January 31, 2014

The Lagares vs. Young Debate: A View From the Devil's Advocate.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I like playing devil's advocate often when I choose to write about something.  I am pretty open minded about things, and like to look at different alternatives for the sake of debate.  So I'll put it out there and say like most of you, I would rather have Juan Lagares starting in centerfield in 2014. However, Terry Collins came out and said recently that Eric Young may be his lead off hitter in 2014. As expected, there was plenty of backlash on this on Twitter.  Honestly though, if Eric Young was playing everyday and batting lead off, would the Mets be that much worse off?

Photo: BloggingMets.com
Eric Young is a borderline starter, but projects more like a lead off hitter at this point than Lagares.  Young is more patient at the plate, so despite lacking the power it takes to constantly hit the ball solidly, he does draw walks and has an OBP almost 70 points higher than his batting average for his career. Lagares had a small sample size, so it's impossible to judge what kind of player he will be based on 392 at bats.  But he was a very aggressive swinger who didn't take many pitches and struck out more than you'd want in a lead off man. He didn't show much more patience in the minors either, despite not striking out at the same rate.  But this is common in young players.

What Lagares has that Young doesn't though, is the ability to make solid contact and drive the ball.  He can hit the occasional home run, and can go gap to gap with line drives.  So it's not all that bad, and you hope at 24 years old, there is room for improvement.  He hit well in a recent stint in the Dominican Winter League, winning the award for being the top rookie.  His lack of patience didn't take the winter off though, while down there.

I'm not going to compare the two defensively.  It'd be just silly. Lagares can be a gold glove center fielder with his tools.  He's electric out there, and has a great arm.  Eric Young, despite being nominated for a gold glove, isn't the outfielder that Lagares is. Young isn't a slouch out there though. So despite Lagares being superior in the field, I don't think this necessarily warrants an automatic slot into the starting line up.  It's not like the Mets will be trotting out Lucas Duda and an older Carlos Beltran in the outfield opening day.  The Mets have Curtis Granderson and Chris Young on the roster, both who have been very good center fielders through their careers.  With the ground they can cover, you can live with Eric Young playing out there as well, and it's still a solid defensive outfield.

Like I said earlier, I'd prefer Lagares to be the every day center fielder.  I think that at 24 years old, he can improve at the plate, and hope that he can develop into the lead off hitter that the Mets desperately need.  But if Terry Collins decides that he wants Eric Young to be the regular lead off hitter, I'm not going to be upset about it.  If this comes to fruition, I just hope it doesn't come at the expense of at bats for Lagares.  I hope the Mets are smart enough to start Lagares in AAA to get his work in.

@ me tho - @GetsThruBuckner

"No Financial Restrictions"

Not a lot of people can lie, directly and repeatedly, to their customers and maintain their business.
“He’ll have all the opportunity in the world to bring anybody he wants in,” team COO Jeff Wilpon said yesterday, without giving the GM carte blanche. “The way for him to do that is to bring the ideas to us and we’ll talk about it. But he does not have restrictions. We’ll deal with everything on a case-by-case basis.”
“The next three to four weeks will tell a lot,” said Alderson, adding he will keep finances in mind when he considers any potential move, but won’t make it the overriding factor. “The focus will be on the baseball side.”
These quotes were lifted directly from a New York Post on June 21, 2011. Wilpon details the financial situation regarding the improvement of the Mets and, as he did multiple times, ensured the fans that there were no restrictions monetarily. We have come to find out that not only were there restrictions from a financial standpoint, but they were legally enforceable through the Wilpons' loan contract.

I'm not naive. I know that people lie, and people as rich as the Wilpons lie frequently. Yet, if you knew the terms of your own contract contained actual financial restrictions, why would you repeatedly make claims otherwise? It cannot have been to save face or maintain a good public image, because the family has been battered about in the media and by the fans regardless. Why not just go silent until you could refinance?

There is one person that comes out of this looking better: Sandy Alderson. This should permanently divert the blame he had been receiving for an unwillingness to spend back onto it's rightful owners. Other than that, this is just one more media screw-up from a team that is the king of them.

Duda and the Mets Outfield

I was watching Terry Collins interview from yesterday on SNY.tv and when the subject came up about Duda the first topic was on 1B. Terry Collins was asked about battling for the position. Terry said confidence was a big thing for Lucas and he wanted him to have that going out of spring training. Terry was very positive that there is a place on this team for the Dudes and that he has the skills to play at the major league level.

And then came the question that had me almost vomit in my mouth. "Is there the thought that outfield isn't out of the question for Lucas?" O.M.G and the only thing equally worse was Terry's reply. "It can't be, when we go into spring training we have to look at every possible scenario and match up" and then Collins went on to say there could be some platoon opportunities.

I can see why Alderson retained this guy. He has molded him into the same speaking habits that Sandy has. Leave nothing out of the question, anything is possible, we have to look at everything. Even Mr Met and Jay Horwitz could be a factor in this upcoming season. Yes, in theory anything is possible and you can't leave anything out of the question. But for the sake of Mets fans let's just leave one thing out. Lucas Duda in LF.
Photo Courtesy of: risingapple.com
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January 30, 2014

Wilpons To Refinance Debt, Maintain Control of Mets

The New York Post reported tonight that the Mets are about to experience substantial financial relief.  As soon as next month, owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz will close on a seven year refinance of the organization's debt.  There was some question as to whether the ownership group could maintain control of the team through what was a required principal payment of $250 million dollars, due this spring.  The refinance puts that hurdle behind him, as the Post reports they will not be required to come out of pocket with any additional money.

The Post also states, for the first time publicly, that the Mets have been navigating spending restrictions.  Going forward, there will be "no payroll limits written into the re-worked loan."  Per the Post, sources within the Mets' organization expect payroll to increase slowly in the coming years.  however, it is not expected to reach the $140 million level anytime soon.  Additionally, the Mets could post a profit in 2014 for the first time in years.


This. Changes. Everything.  The debate of whether or not Sandy Alderson can/can't/won't spend may officially be laid to rest.  What can also be a thing of the past is the notion that the Wilpons are going anywhere.  They're here to stay, for better or worse.  Perhaps now fans can turn their attention forward.  Perhaps now the front office can do the same.  Is is possible the team can build on the additions they've made this winter in the coming years?  Are the Mets actually headed forward for the first time in I don't know how long?  Fans will still argue about the past, but this is good news...very good news!

Wilmer Flores to Play SS for the Mets?

Yes you read that correctly. Here is a quote from Sandy Alderson that was pulled from Adam Rubin's blog.

“I wouldn’t say [Flores to shortstop] is dead. I think that one of the things we want to see is how well he has done with his training regimen in Michigan. Before this off season, I’m not sure he ever had any sort of structured, regimented conditioning program. The work that they have done on speed and agility and quickness, etc., may have an impact on his ability to play certain positions -- including second base and conceivably even shortstop. But right now, that’s all speculation.”

Okay, so fat camp must be doing something for Sandy and the gang to even think this is conceivable. Because since 2011 all we have heard was that this position for Wilmer was dead. Maybe this is why they haven't put the pedal to the medal to acquire Stephen Drew or maybe over pay for a trade. What Sandy is saying makes sense. Flores has done nothing but play baseball year round and not have the opportunity to work on the little things like quickness and strength.  I don't want to get too excited over this but management has to be seeing something here for them to even the make this comment. Or is it just more talk? Lord knows we have heard plenty already.

I think it would be awesome if something like this actually worked out. He was mashing in AAA but struggled when he got to the majors. Granted that was a small sample until he got injured. More exposure and at bats could change that. Regardless, what a story line this would make if he beat out Tejada and could put up comparable numbers to Drew.

