Mets Merized Online » free agency http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 30 Jan 2016 07:30:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.12 Where Does It Say That Money Is The Answer? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/where-does-it-say-that-money-is-the-answer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/where-does-it-say-that-money-is-the-answer.html/#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:50:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204254 I grew up a Mets fans surrounded by Yankees fans. But since my childhood was in the 1980s, those Yankee fans weren’t nearly as loud about the greatness of their franchise at that time. Fast-forward to the 1990s and Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre. Mix in a dash of unfulfilled promise, like the hope/hype of Generation K, and you get the foundation for a fan base convinced that the glass is half-empty.

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The 1998 Yankees were wire-to-wire World Series Champions. They did trade for Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Chuck Knoblauch and signed David Cone and David Wells. But the core of the team – Jeter, Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera – were acquired via either the amateur draft or amateur free agents.

They had the second-highest payroll in the league behind Baltimore, who finished fourth with 79 wins. Meanwhile the Amazin’s, who had the eighth-highest payroll, finished second in the NL East and missed the lone wild-card spot by two games.

The amateur acquisitions on that roster include Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and Butch Huskey. The core of that team – Mike Piazza, John Olerud, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, Brian McRae – all were free agents and/or traded for.

The point: It was a team that wasn’t built to last.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to today. The Yankees are still near the top of the payroll list, but the Mets are somewhere in the middle. Last year, small-market cities like Milwaukee, Colorado and Cincinnati all started with higher payrolls…

But please remind me who the defending National League champions are?

Truth be told, payroll didn’t amount to much as pointed out by Brian MacPherson in the Providence Journal. Of the eight teams that won 90 or more games last year, only one has an Opening Day payroll higher than $130 million.

History has shown it’s never been about who can spend the most or who “wins the Winter Meetings”. Baseball is a sport built on a foundation of longevity, by evidence of a 162-game season and a plethora of minor league players to supplement a 40-man roster. It’s always been about playing the proverbial Long Game, showcased by the fact that of the 30 best WAR players in baseball last season, only three joined their teams via free agency and 50 of the top 100 players were acquired via the draft of amateur free agency.

harvey-wheeler-degromI’ve always thought that while Oman Minaya’s moves were flashy and seemingly designed to win the back page battle, he ensured it all by drafting and developing talent in the minors.

The foundation of this team – Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Ruben Tejada, Steven MatzMatt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia – were all brought in by Minaya.

Sandy Alderson was wise enough not to move those aging pieces and shined in his own right by bringing in Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and drafting Michael Conforto. While there’s some concern about how the team will keep all this talent, the fact of the matter is all this talent is here now.

Which goes back to the glass half-empty mentality. The trend of successful teams building from within the organization is seen today with the team that beat the Mets in October (Kansas City held onto Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis and Mike Moustakas). It can be seen with the filthies, I mean Phillies’ team that won in 2008 (Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels and Pat Burrell were all drafted).

MacPherson goes on to say cultivating amateur talent is how Tampa Bay won at least 90 games in five of six seasons. And while it might seem like something new, especially in an environment of mega-contracts being signed for more than the Gross Domestic Product of a few countries, this is the same formula that’s worked for years. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals.

Which all leads to one question – Why are we, as a collective fan base, not satisfied with a moderate budget full of home-grown talent and versatile cost-effective free agent signings? Why should Sandy go out and break the bank on the much-quoted square peg into a round hole? Where does it say the team that spends the most will win?

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Hits & Misses: Carl Crawford Money, Braves Rebuild, Captain Clutch http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/hits-misses-carl-crawford-money-braves-rebuild-captain-clutch.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/hits-misses-carl-crawford-money-braves-rebuild-captain-clutch.html/#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2016 23:06:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203462 carl crawford

Remember when Mets owner Fred Wilpon coined the famous phrase “Carl Crawford money” when describing what it would cost to keep then Mets shortstop Jose Reyes from bolting for free agency? I was reminded of that on Sunday when Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote:

“In the first five years of his seven-year contract (two with Boston and three with the Dodgers), Carl Crawford has played in 451 of a potential 810 games, and has had 436 hits in 1,582 at-bats (.276 ) with 32 homers, 168 RBIs, and 71 stolen bases. The next two years of his contract will pay him $43.464 million.”

Yikes…

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Keep an eye on the Atlanta Braves rebuild. The top three prospects involved in trades this offseason were all acquired by the Braves according to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America. SS Dansby Swanson, LHP Sean Newcomb and RHP Aaron Blairsit ranked first, second and third on Cooper’s Top 25 Prospects who were dealt this winter.

The Braves acquired Swanson and Blair as part of the Shelby Miller trade with Arizona while Newcomb was came from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons deal.

The Atlanta Braves already had the No. 2 ranked farm system according to ESPN’s Keith Law last August, and I’m not sure if these additions change anything. But the Braves will soon be one to contend with in the NL East, though I wouldn’t worry about them this year.

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Here’s an interesting stat tweeted out by the Mets on Monday. Darryl Strawberry hit 85 go-ahead homeruns in his career with the Mets, a franchise record. But David Wright is right behind him in 2nd place with 83 and could possibly supplant Strawberry as soon as this season.

That’s a lot of go-ahead home runs for somebody who gets so much flak for being “un-clutch” or whatever you want to call it. Of course there’s never been any truth to that as Wright’s career .853 OPS with men on base and .883 OPS with RISP clearly illustrates.

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We’re tossing around an idea that could radically change our current Disqus Commenting System. The truth is that less than 10 percent of our readership leave comments, and that number has dropped to less than 5 percent in December.

The issue is that it’s become too big to control, creates little to no revenue, and the majority of the 90 percent who don’t comment view it as an eye sore of late.  While me and many of my writers personally enjoy interacting in the comments, the fact remains we’re writing less articles and are spending way too much time moderating, addressing email concerns, banning, resolving battles, editing, deleting, policing, etc.

While roughly 25 percent of all sports related sites have gotten rid of comment sections altogether – and that number keeps rising everyday – we’re pretty sure we won’t be doing anything that drastic. We haven’t made any decision yet, but we will keep all of you who do use our comment threads updated.

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Braves Sign Alex Torres To Minor League Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/braves-sign-alex-torres-to-minor-league-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/braves-sign-alex-torres-to-minor-league-deal.html/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2015 03:19:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203319 Mets

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta Braves have signed lefty reliever Alex Torres to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. He adds that the team is hopeful he makes the opening day bullpen.

Torres, 27, officially ended his tenure with the Mets last month, after he elected free agency rather than remaining with Triple-A Las Vegas. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres last Spring for minor league right-handers Cory Mazzoni and Brad Wieck.

Torres’ season was fraught with disappointment and frustration, producing a 5.68 FIP and a 1.525 WHIP in 39 appearances before he was eventually designated for assignment after the Mets acquired Eric O’Flaherty. He was betrayed by a lack of command and control, leading to a 6.82 walk rate n 34 1/3 innings pitched.

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Mets Still Open To Full-Time Center Fielder http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mets-still-open-to-full-time-center-fielder.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mets-still-open-to-full-time-center-fielder.html/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 03:17:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202252 juan lagares

While it seems ever more likely that the Mets will be looking for a platoon player in center field in the coming weeks, Assistant GM John Ricco won’t rule out the possibility of acquiring a full-time center fielder.

It appears likely that Juan Lagares will enter next season as part of a platoon, but there are certainly a good deal of full-time options available in free agency and on the trade market.

“If it were somebody to replace [Lagares], I’m not going to say no to that,” Ricco told reporters at the Winter Meetings, “But that’s just another one of the options we’re looking at.”

Among the potential acquisitions are Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, George Springer, Denard Span, and Dexter Fowler.

However, there are also plenty of platoon options out there, such as Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, and others.

Lagares hit .273/.333/.438 this past year against lefties, but struggled to a .253/.271/.328 line against right-handed pitching.

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Boras: Mets Have Not Discussed Extension Deal For Harvey http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/boras-mets-have-not-discussed-extension-deal-for-harvey.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/boras-mets-have-not-discussed-extension-deal-for-harvey.html/#comments Thu, 10 Dec 2015 16:42:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202249 matt harvey nlcs roar

On Wednesday, Scott Boras told reporters the Mets have not approached him about an extension for right-hander Matt Harvey who is currently arbitration-eligible and is expected to earn roughly $.5 million dollars. “With a player that caliber it does happen, but probably not until January,” Boras said.

Boras has been a thorn in the Mets’ side over the years, but he took it to a whole new level in 2015 when he went public with concerns Mets were putting Harvey in harm’s way and ignoring medically imposed innings limits. It elicited a stern response and denial from Sandy Alderson and put his client and the Mets in an awkward and defensive posture.

Last week, assistant general manager John Ricco reiterated what Sandy has said – that the team currently has no plans to discuss extension deals with any of their starters.

In the wake of recent mega deals to top of the rotation starting pitchers like David Price ($217M), Zack Greinke ($206M) and Jordan Zimmermann ($110M) – and even outrageous amounts of money being thrown at mid-rotation pitchers like Jeff Samardzija ($90M) – you have to appreciate the position the Mets find themselves in with their arsenal of elite cost-controlled starters.

But wouldn’t it behoove the team to keep that cost control as long as they can before Matt Harvey, Zack WheelerNoah SyndergaardSteven Matz, and Jacob deGrom start nearing their arbitration and free agent years?

With Harvey now in his first season of arbitration and looking at a potential $4.5 million dollar raise, it’s easy to see how quickly things can begin to escalate and put the Mets in a situation where they must decide which pitchers they will be able to logistically keep and which they will be forced to deal. There is no team in baseball that could afford to keep five starters like this under team control once they start hitting those $10 million, $15 million and $20 million plateaus. It’s impossible.

Wheeler, deGrom and Syndergaard start seeing their arbitration clocks begin after the 2017 season, only two years away. So I was a little surprised to hear Ricco admit that the none of the Mets young starters have been approached about a multi-year deal that could at least buy out their arbitration years and perhaps even a year or two of free agency. You would think establishing some cost certainty with their most valuable assets would be high on their priority list.

After a 2011 season that saw the now-dearly departed Jon Niese post a 4.40 ERA and 1.412 WHIP, the front office saw fit to sign the left-hander to a 5-year contract that bought out all his arbitration years and one year of free agency – and actually three years if you count his 2017 and 2018 team options. Shouldn’t some attempt be made to explore a contract like this with Jacob deGrom at the very least – who is at the same exact point in his career as Niese was when the Mets locked him up?

It may be too late for giving Harvey an extension given that he now has three huge payday’s coming before he hits free agency and gets his $200+ million dollar mega deal. Plus with Boras as his agent, the odds are slim he’d sign any contract that delays his free agency for one minute.

While I would love to see the Mets touch base with all five pitchers and at least inquire and explore the possibilities, they still have at least a year until Syndergaard, Matz and Wheeler are at that Niese-Threshold.

It’s deGrom that I’m most concerned about locking up right now. Waiting another year on him may put him exactly where Harvey currently is and his agent may just advise him to keep pitching light’s out and exploiting the arbitration process for an easy $25 million before hitting free agency.

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Mets Have Not Approached Their Starting Pitchers About Multi-Year Deals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mets-have-not-approached-their-starting-pitchers-about-extensions.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mets-have-not-approached-their-starting-pitchers-about-extensions.html/#comments Sun, 06 Dec 2015 16:53:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201734 noah-syndergaard-matt-harvey-jacob-degrom-pittsburgh

Assistant general manager spoke to reporters on Friday on a variety of subjects, most of which we’ve covered issue by issue in the last 48 hours here on MMO. However, there were a couple of things Ricco said about our young starting pitching that are worth a closer examination and some discussion.

Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, reported that Ricco reiterated the front office’s stance that they do not plan to use any of their young starters as trade chips to accomplish any of their offseason objectives to improve, upgrade or bolster the team heading into the 2016 season.

“We think that’s our strength, that’s going to be what gets us back to the World Series and hopefully helps us win the World Series, so we have been asked a lot about our young starters, but the answer has been pretty much we are going to stick with those guys,” Ricco said.

“That includes Zack Wheeler. We get a lot of questions about him and it’s different because he is hurt, but we view him with the other four guys. We have players we like and who got us to the world Series, our goal is to supplement them with players that can make us even better.”

In the wake of recent mega deals to top of the rotation starting pitchers like David Price ($217M), Zack Greinke ($206M) and Jordan Zimmermann ($110M) – and even outrageous amounts of money being thrown at mid-rotation pitchers like Jeff Samardzija ($90M) – you have to appreciate the position the Mets find themselves in with their arsenal of elite cost-controlled starters.

That said, wouldn’t it behoove the team to keep that cost control as long as they can before Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom start nearing their arbitration and free agent years?

With Harvey now in his first season of arbitration and looking at a potential $4.5 million dollar raise, it’s easy to see how quickly things can begin to escalate and put the Mets in a situation where they must decide which pitchers they will be able to logistically keep and which they will be forced to deal. There is no team in baseball that could afford to keep five starters like this under team control once they start hitting those $10 million, $15 million and $20 million plateaus. It’s impossible.

Wheeler, deGrom and Syndergaard start seeing their arbitration clocks begin after the 2017 season, only two years away. So I was a little surprised to hear John Ricco admit that the none of the Mets young starters have been approached about a multi-year deal that could buy out their arbitration years and perhaps even a year or two of free agency.

For a team that still operates with a bottom 15 MLB payroll and is hoping that their payroll next season will be higher than last season’s $103 opening day payroll, you would think establishing some cost certainty with their most valuable assets would be high on their priority list.

After a 2011 season that saw Jon Niese post a 4.40 ERA and 1.412 WHIP, the front office saw fit to sign the left-hander to a 5-year contract that bought out all his arbitration years and one year of free agency – and actually three years if you count his 2017 and 2018 team options. Shouldn’t some attempt be made to explore a contract like this with Jacob deGrom at the very least – who is at the same exact point in his career as Niese was when the Mets locked him up?

It may be too late for giving Harvey an extension given that he now has three huge payday’s coming before he hits free agency and gets his $200+ million dollar mega deal. Plus with Scott Boras as his agent, the odds are slim he’d sign any contract that delays Harvey’s free agency for one minute.

While I would love to see the Mets touch base with all five pitchers and at least inquire and explore the possibilities, they still have at least a year until Syndergaard, Matz and Wheeler are at that Niese-Threshold. But it’s deGrom I’m most concerned about locking up right now. Waiting another year on him may put him exactly where Harvey is now and his agent may just advise him to keep pitching light’s out and exploiting the arbitration process for an easy $25 million before hitting free agency.

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Heyman: Boras Took Out Insurance Policy On Harvey’s Arm http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/heyman-harvey-took-out-insurance-policy-on-arm.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/heyman-harvey-took-out-insurance-policy-on-arm.html/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:48:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197209 matt harvey

In the midst of the Matt Harvey innings controversy, agent Scott Boras took out an insurance policy on Harvey’s arm, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

According to Heyman, Boras bought the policy at the end of the regular season, when it was becoming clear that Harvey was going to continue to pitch, possibly all the way through the postseason.

The policy, although the dollar figures are unknown, has two tiers: one for a drop in performance and one for an injury that ends Harvey’s career. The purchase perhaps gave Harvey some peace of mind about pitching late into the playoffs.

Despite never having thrown more than 179 innings in any season, Harvey is now at 202. If the Mets advance to the World Series and Harvey makes another three starts, that number could climb to over 220.

As Heyman notes, very few pitchers have done that coming off Tommy John Surgery, and all had experienced much higher workloads than Harvey in years prior.

From a business standpoint, the move surely makes sense, as Harvey is still three years away from free agency. If he can stay healthy for a few more seasons, he is in line to possibly make over $200 million. An injury now would cause him to lose out on a whole lot of money.

That being said, Boras, Harvey, and the Mets all appear to be on the same page now: If able to, Harvey will pitch.

“We were never about him not pitching in the postseason, and we never said Matt Harvey wasn’t going to pitch in the playoffs. Any question revolved around the management of innings,” Boras said.

“There’s an obligation — I should say mandate — to pitch. There’s an obligation to the integrity of the game, to his teammates and the fans. At no time did the player or I ever say he wasn’t going to pitch in the postseason.

“I understand Matt Harvey has to pitch,” Boras continued. “The only way not to is to have the team take the ball away from him. And I don’t think they’re doing it anytime soon.”

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Dillon Gee Opts Out Of Mets Contract, Elects Free Agency http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/dillon-gee-opts-out-of-mets-contract-elects-free-agency.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/dillon-gee-opts-out-of-mets-contract-elects-free-agency.html/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:07:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=195764 dillon gee

RHP Dillon Gee opted out of his contract with the Mets on Wednesday and is now a free agent.

Gee, 29, earned the right to opt out because he had more than three years of MLB service and was never recalled to the majors after being outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas during the season.

Because Gee made $5.3 million this season, he most likely would have been non-tendered on Dec. 2 had he not elected free agency.

It’s been a rough year for 2014 Opening Day starter Dillon Gee. After he was bounced to the bullpen to begin the season, he was then added to a very short-lived six-man rotation, all while dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss a lot of time.

Gee wrapped up his frustrating year with Mets with a 5.90 ERA in eight appearances which included seven starts. Overall, he ends his career in New York with a 40-37 record and a 4.03 ERA. Peppered in that span were plenty of good moments.

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Time For Matt Harvey To Put Up, Or Shut Up http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/time-for-matt-harvey-to-put-up-or-shut-up.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/time-for-matt-harvey-to-put-up-or-shut-up.html/#comments Mon, 21 Sep 2015 18:06:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=194153 matt harvey

Unlike dozens of other Mets fans today, I am not unhappy with the Mets, Terry Collins or Matt Harvey about the way last nights game was handled. Sure it was a miserable game to watch and you never want to give away a nationally televised game to the Yankees. But in reality, it was just a game and the Mets are still the odds on favorites to win the National League East.

There’s something else that I just can’t get out of my mind. Matt Harvey is trying to be everything to everyone and it needs to stop.

When Scott Boras first came forward to discuss Harvey’s innings limit it was major news. It’s rare to see an agents name in the news when that player is still several years away from free agency. Still, what was said was said and Harvey made things worse by agreeing with his agent.

What can’t happen if you’re Gotham’s Dark Knight is to have your cake and eat it too. In front of the cameras, Harvey is trying to say the right things (since the early mis-step). He’s talking about wanting the ball and wanting to win. After last nights game he said “…the last thing I ever want to do, especially in a close game like that, is come out.” He continued by saying that the last thing he wants to do is not pitch.

So here are the facts. Harvey and his agent have stated that he will not move past his innings limit. The Mets have agreed for the most part in principal to this concept. Then why is Harvey getting up there and making statements like this? The fact is, there is something more important than winning right now. That’s his health. No one would fault him for saying that. But he’s not. He’s trying to demand the ball in front of the cameras and then hide behind his agent when the lights go out.

Harvey just can’t have it both ways. Either he wants to pitch or he doesn’t feel up to pitching. There is no middle ground.

From my perspective this is a non-story. Imagine if the Mets had won last night’s game. Would Harvey’s five innings even be a topic for discussion? I tend to think it wouldn’t be.

Here’s what I know. When the playoffs start, Collins needs to tell the media and Matt Harvey, that he is going to hand him the ball every few days and that he expects him to give it his all and pitch like it’s all on the line. If Harvey says he can’t do that, then that needs to be stated. Unless that is the case, I expect an unrestricted Harvey to take the mound against the Dodgers. If last night is a preview of what the National League Divisional Series will look like then Harvey might as well stay home.

It’s not about what Harvey is doing. It’s about the way Harvey is trying to spin this situation and it needs to stop.

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Cespedes Likes Atmosphere, Would Love To Stay With Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/cespedes-likes-atmosphere-would-love-to-stay-with-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/cespedes-likes-atmosphere-would-love-to-stay-with-mets.html/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 03:32:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=189500 yoenis Cespedes

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes told reporters on Tuesday that he would love to remain with the Mets.

“This is something I can’t control,” Cespedes said through an interpreter Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time, because I like the atmosphere.” (ESPN New York)

Here’s the deal though, as we wrote about on Friday and again on Monday, Cespedes has a clause in his contract that stipulates that he must be released by the Mets before the free agency period begins.

That means Cespedes would not be able to re-sign with the Mets until May 15 of next season. So in other words, an extension would need to be worked out before he becomes a free agent. Otherwise he’s gone. And there’s no draft compensation either.

Cespedes knows fully well the details and special clause in this contract, so that he would come out and say that he love to remain with the Mets, signals that he’s willing to negotiate an extension during the season

“The first thing you can see is the pitching,” Cespedes said. “Every team needs pitching, and I think we have enough pitching to go all the way to the finals.”

“Other teams that I’ve been around, they scored four and they give up four. This team, if we score four with the pitching that we have, we’ll be able to compete and go to the finals. The energy that everybody feels from the pitching staff and the hitters is a plus.”

It will be interesting to see how Sandy Alderson handles this one. With Michael Cuddyer now relegated to part-time duty, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bring him back on a reasonable deal. And with his ability to play centerfield, it wouldn’t impede Michael Conforto next season and beyond.

Thoughts?

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Our Baseball Maverick Is Under Fire, Can He Revive Mets Season? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/our-baseball-maverick-is-under-fire-can-he-revive-mets-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/our-baseball-maverick-is-under-fire-can-he-revive-mets-season.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:05:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=186135 Sandy-Alderson

I wanted to address some of what’s been written about Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and the Panic City Mets.

Joel Sherman – While upper management has insisted the dollars are there, executives from other teams say their Mets counterparts tell them that the budget is either tight or non-existent. Is that gamesmanship by the Mets to try to get competitors to lower demands or honesty? Because if it is honesty, that means the Mets brass is lying to their fan base through the New York media by saying they can spend.

Joe D. – This has been an issue for years now. It was back in 2012 that Fred Wilpon came to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie and proclaimed the financial problems were in the rearview mirror and that Sandy Alderson had no limits and could sign anyone he wanted. It wasn’t true back then and it’s still not true today. Unfortunately you still have too many writers and bloggers who twist and turn over Alderson, Collins, and the team in general, that shouldn’t be taken seriously because they’re either oblivious, willfully ignorant, or in cahoots with the Wilpons or MLB.  At this point, you have to be an ass-hat if you don’t know how negatively team ownership impacts this team.

Mike Vaccaro - Day after day, week after week, the Wilpons and their chief henchman, Alderson, have allowed the good will of a hot start and the patience of a fiercely loyal fan base and the daily magnificence of their pitching staff to disintegrate to the point where there’s no longer rage as much as resignation – to another lousy season, another year when a little aggression and a little imagination might have made a difference.

Joe D.  - While the team has played some awful baseball that has included way too many heartbreaking losses and punches in the gut, I disagree that team brass is already resigned to another losing season. It may very well turn out that Vaccaro is right, but I need to see what happens between now and the July 31 trade deadline before I throw Alderson completely under the bus. It’s still early and I don’t see many teams proclaiming themselves sellers yet. That’s not to say Alderson doesn’t deserve some blame. The $125 million he has had to spend has been largely wasted on the likes of Francisco, C. Young, Cuddyer, and aside from two hot weeks in two seasons, Granderson too. And he has yet to pull off one trade, that didn’t backfire, to acquire a top MLB offensive player. He’s been living off the good vibes of three smart dumps for prospects, while riding the coattails of Harvey, DeGrom, Familia and Matz, three of whom should be All Stars this year and neither of them his doing.

Joel Sherman – We have seen this con with this organization before. It often comes up when the Mets leak that they are monitoring a player in free agency, then the player signs elsewhere and they criticize how much the player was paid. It is all misdirection. “Monitor” is a fake-out to try to gain points from their fans for actively pursuing someone they had no intentions of signing and then the overpay is to shift blame to a greedy player rather than a parsimonious organization.

Joe D. – It’s amazing that you still have some Mets media and sites that are used as propaganda machines for the Wilpons. They’ll post rumors that the Mets are after Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gomez, etc. for weeks on end and never include the quotes from opposing GMs who laugh and say they haven’t spoken to the Mets in months, or that it’s a complete web-created fabrication. The problem I have with what Sherman says here is not that it’s not true, it’s a completely accurate description of business as usual for the Mets. My issue with this is that Sherman is a huge part of the problem and he’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

Bottom line? Collins has borne the brunt of the incoming fire for years now while Alderson has been the Teflon Don, making wisecracks, alienating many, and doing his thing. He’s in the fifth year, said he expects 90 wins, and also asserted he’d be disappointed if this team failed to make the postseason. He said these things to the team’s top customers, the season ticket holders.

He even implored one ticket-holder who said he was dissatisfied with how he addressed the offense in the offseason to please withhold judgement until we get a chance to see the offense play this season.

Alderson has a lot of explaining to do. And so do the Wilpons.

That’s all for now, more later…

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Are Giants Considering Dealing For Murphy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/are-giants-considering-dealing-for-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/are-giants-considering-dealing-for-murphy.html/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 14:30:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180621 daniel murphy

According to a report on ESPN New York, San Francisco Giants executive VP Brian Sabean has quietly been at Citi Field during the Mets-Nationals series.

Although the reason for Sabean’s visit is not exactly clear, Adam Rubin speculates that the Giants could be looking to upgrade at third base this summer.

The Giants traded two pitching prospects to the Miami Marlins over the Winter to acquire Casey McGehee after they lost Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox.

However, McGehee is hitting just .164 with one homer and two RBIs in 16 starts at third base.

SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee recently wrote about McGehee:

“McGehee can’t run, field, or hit for power, and he is the greatest double play-intoer of his generation. Specifically, if he isn’t hitting for a high average and posting solid OBPs, he lacks a single skill that a starting third baseman should have.”

Back to Sabean. It’s interesting to note that his two-day visit coincided with Daniel Murphy‘s shift to third base to cover for David Wright who’s still out with the hamstring injury.

Murphy, who is in his final season before free agency, got off to a sluggish start this season. But over his last ten games he is batting.308 with 14 RBI and a .896 OPS. He would certainly be an attractive option for the Giants.

The Mets have no intentions of extending Murphy. They have been looking to deal him for two seasons, but were not satisfied with any of the offers they received, and opted to hang onto him believing that his value to the team was worth more than what they were being offered.

Mets officials in recent days have suggested there is nothing serious going on right now involving Murphy and discussions with other teams, Rubin says.

The Giants also may be looking for a starting pitcher with Jake Peavy and Matt Cain on the DL, and Tim Lincecum struggling.

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Mets Announce Juan Lagares Has Agreed To 4-Year Extension http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mets-announce-juan-lagares-has-agreed-to-4-year-23-million-extension.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mets-announce-juan-lagares-has-agreed-to-4-year-23-million-extension.html/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:07:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177797 juan lagares

Juan Lagares passed his physical and the New York Mets officially announced that they have agreed to terms on a contract that with run through 2019 with a club option for 2020.

“This is a place I want to be,” said Lagares. “The Mets signed me when I was 16. I’m really excited for this season and the future.”

Lagares, 27, earned his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award last year. Lagares finished second among major league outfielders with 28 defensive runs saved in 2014, despite playing 372.0 fewer innings than leader Jason Heyward, who had 32.

He had six assists, with three getting a runner at the plate. Lagares’ Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (UZR/150) was 25.3, second among all major leaguers.

The 6-1, 215-pounder hit .281 (117-416) with 46 runs scored, 24 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 47 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 116 games last season.

Lagares established a franchise rookie record with 15 outfield assists in 2013 which was also the third-most in the majors. He was named to the Wilson NL Defensive Player of the Year team.

April 1

According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, outfielder Juan Lagares and the Mets have agreed on a 4-year extension with a club option.

The deal is expected to be worth $23 million and covers all of Lagares’ arbitration years and one year of free agency.

Lagares is already signed for 2015, so this new deal starts in 2016 and runs through 2019 with a club option for 2020 worth $9.5 million according to Jeff Passan.

Bowden points out that Lagares is considered the best defensive center fielder in baseball, but has also made huge strides offensively this spring under new hitting coach Kevin Long.

Lagares, 26, earned his first Gold Glove in 2014, and has looked amazing at the plate this Spring, batting .345 with a 1.055 OPS in 60 plate appearance with six doubles, a triple and three home runs.

“I love the Mets,” Lagares said Wednesday. “That’s the team that gave me the opportunity when I was 16 years old. That’s the team that gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues. … This is where I want to be.”

“He’s going to be a really, really good player,” manager Terry Collins said, according to MLB.com. “We’ve said that from the time he got to the major leagues.”

“He’s a special player defensively. He’s working on every phase of the game daily. We’re very, very excited that he’s going to be our center fielder because he’s going to be a solid player, and he’s just going to get better and better.”

Lagares is MMO’s Breakout Player of the Year for 2015 and is a rising star in my opinion with many All Star appearances in his future.

(Updated 4/2)

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When Should The Mets Call-up Syndergaard? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-should-the-mets-call-up-syndergaard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-should-the-mets-call-up-syndergaard.html/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=176418 noah syndergaard - las vegas 51s

As Mets fans still grapple with the Zack Wheeler news, the debate begins on how long the Mets should wait to call-up super prospect Noah Syndergaard in light of the open rotation spot (well, open if you don’t consider Dillon Gee a viable candidate).

Of course, with the Mets, the decision is never based on baseball alone, but financial implications.

Adam Rubin sent out this tweet on Monday:

Since a player’s free agency status is based on their service time – with six years of service time the length of team control – teams are wise to manipulate the call-up dates of their top prospects. Anything to save a year from having to bid against the league for their homegrown talent.

A year of service time is defined as 172 days on the 25-man roster (which includes time spent on the disabled list). There are 183 days during the regular season, meaning the number to hold a player off the 25-man roster, and save a year of service time, is 12 days. Since Syndergaard is already on the 40-man roster, per Adam Rubin, an option is rescinded and re-credited in days, thus making 21 the magic number of days the Mets must hold him back to keep him from gaining a year of service in 2015.

Adding to the service time fun is Super Two consideration. Players who have earned two years of service time, but not yet three, are eligible for an added year of arbitration if they rank within the top 22% of all two-year players. Normally, players must wait until they have earned three full years of service time to be arbitration eligible.

The cut-off for Super Two players in 2015 is two years and 133 days of service. Usually, the cut-off is after two years and somewhere between 128 and 140 days. Using the minimum, 128 days, during a 183 day season, means a team would have to wait 56 days to keep a player from reaching Super Two status in their third year of playing.

This means the Mets have a few options. They can let Syndergaard make the Opening Day roster. Probably not a wise choice given where he is in terms of development, needing a few more AAA starts, and also not wanting to risk losing an entire year of free agency over a possible one or two starts in 2015. They can wait beyond the 21-day threshold, until June 1, to make sure that Syndergaard doesn’t become a Super Two eligible player after the 2017 season. Or they can call him up somewhere in between.

My thought is that the Mets should definitely wait past the 21 days, because that makes sense both from a baseball and financial standpoint. Waiting until June 1 would be upsetting, unless it was purely developmental, because that would mean the team is willing to lose 2015 productivity to save arbitration dollars (not even years of team control) between 2017-2020.

So I am curious.

What do Mets fans think the team should do in light of the Zack Wheeler injury and service time considerations highlighted above?

  1. Let Thor make the Opening Day roster, forfeiting that extra year of free agency in 2021?
  2. Call him up on April 27, gaining the extra year of team control, but risking Super Two status in 2017?
  3. Call him up on June 1, gaining both the extra year of team control and holding off Super Two status through 2017?

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The Harsh Realities Of Cost Control vs. Player Development http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/the-harsh-realities-of-cost-control-vs-player-development.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/the-harsh-realities-of-cost-control-vs-player-development.html/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=175934 michael conforto

The Mets of recent years, while not experiencing a lot of success at the major league level, have slowly and patiently reconstructed a minor league system that is a consensus top 5 ranked organization. The front office has been patient and careful with this talent, perhaps to a fault. The Mets have been in need of some positional help in 2015 that could have been addressed via trade, but it hasn’t happened.

As a result, the Mets will soon have several players knocking on the door. One of them will almost certainly be Michael Conforto. The young 2014 first rounder out of Oregon State who made such an impression in Saturday’s Grapefruit League win over the Braves, going 3-for-4 with a double and three runs batted in.

Now I don’t know much, I’m just a guy sitting at home watching the games. I’m not a scout or a talent evaluator. I’ve played some and I’ve coached some, and I’ve watched a whole lot of baseball during my 49 years, and from what I saw on Saturday, Conforto looks like he could probably play at the major league level right now. It’s all about the swing.

You look at a lot of guys (Ike would be a good example) who come up these days with these big power strokes and you worry about their ability to time the off-speed stuff and make contact against the breaking pitch. You look at their impatience and tendencies in and out of the zone, their lack of plate discipline. I don’t see any of that with Conforto. I see a guy with a real good approach, a very good eye, and a killer-quick compact swing. This kid will hit, that much is obvious.

So why not speed him up? Start the year at Binghamton and then send him to Vegas with an outside shot at a September call up? Well the company line is “we want to be patient, let them develop, bring them up when we know they’re ready.”

An interesting situation has been fomenting in this regard on the North Side of Chicago with a big third base prospect named Kris Bryant. As reported by CBS Sports Chicago, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark made the following statement to the Tribune:

“I will always pay attention during the course of the year as guys come up, go down, different considerations that may be a part of those decisions. This year is a little different than in years past here as it’s a remarkably talented group in that locker room. There’s a very good group of veterans, a very good group of young talented players and selfishly I’m interested to see how everything falls into place.”

“But as it relates to when someone may come up, when they may not, those are all things we pay very close attention to and as the year goes along, we’ll see where we end up.”

Apparently the MLPA is none too happy with teams delaying the service clock of players, thereby setting back their eligibility for free agency by a year, even though it’s permissible under the current CBA, and, really, a pretty smart practice. Predictably, Theo Epstein answered back, turning up the sarcasm:

“I haven’t talked directly to Tony about it, so I’ll withhold comment. But I didn’t know we needed players association permission to send a player to the minor leagues who’s not even on the 40-man roster and has less than 300 plate appearances at Triple-A. That’d be a new one to me.”

The cynical nature here is almost reminiscent of an Alderson to Boras retort!

Theo promptly went on to not withhold comment with the following:

“Just evaluating him from a baseball standpoint, I’m kind of laughing at how big of a story this has become. The reality is for players with less than 300 plate appearances or 250 at-bats, whatever it is at Triple-A, the norm is to get more seasoning.

In Kris’ case, he changes people’s perception because he’s so mature, he’s so advanced. He handles things in stride. He comes across as a 30-year-old veteran even though he’s only 23. So I think that’s gotten people a little ahead of themselves. And look, Kris is in camp competing, and he’s in camp trying to get better.”

“When we talk about Kris Bryant, we don’t talk about service time — not a single conversation. What we talk about is his evolution as a baseball player, his development, his strengths and his weaknesses and how much time we feel he still needs at Triple-A before he’s ready to come up and make an impact in the big leagues. You don’t get that time back. If you call someone up prematurely and they struggle, sometimes it turns out fine and you can send them back and they come back and it’s no harm, no foul. Other times you can derail a player’s career.”

“We’re just trying to get this one right. Do the right thing for our big league club. Do the right thing for Kris’ development. Those are our decisions. They’re baseball decisions, and that’s how we’ll make them.”

Then again maybe it isn’t something Alderson would say. I’m pretty sure Sandy wouldn’t tip his hand by going out of his way to elaborate at length on a sensitive topic … It’s never a good idea to give up more information than you absolutely need to … Theo’s touchy disposition speaks volumes. Are teams trying to find ways to delay service time for “can’t miss” prospects thereby putting off arbitration?

The short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t they?

As with many things related to free agency, service time goes back to reserve clause precedents that once upon a time allowed teams who developed players to control them in perpetuity. But that has not been the case since Curt Flood sued MLB and lost, leading to the Messersmith and McNally challenge in December of 1975 when players finally won the right to free agency.

Service time stipulations in current CBA manifestations are essentially the last vestige of the reserve clause. Teams successfully continue to argue that they should be rewarded and in a sense benefit from the fruits of drafting and developing labor, by controlling players for some fair and predetermined length of time, (what currently amounts to around 6 years total with the latter three being arbitration years). MLB explains arbitration thus:

A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

So a team may benefit considerably by delaying a player’s start time because it can delay arbitration eligibility. This can potentially do a couple of things. In a talented (top 22%) player who is around the age of Bryant (and Conforto) it will ensure that a good portion of the player’s prime years are swallowed up by arbitration, and secondly, it will delay free agency by up to a year on the back end. Cost control and control of early prime. The benefits of delaying start time from a team standpoint are enormous.

So it’s hard for me to believe that financial considerations aren’t a factor here. In Conforto’s case, we may very well have a kid who could benefit from some additional “seasoning,” but you have to imagine Mets front office honchos have almost certainly calculated the financial benefits of being “patient” in a general sense, particularly when you are currently on a budget that’s been squeezed like a capybara in a python.

The MLBPA is right to be concerned. The game is changing. We are in the midst of a dramatic shift back to pre-steroid norms and the age of onset, if you will, is trending younger. Players are coming up bigger, stronger, more mature, while at the same time older players are breaking down younger and at higher rates. We need look no further than our own David Wright which only a few years ago would have still been considered in his “prime.” As a result of this, teams who have shifted to youth movements should enjoy a pronounced competitive advantage.

It’s a bigger issue than we think. When you consider that player careers are no longer artificially or chemically lengthened, a player has only so much time to compile a body of work, a career, a legacy, a hall of fame portfolio.

Clark did make one more point:

“I will tell you this – we have always and will continue to believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to have the best players playing at any particular time,”

If teams eat into these early years by delaying start time, it takes away not only from their career accomplishments, it also deprives the fans of seeing young dynamic players who may very well be more than ready.

And unless my eyes deceive me, Conforto is one of them.

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Gee Would Rather Start Than Relieve, But Will Do What Team Asks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/gee-would-rather-start-than-relieve-but-will-do-what-team-asks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/gee-would-rather-start-than-relieve-but-will-do-what-team-asks.html/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:05:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174677 dillon gee

Dillon Gee told beat reporters at Port St. Lucie that he would rather start than pitch out of the bullpen, but that ultimately he’ll do whatever he is asked.

Marc Carig of Newsday tweeted that a couple of times this winter, Gee thought he was very close to being traded. As far as his thoughts on that, Gee told reporters, “I’m at their mercy.”

When asked by Adam Rubin whether he would prefer to start for another team or work in relief for the Mets this season, Gee offered no response.

February 14

Interesting yet unsurprising to hear that Dillon Gee is most certainly looking like someone who will begin the season in the back of the Mets bullpen as a long man and spot starter.

Marc Carig of Newsday says the Mets did not like any of the offers they received for Gee, and further added that any once-interested teams have since moved on.

So what? Is it so bad to have a veteran starter like Gee around as we look to make some noise in the NL East this year? This could end up being one of those blessings in disguise. With Matt Harvey‘s workload still up in the air and Sandy Alderson suggesting a mid-season two week shutdown for our returning ace, keeping Gee is not exactly the worst idea in the world.

In the meantime, who knows what unforeseen events (injuries, unexpected poor performances, rotation concerns) could lead those previously interested teams – and perhaps some new ones – right back to the Mets.

Dillon Gee is far too valuable a commodity as a back-end starter to simply be given away in some half-assed salary dump. And at an estimated $12 million dollars owed over the next two seasons, he comes fully equipped with a very team friendly contract.

Unfortunately for us, there were just too many pitchers like Gee readily available in free agency this Winter, creating somewhat of a glut. Given the fact that teams didn’t have to give up any prospects or Major League pieces to sign pitchers like Ryan Vogelsong and Kyle Kendrick, they opted for free agency.

All of that said, things always have a way of changing quickly in this game and I’m fairly certain that the Mets might have a few more opportunities to trade Gee before Opening Day, so lets see how this ultimately plays out. The important thing is that we get something of value for Gee and that we don’t just give him away just to save $5 million dollars. After all, last time I checked we are still a big market team, right? Ducks…

Happy Valentines Day to all of you. Go grab your better halves, eat some chocolate, and then watch Sleepless in Seattle or Bride of Chucky. ;-)

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Yoan Moncada Cleared To Sign With Any MLB Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/cuban-ss-yoan-moncada-cleared-to-sign-with-any-mlb-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/cuban-ss-yoan-moncada-cleared-to-sign-with-any-mlb-team.html/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 05:58:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173556 yoan moncada

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com is reporting that the agent for Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, received the necessary notification from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Friday night stating that his player is now an unblocked national.

In other words, this now clears the way for Moncada to sign with any MLB team of his choosing.

Sanchez also adds that Moncada, 19, has worked out privately for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays and Brewers, and that the Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals have also shown interest.

January 28

Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is close to being cleared to sign with an MLB team according to reports from Baseball America and Yahoo Sports. He continues to conduct private workouts for several interested teams.

The Dodgers and Yankees held a private workout for Moncada this past week and several industry sources say both of them are frontrunners to sign Moncada.

Baseball America said the 19-year-old switch-hitter would immediately become one of the game’s top prospects as soon as he signs with a team.

According to what team sources told reporter Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the Mets have done their due diligence on Moncada, but do not view him as a realistic option given their budget and financial constraints.

Top talent evaluator Ben Badler of Baseball America recently said that the Cuban infielder is a dynamic player with premium bat speed, an enticing combination of power and speed along with a strong track record of hitting.

He also added that while all 30 MLB teams would undoubtedly love to have Moncada, his high price tag ($30 million bonus plus $30 million tax) limits his signability to big market teams like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

“That’s why you can comfortably count out teams such as the Indians, Twins, Royals, Pirates, Athletics and Mets when it comes to handicapping the Moncada sweepstakes.”

Moncada, who has abundant speed and power, has been compared favorably to Dodgers star Yasiel Puig.

While discussing international free agency at the Winter Meetings, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that while the Mets had been mostly bystanders in foreign markets over the years, that was going to soon change.

“We haven’t been in that category,” he said. “I expect we will be in that category, soon.”

Many took that to believe that the Mets would be players for Korean shortstop Jeong-ho Kang and five-tool prospect Moncada.

Alderson also told reporters the Mets were considering a bid on Kang and that they were very interested, but a month later on the eve of the bidding deadline he announced the Mets were out.

A day later the Pittsburgh Pirates won the rights to Kang and ultimately signed the 27-year-old infielder to an $11 million, four-year contract on Friday.

Reports have suggested that Moncada will likely receive a signing bonus in excess of $30 million and in addition to that there will be a 100 percent penalty for any team who signs him.

Besides the Yankees, the San Francisco Giants also worked out Moncada last week. The Phillies. Dodgers, Rangers and Cubs are also very interested and held private workouts previously.

There have been no reports linking Moncada to the Mets.

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How Do You Grade The Mets Offseason? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/how-do-you-grade-the-mets-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/how-do-you-grade-the-mets-offseason.html/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173915 Sandy-Alderson-New-York-Mets1

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated was none to thrilled with the Mets’ offseason giving them a big fat “D” for failing to seize an opportunity to make a bold move in the NL East at a time when the Braves and Phillies are going into rebuild mode.

“New York modestly upgraded its offense but burned a draft pick on an aged, oft-injured player to do so. While the team hasn’t squandered its pitching depth, it still has more than it can use — even accounting for the inevitable injuries — as well as a clear need at a key position. …The Marlins have seized the initiative and bulked up significantly, the Mets haven’t done the same — even while claiming that ticket sales are surging significantly. Yup, still business as usual in Queens.”

Jaffe’s main bone of contention is that when the offseason started he looked at the Mets as being only a few essential moves away from returning to contention and giving the Nationals a run for their money while making a true postseason run.

“Instead, what their fans have had to endure is another winter of head-scratching moves while the organization gives every sign that it is still mired in its post-Madoff financial morass.”

He really takes issue with Cuddyer who he says, at his age and injury history is more of a complimentary player.

“He turns 36 on March 27, has averaged just 93 games per year over the last three and cost New York what would have been the 15th pick of this year’s amateur draft. For a club that’s rebuilding (regardless of their stated intentions and self-perception), there was no reason for the Mets to give up that pick unless doing so brought a game-changing piece to the Big Apple, and Cuddyer isn’t that.”

He also took issue with Alderson’s lack of addressing shortstop after calling it a top priority for a second offseason in a row and says it’s further evidence of this team’s lack of will to change its circumstances.

“It’s not as though potential upgrades weren’t available,” he writes. “Instead the Mets have a pair cheap players whom they’ve jerked around the organization for years.”

“Few outside of New York believe that Flores is good enough to play shortstop regularly because of his limited range. That goes double on a team whose path to winning is through pitching and defense rather than a high-powered offense, and in an infield where second baseman Daniel Murphy is no great shakes with the glove, either.”

It wasn’t all bad, Jaffe lauds the Mets rotation and it’s because he believes it could be one of the best in baseball that he wishes the front office could have done more to support the young arms.

“That wealth of young pitching may be unequaled in the game today and it’s clearly the future on which the team’s competitive aspirations rest.”

Does he go overboard or is his criticism warranted?

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Why Have The Mets Struggled So Mightily To Address Shortstop? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/facing-facts-in-flushing-why-mets-fans-are-still-waiting-on-a-shortstop.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/facing-facts-in-flushing-why-mets-fans-are-still-waiting-on-a-shortstop.html/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:35:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173302  reyes

The Mets’ need for a shortstop, alleged search for a shortstop, inability to actually acquire a shortstop, and (naturally) continued lack of production from the shortstop position has been a most frustrating combination for Mets fans ever since Jose Reyes was allowed to walk away in free agency (excluding a couple decent stretches from Ruben Tejada, who has otherwise regressed since he was given a starting job).

Each of the last few seasons has been portrayed by the team as “The Year” —  ”Matt Harvey is ready! No, wait, Zack Wheeler is ready! Hey, look! Travis d’Arnaud is here!!!” — but the early signing of Michael Cuddyer this winter (at the expense of a first-round pick), the 2014 2nd-place finish in what is shaping up to be a not-too-intimidating NL East, promising performances in ’14 from some of our younger guys, the return of Matt Harvey, and the fact that David Wright has to be better than the injured shell of himself he was last season— all of these things encouraged Mets fans into believing that 2015 just might be the year the Mets are serious about “This Year.”

And then the Mets did nothing. Some non-moves were justified— a team with a strong rotation shouldn’t be expected to splurge on an ace pitcher. In fact, the Mets don’t really have too many positional holes. They have a 30 homer guy at first base, a very solid hitter at second base, a franchise player at third, one of the game’s most promising young catchers, a Gold Glove winner with a nice bat in center, and, after their early splash, a recent batting champion in left field. In right field, Curtis Granderson is a guy with 40-HR power who managed 20 HR in a down season (and a big ballpark). The bullpen ranked eighth in ERA last season, and we’ve all heard about the starting rotation.

Now— and this is mostly a topic for another article— the Mets could have upgraded at positions where they were already “fine.” “Fine” doesn’t make you a contender, so the Mets shouldn’t be content at all positions where they don’t have a gaping hole. That’s not enough. Teams need to be creative, and Sandy Alderson hasn’t shown much creativity. But the main gripe is– and should be–at the shortstop position.

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The Mets stood pat in free agency when it came to the shortstop market, barely considering any of the main guys who were available (such as Hanley Ramirez). They spent their free agency dollars to fill their outfield spot when the trade market was more appealing for outfielders, and looked to use their trade chips to get a shortstop even though the price of a shortstop in trades appears to be astronomically high these days. You could argue their problems began here— they should have gone for a slugger in the outfield, so they could have gotten a contact-and-defense guy to play short.

But hey, nothing wrong with a nice trade. So why didn’t the Mets make any? Sure, teams were overreaching at first. Starlin Castro might not actually be worth two or three top prospects, for example. Didi Gregorius is decent and didn’t cost the Yankees too much, but the Mets were being asked to pay far more than the Diamondbacks ended up getting for him, and at this point, the Mets should probably be in the market for a more offensive-minded shortstop anyway. Jimmy Rollins could have been a nice fit, but reports (some of which have been disputed) suggested that he didn’t want to be a Met.

So when the two best offensive shortstops in the game hit the market, you pounce, right? It’s what the Yankees would do if they had the prospects to trade. But the Mets aren’t the Yankees. So despite being towards the tail-end of an offseason when Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond both became available, the Mets appear poised to begin the 2015 campaign with Wilmer Flores, a good offensive shortstop who isn’t a shortstop and has only been good offensively in the minor leagues.

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We know all about the risk factors with Tulowitzki. He would cost a lot in terms of trade chips, and he comes with a serious financial commitment. All of which would be fine (one would think; nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the Mets and their finances), because Tulo is a superstar. But he’s only a superstar when he’s on the field, and far too often in recent years, that has not been the case. If the Mets were to put so many eggs in such an injury-prone basket, the move could end up being disastrous.

Desmond is also a terrific player, and the Washington shortstop has managed to stay on the field far more often than his Colorado counterpart. He would probably cost a bit less, too, and taking him away from a division rival would certainly be a nice bonus. But Desmond has only one year left on his contract, and has been completely unwilling to sign an extension with the Nationals thus far. Like Tulowitzki, Desmond comes with risk, in his because of the fact he could flee after the season.

The Mets apparently have not been involved in advanced talks for Tulowitzki, despite the fact that both teams know they match up well for a deal. It seems that a trade for Tulo might be more feasible closer to the trade deadline, when it will be more clear where the Mets stand in the National League (which might increase their interest) as well as how healthy Tulowitzki is after hip surgery (which might increase the cost).

