Mets Merized Online » Tim Lincecum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:29:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Other Side of Neon: A Painfully Honest Look at Baseball in the Desert Thu, 08 Sep 2016 20:00:39 +0000 las-vegas

It was spring 1982 when this 16 year-old fan heard the worst news imaginable from his parents: “We’re moving to Las Vegas.” Who could’ve imagined that three decades later, the Mets, to a small degree, would follow me here. With the recent announcement of a 2-year extension in Las Vegas, I decided to blog about the Baseball landscape in the desert and hopefully offer some insight many of you may not be aware of.

Baseball debuted here in 1983 with the Las Vegas Stars, the Padres’ affiliate. Since then, Vegas has served as AAA home to the Dodgers, Blue-Jays and, starting in 2013, the Mets.

Simply put, Las Vegas is NOT a sports town. It’s a sports betting town.

Fan support for all sports is apathetic at best. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, led by Jerry Tarkanian, was the hottest ticket in the city. The 18,000 seat Thomas and Mack Center was sold-out every game. However, since the Runnin Rebels became a mediocre team in the mid-90’s interest has waned and attendance dwindled. The Rebels typically now play to a stadium 60% empty. The UNLV football team has been on life support for decades and there are frequent grumblings that the university should just discontinue the program altogether. They play at the Sam Boyd Stadium where you’re lucky to fill 8,000 seats in a 35,000 seat arena.  Even college students who are given free tickets don’t attend.


Over the years Vegas has been home to indoor football, indoor soccer and the Continental Basketball Association. All were short lived. In the late 90’s the Las Vegas Thunder were a hugely popular IHL team. However, when their contract expired, Thomas and Mack didn’t renew, forcing the much beloved Hockey franchise to move elsewhere. The fact that minor league baseball has survived—not thrived–is due primarily to the power of the National Pastime.

The list of major leaguers who’ve come through here is impressive. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, John Kruk, Matt Kemp, Kevin McReynolds, Carlos Baerga, James Loney, Benito Santiago, Ozzie Guillen, Derrek Lee, Eric Gagne and Hall of Famer Robby Alomar all played here. The first HR hit at Cashman Field came off the bat of current Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Yet, minor league baseball remains this city’s best kept secret.

Case in point: In the inaugural season, 1983, the Las Vegas Stars averaged 4878 fans per game. The population of the city back then was just over 500,000.

In 2016, the Las Vegas 51’s averaged 4882 fans per game. The population of Las Vegas is currently 2.2 million.

In other words, while the population has increased over 400 percent, average attendance has remained flat.

There are 16 cities in the Pacific Coast League, many with lower populations than Las Vegas such as El Paso and Omaha. Yet, Vegas remains at or near the bottom in annual attendance year after year. In the last 5 seasons, Vegas has finished 14th, 13th, 16th, 14th and 15th.


The question is why?

Granted, Cashman Field is not in the best of areas. Located 2 miles north of downtown it’s directly across the street from Potter’s Field and a stone’s throw from a homeless shelter and several tent cities. However, the ballpark itself is beautiful. Don Logan and company, I’m sure with help from the Mets, have made attending a game enjoyable. Parking is cheap ($5), ushers, vendors and attendants are pleasant and always courteous. Tickets are very reasonable and food is relatively inexpensive. Between innings there are the usual shenanigans and gimmicks that have existed at minor league games since the dawn of time. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t love to race Cosmo, the 51’s mascot who survived a UFO crash and spent time at Area 51, around the base paths?


The answer is simple.

The casinos which rule this city and control all aspects of life here view every other business as competition. Each dollar you spend at a ballgame is one less dollar you can lose at a Craps table. If you want to go to a movie here you must walk into a casino. If you want to go to a rock concert you must go to a venue on The Strip. And many of you may be surprised to learn we have no lottery here. Think about that for a moment. No lottery in a state that survives solely on gambling. Whenever Powerball climbs to the hundreds of millions, there’s a mass exodus of locals driving to Arizona and California to purchase a ticket.

If you drive around the city you see no billboards promoting the 51’s. You rarely see a commercial on TV, hardly ever hear one on the radio. 51′s games are not televised. On the local news, the sportscaster gives a score. And that’s it. “Out at Cashman tonight, Las Vegas defeated Albuquerque, 7-2.” No highlights. If time permits you’ll get a quick four second snippet of an unnamed player hitting a HR. Maybe. I don’t ever recall hearing or seeing 51’s players involved in the community at all. I’m sure they do but it receives no attention from the media. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone wearing a 51’s t-shirt or a 51’s cap. A good friend of mine from Illinois is an avid Baseball fan who lives and dies with the Cubs. He lived in town over a year before even realizing we had a AAA team.

You may have heard that the NHL recently awarded Las Vegas a hockey franchise. This, however, is yet another example of how everything here is based around the casinos. The still unnamed team will play in the T-Mobile Arena which is located dead-center on the Las Vegas Strip. Locals go to The Strip about as often as New Yorkers go to the Statue of Liberty.

How often would you go to Citi Field if it was located on Fifth Ave. in the heart of midtown? And had to drive since Vegas, unlike New York, has no subway system and a bus system that’s a joke. This wont be a Hockey team for locals but rather yet one more tourist attraction, something to do if gamblers need a break from slot machines or were unable to get tickets to Carrot Top.

True, a AAA game is nothing like a major league game. An August showdown between the Mets and Nats is obviously more intense than the 51’s hosting the El Paso Chihuahuas. (Yes, that’s really their name.) Still, it always feels like the game on the field is secondary, almost irrelevant. Michael Conforto gets no more cheers stepping to the plate as does a third string catcher. “Fans” are more enthused when Cosmo launches t-shirts into the crowd than when Brandon Nimmo steps to the plate with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. The biggest crowd is usually on $1 beer night. Fans typically start filing out by the 6th inning no matter what the score is.


I went to a game a couple weeks ago and silly me, I was actually watching the game and yes, keeping score. A little to my left were two guys my age who spent five innings discussing the pros and cons of various golf courses in town. To my right were two twenty-something women who gave up good seats to go sit in the grass beyond the LF wall because the sun was brighter and “we can get a better tan out there.”

A few rows behind me a fella wearing a Dodgers hat, drunk before the end of the National Anthem, yelled and cursed at the pitcher for Salt Lake, former Giant Tim Lincecum. Directly in front of me sat two middle-aged couples. In the bottom of the first, one asked, “Who’s playing?” The answer “The Mets minor league team and…someone else.” “Who should we root for?” The first person shrugged. “I don’t know. How about those guys in blue?”

The very concept of AAA Baseball is unique. Rosters are filled with players rehabbing, longing to get healthy and get back with the parent club. Veterans at the end of their careers are trying to impress someone—anyone–that they still have what it takes for one more shot. Young kids are hungry to achieve their childhood dream and make it to The Show. The one constant is that no one wants to be here.

And in the case of Las Vegas, truer words were never spoken.

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Giants Agree On Two-Year Deal With Tim Hudson Mon, 18 Nov 2013 21:30:02 +0000 hudsonLess than a month after re-signing Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants wasted no time on signing Tim Hudson to a two year, $23 million dollar contract.

According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the deal could include a full no-trade clause for the 37-year old Hudson.

The veteran right-hander is coming back from a fractured ankle he suffered against the Mets last July. He was having a solid season at the time posting a 3.97 ERA in 131 innings pitched.

The Braves were reportedly interested in retaining Hudson, but they were unwilling to guarantee two years.

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Market Loaded With Pitchers Who Are Baseball’s Version Of A ’61 Corvette Sun, 17 Nov 2013 16:55:56 +0000 61 corvette

Tom Verducci wrote an excellent analysis of the starting pitching market this offseason in an article for Sports Illustrated and

The longtime sports editor determined that the free agent market is loaded with pitchers that are the “baseball versions of a ’61 Corvette — only in poor condition.”

The pool of 30-plus starters includes four former Cy Young Award winners (Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana and Barry Zito). Let’s remove veteran pitchers who are in line for contracts of three or more years, including Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, Ervin Santana and Jason Vargas. That leaves 33 veteran starters who could be had for one-or two-year deals.

Verducci asked a veteran talent evaluator with one NL team to rank the five best risks among those 33. Here are his rankings with my comments, and then my picks and comments for the next five:

1. Tim Hudson, 38: Hudson was throwing the ball well in July (4-0, 3.10 ERA) when his season ended with an ankle injury. Scouts admire his competitiveness, his clubhouse presence, the sound health of his arm and his late-career transition to a pitcher with effective breaking stuff and changes of speed. Hudson might find such a strong market that he could price himself out of Atlanta, but at this stage of his career he should remain in the NL. Case in point: Last season he posted a 5.89 ERA in three starts against AL teams and a 3.66 ERA in 18 starts against NL teams.