Photo courtesy of: eluniversal.com
Follow me @jwil25

Mets Poised To Enter 2014 With Little Improvement

With the Mets now officially unlikely to sign free agent shortstop and very little openly on the horizon for the trade market, it seems as though the Mets may be done adding players from outside the organization to the big league roster. With that we are left with this as a tentative lineup come Opening Day, courtesy of RotoChamp:

Murderer's Row this is not. Chris Young's numbers from last year are unimpressive, and Curtis Granderson would roughly replace Marlon Byrd's output, gaining a bit in the home run department but losing some average. Aside from those two changes, it's largely the same awful lineup as last year.

After the Granderson signing, there was an excitement about this offseason that is now all but dead. The Mets, even with everyone's new, adjusted expectations, have come up short. Nobody hoped or expected them to be in on Robinson Cano or Tanaka, but some attainable talent seems to be passing them by. Stephen Drew would be a marked improvement over Tejada, but the Mets have seemingly let that market pass them by. An unwillingness to sign even a two year deal for a talented player to ensure you get him is unconscionable and displays, to me, a lack of a serious effort to compete this season. Drew is an affordable, reasonable upgrade at one of the biggest gaps in the lineup. He needed to be added to this roster.

The Ike circus is it's own story. Once linked to a trade for Ryan Braun, then unable to get enough of a return for a team that was very publicly and very desperately trying to trade him, he looks set to return to the infield for this middling squad. The lineup boasts two batters who hit over .251 last season. Look forward to another sub .500 year barring any more upgrades.

Sandy Alderson Finally Describes "The Plan"

It Has Happened!!  For years now Mets fans have been left to wallow in self-pity as their team struggled to stabilize itself.  Sandy Alderson was brought in to fix things, but as the old adage goes: the more thing changed, the more they stayed the same.  Fans were left to ask.. What is the plan?  Is there a plan?  Well, during a Q&A with Penn University's student newspaper of all media outlets, Alderson finally discussed the plan he's been following since taking the helm:
"The last three years, the strategy I have tried to articulate is threefold: acquire talent and develop talent, create more payroll flexibility...and third, try to win as many games as you can without compromising one and two."
Much of this has been implied over the years.  Get younger, get cheaper.  Make sure players remain under team control.  Don't sacrifice the future for the present.  He has probably said all of this in bits and pieces over the years if you make a point to read between the lines, but this is the first time I can remember him laying it all out directly.

Alderson also believes that the organization has turned a corner with this plan, making references to the team finally spending money, taking the opportunity to point out that the Mets have spent the fifth most this winter.  He also referenced the young prospects, many of them believed to be difference makers, who are set to start contributing this season.

So if this has been the plan all along, despite whether you think its a good plan, I would have to guess that he's been fairly successful at sticking to it.  The Mets are younger, they are cheaper and for the most part they are under team control.  There have been some additions made, and the Mets may be ready to take a step forward, but I'm already prepared to ask what the next step in the plan is.  Will more money be spent next winter?  Are their trades to come?  Alderson's plan has gotten us this far, but the Mets are still far from being a force in the National League.  So what now?

Make Or Break Mets: Jon Niese

When the season starts, Jon Niese will be the only member of the rotation who was also a full-time starter during the Omar Minaya era.  He also figures to be the only lefty in the rotation, making him that much more valuable.  How valuable you ask?  Well, Niese will be entering the third year of his 5 year/$25.27 million dollar contract.

That's a deal that Niese earned based upon both performance and potential.  The issue remains its a potential he hasn't yet reached.  Still he has remained in proposed trade discussions over the years, but those talks could heat up this season if he fails to find the path to the next level.  Each of the next two seasons, Niese's salary will increase by $2 million, from $5 million this season to $7 million next, and then $9 million in the final year of his deal.

That's a good bit of money for a pitcher who has struggled to stay healthy over the years.  In fact, the only season that hasn't seen him land on the disabled list is 2012:

2010: 19 Days (Hamstring)
2011: 35 Days (Intercostal Strain)
2012: 0   Days
2013: 51 Days (Torn Rotator Cuff)

There have also been instances when Niese has skipped starts due to fatigue.  Now while its obvious that these minor injuries are nothing compared to more significant injuries that have hampered other members of the rotation, they still eat away at his innings and probably play a part in his effectiveness.  The 2012 season was not only the healthiest of his career, but also his best statistically.  Its the only year he's posted an above .500 record (an admittedly poor performance evaluator), while also posting a career low ERA and his best ever (by a hair) strike out to walk ratio.

Niese is going to make his money.  However his time with the Mets could hang in the balance if he struggles again this season.  Consistency and health will weigh heavy on his shoulders.  At just twenty-seven years old, Jon remains a very tradable asset, and one which the team could use to bolster is offense in the coming years.  2014 is a big year for Niese, as he not only looks to solify his own resume, but will also hope to fill some of the void left by the injured Matt Harvey.  The Mets need innings, and quality ones at that.  Whether or not Niese can handle that responsibility is the question.

Mets Free-Shirt Friday Lineup

To date, nearly every shirt for the Mets Free-Shirt Friday promotion have been released and they are as follows:

There is one final game to be played on September 26th, however the team is yet to release that shirt design.  Once they do, we will update accordingly!

Interested in attending any of these games?  You can get tickets for these games specifically by clicking HERE.

January 29, 2014

Syndergaard Wants to Wear the #34

Noah Syndergaard was answering questions on Twitter earlier under the @MLBFutures account and he replied to one of mine.

Shortly after, Adam Rubin tweeted this:
Now, my first thought was not a good group to follow up for various reasons. Pelfrey was supposed to be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come but injuries and inconsistencies ended his tenure. And outside of Kris Benson and his hot and psychotic wife who is facing jail time the rest aren't worth the keystrokes.

I was having a good conversation with fellow blogger Tom @GetsThruBuckner and he immediately thinks this is a bad idea and the number could be cursed. My take was somewhat similar but yet I started thinking that maybe this kid is that good mentally and the number doesn't mean anything to him. Especially when considering those who have worn it in the past. Then Rubin tweeted out a list of every Met who has worn the number 34 and one glaringly stuck out at me. Nolan Ryan.

I don't think there has been much posted out in the Mets universe about who Syndergaard models himself after. At least I haven't seen anything lately. But, if that is his reasoning for wanting that number than to me that is flat out guts and determination to be the best. Now, his choice of that number is all speculation on my part but either way it is fun to see a pitcher who appears to have a bright future pick a number with some history. Good and bad.

The 5th Spot in Mets Rotation

I was reading over @ metsblog that John Lannan is geared up and ready to go for spring training. He will compete for the 5th spot in the rotation with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jenrry Mejia, and others. Lannan grew up on Long Island and is quoted as always wanting to sign with a New York team. He grew up a Yankee fan so wondering if that statement was being politically correct or he really wants to be here.

Assuming Mejia is healthy it should be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I have always liked Lannan as a back of the rotation starter. His ERA has always been where it should be for someone in that role with a slight decline over the last couple of years. I don't think that last year was any indication of what he is capable with the injuries he had.

Whoever lands the job I think as Mets fans we don't have many concerns over the starting rotation. Personally, I would like to see Mejia win the spot. He has shown flashes of potential and that he belongs in the big leagues. Based on last years small sample he showed that he can be a starter its just a matter of staying healthy. Dice K started off rough and finished well. The problem I have with him is he works so darn slow. I wonder if that bugs his team mates? I can assure you if he does crack the rotation my mlb.tv account won't be in use on the days he takes the ball.
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On Sale Now: These Effing Guys T-Shirt

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fan is as frustrating as it gets.  Embrace the pain with our first shirt design!  Just $12 and 
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Mets Offseason May Be Over

In addition to claiming themselves out of the Stephen Drew race, Sandy Alderson also told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that the team is unlikely to issue another guaranteed deal this winter.  This likely signifies the end of an offseason with two keep positions still remaining on the team's shopping list: an upgrade at shortstop and a veteran relief pitcher.

Following an offer to Grant Balfour who ultimately signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mets were attached to rumors for Fernando Rodney, however that option remains unlikely.  Instead Alderson told DiComo:

"We've got a lot of good young arms that we like -- they just don't have much experience. 
Acquiring someone with some experience would give us some comfort going into Spring 
Training, but we don't want to preclude some of our younger pitchers from getting a 
solid opportunity either. So if there's somebody there that we like, we'll pursue them. 
Otherwise, one of the ways we've approached starting pitching, for example, is to bring 
in a couple of guys on Minor League contracts and have them compete with some of our 
own internal candidates. We may do the same thing with the bullpen."

If he's true to his word, this would put the end to what was supposed to be an offseason of promise.  The Mets will have spent just over $87 million dollars this winter, but will have failed to address two of their biggest needs and are poised to enter the season with an opening day payroll of just $82.35 million.  None of this will sit well with fans, who were looking for much more heading into 2014.  The Mets appear to be only slightly better (depending who you ask) and will lean heavily on their upcoming youth next season.

Mets Unlikely To Sign Drew

The past 48 hours has seen the market for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew heat up.  For much of the winter, Drew's market appeared to be limited to just the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets.  That's now changed, with the Oakland A's , Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins all getting involved.  As a result, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson went on record for the first time since the winter meetings saying that its "unlikely" the team signs Drew.

In a report filed by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Alderson says:

"We haven't ruled it out, but I think doing anything is unlikely.  I think that Stephen
 will always have other opportunities. We continue to monitor his situation. We're 
looking at other free agents that are still available and trying to judge their status,
 and how they might fit with us. I know there's been a lot of speculation about Drew 
and the Mets, but at this point, that's what it remains -- speculation."

This will warrant a sour response from Mets fans who had hoped that Stephen Drew would be the final major piece added this offseason.  Drew would have fortified a lineup that was partially renovated this winter, however that no longer appears to be an option.  

As a result, it appears likely that Ruben Tejada will in fact get one final chance to claim the shortstop position as his own.  He is poised to enter spring training in what the Mets consider much better shape as he looks to regain the form that once saw him dubbed the the replacement for Jose Reyes.

January 28, 2014

Bat Clemens Threw At Piazza In WS For Sale

An auction house is selling a memento from one of the most heated exchanges in World Series history. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is selling a shard of the broken bat that New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw back at New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series. The auction house says the barrel of the bat was consigned by Jeff Mangold, who was the Yankees' strength and conditioning coach from 1984-88 and 1998-2006. Mangold took the bat piece after the game that night.
"I've had this for 13 years," Mangold said. "It was just sitting in my office and very few people knew about it. But I think this is an article of sports memorabilia that has some substance to it."
It's a cool artifact to be sure. It comes with an equally cool price, however, with bidding expected to reach over $10,000 during the final auction event on February 22.

In case anyone has forgotten where the bat came from:

Was Johan Santana A Bust With The Mets?

With the news yesterday that his time with the New York Mets is officially over, Johan Santana will look to continue his rehab in hopes of a return to the majors elsewhere.  He leaves behind a team also looking to rehab its roster back into form.  Leading up to the 2008 season, the Mets traded for the once dominant pitcher, immediately extending his contract and paying him in excess of $130 million over the next six years. 

Santana was brought in to be the final piece of the puzzle, to get the Mets back into the post season and hopefully back to the World Series.  Things often don't go as planned.  The Mets never reached the post season during Santana's tenure in New York.  In fact, they finished higher than third place in the division on just one occasion.  That one instance was Santana's first year in Queens, his best season in Queens.  A season that saw him go 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA.  From there however things started to fade.

Santana would go on to start 88 games in the first three years of his contract.  A pair of severe shoulder injuries would limit him to just 21 starts over the remainder of his deal.  Brought in to be the answer, Santana's contract would soon become an anchor.  Topping out of $25.5 million in 2013, a season that never saw Santana toe the rubber, his deal ultimately limited the Mets financially and delayed the rebuilding process.

Despite being a fierce competitor and an outspoken leader, Santana's time in Queens was likely saved by his 2012 no-hitter at Citi Field.  That moment, the first for the Mets in their fifty years of existence at the time will live on forever.  While that's something that can ever be taken away from Santana, is it enough to deem his time in Queens a success? Santana doesn't depart as some jaded warrior.  A victim to his own shoulder, Santana worked his way back in 2012 but wasn't the same pitcher.  He battled as he always did when he didn't have his best stuff, but when he reached back for the goods they were nowhere to be found. 

Right or wrong, it will be Santana's deal that sees the Mets steer clear of big-time pitchers on long-term contracts for the foreseeable future.  Minus the no-hitter, his unfortunate legacy will be his bloated contract, highlighted by injuries, rather than the excitement his arrival brought.  With more than $130 million spent, the Mets received just46 wins in 109 starts and 717 innings pitched over six years.  So I ask you, aside from just one all-star appearance and of course his no-hitter, was Johan Santana a bust with the Mets?

Like what you ready?  Follow me on Twitter @RobPatterson83.

January 27, 2014

Yankees Won't Complicate The Market For Stephen Drew

According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, despite having blown their previous budget of $189 million for this offseason, the New York Yankees remain unlikely to pursue free agent shortstop Stephen Drew.

Following the acquisition of Masahiro Tanaka, it became clear that the Yankees would not keep payroll under their goal of $189 million.  As a result, some speculated that they could renew their pursuit of Stephen Drew in an effort to provide some depth behind the aging Derek Jeter.  It appears that won't be the case as Martino reports the prevailing feeling around baseball is that the Yankees are not in a position to add much additional payroll this winter.

This is good news for Mets fans who still believe the team should make an effort to acquire Drew's services.  The Yankees could have turned the somewhat dormant market for Drew on end, quickly raising his asking price out of the Mets' range.  Now, with the Yankees seemingly out of the picture it remains a staring contest between the Mets and Red Sox.

Martino: No Room For Santana In 2014

Earlier this offseason, this would have been bad news. At this point, with the amount of pitching depth the Mets have stacked up, it's the truth, and I'm fine with it. He would have filled a back end of the rotation role at best, and is probably a likely candidate to go down with another injury. Any chance Johan had at landing a role with the team was gone when they signed Matsuzaka last week.

From a personal standpoint, this means I got to see his last home start with the Mets. He, of course, got torched by the Braves for a couple innings and rode off into the sunset.

Why Must Alderson Act Like Carrot Top?

This topic was brought up yesterday by Rob, here. I'm gonna add my own take on it, because for some reason, I'm really agitated by it. In case you missed it, it's reported that at Saturday's BWAA dinner, Sandy Alderson had the line of the night. While referring to the Yankees, he is quoted as saying:
We each signed Japanese pitchers this week. They're paying $155 Million and we're paying our guy month to month.

Hardy har har, Sandy. I'm sick of this guys act. The team he is in charge of has been a joke for the last seven years. Why add fuel to the critic's fires? On top of that, you're in charge of a business. Your business is in the same city as another organization in the same business, an organization that you can't even hold a candle to at this point when it comes to comparing productivity.

I'm not big into the Mets-Yankees comparisons. As far as I'm concerned, as a fan, the Yankees don't matter to me. They're not a rival. You're not competeing against them for a playoff spot. But from a business standpoint, the Mets are competeing with them for money and fans. So how do you sell yourself to an angry exisiting fan base, as well as people on the fence about who to root for? By making jokes about how the other team outspends you? C'mon already. This is how you run your business and sell yourself? This is like Microsoft saying "Well, Apple may have the iPod, but we have out own crappy MP3 players, too."

On top of it, you're insulting your own guy. Daisuke isn't that good at this point, however, you signed him. So why are you going to slight him for? It's annoying. To me, this sounds like a guy who is constantly condescending because he didn't want this job, but was pressured to take it by Selig. He really doesn't want to be bothered. And I don't understand how the Wilpon's stand for this, because frankly, every shot Sandy takes at the team, he takes at them too. Regardless, it's time for Sandy to shut his mouth, and put a team on the field that's going to win some ball games.

