Oct 25

Mets’ GM search in second phase

Mets fans might have celebrated hollow victories over the weekend when the Yankees and Phillies were eliminated from the postseason on consecutive nights, the final out in each game coming on a called third strike. Alex Rodriguez one night; Ryan Howard the other.

Of course, rooting against the Yankees and Phillies is futile work, as it does nothing toward the improvement of the Mets.

However, the most important development lately has been the narrowing of the GM candidates to Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson.

Byrnes will interview with ownership, including Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, today, and Alderson will be on stage tomorrow. Both are highly regarded and will inherit a team with a high payroll and a myriad of issues.

Neither will be able to turn the program around in a year, and such a promise hasn’t been made by either in the first round of interviews.

Both GM candidates indicate Wally Backman is on their list of prospective managerial candidates, which parallels the Wilpon’s thinking. That is not to say Backman is a given, but he will get an honest shot. There are several things about Backman that concern me, most is the perception he is the Wilpon pick and he’s being forced on to the new general manager. My preference for Backman is to be promoted to bench coach and work under an experienced manager.

The new GM will inherit a team slightly below .500, meaning there is reason to be optimistic about improvement should all the pieces fall into place, notably the healthy returns of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran, continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, and an encore from RA Dickey.┬áThe Mets aren’t void of talent, and improvement should occur, but they are still behind the Phillies and Braves, but those teams have their own issues.

A GM decision could be made as soon the off day following Game 2, which is a travel day in the World Series. As written here before, the GM candidates have their thinking on the manager, so that process should turn around rather quickly.

The first order of offseason business might night be conducted by assistant GM John Ricco and Jeff Wilpon, and that would be the re-signing of reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The Mets have until Oct. 31 to re-sign Takahashi, otherwise he can become a free agent.

Takahashi did everything the Mets asked of him last season as a starter or in a variety of bullpen roles, but the left-hander prefers to start. The Mets could promise him a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training or they could overpay to keep him in the pen.

Reportedly, Takahashi is seeking a two-year deal and he’s worth it based on what he did in 2010.

Oct 02

What will happen with Takahashi?

TAKAHASHI: Very valuable

Personally, I’d like him back in the same role next season, but I have to wonder.

Takahashi is a free agent this winter and wants to be a starter, and those starts against the Yankees and Phillies only reinforce that thought in his mind. His numbers are superior coming out of the bullpen than as a starter. However, they are representative numbers that could improve if he worked at that role. He gave the Mets just under six innings when he started, which undoubtedly would improve if he’s stretched out.

The soon-to-be-departed regime likes him out of the bullpen, and whether he stays or goes could be dependent on what the incoming regime believes. If the new GM and manager are adamant with Takahashi out of the bullpen, I can see him bolting for the bucks, and with the year he’s had, he’ll get them.

However, if the new team is willing to try him as a starter and promises him a shot in spring training, the Mets might be able to retain him.

Personally, I agree with Minaya and Manuel and like him out of the pen. He’s excelled in every role the Mets have tried him at and he’s uniquely valuable. He gives the Mets a versatile presence they haven’t had since Darren Oliver, who was one of the most important members of the 2006 staff.

When he started he usually was strong the first time or two through the order, but the opposition figured him out. That’s Manuel’s concern and it is a valid one.

Sep 20

Where to plug the holes?

I’m looking at the Mets’ payroll for 2011 and see around $130 million is already spent, much of it on players who could make a minimal impact, if at all. Money will be spent on Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Francisco Rodriguez, but what will the return be?

Castillo will get his money, even if he doesn’t play full time at second base. This is one of the few spots where the Mets could upgrade. They also must upgrade their rotation, bullpen and bench.

Every other position, I see, is already accounted for.

I see Ike Davis and Josh Thole as building blocks. Even though they could get something in return, I don’t see them dealing David Wright and Jose Reyes. Jason Bay, assuming he’s healthy, will come back in left field.

Beltran is virutally untradeable with an $18.5 million contract for next year (the Mets would have to pick up most of it in a deal) and having been injured for much of the past two years. He’ll be back and Angel Pagan will move to right, that is, unless the new manager can convince Beltran to switch from center.

The Mets don’t figure to spend heavily, so they’ll hope for a repeat from RA Dickey, and continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese. They might pick up a middle-tier arm to minimally off-set the projected loss of Johan Santana.

