Dec 02

Mets Non-Tender Valdespin; A Good Move

What should have been done months ago finally occurred today when the New York Mets non-tendered the moody and limited-talented outfielder Jordany Valdespin, making him a free agent.

If some team is stupid enough to sign Valdespin and he becomes a star, then so be it because he never was going to do anything with the Mets.

VALDESPIN: Gone.

VALDESPIN: Gone.

Valdespin supposedly had a flair for the dramatic, but in reality he was simply a showboat with a volatile temperament.

Valdespin was suspended for a lack of hustle, but things boiled over for him when he posed after a meaningless homer in a blowout loss to the Pirates and then became aggravated when he was hit by a pitch the following day and complained saying his teammates didn’t have his back.

Manager Terry Collins didn’t seem too upset when Valdespin was plunked citing an old school mentality. Collins later lamely tried to justify Valdespin’s actions by his upbringing and background, and praised his emotional spark, which everybody could plainly see was a “look-at-me’’ scream.

Not soon after, Collins gave Valdespin a week tryout at second base, which he failed miserably and it was clear he had no future with the Mets.

On May 13, I wrote the Mets would be better off without Valdespin, and during spring training – noting his me-first attitude – I wrote how he was throwing away his career.

David Wright, as team captain, was the only Met to support Valdespin on the record after the beaning incident, but it was lukewarm at best. Several teammates off the record said Valdespin was generally hated in the clubhouse.

One of the last things a young, building team such as the Mets need is a divisive presence in their clubhouse, either on the major league or minor league level.

The topper came when he was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis scandal. Evidently, his performance wasn’t enhanced enough.

If I seem harsh on Valdespin, it is because I am. Valdespin was given a chance to play major league baseball because of his raw physical ability and he threw it away.

Nobody should feel sorry for him.

The Mets also non-tendered reliever Scott Atchison and shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

Nov 26

Don’t Be Surprised If Ruben Tejada Remains Shortstop Starter

Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.

Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

TEJADA: Could remain starter.

The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.

I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.

It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.

Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.

Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.

Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.

Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.

There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.

The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.

Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.

If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.

ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.

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.

Nov 12

Mets Don’t Figure To Be Dealing A GM Meetings; Lose Byrd To Phillies

On the day the New York Mets extended manager Terry Collins’ contract, GM Sandy Alderson said he had the resources to make a $100-million plus deal.

ALDERSON: Whats's his budget? (AP)

ALDERSON: Whats’s his budget? (AP)

Not surprisingly, he backed off that stance at GM meetings in Orlando, telling ESPN: “We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright. Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again – not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building.

Just how much the Mets will spend Alderson didn’t say, but for a team in search of offense, it was interesting to see him pass on bringing back Marlon Byrd, who reportedly reached a two-year, $16-million deal with the Phillies.

Undoubtedly, the decision was based more on finances, and there was nothing wrong with Byrd’s clubhouse presence – or production, for that matter – that would chase away the Mets.

Why then did they pass?

Byrd, 36, rejuvenated his career this summer with the Mets and Pittsburgh, batting .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBI. That’s the kind of production the Mets crave, but considering his 50-game drug suspension the previous season, did the Mets believe it was for real?

Byrd was unquestionably motivated to turn around his career, but at that age the Mets must wonder was 2013 a fluke? One year with incentives with an option would have been acceptable, but two years made Alderson pause. It was the same thing with Jerry Hairston the previous winter. Alderson knew Byrd would want a multi-year deal, and considering he made less than $1 million last year, the thinking was he’d get $8 million for two years at most. Not $16 million.

Byrd, a 12-year veteran returns to Philadelphia, where he began his career. He also returns to a park more conducive to producing higher power numbers.

Alderson appears to want to take Boston’s approach by going with several middle-tier free agents and not relying on the super bat. However, considering what Byrd got, just how much are middle-tier free agents worth?

“I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players,’’ Alderson said of $100-million packages. “It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.’’

The Mets were burned by extending multi-year contracts to players injured, non-productive or too old in their careers. Many of those deals with given by Omar Minaya, but it must be remembered the Mets had a better core than and these players were expected to be the final pieces.

However, things didn’t work out over the long haul with Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Frank Francisco, Scott Schoeneweis, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, and the list goes on.

Alderson has cleared the payroll and his reluctance to get involved with a $100-million package, or even something like the $66-million given Bay is understandable.

Considering the big picture with Byrd, that might have been a good decision. That could be based on who Alderson does sign, assuming he signs somebody.

 

Nov 02

Mets Gambled And Lost On Johan Santana; End Era By Buying Out Contract

The New York Mets took care of business and officially parted ways with often-injured Johan Santana when they paid a $5.5-million buyout Friday, and the classy left-hander, who always wanted to do more – sometimes to his detriment – did the same and thanked the franchise and its fans for their support.

In a statement, Santana said: “I want to thank the Mets organization, my teammates, and, of course, a big thank you to Mets fans, who have been behind me from day one and stood by me through all the good and bad.’’

SANTANA: Era ends.

SANTANA: Era ends.

It was a noble gesture from Santana, something he didn’t have to do after completion of the six-year, $137.5-million contract that made him the highest-paid Mets’ pitcher.

The Mets have not ruled out bringing back Santana at a low-cost deal – which would be on top of the buyout – and toward that end, the left-hander lobbied on his behalf.

“I am not sure what the future holds, as this is all new to me,’’ Santana continued, “but I have every intention of pitching in 2014 and beyond and I am certainly keeping all my options open.’’

After losing in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and kicking away a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining in 2007, and in dire need of pitching, the Mets gambled big on Santana. They sent four prospects to Minnesota – one of them turning out to be All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez – to acquire the already damaged left-hander. Then they signed him at the time to the richest contract in franchise history.

Santana became available because both the Yankees and Red Sox backed off, so in essence the Mets were bidding against themselves, and arguably could have had him for less. Subsequently, they issued a contract they didn’t have to at that price. Clearly, they mis-read the market. The deal turned out to symbolize then-GM Omar Minaya’s tenure that included a run of lucrative, underachieving contracts.

Outside a 15-7 record with a league-leading 2.53 ERA in 34 starts in 2008, his first season with the Mets, Santana never completed a full year in New York and didn’t pitch at all in 2011 and 2013 because of shoulder injuries. If a full season is considered 34 starts, Santana left 95 starts on the table. That is more glaring than his production of 46-34, a 3.18 ERA and the only no-hitter in franchise history.

That no-hitter came in just his 12th start after rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. To this day, manager Terry Collins laments letting him throw 134 pitches.

Ironically, it was a tainted no-hitter because a blown call on what should have been an extra-base hit for Carlos Beltran was ruled a foul ball. If that call is made correctly, then Santana doesn’t throw that many pitches, then, who really knows?

Santana made only 10 more starts for the Mets before he was shut down in August of 2012. In spring training of 2013, in an angered response to GM Sandy Alderson’s comments he didn’t report in shape, Santana went against his prescribed rehab routine and without Collins’ knowledge, threw off the mound and aggravated the injury.

In another dose of irony, the pitcher often fueled by pride was done in by the same. Santana re-tore the capsule and underwent a second surgery.

To this day, Santana never acknowledged his mistake of throwing off the mound, and Anderson never admitted whether his dig at the left-hander’s condition was meant as motivation and backfired.

Either way, at least publicly, both sides are open for a return. But, don’t bet on it.