Are The 2014 Mets Better?

As the offseason starts to wind down, the Mets and their fans have got a pretty good idea of what the team is going to look like this upcoming season.  Despite what appears to be a few remaining opportunities for upgrades both at shortstop and within the bullpen, the team's roster appears to be just about set.  So I ask, will this edition of the New York Mets be any better than the one that preceeded it?

I'm sure there will be some who believe that not enough happened this winter.  The team didn't spend enough, didn't spend wisely enough and simply didn't do what they said they were going to do.  All of those are up for debate, but that is an argument for when the offseason actually comes to a close, when the roster is set in stone and when we know precisely whats been done this winter.  For now though, I'll ask again..Have the Mets gotten better?

To date, the Mets have reinvested the majority of the payroll that came off the books at the close of 2013.  Major acquisitions include Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, and Chris Young.  Depth signings to date are limited to John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka.  What does all of that amount to?

If I had to guess, I think the Mets as they stand today have a lot more potential for a few different reasons.  First and foremost, I believe the Curtis Granderson will provide slightly better numbers in replacing Marlon Byrd.  I think the same can be said for Chris Young, who will look to outperform the hodgepodge that was Lucas Duda and Eric Young Jr. in 2013.  Then there is Bartolo Colon.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think for one second Colon replaces the dominance we saw from Matt Harvey in 2013, however I do believe he can benefit from an improved offense that could not support Harvey last season.

The other reason I believe the 2014 Mets can have better results, is I think you will see increased performance from shortstop, first base and catcher.  Its important to remember that offensive production from these spots was almost non-existent last year.  I think you will see bounce back seasons (to some extent) from Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, if they do indeed take the field on opening day.  While I don't think Tejada will hit .300 and I don't foresee Davis slugging 30 home runs, I do think moderate improvements on their part assist the offense as a whole.  Finally, I believe we'll see the Travis d'Arnaud start to take shape.

What does all of this mean?  When I said the 2014 Mets have much higher potential then their predecessors, I don't mean to infer this is a playoff team as it sits today.  I do however, feel that 74 wins is the absolute floor for this group.  I think .500 is a realistic expectation and that if some things break their way, we could see a ten game improvement over the 2013 squad.  Ten games would mean 84 wins, and while that shouldn't be good enough to earn them a playoff spot, it is the recipe for some meaningful September baseball.

Yes, I believe the 2014 Mets will be better.  Just how much better of course remains to be seen.  While the ultimate goal should always be the playoffs and a World Series Championship, I don't believe anything short of that would be a failure.  I want to, and expect to see progress.  That won't be enough for some people, but I still believe this organization wasn't ravaged by bad contracts and financial woes in one year, and therefore it will take more than one year to remedy.  That's why I'll take what I can get this year, and then look for the team to take another step forward, just like they've done this winter, in 2015.

January 26, 2014

Alderson Jokes, Mets Fans Freak

“We each signed Japanese pitchers this week..They're paying $155 million and 
we’re paying our guy month to month.”
Above was what writers are calling the joke of the night. It was provided by Mets' GM, Sandy Alderson, referring to the Mets acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka which followed the much bigger signing of Masahiro Tanaka across town in the Bronx.  This was not Alderson's first jab at fans during his tenure. It's not even his first jab this offseason. It is however probably the first jab that was poorly timed.

While most Mets fans would agree that although Alderson still has some work to do this winter if this offseason is to be deemed a success, he has made progress. For the first time since taking over, he has added new talent, quality talent, to the roster. It's fair to say his approval rating has never been higher.  So, why the jokes now?

This isn't to say that Alderson doesn't still have his critics. Long drawn out negotiations, months long in some instances, will wear thin the patience of even the most devout fans. However, having spent the better part of $100 million this winter, payroll isn't as big a topic as it once was. Bringing attention to it wasn't really necessary.

Even still, this story is more of a non-story. Despite temporarily providing some ammunition for his strongest critics, most fans have already turned their sights towards spring training. This story shouldn't have legs as it is, but if Alderson manages to finally land the services of Stephen Drew or some other semi-significant addition, few if anyone will remember last night's remark for any length of time.

We Wuz Robbed - Mets MVP's Who Weren't

The New York Mets have never had a player who was voted Most Valuable Player in the National League.  Many have come close.  What follows is a list of those who were close to being MVP (had to be in the top 5) and why those players should have been the MVP.

1969 Tom Seaver

The best player on the Mets that year, and for many years to come, was Tom Seaver.  His best year in baseball was 1969 when he went 25-7 and led the impossible dream, the Mets, to a World Series Championship.  He lost out to Willie McCovey who had a great year for the Giants.  The team McCovey played for, however, didn't even make the Playoffs.  (1969 was the first year of scheduled divisional playoffs.  If there were no playoffs that year, the Giants would have finished in fourth place in the NL.)  So why did a player whose team finished (arguably) fourth beat out the undisputed leader of the most surprising/over performing team in the history of baseball?  How can anyone argue that Seaver wasn't the "most valuable" player in the game? 

Seaver's numbers that year were phenomenal.  As noted above, 25-7; 2.28 ERA; 5 shutouts; 17 complete games; a WHIP of 1.091; 276 innings pitched and 228 strikeouts.  He won the Cy Young Award, almost unanimously.  The debate in today's game is whether any pitcher can be the MVP.  Not so in 1969, and that's probably why he lost. The year before, two pitchers were their leagues MVPs. Bob Gibson for the Cardinals and Denny McClain for the Tigers.  Their stats were otherworldly.  Gibson was 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. He pitched the entire season without being taken out in the middle of an inning.  He had 17 shutouts and completed 28 games.  Of his nine losses, five were by the score of 1-0.  McClain was even better.  His record was 31-6; he had an ERA of 1.96 on 336 innings pitched; he threw 28 complete games.  (The Year of the Pitcher caused Major League Baseball to lower the mound five inches to its current 10 inch height and they lowered the strike zone from the armpits to the letters.)   One can see how, by comparison, Seaver did not stack up against the records of accomplishment of Gibson and McClain from just the year before. 

 McCovey had a monster year.  He hit 45 home runs with a batting average of .320; he drove in 126 runs.  In hindsight, one can see how the BBWA wanted to reward the boost in offensive production from McCovey, with the acknowledged slightly lower performance from Seaver compared to Gibson and McClain.  Still, the Mets were indisputably the greatest single story of the sports world that year - even better than the Jets.  Seaver was the greatest single contributor to that team.  His Nearly Perfect Game against the division leading Cubs on the night of July 9, 1969 convinced everyone on the team (and fans as well) that the Mets were not pretenders and really could win it all.  Seaver should have been the 1969 NL MVP.  

1988 Darryl Strawberry

Darryl Strawberry was the best player on the best team in the National League in 1988.   The Mets were 100-60 that year.   Strawberry led the NL with 39 HRs, SLG .545 and OPS .911.  He drove in 101 and hit cleanup on a team that featured Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and Kevin McReynolds.  Strawberry finished second in the MVP voting and McReynolds finished third, effectively splitting the New York vote - which is most likely why Kirk Gibson finished ahead of both of them. Gibson did not have nearly the year Strawberry had, finishing with 25 HRs and only 76 RBIs.  He led the league in no offensive category but he was the sentimental favorite because the Mets were despised for their on the field arrogance. No MVP since Pete Rose (230 hits) had won the NL crown with fewer RBIs.  Strawberry was robbed of an MVP in 1988.  

