Mets Merized Online » Free Agents Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:12:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Free Agent Profile: Koji Uehara, RP Sun, 27 Nov 2016 15:30:36 +0000 koji-uehara-jim-davis-globe-2013-09-03

Koji Uehara
Position: Reliever
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: April 3, 1975 (Age 41)

As the New York Mets continue to scour the market for late inning relievers, one potential target is a right-handed arm that has experience in both closing and setting-up, in 41-year-old Koji Uehara.

The eight-year veteran began his major league career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, and was then involved in one of the Orioles’ best trades in franchise history, shipping Uehara to the Texas Rangers for RH Tommy Hunter and a young power first baseman, Chris Davis.

In the winter of 2012, Uehara signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, where he’s remained ever since, going on to be named the 2013 ALCS MVP and eventual World Series Champions in his first season in Beantown. He even garnered some Cy Young votes that season, coming in seventh with a 5% share.

Uehara has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game, particularly between 2012-15. During that stretch, Uehara was sixth among relievers in fWAR (6.4), sixth in ERA (1.84), sixth in average against (.171), fifth in LOB% (86.2%), and led all relievers in WHIP (0.75) and BB/9 (1.21). Uehara has found great success relying mainly on three pitches, a four-seam fastball, cutter, and split-fingered fastball, according to Brooks Baseball.

For his career, Uehara has predominantly been a fly ball pitcher, averaging 52.3% in his eight-year career. His ground ball percentage peaked in 2013, where he registered a career high of 40.4%, only to see that number decrease down to 21.4% this past season.

His splits have been strong against both right and left-handed hitters, holding right-handed hitters to a .208/.237/.366 line, and lefties to an even better .183/.220/.335 stat line. In 2016, however, his splits were more pronounced, as he continued to dominate lefties (.478 OPS against), but right-handers teed off on Uehara, posting a .505 SLG and .812 OPS, both career worsts.

Despite his age (he turns 42 when the season opens in ’17), Uehara’s peripherals continue to impress. He posted a 10.49 SO/9 in 2015, the lowest it’s been since his rookie season in 2009, but bounced back in ’16 with a 12.06 SO/9, the highest it’s been since 2013. He also posted his seventh straight season of a sub 1.00 WHIP, posting a 0.96 WHIP in ’16.

Acting as the setup man for Craig Kimbrel, Uehara had 18 holds, and did step back into his old familiar role of closer when Kimbrel was placed on the DL due to a left knee medial meniscus tear in early July. Uehara stepped up in his absence, posting a 2.70 ERA in July in eight games, with a perfect four-out-of-four in saves, and holding opponents to a .231 average.

Injuries have taken a toll on Uehara since 2015, where he dealt with a strained left hamstring, a non-displaced distal radius fracture in his right wrist, and a right pectoral strain. In total, Uehara only appeared in 43 and 50 games respectively, being only a few years removed from appearing in 65, 73, and 64 in 2011, ’13, and ’14. His HR/9 numbers also shot up in ’16, jumping from 0.67 in ’15 to 1.53 in ’16. He also registered his highest BB/9 this year at 2.11, the first time in his career where he had back-to-back seasons of over 2.00 BB/9 (2.01 in 2015).

Uehara’s ERA was also a career high in ’16, posting a 3.45 ERA, the last time he posted an ERA above that was his rookie season in Baltimore (4.05 ERA).


Uehara won’t draw the same attention that the elite relievers on the market will, and may not even draw the same attention the second tier pitchers will (Boone Logan, Fernando Salas, etc.). There are plenty of teams looking for back end help in the bullpen, and Uehara fits that description with his experience closing and setting up. His age shouldn’t give teams pause, however, a few of his declining numbers might. Look for Uehara to get one or two-year offers, in the $3-6 million annual range. Expect the Mets, Twins, Padres, Cubs, Mariners, Yankees, White Sox, and Red Sox to show interest.


Sandy Alderson should be looking into many free agent arms to help for 2017, especially since Jeurys Familia is likely to be suspended in the beginning of the season due to his legal battle with domestic violence. The Mets should be looking at relievers that have experience closing, like Uehara does, so that he can be used as an option for the ninth, but also is comfortable appearing in the seventh and eighth innings as well.

Uehara should not be considered a big free agent signing, but as a supplement to whoever else Alderson brings in for bullpen help, along with Addison Reed who will likely handle the closing duties until Famila returns from suspension.

While the days of appearing in 60 plus games are likely over for free agent reliever, he still has stuff left in the tank and could prove a very useful piece late in games, and also in postseason play, where he has multiple year experience and with great success, posting a 0.833 WHIP and 10.5 SO/9 in 19 games.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Rajai Davis, OF Sat, 19 Nov 2016 15:30:06 +0000 rajai davis

Rajai Davis
Position: Outfield
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: October 19, 1980 (Age 36)

Rajai Davis hits free agency this winter after he and his Cleveland Indians’ teammates made a run to Game 7 of the World Series, in which the Indians lost to the Chicago Cubs to end their 108-year World Series drought. Davis did his best to keep the Indians’ hopes alive, as he tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth against flame throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman, with a two-run homer into left. He then came to bat in the bottom of the tenth, with one on and two out, as the Indians were down 8-6. Davis singled back up the middle on the second pitch thrown by Cubs RHP Carl Edwards, making it a one-run game at 8-7.

Davis didn’t back down in these pressure situations, instead, coming through in the clutch twice in late innings of what turned out to be a thrilling Game 7 for the ages. Davis enters free agency with that lasting memory, hoping to cash in after he signed a one-year deal with the Tribe in December 2015, for $5.25 million. The Indians were in need of outfield depth, as they lost their star left fielder Michael Brantley to offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. Brantley ultimately came back too soon from the surgery, and only played in 11 games before being shut down for the remainder of the ’16 season. The Indians also lost Abraham Almonte for 80 games and Marlon Byrd for 162 for their respective PED suspensions, so Davis found himself playing in far more games than likely expected upon signing.

On the year, Davis slashed .249/.306/.388 with a career high 12 home runs, 48 RBI, and a league leading 43 stolen bases out of 49 attempts. He played in 134 games, 107 of them starts, and mainly batted leadoff, sixth, or seventh in Terry Francona‘s lineup. Davis found his best results when leading off though, posting a line of .253/.312/.434, with 11 home runs and 26 stolen bases. Although his OBP was rather low for a leadoff hitter, he had superior numbers when facing a pitcher’s first pitch, slashing .361/.349/.508 with two homers and 11 RBI in 61 at-bats. He also enjoyed success when runners were in scoring position, slashing .283/.360/.475 with three homers and 36 RBI in 99 at-bats.

On the defensive side, Davis is capable of manning all three outfield spots, as he did in ’16. The bulk of his playing time was spent in left and center field, where he posted a -3 defensive runs saved (DRS) and -5 DRS respectively. He ultimately posted league average or just below league average numbers in both outfield spots in 2016, with an overall range factor per nine innings of 2.22 when the league average was 2.15, and a range factor per game of 1.91, when the league average was 2.12.

What many teams will be intrigued by with Davis is his speed, where he’s posted seven seasons of at least 30 stolen bases, eclipsing the 40 mark five times including last season. Another area that hasn’t always been discussed is taking extra bases, which calculates the times a runner advances more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double. The Indians finished second in all of baseball last year in extra bases taken (XBT%), at a 45% clip. The Mets were tied for last with the Detroit Tigers at 34%. Davis alone had a 58% XBT in 2016, and to put that in context, none of the Mets starting position players had a higher XBT than 48% (Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto).


