Nov 20

How The Market Is Shaping Up; Things Could Happen This Week

When will the New York Mets do something of consequence this off-season isn’t hard to imagine. If recent history is an indicator it likely won’t be until the market is defined, which comes after the Winter Meetings.

However, the week preceding Thanksgiving can get busy. Not much happens usually happens around Thanksgiving. There’s usually activity after the holiday leading up to the Winter Meetings and after until Christmas.

HUDSON: Returning West.

HUDSON: Returning West.

Then, more stuff gets done after the New Year with what’s left of the market leading up to spring training. That’s usually when the Mets have done their work.

So far, there’s been some interesting news, including LaTroy Hawkins signing with Colorado for $2.5 million. He’s somebody I was hoping the Mets would bring back before at 41 because he could still throw in the low-to-mid 90s and for his clubhouse presence.

Hawkins was an astute pick-up last year, and with Bobby Parnell coming off surgery, he would have filled a spot in the bullpen.

The Yankees brought back shortstop Brendan Ryan, who I touted for his defense. I’d still rather have him than Ruben Tejada. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens with Jhonny Peralta, who, as of now, would represent the Mets’ biggest splash in the market. Philadelphia brought back catcher Carlos Ruiz for two years, out-bidding the champion Red Sox.

Perhaps the most interesting acquisition is San Francisco signing Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million contract. The 38-year-old Hudson is coming off ankle surgery.

Hudson is the latest in several costly, and expensive, decisions the Giants have made the past few years. The first was signing Angel Pagan – whom the Mets gladly shipped out – to a four-year deal. Then, they extended Tim Lincecum’s contract two years for $35 million when there were no indications he’d be a hot commodity on the market.

However, the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 with pitching-based teams, so they are doing something right.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which Hudson clearly would be. However, Alderson has a history with Hudson when they were with Oakland and I was wondering if he at least reached out the pitcher.

Currently, agents and general managers are talking and posturing – that includes Alderson – but the market is still forming. Mostly, parameter dollar amounts have been exchanged. With the Mets there hasn’t been much in terms of specifics.

In addition to shortstop, the Mets need two starters, bullpen depth and a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Oct 03

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Starting Pitching Options

GM Sandy Alderson said the New York Mets have the resources to shop this winter. However, it is more likely they will opt for several mid-tier free agents rather than cash it in on one number, such as it might take for Bartolo Colon or Tim Lincecum.

Given that, here’s his shopping list for this winter, beginning with the starting pitching. I will address the bullpen, catchers and position players over the next few days.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

Everybody talks of the need for power, and I agree, but a bat is not as important as rounding out the rotation. History is dominated with slugging teams that didn’t win the World Series, or reach the playoffs.

When you consider the Mets’ postseason success, it has always been built on pitching over power.

With Matt Harvey a question, the free-agent market has several options of potential innings-eaters who could be had without breaking the bank, and I’m not talking about bringing back Johan Santana or Shaun Marcum, either.

While Alderson left the door open for Santana’s return, he likely said that as a courtesy. Santana is still rehabbing from a second surgery to repair a partially torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. The first surgery came in September 2010, but after a 19-month recovery, he blew out his shoulder in a hissy fit by making an unauthorized throwing session.

Santana underwent a second surgery April 2.

Safer options are bringing back Aaron Harang, whom the Mets hold an option for 2014, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Alderson didn’t dismiss either as a possibility earlier this week.

Bronson Arroyo has already expressed an interest in the Mets, so I suspect Alderson will contact him. Arroyo was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA while pitching 202 innings over 32 starts for the Reds.

He’ll be 37 in spring training and made $8.25 million last season. However, as a contender, Cincinnati could be justified that expenditure. That might not be the case with the Mets, but Arroyo is an innings horse, having pitched at least 199 in every year since 2005.

Personally, although he had a miserable season, I believe Phil Hughes could benefit from a change of scenery and the larger confines of Citi Field. He’s only 27 and two years ago won 16 games. In 2010, he won 18.

The Mets said they want to stay away from injury reclamation projects, but Toronto’s Josh Johnson is one of the most intriguing name on the list.

He recently had bone spurs removed from his elbow. A short-term contract loaded with incentives is the likely way to go. If you’re going to roll the dice on an injury, go with the soon-to-be 30 Johnson over Santana.

Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA for Toronto after consecutive down seasons with Miami. However, he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA while striking out 186 batters in 2010.

Sure, he’s a risk, but would you rather have the Mets call back Mike Pelfrey?

COMPLETE LIST

* Denotes club has option

Bronson Arroyo
Scott Baker
Erik Bedard
Nick Blackburn *
A.J. Burnett
Chris Capuano *
Chris Carpenter
Bruce Chen
Bartolo Colon
Aaron Cook
Jorge De La Rosa
Scott Feldman
Gavin Floyd
Jeff Francis
Armando Galarraga
Jon Garland
Matt Garza
Roy Halladay *
Jason Hammel
Aaron Harang *
Rich Harden
Dan Haren
Roberto Hernandez
Tim Hudson
Phil Hughes
Ubaldo Jimenez *
Josh Johnson
Jeff Karstens
Hiroki Kuroda
John Lannan
Jon Lester *
Colby Lewis
Ted Lilly
Tim Lincecum
Derek Lowe
Paul Maholm
Shaun Marcum
Jason Marquis
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Brett Myers *
Ricky Nolasco
Mike Pelfrey
Andy Pettitte
Wandy Rodriguez *
Jonathan Sanchez
Ervin Santana
Johan Santana *
Joe Saunders *
James Shields *
Tim Stauffer
Jason Vargas
Ryan Vogelsong *
Edinson Volquez
Tsuyoshi Wada *
Chien-Ming Wang
Chris Young
Barry Zito

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 18

Is Tim Lincecum On Mets’ Radar?

What might the New York Mets be wondering as they look into the Giants’ dugout and see Tim Lincecum?

Could they be mulling over the idea of signing him as a free agent this winter? He’ll be pricey, but if the Mets are serious about contending in 2014, they’ll have to pay for pitching.

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets' radar?

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets’ radar?

With Matt Harvey opting for rehab over the next two months instead of immediate Tommy John surgery, the Mets have no certainties with their young ace. Surgery is still a possibility, and that would mean he would miss all of next year.

At the time Harvey went on the disabled list and surgery was anticipated, GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets would have to prepare to not have him next season.

Perhaps he didn’t want to reveal his true thoughts in front of Harvey in a press conference, or perhaps he didn’t want to come across as being desperate, but Alderson backed off that sentiment yesterday.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect our offseason planning as much as has been speculated,’’ Alderson said. “The one thing we have is a great deal of starting-pitching depth, some of it untested at the minor league level. But we have a lot of confidence in the quality and quantity of our starting pitching.

“So hopefully Matt is part of that rotation next year. But if he’s not, I don’t foresee us working hard to fill his spot from outside the organization.’’

What Alderson should have said is the Mets have “potential’’ starting-pitching depth.

Harvey, of course, is no given. Jenrry Mejia just underwent elbow surgery. Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready, and there’s nothing imminent with Rafael Montero.

By my count, the Mets will go into spring training with a rotation of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Tonight’s starter, Aaron Harang, could be invited to spring training and so might Daisuke Matsuzaka. Are you comfortable with those last two options?

They will have to add somebody regardless of what Alderson said and Lincecum could be available. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $40.5-million contract, and the Giants haven’t said anything about bringing him back.

If not the Giants or Mets, somebody will offer Lincecum a contract, and considering what he made this year there won’t be much of a salary cut.

Lincecum was signed to the contract after the 2011 season, in which he went 13-14, but with a 2.74 ERA and having worked 217 innings. The feeling it was due to a lack of run support.

Lincecum was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 2012 and a drop to 186 innings. He has thrown 184 so far this season while going 10-13 with a 4.40 ERA. Both this year and last there were reports his velocity is down. Even so, something had to be there to throw a no-hitter.

There’s some sentiment a change of scenery might benefit Lincecum, who is only 29. The flip side reported in San Francisco is the Giants might sign him for one year plus a team option.

Of course, the Mets might offer the same. They might have to.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 02

Using Zack Wheeler Out Of The Bullpen Is A Bad Idea

There are bad ideas and really bad ideas, and the New York Mets considering using Zack Wheeler out of the bullpen falls into the latter category.

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

Wheeler has thrown a combined 114.1 minors-and-majors innings this season with a cutoff number at 180. With the intent of limiting his innings, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are mulling using Wheeler out of the bullpen.

