Oct 05

How Mets Answered Preseason Questions

Like all teams, the Mets had questions entering spring training. The Mets, of course, had more than most. At that time I listed the top ten questions facing the 2012 Mets. Let’s take a look back at how the season answered those questions. Some were in the positive, others not.

1) QUESTION: To what degree will the Wilpon’s financial problems impact the Mets?  

ANSWER: Did you see any new faces of consequence added at the trade deadline? Nope, I didn’t think so. Despite a strong first half, the Mets had issues – notably the bullpen – which they did not address at the end of July. Failing to improve the team, the Mets spiraled down in the second half. While the Mets received a favorable verdict in the Madoff case – they have two more years before they have to pay off – it will not induce GM Sandy Alderson to significantly enter the free agent market. The Mets spent $100 million this year on player salaries and don’t expect them to pay much more than that in 2013.

2) QUESTION: What will we get from Johan Santana?

ANSWER: Actually more than anticipated, including the first no-hitter in franchise history. There remains speculation throwing 134 pitches in that game might have derailed him. Even though there were no arm issues, Santana did lose his command and struggled in the second half before being shut down with an injury. The Mets are on the hook for $31 million more to Santana next year, including a buyout.

3) QUESTION: How long will David Wright remain a Met?

ANSWER: Well, he’s still here and Alderson said retaining him will be an offseason priority. Because of a good first half Wright’s name didn’t come up at the trade deadline as Jose Reyes’ did the year before. Wright proved to the Mets his durability this season and had a good season, hitting .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. How much better could it have been had he not slumped trying to carry the team in the second half?

4) QUESTION: Which Mike Pelfrey will we see?

ANSWER: He was good while he lasted, but was shutdown early with an injury and underwent surgery to his elbow. Pelfrey might not be ready until May or June, making it highly unlikely for the Mets to tender him a contract despite Terry Collins’ urging. After a seemingly breakthrough 2010 season, Pelfrey regressed dramatically last year. Overall, Pelfrey has not lived up to expectations. The only way I see him staying with the Mets if he were to re-sign with them at a discount, but with Scott Boras his agent, don’t count on it.

5) QUESTION: What is the configuration of the bullpen?

ANSWER: That was supposed to be Alderson’s priority last winter, but it wasn’t to be as the pen factored greatly in the second-half swoon. Frank Francisco was the primary closer, but finished the season with tendinitis. Bobby Parnell pitched considerably better later in the season and will likely enter spring training in a set-up role if Francisco is healthy. The Mets received promising production from lefties Josh Edgin and Robert Carson. Look for Jon Rauch to be a part of the housecleaning.

6) QUESTION: Is Ruben Tejada the answer as Jose Reyes’ replacement?

ANSWER: That’s still up in the air over the long haul, but for now Tejada is the right fit. Tejada has a great glove, and his .289 average was better than one could have expected. With other pressing needs, Tejada showed enough to where the Mets don’t have to shop for a shortstop this winter.

7) QUESTION: Can Daniel Murphy make it at second base?

I don’t think we’ll see the second coming of Wally Backman, let alone Ryne Sandberg or Roberto Alomar. Murphy’s range could be better, but he showed promise this summer that the position isn’t a lost cause for him. He was less awkward around the bag and made most of the plays. His footwork on the double-play needs to get better. Overall, he showed enough to where the Mets don’t need to sign a second baseman in the offseason.

8) QUESTION: How healthy is Ike Davis?

ANSWER: There was speculation the virus was a contributor to a poor first half, but he refutes that notion. Not wanting to shatter his confidence, and probably moreso that there weren’t other alternatives, the Mets didn’t send him down when he hovered under .200. Davis responded with a strong second half and finished with over 30 homers.

9) QUESTION: What’s the make up of the rotation?

ANSWER: It changed considerably, beginning with Pelfrey’s injury. Dillon Gee and Santana also went down. Chris Young was brought in and gave them over 100 innings. The positive developments were Jon Niese taking another step and the emergence of Matt Harvey. Most positive of all was R.A. Dickey, who won 20 games to become a Cy Young Award candidate. Dickey has gone from journeyman to an offseason priority to be re-signed. 

10) QUESTION: Will it ever happen for Jason Bay with the Mets?

ANSWER: The newest theory is Bsy’s concussion last year caused him to be sluggish at the plate. It’s only speculation. A greater speculation is it won’t happen for Bay, who has given the Mets nothing for the $66 million they’ll pay him. Not even moving in the fences helped Bay. The Mets are just counting the days until he’s off the books.