I could see Davis signing a one or two year deal this winter, similar to his two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Tigers in December 2013. The Indians’ front office has expressed interest in re-signing Davis as depth, however, the Tribe has options with Tyler Naquin, Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall, and a healthy Brantley to start the 2017 season. The Indians, Athletics, Giants, Mets, and Angels could all show interest.


I really like Davis for his speed and being proactive on the bases, something the Mets could use as they were ranked 28th overall in ’16 in team stolen bases with 42. The team’s outfield is still a bit unclear, as fans await word of whether the team will re-sign Cespedes. With Granderson, Bruce, Conforto, and Lagares also in the mix, the Mets might not have room to carry another outfielder. Lagares could be viewed as a less speedy Davis, with good splits against lefties, better defense in center, and nine years younger.

However, Davis’ speed element is very intriguing, so if the Mets in fact re-sign Cespedes and can trade Bruce, they could circle back and check in with Davis’ camp if he’s still available. I’d expect Davis and his agents are looking for more guaranteed playing time though, something the Mets won’t be able to offer with a crowded outfield.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Dexter Fowler, CF Fri, 18 Nov 2016 16:00:12 +0000 dexter fowler

Dexter Fowler
Position: Center field
Bats: Both – Throws: Right
Born: March 22, 1986 (Age 30)

Dexter Fowler surprised his Chicago Cubs teammates last spring training, showing up to the Mesa, Arizona training facility in street clothes after agreeing to a one-year $8 million deal to stay in Chicago. It was reported through multiple outlets that Fowler had a three-year $33 million offer from the Baltimore Orioles on the table, however, Fowler’s agent Casey Close scorned the Orioles for irresponsibly spreading rumors about the signing of Fowler before anything was completed, further adding that Fowler never reached an agreement with the Orioles to begin with. Fowler himself said he just wanted to stay in Chicago, where he felt “respected” and “comfortable” there.

Whatever the reason, Fowler had one of his finest seasons of his nine-year career, slashing .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, and 85 runs scored in 125 games played. Fowler set career highs in OBP, BB% (14.3), wRC+ (129), and fWAR (4.7). In terms of National League outfielders, Fowler ranked second on FanGraphs in fWAR behind only teammate Kris Bryant (ranked as both third baseman and outfielder).

Fowler also posted positive numbers in center field this season, the first time he’s done so over a full season, according to FanGraphs. Fowler posted a 1.0 UZR/150 while manning center, with one defensive run saved, and also posted a 2.7 defensive rating on FanGraphs as well, which was a career high.

What Fowler also offers is a premium leadoff hitter, one who will get on-base at a high clip (career .366 OBP), has some speed (has double digit stolen bases the past eight seasons), and has good splits against both righties and lefties. In 2016, the switch-hitter had an OPS of .827 against right-handers, and a .876 OPS against southpaws. Even for his career he’s posted solid splits, with a .770 OPS against righties and .835 against left-handers.

With runners in scoring position, Fowler posted a .253/.395/.418 line with 33 RBI in 91 at-bats in ’16. And how about this for setting the table; in the first inning of games, Fowler hit .382/.479/.706 with seven home runs in 102 at-bats.


Fowler did reject the Cubs’ qualifying offer of $17.2 million, so any team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick for the soon to be 31-year-old. However, with several teams in the mix to add outfielders this winter, Fowler should be in the mix for at least a three year deal, possibly four. I envision Fowler receiving a four-year, $60 million contract, similar to the one Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets in 2013, with interest from the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, and Mariners.


Fowler should be viewed as a plan “B” for the Mets, especially if the team is unable to retain Cespedes in the offseason. Fowler offers the Mets a true leadoff hitter with double digit power, speed, average center field defense, and the ability to get on base at a high clip. He presents an intriguing candidate to replace some of the production Cespedes offers, and it would be in the Mets’ best interest to keep tabs on him throughout the winter.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Brandon Moss, 1B/OF Thu, 17 Nov 2016 12:00:42 +0000 brandon moss

Brandon Moss
Position: First Base / Outfield
Bats: Left – Throws: Right 
Born: September 16, 1983 (Age 33)

Brandon Moss enters the offseason in enviable fashion; with no qualifying offer attached to the 33-year-old and coming off a season where he posted his second highest home run total (28) of his career, highest OPS (.784) since 2013 with Oakland, and offers versatility in the field, as he plays both first base and the corner outfield spots.

Moss spent the entire 2016 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, putting up a slash line of .225/.300/.484 with the aforementioned 28 homers, and 67 RBI in 128 games played. Moss had a solid year in the power department, posting a slugging percentage of .484, the highest it’s been since 2013, while posting a .259 ISO, 14th best among players with at least 400 at-bats in 2016.

Just as Jay Bruce intrigued the Mets with his superior numbers with RISP, Moss too had an excellent year in that department, slashing .258/.383/.573 with seven home runs and 42 RBI. And in high leverage situations, according to Baseball-Reference, Moss has an .826 OPS in 64 at-bats in 2016, indicating that he excelled in high pressure situations.

At the conclusion of August, Moss had a stat line of .261/.333/.562, good for an .895 OPS. However, a prolonged slump in September/October but a damper on that gaudy stat line, as Moss went 9-for-91 to close out the 2016 season.

Moss does come with some warts though. As a lefty hitter, Moss had his issues against southpaws in ’16, putting up an OPS of .664 and hitting only three of his 28 homers against left-handed pitching. He hit much better against lefties in 2014-15 however, posting a .792 OPS in ’14 and .721 in ’15, both better marks than he put up against righties in both those years.

His defense is also a bit suspect, as he posted a -10.1 UZR/150 at first base this past season according to Fangraphs, and a -3 in defensive runs saved. He fared much better in the outfield, where he posted a combined 14.1 UZR/150 between left and right field in 507.1 innings, with three defensive runs saved.


Moss earned $8.25 million this past year, after the Cardinals tendered him a contract last winter. He’ll be looking for at least a two-year deal, and could find multiple suitors for his skill set, including the Nationals, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Angels. Best guess, Moss secures a two-year $16-18 million contract in the offseason and continues to play both in the outfield and at first. Similar contracts include Mike Morse in the 2014 offseason signing a two-year $16 million deal with the Miami Marlins, and Michael Cuddyer signing his two-year $21 million deal with the Mets prior to the 2015 season, before retiring at the conclusion of the year.


The Mets should pass on Moss. The team already has many left-handed hitting options in the positions Moss plays, particularly in the outfield with Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, and Bruce already in place, and then Lucas Duda manning first. A few other areas of worry about Moss include his declining OBP since 2012, his rising K% since 2014, and his diminishing BB% the last three seasons. The team should allocate its finances towards bringing in several bullpen arms, bringing in a right-handed bench player who kills lefties (Justin Ruggiano comes to mind), and of course, re-signing Yoenis Cespedes.

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Cespedes, Walker, Colon Listed In Heyman’s Top 30 Free Agents Thu, 15 Sep 2016 22:32:03 +0000 Earlier today, Jon Heyman of released his list of the top 30 players hitting the open market this winter, and predictions as to the deal they will land.

Three Mets made Heyman’s list, including Yoenis Cespedes who came in as the number one sought after free agent this winter.