A Tulo package might cost at least one top pitching prospect (Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz), another pitcher (Jon Niese? Dillon Gee?), maybe a hitting prospect or two (Kevin Plawecki? Flores?) and/or maybe a more established hitter (Daniel Murphy?). The Mets would also have to take on Tulo’s contract, which might reduce the amount they have to give to the Rockies in terms of assets. What’s for certain is that it would be a costly deal, but the Mets would be getting a superstar for their trouble albeit one with a very concerning injury history.

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The Mets did have some more specific discussions about Desmond, reportedly getting involved in (and then pulling out of) discussions about a trade which would have landed Desmond in New York at the expense of Syndergaard, another top prospect, and possibly Dillon Gee. With Desmond only having one year left on his contract and the Mets not wanting to give up so much for a guy who might walk after one season, it was a reasonable decision for Alderson to walk away.

But what on earth is Alderson waiting for? Tulo and Desmond have their flaws, but if they didn’t these two studs wouldn’t be available. No team is going to be able to trade for the perfect player, because no team is going to be willing to trade away the perfect player. You can try to draft somebody, but it will take years for that player to arrive, and the Mets don’t have a first-rounder this year (it’s worth noting that losing Desmond in free agency would probably net them an compensatory first-rounder in the 2016 draft). Gavin Cecchini didn’t exactly blaze through the system. We could try tapping into the international market (Yoan Moncada looks appealing), but the Mets probably can’t go to battle with the top dogs when it comes to signing players. So taking a risk, trading for an expiring contract like Desmond, and then trying to sign the guy (you’re allowed to re-sign your own players, Sandy) in the winter might be the best—or only—move.

If Desmond helps make the Mets a contender, nobody will complain. If they struggle even after adding him, they could move him at the deadline. But being content to play it safe and keep waiting won’t work forever. When Syndergaard, Matz, and whichever other prospects the Mets want to horde are ready next year, Wright, Cuddyer, and Granderson will be a year older, Murphy might be gone, Bartolo Colon will be gone, and the Mets could very well end up trying to sell us on waiting four more years for a kid who is currently in tenth grade.

Maybe two top prospects is too much. Ken Rosenthal suggested the Mets try to deal Murphy and one top prospect for Desmond, and that is a deal I would probably do— re-signing Murphy and Desmond might be tough, but the Mets could certainly splurge to keep a great shortstop if they found themselves able to slot a cheap youngster like Flores or Dilson Herrera at second base. But would the Nationals be willing to take a deal like that? Who knows? (Well, Alderson could certainly find out by picking up the phone.)

So what’s going on? Why is Wilmer Flores going to be our shortstop, and why have we only made one relevant acquisition this winter? It all comes down to money. In free agency, that’s obvious. But the Mets’ financial woes plague them in trades as well. Let’s not waste time discussing whether the Mets can spend money, whether they should spend money, and the like. The Mets AREN’T spending money right now and certainly can’t be counted upon to do so in the near future.

Teams with low budgets can’t afford to take risks in a trade. They can’t trade for a guy who might be eating up what little payroll room they have while sitting on the disabled list. They can’t trade cheap, controllable prospects for guys who are expensive and might leave after one year, leaving the team with the original problem and now less surplus in trade chips.

A rich team can lose a trade, waste a top prospect, and fill the hole by signing a 30 year-old free agent (or these days, a young star from Cuba). But a “poor” team, and the Mets are sadly operating like one of those right now, can’t take these risks. Well, they can, and sometimes they might need to, but it’s certainly far less appealing to the guys who make the decisions, and for good reason.

So while it’s frustrating to see a big-market team not spending enough money to produce a winning product, fans also have to watch a general manager working under a set of constraints that discourage him from making trades that under normal circumstances would be no-brainers.

Colorado Rockies v New York Mets

So, for many reasons, Wilmer Flores is our shortstop. And it’s frustrating, because we’ve been promised an upgrade at that position seemingly every offseason since Reyes left. Maybe Flores will be a solid contributor at the plate. He has potential, he has shown flashes, and he’s still young. But we can’t count on it, and we certainly can’t count on him to be good enough with the bat to compensate for his poor defense, which we can only hope will become average with practice.

On the bright side, the Mets, for the first time in a long time, should be buyers at the deadline rather than sellers, so we could see them trade for at least one impact bat mid-season. If the rest of the team plays well enough to warrant seriously “going for it” in 2015, Desmond, Tulo, or another legitimate shortstop could be a Met before too long. But there are no guarantees with this team. They have shown a lack of creativity, a lack of aggressiveness, and in some cases, an apparent lack of awareness when it comes to the nature of the market and the opportunities which can suddenly arise in any market.

The Mets won in 1986 without a star shortstop. Shortstop quality isn’t the lone factor in a team’s success. But the Mets don’t have many areas where they desperately need improvement (this is a good thing), and they appear to be on the cusp of relevance (also a good thing). So to see them stand pat while there is at least one obvious spot at which an upgrade can be made, and precious wins can be added, it’s certainly frustrating, and hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer.

*Note: This article was written in response to several mailbag questions centered around the Mets’ continuing shortstop search.

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Mets Have The Most Homegrown Players On Roster http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-have-the-most-homegrown-players-on-roster.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-have-the-most-homegrown-players-on-roster.html/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:40:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172234 sandy alderson

In an organizational roster analysis by August Fagerstrom on FanGraphs, he discovers plenty of unique outliers.

For one, the Oakland Athletics have only four homegrown players on their 40-man roster – that is, of the 40 players who comprise the current A’s roster, only four were actually drafted by the organization at some point. The MLB average is 17 and only one other team has less than 10.

On the flip side, the New York Mets have 27 homegrown players on their 40-man roster, the highest percentage in the majors. The differences in organizational philosophies, he says, are very stark between the A’s and the Mets.

“The organizational ladder for the Mets dates all the way back to 2001 when franchise-favorite David Wright was drafted in the first round. Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell were both drafted in 2005, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada followed in 2006, and a whole host of current 40-manners came in 2007, including starters Jenrry Mejia, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores.

“It’s interesting because the Mets have been undergoing something of a rebuilding process over the last several years, which could help explain their stockpiling of homegrown players. They trust their draft selections, and so they want to see them pan out.”

Of course there are other factors that feed into this which are borne out of necessity. Most of the homegrown players go back to Omar Minaya, and Sandy Alderson has yet to trade for an active MLB player that sticks, only minor leaguers thus far. But mostly, the financial distress the team has been under for the last six years also explains why the Mets have the third fewest free agents on their roster – just six out of their 40 roster allocations. And the Mets were again an outlier of sorts where those free agents are concerned.

“I added up the 2015 salary commitments for the free agent acquisitions of each team, and I added up their projected WAR for 2015, taken from our in-house depth charts, which are based on Steamer projections. Using these totals, I was also able to calculate $/WAR — how much each team is paying for their wins.”

The Mets are paying $11.9 million dollars per 1.0 WAR which is the second worst $/WAR in the majors behind the Philadelphia Phillies.

It points out that the few free agents the Mets have signed are not really giving the team any value, which has the Mets vastly overpaying for their projected production in 2015.

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