Best fit: If not a return to the Braves, he would fit well with the Giants.

2. Bartolo Colon, 40: He looked like he was finished in April 2010, but that’s when he underwent a surgery in the Dominican Republic in which doctors injected fat and bone marrow stem cells in Colon’s elbow and shoulder. One of the doctors was known to have used human growth hormone in such procedures, though, he said, not in this one. Colon has since tested positive for synthetic testosterone in 2012.

There is no disputing that Colon has revived his career since the surgery and in the timeframe of his PED use. In the three seasons before that operation he was 13-16 with a 5.20 ERA in only 38 games. He is 36-25 with a 3.32 ERA in 80 games in three seasons since. Colon has become one of the game’s premier two-seam fastball specialists, with uncanny movement and command.

Best fit: The Athletics have interest in keeping Colon in that big ballpark, but his stuff would play well in Pittsburgh, with the Pirates’ emphasis on throwing and fielding groundballs.

3. Roy Halladay, 36: It was painful to watch Halladay tossing in the low 80s and pitching to a 4.55 ERA after he came back in August from shoulder surgery. But he was hurt by uncharacteristic wildness. In the six games after his return, he walked 19 and struck out 16 — but batters hit .222 against him.

Shoulder surgeries remain the most ominous of procedures for a pitcher. Halladay’s prospective value depends largely on a review of his medical records, perhaps an avenue best explored late in the winter after he has had a chance to continue his rehab. In any case, Halladay’s pitching smarts and work ethic make him an attractive bet.

Best fit: The New York Mets. Assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi and Halladay share a history in Toronto and mutual admiration. Halladay may be worth the investment just to have him around New York’s young pitchers in spring training.

4. Dan Haren, 33: All the innings and all the cutters have caught up with Haren. One of the most durable strike-throwers in baseball is no longer a 200-inning machine. But Haren, once the Nationals gave him a midseason 15-day break last year, proved he still can be a useful option in the back end of an NL rotation if handled with care. Haren had a 6.15 ERA on June 22, but after the re-boot, he went 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA in his last 16 games.

Best fit: The California native would be more comfortable nearer his SoCal home. San Diego or San Francisco make sense.

5. Ryan Vogelsong, 36: The Giants, after doling out industry-rattling bucks to keep Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, oddly declined the $6.5 million option on Vogelsong after an injury-shortened season. But like Hudson, Vogelsong suffered a non-throwing injury: he broke bones in his hand while swinging a bat May 20. Upon his return, with his velocity down a tick or two after missing two months, he went 2-2 with a 4.55 ERA in 10 starts.

Best fit: Vogelsong has strong ties to San Francisco, where he revived his career, and mutual interest remains. But it is curious why the Giants would not pay Vogelsong less than what the Indians paid Myers last year, a decision that might open the door for the Phillies, his hometown team, to make a call.

The next five included Hiroki KurodaA.J. BurnettJason HammelScott Baker, and Scott Feldman.

These are the types of options that would fit into the Mets structure as I understand it.


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Free Agent Profile: Roy Halladay, RHP Sun, 17 Nov 2013 13:00:26 +0000 roy halladay

The offseason started off with much talk about which promised veteran pitcher the Mets would bring in, however several recent comments made by Alderson and the Wilpons suggest that a starting pitcher is the least of their top priorities. Nonetheless, it is still a very essential aspect of how the eventual Opening Day roster will be shaped. There were early speculations surrounding Tim Lincecum (before he resigned with SF, of course), Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Haren and even Ervin Santana. But what about Roy Halladay?

Coming off shoulder surgery, Halladay went 4-5 with an unappetizing 6.82 ERA and 36 walks in only 62 IP last year. While it was upsetting to watch an 8-time All Star and a 2-time Cy Young award winner throw a fastball in the 80s, his short 2013 performance renders rather insignificant when factoring in the benefits. With a repertoire of a distinct 2-seam sinking fastball, a wicked curve, a cut fastball and even recently-added split-change strikeout pitch still makes him a viable threat to any hitter.

