is living up to his potential the Mets projected of him and not just give him away.

Jhonny Peralta seems to be the Mets’ objective for shortstop with Stephen Drew out of their price range. Defense up the middle is paramount and Drew will get his money somewhere.

Curtis Granderson is there for the taking in the outfield, where he can play center or a corner position. It’s clear the Yankees don’t want him, and it is also obvious he’ll come a lot cheaper than Shin-Soo Choo, who’ll be overpaid by whomever signs him. Ditto for Jacoby Ellsbury. This much we know about Granderson: 1) he’ll hit for some power, but not as much as he would if he were at Yankee Stadium, 2) he’ll strike out a lot, and 3) he knows how to play in New York.

Bronson Arroyo can be had for a reasonable cost to help fill the back end of the rotation. It appears the Mets have little, or no interest, in Barry Zito or bringing back Mike Pelfrey. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang are still available, but apparently there’s no rush there.

In previous seasons the Mets used to let the market come to them, but this winter it might be prudent for them to hustle for their first choices.

Better overpay early then come away empty later.

Nov 08

Prices Could Turn Mets Off Choo Or Granderson

If the Mets really want outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, the way the landscape is shaking out they might have a to pony up over a $100-million package and they could have competition from the Yankees.

The Yankees might also present an obstacle should they want to pursue outfielder Curtis Granderson, whom was already given a $14.1 million qualifying offer.

The Mets need corner outfield help, but I’d be reluctant to go after either at those prices.

Choo has been a consistent player, but not an elite, upper-echelon talent worthy of over $100 million. The Mets say no more than four years and he’s nowhere near worth $25 million a season.

Granderson could be worth $60 million over four years, which approaches Jason Bay territory. Remember what happened there?

Granderson, who was injured last season, said this week he might take the qualifying offer and go through the process again. As far as the Mets thinking he’ll replicate the 40 homers he once hit for the Yankees, remember Citi Field isn’t Yankee Stadium – plus he’ll strike out over 140 times.

Not worth it.

Oct 22

Would Boston’s Free-Agent Building Approach Benefit Mets?

Yesterday, I suggested what the New York Mets could learn from the St. Louis Cardinals in building their team. Today, let’s examine how the Red Sox were built and what the Mets can take from their approach.

The Cardinals’ philosophy of first building from within followed by judicious trades and free-agent signings has always been the traditional and preferred method.

Throwing millions and millions into the free-agent market is costly and risky. The Mets don’t have the resources of the Yankees or Dodgers to throw good money after bad.

ELLSBURY: Will he be too costly for Mets?

ELLSBURY: Will he be too costly for Mets?

There’s pressure to win in both markets, but there’s a greater intensity in Boston – and New York – while there’s a degree of patience in the Midwest. That explains in part why St. Louis has 17 homegrown players on its roster, while the Red Sox have ten.

There was a venomous culture in Boston last season as the Red Sox, burdened by several cumbersome contracts – similar to what the Mets faced when Sandy Alderson took over – and a few cancerous personalities in the clubhouse.

“Say, could you pass some fried chicken this way?’’

The Red Sox cleared nearly $200 million in salaries when they unloaded Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers midway through last year’s disastrous 69-93 summer under Bobby Valentine. They did so because even in a lost season the Red Sox were thinking about this summer. That’s something the Mets never fully explored when they had Jose Reyes and others to dangle.

The Red Sox were far quicker and more decisive than the Mets have been in ridding themselves of too costly and ineffective players, such as Oliver Perez, Ike Davis, Francisco Rodriguez and Luis Castillo to name a few of close to numerous bad deals since 2006, the last time the Mets saw October.

Rather than sink their savings into different long-term, costly signings, the Red Sox signed a handful of productive, yet cost-effective, players in: Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million); catcher David Ross (two years, $6.2 million); first baseman Mike Napoli (one year, $5 million); shortstop Stephen Drew (one year, $9.5 million); outfielder Jonny Gomes (two years, $10 million); and dynamite closer Koji Uehara (one year, $4.25 million plus option).

None bowl you over; collectively, they helped the Red Sox win 97 games.

Boston also extended by two years and $26 million the contract of its own free agent, designated hitter David Ortiz. They also avoided arbitration by offering Jacoby Ellsbury a one-year, $9-million deal. Some signings, such as pitcher Ryan Dempster’s two-year, $26.5 million deal, didn’t pan out. He’s now in middle relief and would be a starter for the Mets.

The Red Sox also hit it with trades, including pitcher Jake Peavy, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and and former Mets first-base prospect, Mike Carp.

Boston’s success in the free-agent and trade markets was overwhelmingly successful. Although Alderson said he could have the leeway to offer a $100-million contract to one player, he would be better off in taking Boston’s approach and attempt to patch several of the Mets’ many holes.

Alderson knows the success the Red Sox enjoyed is rare and shouldn’t be expected, especially since the Mets won’t offer similar deals. However, the idea of pursuing players with playoff success – Napoli and Victorino – is a sound way to augment their present composition of youth and few proven major leaguers.

The Mets are unsettled at first base, but are kidding themselves if they think they could get Napoli by offering a slight raise. Napoli was to get a three-year, $39-million deal, but that fell through when a degenerative hip condition was discovered. He’ll likely get his three years this winter.

As for Victorino, the Mets had their chance to sign him, but now it is too late. They must consider between Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz, what they might each cost, and their various baggage.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Red Sox attempt to retain Ellsbury, but there are already reports the Tigers are interested in either him or Choo, the latter who is reportedly seeking four years.

The Red Sox took a shotgun approach last winter, and still wound up with a $155-million payroll while hitting most of their targets. It worked because their scouts did their homework; they got lucky; and they already had a core to build around. The Red Sox were also forced to be aggressive last winter because of their restless and demanding fan base. Every year it is the same motivation for them and the Yankees.

The Mets’ fan base is already looking at 2015 when Matt Harvey returns. Few are expecting a contender next summer without him. The Mets also don’t have as good a core as Boston had and won’t come anywhere close to what the Red Sox spent, but could go as high as $100 million, maybe a little more.

Everybody in the division save the Miami Marlins will spend more. If the Mets are to emulate the Red Sox, they’ll have to dig deeper and that’s not something they’ll be inclined to do.

Sep 13

Sandy Still Wary Of Big Contracts, But May Add A Big-Ticket Player This Offseason

sandy alderson

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that soon to be free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, currently with the Cincinnati Reds, “fits the bill” for what the Mets need this winter.

Heyman spoke with Sandy Alderson who revealed some of the things he’s considering as the Mets conclude their third losing season under his watch.

“There’s no question long-term contracts carry risk, and right about the time you’re clearing payroll you can wind up right back where you started if it doesn’t work out. On the other hand, you have some times where you have to roll the dice. I certainly haven’t ruled out a big-ticket item.”

Alderson has already made it well known that adding a veteran starting pitcher was already part of his plan this offseason even before Matt Harvey got hurt, but now it may end up being a top of the rotation starter if Harvey were to have surgery and miss the 2014 season – the season he said would be the year the franchise would begin a run of sustainable championship caliber baseball.

Heyman sounds skeptical about Alderson pursuing a big-ticket item and cited several instances when Alderson chided other teams for handing out large contracts both while general manager of the Mets and also when he was a top executive with Major League Baseball a decade ago.

Based on the needs of the Mets and the strengths of the player, Heyman concludes that Choo looks like the biggest potential target for the Mets this winter. He cites that he’s an excellent corner outfielder with a big on-base percentage, making him a perfect fit.

He says that Mets people have discussed him internally at length and predicts Choo will be the biggest player on the Mets’ radar.