Dec 06

Mets’ Top Five Winter Meetings Objectives

Despite going to the World Series, the Mets head into the Winter Meetings with several issues. Let’s face it, they wouldn’t be the Mets without questions. GM Sandy Alderson won’t represent the Mets in Nashville, but his lieutenants have the following grocery list of items they hope to address:

ZOBRIST: Lead domino for Mets. (Getty)

ZOBRIST: Lead domino for Mets. (Getty)

Question: Will they get the second baseman they covet?

Answer: That would be Ben Zobrist at the expense of Daniel Murphy. The Mets make no secret Zobrist is the object of their affection, but at the same time appear to be hedging their bets by saying it is possible they could bring back Murphy.

I think they are posturing on that one, but Zobrist’s camp said they would like to wrap things up by the end of the meetings. If they don’t, let’s hope the Mets will not fall into a familiar trap and chase him at the expense of losing out on other options.

Question: Will they restock their bullpen?

Answer: If they do, it won’t be with Darren O’Day, who is expected to re-sign with Baltimore. (Of course, the Mets once had O’Day, but had to cut him loose when Mike Pelfrey refused to miss a start by going on the disabled list). The Mets already tendered contracts to Addison Reed and Jenrry Mejia.

The Mets are not expected to bring back Tyler Clippard, but Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Mattheus and Steve Cishek are on the market.

Question: Whom can they trade for a bat?

Answer: For the second straight winter they will attempt to deal Jon Niese, who showed some promise during the playoffs working out of the bullpen. At 29, and one year remaining on his contract (with team options for 2017 and 2018) Niese has value both to the Mets and prospective buyers. He’s also left handed, has had some success and still throws hard. There are things to like about him.

However, with the anticipated emergence of Rafael Montero and Zack Wheeler due back in July, there’s no room for him in the rotation.

Question: Can they obtain a center fielder?

Answer: After the 2014 season, the Mets extended Juan Lagares to a five-year, $23-million contract, but now they want to find a platoon for him. He’s clearly fallen out of favor.

The most prominent names are Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra and Denard Span, but they might be too expensive and likely not willing to sign for a platoon situation.

Question: Will they make a free-agent splash?

Answer: I wouldn’t count on it, unless you’re counting on Zobrist to be that splash. However, reports are he could be had for something in the $50-million range. Conversely, Murphy could come for less.

One thing we can count on is they won’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. His reported price is six years at over $100 million.

Nov 27

Can Mets Offer Free Agents More Than Yankees?

With Thanksgiving in our rearview mirror and the Winter Meetings in our faces, it’s time to pose a simple question, if you’re a free agent thinking about one of the New York teams, will it be the Mets or Yankees?

Both teams have a lot, and different things, to offer the prospective free agent.

If the priority is winning, both teams reached the playoffs in 2015, but the Mets made it to the World Series.

The foundation for the playoffs is always pitching, and in that regard the Mets have the edge over the Yankees. But, the Yankees have the bullpen edge. Both teams have positional needs, so it depends on the player in the market.

If you’re a hitter, especially with power, I think you’d favor the Yankees because of the stadium dimensions. While Citi Field has more reachable dimensions, Yankee Stadium remains a bandbox.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson expects to exceed last year’s $103 million payroll, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman won’t be talking about salary ceilings with agents at the Winter Meetings.

Therein lies the fundamental difference between the two teams. While the Mets deviated from what had been their recent personality this summer, I’m not ready to call them lavish spenders.

So, when it comes to attracting free agents this winter, both teams have a lot to offer, but as long has been the case, the Yankees have the ability to spend more.

And, in this age, that usually is the overriding factor.

 

 

 

Nov 26

Wishing You All A Happy Thanksgiving

We certainly had a wonderful summer for which we can be thankful for, plus the optimism it will give us this winter. That’s certainly something for which we can be thankful.

On a personal note, writing about the Mets has helped me in my rehab as it occupies my mind. I am also thankful to you guys for your continued support and well wishes.

I wish for you to have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.