2000 Mike Piazza

Jeff Kent was the second best player on the San Francisco Giants in 2000, but he still beat Mike Piazza for the MVP that year.  Their stats were virtually identical: Kent batted .334 with 33 HRs and 125 RBIs.  Piazza hit .324 with 38 HRs and 113 RBIs. Piazza, however, played in 23 fewer games and had 105 fewer ABs, owing chiefly to his position on the field, catcher, the most important and difficult defensive position in baseball.  No one could argue that Piazza was the most important player on the Mets that year and their run to the World Series could not have happened without him.  Piazza was the NL MVP in 2000, even if he didn't win the Award.  

January 25, 2014

More Effing Mind Games from the Mets Brass

I was reading an article over at MetsBlog about Ruben Tejada and the quote from Alderson in regards to his off season and fat camp was:

“He went up there in November and he’s back up there now,” Alderson said in Virginia on Friday. “It’s one of the reasons we have greater confidence that he can handle that position as a regular, so we’ll see.”

Seriously. Is Sandy a lunatic shrink on the side? The effing mind games he is playing with the fan base and more importantly the team has long been out of control. First they lost out on Peralta. Then they like Stephen Drew but not at market price. They can't make a trade for the likes of Jed Lowrie or anyone else for that matter. But hey, here we are now. "Tejeda's our man. We have greater confidence now that we sent his skinny of a rail frame to boot camp." Oh, and then there is this.

“We’re always looking to improve,” Alderson said. However, he added, “We will be happy going into spring training with Ruben penciled in as being our starting shortstop.”

So Ruben, if you are reading this, Sandy is happy with you as the starting shortstop. Unless of course he can trade for something else or Drew finally waves the white flag. I sure would (not) love it if that is how my boss handled me. 

Harvey Should Be Shut Down Until 2015

By now we've all heard about Matt Harvey's declaration that he would like to be out on the field pitching for the Mets come September. Speaking at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner, he stressed his desire to get back to the big leagues as soon as possible, saying, ""I'd like right now...That's not possible. I'd like to shoot for being out there in September. Obviously I don't make those decisions. I can only prepare to the best of
my ability and make sure I'm in good strength and flexibility, and when they do let me go, I'm good to go."

As we all know, the only thing Matt Harvey loves more than playful back and forths with trolls on Twitter is pitching. And, normally, this is a good thing. However, we have to hope (and I believe they will) that the front office becomes the adult in the room and tells him that it's just not going to happen. Even if the Mets are in a pennant race, even if they've made the playoffs (ha), there is just no reason for Harvey to try to pitch this year. Too little upside to offset the potentially very large downside.

That said, there has been no indication that the Mets have any intent of seeing Harvey on the mound this season. It was speculation and mostly wishful thinking on his part, and probably is not worth dwelling on for too long. Frankly, this type of news story is still better than the type of Harvey news we were beginning to become accustomed to, with Qualcomm and Twitter still pretty large in our rearview mirrors.

January 24, 2014

Three Mets Prospects Land In MLB.com's Top 100

Another day and another prospect list!  This time is Major League Baseball's Jonathan Mayo ranked the top 100 prospects in major league baseball.  Three Mets made the cut and none are names that should catch you by surprise.

The highest name on the list should come as a surprise to no one.  Noah Syndergaard came in at number eleven on the list.  Anyone who's been paying any attention knows that Syndergaard is poised to be the next major prospect to make his debut.  He figures to challenge Matt Harvey for the role of ace on the staff.  If and when that time comes, it will be a good problem to have for the Mets.

Next up was Travis d'Arnaud, who managed the twenty-second spot.  Despite making an underwhelming debut last season, d'Arnaud will enter 2014 as a "rookie".  He'll assume the role as starting catcher out of spring training and will be off to the races.  Multiple outlets have pegged him as the best catching prospect in baseball, this list was no exception.

Finally was Rafael Montero, who fell all the way to eighty-fifth.  Lets not get crazy.  Montero is a strong prospect and figures to make his debut in 2014 as well.  Although his ceiling isn't as high as Noah Syndergaard, he projects as high as a number three in the rotation.  If he sticks, he could be right in the middle of what figures to be one of the best young rotations in baseball.

Despite just three prospects making the list, that still represented the eighth best total in all of Major League Baseball.  The front office has worked to renovate the farm system in recent years.  Syndergaard and d'Arnaud are part of the renovation.  These three players represent the best the young players the organization has to offer.  Beyond them is a bit of a drop off, but its important that the system is now regularly graduating talent to the major league level.  Young, premiere, afforable talent will be a benchmark of the New York Mets for years go come.  This list indicates that they remain on track to make that vision a reality.

Mets Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Mets will add Dice-K's name to the collection of folks competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, as they have signed him to a minor league contract.  That group now includes Jenrry Mejia (the frontrunner), John Lannan and Dice-K.

Dice-K finished strong for the Mets last season.  Its a reasonable addition and one that will provide starting pitching depth to the organization.  You can never have enough pitching, period.

Mets Talking To Fernando Rodney

It would appear that the closer market has heat up. A day after losing out on Grant Balfour, the Mets are no in talks with free agent relief pitcher Fernando Rodney. Rodney accumulated 37 saves last season for the Tampa Bay Rays in the process of going 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA.

It is unknown exactly what role Rodney would play for the Mets, who are in search of a veteran reliever to serve as insurance for the recuperating Bobby Parnell.  Rodney fits that bill, but will warrant the same type of investment the Mets offered Balfour yesterday (2yrs/$12M).  The Mets are believed to be four total teams pursuing Rodney, one of which is the Baltimore Orioles.

What To Do With Wilmer Flores

In watching MLB Network rank the top fifty prospects in baseball last night, Wilmer Flores' name popped into my head. Aside from hearing he went to fat camp with Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada, you haven't heard much about him this winter.  This struck me as odd, since he is still considered one of the organization's top offensive prospects in recent years.

As 2014 approaches, it appears the Mets line-up is set, assuming the team doesn't land Stephen Drew. Whether the Mets get Drew or not, it appears that Flores will be the odd man out.  So, what do you do with him? Flores has shown he can handle the bat in the minors.  In the short time he was healthy in 2013, Flores excelled offensively, however he didn't get a fair shake due to an ankle injury that limited his reps and production. His stats project him as a solid offensive middle infielder, but his glove does not.  He has minimal range and doesn't exactly have the smoothest hands.  Unfortunately, he probably isn't and ideal DH candidate with regards to potential trade partners from the American League.

Third base and second base are taken.  First base is a big hole and makes sense for him, but Flores has minimal experience that position. Also working againt him, players Mets also have two guys ahead of him in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, who could still prove to be good fits long term.  Duda and Ike Davis are both lefties.  This would leave the right-handed Flores grouped with Josh Satin, who is also in the mix.  There has been a ton of talk of a platoon involving Satin and Davis/Duda.  This is not an ideal situation and one I hope the Mets can avoid, as I've noted here. <--- Shameless self promotion

Brad Pitt said it best in Moneyball: "Adapt or die."  I believe platoons at first base are detrimental to the stability of the team, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.  So if the Mets opt to go with a platoon at first base I'll support it, but it's likely to be Satin as the right handed piece, instead of Flores. I would argue that Satin is best suited for the super utility role that Justin Turner filled. 

I feel like the Mets constantly overrate hitting prospects.  Whether it was Jay Payton, Alex Escobar, Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez, it seems like the Mets love hyping these guys.  Its a level of hype that scouts seem to buy into.  Perhaps it's a Mets problem.  It seems more often than not that our premiere offensive prospects come up short.  That's why I believe Flores can hit, but I am leery about how good he is all around and think he too could have been over hyped by the organization. (By the way, Flores was ranked by MLB Network at the #10 prospect at 2B.  He didn't crack the top 100.)

I think if Flores was good enough, then he'd be in the starting line up now in January. But he's not. If Flores were good enough, its likely Daniel Murphy and his nearly six million dollar salary would have been sent packing.  That's the type of frugal move that the Mets and Sandy Alderson have made their name on in recent years.

