Dec 08

Cubs Beat Out Mets For Zobrist

The Mets are back to Plan B, which is another way of saying Square One, as the MLB Network reported tonight with second baseman Ben Zobrist, this winter’s object of their affections agreed to a four-year, $56-million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

Mets manager Terry Collins texted Zobrist today, a clipped “We want you,” but like a teenage girl being asked to the prom, such flirting doesn’t always work.

ZOBRIST: Going to Cubs. (AP)

ZOBRIST: Going to Cubs. (AP)

Zobrist met with the Washington Nationals today and Mets on Monday, but the Cubs emerged as a late player. In the Cubs, the 34-year-old Zobrist finds a comfort level in Chicago, which is close to his offseason Nashville home. The Cubs, who won 97 games last season, offer a better line-up to protect Zobrist, a better hitter’s park, and reunites him with his former manager Joe Maddon.

Zobrist is a switch-hitter whose 162-game average is .265 with a .355 on-base percentage, 17 homers and 77 RBI. Frankly, $56 million is too much for that production. But, for a team like the Cubs that has deeper pockets.

The Cubs are also going after outfielder Jason Heyward and Miami ace Jose Fernandez, whom the Marlins say they won’t trade. The Giants and Dodgers are also reportedly interested in Fernandez. If the Cubs make those two moves they should be favored to get to the World Series. Even if they don’t, the Cubs are better situated to getting to the Series than the Mets.

To make room for Zobrist, the Cubs are discussing a trade of second baseman Starlin Castro to the Yankees. Ironically, the Mets’ loss at second base is the Yankees’ gain.

Despite being swept out of the NLCS by the Mets, the Cubs are in better position of getting into the playoffs next year, despite the Mets’ cache of young arms. In addition to second base, the Mets have holes in centerfield (they have to replace Yoenis Cespedes) and bolster the middle of their bullpen.

The Mets are also banking on a bounce-back year from David Wright and the continued development of outfielder Michael Conforto and their young pitching.

As they are presently constructed, and with the Nationals expected to be aggressive, the Mets aren’t a slam dunk to get back to the playoffs.

Clearly, they have work to do.

Dec 08

Mets Today: More Zobrist

With Ben Zobrist expected in town Tuesday, the Mets will put the full-court press on their top free-agent target. Reportedly, Zobrist wants $60 million over four years. The Mets originally said they didn’t want to go more than three years, but it is looking as if they’ll bend on the years.

If it happens it won’t be the first time as they acquiesced on Curtis Granderson and gave four years and gave two years to Bartolo Colon when they only wanted to give one.

Zobrist has proven to be a solid player who stays in shape, but he’ll be 39 at the end of the contract which makes it a risk. Of course, most teams know players will break down at the end of their contracts so the Mets can expect him to fall off in the third and fourth years.

I like Zobrist, but he’s a complementary player and won’t be the player to put them over the top. The Mets’ primary objectives should the bullpen and finding an outfield bat to platoon with Juan Lagares.

For the past two years we’ve been told by the Mets that Dilson Herrera was the long-term solution for second base, but their pursuit of Zobrist makes one wonder where he really fits into their plans.

The Mets did tender Ruben Tejada, but haven’t said how he’s recovering from his broken leg sustained in the playoffs. Tejada at shortstop and moving Wilmer Flores was thought to be a possible solution, but that seems to be on the back burner.

 

 

Nov 20

Mets Should Pass On Desmond

Nobody can say what the Mets will do this winter, but this much is a certainty: Signing Ian Desmond in no way represents an upgrade by any stretch of the imagination. Desmond made $11 million last year for the Washington Nationals and will undoubtedly want more in the first of what will be a multi-year deal.

Only a fool would give in to Desmond’s demands.

DESMOND: Just say no. (Getty)

DESMOND: Just say no. (Getty)

The Mets seem determined to replace Wilmer Flores as their shortstop, and and there are reports they will not tender a contract to Ruben Tejada.

Desmond hit .233 last year with a .290 on-base percentage, and hit 19 homers with 62 RBI in 641 plate appearances. By comparison, Flores hit 16 homers with 59 RBI in 510 plate appearances. So, that means Desmond 131 more plate appearances to hit just three more homers with three more RBI.

And, he cost over $10 million for those three homers and three RBI. You can throw out any of the new wave statistics you want, but none of them translate in any way to making the Mets a better team.

Defensively, Desmond committed 27 errors in 670 chances, while Flores made 14 errors in 400 chances at shortstop and didn’t make an error in 153 chances at second base.

i don’t see how those numbers in any way determine an upgrade at shortstop.

Like I said, I don’t know what the Mets will do this winter, but I can without a doubt what they shouldn’t do, and that’s go after Desmond.

Nov 17

Are Mets Willing To Outbid Yankees For Zobrist?

Both New York teams are interested in free-agent infielder Ben Zobrist – who can also play the outfield corners – but early reports are the Yankees aren’t willing to go all out.

ZOBRIST: How high will Mets go? (AP)

ZOBRIST: How high will Mets go? (AP)

Do you really believe that? I don’t, either. If the Yankees really want a player, and their competition is the Mets, smart money is on them. Yes, the Mets outbid the Yankees for Carlos Beltran, but that was an aberration.

Leopards don’t change their spots, and if the Yankees want him they will spend. And, the Mets aren’t likely to become big spenders for a 34-year-old second baseman, especially when they have other voids they must fill.

The speculated cost for Zobrist is $60 million over four years, which is reported to be about $10 million more than the package for Daniel Murphy.

I like Zobrist, always have, but second base is not their primary concern. I would say an outfielder and bullpen depth rank higher. Wilmer Flores can replace Murphy at second base, and the Mets also have confidence in Dilson Herrera.

 

Nov 13

Murphy Rejects Mets; Both Sides Win

As expected, Daniel Murphy rejected the Mets’ $15.8-million qualifying offer this afternoon, a decision that makes a winner out of both sides.

Here’s how the Mets are winners:

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

1) They will receive a compensatory draft pick, which is what they really wanted in the first place.

2) With Murphy gone, the Mets are able to pursue free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is a better player, and if unable to sign him, are free to move Wilmer Flores from shortstop to second base, where he’s stronger defensively. The Mets can also explore playing Dilson Herrera at second base if they prefer.

3) With no financial obligations to Murphy, the Mets have $15.8 million free to spend elsewhere.

4) Whatever retooling plans the Mets have, they can move on to them quickly.

Here’s how Murphy is a winner:

1) The Mets can still sign Murphy if they choose, but aren’t expected to make the effort. Doesn’t that really mean they didn’t want him in the first place?

2) Coming off a stellar postseason, Murphy is in the prime earning years of his career. Had he accepted the qualifying offer, he would have delayed free agency by one year, and taken a huge gamble that likely wouldn’t have been rewarded with a multi-year contract. He’ll likely be offered a contract the Mets wouldn’t come close to making.

3) Much has been made of Murphy’s defensive limitations, but now he’s free to sign with an American League team and be a designated hitter.

4) The Mets yanked Murphy around for years at a variety of positions and numerous times attempted to trade him. Now, he’ll be able to sign with a team that really wants him.

Where will Murphy go? The Dodgers and Yankees are two teams prominently mentioned, but Houston and the Angels are other possible suitors.