Neil Walker and Bartolo Colon also came in at #19 and #26 on the list, respectively.

yoenis cespedes walkoff

Yoenis Cespedes:

He’s put up yet another monster season, easily outplaying last winter’s other outfield Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Alex Gordon. There’s no reason he shouldn’t get a guaranteed deal of at least four years, even with the qualifying offer attached this time, and a stated intention to stay in left field now. As for his chance to stick with the $47.5 million over two years and not opt out, one person put that option at ‘zero percent.’ So he’s safely on this list, and at the top. Early guess: $100M, 4 years.”

While Cespedes has said time and time again that he will not opt out of his current contract with the Amazin’s, the stud outfielder is easily the most appealing name in an otherwise weak free agent market. It would be silly for him to not test the waters, but the Mets do need to realize that they need to bring back their slugger by any means possible.

neil walker

Neil Walker:

“Walker was boffo in Queens before going out with a disc issue. Early guess: $24M, 2 years.”

I’m going to say that I would be very surprised if we don’t see Walker in a Mets uniform next season. With Dilson Herrera being shipped off to Cincinnati, we still have a need at second base for the near future. Walker thrived before his injury that derailed his season, but having the duo of Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera up the middle will be a strength for the Mets in 2017.

bartolo colon

Bartolo Colon:

“The most amazing man in baseball. Early guess: $12M, 1 year.”

Colon has demonstrated time and time again that he can be an effective starting pitcher, even at the ripe age of 43. With no thoughts on retirement just yet, bringing back Colon is a must for the Mets. Pitching, as we all saw this year, is something you can never have enough of. I think the Mets will re-up a deal with Colon very early on in the offseason.


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Alderson: All Remaining Free Agents Are Still On Our Radar Sun, 26 Jan 2014 16:33:54 +0000 sandy alderson winter meetings

Mark Herrmann of Newsday, was in Virginia Beach tonight where David Wright held his annual charity fundraiser for children near his hometown.

Among those in attendance were Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and general manager Sandy Alderson who both said the Mets are not done building and spending this offseason.

According to Herrmann, Alderson would not discuss individual players, but when he was asked if shortstop Stephen Drew was still on his radar, he said, “All remaining free agents are on our radar.”

Jeff Wilpon added: “I approve of what Sandy said. How’s that? Sandy and his staff have done a good job. And there probably will be a couple more things that might happen between now and the end of the offseason.”

As you may by now have heard, the Mets “reportedly” offered Grant Balfour a two-year, $12 million dollar deal on Thursday before the free agent closer opted to sign with the Rays so he could remain closer to home. I was actually surprised when I heard the news.

Meanwhile, David Wright approves of all the new Mets additions.

“I think Sandy will be the first one to tell you that there is room for improvement,” Wright said. “With the additions that we’ve made, there is no question that on Opening Day this year, we will be a better team than we were on Opening Day last year.”

This offseason has been fun to cover for me compared to the three previous ones. I loved the Granderson and Colon pickups, and frowned upon the Young signing, but all in all it’s been a refreshing departure from the last few Winters.

But let’s not get too carried away. We’re still not out of the woods yet, and there’s still much to do. Plus, until I see payroll back at a level commensurate with the high ticket prices the Mets charge I won’t be swayed.

I do hope that Sandy and Jeff weren’t just playing to the crowd tonight. My wish is that they can still improve one of either the shortstop or first base situations before the team heads to St. Lucie next month. Time will tell.

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Mets Arbitration Predictions and Non-Tender Candidates Thu, 07 Nov 2013 18:02:38 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Trade Rumors posted their arbitration predictions today. Daniel Murphy stands to be the biggest winner nearly doubling his 2013 salary to $5.8 million dollars.

Guaranteed Contracts

David Wright – $11.0 million (2013), $20.0 million

Jon Niese – $3.0 million (2013), $5.05 million

Arbitration 1

Dillon Gee – $527,375 (2013) $3.4 million

Ruben Tejada – $514,701 (2013), $1.0 million

Justin Turner – $504,547 (2013), $800,000

Eric Young Jr. – $492,000 (2013), $1.9 million

Lucas Duda – $504,000 (2013), $1.8 million

Arbitration 2

Ike Davis – $3.125M (2013), $3.5 million

Daniel Murphy – $2.925M (2013), $5.8 million

Bobby Parnell – $1.7M (2013), $3.2 million

Omar Quintanilla – $527,375 (2013), $900,000

Arbitration 3

Scott Atchison – $700,000 (2013), $1.3 million

Assuming each player is tendered and these arbitration estimations from MLB Trade Rumors are correct, that’s about $24.5 million in raises without adding any new players.

The total payroll for these 12 players comes to $48.7 million.

If you’re wondering what players could be non-tendered and added to the free agent pool this offseason after the non-tender deadline on December 2, here is a list from MLBTR.

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Featured Post: Does A “Mets Way” Exist? Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:03:57 +0000 wright wilpon aldersonWednesday night marked the beginning of the World Series and the two teams which have been praised all postseason long for having outstanding systems and team building began to battle one another for the championship. While the manner in which these League Champs were built is certainly much more complicated than the way the mass media is letting on, here are the basic structures of Boston and St. Louis in a nutshell. Boston added multiple mid-tier yet talented free agents who were “hungry for the challenge of winning” to fill the holes left by last year’s roster purge which also supplements their homegrown and retained talent. St. Louis built their lineup from within supplementing their previous free agent acquisitions with an emphasis on superior player development in their farm system and winning with a young big league roster.

These two teams have been praised by the media as well as many who follow and report on the Mets. And rightly so. Playing in the World Series obviously means whatever you are doing to build a championship caliber team is working very well. Many have even said the Mets need to follow the lead of either or both of these teams and model their off-season plans off of Boston and St. Louis’ 2013 success. I don’t dispute any of that. But don’t the Mets already have a system of their own in place? Under our current front office, isn’t there a “Mets Way?”

Presumably, yes. Fans have been force fed over the last few years that the Mets have a system as well and that in 2014 we would begin to see the fruits of said system’s labor. What are the cornerstones of the Mets Way? Based on what we’ve seen over the last few years I’d say the Mets Way consists of the following:

  1. Stockpile young power pitching prospects
  2. Hold OBP in high esteem and teach pitch recognition and the importance of getting on base throughout your player development system.
  3. In the off season when filling holes, shop for bargain bin players with high upside that can possibly be traded for more farm depth if your season is tanking.
  4. Do not overpay or offer too many contract years for a free agent. (ex. Michael Bourn vs. Marlon Byrd)
  5. Do not give up your 1st round draft pick in order to sign a “Type-A” free agent.

This is all well and good. The basic idea is to build from within with an emphasis on young power pitching. No sane baseball minded person would argue that that is the wrong way to do things under the current CBA. In taking cursory glances at both teams in this World Series, you will see young homegrown pitchers as well as young homegrown bats. These types of players are cheap and under team control for many years. The idea is to surround them (and fill your holes) with talent from outside the organization with the money you are saving by developing guys in your farm. Add a statistical analytic edge which is taught and hammered down across the various levels of your organization and you have the basics of what we are being sold on as The Mets Way.

terry collins sandy aldersonMany doubt that anything of value will be done this off season based on what we have seen the last few years. I don’t blame them. The Wilpons have not exactly opened their wallets to Sandy Alderson since he and his team have been here. Part of the blame also lies with Sandy seemingly being slow to act. He has been notorious for adding the final pieces just as Spring Training is rolling around, sometimes missing out on some potentially good fits. Whether this is a result of broke owners and negotiating his budget or if Sandy truly is too slow to act and too slow to shell out cash, what’s done is done.

