Dec 08

Are Mets Sabotaging Flores?

I have been writing over a month Wilmer Flores should be the Opening Day shortstop. Speaking to reporters at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, GM Sandy Alderson all but confirmed it.

“I’d say where we are today, that’s the likelihood. But that doesn’t mean it’ll happen,’’ Alderson said. “But if you look around at all the possibilities, is it more likely than not? Probably.’’

FLORES: Don't undercut him.

FLORES: Don’t undercut him.

To that, I say it is about time.

Alderson began his regime promising a more open dialogue, but what we’ve been getting have been smokescreens and diversions. Let’s face it, Troy Tulowitzki was too absurd to consider, and Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew aren’t worth considering.

Alderson mentioned the possibility of January. If you’re going to wait that long, what does it say about the Mets’ level of confidence in these players? It says they don’t have much, if any.

It also screams cheapness and indecisiveness.

By the way, if the Mets are rebuilding as they say, you don’t do it by filling such a key position as shortstop with rejects. And, before you say you don’t build with guys like Flores, either, save it because we don’t know about him.

You build with your own players before you look outside.

All of this speaks little of the Mets’ faith in Flores. All this talk of trying to replace him can’t help his self-esteem. What the Mets are doing with Flores is the same thing they did with Ike Davis and that’s a shame.

The Mets constant negativity directed at Davis made it impossible for him to function here. I am afraid they are doing the same with Flores.

Why won’t they learn?

ON DECK: Do Mets really have pitching depth to trade?

Dec 01

Plenty Of Names Out There, But All Signs Lead To Flores

The more GM Sandy Alderson talks about it, the more I am inclined to believe he will not acquire a shortstop this winter and the Mets will head into spring training with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop.

This much we know: The Mets aren’t willing to trade any of their young arms and they have few trade chips among their position players on the major league level and virtually none in the minor leagues.

FLORES: Best shortstop option.

FLORES: Best shortstop option.

As long as Alderson holds that position, it means Starlin Castro will stay with the Cubs and Xander Bogaerts with the Red Sox.

Both are young with a promising upside and Castro is the most proven. Both would cost a lot, and history tells us the Mets will balk.

Asdrubal Cabrera is out there, but I can’t see the Mets giving him the years – and money – he would want.

Arizona’s Didi Gregorius has been linked to the Mets, but do they really want to add somebody who hit .226 with a .290 on-base percentage? No need to trade for those numbers when Ruben Tejada is right here.

Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew could be had, but if the Mets didn’t want them before there’s no reason to believe their interest would have increased based on their numbers from last season. Both would want multi-year deals and more money than the Mets are willing to spend.

Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox is available and a known commodity. Also known is his declining defensive performance and two years at $10 million each the Mets would pick up. Quite frankly, he’s a player on the downward slide, costly, and a player not worth one of their young arms.

While some are more proven than Flores, they all come with risks attached and definitely not worth a Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler.

Given this, and knowing the Mets’ history, Flores remains the best option. And, if he doesn’t pan out, the Mets can always deal later. The Mets are in position where they should stick with Flores and see what he’s all about.

 

Mar 17

Little Time, Many Questions For Mets

Spring training is not just to get ready for the season, but for teams to sharpen their cliché skills. The New York Mets have used many this spring, but the prevalent one is: There’s plenty of time left.

Memo to Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins: No, there isn’t.

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

With Opening Day two weeks away, the Mets have many decisions left; way too many for a team that could win 90 games. I bet Alderson already regrets that thought.

Here’s what’s left to decide:

FIRST BASE: Ike Davis entered spring training as the frontrunner, but because of leg injuries, neither him nor Lucas Duda has played much.

Neither will get close to 70 at-bats, much less the 90-plus Collins hoped for Davis.

They could, but I don’t see them carrying both.

Speculation is Davis will open the season on the disabled list, with Duda playing. That’s presumably because Duda is further along.

They could run Josh Satin out there, but I believe they wasted this spring to learn more about Wilmer Flores.

Collins suggested using Flores at shortstop, but he’s barely played there. He has a promising bat, but scouts say he is better equipped for second base or the corner infield positions.

Flores won’t get third because of David Wright, and last I checked first base is a corner infield position. Why couldn’t they look at Flores there? Where’s the vision?

SHORTSTOP: Publicly, they support Ruben Tejada, but almost as visible have been their efforts to land Stephen Drew and trade for Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

Neither is imminent, and the Orioles and Rays also have interest in Franklin. If they really wanted him, they should have acted weeks ago.

Shortstop remains a black hole, but I see Tejada winning the job by default because the Mets are skittish about giving Drew the money and surrendering prospects for Franklin. Anticipate Tejada as the Opening Day shortstop, with much criticism to follow.

LEADOFF HITTER: Collins prefers Eric Young, which is the best choice. However, where does that leave Juan Lagares? That’s the rub.

If Young plays, the outfield would include him, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.

This isn’t softball, so there is no extra outfielder. For the purposes of his development, Lagares should play fulltime, either up here or in the minor leagues.

If it is here, they are wasting Eric Young. They also have no idea if Lagares can hit at this level.

One possibility is to go with Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the extra outfielder – both can play center – and give Lagares his at-bats in Triple-A Las Vegas.

PITCHING; Both the rotation and bullpen are seemingly set, but there’s the Jenrry Mejia question: Rotation or bullpen?

If they aren’t going to use Mejia in the rotation in the majors, they should use him as a starter in Las Vegas.

Mar 11

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.

Feb 26

Wrapping Up The Day: Niese Gets MRI; Starting Rotation Announced; Shortstop Unsettled

Jonathon Niese, designated to be the New York Mets’ Opening Day starter, was sent to New York for a MRI on his sore shoulder.

Niese suffered a rotator cuff injury last year, but the team said this pain was in a different area of the shoulder.

Niese’s first exhibition start was to be March 4 against Houston, but that’s not going to happen. The Mets won’t have any word on Niese’s return until after the MRI is read.

In addition:

* Niese is scheduled to the Opening Day starter against Washington, March 31. Of course, that’s contingent on how much time he will miss. He’s to be followed by Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee (also against Washington) and Zack Wheeler and the fifth starter (Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan or Jenrry Mejia (against Cincinnati). The Mets’ first two series are at home.

* Colon (tightness in his calf) and outfielder Eric Young (tightness in his side) were held out of practice today.

* General manger Sandy Alderson acknowledges Stephen Drew being a “fit’’ for the Mets at shortstop, but said he’s asking too much,

* Terry Collins said Wilmer Flores will get time at shortstop, but as of now the job belongs to Ruben Tejada.

* Outfielder Matt den Dekker is slowed by a stomach ailment.

* Mejia will oppose Gee in Thursday’s intrasquad game.