Feb 04

Alderson Hints Cespedes Deal Could Lead To Bigger Things

Mets GM Sandy Alderson hinted at Wednesday’s press conference that the Yoenis Cespedes deal indicates a change in philosophy for the organization.

Let’s hope so. Long accused of running things on the cheap, Alderson said the $75-million contract should change that perception.

”Sometimes we have a habit – we do in an organization and fans as well – of thinking about the guys we have now, but thinking more about when we’re going to lose them than enjoying the moment,” Alderson said. ”That moment hopefully lasts two, three, four, five years. But I think maybe if the Cespedes signing says anything, is that there are no possibilities that will be dismissed out of hand strictly for financial reasons.”

In particular, let’s hope that will apply to signing their young pitching to long-term contracts. The popular sentiment is the Mets can’t keep them all, referring to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

Maybe not, but the can try to keep them for as long as possible.

”When you’re talking about long-term deals with younger players, there needs to be sort of a mutual interest in doing so,” Alderson said. ”And typically we find out about that mutual interest a little bit later, closer to spring training or even in spring training. So, we’ll just see if that happens.”

Harvey, signed for $4.325 million, will be 27 in March and a free agent after the 2018 season. His agent is Scott Boras, whose reputation is to test the market and not leave money on the table. He’ll be the first test.

Then there is deGrom, (28 in June) who will be arbitration eligible next year and a free agent following the 2020 season. Syndergaard (24 in August) and Matz (25 in May) could become free agents after the 2021 season. Wheeler (26 in May) could become a free agent following the 2019 season.

Money will be coming off the books when the contracts for David Wright, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson expire, but the don’t the Mets have to replace those players as well?

The market for pitching doesn’t seem to show a ceiling, but if the Mets’ core perform to their potential, they’ll test it.

Jan 26

Mets Matters: Big Boy Payroll

The Mets’ deal with Yoenis Cespedes ($27.5 million in 2016) will put their payroll at a reported $138.8 million for this summer. It’s the organization’s highest since the days of Omar Minaya’s days as general manager.

mets-matters logoThe Mets still have unsettled arbitration cases with second baseman Neil Walker and closer Jeurys Familia.

As for Cespedes, his contract should become official after his physical today.

The following are the Mets’ contracts for 2016 (per ESPN):

Cespedes, $27.5 M.

David Wright, $20 M.

Walker, $10.6 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Asdrubal Cabrera, $8.25 M.

Bartolo Colon, $7.25 M.

Lucas Duda, $6.725 M.

Alejandro De Aza, $5.75 M.

Antonio Bastardo, $5.375 M.

Addison Reed, $5.3 M.

Matt Harvey, $4.325 M.

Familia, $4.05 M (midpoint of arbitration figures).

Jerry Blevins, $4 M.

Ruben Tejada, $3 M.

Juan Lagares, $2.5 M.

Jenrry Mejia, $960.556 K.

Josh Edgin, $625 K.

Travis d’Arnaud, $600 K.

Kevin Plawecki, $600 K.

Wilmer Flores, $600 K.

Michael Conforto, $600 K.

Jacob deGrom, $600 K.

Noah Syndergaard, $600 K.

Steven Matz, $600 K.

Zack Wheeler, $600 K.

Erik Goeddel, $600 K.

Hansel Robles, $600 K.

Sean Gilmartin, $600 K.

FLORES HAS ANOTHER ROLE:  In addition to backing up Wright at third, Walker at second and Asdrubal at shortstop, he’ll also do the same for Duda at first base although he has never played the position before on the major league level.

Michael Cuddyer had the role last year. Plawecki has limited experience at first in the minors.

ROBLES HEARING NOT SET:  Robles’ appeal for a three-game suspension levied for a quick pitch thrown at the head of Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp, Sept. 30, is expected to be heard during spring training.

In addition, Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension for his late slide that broke Tejada’s right leg, has also not been heard.

 

 

Jan 20

Top Ten Mets’ Issues Heading Into Spring Training

With spring training five weeks away, and a major storm due in two days, what better time to examine the top ten issues facing the Mets? Some projections have the Mets breezing back to the World Series, but I don’t see it. Things won’t be that easy for them. They never are. Other projections have them dropping off to 84 victories, which might not be enough for them to reach the playoffs.

I’m pegging them for at least 85, with the added expectation the Washington Nationals will be better.

1. What is the temperature of this team after its World Series run?

A. I recently wrote these guys are professional athletes and shouldn’t need a manager to motivate them. That being said, after 2006 the Mets entered spring training thinking all they needed to do was show up. Consequently, they didn’t do much to plug their holes, of which there were several, mostly pitching related. You, of course, remember the collapse of 2007? What Mets’ follower doesn’t? Actually, that bothered me more than the Carlos Beltran strikeout. The Mets don’t have to look any further than David Wright to know these opportunities are fleeting.

DeGROM: Can he get to 20? (GETTY)

DeGROM: Can he get to 20? (GETTY)

2. How strong is the bullpen?

A: This is the prevailing issue to me. It appears they are banking on the returns of Jerry Blevins and Jennry Mejia, and if Hansel Robles can develop. They’ll have Addison Reed for the full season, and hopefully Jeurys Familia learned something after taking his World Series lumps. We shall see. Bartolo Colon will go to the pen once Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list. It doesn’t matter what power hitting outfielder they might find in the next five weeks (I’m betting none), if their bullpen is shaky then so are the Mets’ chances.