Sep 21

Current Mets’ State Illustrates Why They Didn’t Bring Back Reyes

The Miami Marlins are in for the weekend, and with them comes Jose Reyes. Now that the season is dwindling down to a precious few games, I ask: Would the Mets season been significantly different had they re-signed Reyes?

I don’t see how that is possible after last night.

REYES: He wouldn't be smiling now.

With the way the Mets are heading, by the time they are competitive again Reyes will be on the downside of his career. The Mets had to have made that self-examination in their thought process. How could they not have?

On paper, the Marlins opened the season a better team than the Mets, with or without adding Reyes.

The teams have six games remaining to determine last place, which no looks like a foregone conclusion.

Reyes will finish with a superior career than Ruben Tejada, but the latter is a better fit for the Mets, and it is based on economics. The Mets couldn’t afford to give Reyes the deal the Marlins did and then expect to re-sign David Wright. Re-signing R.A. Dickey wasn’t even an issue then.

As it is, the Mets will be hard pressed to bring them back despite receiving a favorable court ruling in the Madoff scandal. The Mets won’t have to pay nearly the penalty they could have and get three years before they have to start paying anything. Outside of a clean verdict – which never would have happened – the Wilpons couldn’t have asked for a better deal.

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Aug 26

Ruben Tejada Scolded For Not Hustling

Production comes and goes. It is streaky. What should never be streaky is hustle. No matter the record, no matter the score, a player owes it to himself, his teammates and the paying customers to bust his butt.

That’s what’s so disappointing yesterday about Ruben Tejada, who not only failed to wear an athletic supporter – and being a shortstop of all things – and not running out a grounder.

Terry Collins and David Wright – this is why he should be named captain – reprimanded Tejada, who, in his first season as a starter should be running at all times.

The Mets aren’t going to have a winning record, but it they are ever going to, the culture of losing and apathy must be changed. It has to some degree, but not totally as Tejada proved. Tejada should be benched today to make sure the message sinks in.

There’s never any excuse for not hustling.

 

May 07

Don’t Go Pining For Jose Reyes In Wake of Ruben Tejada Injury

Ruben Tejada has a strained right quad and within the last hour the Mets placed him on the disabled list. It looks as if they’ll play with Justin Turner until Ronny Cedeno comes off the disabled list.

TEJADA: Headed for DL (AP)

Already there have been postings about how the Mets now miss Jose Reyes. Where’s the news in that?

Tejada is injured and Reyes is gone, and let’s just say it was a mutual decision by both parties. We knew something would eventually happen that would bring Reyes back into the picture. He would either get hurt or struggle, or Reyes would go on a tear.

Well, it has happened. The Mets have kept it together well with Reyes gone, better than many expected. No sense in going back there as Reyes is not coming back.

 

May 07

Ruben Tejada Injury Provides Test As Mets Go To Philly

Ruben Tejada has a strained right calf and will be replaced in the line-up tonight with the Mets in Philadelphia. Justin Turner is at shortstop, but the DL for Tejada is contingent on MRI results.

The Mets are waiting as they start taking batting practice.

The Mets’ resiliency will again be tested this young season as it was when Andres Torres went down, David Wright missed several games with a fractured pinkie, Mike Pelfrey being lost for the season, Jason Bay out again and Ike Davis struggling at the plate.

That’s a lot of things going wrong early, but nothing severe enough to derail this season.

Things are never easy for the Mets and haven’t been since 2007. And, it is never easy in Philadelphia, and won’t be this week with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee starting for the Phillies.

Still, with injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Phillies aren’t the same team that has lived on top of the NL East the past five years. In an odd quirk of scheduling, the Mets are already making their second trip into Philadelphia. They won two of three the first time, but who doesn’t expect a different Phillies team this week?

I am not and will not say the Mets are a championship caliber team this early in the season. The questions they had to open the season remain and with Tejada’s injury there are more.

Even so, the Mets are playing with a grit and intensity nobody expected and that’s something to build on. Nobody knows how this season will unfold, but there have been several unexpected developments saying there could be fun baseball this summer.

Earlier I wrote the last thing the Mets wanted was to be buried deep in the NL East by the time the weather warmed and the kids got out of school. The Mets needed more than anything to give their fan base a reason to care about this summer and they’ve done so.

ON DECK: Tonight’s Philly Lineup.