Dec 10

Jenrry Mejia Not Close To Being Ready

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Staying healthy has always been an obstacle in Jenrry Mejia’s pursuit of a starting job in the New York Mets’ rotation and it is that way again.

Mejia, who underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, isn’t a given in being ready for spring training.

If he was ready, he’s be the fourth starter slotted in after Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese.

MEJIA: When will we see him?

MEJIA: When will we see him?

As of now, general manager Sandy Alderson doesn’t expect him any sooner than May.

“He demonstrated he could pitch effectively as a major-league starter,’’ Alderson said. “It’s a question of can he stay healthy. … He won’t even be able to demonstrate that over the course of spring training or even the first month of the season.’’

The 24-year-old Mejia made five starts with an ERA of 2.30 before needing surgery.

The puzzling thing in how this was handled was the Mets said Mejia needed surgery in the offseason, yet kept pitching him.

It wasn’t the first time the Mets mishandled Mejia.

In 2010, then-manager Jerry Manuel, who going into the season knew his job was in jeopardy, battled the front office to bring up Mejia at the start of the season to work in the bullpen.

The troubling aspect of this decision was Manuel rarely used Mejia, especially when the game was in the balance. Eventually, he was returned to the minors, but as a starter. The strain of changing roles damaged his arm and he underwent Tommy John surgery.

At the time, Mejia was the Mets’ hottest prospect, but by not settling on a defined role for him it hurt his trade value. After all, how could the Mets pitch to other teams his potential value as a starter when he wasn’t even in that role for them?

Alderson doesn’t know when Mejia will be ready, and how he’ll perform when he’s available. As of now, it is back to Square One for Mejia.

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Dec 09

Mets Want To Upgrade Rotation; Considering Bartolo Colon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Starting pitching is the priority and the New York Mets want to leave Florida having signed at least one starter. Ideally, two.

General manager Sandy Alderson does not want to dip into his minor league reserves of Jacob deGromRafael Montero, or Noah Syndergaard. Not yet, anyway. A starter would have to come from the outside, and Bronson Arroyo is the most notable name.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

COLON: Mets thinking about him.

Arroyo will cost the Mets more in money and prospects, than what they want to spend.

Reportedly, they talked with Bartolo Colon, but he’ll got more than what they want to spend. Alderson was non-committal on his own pitching free agents, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang?

“I don’t think we’re totally comfortable with what we have in the organization,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of quality. We even have some depth. But to replace two spots in the rotation with the kids coming out of our system, I think, is a little much to expect coming out of spring training.’’

Alderson said it is likely they could be in the rotation by the middle of the season, which is a deterrent in negotiations. What pitcher wants to come to New York if he knows he’ll be bounced from the rotation?

It doesn’t seem likely either Arroyo or Colon – both of whom are older than 36 – will want to want to sign with the Mets knowing they won’t have a job by midseason. However, adding both could put the Mets in a competitive role for 2014 and not have them wait until 2015 when Matt Harvey will be ready coming off Tommy John surgery.

Remember, Harvey’s return isn’t guaranteed, and Zack Wheeler doesn’t have a full season on his resume.

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Dec 01

Time Is Already Running Short For Mets In Free Agent Market

It is essentially the beginning of the free-agent market, but for the New York Mets it is already nearing last call.

Frankly, I don’t see Mets GM Sandy Alderson doing anything of substance this winter. He reportedly is considering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and shortstop Rafael Furcal, both of whom are 36.

Both of whom won’t be in it for the long haul for the Mets.

Arroyo has a track record of compiling innings, which is paramount, but is said to want three years. Eventually he will break down. If I am giving three years to a pitcher in this market, I would have rather gambled on Phil Hughes – who got those three years from the small market Twins – who is 27.

With Matt Harvey out until 2015 – and there are no assurances of what he’ll be when he returns – Hughes was potentially a better building block than Arroyo.

Initially, I liked the idea of Arroyo, and still do, but not for three years. Two years at the most. Arroyo made over $16 million last year in Cincinnati – another small market team – and won’t be taking a pay cut.

He was 14-12 last season pitching behind an offense and bullpen superior to that of the Mets. What can the Mets reasonably expect from him?