This is a bad idea on so many levels, beginning with the up-and-down nature of a reliever. The Mets will say they will only use Wheeler at the start of an inning, but that’s no guarantee. It is still a change in routine and they must scrap this idea immediately.

The Mets’ goal of winning as many games as possible in the second half and limiting Wheeler and Matt Harvey aren’t mutually compatible. The best way to achieve their goal of making a .500 run is to not change their pitching, which has been good.

Pitchers are creatures of habit and Wheeler hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2010. For the past three years, he’s worked in the routine of a starter. Bouncing from starter to reliever in the middle of a season is never a good idea. The Mets should know that by now with Jenrry Mejia, who went from reliever to starter and ended up having Tommy John surgery.

A coincidence? Perhaps, but why take the chance? Considering how the Mets handled Wheeler with kid gloves, thrusting him into a new role is counter productive. It might be different if the Mets were in a pennant race, but they are not.

Figuring ten more starts they should simply cut Wheeler at six innings a game and do not deviate under any circumstances. That would give him 174.1 innings, just under the limit. This way, it keeps Wheeler in his normal routine and eliminate the different strain on his arm caused by working in relief. A starter has a set program, but a reliever does not.

San Francisco used Tim Lincecum out of the pen last year, but he’s a veteran more capable of making the adjustment than Wheeler.

Currently, the Mets are operating with a six-man rotation, which could go back to five once Jonathan Niese comes off the disabled list. The Mets have not said they’ll continue with six when Niese returns. Doing so might not be a bad idea because it would accomplish the dual  purposes of monitoring Wheeler and Harvey, not to mention protecting Niese.

If the Mets go down to five, it would give Wheeler and Harvey additional turns. In that case, they should be skipped or pushed back a turn, which is preferable to shaving innings piecemeal..

The Mets haven’t said whether they will have an innings limit on Wheeler and Harvey next season, but if they do, they should map out their plan from the beginning than doing so mid-stream.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 08

Tim Lincecum Should Be Model To Matt Harvey

With the New York Mets in San Francisco for a three-game series, one of the obvious story lines will be Matt Harvey “auditioning’’ in front of Giants-National League manager Bruce Bochy to be the All-Star Game starter.

One of the best things about Harvey is his competitive drive, and his motivation isn’t the All-Star Game as much as it is to be the best pitcher in the sport.

LINCECUM: Harvey should be paying attention to him.

LINCECUM: Harvey should be paying attention to him.

It wasn’t too long ago his opposition tonight, Tim Lincecum, was considered the best. Not anymore. Here’s a guy who last year was relegated to the bullpen for the World Series.

The reports on Lincecum is he’s lost several mph., off this fastball, a pitch like Harvey’s that was in the high 90s, and danced and darted within the strikezone. Lincecum does not have the same dominance and there are numerous theories, including the torque and violence of his delivery has sapped him.

Whatever it is, Harvey should be paying attention, for what he’s experiencing now – from the cover of Sports Illustrated to dating a model to all the attention – is fleeting. It is the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself.

Harvey appears to have it all, which those around him say includes perspective and attitude. Harvey has nine no-decisions, including seven in games decided by three or fewer runs. Cut those in half to the positive and there shouldn’t be any debate as to whether he starts next Tuesday at Citi Field. Harvey brushes them off with a “that’s baseball,” shrug.

The one thing we haven’t seen from him is his reaction to true adversity. Not getting a few wins is one thing, but Harvey has not experienced losing his stuff, an injury or going on a long slide. He’s not experienced what every great pitcher goes through. From Sandy Koufax to Greg Maddux to Roger Clemens to Pedro Martinez; they’ve all endured getting knocked around by the fickle nature of their sport.

It has been smooth sailing so fair, but it’s never that way from beginning-to-end in a pitching career. So, when Harvey takes the mound tonight, it won’t be about starting an All-Star Game, but maintaining a star status.

Harvey won’t do it tonight because he’s too focused, but in that 24-hour reflective window of his after, he will do himself well to look at Lincecum’s career and understand the fragility of being the top dog.

Understanding it’s not all cream, but at times sour milk, is vital when it comes to being the best. What Harvey has now is the foundation for a great career, but it is something never to be taken for granted.

Nobody understands that more than Lincecum.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos