Archive for the ‘ Offseason Moves ’ Category

Mets Done Adding to MLB Roster

According to multiple reports, the Mets are unlikely to add Stephen Drew and are probably not going to sign another major league contract. To me, that sounds about right. While we have what looks to be a projected roster, I’m curious to see how things pan out this spring.

With the recent signings of John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league deals, it now appears that all of the pieces of the puzzle will be filled this spring. There are the expected competitions this season, like who will start at first base and the fifth rotation spot. And then there’s the unexpected. For instance, who will set up Bobby Parnell? Will it be Vic Black like we all assume?

If anything, I would have liked for the Mets to add a shortstop. Ruben Tejada was a decent replacement in the first year without Jose Reyes, but last year was a disappointment. The organization and the fans have called his work ethic to question on multiple occasions. I wouldn’t be surprised if Omar Quintanilla got another legitimate shot.

The question I do find myself asking is what about Juan Lagares? The Mets still have Eric Young, Jr. and they signed Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. Does EY move to his natural position (second base) or does Lagares become a fourth outfielder and a late-inning defensive replacement? If Lagares proved anything this winter, he’s worth a look as the starter and is so much more than a late-inning defensive replacement. Besides, Endy Chavez will always be my favorite late-inning defensive replacement.

I like the direction this team is headed in for this year. Okay, it’s obviously not a playoff team. But any improvement from 74-88 is improvement enough in my book. I’m cautiously optimistic for young players like Jenrry Mejia and Wilfredo Tovar to have big years. I can’t wait to see Zack Wheeler’s development in the absence of Matt Harvey.

2014 is poised to be the Year of the Youngins. And let’s face it: I’d rather see products of my farm system (which was recently ranked the sixth best in baseball) go out there and learn from every game and every out than say a team like our crosstown rivals. They will remain unnamed for the purposes of both this blog and my sanity. I feel good about this year. But, I also felt good about last year and we went 74-88.

Oy vey.

 

Expect Ike Davis in Port St. Lucie

alg_mets_ike-davisIke Davis is expected to start the year in Port St. Lucie as Sandy Alderson’s attempts to trade the first baseman remain unsuccessful. Even though the Brewers and Orioles remain interested, the Mets have been shot down when asking for pitching prospects Tyler Thornburg and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Starting out camp with the Mets and making it to the Opening Day roster are two completely different things. The Brewers and the Orioles expect Davis to be cut, which would cost the Mets $600,000 instead of paying Ike his $4 million salary. Why should they trade away a pitching prospect when Ike could be cut in a few weeks? There are free agent options available such as Michael Young and Kendrys Morales; Ike Davis is not the big name on the first base market.

Davis, for his part, genuinely wants to stay with the Mets.

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will probably end up competing for the job and if Ike does remain a Met throughout spring training, he will probably get the first shot on Opening Day. However, the Mets believe that Lucas Duda has more potential in the long-term and seem more invested in his future. Plus, it’s a fun name to say. Say it: Lu-cas Du-da. See? You had fun! Or, you can go the Tim McCarver route and say Lu-cas Doo-dah. But that just makes me want to break out into song.

The organization has already said that they are comfortable with Ike in camp; I expect it to be a matter of time before we have a resolution.

 

What’s the deal with Stephen Drew?

mets_logoThroughout the offseason, there have been rumors about Stephen Drew coming to the Mets. As the offseason winds down and spring training rapidly approaches, the rumors about Stephen Drew have only intensified.

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Mets front office is divided on Drew. However, a post on MetBlog reiterates that the Mets are the most logical landing point for Drew, but he could still return to Boston.

If a deal happens for Drew, don’t expect it to go beyond a year or two. Adam Rubin indicates that if Drew were to take a shorter deal, he would remain in Boston. Because of that, Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, could be using the Mets to drive up the price on Drew.

The Mets would need to shed payroll, which could mean trades of Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, and/or Lucas Duda. Acquiring Drew would also cost the Mets their third round draft pick. The Mets’ second round pick is already in possession of the Yankees after signing Curtis Granderson. A trade of Davis, Murphy and/or Duda would make my already out-of-date Mets calendar even more out-of-date.