3. How healthy is Wright?

A: Wright is already in Port St. Lucie. Who wasn’t expecting that? Wright finished the season feeling strong, but that was after two months of playing time. He’s preparing himself for at least six months of playing time. He’ll have a special routine before each game. It will be interesting to see how Terry Collins carves out his playing time.

4. Who’ll be in center field?

A: My pick is Juan Lagares because I don’t see them bringing back Yoenis Cespedes. He’s still in play, but I’m not betting on it. Let Lagares run with the opportunity.

5. Will any of the starters have innings or pitch-count restrictions?

A: Obviously, Wheeler will have some. Perhaps the same goes for Steven Matz, but Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard should be fine. If there are restrictions, hopefully the Mets will have learned from last year with Harvey. They Mets are touting their young pitching, as well they should. But, either Harvey or deGrom must make a leap toward 20 wins. Here’s hoping Harvey pitches with a massive chip on his shoulder.

6. Will the double-play combination mesh?

A: Collins has a new double-play combination of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. This involves timing and positioning and things don’t happen over night. Collins still needs to find time for Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Dilson Herrera. Collins needs to give them all a chance to work together so there will be no surprises. A lot is banking on this.

7. Who’ll be the catcher?

A: The Mets like both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, but will have to decide on one and possibly move to trade the other. Among other things, d’Arnaud has to improve his throwing. After all, the base runners are trying to steal second base and not center field. The guess here is d’Arnaud will open the season as the starter, but Collins needs to have a defined platoon in mind.

8. How strong is the bench?

A: As of now, Plawecki, Flores, Tejada and Alejandro De Aza are the main figures coming off the bench. I prefer Lagares gets a chance to win the center field job outright, but if there is a platoon I hope it is something definitive. Flores is expected to relieve Wright at third, and I wonder what Collins’ thoughts are on that?

9. Are hot starts in order for left-handed power?

A: If Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson don’t hit coming out of the gate there will be rumblings about the big-popper the Mets didn’t sign. We can probably expect that anyway, hot starts by Duda and Granderson will alleviate pressure from the rest of the offense, especially if Wright doesn’t hit for power early on.

10. Who’ll be the big surprises?

A: A lot is expected from Michael Conforto. Hopefully, he’ll live up to the billing even if he doesn’t become Ted Williams right away. But, what about Brandon Nimmo? Isn’t it time for him to make a statement, even if it is, “I’ll see you this summer.” On the mound, the Mets are high on Rafael Montero. Can he become a viable bullpen presence coming out of spring training?

 

 

Dec 17

Bringing Back Colon No-Brainer For Mets

The Mets had a handful of decisions to make this off-season, and bringing back Bartolo Colon was no-brainer. Sure, he’s 42, but he also won 14 games, made 31 starts and pitched strong in the playoffs. He won’t make 30 starts in 2016, but even so it is worth it to give him $7.25 million for next year.

The money is worth it for a lot of reasons:

COLON: Worth it. (AP)

COLON: Worth it. (AP)

* He’ll be a reliable stop-gap as the fifth starter to replace Jon Niese until Zack Wheeler is brought up in late June or July. And, if for some reason Wheeler’s return is delayed Colon can always go back into the relation.

* Colon’s work in the bullpen in the playoffs proved valuable and gives the Mets a reliable option as a long reliever.

* Colon is an invaluable asset of information to the Mets’ young core of starters. Even Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and even Matt Harvey can learn from him.

* And finally, if he does well until Wheeler comes back, he might be attractive to a contender at the trade deadline. You never know.

The $7.25 million the Mets will give him will be a bargain if he gives him a year they are hoping for.

 

Dec 11

Wright Welcomes Walker To Mets

This hardly comes as a surprise, but David Wright was the first to welcome Neil Walker to the Mets. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the former Pirate said Wright called him, even before the Pirates and Mets.

WALKER: Wright welcomes him. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

WALKER: Wright welcomes him. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Wright called to wish him well and offer advice and support in making the move to New York, which can be slightly more intimidating to live in than Pittsburgh.

“I guess that kind of shows what kind of guy he is,” Walker told the Post-Gazette. “Talking to David, it seems like a very invited and open-arms kind of situation over there. As we’ve seen in Pittsburgh, that carries a lot of weight when you’re talking about team camaraderie and chemistry and all that.”

Walker became a trade target with the Ben Zobrist signing fell through. He’ll replace Daniel Murphy at second and can also back-up Wright at third if necessary. The trade is probably harder for Walker than it would be a younger player because he’s been in the Pittsburgh organization for 12 years. Walker’s first impression is to look at this with an open mind.

“It’ll be exciting,” Walker said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys work and watching these guys and in spring training, getting to know them.

“We all saw how capable they are of competing and reaching their goal. “Seems like they’re probably not done looking for more pieces. … It’s really exciting to see the work that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and [manager] Terry [Collins] and the team are doing right now.”

The Mets have a stable of young power arms, and to a lesser degree so do the Pirates. The Mets are on the cusp, just as the Pirates have been for the past three years.

“I guess I can compare it to playing behind Gerrit Cole and playing behind Francisco Liriano,” Walker said when asked about the Mets core of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Unlike Jon Niese, who took a parting shot at the Mets’ defense, Walker had a group text with his former teammates.

“It was sad,” Walker said. “A lot of us were somewhat prepared for this to happen either this year, last year or next year. We kind of saw the writing on the wall, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”

However, winning makes everything better.

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