Dec 06

Mets Still Have Work To Do, Beginning With Outfield

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Mets’ CEO Jeff Wilpon said GM Sandy Alderson would have an increased budget for 2013 and the team “will be competitive.’’

What exactly he meant by that, he wouldn’t specify. Does it mean the Mets will be a playoff contender or at least a .500-caliber team? Just exactly how much will the budget be increased? When Wilpon spoke of payroll flexibility, in the wake of the commitment to David Wright, he didn’t do so in terms of actual dollars.

PAGAN: Rarely ran like that with the Mets.

Alderson said the outfield pool is currently at the deep end with Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. I thought if the Mets splurged they might have a shot at Victorino, but I wasn’t thinking $39 million. Victorino actually turned down $44 million from Cleveland for a chance to play for a contender, and the Indians aren’t exactly a free-spending team.

Alderson said “we’ll get outfielders,’’ but what he didn’t add on was, “… we have to because the rules say we need to play with three.’’

Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter – left to right – is what the Mets currently have if the season started today.

Duda made a splash two years ago, but struggled badly last season; Nieuwenhuis made a good first impression in 2012 after Andres Torres was injured, but major league pitching caught up with him (those curveballs can be nasty); and Baxter is a role player who gets exposed after long bouts of playing time.

Hopefully, Duda learned something from being shipped off to the minors and he’ll have a breakout year. But, he’s never done it over a full season, so the hopes are mostly wishful thinking.

As far as Nieuwenhuis goes, he made a splash with his ability to work the count, put the ball in play and hustle. It would be asking a lot from him to develop into a fulltime leadoff hitter, assuming manager Terry Collins will place him at the top of the order.

I heard interest in Ryan Ludwick, but he’s not coming here.  Ludwick made $2 million last year while hitting 26 homers and driving in 80 runs for Cincinnati. He’ll command a hefty raise, and I’m betting the Reds will give it to him.

Speaking of hefty raises, Scott Hairston, easily the most productive outfielder the Mets had last season, should get at least two years, or one and an option, for hitting 20 homers last season. Great off the bench, his playing time gradually increased.

The Mets will need a guy like him. Hey, here’s an idea … sign him.

Now that the Mets have committed $140 million to Wright, what about the rest of the roster? Dickey is still out there, and there have been no significant additions to even suggest the Mets’ offices have been open since the end of the season.

 

Dec 03

Evaluating The Reasons To Trade R.A. Dickey

DICKEY: Evaluating the trade option. (AP)

I don’t believe the Mets will trade R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings, but I won’t be surprised if that is the end result this winter.

Rarely do general managers talk about trading players by name, let alone a key player such as Dickey, but after hearing Sandy Alderson’s comments last night that’s where I am leaning despite his obvious qualifier.

“Well, we expect to talk to a lot of teams about a lot of different things,’’ Alderson told reporters last night in Nashville. “That’s why we’re here – to explore various combinations. I would suspect, yes, we will have conversations about R.A. That doesn’t mean we would prefer to go in that direction or reconcile to go in that direction.’’

Ideally, Alderson would like a quick resolution, but realizes that might be difficult depending on the scenarios presented him this week.

“It could go on for a while. I just can’t predict. … R.A’s situation needs to be resolved, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be resolved here in Nashville before Thursday,” Alderson said. “I think we’ll have a lot more information by the end of Thursday both in terms of his negotiation as well as other options. But I don’t think we have to have resolution by Thursday.’’

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Nov 28

Updated Offer To Wright; Dickey Talks Slow

The updated numbers for David Wright appear right, perhaps close enough for an agreement.

It was first reported yesterday the Mets made a $100-million offer for six years, but then a second report was for $125-million over seven years. Both are suitable proposals, but Wright seems determined for a seven-year deal that would run through at least 2020.

WRIGHT (R): Who will greet him at the plate in 2013? (AP)

At this stage of the game it is splitting hairs between six years and an option or seven years. In all probability, the seven-year offer would also contain an option, perhaps multiple options that kick in based on games played and plate appearances.