But this year is different. In addition to being the year the front office promised would be the year of making a run at it, money seems to not be of a concern to ownership now. How coincidental! Sterling Equities and Mike “Luxury Condo” Bloomberg have even joined forces to approve plans for construction of a shopping mall and luxury apartment complex right next to Citi Field. To really top it all off Bloomberg Inc valued all the Major League Baseball clubs this week and the New York Mets clocked in at $2 billion.

Is this all for real? The Mets are still visibly losing money at the gate every year. Revenue has dipped to horrible levels, SNY viewership has tanked, and their own flagship radio station just kicked them off the air in favor of the Yankees. How can there suddenly be money to spend? The only thing that truly solves the financial issues The Mets have been facing is winning, and there hasn’t been much of that going on at all either. But if the Wilpons are building shopping mall/condo complexes and Mayor Bloomberg’s company is valuing this franchise as high as they are… could the most dire of money concerns truly be in the past? Was the exchange between Fred and Sandy similar to that of Lieutenant Dan and Forrest Gump?

Forrest Gump: So then I got a call from him saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I said, “That’s good! One less thing.”

I will believe in The Mets Way when I see it in action this winter and going forward. Put up or shut up. Ownership knows this to be true. Our GM knows this to be true. Because of that self awareness alone, I believe this team will spend money this winter. Not gobs and gobs of cash like those teams in LA or The Bronx, but money will be spent.

If we sit through another winter of nothing much happening and yet another Opening Day roster of AAA and AAAA players is shuffled out for our viewing displeasure, then mark my words there will be a true fan revolt and a baseball apathy unlike any this city has ever seen will fill the New York City air. Yankees fans are already extremely apathetic about their team and they haven’t even grazed the surface of what Mets fans have suffered through since 2009. The Mets have a serious chance to steal the heart and soul of this town again in the coming years.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: Mets fans are among the most passionate in baseball. When this team wins, this city absolutely rocks. If 2014 is another wasted year with no progress, then I’m afraid that passion may finally be extinguished. Here’s hoping I’m right, we are gifted with a real live major league roster, and Sandy finally gives us something to really cheer for.

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From Left Field: This Offseason Has Been Confusing Thu, 29 Nov 2012 14:41:58 +0000

Heading into this offseason, Sandy Alderson was bound to make some changes to the Mets’ roster.

Even with a limited supply of funds, how long can a team deal with mediocrity before making a change?

That same limited supply of funds virtually made it hard to think the Mets would pursue free agents, so Alderson came out and said that he’d be creative in exploring trade possibilities.

We’re only in late November, and already it seems the Mets are changing their course. ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin recently reported that Mets don’t expect to be making trades and will instead sign free agents.

So basically Alderson made one claim, now he’s making another claim, and by the time the Winter Meetings roll around, there may be a completely different story.

Pretty confusing, huh?

Luckily, it’s not even December yet, and the Mets right now are solely focused on contract negotiations with David Wright and R.A. Dickey. And rightfully so, since they are two huge pieces to the puzzle, even if that puzzle means trading one or both for younger talent.

So if Alderson sticks to his guns this times and says he will pursue free agents, let’s see who he might be talking about.

The Mets seem content heading into the season with a starting pitching rotation of Dickey (assuming he’s here), Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee. They may bring in a few insurance arms, but that’s looking pretty set.

As for the infield, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Wright (assuming he’s here) are likely the starters.

The bullpen this year will probably be a combination of what we have (Bobby Parnell, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Josh Edgin) and some cheap options that the Mets hope can produce.

So likely we’ve been saying all along, the Mets will look for help in the outfield and at catcher. And preferably, the Mets seek a right-handed hitter at both those positions.

At catcher, the really only viable options that the Mets can afford are Kelly Shoppach, Miguel Olivo or Chris Snyder. Mike Napoli is way out of their price range, and the rest of the crop of catchers has seen better days.

In terms of outfielders, Scott Hairston is looking more and more like a possibility to return, especially now that B.J. Upton signed with the Braves. It’s not like the Mets were in on Upton, but now the market for right-handed hitting outfielders may pick up.

An intriguing name could be Matt Diaz as part of a left or right field platoon with Mike Baxter. Diaz crushes left-handed pitching and especially Mets’ lefties over the years.

Ryan Raburn or Juan Rivera would come cheap and could also be platoon partners.

The bigger names in the outfield like Cody Ross and Delmon Young (more of a DH anyway) are likely seeking multi-year deals, and the Mets are likely to stay away there.

No one really knows how the rest of this offseason will play out. It would be nice as fans to have some sort of clear path on the direction of the team, but I guess that’s just the nature of the business these days.

The first priority is to take care of the Wright and Dickey situations, however they might play out, and then worry about the rest of the roster.

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Mets Get High Marks On International Free Agents Wed, 02 May 2012 02:07:27 +0000

Last week, Ben Badler of Baseball America evaluated how MLB teams have done in the international arena with regards to scouting, signing and developing talent in these once neglected markets that have produced more than their fair share of solid major league baseball players..

The Mets ranked very well according to Badler who ranked the Amazins’ among the top five teams.

When Omar Minaya was general manager, the Mets revved up their spending in Latin America, most notably to sign a trio of Dominican players from Ivan Noboa in Fernando Martinez, Cesar Puello and Jefry Marte. Their scouts have been able to find quality players for lower prices, including Panamanian middle infielder Ruben Tejada, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and hard-throwing Dominican righthanders Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. More recent additions like Dominican righthanders Domingo Tapia, Luis Mateo and Rafael Montero have kept the system stocked with intriguing young arms, though they are still far away. ~ Baseball America

It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of an effect the new CBA rules will have on international free agency.

Major League Baseball’s new labor agreement has capped the amount of dollars an organization can spend on international free agents. Effective this season, any team that spends more than $3 million dollars annually, will now face a heavy tax that could include a loss of draft picks in addition to the high financial levies.

That $3M amount wouldn’t even be enough to cover what some of the best available players used to get in the free market. Apparently this was done so to allow low market teams to get into the game, but it was a huge blow to the international players themselves. The union looked at these international players as collateral damage and caved just so that the new CBA could be pushed through. Well, that’s the way I saw it.

One such international free agent who is making a significant and most welcomed impact on the Mets this season, is of course second baseman Ruben Tejada who hails from Panama.

The other day some thought that maybe I took an unfair shot at former Mets GM Omar Minaya, but seriously, that man had no business being a general manager. However, giving credit where it is due, Omar Minaya could be my Scouting and Player Development Director any day of the week.

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Balance Is The Key To The New CBA Thu, 01 Dec 2011 00:08:24 +0000 While details about the new CBA are still coming in, it seems one thing is quite apparent about this new deal. It was an exercise in balancing the inequities in the league.

It starts off by balancing the AL and NL to have the same number of teams. While this does not appear to have much of an effect on team building it does balance one of the inequities inherent in the interleague play that has existed. In the past Interleague scheduling was more based on location and regional rivalry where a team like the Mets had to face the Yankees every year while their competition would or could face lesser teams on their schedule. Now there will be one Interleague game per day and it means more NL teams will have to face the Yankees than just us. How this new scheduling plays out Is yet to be seen, but it does appear to be a step in the right direction as far as interleague is concerned and it does open the possibility to balance it later by adding two expansion teams (one to each league) if it proves to be a problem later on. Then they could go back to targeted interleague matchups if they don’t like what they did.

