Nov 18

Ruben Tejada Has Grievance With Mets

I have no idea whether the New York Mets deliberately delayed recalling shortstop Ruben Tejada last September, nor do I care. ESPN reported Tejada’s agents are considering filing a grievance against the Mets because the move delays Tejada’s free-agency eligibility until after the 2017.

That’s three years from now, and there’s a better than reasonable chance Tejada won’t be with the team by then. The advantage in delaying Tejada’s eligibility is it could make him easier to trade, something the Mets would do faster than it takes the moody shortstop to sometimes run to first base.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

TEJADA: A moment of hustle.

That Tejada would rather spend his energy fighting with the Mets on something they had a right to do instead of trying to improve his game, shows where his head is. Actually, the Mets could hasten his free agency by releasing him now, but they are holding out somebody might bite.

The bottom line is Tejada has been a disappointment, both in the field and at the plate. Tejada has been a thorn to manager Terry Collins by his lackadaisical attitude, which included not reporting to spring training earlier than he hoped two springs ago. Tejada had no obligation to do so, but considering he went into spring training with the inside track on the job vacated by Jose Reyes.

It showed disinterest on Tejada’s part. Luckily for him, he salvaged his season by hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. It appeared Tejada could fill the void, but last year he had miserable start defensively and at the plate. He was later injured and went to the minor leagues. Tejada was activated, but showed little signs of improvement and ended the season breaking his leg.

If any party has a grievance here, it is the Mets for how Tejada has performed.

The Mets are attempting to upgrade at shortstop, but are out of it financially with Stephen Drew. The Yankees re-signed Brendan Ryan Monday, which takes a reasonably priced defender off the market.

Reportedly, the Mets are targeting Jhonny Peralta, who served a 50-game suspension for failing the MLB’s drug policy. Peralta is a lifetime .268 hitter with a .330 on-base percentage and has averaged 18 homers and 82 RBI during is 12-year career with Cleveland and Detroit. In seven of those seasons he struck out more than 100 times, and had two more years with 95 or more.

However, those numbers are suspect because of the PED infraction, and must also be looked at skeptically when considering what he might hit at spacious Citi Field.

The two-time All-Star made $6-million last year with the Tigers.

Peralta, if his numbers weren’t a fluke, would instantly upgrade the Mets’ at-times anemic offense. His defense isn’t as good as Tejada’s, but when Tejada is playing with his head in the clouds, his defense isn’t red hot, either.

Sep 27

Tact Not A Virtue Of Mets’ Terry Collins

Tact is not a strong suit of New York Mets manager Terry Collins when it comes to dealing with the media.

Collins has had several abrasive moments this season, notably when he said he didn’t care what the fans thought during in the Jordany Valdespin episode. Everything about the Valdespin incident was handled poorly, which I partially attribute to Collins’ lame duck status. Collins immediately spun into damage control and it didn’t hurt when the team started playing better soon after.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

Then there was his dumbfounded denial of ever hearing of Matt Harvey’s sore forearm that led to his elbow injury. The manager gets an injury report from the training staff whenever a player has treatment, so Collins knew. Denial about injuries is not the way to go.

He’s had two more the past few weeks.

The first was when Ruben Tejada went down with a broken leg in the ninth inning of the Mets’ furious rally to beat San Francisco. Tejada was injured in the top of the ninth, yet finished the inning on the field. There was no announcement in the press box about the injury, and also no surprise when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

After the game, toward the end of the questioning session, a reporter asked how Tejada was feeling.

“He broke his leg,’’ snapped Collins, in a demeanor that elicited muffled laughter because nobody knew and the impression was the manager was being sarcastic.

Collins’ first words after every game, to alleviate any confusion, should be an updated injury report. The questions will be asked, so get it out of the way. The reporter asked an innocuous question because the Mets made no announcement and Collins didn’t volunteer the injury.

Lastly, last night came his barbed response to the question whether he would consider giving Dillon Gee an inning so he could reach the 200-inning milestone, something the pitcher deeply covets.

“Why?’’ Collins said. “I mean, seriously? I don’t think so.’’

He never said why he wouldn’t.

Collins was accused in his managerial stint with the Angels of not being in touch with his players. How could he not know this was important to Gee? If the concern was injury related, then say so. Or, he could have said something along the lines of “that’s 200 innings as a starter, it would cheapen the milestone to give him an inning as a reliever.’’

Instead, Collins came off as condescending. He’s been around long enough to know the question would be asked, so he should have had a better answer. The appearance was he was surprised, and bothered, by the question.

If all else fails, he could have simply said, “I don’t know. That’s something I will have to discuss with Dillon.’’

It is expected Collins will get an extension. Hopefully, he’ll come back more tactful and less sensitive.

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Sep 04

Could Be Time For Mets To Cut Tejada Loose

A team will often speak to a player through the media, which the New York Mets appear to be doing with the potentially talented, but often moody and sullen shortstop Ruben Tejada.

Appearing on WFAN, GM Sandy Alderson said it was “like pulling teeth’’ to get him to do extra work, which is absurd.

I, for one, will simply yawn when the Mets decide they’ve had enough of Tejada’s sorry act and cut him clean.

Remember, the Mets are a building team trying to establish a new culture, and that culture doesn’t include not hustling; not thinking about what you’re supposed to do when the ball is hit to you or about the hitting situation; or laziness.

What Tejada doesn’t understand, or care about, is the coaches are there for him. If he wants to field extra ground balls or work in the batting cage, all he has to do is ask.

I won’t insult David Wright or any other hard-working Met by comparing him to Tejada.

