Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

Nov 24

Mets Have Same Issues As When Season Ended

With it being 27 degrees outside, what better time to think about spring training for the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie?

Spring training will be here before you know it, and the Mets aren’t close to being ready, having not filled any of their myriad of the holes they had at the conclusion of last year’s 74-win season.

Not one, and please, don’t even attempt to justify Chris Young as an answer.

The Mets have roughly three months to address the following concerns:

ROTATION: At least the Matt Harvey question was answered, as it is better to know in the negative rather than to wonder. Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and the sampling from Zack Wheeler comprises the starters. With the uncertainty of Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery and the preference to wait on Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets have two slots to fill, with none immediately from the inside.

BULLPEN: Bobby Parnell is recovering from surgery, so he’s a question. LaTroy Hawkins is now in Colorado. A late-season pick-up last year, Vic Black will either be the closer until Parnell returns or in a set-up role. Scott Rice, Carlos Torres and Scott Atchison are expected back, but two or three other roles could be determined during spring training.

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud goes in No. 1, but the Mets are still searching for a veteran mentor. Although they never were going to get him, the Mets have to be pleased to see Brian McCann going to the American League, even if it to the Yankees.

FIRST BASE: Reportedly, there was interest in Ike Davis, but where did it go? Supposedly there was interest from Milwaukee, but that appears to have cooled. Perhaps, something will warm up at the Winter Meetings.

SECOND BASE: Daniel Murphy might be a tradable asset, but will go as a package for anything substantial. He won’t bring back much in a one-for-one trade.

SHORTSTOP: This is a major concern, but it appears Jhonny Peralta is close to signing with St. Louis, which just traded former World Series hero David Freese. That franchise just keeps rolling on. Ruben Tejada is attending a fitness camp in Michigan, so maybe they are re-signed to going with him for another year.

OUTFIELD: No, .200-hitter Young is not the answer, but acquiring him does seem to answer the question of whether Jordany Valdespin is in their plans. Juan Lagares and Eric Young have tentative spots, in center and left, but right field is open. Matt den Dekker could fill a spot, but won’t provide the offense they want.

So, nearly two months after the end of another disappointing season, the Mets are in the same position from when we last saw them.

 

Nov 07

So Much More To Do Now Than Two Years Ago

What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.

Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.

So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it, and don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.

Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?

First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.

Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity?  Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.

Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.

Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.

Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.

Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.

Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.

Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…

Progress?

Dec 21

Don’t be in a rush to deal Flores

Sorry for the absence. I’ve been ill lately and had to shut it down for a few days. This is the longest I’ve gone without a post since I started doing this and I apologize.

But, we haven’t missed much as the Mets continue to hope the prices will drop on whatever pitching talent is left out there. By most accounts there’s not much more than $4 million remaining in the Mets’ budget, and that won’t be enough to land Brandon Webb, the best remaining arm.

The Mets are looking at Freddy Garcia (but so are the Yankees), Chris Young and Jeff Francis. Young appears to be the most likely. There are other free-agent pitchers, such as Jeremy Bonderman and Kevin Millwood, but they don’t register much on the thrill meter. Nobody outside of Webb raises your pulse.

The name I keep hearing in the trade market is Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza, which would be appealing, but the reported cost would be shortstop prospect Wilmer Flores.

Trading prospects are always risky, but unless the return is great (and Garza doesn’t rank that high), I’d be reluctant to deal Flores because of the uncertainty of what could happen with Jose Reyes. If Reyes gets off to a good start and the Mets are committed to signing him to an extension, then Flores would be expendable.

However, if the Mets opt to shop Reyes at the trade deadline, or he leaves after the season as a free agent, it would be good to have Flores in the fold. But, to deal Flores now and then lose Reyes would leave a hole I don’t think Ruben Tejada would be able to fill.

Flores is still several years away, but his value should only increase. While Garza is coming off a career year at 15-10, he’s still less than a .500 career pitcher.

Nov 29

Listening to offers about Reyes doesn’t mean he’s leaving.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving weekend with your families.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately that the Mets’ new management is listening to offers for shortstop Jose Reyes. The responsible thing for the Mets to do is to listen to proposals, but that doesn’t ensure he’s going anywhere. He’ll be a free agent after this season so the prudent thing would be to ascertain the market before thinking about a long term extension.

There are teams with shortstop holes, namely San Francisco and Boston, but the Mets will want a lot in return. With a player of Reyes’ potential, who can blame them?

However, teams thinking about Reyes have to be cautious for several reasons:

1) Because he’ll be a free agent, they’ll want a window of opportunity to sign him to an extension because they don’t want to overpay for a rental.

2) Reyes is coming off back-to-back years in which injuries sapped his playing time and his health remains an issue.

3) Reyes is two years removed from being the dynamic leadoff hitter and impact player we expect from him.

4) With holes in their rotation and bullpen, not to mention now the hole at shortstop, the Mets’ asking price would be high.

For those reasons, I don’t see the Mets easily finding a trading partner. I would rather see the Mets pay Reyes the $11 million for 2011 and give him the year before making any decision on him, whether it be signing or dealing him.