Nov 24

Mets’ Shortstop Question Defines Winter

To get an accurate read on how the New York Mets feel about themselves, look no further than their handling of the shortstop position.

It’s an oversimplification to call them cheap for not going after Troy Tulowitzki because the asking price, both in what the Rockies would demand in players and the salary the Mets would have to pay would have been exorbitant.

Everybody, of course, knows the Red Sox are always serious about winning, so signing Hanley Ramirez is something in the Boston’s DNA.

The Mets won’t go that high-end, but there is talk they might go after Stephen Drew, but he’s not the missing piece to their puzzle. He might be a better, more experienced and expensive alternative to Wilmer Flores.

However, is Drew the player the Mets want to build around? He might cost them $4 million, but if he proves himself he would likely walk after 2015 and the Mets – who deem themselves competitive this year – would be searching for a new shortstop next year.

And, teams considering themselves contenders aren’t usually in the market for a shortstop.

Alexei Ramirez or Starlin Castro have been linked to the Mets, but they don’t want to surrender their young pitching.

That brings us full circle to their shortstop at the end of last, which is Flores. He represents their least expensive option. He could also be their future, if they were to give him a full shot at the position.

And, if it didn’t work out, then they could always go get a shortstop next year.

Meet the new winter, just like the old one.

Nov 04

Cuddyer Not Happening For Mets

An early surprise at the start of the free-agent Hot Stove season is the Colorado Rockies’ decision to give 35-year old outfielder Michael Cuddyer a $15.3 qualifying offer.

CUDDYER: Not happening.

CUDDYER: Not happening.

That’s bad news for the Mets, who were reported to be interested in Cuddyer. There’s no way the Mets will go that high, especially for a player who missed two months because of hamstring issues.

Sure, he won the NL batting title in 2013, but that was two years ago. He only hit 10 homers last season, and only hit as many as 20 twice since 2009. For an average defender, that’s not a lot of right-handed power.

Even more discouraging is his average of playing in only 93 games in each of the past three years. I can’t see the Mets paying over $15.3 million for a part time player with declining production.

By keeping Cuddyer, the Rockies could be shopping Carlos Gonzalez, but he’s no bargain either. Injuries limited him to only 70 games last season.

Gonzalez will make $16 million, $17 million and $20 million in the next three years. In 2010, Gonzalez, 29, hit 34 homers with 117 RBI and a .376 on-base percentage and .974 OPS, by far his best season.

But that was four years ago and he had protection in the order from Troy Tulowitzki.

There’s been speculation for years the Mets would mine the Rockies for Tulowitzki and/or Gonzalez, but they were too pricey. Then it was Cuddyer, but they won’t afford him, either.

Time to look elsewhere.

Jun 13

Who will represent the Mets at the All-Star Game?

The Mets will have one, perhaps two representatives on the National League All-Star team this summer in Phoenix.

Jose Reyes is having a tremendous season and to date has answered all concerns about his health. It’s his walk year, so a big year isn’t surprising, but it is a big year nonetheless.

Carlos Beltran is also having a good season, but there are too many other good outfielders in the NL that figure to keep him off the team.

One possibility if he keeps it up is Dillon Gee. Should he win another two or three starts, it would be hard to ignore 9-0 or 10-0. The thing about Gee that might work against him is the rule that every team must be represented.

Using that criteria, it could be Reyes who keeps Gee off as the NL leader at shortstop is Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. Often, when the league manager is searching for that player to represent a team he’ll look at pitchers.

 

Aug 12

Another meltdown ….

So much for Hisanori Takahashi being the eighth-inning guy. After getting two outs, he gives up a single and a walk and is replaced by Manny Acosta. The wheels came off after that.

Funny, I can see pulling Takahashi rather than face Troy Tulowitzki. But, what’s wrong with Francisco Rodriguez in a four-out save?

Rodriguez pitched the night before, but so what? One extra out will cost him that much? When you manage to the save rule, you’re going to get burned from time to time and that’s what happened with Jerry Manuel last night. You have a horse like K-Rod, you ride him.

Manuel said if he used Rodriguez in that situation he could lose him later. Meanwhile, the season continues to flush away.

Sep 22

Should Reyes play again this season?

Jose Reyes is taking batting practice and continues to hope he’ll play again this season. I considered changing my mind with the thought that learning where Reyes really is with his hamstring is important regarding their off-season planning.

But, is it really?

REYES: Mets lost without him.

REYES: Mets lost without him.

If he’s not completely healthy now, he’s not going to be ready by Friday, or next week. He needs the surgery and as much time as possible to recover. That’s why this has all been wasted time for both the Mets and Reyes, and why there is the potential for another lost season.

I was thinking whether the Mets should trade Reyes, but it is a moot point. Only a dumb general manager would trade for a player whose game is about running and not knowing whether he’ll be able to run or not.

The rap on Reyes is he hasn’t lived up to his potential, that he loses focus and concentration. That he gives away too many at-bats, and for as gifted as he is in the field, he botches the easiest of plays. All that is true.

There is also concern he burns the candle at both ends regarding his penchant for the night life.

However, if Reyes has lived up to his potential, it’s still a pretty good player. If this is as good as it gets for Reyes, then what team wouldn’t want him? Right, he’s not as good as Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Jimmy Rollins, and will never live up to the Derek Jeter comparisons – looking back, they were stupid to begin with – but, that’s still a good player.

Most any team would want Reyes – but that is a healthy Reyes.

Everything Reyes does is based on his legs, and now he has a flat tire. Because he can’t run he’s useless. And, we won’t know if he can run until next season.

Manager Jerry Manuel said of all the injured Mets, the one missed most is Reyes. If Reyes comes back healthy next season and doesn’t get any better, general manager Omar Minaya will have to decide if that’s something the team could live with or is he of greater value in a trade where he could fill two or three of the team’s many holes?

That decision will define the Mets for several seasons, but it can’t be made until next year.

However, if the Mets find a team dumb enough to unload three or four players now while not knowing if Reyes can run or not, Minaya needs to jump at that offer. If I’m the Mets, I can live without knowing if Reyes has reached his potential. But, I can’t live with not knowing if he’ll be able to ever air it out again.

Not only do the Mets have to face to prospect of Reyes not living up to his potential, but of not being a viable player of any kind.