I wrote the other day the Mets should play Tejada for the rest of the season, but I was clearly wrong. If management still believes after his lengthy stay in the minor leagues that Tejada’s head isn’t on straight, there should be no more chances.

The Mets need production from Tejada, not for his mood attitude to pollute the atmosphere and culture the Mets are trying to establish.

I don’t want to hear anything about Tejada having a rough childhood, or a language misunderstanding. Playing major league baseball is not a right, but an earned privilege.

If Tejada doesn’t want to put the work in, get rid of him. It’s not as if the Mets will be losing anything. There are dozens of players who would be eager to take his spot, and one of them could be better.

Alderson also said Matt Harvey’s injury will have the team dipping into the free-agent market, which is an obvious sign the Mets aren’t expecting him back. Alderson also said the injury, which is up to Harvey to decide on surgery, could force the Mets’ hand and bring up prospects Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom.

He didn’t say anything about innings counts.

Finally, it was reported the Mets will wait until the off-season before debating what to do with Davis.

Why?

The Mets have long known about Davis’ contractual status and should have an idea by know. Same with Tejada.

The winter isn’t that long.

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Apr 18

Will We See Alderson With The Chains Off?

ALDERSON: Playing Scrooge.

We have seen Sandy Alderson wear several hats during his short tenure as Mets’ general manager. Some results have been good, while others have been lacking.

Alderson gets high marks for ridding the Mets of the stagnant culture they had with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. He gets kudos for unloading the contracts of Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, and avoiding the payday of what would have been a big contract for R.A. Dickey.

For them, he received highly-rated prospects Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, both of whom could be factors this season.

It’s also a plus that he negotiated the buyout of Jason Bay – which eliminated a hovering distraction – and for letting Jose Reyes leave. The latter decision was good, although the methods could have been cleaner and more public relations sensitive.

Bay became expendable because he did not hit, and it didn’t matter that the Mets didn’t have a major league player ready to take his place. It will be interesting to see what Alderson does this winter if Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada don’t produce this summer.

Alderson has not done will in piecing together the bullpen and outfield, nor has he succeeded in building depth in the rotation is the wake of Johan Santana’s injury, Dickey’s departure and letting Mike Pelfrey go while arms were needed.

We have seen Alderson operating in several roles, but we have not yet seen him as a buyer. The Mets are promising they will have the resources this winter to enter the free-agent market.

Wherever Alderson has been – Oakland and San Diego – he’s operated with restraints. And, it has been that way in his stay with the Mets.

If you’re willing to drink more of the Kool-Aid and believe the Mets will be active this winter, you won’t be alone wondering what Alderson might accomplish.

If the first two weeks are any indication, he has a lot of shopping to do:

The Mets are two-deep in their rotation with Matt Harvey and Jon Niese, both of whom are being relied on to produce more than their current track records. Alderson has not brought up Wheeler for both economic and performance reasons. There’s no guarantee what he will do when he arrives. The Mets easily need at least two starters.

The bullpen remains a serious question. Most bullpens in today’s game are a patchwork creation and the Mets are no different. There will be arms available, but the better ones are more expensive.

The current outfield is wearing a Band-Aid when a tourniquet is required. Am I the only one who envisions an entirely different outfield next spring?

If Davis and Tejada continue to underachieve, to what degree will Alderson be patient with them? Does he chase other players, while at the same timing limiting his options in other areas?

These are the dilemmas and questions faced by a buyer, not someone who operates on the cheap. Will be finally see Alderson as a buyer? The first test will be in late July.

Apr 17

Ruben Tejada Not Proving To Be Answer At Shortstop

Replacing Jose Reyes was never going to be easy, but with Ruben Tejada’s fielding prowess if he could hit just a little that would be acceptable to the Mets. Perhaps that should read, “former fielding prowess.’’

TEJADA: What's the problem?

TEJADA: What’s the problem?

Trouble is, he’s not hitting or fielding. He’s not even just holding his own; he’s been poor at both, actually terrible. Tejada has committed six errors in 13 games – a pace for just under 80 – and the Mets have already lost a couple of games directly attributed to his defense. It matters little if David Wright believes he’s a Gold Glove caliber shortstop. What matters is if Tejada can catch the ball, and if he does, keep it out of the stands.

Both Tejada’s glove and arm have been erratic. It was a throwing error Tuesday night that opened the door for a late-inning collapse. His throwing has been especially poor. Is Tejada going Steve Sax or Chuck Knoblauch on us?

Yes, it was cold and miserable, and yes, the pitchers needed to regroup to get the following hitters, but that doesn’t change the fact Tejada’s defense is hurting the Mets and they have little answers.

They would like to bring up Omar Quintanilla, but would need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Wilmer Flores is on the 40-man roster, but the Mets don’t think he’s ready, otherwise a Flores-for-Tejada swap would be considered. The Mets certainly don’t want to bring up Flores to have him languish on the bench.

Neither Collins nor Tejada blamed the error totally on the weather, but both said it was a contributing factor because the cold made gripping the ball difficult. News Flash: It’s not going to get better tonight or tomorrow.

Blaming the weather might be easier to accept if Tejada hasn’t been so awful this season. What’s wrong with him? Was last year a fluke? Is there an injury we don’t know about?

Whatever the reason, his current play is unacceptable and wouldn’t be tolerated if the Mets had a ready backup. If Tejada continues at this rate and the Mets tank in the second half, perhaps they should consider force-feeding the position to Flores or go shortstop shopping in the offseason.

After all, according to the Mets they will be ready to spend and contend next season. They can’t be competitive with a hole on the left side of the infield. Will they need to add a shortstop to their list?

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