Where the new CBA seems to do its best balancing act though is in regards to spending. For a few years now the league has limited what the big Free Agent spenders could spend via the Luxury tax that is imposed when you go over a certain spending threshold. The inequity here was that teams that were willing to pay to win would help subsidize teams that were not willing to spend to win. Most of the tax money that was distributed would usually be pocketed by the subsidized teams instead of re-invested. A team like KC or Tampa Bay probably had 10-25% (maybe more!) of their payroll paid for by their share of the luxury tax. The MLBPA has always had an issue with this system not because it limited the salaries that a free agent could get (it did not do that) but because the teams who got the money refused to spend that money on other free agents.

This leads us to FA Compensation and slotting.

These non-spending teams would instead stick to their draft first approach and use that money to go over slot to select a player who would one day net them two more draft compensation picks – hopefully. All while keeping their payroll artificially low. Usually, they may trade these players during their arbitration years and get even more in trade value while maybe lucking out with 2-3 solid competitive seasons.

The changes to the compensatory process will help curtail the practice of letting good players go to collect more cheap draft picks. These NON-SPENDERS will no longer be able to fill their roster with a constant flow of more than normal picks and be forced to enter into Free Agency and spend to fill their roster.

The MLBPA will gain the most here because for one, Free Agents won’t have their offers artificially lowered to compensate for draft losses and two, teams who previously stayed away from free agency and opted to preserve or accumulate picks, will now need to spend.

The Current CBA seems to balance out those who spend in Free Agency and those who spend in the draft and International market.

Draft Slotting was an unenforceable attempt at limiting how much Rookies would get to sign. Most teams did not comply. The Yankees would spend more on Draft picks just as they would spend more on Free Agents. So it never stopped them, and teams who were not big players in free agency and were draft focused gladly went over slot.

What the new CBA does is remove the ability to pay rookies a large bonus so that these players can no longer hold up a team for ransom. I personally don’t think it goes far enough or will work, but it is a decent start. Those first rounder’s will still demand above the slotting guidelines and the end result will be lower draft picks will pay the price for that in what they get as a bonus. The new Tax on rookie signings only applies to the first eleven rounds. What we may see is that the early picks get the same high bonuses, but teams will be unable to sign kids from rounds 6-10.

What it does successfully accomplish though, is balance the process for those who are in the middle of the pack.

The “Have’s” always had the ability to spend and the “Have not’s” could because they didn’t spend anywhere else. Neither side had anything to lose by paying more. It was those teams in the middle who were willing to pay free agents and draft in combination that were hurt the most by the over slotting.

Over slot has always affected the middle round drafters more than the top and bottom round drafters. The guys at the top were worth paying more for and the players selected at the bottom had little leverage.

The top round pickers were usually bad teams, were getting the best players, and had a vested interest in paying more. The bottom rounder’s who were winning teams already, could easily pay over slot whenever they wanted to

The middle round picker’s now will have a built-in excuse to tell their picks, “sorry, we can’t give you more than slot because we need to sign all our picks.” We will see how well that actually works for them.

What is significant though is that many teams will not go too far over slot because of the New Tax plus the possibility that they could lose future picks as well. As many as two consecutive first rounder’s could be forfeited which will certainly curtail the bottom feeders a lot more than the spenders.

A better change to the draft rules might have been to penalize a player who refused to sign by having him sit out “X” number of years before they could re-enter the draft. Once they did re-enter the draft, a comparable pick would then be given to the team that originally drafted him as compensation the following year. This would force these rookies to say “hey if I want to play in the MLB I had better take what I can get or look for some other job”.

Some have pointed out that this new CBA will discourage some athletes from choosing baseball over other sports. I don’t buy this argument at all. The average career in football is 4-5 years. Baseball is usually 10 years or more especially if you’re an above average player. I don’t see anyone choosing football over baseball considering that only the top 5% of football players actually make the big bucks under their league’s salary cap limitations. Not to mention the the added bonus that in baseball you will still have the ability to walk when your 60 years old as opposed to needing a cane by the time your 40.

It is important to note that the biggest complaints about the current CBA comes from both ends of the spending spectrum. The low spenders complain it will hurt competitive balance and the big spenders complain that they will now have another TAX to deal with that makes successful/profitable teams subsidize those who refuse to spend even WITH their collected tax dollars going to them.

You know what that says to me?

This CBA is pretty damn good, And VERY good for BOTH SIDES and baseball in general…

It would appear to shift the balance of spending big or not spending at all, to the middle where it should be.

Free Agents will not be allowed to leave as easily as they have been due to less of a return in picks and you’ll see lower market teams finding ways to keep their stars. It also limits the ability of spenders to take the non spenders or middle spenders out of the IFA market as spending in those areas are also limited, taxed and compensated. It will stop teams from playing market inequities and put them more on a level playing field.

Players will make more, reasonable spending teams will save money in more areas and the draft picks will not be an exercise of shooting craps hoping the kid you picked will sign with you. Non spenders will have to spend more to fill their roster and large spenders will not be able to cut everyone else out of the valuable IFA market or drive up the price on draft bonuses the way they have in the past.

What it does is put more focus on good evaluation over money. You will no longer be able to cheap your way or spend your way to success. And that can only be a good thing.

Does the new CBA go far enough towards this goal? Perhaps not but the fact that the two spending extremists seem the most unhappy about it says to me it is a step in the right direction.

Now I personally don’t like some parts of this new CBA, expanded playoffs being chief among them. But as far as fixing the financial inequities that have been exhibited in the league I think it does a pretty good job in trying to create spending parity as opposed to what we have seen.

Small market teams will complain they have to spend more but maybe they will also see that spending more will draw more fans into the stands. Maybe some are not as small a market as their spending and current attendance would suggest.

Large Market teams will be limited further in how they can throw money around and cherry picking the league’s top stars.

And it finally takes some of the power away from rookies that should be going to players who have worked hard to get to the MLB only to be discarded in favor of some kid who hasn’t proved himself yet.

It will be more about WHO you spent it on, not how much you spent. Evaluation over Valuation will be the order of the day.

The only ones who will be hurt the most are the players who were using HGH to make themselves better, and the teams whose entire plan was based on rebuilding using the inequity of not spending in the name of collecting multiple draft picks.

Sorry Sandy, it looks like you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board.

This Fan Shot was submitted by Mike (Metsie). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over eleven-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to

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Wheeler Tops Mets 2011 Prospect List Sat, 08 Oct 2011 14:05:07 +0000 Jonathan Mayo of re-ranked his pre-season 2011 Top 10 Prospects for the Mets and now has newcomer Zack Wheeler ranked as the Mets No. 1 prospect.

Here are his 2011 pre and post season rankings:

For a team that is starving for some top level pitching on the major league squad, it’s good to see the top three spots occupied by Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia.

Outfielder Cory Vaughn keeps climbing up the charts, while Reese Havens continues to sink.

Fernando Martinez (remember him?) hasn’t appeared on anyone’s prospect list in well over a year now. I have a thought about him…

I think F-Mart is a perfect example of the stark differences between the depleted farm system Omar Minaya inherited compared to the promising one Sandy Alderson has taken over.

Minaya’s minors were so lacking in talent that F-Mart immediately became the organization’s top prospect as soon as he was signed as a 16-year old shortly after Minaya took the team over.

As Minaya continued to fill the system via the MLB Draft and signing more International Free Agents, F-Mart slowly began falling behind many of the more polished and skilled players that were flowing into the system.

