Feb 22

Mets Should Consider Starting Season Without Santana

What are we to make of the Mets’ decision today to push back Johan Santana at least two weeks with the specific purpose of building up arm strength?

SANTANA: Should Mets open season without him?

SANTANA: Should Mets open season without him?

With the exception of his first season with the Mets, Santana has not pitched a full year for his $137.5 million package. Last season ended with lower back inflammation and prevented him from having a normal offseason workout program. That’s why his arm isn’t as strong as it normally would be this time of spring.

My first reaction, of course, is a red flag, that this is a sign of things to come. When it comes to pitcher’s health, always bet the worst. Sure, that’s a pessimistic attitude, but that’s the way it usually works out – especially with the Mets.

The Mets are acting on the side of caution, which is the right tact. The Mets are going to pay Santana $31 million this year whether he pitches 200 innings or two. Really, their only option is caution as that’s the only way they’ll get anything out of him.

The Mets don’t know when Santana will be full strength, and if his status lingers I would not hesitate holding him back at the start of the season. It might be a prudent choice given the cold weather in April and Santana’s health issues to hold him back a couple of weeks.

This way, Santana can progress at his rate and not worry about rushing to get ready. This guy will pitch hurting, but does anybody really want that?

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Nov 26

Bar Set For David Wright Negotiations

Whatever you hear about what David Wright might be asking or the Mets might be offering, just understand the bar has been set by his contemporaries Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, Both are close to Wright in terms of age and production. Just not salary.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long known as a team with low payroll agreed to a contract extension over the weekend with Longoria for $100 million over ten years. The deal includes the same terms of his current contract through 2016, then adds an additional ten years. There is an option for 2013.

LONGORIA: Sets the bar for Wright (AP)

Who knows if the Rays will be in Tampa by then, but wherever they go, Longoria will be with them.

Then there is Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, who, after moving into their new park have become big spenders. Zimmerman, who is a long-time friend of Wright’s, signed an extension before spring training last year for $100 million over six years, including the final two years of his current deal plus four more seasons.

Arguments can be made both are better recently than Wright, who after two down seasons bounced back in 2012.

Longoria is the face of the Rays as Wright is to the Mets, but has better power numbers. He is 27 and Wright will be 30 five days before Christmas. Zimmerman is 28.

Remembering Wright is roughly three years older than Longoria and a year older than Zimmerman, he has 204 career homers with an average of 26 a season. Longoria has 130 with an average of 33. If he maintains his current pace, by the time he reaches Wright’s age, he could have 230 career homers.

Zimmerman has 153 career homers, averaging 25 a season.

The Mets maintain re-signing Wright is their priority, but seem close vested as to what they are willing to spend or how long a deal they might give. A ten-year deal like Longoria’s puts Wright close to 40 at the end, and likely well into the downside of his career, much like Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.

The last four years have been below Wright’s standards and include trips to the disabled list for a variety of injuries, all sustained by playing hard. That includes lost time from the Matt Cain beaning, which can’t be termed an “age related” injury.

All that will be considered in the Mets’ offer.

Statistically, the three are fairly even with Longoria having the highest upside. Given that, I don’t see how the Mets could justify anything less than $100 million and six years, although recently I suggested they go $100 million over five years.

The years might vary, but $100 million appears to be the ceiling. Do you see the Mets setting the bar higher?

I didn’t think so.

Longoria’s contract will be argued as the bar for third basemen. It shouldn’t vary by much. The only real question is: Do the Mets want to spend the money?

 

Nov 15

Dickey Wins, Wants To Stay … Now Keep Him.

R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young Award last night, and emphatically reiterated his desire to remain with the Mets. That’s a good sign, and I have the feeling Dickey won’t hold out for the last dollar.

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING R.A. DICKEY

He realizes the Mets gave him what probably was his last opportunity and there is a sense of loyalty. On the flip side, he realizes this will be his last chance at a pay-day.

“I love the Mets,” Dickey said last night. “And that hasn’t changed from the first opportunity I got against the Washington Nationals in 2010. There’s a part of me that really wants to be loyal to that.”

It is imperative the Mets re-sign Dickey for three reasons: 1) what he gives them on the field, 2) what he gives the organization and means to the fan base off the field, and 3) the perception it gives other potential free agents.

