Jan 31

Sandy Alderson: More Work To Do

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in two weeks, the New York Mets aren’t finished adding to their spring training roster, said GM Sandy Alderson.

ALDERSON: Not done.

ALDERSON: Not done.

Speaking at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia this week, Alderson said he liked the direction the team is headed, defended his offseason spending, but insisted there’s more work to be done.

“We’re still looking for more players,’’ Alderson said. “The offseason develops over time in segments, and right now there are still a lot of players out there. The question with teams is: How much money do they have left and what are their needs?’’

Despite committing to $85 million in salaries this winter – Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young were the major signings – the Mets still have a myriad of issue.

First base, catching, shortstop, the outfield alignment, the batting order and rotation order will be determined from within, but the Mets’ primary need is the bullpen, which has been an issue since Alderson was hired.

What the Mets don’t know is whether Bobby Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, will be ready. If not Vic Black is first in line to assume the closer role, but that’s based more on his ability to throw 95 mph. than anything else.

The Mets will be looking to bolster their bullpen in the next two weeks, and during spring training as players are released from other teams. Even so, Alderson said he likes the direction the Mets are headed and his strategy is paying off.

“I like our team for a couple of reasons,’’ Alderson said. “The last three years, the strategy I have tried to articulate is threefold: acquire talent and develop talent, create more payroll flexibility – we had a lot of long-term contracts that were just not performing – and third, third, try to win as many games as you can without compromising one and two.

“Now we’ve turned a corner a little bit, and I’d say that now we want to win as many games as we can while being mindful of one and two.’’

Alderson did not define a successful season, but some in the Mets’ organization are privately saying the immediate goal is to finish .500 or better.

ON DECK: Later today, I’ll look at the Mets’ leadoff options.

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

 

Jan 30

What Would Define A Successful Season For The 2014 Mets

Some teams define a successful season by the pouring of champagne. The New York Mets are not one of them.

The Mets last tasted champagne in 2006, after beating the Dodgers in the NLCS. They last tasted the good stuff in 1986, and if a baseball hadn’t squirted between Bill Buckner’s legs, we’d have to back to 1969, the year man walked on the moon.

After five straight losing seasons, the Mets did enough adding this winter to warrant the thought this summer might be different.

It’s wishful thinking to think the Mets will play into October, but it isn’t premature to wonder what could define a successful season. After winning 74 games last year and finishing in third place, there’s room for improvement.

The Mets finished 22 games behind first-place Atlanta and 12 behind Washington, and it is unrealistic to believe they can make up those games.

However, it isn’t out of the question to think .500 can’t be reached. The additions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon – plus the anticipated improvement of Jon Niese, and dare I suggest, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada – should be worth at least one more victory a month.

With the baseball season six months long, that’s six more victories. If the Mets could squeeze out one more win, that puts them at 81-81.

That’s plausible.

So, what’s it going to take for that to happen?

For one thing, Niese must win more than eight games and Zack Wheeler must continue to progress. They also can’t afford a setback from Colon. The Mets also need improvement from their bullpen, which was more than spotty last year. That begins with Vic Black adequately replacing closer Bobby Parnell.

Offensively, David Wright needs to approach the .300, 30-homer and 100-RBI levels expected of him. Granderson won’t hit 40 homers in Citi Field, but at least 25 shouldn’t be out of the question.

It’s folly to predict what Davis might provide, but then again, any improvement would be welcome. As for Chris Young, considering what he’s done the past few years, he falls into the Davis category of “anything is better than nothing.’’

Of course, slumps and injuries can’t be forecast. However, if most expectations are reached, I’m thinking .500 is possible, with 85 reachable in the best-case scenario.

It could happen.

Jan 28

What Is Left In Bullpen Market For Mets

The New York Mets aren’t finished this winter, and with just over two weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, there are pitchers still on the market.

The Mets like to play out the market to see if prices will drop and it might be worth a call to see if Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm still want to pitch. Both want major league contracts, and likely more than one year, something GM Sandy Alderson would be reluctant to do.

RODNEY: Mets interested.

RODNEY: Mets interested.

Ervin Santana is still on the market, but his asking price would definitely be too high for Alderson’s liking.

Usually when a player is still on the market this late it is because his salary demands are exorbitant or there’s a health issue.

I’m betting the Mets are done testing the market for free agent pitchers and would only get back in if they were to receive a call.

Relievers are a different matter.

Reportedly, after losing out on Grant Balfour, they are interested in Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, 36, who won five games and saved 37 with a 3.38 ERA last season.

An ESPN report had the Mets offering Balfour a deal similar to the two-year, $12-million contract he signed with the Rays, so it stands to reason those are the beginning parameters in talks with Rodney.

That they would talk to Rodney suggests they aren’t sure Bobby Parnell, who is recovering from neck surgery, will be ready. It also indicates they might not be sold on Vic Black as a closer.

Another possibility is former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who saved 38 games in 2010, 34 in 2011 and a combined 24 since with the Cubs and Dodgers.