Major League sources said it was unlikely a deal would be reached before the Winter Meetings next week, which isn’t surprising as there are always loose ends in such a contract.

Meanwhile, the R.A. Dickey talks are slow, despite the organization penciling him into their 2013 rotation. Both Wright and Dickey maintain their decision could be impacted on the other. The Mets obviously deem their All-Star third baseman the top priority, as they should.

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Dec 19

Time To Trade Murphy

I’m a big Daniel Murphy fan. I love his determination, I’m impressed by his plate approach, I believe in his value as an offensive player, and his enthusiasm is totally awesome. That said, I just don’t see him as part of the master plan. I’ve heard and read all the quotes about him being the everyday second baseman next season, but I’m not at all thrilled at the prospect of that.

There seemed to be some interest in Murphy during the Winter Meetings in Dallas, and to be honest I was excited at the prospect of shipping him to a team where he would be allowed to play at his natural third base position or even makes his bones as a designated hitter in the AL.

We’ve already tried unsuccessfully to make Murphy a left fielder and then a first baseman. His two attempts to play second base both resulted in season ending injuries that could have been avoided had Murphy understood how to set himself up at second base and field his position properly. Do we really want to risk a third season ending injury?

Murphy has very good value right now, especially for someone coming back from an injury. He was fifth in the NL with a .320 batting average before he got hurt last season, and that is nothing to scoff at.

His .809 OPS ranked high among first basemen and in parts of two season he has stroked 66 doubles and a combined 90 extra-base hits in about 900 at-bats.

Here’s the problem the way I see it, the Mets have been killing this kid and hurting his progress by trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. No matter how hard they keep trying they can’t seem to make Murphy fit in.

He is much too valuable as a hitter to just let him squander on the bench. So why not do what’s best for him and best for the team and trade him for something we need – like a catcher perhaps – or a centerfielder?

Murphy is not getting any younger and after four years of jerking him around he’ll be 27 on Opening Day. Isn’t it time to just bite the bullet and actively shop him to the highest bidder?

Dec 09

Reflections on a wild Winter Meetings.

* I understand the fans’ dismay over the Mets losing Jose Reyes, but I believe it has more to do with the disarray the team is in more than losing the player itself. Reyes’ departure is emblematic to the degree of how far the Mets fell since the 2006 playoffs.

The fact is Reyes makes his living with his legs but hasn’t been completely healthy in three seasons, including two stints on the disabled list last year. The Mets’ financial situation made it cost prohibitive to bring him back at that price and it wasn’t worth the risk. Realistically evaluating things, bringing back Reyes was the wrong play.

If you’re frustrated and angry, it should be at the Mets’ overall condition and not that a brittle player took the money and ran.

* It is premature to give the Angels a pass into the playoffs. Their rotation might be stronger than Texas with the addition of CJ Wilson, but the Rangers’ lineup remains superior and there’s always the chance they might add Prince Fielder.

Do you remember when the Yankees added Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson? They were supposed to win multiple World Series, but didn’t win anything until 2009, and by that time Johnson retired. The Phillies were favorites the past two years. How did that work out? Also, how did it work out for the Miami Heat last year and the Philadelphia Eagles this season? Rarely, do things work out smoothly for Dream Teams.

* Don’t you think the Yankees regret the Rodriguez contract? I bet they do. I’d also be willing to bet eventually the Angels and Marlins might regret their wild spending, which never guarantees anything.

* I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis made a run at Fielder to take the sting out of losing Albeert Pujols. Even so, the money might be better spent on maintaining because the Cardinals are still a good team and don’t need an overhaul.

* Regarding Fielder, I found it laughable to read the Cubs don’t have the money to spend on Fielder. The Cubs have the resources, but are they willing?

* The Mets believe they bolstered their bullpen, with Sandy Alderson saying they have the seventh through ninth accounted for. Then again, they took from the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with over 20 blown saves last season.