It is clear what he gives the team on and off the field, but signing him sends the significant message to other free agents that the Mets aren’t fooling around and their rebuilding is in a significant stage.

Dickey wants to be a part of that process.

“I think [Sandy Alderson] has a great plan for the future of the New York Mets,” Dickey said. “I’m sure it’s going to require a little vision, I’m sure it’s going to require a lot of hard work. But anything worth having – that’s what’s required. I’m on board, and I want to be part of the solution here.”

The feeling is mutual with Dickey and the public. New York gives him opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have in other markets.  That works in the Mets’ favor.

“I love the fan base, my family loves being a New York Met, being in New York and all the stuff it has to offer outside of baseball,” he said. “It’s given me the platform to do things that far transcend the game. Whether it’s pouring myself into a charity I am really passionate about, or writing a memoir that I feel like needed to be written. All these things, I don’t know if I could’ve done them if it weren’t for New York and being a New York Met.

“I am aware of that, and I am appreciative of that. Because of that, I like being a Met, and I wouldn’t mind finishing my career as a Met.”

In a reality check mentioned for the benefit of the Wilpons, “wouldn’t mind finishing my career as a Met,” is not the same thing as willing to sign at any price.

Dickey will cost some significant money, and the Mets must decide if he’s worth it. That decision would be a no-brainer if Dickey had previous seasons like 2012, but he hasn’t. The knuckleball puts less strain on the arm, so he theoretically will be able to pitch into his 40′s. But, they must also gamble he isn’t a one-year wonder.

 

 

 

Dec 06

Winter Meetings open with stunning Werth deal

Nobody saw this one coming. Jayson Werth was going to stay in Philly or go to Boston. He would make his money, but $126 million over seven years from the Washington Nationals was completely off the radar.

WERTH: Mets shouldn't be swayed by deal.

Losing Werth weakens the Phillies, but they are resilient, willing to spend and will find a way to replace him. No tears shed there. As for the Nationals, he can’t help but make them better, but this is a team that just lost Adam Dunn so are they upgrading the offense that much?

Werth is good player, but how much of that production comes from hitting in Philadelphia’s bandbox and the protection afforded him in that lineup? Not sure he’ll do the same for the Nationals.

Word is the Nationals aren’t done and are willing to throw money after pitching, notably Carl Pavano.

We know the Mets aren’t as good as Philly, Atlanta and probably the Marlins. Now the Nationals are making noises like they want to escape the NL East cellar. Sad to say, but they just might be the yardstick the Mets will measure themselves by in the near future.

Washington’s aggressiveness is being noted by the Mets, but hopefully they will stay the course and give Sandy Alderson’s blueprint time to develop. Trying to keep up with the Joneses with foolish spending is what got the Mets into trouble in the first place.

Mets fans have been clamoring for change since the end of the 2007 season when the team blew a seven game lead with 17 to play. There has been no structured plan for development the past three years as the Mets approached each offseason with a piecemeal approach.

This time, the Mets are trying patience and trying to build from the bottom up. That’s been the party line and Alderson has not wavered and suggested this team will be competitive by throwing large sums of money at players.

There is a lot of work to do, and most of it will come next winter after Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and probably Francisco Rodriguez are off the books. That’s when the spending will come. For now, it’s evaluating, minor moves and hoping players stay healthy as the way to go for 2011.

It’s tempting to watch the Nationals and give in to the spending impulse, but in the long term that’s not the way to go.

We’ve wanted a front office with vision, organization and planning for three years now. We now have one, so let’s give them the time to get it done, no matter how much spending goes on this week.

Oct 01

Mets facing last stand.

Game #160 vs. Nationals

I hoped the Mets would close out this disappointing season strong, if for no other reason than to leave a fresh taste in their mouths.

It won’t happen.

For the 25th time in their 49-year existence, the Mets will finish with a losing record. They enter the final weekend of the season against the Washington Nationals having lost nine of their last 12 games, including three straight to Milwaukee.

Nothing could have saved Jerry Manuel, and this finish only underscores change is needed.

There are a lot of glaring records that explain the Mets’ demise this season, including a 7-8 record against Washington, of which they are 2-4 at home.

How can a team call itself a contender when it routinely loses to the worst team in the division?

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