Ultimately, Flores is someone who would be valuable off the bench, but would the Mets be willing to keep a twenty-two year old on the pine, even if he may have hit his ceiling?  I doubt it. Problem is we don't know his ceiling. So although it seems logical to have him break camp and be a platoon guy who can spot start at 2B, he should start the year in AAA.  He should be playing everyday at whatever position suits him best. The Mets should make every attempt to find a permanent home for him, whether that means first base, second base or on some other franchise that doesn't call Queens home.

Jeff Wilpon To Blame For Mets Radio Shakeup

There was some pretty significant backlash when it was recently reported that WOR Radio, the new radio home of your New York Mets, was looking to break up the radio broadcast team as they made the transition from WFAN to WOR this spring.  Now it would appear that team ownership may be the one to blame, with Howard Megdal of Capital New York reporting that its actually Jeff Wilpon who is making a push replay Josh Lewin with an ex-player in the booth for this upcoming season. You may recall seeing recently that either Cliff Floyd or Darryl Hamilton are possibilities for the spot.

This reeks of desperation in my opinion as Jeff Wilpon looks to levy some sort of control on the franchise.  The disappointing thing is that the team's broadcast groups, both television and radio, are amongst the most successful things about the franchise.  Breaking on of them up in what can only be an attempt to divert attention from a slumping offseason is unfortunate.  The notion of breaking up the team's radio broadcast team has  been met with unanimous opposition, yet here we sit waiting for one of the most clueless ownership groups in all of baseball to impose their will and rob the fan base of one of the few remaining positives about this organization.

Could Matt Harvey Pitch In 2014?

In a late night article by ESPN's Adam Rubin, it appears that Mets ace Matt Harvey would like the pitch in 2014.  In fact, he told the Wall Street Journal the following:

"When you see stories of guys coming back in 10 months, I'm going to think, 
'Hey, I can come back in nine.' Unfortunately, I don't make those decisions. 
I can't throw the uniform on and go back on the mound without the permission 
of higher-ups. That's my personality -- I always want to be out there. Like I've
 said all along, I'm nota doctor, so I don't have those answers. But of course I 
want to get back on the mound."

 Look.. I don't think I need to tell you that this is wishful thinking.  However, this is exactly the competitive nature that has made Matt Harvey into the star he's become.  I would expect nothing less than him pushing his timetable and in all honesty, would be worried if he acted any differently.

I don't expect Harvey to toe the rubber this season under any circumstances, to include the media shocking the masses and making a playoff run.  Matt Harvey is the future.  Since the Mets don't figure to be anything resembling a contender in 2014, there is no reason to risk that future for the present.  Let Harvey push the issue, but there is no way his forces himself into the lineup this season.

Mets Worst Nightmare..Yankees Back In On Drew?

Let the games begin! Drew's agent, Scott Boras, has been waiting all winter for another team to jump into the mix for free agent shortstop. All offseason his market has plummeted. What seemed to be a race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets (at most), now takes a turn for the worst.

 The New York Yankees were once thought to be out of the Steven Drew sweepstakes, but things now appear to have changed.  Having signed Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees have exceeded the luxury tax threshold.  With that in mind, the team may be willing to continue its spending spree.  What effect that may have on Drews market remains to be seen, but its certainly bad news for the Mets who had hoped to swoop in and upgrade their shortstop position on the cheap.

Whether or not this elevates Drew's market beyond the Mets' reach remains to be seen, but for a team that's reported bumping right up against his budget limits, any increase in Drew's price doesn't bode well.  If they're willing to pay the price, the Yankees could provide Drew with the opportunity to play every day at third base, while also providing insurance for an aging Derek Jeter.  This could be the only other opportunity Drew gets for regular reps in 2014.  Ultimately, if accurate this is a recipe for disaster and there are no two ways about it.


Update from this morning -
Perhaps reports that the Yankees could be interested were just Scott Boras being Scott Boras. Perhaps this all a smoke screen for something much different all together. All I know is I'd like to see this situation resolved sooner than later, but I don't think that is going to happen.

Mets Make Play for Closer - Fall Short on Balfour

Several sources are reporting that the Mets offered Grant Balfour a two year deal exceeding $12M, but the former A's closer opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays instead.  While losing out on one of the remaining quality free agent arms for the bullpen is disappointing, it does signal a willingness on the Mets part to spend more than $90M in payroll for the 2014 season.  That apparent commitment, and the fact that the market for Steven Drew appears to be falling in the range of the team's price range, could mean that Sandy Alderson isn't finished improving the 2014 squad. All teams have question marks as the season approaches.  Answering those questions by exhibiting an ability to devote resources to the product on the field is the best way to lure wary fans back to the ballpark.


Added by Rob -
Its worth nothing that money may not have been the deciding factor in this case.  Balfour is a closer, and a quality one.  The Mets have Bobby Parnell, and while an argument could be made for either one over the other, it likely the team's front office viewed Balfour as the "veteran" insurance policy with regards to Parnell's health.  I can't agree more with Denis' assertion that the willingness to spend upwards of $12 million dollars should illustrate to fans that the Mets still have the wallet to add this offseason.  That's refreshing news, despite losing out in this particular instance.

January 23, 2014

NYDN's Harper: Syndergaard Could Be Another Harvey

In Tuesday's New York Daily News, columnist John Harper talked about some time he had recently spent with hot Met pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. Harper spoke at length not just about his physical gifts and talents, but about his drive. Harper feels as though he's the type of personality who is driven to excel, giving him the praise of comparing him to Matt Harvey. From the article:

He’s a friendly, 21-year-old who describes himself as being “goofy’’ off the field, yet he’s driven in ways that show up in his work in the weight room, where his friends worry that he pushes himself to the point of risking injury, and even in the way he embraces the huge expectations that await his arrival in the big leagues, likely in June or July of 2014.
Photo by Michael Baron

“I wake up every day with the idea of giving it everything I’ve got,” he said on Tuesday at his old high school, after a morning of working out and then long-tossing...“Why are you so driven?” I asked, and Syndergaard didn’t hesitate.
“I want to make it to the big leagues and pitch against the best,” he said. “Hopefully I can make it to the Hall of Fame someday. Win a couple of Cy Youngs. Win a couple of World Series rings for the Mets...It’s all about never being satisfied,” he said.
Another Matt Harvey? We'll take it.

Of course, there is a lot more than drive and desire that go into becoming an ace on a Major League team, but by all accounts Syndergaard is not short in talent. Hopefully Harper is right, and the kid has the mental makeup to become a real performer at the next level. There is almost no shot that he makes the rotation out of spring training, whether he has earned the position or not, because the team will be looking to keep his years of service to a minimum. However, he will hopefully make a debut a la the last two Mets pitchers, Wheeler and Harvey, where he makes a mid-summer splash in the bigs.

Mets Lagares Named Dominican ROY

Per Adam Rubin Mets outfielder Juan Lagares has been named MLB’s Domincan rookie of the year by sports writers from his country. Juan had a BA of .242, hit 4 HR’s, batted in 34 in 421 trips to the plate. He also had 15 outfield assists which was good for a rookie franchise record. None of these stats were good enough to get him any votes for the league’s rookie of the year but I think that the franchise and most of the Mets fan base will agree he was a nice surprise.
Let’s fast forward to the Dominican winter league where Lagares played well with a line of .342/1HR/16RBI/5SB/7BB in 114 plate appearances for Aguiles. Only two other players had a higher average. Now mind you, this is a small sample and the DWL isn’t the same talent wise as playing in the big leagues but I like the fact that he played to get some more exposure.