As of right now, it looks like Ruben Tejada will once again be at shortstop on Opening Day. Yes, very same the Ruben Tejada that lost his job to Omar Quintanilla last year. Tejada proved to be an ample defensive replacement after the departure of Jose Reyes but his bat doesn’t have any pop. His work ethic was also called out last year. The organization has already come out and said that they are comfortable with Tejada starting the year at short. At this point, the organization doesn’t have any choice.

I’m on the fence about Stephen Drew myself. I’m not sure the front office is comfortable with the idea of losing two top draft picks after having their first round pick protected. At the same time, I don’t think any of the front office, coaches and players would object to the obvious upgrade at short. The fans would welcome him with open arms, literally. At this point, I think we would be happy with any kind of resolution, whether we sign Drew or not.

Moneyball vs. Money Ball

mets_logoIn the 2012 offseason, after the Mets had extended David Wright for eight more years and traded R.A. Dickey for Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, I got the sense that the Mets were preparing for a winning year eventually, and not in 2013.

This year, the giant elephant in the room was our outfield, or lack thereof. In the regular season, our outfield was one of the least productive, if not the least productive, when it came to getting on base and scoring runs.

This is where my inner Billy Beane comes in. We signed Chris Young, who we can all probably agree is overpaid. Okay, okay, Chris Young is a career .235 hitter and his on-base percentage is .315, but any Mets fan who religiously checks the stats would have to agree that Chris Young’s “eh” numbers are better than any Baxter/Duda/Nieuwenhuis combination. Besides, Duda’s more comfortable at first, in my opinion.

Our big splash came in signing Curtis Granderson. Granderson is getting paid to bat behind David Wright and provide him protection in the lineup. Granderson is getting paid to make pitchers pitch to David Wright. With Ike Davis or Lucas Duda batting behind Wright, why would you pitch to Wright when you can get the next guy out? Wright would be walking more than Barry Bonds. But Granderson’s career average (.261) and on-base percentage (.340) are only 25 points better than Young’s. Again, Granderson is considered an upgrade from the entire 2013 Mets outfield.

In the 21st century, baseball has become more of a game about numbers and stats and less of a romantic game. Oh sure, nothing beats a walk off homer, but if the hitter goes 0-for4 with three strikeouts the next day, the walk off victory is old news.

If you had asked me in 2013 if I thought the Mets were a Moneyball team, I probably would have told you yes. Except without the playoff appearance. And the 20-game win streak. Or any win streak greater than three. But the 2013 Mets remained on-par with the 2012 Mets and we really can’t complain about that.

Now that the Mets have gone out and spent their money on Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, and Bartolo Colon, I don’t know if I would consider them a real Moneyball team. David Wright takes up 20% of the team’s salary by himself and one would hope/expect that Matt Harvey would soon take up another nice chunk. So the Mets aren’t a Moneyball team, but they are a Money Ball team.

What I mean by that is that the Mets do have some money to go out and spend. But they didn’t throw $210 million at Robinson Cano. They did offer a little bit more money than I would have offered Chris Young or Bartolo Colon, but the Mets filled in quite a few blanks this offseason. We, as fans, don’t have to go into another spring wondering who will get the outfield positions and is this guy going to crack the rotation or not. The way I see it, the team is pretty much set, with the exception of a few roles that I expect to be filled in spring training.

There are still moves to be made, with Sandy Alderson shopping Ike Davis around for young relief pitching, but I’m feeling a little more optimistic about this team than I have in the last two years. Maybe this is the year we crack .500.

Mets sign Omar Quintanilla

The Mets announced that they signed Omar Quintanilla to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Quintanilla played 11 games for the Texas Rangers last season, where he was 1 for 22. He spent the majority of 2011 with the Rangers’ Triple A affiliate in Rolling Rock, where he hit .298 with five home runs and a .369 on-base percentage.

He has played parts of six seasons, mostly with the Colorado Rockies. Quintanilla is a career .213 hitter in the Major Leagues, having played 104 of his 213 games at second base and 96 at shortstop.

Quintanilla is a former first round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics, going 33rd overall in the 2003 draft.

The Mets have acknowledged that Quintanilla missed the first part of the 2011 season while completing a 50 game suspension after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in 2010.

Mets Hot Stove: We need pitching

The Hot Stove season is finally here!