Halladay’s ability to not only produce ground balls in tough spots but to strike out hitters as well will be essential to the Mets, who are looking for serviceable guy they can count on to almost guarantee the bullpen a good days rest; he has led the league in IP 4 times and CG 7 times. While these may be the taglines of Roy Halladay’s past, it is not to say that he can still pitch near the level he once could. After all, he is well-known for rendering complete focus on his starts and letting nothing divert him. Even if he does not have the ability he once used to, the veteran presence he brings to the clubhouse will be a spectacular help to the surplus of young pitching making their debuts in 2014.

A 14 year veteran, Halladay is clearly approaching the end of his career; which not only makes him a cheap option ($4-5M with incentives at the most), but he will most likely be seeking a one year deal, while other FA pitchers are looking for multiple years. Of course it is a risk to pursue a pitcher who recently had surgery, but who knows what a full offseason of rest and spring training will bring back? The potential of what he could bring far outweigh the cons of failure. His status of a hard working, reliable guy who can go deep into games and give you innings fits the bill for a team who are looking to temporarily replace an injured guy who used to do just that.

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GM Meetings: What If $40 Million Doesn’t Go As Far As Hoped? Sun, 10 Nov 2013 16:28:54 +0000 sandy alderson

Joel Sherman of the New York Post asks an interesting question this morning…

What do the Mets do when $30 million-to-$40 million does not go as far as they once hoped?

Like the Yanks, they can’t punt. They have been selling their fans on contention in 2014, and they can’t table that now because Matt Harvey will miss the season and others are flexing their financial muscles.

In fact, few front offices have more pressure to deliver this offseason. Alderson’s Mets have won 77, 74 and 74 games, and the GM has mostly gotten a pass to pursue a big-picture agenda — cleanse the payroll of bad contracts, pump up the farm system. There is no 2014 mulligan. There is money to spend, and there is this: Alderson and loyal lieutenants Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi were part of the incubation of the Moneyball A’s. Their claim to fame was finding gems others did not see. It is what made them so attractive to a Wilpon ownership that was about to go into a financial Four Corners.

Yep, the Moneyball secrets got out to an entire industry, and so, now that is a far tougher trick. But it is a trick they must make work again. Alderson and his crew need to get perhaps double the value of the $30 million-to-$40 million they spend. That means no more Frank Franciscos.

What it further means is a fascinating offseason in which we see just what the Mets do when they have some money to spend — but so does pretty much every other team.

Sherman hits on a couple of very valid points. Yes, the Moneyball secret is no longer in play. All teams look to exploit market inefficiencies and use advanced statistics to one degree or another to help them find and acquire talent. Well, all teams except for the Philadelphia Phillies it seems…

With the San Francisco Giants already setting a high bar for power hitters and mid rotation starters with their Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum signings, it’s safe to say we could be heading into a free agent market that may send Sandy Alderson into shock.

Players who play at a level never once considered to be in nine figure terrain (Shin-Soo Choo, Brian McCann, etc.) are now being mentioned in the same sentence as $100 million dollar deals… And rumors have the Mets already bailing out on such deals and players…

With more teams than ever before targeting mid-tier free agents, even those players will end up getting far more money than their production might be worth.

And this is a solid free agent market compared to last offseason and next year’s projected free agent class.

In other words, this is as good as it gets.

More and more teams now lock up their prized players and you see fewer and fewer of them ending up in free agency.

It’s gonna be interesting to watch how Sandy navigates these choppy waters now that he has his fistful of dollars…

And we’ll start to know more about that with the GM Meetings set to begin tomorrow…

not typical metsmerized

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Are the Mets Snakebit? Tue, 05 Nov 2013 13:13:36 +0000 sad mets benchIt has been no surprise that after five straight losing seasons, any optimism that coincided with the arrival of Sandy Alderson and team Moneyball has now subsided into a cynicism and even a resentment of the current power brokers at the helm.

Second and Third guessing any decisions made by the current front office reflect the dismay which the current fandom, including many of us in the blogosphere, who are sick to death of the losing, the lack of spending, and the seeming lack of concern by the team charged with fixing it.

Of course, this is all understandable, fans have the right to complain when their teams lose. But sometimes, the odds just seem as though they have been stacked against this franchise for the past five years. Changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, and the surplus of media revenue available this year are two factors that have either already contributed to the Mets current milieu or will continue to affect their attempts to build a competitive team in 2014.

Lets take a closer look at how each of these external factors have affected the rebuilding of the farm and team via free agency.