How he fits in with the Mets this season remains to be seen. Sandy is being rather coy as to how he is going to use the likes of him, EYJ, Chris Young, and Curtis Granderson. Weird. You can probably guarantee based on salary that Young and Granderson are locks to get the majority of playing time with the others splitting time. Oh and there is that hellacious rumor of bring Lucas Duda back to the outfield. I guess the front office thinks the fan base hasn’t seen enough of those defensive blunders.   
Photo courtsey of: mets360.com
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Beefed Up Ballpark Security By 2015

The news is a few days old now, but ESPN's Adam Rubin reported that Major League Baseball has told all thirty teams that they must medal detectors in place by 2015.  Upon arrival, fans will be required to either pass through a stand-alone medal detector or be wanded by a security guard.  This practice was implemented at the All-Star Game last season, so it will not be the first time some of you have experienced when it arrives for good.

This upgraded security is a direct result of the threats park patrons face when they go to any major sporting event these days, to include direct assaults from other fans or even terrorism.  Major events such as the All-Star Game last summer or the Superbowl next weekend now require present major security concerns serious enough to involve the Department of Homeland Security.  The average fan won't mind, but there are always those few (think about the unruly guy in the TSA line at the airport) who take offense to any new security practice.

I think its worth noting that the average fan is much more likely to have their ballpark experience ruined and/or be harmed by a drunk fan.  While I respect that Major League Baseball hopes to accomplish by implementing these measures, if they were concerned about the average fan on a daily basis they would find a way to clamp down on patrons over imbibing.  I enjoy an adult beverage and have on occasion strapped on a good buzz at the ballpark, but some fans can't handle it.

Nonetheless, fans should be prepared for longer lines at the gates when these screenings begin.  In effect that will be the worst to come of this.  However, threats to your safety at the game are real and Major League Baseball is correct to force fans through this process, whether they like it or not.

Mets Could Be The Lone Team Standing For Drew

In yesterday's Boston Herald, Scott Lauber recounts a discussion with Red Sox General Manager, Ben Cherington, about the state of the team right now and the possible addition of free agent Stephen Drew.  His words were very telling on just how little commitment the Sox have towards the Drew sweepstakes:
"We feel good about where we are right now. I think the time that's being spent on talking about publicly is not necessarily consistent with the time we're spending on it. We feel like we're in good shape to start the season tomorrow if we had to. There's a circumstance for the Red Sox in that we have players that we believe in and bigger-picture things that we want to do, and some of that has nothing to do with Stephen Drew. Stephen did a great job for us last year. We respect him, and because of that, we've kept a dialogue going. But there's nothing to be gleaned from that other than we've kept a dialogue going. We're comfortable where we are. I don't ever want to rule anything out because it doesn't make any sense to do that, but we like the roster we have now."
As is always the case with any general manager, its important to try to interpret exactly what he means. This isn't the first time Cherington has made similar comments. The Red Sox have some significant young talent on the left side of the infield in Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks. There isn't necessarily an everyday role available for Drew in Boston. As a result there is no real push to retain him.

That's what I take away from his words.  Drew would be welcomed back at the right price, but it appears Cherington doesn't think that price is realistic.  Of course he could be posturing via the media, as the Mets have done many times in the past.  Any negotiation with Drew's agent, Scott Boras, is a complicated one, so anything is possible.


If taken at his word, it would appear that Boston's interest in Drew is fading.  If that's the case, the Mets remain the lone team with any major connection to Drew.  Does that crash his market to the point where he is willing to accept the one year contract the Mets reportedly covet?  I'm not sure.  As I've said in the past, I don't believe this situation gets settled until after the team's report for spring training, for better or worse.

January 22, 2014

Mets & Duda Settle At $1.6375M

The Mets will avoid arbitration hearings yet again this year after signing Lucas Duda to a one year deal worth $1.6375 million dollars.  Duda had been the one hold out from the seven players who filed for arbitration last week.  The sides settled just $12,500 from the midpoint of the figures the they exchanged last week, in Duda's favor.

This number comes in lower than the $1.8 million experts predicted Duda would earn via arbitration.  this brings the Mets opening day payroll down to $82.36 million, including the roughly $500k owed to Matt Harvey who will spend the season on the disabled list.

I'm Skipping The Mets Ticket Plan This Year

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"
                                                                                                  -Albert Einstein 

I'm not writing this post trying to be certain blogger who likes to criticize other fans and thinks he is king of the fan base. (Woop Woop, Thats the sound of da po-lice).  I'm just a fan who isn't going to be made a fool of this year.  This would have been my 11th consecutive year with a ticket plan since I graduated college in 2003.  I dion't need to buy the plans, because my whole life I was able to go to games for free.  My grandfather had season tickets in the orange seats at Shea.  Several neighbors had plans, and I would get free tickets hand over fist.  Playoff tickets, Subway Series tickets...I didn't have to pay a dime. Sometimes I'd get the urge to go to a game and buy my own seat too. But when I graduated, I wanted to be able to have my own tickets.  It also helped that you got guaranteed playoff purchase options if you owned a plan.  That little privilege that drew me in was used once in the last 10 seasons.....

I'm done being a sucker.  Even when the Mets are bad, I enjoy going to games.  I like the "night out at the ballpark" experience.  I enjoy watching the sport and being entertained.  And I'm going to go to plenty of games this season.  But I'm not buying in advance anymore.  Not until the Mets show me they care, whether by putting a better product on the field or making it more worthwhile to have a partial plan.  I have my own personal ticket rep, Jay Velez.  Jay is great, and I feel bad that I am not renewing this season, because guys like him or the people working hard and are overlooked in this process.  The Mets screw them as much as the screw us.  I hope Jay understands.

Last season was my breaking point.  This was something I've been toying with the last few seasons.  Between getting married, and now having a kid with another on the way, free time is really a rare commodity nowadays.  But that's not whats stopping me.  Last year, I was bombarded with email after email from the Mets alerting me to all these great ticket deals they were offering.  And a majority of those deals were for games I already had tickets to.  Whether it was dependent on how many strike outs the pitchers got in a weekend, or some sort of theme night with a cool give away, there were great offers coming in every home stand from the marketing department.  I'm hardcore Irish.  I would have enjoyed that pretty cool Irish themed Mets shirt, but nope, I already had tickets for that game.  And yet, I know I could have bought more and given my plan tickets away, but thats not the point.  There's no reward for being loyal.

Year after year, I'm paying full price and showing up night in and night out, while the guy sitting next to me got in for half the price and got a Jay Horowitz bobble head to go with his sweet deal.  So I'm gonna but myself some pretty good opening day seats, and then I'm going to let dynamic pricing do the work.  I'll wait for prices to drop to go to games.  Or I'll go on StubHub and get tickets below market value from fans trying to unload tickets they can't use.

I like what the Mets did this offseason.  I think this season has the potential to be entertaining and can toy with .500 if some of their younger pieces step up.  But it's not enough for me, not right now.  I've waited too long.  I had an ongoing internal battle with myself all offseason because of this. I feel like one of those bad fair-weather fans that I hate.  But in the end, I'm not.  I'm doing what works for me.  I'm gonna go to plenty of games, and I'm gonna make it worth my while. I've always wanted to do a 7 Line outing, and now I will because I won't feel overwhelmed by the amount of games I have.  I'll see you all at Citi Field this summer, I just can't tell you what nights I'll be there, not right now at least.

You can make very harsh statements to me on Twitter @GetsThruBuckner.

Ike's Father: Mets Have Really Screwed Up

Ike Davis' father, former MLB pitcher Ron Davis, had some choice words to say about the Mets' handling of his son during this offseason. He described the team as having painted themselves into a corner with all of the public trade talk surrounding Ike, only to end up stuck with him in the end. From Anthony McCarron's article in the New York Daily News:
His dad... clearly didn’t like the public way the trade played out in the media.
“I think that’s why the Mets have really screwed up in that situation, because they’ve publicly done it so much,” he said. “It’s saying to my son, ‘Hey, we don’t want you anymore.’ So I think they backed themselves into a corner saying, “We want to trade you, but we want X amount.’ ”
But with Milwaukee, once a potential trade partner, signing Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, the Mets are “in a situation like, ‘Well, heck, we may have to keep him now,’” Ron Davis said.
“Like I told him: I was released three times, I was traded three times and sold once to Japan. So, who cares?” Ron Davis said. “It’s part of the game. I told him: You’re like a piece of hamburger meat, just sitting there at the grocery store..."
Well... he's not wrong. And at the same time, I hate that he decided to share these comments with the press. The relationship between Ike and the team was already going to be pretty strained come Spring Training, and having his father inject himself into the scenario does nobody any good. 