And, if they can’t shed K-Rod’s contract, they’ll hope he’ll be sound following thumb surgery. They’ll try, but might not be able to re-sign Hisanori Takahashi, and they’ll hope Bobby Parnell further develops. They’ll swap out their other bullpen pieces with mediocrity and hope for the best.

They’ll hope from the best from Bay and Beltran, hope Wright and Reyes have better seasons, and that Pagan wasn’t a fluke.

It really doesn’t matter who they bring in here as GM and manager, their hands are tied with their existing contracts and the way the roster is configured.

They don’t figure to be much better, if anything, other than they are today. They will bide their time into they clear some salary off the books for the 2012 season.

Sep 10

Missed opportunities ….

You’re a Mets’ fan, so you’ll watch the final games of another disappointing season. Some will watch with the morbid fascination of a rubbernecker passing a freeway accident. Others will watch because its your team and you won’t see them again until April.

Others will try to watch with an analytical eye towards next year. In that regard, there have been several interesting story lines to watch, but they’ve been ignored by the Mets.

1) Carlos Beltran: The Mets missed an opportunity to try Beltran at one of the c0rners in preparation for 2011. He’s impossible to deal because of his contract and injury history, and Angel Pagan has proven to be a better center fielder. This is being shortsighted, typical of the Mets in so many ways. What would have been the harm in trying him in right for a few games? The more information, the better. And, I don’t buy that is a move you do in spring training. Beltran is an accomplished outfielder; he could’ve moved relatively easily.

Jerry Manuel doesn’t have the backbone in the best of times to do this move, so with his lame duck status he doesn’t need the aggravation.

2) Oliver Perez: The Mets hate Oliver Perez and Oliver Perez hates the Mets. The only way the Mets rid themselves of that contract is to see if he has any trade value. You can’t do that with him buried in the pen. Get over it, Perez won this battle. It’s time for the Mets to salvage something. Their only hope is if he’ll find something pitching in the Mexican Leagues.

The Mets and Manuel went eye-to-eye with Perez on this, but there was no way they could have won. Since they wouldn’t eat the contract, they needed to find another use for Perez and they didn’t. Perez deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but Manuel and Minaya didn’t handle this well, either.

3) Hisanori Takahashi: The Mets like Takahashi as a reliever, but Takahashi fancies himself as a starter. Takahashi did well in that role in several opportunities, enough to where he’ll attract some attention. Takahashi holds the cards in this, and can you picture him staying when there’s money to be made as a starter? Nope.

With Francisco Rodriguez out and perhaps questionable for next year, the Mets could need a closer. The closer in waiting is Bobby Parnell, he of the 100 mph., fastball. The Mets have control of Parnell, not Takahashi. Parnell is the one with the closer’s future. He should’ve been given the opportunity to close. Instead, in this lost season Manuel thought Takahashi gave him a better chance to win a handful of games. Big deal. This was an opportunity lost to learn something.

There comes a time in a season when the competitive fires are doused and the playoffs stop becoming a dream. For the Mets, the end started with the West Coast trip after the All-Star break, with the finishing touches put on after losing consecutive series to Philadelphia and Atlanta.

From that point on, the season was lost and the balance should have been directed toward looking ahead to next year.

Who knows? Perez is probably a lost cause, but the answers on Beltran and Parnell could have been useful.

Aug 25

Mets Chat Room; what’s to build on?

Game #126 vs. Marlins

Jerry Manuel still thinks this team can put a run together, and for the most will manage that way for the rest of the season. It is why Hisanori Takahashi is being looked at as a closer before Bobby Parnell. It is we’re not seeing Nick Evans or Chris Carter, but more of Jeff Francoeur.

At 63-62, the Mets are sure to eclipse last season’s 70-92, but the real goal is .500 or better. You see, Manuel has pride and it’s important to him to go out this year with a winning record. Not for the next job interview, because he’s already had two shots.

When a season is reduced to statistical goals, such as 30 homers for David Wright, 20 for Ike Davis and 15 wins for Mike Pelfrey it is about salvaging lost dreams and hopes.

And, that hot streak that has never come? If it does, maybe it will be a reminder of when the dreams were fresh.