The Mets have 8 players who are free agents this season: Jose Reyes, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Miguel Batista, Jason Isringhausen, Dale Thayer, and Ryota Igarashi.

The Mets also have five players who are eligible for arbitration this winter: Mike Pelfrey, Angel Pagan, Manny Acosta, Ronny Paulino, and Taylor Buchholz.

Seeing the list off free agents this offseason, it’s clear to me what our greatest need is: pitching. Sandy Alderson said himself that our next closer is not in the organization. So I guess the Bobby Parnell experiment is over.

Pitching can only do so much. I’m sure the Mets will talk seriously with Jose Reyes about re-signing. A player can say he wants to stay with the Mets forever, but a team could offer him more time, more money and he can immediately jump ship. The Jose Reyes situation could go either way and I wouldn’t be surprised.

But we need pitching, more specifically bullpen help. This past season, I cringed every time we had to go to the bullpen, cringed every time we sent Parnell in to pitch the 9th. Just because he has a 100 MPH fastball, it doesn’t make him a closer. We need a closer. We need a reliable guy to pitch the 8th inning. We need a more reliable bullpen. R.A. Dickey had a great season; his record doesn’t reflect that because of a combination of lack of offense and a crappy bullpen.

I’m cutting the offense some slack because we basically had a team of rookies, and Jason Bay. Plus Ike Davis will be back so that instantly boosts your offense. Also, as long as Daniel Murphy bats third, we’ll be okay. We just need an outfielder with some pop. More pop than Jason Bay.

I’m curious to see what the Mets do this offseason to try and get the players they need, while at the same time cutting down the payroll. Should be interesting to watch.

The Metsification of Citi Field

For three seasons now, we have called Citi Field home. I visited the stadium for the first time this season, and I must say, they are wonderful facilities.

But I couldn’t help walking into the Jackie Robinson rotunda and thinking that this shouldn’t be about the Brooklyn Dodgers. Sure, if the Dodgers hadn’t moved to California, we’d be bleeding Dodger Blue, but we’re the New York Mets. What about “Ya gotta believe?” What about the Tom Seaver rotunda?

This morning, Matthew Cerrone reported that the Mets have finally discussed making the outfield walls blue. It makes sense; I personally think the orange foul poles clash with the mossy green outfield walls.

Making the outfield walls blue could be the latest effort to Metsify Citi Field after many fans have complained that it was too reminiscent of Ebbets Field. Me? I was just happy that the Mets Hall of Fame museum wasn’t hidden anymore.

Efforts have been made to pay tribute to Mets history over the past two seasons; the installation of the entrance shadows, the ’69 and ’86 teams being commemorated, and my favorite feature: the Topps baseball cards with that day’s starting lineup.

Since the Mets can’t rebuild Citi Field to look like a giant blue cupcake, the least they can is make the outfield walls blue like Shea…because I miss the giant blue cupcake.

Looking Ahead: 2012 Offense

It’s really hard to look ahead on something that could go either way.

If the Mets, by some miracle, re-sign Jose Reyes, then all you really need is another outfielder with some pop. And to bring in the fences at Citi Field.

However, we have to look at the possibility that the Mets don’t get Reyes back. Reyes led the NL in batting average and multi-hit games last season. If you lose Reyes, you’re losing a lot of hits.

I really sincerely believe that the Mets need to find a place for Daniel Murphy on this team. Before Murphy got hurt in August, he was also among the league leaders in hitting. Plus, if you’re like me, you said the same thing when he got hurt: “Well, the season’s over now.”

If you’re like me, the next thing you would have said is, “Well, they still David Wright.”

Wright is coming off the worst season of his career, and he still managed to lead the team in home runs and RBIs. And he missed two months of the season. Before 2009, Wright was never an injury risk, playing in 160 games each year. Then Matt Cain hit a fastball to his head and ended up on my hit list. I blame the 2006 Home Run Derby and the 2009 concussion for D-Dubs not being D-Dubs.

We also have another weapon in our arsenal that we may be overlooking: Ike Davis. Before he collided with David Wright in the strangest collision ever, Davis was among the team leaders in every offensive category. He was seeing the ball wall, he was producing runs, he was doing everything Terry Collins could ever ask for. I really felt 2011 was going to be the year Ike became a superstar. Now, I just blame David.

