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.

Nov 04

Time for Reyes to put up.

As expected, the Mets picked up the $11 million option for Jose Reyes for 2011 and left open the possibility of a long term extension.

REYES: Time to put up.

Those talks won’t happen soon.

When the Mets signed Reyes to a multi-year deal in 2006, he was on the verge of stardom and being a special player. The injuries that plagued him early in career were seemingly behind him, he was an All-Star and regarded as one of the top leadoff hitters in the game. There seemed to be no ceiling to his potential and the Mets rewarded him for they thought he might provide.

But, he hasn’t lived up to those expectations. He hasn’t provided.

Reyes missed most of the 2009 season with hamstring injuries, and was sidelined this spring with a thyroid issue causing justifiable concerns about his durability. For several weeks this past summer Reyes was at the top of his game, but then came the oblique problems and the season faded away for both the Mets and their shortstop.

Now it’s time to talk money.

Based on what he gave the Mets the past two seasons, would you sign Reyes to a long-term deal now?

Alderson’s thinking is to keep Reyes for 2011 to see where he is in his career, then make a decision for the future beginning for 2012 when he has more money. Reyes must prove  he’s healthy and the player the Mets have long envisioned. He needs to improve his on-base percentage, start being a threat on the bases again – where is the guy who stole over 60 bases? – and sharpen a focus that still wanders.

All that talk about Reyes becoming a gamebreaker, a force, an elite player … well, Alderson is waiting for it to happen this summer. Reyes must prove to the Mets he finally is that player if he’s to get the extension he wants.

If he doesn’t, then this time next year the Mets could be letting him walk.

Oct 06

Should the Mets consider dealing Jose Reyes?

Whomever the Mets hire as general manager I will be curious to see his take on Jose Reyes.

Will he believe the team should be built around Reyes, or would the Mets be better served to deal him as an attempt to plug several holes, notably in the rotation and bullpen?

REYES: What's his value?

The path of least resistance would be to pick up Reyes’ $11 million option for 2011, then use that season as the basis to negotiate a long-term extension.

The gamble would be to pull the trigger now, thinking his value has peaked. At 27, Reyes is entering the prime of his career and should command a lot in return.

Reyes has missed a lot of time the past two seasons with health reasons and said he’ll work to strengthen his core in the offseason as to not have a recurrence of the oblique problem.

Reyes had a hot stretch this season when the Mets were playing well, but too often was not the player billed up to be, and the question was raised several times: Is this is good as it will get for Reyes or can he become that elite player?

That might be one of the toughest issues for the new general manager to address.

Reyes had his issues with Manuel, and to a lesser extent Willie Randolph, and the managerial hire might help the general manager decided if he will re-energize the shortstop.

All those variables will be evaluated should the team consider trading him, but that will happen after another important evaluation.

If the new general manager believes an overhaul is needed, and more than few pieces are required to return the Mets to contending status, then, depending on the return, I could see him exploring a Reyes trade.

However, if the assessment is this team isn’t far away, especially with the healthy returns of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran next season, then holding onto him would be the prudent option because I can’t see obtaining player who will be more valuable to them than a healthy, productive and motivated Reyes.