At some point, every player faces the reality that baseball is a business, however. Jose Reyes was traded. Derek Jeter had to threaten to test the free agency market to get his last contract with the Yankees. It all still comes down to money at some point. With his middling talent thus far, it was bound to hit Ike hard sooner rather than later. We just have to hope he can put it behind him and not let it effect him. There are plenty of guys in the league who don't play for the front office, and plenty of other reasons to strive to be better. For the fans, for your manager, for your teammates. If none of that gets you going, play for yourself, your pride, your next contract. I'm not worried about Ike being motivated to play. I just don't know how much that matters unless he can fix his swing.

Syndergaard Could Reach The Majors In A Relief Role

ESPN's Adam Rubin spoke with Mets Vice President, Paul DePodesta, about the team's next pitching phenom, Noah Syndergaard.  Amongst the things they discussed was Syndergaards innings limit in 2014.  It is expected that Syndergaard won't make his major league debut until either late June or early July.  Unlike his predecessors, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, Syndergaard won't throw nearly as many innings in his first season at the major league level.

Rubin writes that unlike Harvey and Wheeler, who threw 135.2 and 149 innings respectively in their last full season in the minors, Syndergaard threw just 124.2 last year.  Pitchers generally aren't permitted to ramp up their work load by more than 30 innings from year to year, which would put Syndergaard about fifteen innings (or two starts) short of the other two.  Expect the Mets to be particularly mindful of this after they allowed Harvey to increase more than thirty innings after arriving at the major league level.  That placed Harvey on a list of pitchers at high risk for injury in 2013, before ultimately falling to Tommy John Surgery.

DePodesta told Rubin that the Mets may get creative in an effort to keep Syndergaard in the rotation into late September.  Although they will not delay his start to the season, the organization may be willing to break him into the majors in a relief role.  That is not something they have done in the past, but is something that's worked for other franchises, namely the St. Louis Cardinals, as Rubin points out.

One way or another, it appears only an injury can prevent Syndergaard from appearing in Queens this summer.  He will arrive to much fanfare as he'll look to live up to the standards set by those who've come before him.  While that's not necessarily a fair hand to be dealt, its the way things work in the big city.


I'm going to level with you.  I want the Mets to meticulously monitor Syndergaard's innings limit, however I want no part of him appearing out of the bullpen.  I don't care if its worked elsewhere, all I can envision is the stunted growth of Jenrry Mejia.  I can live with shortened exposure in 2014 in the hopes of a healthy career as a starter.  We've seen in the past six months that even a pitcher like Harvey, with as smooth and simple delivery as they come, can still fall to injury.  Let Syndergaard grow at his own pace, as a starter.  If that means he's done in the first week of September, so be it.

January 21, 2014

A-Rod Lawsuit Q&A

As an attorney representing labor unions for twenty years, I feel obliged to expound upon the complaint Alex Rodriguez filed in federal court and to explain how the process works and what to expect next.  This post is not legal advice.

Q: What led up to the suit?
A: After MLB suspended AR for 211 games, the Players Association filed a grievance to overturn or reduce the suspension.  Under the CBA, this process is the exclusive remedy for players who want to challenge these actions.  There was a panel of three arbitrators, one selected by MLB, one selected by the Players Association, and one neutral, who served as Chair.  A hearing was held over several days.  Witnesses were called to testify and documents were introduced.  The Award reduced the suspension to a full season - 162 games (plus any post season games).  Neither side was really "happy" with the outcome, but both MLB and the Players' Association signaled that they would not try to set aside ("vacate") the Award when they said it was "final and binding."  AR then filed suit in New York federal court.

Q: I understand why he sued MLB, but why did AR sue his own Union?
A: In order to challenge the Award, he basically had to.  This might come as a surprise, but AR was not a "party" to the arbitration.  His status was that of "grievant."  Typically, only the Union and the Employer (MLB) are parties to the agreement to arbitrate, and under ordinary circumstances only those two parties can try to vacate the Award.  The only "standing" AR has is to say that MLB breached the CBA and that the Union did such a poor job that they "breached their duty of fair representation."  These suits are fairly common.  Grievants who are unhappy with the outcome of an arbitration routinely point the finger of blame at both the Employer (for taking action that lacks "just cause") and the Union that represented them (for lousy representation.)

Q: Can he win?
A: It's going to be awfully difficult.  Here's the needle he has to thread.  First he has to demonstrate that the Award was wrong.  Without agreeing or disagreeing that AR committed the offenses of which he was found guilty, let's presume he gets past that prong.  Then he has to prove that the MLBPA breached its duty to him to fairly represent him.   A duty-of-fair-representation claim arises when a union that represents an employee in a grievance or arbitration procedure acts in a discriminatory, dishonest, arbitrary, or perfunctory fashion and such conduct must have "seriously undermined" the integrity of the grievance/arbitration process.  The Complaint alleges that an interview of Michael Weiner, then Executive Director of the MLBPA, proves that the grievance was mishandled.  He stated that, depending upon the terms of the suspension, AR should take a deal.  Anyone who does this for a living, myself included, would tell you that this advice is given every day in thousands of cases around the country.  It's insurance against the catastrophic.  You take the punishment, even if you don't think you deserve it, so you can keep your job. What you have to lose is more important than proving your innocence. What if MLB decided that a lifetime ban was appropriate and sought to impose the employment equivalent of the death penalty on AR?  To avoid that, wouldn't you take a suspension instead? 

Q: Why didn't AR go for an injunction?
A: The timing doesn't work.  In federal court a temporary restraining order can only last ten days (with one ten day extension).  After that ten (twenty) days, the TRO automatically dissolves.  A TRO is an emergency measure to preserve the status quo while the judge and the parties straighten things out.  The court isn't ruling on the merits of the case, instead focusing on something called "irreparable harm."  Within the time the TRO is in effect, AR would have had to go forward on a hearing for a preliminary injunction.  At this hearing, the judge looks at the substance of the case and evaluates the "likelihood of success on the merits."  Only a party that has a really good case wants to go to this kind of hearing without engaging in document discovery and depositions first.  They might also be waiting for the days right before Opening Day when the irreparable harm of not playing becomes really important. Remember, AR can still play in preseason games. 

Q: What's next?
A: MLB and the Players Association have to file either Answers to the Complaint or they may go for it all and file a motion to dismiss.  This last course is a home run swing at getting rid of the case entirely.  If they decide to swing for the fences, the judge has to decide, on the assumption that everything AR says is true, if the case should go forward.  It should be interesting.

Q: What does this have to do with the Mets?
A: Not much really. Presuming AR is not on the field for the other team in the Bronx, the market for Steven Drew might be one team stronger.  I'm really reaching. 

There is one parting observation: 14 years ago, Mets fans were dreaming about a lineup that included Mike Piazza and AR.  Somehow, we managed to screw it up and AR signed with the Rangers. Our team made weak excuses about selfishness and private planes.  We really knew it was about the money.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  Based on the steady decline of the other players, and then of Piazza himself, there is little chance that signing AR would have benefitted the Mets in any substantial way - perhaps 2001 would have been another playoff year - but that's about it.  With that salary, there is no chance that we get Beltran or any of the other players that made 2006 possible.  David Wright probably plays for the other team in the Bronx. How glad are we that Steve Phillips and his famous skill set decided against putting all those eggs in that basket?