This season saw the Mets farm system develop and promote Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee and Lucas Duda, who will each have significant roles on this team in 2012 and beyond. This comes after a season in which Ike Davis and Jon Niese came up and established themselves in 2010.

Five keepers in two years? I’d call that a very positive development and just a sign of what’s to come in future seasons from the likes of Familia, Harvey, Vaughn and others.

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Crash and Burn Wed, 23 Mar 2011 00:11:01 +0000 So now that the Mets have parted ways with both Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, there are a variety of opinions on how this soap opera has panned out.  Should they have stayed on because they were owed a king’s ransom, the Mets would essentially be paying them either way, right?  Or does this truly show that the new world order on the Mets front office team has an agenda, one that says, if you don’t perform, take a hike?

If the latter thought tags me as an optimist, then consider my glass half-full (but bartender, please keep the refills comin’).  Yet, the dialogue has continued into the organization’s past, present and future.  Present times it’s easy: the Mets are going on hungrier talent from within, plus a few reclamation projects with some upside and an intact core of talent that’s getting older (but on good days we can see why they were once the Children of our Future).  The future we see in fuzzier terms.  The new brass has a plan and while able to listen to the rumblings of fans in the current construct, they are willing to take a more patient approach in internal growing.  As for the past, well, it’s evident in seeing David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, among others.  But we know after this season, one of those three will still certainly be a Met…

This brings me to a cycle of abuse that the Mets have had historically, not just in the free-spending Omar Minaya administration, but even dating back to the M. Donald Grant days.  Couple that with since basically the Joe McIlvaine days (which in baseball parlance, lasted about 15 minutes), there hasn’t been a steady draft or even a drafting plan.  It’s a double-edged sword, building one’s team.  If one chooses to do the free agent route, one has to part with many first round draft picks and harbor questions about future performance.  If you go the prospect route, some of them might not pan out, but can be used as bargaining chips to solidify teams that are one or two pieces away from it all.

If you’ve read the Maple Street Press Mets Annual 2011, two pieces addressed these very issues.  Jon Springer, of Mets by the Numbers fame, wrote a piece on the Mets history of free agency dealings titled “I’ll Buy That For A Dollar,” while Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League blog wrote a piece on the last draft that Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi are working around called “Back Draft: Same Old Song in the Last Minaya Draft.”  By the way, if you haven’t read the MSP Mets Annual, well…why haven’t you?

Springer lays the foundation for the Mets history of free agency, starting mostly in the M. Donald Grant era, which famously lost two superstars in Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman to begin with, then set off a chain of events that kept the Mets from not only being uncompetitive, but being basically rock bottom in anything.  The idea, Grant suggested, is that “we’re sportsmen — we’re not in it for the money,” until, Springer relates, money got involved.  Grant went on to say that by not going after high-profile free agents that he was keeping costs low and visiting the ballpark as a cost that was within reach.  This in and of itself was a double-edged sword.  If he wasn’t putting money into the team, why should the fans?  We see some of that now, except prices are high for free-spending at CitiField these days, but with absolutely nothing to show for it except for some guys who are still being paid to potentially play for other teams.

However, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  In a twist of fate, they showed interest in Gary Matthews, Sr. (you may remember his son, who had a bloated free agent contract himself with the Angels), but was about $750K less than what he eventually signed for.  You see, we did show interest, we felt we gave him a fair offer but it was trumped.  However, how much of it was a low-balling-let’s-hope-he-really-doesn’t-take-it offer?

Even Frank Cashen’s days weren’t without free agent drama.  For a General Manager who was revered as a visionary in his time, and is even a charter member of the Mets Hall of Fame, his luck with free agents wasn’t all that great.  Take for instance losing out on the Dave Winfield sweepstakes, who went to cross-town rivals the Yankees, and settling for George Foster instead.  This appears to be a common thread in Mets lore.  Even though Minaya didn’t show interest or visibly anyway, settling for Jason Bay who was the “second best guy” in the free agent pool in the going-into-2010-season, after Matt Holliday.  It’s tough to judge who might have been the better signing, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the Mets have had to settle for “sloppy seconds” in the free agency pools.  How much of it was perception of playing with the Mets (did anyone truly prefer playing in Queens as opposed to the Bronx or anywhere else for that matter?) or was it that they truly felt they were giving what they thought was fair market value and allowed FAs to walk out?

Springer even relates how the Mets lost out on Darryl Strawberry going into 1991 as a free agent.  After negotiations went south with a contract extension, Cashen panicked and had to instead give extra money to Vince Coleman.  A few firecrackers later, we know how that one turned out.  Here’s the thing though: if Cashen maybe was a little more serious about keeping Strawberry, perhaps not lowball him (even though Straw made it clear he’d wanted to play for his hometown team, the Dodgers).  Overall, this attitude seems to be one that pervades even more recent teams.  Let’s overpay the guy we didn’t really want just to say we got him.

Like I said, a cycle of crash and burn that ended with the release of Castillo and Perez.

Springer did a good job of intermingling the drafts in between those times.  Cashen was gifted in that he was able to trade off some valuable pieces he inherited for value (take for instance his deal that sent fan favorite Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for Walt Terrell – who in turn ended up into Howard Johnson — and Ronnie Darling, whom we still hear today).  Creativity is something that had to come into play, but if a General Manager lacked that acumen, it meant trouble.  Not saying that only happens to the Mets, but we follow them so closely, it does hit close to home.

The idea is that in the last few years, the farm system is a little middle-of-the-road, too MOTR for Alderson’s liking as he’s said, which is how Toby Hyde starts his discussion with “Development is Job One.”   It’s a misnomer that big market teams should spend big; they should also develop big to use as bargaining chips or to have them become superstars after development.  It’s clear after reading Hyde’s piece that the Mets system isn’t neglected nor barren: it just needs some structure.

Which leads into the “Back Draft” piece.  An issue that seems to pervade the front office thinking is that there is a strict adherence to the slotting guidelines set forth by the Commisioner.  I think this is something that needs to change, personally, and perhaps we will see these changes with this so-called executive dream team.  However, the last draft was indicative of previous Minaya drafts: “parallels continued into specific picks” according to Hyde.  Minaya liked to collect arms; I guess one could argue there is no such thing as too much pitching, but on the other hand, it doesn’t give a lot of diversification in building around a core unit.  The good news is that there is some bona fide talent in the system such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cory Vaughn and Matt den Denker.  The bad news, if you can even call it that, it will take a few years before they are truly “ready.”  Perhaps Nieuwenhuis is the closest, according to Hyde’s estimates.

These two, actually three, articles jumped out at me because we’ve discussed this ad nauseum on the boards here at Metsmerized Online, and even in person when I get together to discuss Mets baseball with other fans.  The free agency cycle for the Mets has caused horrific crashing and burning that we’ve had to sit through and deal with, while the farm system lays barren that was mostly done to keep progress of winning teams going.

It backfired.  We’ve seen more bad than good come out of that.  I think it’s high time to try another route, one that won’t cause these dramatic peaks and valleys that make me write 1500 word posts.  In any event, ESPN came out with a piece on how the Mets are paying their dumped players the most.  Along with all the other poor contracts they got out of in the early 2000s, it’s evident that the cycle needs to end.  Period.

In the meantime, I highly suggest reading the Maple Street Press.  If I can get this much out of it, imagine what you can!

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The Seven Year Pitch Wed, 08 Dec 2010 23:49:50 +0000 Jayson Werth just signed a seven-year deal with the Washington Nationals.  Cliff Lee is looking for a seven-year deal as well.  Players have always been attracted to the almighty dollar at free agent time, but now more than ever, the length of the contract is becoming as important, if not more important, than the number of digits next to the dollar sign.