Meanwhile, Furcal made $7 million last year for not playing with St. Louis because of Tommy John surgery. After the season ended Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, which clearly defines Furcal.

The best shortstop option for the Mets defensively, and for his offensive style in Citi Field, was Stephen Drew, who was out of their price range. However, he would have been a key piece to build around.

Jhonny Peralta was also too expensive and came with the black cloud of a PED suspension.

If the Mets sign Furcal, they will be looking to replace him next winter. If that is the case, I’d be more inclined to give Ruben Tejada another chance.

Arroyo and Furcal are the latest names linked to the Mets, and they are clearly filler for 2014. That’s what you want?

One by one the better names in the market will be scooped up, and not by the Mets.

More and more, I see this being a barren winter for the Mets. Then again, there was Chris Young.

 

Nov 10

Mets’ GM Alderson Goes To GM Meetings With Many Needs But Few Options

There is normally little action at the GM meetings, which begin Monday for New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson in Orlando, the same city in which the winter meetings will take place a month later.

Alderson is open to discuss trades and signing free agents, but realistically the Mets have little trading pieces on the major league level, and the most coveted prospects on the minor league level he wants to protect.

Alderson knows he must protect his young pitching assets while Matt Harvey mends from Tommy John surgery.

The free agent market will be flooded Monday when those players given qualifying offers are expected to reject them to test the market.

Let’s face it, the Mets won’t be serious bidders for Jacoby Ellsbury, are expected to lose out on Shin-Soo Choo, and will likely be outbid for Stephen Drew. This leaves the Mets still with holes in the outfield and shortstop.

The Mets also have need for two starters at the back end of the rotation, a back-up catcher for Travis d’Arnaud, depth in the bullpen and a decision to make at first base between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, and despite saying he has the latitude to make a $100-million package, but Ellsbury and Choo what more than that and more than four years.

So, Alderson will be in Orlando to meet with general managers and agents and must be creative.

 

Nov 06

Mets Should Consider Yankees’ Phil Hughes And Joba Chamberlain; Both Could Be Bargains

The New York Mets don’t have to look far if they want to plug one of the holes in the back end of their rotation.

The Yankees have no interest in bringing back either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, and for those believing in the “change of scenery,’’ theory, they might be able additions to the Mets’ staff as they are 27 and 28, respectively.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets' radar.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets’ radar.

Although both have been injured during their short careers, they are healthy now, but largely ineffective.

Hughes was a miserable 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last season in 30 starts and lost his spot in the rotation. However, he won 16 games in 2012 and 18 games in 2010. He was 8-3 when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009.

“This year has been a struggle for him,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a classic understatement after the season.

Considering Hughes has experienced major league success, and has made at least 30 starts in three of the last four seasons, and twice in that span worked at least 175 innings.

Hughes made $7.15 million last season, not unreasonable for a starter with a recent history of durability.

It shouldn’t be underestimated that a significant explanation in part for Hughes’ trouble is that he’s a fly ball pitcher working in a phone booth. That’s a major contributor to his career 4.54 ERA and an average of 24 homers given up per season.

Citi Field, the lack of a designated hitter, and being away from the Yankee Stadium boo-birds could be the change he needs.

His salary isn’t unreasonable, and his age is a plus. This isn’t like signing Bronson Arroyo, who’ll be 37 in February, and wouldn’t be able to give the Mets more than a year or two.

As for Chamberlain, he’s been treated similar to Jenrry Mejia in that he was bounced around from the rotation to the bullpen earlier in his career before being a strict reliever the last four years.

Once considered the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, Chamberlain sustained a shoulder injury in 2008 and eventually had Tommy John surgery in 2011. The following spring he mangled his ankle when he fell off a trampoline.

Chamberlain has lost something off his fastball, but still throws hard enough to get the job done.

Chamberlain earned just $1.8 million last season while going 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 45 appearances. He worked only 42 innings in 45 games. Overall, he’s worked only 444.2 innings during his career so there’s a lot of mileage left.

Considering their needs, the ages and salary history of Hughes and Chamberlain, both could become steals for the Mets.

LATER TODAY: I will take a look at Curtis Granderson as a possible fit into the Mets’ outfield.