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

Dec 08

Granderson Signing Doesn’t Answer All Mets Concerns

We can no longer say the Mets won’t doing anything in the Hot Stove League. While I have been cool on Chris Young, landing Curtis Granderson gives the Mets’ offseason a warmer sense of legitimacy and that more could be coming.

General manager Sandy Alderson projects a payroll in the low-$90 million level, and even with the Granderson and Young signings, the Mets will have more to spend to reach that plateau.

There could be more flexibility if they are able to trade Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, which would be roughly a combined $8 million they could take on.

Last month Alderson said there were a half-dozen teams interested in Davis, and even Lucas Duda fielded some inquiries, but nothing has come of that since.

The Mets’ priority remains starting pitching. Ricky Nolasco and/or Phil Hughes would have looked good in the back end of the Mets’ rotation, but both signed long-term deals totaling $73 million by the small-market Minnesota Twins. Jason Vargas got $32 million over four years from the small-market Kansas City Royals. All this could have the Mets looking harder at Bronson Arroyo, who earlier had been talking to the Twins.

With Matt Harvey gone for the season and two holes in the rotation there are a couple of certainties: 1) Jon Niese will not be traded as some had speculated, and 2) prospect Rafael Montero will not be traded, unless a major league ready starter comes in return.

The Mets also need to increase depth in their bullpen, especially considering Bobby Parnell is coming off surgery. If he’s fine, he’ll resume the closer role. If not, Vic Black will get the first shot in spring training.

The Mets also like Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen and lefty Scott Rice. That’s five, meaning they’ll need to pick up one or two more arms.

Shortstop was a significant question after the season, but considering how the market developed it appears as if Ruben Tejada will have the first opportunity to reclaim his job. The Mets were hot for Jhonny Peralta, and also kicked the tires on Rafael Furcal, but they signed elsewhere. Stephen Drew is still available, but he’s priced himself out of consideration.

There is also a need for a veteran reserve catcher. Immediately coming to mind is to bring back John Buck, who was not brought back by the Pirates.

The Mets won 74 games last year, just seven games below .500. If they had Harvey, I would say they could be a .500 team with the addition of Granderson. But, he’s not here and what remains in a hole in the rotation.

No Shaun Marcum this time. Alderson needs to land quality starters if this will be a quality summer.

LATER TODAY: Would a Daniel Murphy-Brett Gardner trade make sense?

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