Working in Marmol’s favor is that he’s 31, suggesting he has time to get it back. Marmol’s mechanics are a mess, but there’s no injury holding him back. He struck out 59 in 49 innings which shows good velocity, but in that time he walked 40 which is a huge problem.

Also working against him is that he earned $10.1 million last year. Alderson wants to sign somebody to a minor league contract, so for Marmol to sign he’ll need to get desperate.

If it is just adding bullpen depth, there’s Andrew Bailey, 29 (Boston), Jeremy Bonderman, 31 (Detroit), Bruce Chen, 36 (Kansas City), Kyle Farnsworth, 37 (Pittsburgh) and Joel Hanrahan, 32 (Boston).

Remember, those who aren’t premier free agents and are still available means they are unsigned for a reason, so it is buyer beware.

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

Jan 13

Mets Could Have Busy Week With Arbitration Players

The New York Mets have often avoided the arbitration process by settling with their eligible players prior to the deadline, which is Friday.

The Mets have seven such players, one of whom is Ike Davis.

If an agreement isn’t reached by Friday, the team and agent will submit their salary parameters. The arbitrator will then select one of the figures. The arbitrator can’t choose a midpoint figure, or any other number.

In addition to Davis, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Eric Young, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada, are eligible.

MLB Trade Rumors projected the players will receive the following salaries along with their anticipated 2014 roles:

Murphy ($5.1 million): Contrary to reports following the season, the Mets aren’t going to trade their starting second baseman and their second most productive hitter behind David Wright.

Davis ($3.825 million): What salary Davis is projected to make is not an excessive number, making it viable for the Mets to keep him. It’s no secret the Mets have been trying to trade him all winter. Currently, general manager Sandy Alderson said there’s nothing warm in the trade market.

Parnell ($3.725 million): Underwent neck surgery that resulted in a 30-pound weight loss. Parnell has resumed baseball activities, but that’s not a guarantee he’ll be ready for the start of the season. If Parnell isn’t ready, Vic Black will be the closer.

Gee ($3.55 million): Gee threw 199 innings last year and for the first time in his career enters the season with a spot in the rotation.

Young ($1.9 million): A mid-season acquisition, Young won the leadoff spot and gave the Mets a legitimate stolen base threat. Young could lose that job if Juan Lagares starts. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young already have spots.

Duda ($1.8 million): After showing an improvement with his on-base percentage, Duda goes into spring training expected to compete with Davis for the starting job at first base. The Mets believe Duda can give them numbers, but for less than Davis would make. The Mets will also listen to trade proposals for Duda.

Tejada ($1.0 million): With Jhonny Peralta signing a four-year deal with St. Louis and Stephen Drew’s asking price being too high, the Mets are expected to give Tejada another chance at the shortstop job.

With a Friday deadline, the Mets could have several announcements this week, however, I’m getting one of a trade for Davis won’t be forthcoming.

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

 

Dec 11

Mets Not Sure Bobby Parnell Will Be Ready For Spring Training

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The New York Mets don’t know whether closer Bobby Parnell will be ready for spring training as he continues his rehab following neck surgery on a bulging disc.

Parnell is to be re-examined next week.

PARNELL: Will he be ready?

PARNELL: Will he be ready?

“Hopefully he will be able to start resuming some baseball activities,’’ manager Terry Collins said.  “But I don’t know where he is at the moment.  He’s feeling better.’’

Parnell lost 30 pounds since surgery, which sapped his strength. He has to regain the weight and stamina. Collins said he hasn’t spoken with Parnell, which, honestly, comes as a surprise. You’d think he’d check in.

“We’ve got to wait to see how he shows up, where he’s at in a month,’’ Collins said.  “He hasn’t done much yet, so he’s got to get himself in shape.  I think get his legs underneath him and start throwing.  We’ll just have to wait to see.  Bobby has always been a guy that’s down there in January anyways.’’

Maybe so, but Parnell hasn’t reported before following neck surgery.

After several so-so seasons bouncing around the bullpen, Parnell seized the closer role last year when Frank Francisco went down with an elbow injury.

Parnell saved 22 games in 49 appearances, and produced a 2.16 ERA over 50 innings. Always a power pitcher with a high strikeout ratio, Parnell learned to pitch last season, and drastically improved his control evidenced by a 44-12 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Parnell gave up only one homer and had a 1.00 WHIP.

If Parnell isn’t ready for spring training, and at this time no assumptions should be made that he will be, Vic Black, whom the Mets acquired from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd-John Buck trade, is presumably first in line to replace Parnell.

Black throws a wicked fastball, and like Parnell is a strikeout pitcher.

The Mets are looking for bullpen help and might consider released Indians closer Chris Perez, who will come with baggage.

Last year, Perez and his wife were busted for marijuana possession after he was mailed the dope to his house … addressed to the dog. Reminds me of the episode of “Married With Children” when Al Bundy applies for and gets a credit card in his dog Buck’s name.

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