The new front office took charge in November 2010, with a vow to bring the same principles employed (with some success) when they were in charge in Oakland and San Diego. That meant using money more effectively in the draft, and possibly go “overslot” on some high draft picks, something the previous regime (often thought to be at the request of ownership) were criticized for not doing. Then, in 2011, a new CBA agreement between the owners and players put an end to teams who used the largest percentage of their revenues on their youth. The Mets new front office had only one year under the old rules. Additionally, the fixed money pool also applied to international amateur players, although with the caveat that this money could be “traded.” From the 2011 draft on, teams were “forced” into a cap on their draft spending, with severe penalties for any team that went overslot.

Although the new draft rules, which one report alleged that the players; “threw the youngsters under the bus,” were impediments to the speed of the Mets rebuilding process, the changes in the amount of money teams have to spend this year in the free agent market could have the biggest affect on the Mets attempt to build a contender.

jason bayWe’ve all heard the story many times over now, the $40M that was taking up space in the form of Johan Santana and Jason Bay has now been freed and the Mets can spend, spend, spend, and when they’re done, spend some more. It seems it will be as easy as just splashing some green, and watch the instant playoff team take roots and show shoots of hope (too corny? Nah). Easy? Hmmm, not so fast. First, consider that the Mets payroll last year was approximately $90M; and (it is estimated) that the franchise lost $10M last year. If you can do math, and read tea leaves, one can come up with the theory that the Mets payroll in 2014 will be somewhere around $85M.

Ok, so thats not so bad, it means that the team can add $30M to the payroll this year. They can add a premier free agent, perhaps a Shin-Soo Choo at an affordable $70M over 5 years. Perfect, right?

This is where the new media money comes into play, all teams now have an increased revenue stream, and all indications are that they are willing to spend to improve this year. Now whether they are going into debt to supply this spending, is not known. But early reports, and the extensions that have already been done, point to a wild free agent signing period, and you can guarantee that some of these players will be overpaid. The San Francisco Giants just doled out $120M on Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, who would’ve thought that a few months ago? No one, that’s who. There are also reports that the Astros, who’s entire team payroll was a notch above Johan’s, will be big players for Choo this year.

For a front office that has made all indications that 2014 was the year they were going to start competing and spending again, fate has stepped in to temper the Mets fan expectations. I am optimistic and believe that Alderson and co. will use a combination of trades and free agent signings to build a contender in 2014, or at least a team that plays meaningful games in September.

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Rangers Will Tender Qualifying Offer To Nelson Cruz Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:48:40 +0000 nelson-cruz-texas-rangersEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Rangers have decided to tender a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz, which he is expected to turn down in favor of a multi-year deal.

“It’s a relatively easy decision,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’d be happy to have him back on a one-year deal. And we’re not prohibited from continuing to talk to him while he sees what the market is. If he signs elsewhere, we get a draft pick that helps us as well.”

Cruz posted a .266/.327/.506 line with 27 homers in 456 PA this year and is currently 33 years old. It will be difficult for him to find a multi-year deal because of his recent steroid troubles — and if he does reject the qualifying offer as expected, he may find out the market is not as prosperous as he believes. Considering that the Mets have a protected pick and have no issue signing players that are trying to rebound off PED histories, he could be a potential target if the upper management feels like taking a chance on him.

I’m actually okay with Nelson Cruz on something like a two-year deal — but I think he will likely be a little too pricey for us even after everything. I personally think his best move would be to accept the qualifying offer, but I’m going off what MLBTR noted. That being said, all signs pointed to Tim Lincecum being a free agent, so we’ll see what unfolds with Cruz.

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Josh Johnson or Scott Kazmir? Who’s The Better Option For The Mets? Sat, 26 Oct 2013 15:27:03 +0000 The market for starting pitching is noticeably thin and old. Teams have made it a top priority to lock up their young pitching talent and as a result the only familiar names on the market under the age of 30 are Phil Hughes and John Lannan. The Mets are in the advantageous position to retain the majority of their pitching staff that finished fifth in the league in quality starts. The situation that the Mets will likely address is to find temporary solution that can bridge them between Opening Day 2014 and the return/arrival of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, etc.

Yesterday the Giants set a precedent by signing Tim Lincecum to a 2-year, $35 million contract. Is he worth it? Probably not. But the fact that my answer was “probably not” rather than “no” is enough to warrant a significant amount of money these days.

scott kazmir

Two of the higher-end, more intriguing names on the market are Scott Kazmir and Josh Johnson. Both are appealing for a variety of different reasons including their reputations, past accomplishments and willingness to sign a short-term contract.