I also like Lucas Duda, who was Davis’s replacement for a good part of the season. Not only does he have the best hair on the team, Duda has the potential to be a strong number five hitter. Last season, Duda posted a .292 batting average with 10 home runs, 50 RBI, along with a .370 on-base percentage and a .420 SLG. And that was only in 100 games; imagine if Duda was your every day right fielder and he was playing in 60 more games. Plus it’s a fun name to say.

Again, I really think that the Mets can do okay with what we have. We did okay with what we had last season; we’re not the Phillies, but nobody expects us to be the Phillies. Every newspaper picked us to finish dead last and we came in fourth. Yay us! I don’t think 2012 will be a playoff year, but I think it will be a “get the team above .500 year.”

I’d be happy with .500 and no longer being the laughing stock of baseball. Thanks, 2011 Boston Red Sox, for helping me with one goal!

 

Looking Ahead: 2012 Pitching

For the past two seasons, Dan Warthen has done well making something out nothing. Pitching has become both our greatest asset and out biggest need. 2011 without Johan Santana was tough; watching Mike Pelfrey pich was tougher.

For 2012, the Mets are expecting Santana to be healthy and ready. Realistically, we can’t expect Santana to be what he was; I would take 80-85% (which is 100% if you’re Carlos Beltran). But Santana at 80% is better than our de facto ace, Mike Pelfrey.

With Santana locked in as our Opening Day starter (barring further injury), we still need rotation spots 2-5.

I would put R.A. Dickey in the two hole. The knuckleballer’s 8-13 record might not be the most accurate stat given his performance in 2011. This season, Dickey pitched 208 2/3 innings and posted a 3.28 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 134 K’s. He also ended the season with 14 consectutive quality starts. This is someone I want in my rotation. Dickey is also fun to follow on Twitter. His handle is @RADickey43.

Dillon Gee gets the benefit of the doubt for being a rookie. The first season is always the toughest for pitchers because they get fatigued by September. Despite this, Gee still posted a 13-6 record with a 4.43 ERA,  a 1.38 WHIP, and struck out 114 batters. Gee fits in the middle of the rotation because like Santana and Dickey, Gee still pitches to keep the team in the game. Santana-Dickey-Gee might be the best 1-2-3 punch we have, unless we sign a #2 starter. A improbable possibility would be C.J. Wilson.

We also have Chris Capuano and Jon Niese to consider. When they’re good, they’re good. When they’re bad, it’s not pretty. Capuano has the run support but not the ERA. Niese has the ERA but not the run support.  If the Mets wanted to keep their rotation younger, they would go with Niese, but for the past two seasons, I think Niese has shown himself to be an injury risk. Sure, Capuano had two Tommy John surgeries, but he stayed healthy all season, right? If we don’t sign a free agent, I’d take them both. If we do sign a free agent, then I’d go with Niese, solely based on my bias towards younger players.

Mike Pelfrey is my odd man out. I truly believe that Dan Warthen has done everything he can to help Pelfrey improve his game. But Pelfrey hasn’t done jack squat except for lick his hand, lick the ball, lick the Gatorade cooler in the dugout, etc. We should cut our losses and tell Pelfrey bye-bye.

Like I said, even if a team has pitching, except if you’re the Phillies, you’ll always need pitching. I’m really okay with the rotation we do have. Now the offense has to give Johan, R.A., Dillon, Chris, and Jon some run support. Especially Johan, he’s always been hard for luck with this team.

Mets will hire Bob Geren as Bench Coach

According to multiple reports, the Mets will hire Bob Geren to be their next bench coach.

Former Oakland Athletics manager Geren is practically guaranteed the position. However, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York says the team still plans to interview Dave Jauss, who served as Jerry Manuel’s bench coach in 2010.

Geren served as A’s manager from 2007 until he got fired midway through this past season. His record was 334-376.

Cleaning up house can only do so much. The Mets need to hire diversely, people with different backgrounds and different experiences in the game. Hopefully, the Mets hire a first base coach with outfield experience, since new third base coach Tim Teufel has infield experience.

But coaching can only do so much; they don’t have to bat or pitch or field the ball (anymore). The players have to come to the field amped up and ready to win. They should almost do a firesale and bring up AAA Buffalo…wait…that happened already.

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