But is this the right way to go for the teams throwing all that cash on the table?   And should they be giving these contracts to players on the wrong side of age 30?   Recent history says no.

Remember Mike Hampton?   He was the pitcher who was traded by the Astros to the Mets following the 1999 season, a year in which he went 22-4 for Houston. Hampton helped lead the Mets to the World Series, but then left New York for (as he put it) the better school systems in Colorado.  The Mets were willing to give him a lucrative deal, but the Rockies were the ones offering the security of an eight-year contract.

The left-handed Hampton left New York after one season, went to Colorado, and watched his talent dissipate in Denver’s thin air. During the eight years of his contract (split between Colorado and Atlanta), Hampton won a grand total of 56 games with an ERA of 4.81.  But at least his kids benefited from the superior Denver school system.

Hampton is not the only player in recent years to have signed a deal of seven years or more who didn’t live up to his contract.  In fact, several others have taken a stretch of success, turned it into a long-term contract and then laughed all the way to the bank while his production suffered.   Check out what these players did prior to their big paydays followed by their production after they put their John Hancocks on their contracts.

Kevin Brown

  • 1996: 17-11, 1.89 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 159 Ks
  • 1997: 16-8, 2.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 205 Ks
  • 1998: 18-7, 2.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 257 Ks

Kevin Brown signed a seven-year, $105 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1999 season.   His first three years in LA were very good, as he went 41-19 with a 2.77 ERA.   Once he entered the middle year of his contract, he became more brittle and his performance suffered, culminating with his trade to the Yankees following the 2003 season.

Over the last four years of his contract, Brown won only 31 games and his ERA went up by more than one run (3.81).  In the final season of his contract, he was a shadow of himself, going 4-7 with a 6.50 ERA.   The once-dominant pitcher who always had a high strikeout total and low ERA actually allowed more earned runs (53) than had strikeouts (50) in his final major league season.

Ken Griffey, Jr.

  • 1996: .303, 49 HR, 140 RBI, 125 runs scored
  • 1997: .304, 56 HR, 147 RBI, 125 runs scored
  • 1998: .284, 56 HR, 146 RBI, 120 runs scored
  • 1999: .285, 48 HR, 134 RBI, 123 runs scored

The man known as The Kid was already the most popular athlete in baseball in the late ’90s, despite playing in the relative obscurity of Seattle.   But when his contract expired after the 1999 season, he wanted to go back home.  So he left the Pacific Northwest and signed a nine-year, $116.5 million contract to play for the Cincinnati Reds.

His first season in the Queen City wasn’t as eye-popping as his last four years in Seattle, but how can anyone be disappointed with a .271 batting average, 40 HR, 118 RBI and 100 runs scored?  Unfortunately, that was the best performance he was able to give the Reds.

Following the 2000 season, injury after injury befell The Kid and he was never the same player.  Over the last eight years of his contract, Griffey missed a total of 455 games (or the equivalent of nearly three full seasons).  He averaged 22 HR and 63 RBI over those seasons, to go with a .269 batting average.  When he returned to Seattle to finish out his career, he could barely reach the Mendoza Line, hitting .208 in his final season and a half with the Mariners.

Jason Giambi

  • 1999: .315, 33 HR, 123 RBI, 115 runs scored
  • 2000: .333, 43 HR, 137 RBI, 108 runs scored
  • 2001: .342, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 109 runs scored

With those three dominant seasons in Oakland, you knew the Yankees were going to open up their wallets for Giambi once he became a free agent.  And that’s exactly what they did when they signed the Giambino for seven years at $120 million.

His first year in pinstripes was as good as his last three years in Oakland, as Giambi finished the 2002 season with a .314 batting average, to go with his 41 HR and 122 RBI.  His power was still there in 2003 (41 HR, 107 RBI), but his batting average plummeted to .250.   The downward trend in batting average continued throughout the rest of his Yankee career.  Over the final five years of his contract, Giambi hit .247.   He never hit 40 HR again and only had one other 100 RBI season (2006).

So what do Kevin Brown, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jason Giambi all have in common besides their poor production after signing their lucrative long-term deals?  They were all in their 30s when they signed their contracts.

Kevin Brown did not throw his first pitch as a Dodger until he was 34.  Ken Griffey, Jr. was no longer a spry youth when he signed with Cincinnati as a 30-year-old.   Jason Giambi put on the Yankee pinstripes for the first time when he was 31.

Want more?  Todd Helton turned 30 during the first season of his eight-year, $117.8 million contract.  He went from hitting .320 or higher for seven years in a row,  30+ HR in six consecutive seasons and 100+ RBI in five straight campaigns to a man who might give you a .300 batting average, with 15 HR and 80 RBI if he’s healthy.  Basically, he’s become an overpaid Mark Grace.

How about Alfonso Soriano?  He was coming off a season in which he became only the fourth member of the 40-40 club when he picked up 46 HR and 41 SB in 2006 as a member of the Washington Nationals.  He then left our nation’s capital to pick up the money blowing around in the Windy City, signing an eight-year, $136 million contract to play for the Cubs.  At the time, Soriano was 31 years old.  Talk about a letdown!  Prior to his move to Chicago, Soriano had compiled four seasons with 100 or more runs scored, four years with 35 or more home runs, five seasons of 90 or more RBI and five years with 30 or more stolen bases.  In four lost seasons with the Cubs, Soriano has yet to cross the century mark in runs scored (he scored 97 in 2007), has hit more than 30 HR only once (33 in 2007), and is still looking for his first season with at least 80 RBI and 20 stolen bases.  The worst thing about it is that he’s only halfway through the eight years of his deal.

What about the aforementioned Mike Hampton?  Well, he was the baby of the group, as he signed his eight-year deal with Colorado at the age of 28.   However, his contract lasted until he was 36, putting him in his 30s for the majority of the deal.

I haven’t even mentioned the most recent disappointment signed to a long-term deal, and it’s better if we don’t say too much about him.  After all, Barry Zito might have become a member of the Mets pitching staff in 2007, but the front office was smart enough not to offer him the seven-year deal that he eventually received from the San Francisco Giants.

Like Hampton, the left-handed Zito was 28 when he crossed the Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco.  Once he left the East Bay, the Barry Zito that won 102 games in seven years as an Oakland Athletic disappeared into the San Francisco fog.

Zito has yet to post a winning record in any of his four seasons in San Francisco.  His 17 losses led the National League in 2008 and his continued subpar performances led the Giants to leave him off the postseason roster in 2010.  They spent $126 million in the hopes that Barry Zito would help them win a championship and in 2010, they won that championship without him.

If that $126 million figure given to Barry Zito over seven years sounds familiar to you, it should.  That’s the same amount of money and years that the Nationals just gave to Jayson Werth, the man without a 100 RBI season and whose only All-Star Game appearance came as a result of an injury to Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran in 2009.

It should be noted that Jayson Werth is 31.  Cliff Lee, who is also looking for a seven-year deal, is 32.  The seven year pitch has become quite popular with today’s aging stars.  Some owners are still crazy enough to dole out these long-term deals.  However, if they all just studied the recent history of baseball and similar contracts, they’d know that seven is not always a lucky number, especially with players past their prime.  As Mets fans, we should be thankful that Sandy Alderson is not one to offer such contracts to past-their-prime superstars.