The most recent word on Kazmir is that his agent will look to negotiate with Cleveland before exploring the open market. Earlier this month, Johnson had minor elbow surgery to remove bone spurs but will be ready to pitch come spring training. The report is that he would be willing to sign a one-year contract while he attempts to rebuild he value.

The main difference between the two free agents is the current state of their value compared to the value that they have established over the course of their careers.

Returning to professional baseball on a minor league contract, Kazmir posted his best numbers since 2007. His fastball velocity climbed back up to 92.5 mph as opposed to 86.5 mph where it sat during his previous stint in the majors. Despite his recent success, his unpredictable career path indicates that it would be in his best interest to lock up guaranteed money for as many years as he can.

In the case of Johnson, it would benefit him to seek a short-term opportunity to rediscover his form. His first season in Toronto happened to be the worst of his career, posting a 6.20 ERA. Johnson is routinely plagued by injury and has failed to reach the 20-start plateau in three out of the last six seasons. An effective and healthy stint could eventually allow him to maximize his value as a free agent by age 31 or 32.

josh johnson

Historically, Johnson has the edge in terms of raw stuff as he was once a dominant pitcher that notched a 2.64 ERA over 70 starts between 2009 and 2011. Despite pitching to underwhelming numbers the last two seasons, Mets fans know how talented Johnson is based on his 8-2 record and 2.58 career ERA against them.

At a common age of 29, Johnson has experienced an overall decline in velocity over the last five seasons while Kazmir experienced a sudden boost back up toward his career high.

From a superficial standpoint, the appeal of Kazmir surrounds his controversial trade to Tampa Bay at the 2004 trade deadline and what it represents to the Mets organization. Whereas Johnson is a former nemesis of the Mets that brings the stature of an overpowering pitcher.

The fact that Kazmir is a left-handed, fly ball pitcher may be more conducive to what the Mets are looking to add this off-season. With all of their right-handed arms (particularly among their top prospects) the thought of adding another lefty to balance out the rotation could spark their interest.

However, the potential that Johnson offers cannot be ignored. A new approach offered from the Mets coaching staff could give them exactly what they are looking for out of a replacement starter next season.

In the end, the Mets would not be alone in their interest in either pitcher. Both pitchers are certain to be commodities on the open market that is characterized by a deficiency in dependable arms.

The fact Kazmir is a relatively young left-hander and Johnson has a strong track record combined with high demand means that it will likely take a two-year offer or one-year plus an option to lock up either one.

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Giants Ink Lincecum To A Two-Year, $35 Million Deal Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:53:17 +0000 tim lincecum

What a difference three days makes…

The Giants and right-hander Tim Lincecum agreed to a two-year, $35 million deal Tuesday, pending a physical. Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, was days away from becoming a free agent for the first time, but the Giants were able to get a deal done before that could happen.

Lincecum, 29, is 89-70 in seven seasons with the Giants with a 3.46 ERA. He was 10-14 last season with a 4.37 ERA and threw his first career no-hitter.

Talk about getting things done, the Giants locked up their two marquee free agents before they could hit the market. Right fielder Hunter Pence signed a five-year deal during the season’s final weekend.

Brian Sabean has two World Series to his credit in the last four years.

Original Post 10/19

In the world of interesting but unsurprising, Andrew Baggarly of reports that Tim Lincecum will likely test free agency this winter. The Giants have tried their best to keep him in San Francisco on a two-year deal, but it all seems to have gone for naught.

It is very likely Lincecum will get tendered a qualifying offer contract — $14.1 million — and he will decline it. Man, if my job had a qualifying offer of $14.1 million…

Once a dominant ace, “The Freak” has two Cy Young awards on his mantle from 2008 and 2009. He posted ERAs of 2.63 and 2.48 — and struck out over 250 batters in each of those seasons. However, his ERAs in 2012 and 2013 have been 5.17 and 4.37 respectively, a horrid comparison to the ace-quality performance he used to deliver.

A lot of this is likely related to his drop in fastball velocity, but man, it was such an abrupt shift for him. He also saw his HR rate spike even though AT&T Park ranked 30th and 28th in ’12/’13 for home runs given up, respectively. He worked out of the bullpen during the Giants’ 2012 post-season, and I think more than a few potential suitors might be looking at him as a back-end of the bullpen option. Hell, he could even close.

