Jan 02

Answers Mets Hope To Get This Season

The New York Mets have more than a few questions that could be answered after this season. How they are will determine the progress of their rebuilding phase, or if they have to start over again.

If these issues are addressed in the positive, next winter could be especially brutal. Sandy Alderson could survive, but it’s doubtful Terry Collins would be extended again.

Here are the players under the most scrutiny:

Matt Harvey: Any pitcher coming off elbow surgery is a concern, but we’re talking about the club’s marquee arm, one whom they are basing their future. If he proves healthy and has a good season, the Mets could entertain thoughts about signing him to a long-term contract to bypass his arbitration years. If he’s not healthy or is re-injured, how can the Mets go into next off-season assuming he’ll come back strong in 2016? Answer: They can’t.

WHEELER: Facing a big year. (AP)

WHEELER: Facing a big year. (AP)

Zack Wheeler: The Mets resisted trade overtures for him in the belief he’ll blossom into a star. That could happen if he learns to improve his control and reduce his pitch count. That would be the next step in his development. If this is a lackluster season and Noah Syndergaard shows something, they might listen, especially if they don’t fill their offensive holes or still have a question at shortstop.

Jon Niese: Often injured and ineffective, teams no longer clamor for him. If he halfway lives up to expectations perhaps that might enhance his trade value and it will be easier to move him. They might be able to do that at the trade deadline if he has a strong first half. If Niese is a bust this season, the Mets will be looking for another left-hander next winter.

Juan Lagares: He’s the Mets’ centerfielder based on a limited window last year. He needs to improve his on-base percentage if he’s to become their leadoff hitter. If he doesn’t make strides in that direction, the Mets could again be looking at a centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Ideally, they would like to fill both voids with the same player. They have a chance to do that with Lagares.

Curtis Granderson: Twenty homers won’t cut it. Another mediocre season will have the Mets looking again and staring at another non-productive long-term contract. Since the Mets aren’t prone to eat lousy contracts, there could be two more years of heavy strikeouts.

David Wright: He hasn’t hit over 25 homers or driven in at least 100 runs since 2010. For the most part, attribute injuries. If he’s healthy and produces mediocre-to-poor numbers, there will be even more grumbling about his contract. I’ve written Wright is the Mets’ most pressing question, even more than Harvey. A bounce-back season will answer a lot of questions.

Wilmer Flores: He enters spring training with the inside track at shortstop. The Mets eschewed several more expensive options the past two years in the hope Flores would answer this question on the cheap. If he doesn’t pan out this year, they just might be forced to pay in the free-agent market or deal one of their young pitchers.

 

Dec 16

Trade Of Gee Won’t Happen Soon

Speaking today at the Mets’ holiday party, GM Sandy Alderson said not to look for anything involving Dillon Gee soon.

“I’d say activity will pick up significantly in January across the board,’’ Alderson said. “That’s probably the likely time frame for us as well.’’

Given that, don’t be surprised if he’s with the team in Port St. Lucie. I wouldn’t even be shocked to see him on the Opening Day roster.

A lifetime 40-34 pitcher with a $5 million contract, and with the Mets making it clear they want to trade him ahead of Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, his value isn’t that high. And, with the free-agent market still heavy, teams will look there before trading.

Alderson said the Mets are unlikely to bid on South Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, which means there’s a high probability of Opening Day job going to Wilmer Flores.

Dec 15

Would Rather Have Germen Over Mayberry

The Mets made the signing of right-handed hitter John Mayberry Jr., official today and to make room on the 40-man roster they designated for assignment reliever Gonzalez Germen.

Personally, as the San Francisco Giants proved three times over the past five years, bullpen depth is critical for a team’s success, so I would rather have had them keep Germen. To me, a 27-year-old hard-throwing reliever with a fastball in the mid-90s has a greater upside than a 30-year-old with a lifetime .241 batting average and career .305 on-base percentage.

I don’t know what will become of Germen, but Mayberry has proven he’s about as good as he’s going to be. Yes, the Mets need right-handed hitting, but if they won’t spend to get it, then they would stand to have numerous opportunities later.

Speaking of lost opportunities, Houston signed Jed Lowrie to a three-year, $23-million contract. Considering the Mets weren’t willing to go that high in years or dollars, it wasn’t that much of a lost chance.

What this does is only reinforce what I’ve been alluding to for the past month, which is the shortstop’s job belongs to Wilmer Flores.

 

Dec 14

Mets Could Be Better, But Still Have Concerns

Are the Mets better today than they were at the end of the season?

Even after addressing their need of right-handed hitting with the additions of Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr., the Mets still have pressing issues.

David Wright and Curtis Granderson are coming off subpar seasons, and the former was also injured last year. Another key Met coming off an injury is closer Bobby Parnell.

Catcher and shortstop are critical positions and the Mets don’t know what they have with Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores. There are reasons to be optimistic, but neither are givens. The same can be applied to center fielder Juan Lagares.

The Mets like to boast about their young starting pitching, but you must go under the assumption a player’s numbers can’t be projected to exceed his best season.

Given that, even with the return of Matt Harvey, you can’t say he’ll win more than nine games because he’s never done it. That also means no more than 13 victories for Jon Niese, 11 for Zack Wheeler and nine for Jacob deGrom.

That’s 42 victories for the four homegrown arms in the rotation. That must get better.

Actually, a lot of things have to get better.

Dec 12

Wrapping Up The Winter Meetings For The Mets

Well, you can’t say the Mets didn’t do anything at the Winter Meetings. They agreed to terms with right-handed hitting outfielder John Mayberry Jr., for $1.45 million, and could make the announcement official as soon as today.

Other than that, this is pretty much the same team before San Diego, and with the same issues.

The Mets are desperately trying to deal Dillon Gee and would like to trade Jon Niese, but nothing is warm, let alone imminent.

Reportedly, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, San Diego, San Francisco and Kansas City expressed interest. Detroit can now be added to the list after its trade of Rick Porcello to Boston.

Dealing Gee is a priority because he’s scheduled to make $5 million in 2015 and the Mets payroll is projected to drop below $100 million.

As much as the Mets want to trade Gee, Alderson admitted to reporters before leaving San Diego he never expected to make one this week.

“There really wasn’t any point during the week that we felt we were going to do something,’’ Alderson said. “You always work toward something and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll see what develops over the next few days, couple of weeks. It’s a long time between now and spring training.’’

It can also be ascertained from the meetings, the Mets will go into the season with Wilmer Flores at shortstop as they weren’t going to make a high-profile deal.

The Mets haven’t abandoned looking at South Korean Jung Ho-Kang, but reports are they aren’t overwhelmed by what they hear.

Toward their need for a lefty reliever, the Mets will bring back Scott Rice.

Spring training will be here before you know it, and while there are players still in the market, the Mets aren’t going to be players.