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Should The Mets Consider Signing Jorge de la Rosa? Thu, 18 Nov 2010 12:29:19 +0000 The free agent class for pitchers this off-season is simple.  There’s Cliff Lee and there’s everyone else.   That being said (sorry if I just brought back bad memories of Omar Minaya), since the Mets do not appear to be contestants on “Who Wants To Be A Lee-lionaire?”, there is one member of “everyone else” that the Mets should consider signing.  How does Jorge de la Rosa sound to you?

De la Rosa might not be the sexiest name out there. Heck, just writing his name is difficult enough.  (Upper case “D”, lower case “d”, make up your mind!)   But George, George, George of the Rose (Jorge de la Rosa translates into “George of the Rose”) has left the jungle that is home to below-average pitchers and has become a respectable major league pitcher.

The Rockies pitcher has improved in each of the last five seasons.   Here are Jorge de la Rosa’s numbers since 2006, which was the first season in which he started more than ten games:

  • 2006:  13 starts, 6.49 ERA, 1.71 WHIP
  • 2007:  23 starts, 5.82 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
  • 2008:  23 starts, 4.92 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
  • 2009:  32 starts, 4.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
  • 2010:  20 starts, 4.22 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

No other pitcher in the major leagues with at least 10 starts in each of the past five seasons has improved every season in both ERA and WHIP.

Since becoming a Colorado Rockie prior to the 2008 season, de la Rosa has become increasingly harder to hit.   In 2008, he held hitters to a .262 batting average (.349 on-base percentage).  That went down to .249 (.335 OBP) in 2009, followed by a career-low .235 (.324 OBP) in 2010.

In addition to allowing fewer baserunners, de la Rosa has also become an elite strikeout pitcher, averaging nearly one punchout per inning as a Rockie (434 Ks in 436.2 innings).

Did I mention that de la Rosa is a lefty?  A left-handed starter is just what the Mets need now that Johan Santana might not be available for the beginning of the 2011 season and Oliver Perez shouldn’t be available…ever.

Let’s face it.   Jorge de la Rosa is not going to contend for the Cy Young Award, and any team acquiring him shouldn’t expect him to.  However, whoever signs de la Rosa should expect a quality starter who will eat up innings (he averaged over six innings per start in 2010, and pitched at least six innings in each of his last nine starts), send many batters back to their respective dugouts without putting the ball in play, and will keep his team in the ballgame.

As a 29-year-old (he will turn 30 shortly after Opening Day), the best may be yet to come for George, George, George of the Rose.   The Mets are going to be shopping for a quality arm to help their questionable rotation.  De la Rosa made $5.6 million in 2010.   He’s already a better pitcher than Oliver Perez was when the Mets re-signed him two years ago, but will probably not be seeking a three-year, $36 million deal like the one given to Ollie.

De la Rosa is probably worth between $8 million and $10 million per year.  Shouldn’t the Mets take a chance on this improving pitcher rather than try to patch their staff together, hoping to find another R.A. Dickey where one might not exist?

Many teams are looking to sign Jorge de la Rosa this off-season.  The Mets should be one of them.

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This Year’s Free Agent Class And How It Affects The Mets Mon, 25 Oct 2010 03:07:05 +0000 I recently looked into who will be available in this year’s free agent class. There are many big names, but these names will likely come with expensive price tags. Additionally, many of these big name players are not so young anymore.

Whoever is in charge of making the decisions in Queens (which according to Jeff Wilpon we will find out shortly!), it might be a wise strategy to avoid these big name free agents and either improve the team via trade or letting the young players develop.

Here are only some of the big name free agents available and how the Mets should approach them this offseason.

Cliff Lee

Of all the free agents out there, Lee is the golden goose. His numbers don’t lie; this guy is at the top of his game and has proven he can be clutch in the postseason. Lee will likely get upwards of a six-year deal worth well over the $100 million mark.

As much as I and other Met fans would like to see Lee in Flushing, let’s be honest. It’s not going to happen.

Carl Crawford

Of the players available right now, no other player would more help the Mets win immediately than Carl Crawford. Crawford can do it all: hit for average, a little power, field, throw, and boy can the man run.

He would be an ideal fit for Citi Field. Imagine a healthy Reyes, Pagan and Crawford (in no particular order) atop the Mets lineup. They would be deadly on the bases. Jason Bay would have to shift to RF if the Mets signed Crawford (don’t know how that would work out).

However, Mets fans, this seems like another deal that’s not going to happen. Crawford is about to cash in big like Lee, and the Amazins really aren’t in any position to be adding huge chunks of payroll.

And with Beltran still in house, the only way the Mets would make a play for Crawford is if they trade Beltran (seeming more unlikely each day).

Adam Dunn

In my opinion, Adam Dunn is the most consistently player in the game today. Every year, he hits 40 HR, drives in 100 runs, walks 100 times and strikes out 150 times. He is a legitimate power threat and even Citi Field cannot contain him (remember that shot he hit to the bridge two seasons ago?).

Dunn however is a one dimensional player. He may be better off suited to a DH role in the AL. The only reason I mention Dunn as a possibility is if the Mets trade Ike Davis for a starting pitcher which would leave a hole at first base. I’m not saying I think or even want the Mets to do this, but I figured I would list it as a possible option.

Manny Ramirez

Oh Manny. Manny, Manny, Manny. You’re 38 now, when did that happen? It seemed like only yesterday you were crushing balls over the Green Monster and even orchestrating a late season playoff push in LA.

And now you’re a free agent again. I wonder how many teams will come knocking. I hope one of them is absolutely NOT the Mets. If this was three years ago, I’d say go for it. The man proved he could still hit like a machine despite his age. However, now is not the time to be adding Manny.

We have enough headaches as it is. Thank you K-Rod!

Victor Martinez

Ever since he came up with Cleveland, I have envisioned V-Mart on the Mets. He has serviceable (but not fantastic) catching skills but is a terrific contact hitter with plenty of pop. It looks like the Red Sox will try to retain him in any way possible.

I like Josh Thole. He’s not going to hit home runs like Piazza used to, but he can be an offensive weapon. He sprays the ball well to all fields and has good gap power. He will most likely hit seventh or eighth.

V-Mart would be a great addition, but it looks like another deal that won’t happen.

Carl Pavano

Something should be noted about the free agent market for starting pitchers. A guy has ONE good year, and everyone is ready to throw big bucks at him. Some examples: Gil Meche (five-years, $55 million contract with KC) and of course Oliver Perez (three-years, $36 million…sorry I just threw up a little).

Pavano has had two good years his whole career: 2003 with the Marlins that allowed him to cash in with the Yankees and now 2010 with the Twins in which he won 17 games.

He is a solid back of the rotation option, but the Mets should stay away from him and his stache. Who needs his stache when we got Keith Hernandez?

Orlando Hudson

The O-dawg has openly expressed his interest in wanting to play for the Mets (that can’t exactly be said for many players). I have touched on this possible signing in the past. He may be a good option on a one-year deal, but with Tejada on the verge of becoming an everyday player (hopefully), I’m not sure if the Mets will pull the trigger on Hudson.

So there you have it, some free agents who are available this winter that will garner much attention from many teams. But the Mets might be better off sitting tight, maybe making a trade or two to improve and hope that they can field a competitive team.

I may have missed a few free agents this year who may be on the Mets radar. Please comment on who you think may be a good signing that I missed.

For the Mets, it will come down to patience and hope. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again.

*Side note: I very much enjoyed watching Ryan Howard stand there with the bat on his shoulder with the game on the line.

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