Best, JD

 

Nov 23

Not Buying Murphy Return

There were several articles last week claiming the Mets still would attempt to bring back Daniel Murphy, who rejected a $15.8-million qualifying offer. The reports said the Mets would make a sincere run at Murphy, who might bite on an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest.

Nearly everything I’ve read said the Mets might still make an offer because of Murphy’s affection for the team and New York. But, are those really good enough reasons? If that was the case, their decision would be based more on sentimentality than talent.

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets?  (Getty)

MURPHY: Still in play for Mets? (Getty)

The reported market for Murphy is $50 million over four years. The qualifying offer entitles the Mets to a compensatory draft pick plus the right to keep negotiating. It does not signal the Mets’ desire to keep him because they think he’s part of their future.

We don’t know what Murphy is seeking and what the Mets are willing to offer. The only numbers we know of are of the speculative nature.

We also know Murphy is 30 years old, so this will likely be his final shot at the brass ring. I can’t see him leaving money on the table to go back to a team that never had him on the top of their pecking order.

Murphy also hit 14 homers last season and went deep in six consecutive games in the playoffs. What we don’t know, and this includes the Mets, is whether that power surge was a fluke or a sign he’s added that element to his game.

The Mets are also reportedly interested in Kansas City free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is five years older than Murphy, and is a better player who is more versatile. However, the speculated numbers for Zobrist is $60 million over four years.

Zobrist brings more to the table than Murphy, and I think the Mets will shy away because of the price. This might make Murphy more palatable. But, I keep going back to well how Wilmer Flores adjusted to second base and potential of Dilson Herrera.

If those two can adequately fill the void left by Murphy, and I believe Flores can do so, then the Mets should be all right at second base. In that case, the money spent on Murphy or Zobrist, would be better spent adding a center fielder because I’m not sold on Juan Lagares and rebuilding the bullpen.

Nov 22

Mets Likely To Pass On Cespedes

There is no way of knowing for sure, but the Mets likely don’t get to the World Series without Yoenis Cespedes.

He definitely has a “Wow!’’ factor about him evidenced by his 17 homers and 44 RBI in his two months with the Mets. He also has a laser for an arm and an ability to track a ball in center.

CESPEDES:  Don't count on his return. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Don’t count on his return. (Getty)

His agencies – Creative Artists Associates and ROC Nation, run by rapper Jay-Z – put together a 100-page coffee table style book titled “52 Reviews’’ for his uniform number featuring his stats, testimonials and a built-in disc player to highlight his greatest plays.

“It’s not the only piece to the puzzle,’’ said Brodie Van Wagenen, the lead agent in Cespedes’ negotiations, told ESPN that packaging is part of the process. “Most everyone has access to the information, but the way in which you sort the information and tell the story and define the player is an art form that’s unique from agent to agent. It’s not just the packaging.

“I think this book highlights and reminds teams of what Yoenis Cespedes’ rare skill set is. Instead of his agents telling people how good he is, teams can see it for themselves and hear it from unbiased, third-party insiders.’’

Potential suitors won’t see Cespedes’ “Oh No,” moments, such as his botched play in the outfield that lead to an inside-the-park homer, or those teams when he wasn’t always compelled to run out ground balls, or all those swings-and-misses (39 percent of the time) and .319 on-base percentage.

The Mets will make an offer – believed to be of a public relations variety – and there are a handful of other teams needing an outfielder. But, how many of them are willing to offer the six years and $150 million Cespedes’ camp is reportedly seeking?

San Francisco is intriguing, while the Angels, Cardinals, Cubs and Rangers have shown a willingness to spend. The Tigers need an outfielder, but will they go that way again?

Baltimore, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, San Diego, Cincinnati and Seattle need outfield help, but don’t have a reputation to write checks.

In the case of the Mariners, they won’t do anything unless they can get rid of Robinson Cano’s huge mistake of a contract.

None of these teams are likely to be seduced by the glitter of “52 Reviews.’’ They know all of Cespedes’ pertinent numbers, including his .150 batting average in the World Series and playing with four different teams in his four-year career.

Oh yes, $150 million will also be a telling number.