Seattle is the most likely landing spot. Remember, if Lincecum declines the qualifying offer, any team not in the first ten draft picks will have to surrender their first-round pick to sign him. I think that will go a long way in determining how interested teams really are in him — a team like Seattle has no reason to worry. There’s a definite fit there because it is his hometown and a pitcher’s park at that. Baggardly notes in his piece that the Mariners had a scout sent to his last start as well.

The Mets have had this weird draft pick pattern since Sandy’s been here… 13th in 2011, 12th in 2012, 11th in 2013, and 10th in 2014. With the 10th pick, they could sign a free agent that turned down a qualifying offer and have their pick protected —  but I doubt they’d shell out the money to sign Lincecum. I also think teams like the Yankees might stray away from him considering the loss of a draft pick. He’s not a guy that I would surrender a first-round pick for at this point in his career, anyway.

I would pay attention to this whole business of qualifying offers, however. If the Mets were actually to make some big free agent signing, this would hypothetically be the best year. Certain players will be more accessible to the Mets because of this new CBA. The Mets will, however, likely be more interested in guys like Johan Santana and Bronson Arroyo to fill out their rotation.

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What is the ONE Thing the Mets Must Do This Offseason Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:52:00 +0000 sandy aldersonFor all my fellow Mets fans, opinions have been flying fast in the blogosphere, twitterverse, and any other media I may have forgotten to mention. And all this is occurring before the World Series has even started! No Free Agents can change teams right now, no player has been tendered, yet you would think from some of us Met die-hards that the offseason is already a failure.

Lets all take a deep breath, I mean, Sandy Alderson hasn’t even had time to officially decline Johan Santana‘s 2014 option for $25M, pay the $5M buyout, and move on to Free Agency. There was significant debate about whether the Mets should have chased Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, who eventually signed with the White Sox for a six year $68M deal. In my opinion, this deal will come back and bite the ChiSox where the sun don’t shine; I mean, giving a guaranteed $11M a year to a guy who has never hit higher that Double A pitching? No Thank You. In fact, I doubt that over the course of the six years that Abreu even hits one Home Run per million dollars he’s paid (for those that can’t do math, that’s 68 HR’s).

Then there was the news last night that the Giants signed Tim Lincecum to a two year $35M deal. Wow! A guy who is clearly in decline, who’s ERA was nearly 5 in 2013, and who’s average fastball speed has decreased two miles an hour gets $17M PER YEAR to continue that mediocrity. Most of the early reaction from Giants fans and media has been that this is a massive overpayment, and not only that, but this deal just drove up the price of every other medium, used to be somewhat useful, starter the Mets might have interest in this offseason (see Josh Johnson and Scott Kazmir).

So, no matter your view of this front office (and count mine on the slightly positive side), they will have their work cut out filling all the holes while staying under what looks to be a team budget of roughly $85M (You can complain about that budget if you want, but it is what it is). So, as you would do in any business, you prioritize. You make the case for which positions on the diamond have the greatest need while accepting those that can be updated next year (or later). If I were Sandy Alderson, my list would look something like this:

  1. Outfield (Right Fielder)
  2. Shortstop
  3. Starting Pitcher
  4. Outfield (Left Fielder/ 4th OF)
  5. First Base
  6. More Pitching

If there is one thing that simply must be done to have even a chance of competing in 2014, its that the Mets obtain a power hitting Outfielder who provides the Mets with an OPS threat that will never be confused with their OBP. This won’t be easy, but there are options out there and this is simply what Sandy Alderson and company must spend the bulk of their dollars on, even at the expense of quality options in other areas. Shortstop is another key area, and there is a possibility that signing someone like Jhonny Peralta could address both concerns, as he played a decent LF for the Tigers in the playoffs. Also, it might be a pipe dream, but perhaps Ruben Tejada rededicates himself to the craft, and becomes the Tejada of 2012, which wasn’t too shabby.

Some readers might be disappointed to see First Base listed so far down the list, but lets think about this for a second. If Sandy obtains a power hitting outfielder, and another one who makes contact and gets on base, we can assume that the budget (again, it is what it is) is near tapped. Then I can live with Lucas/Ike/Josh batting 7th in that lineup.

I am expecting a decent offseason from this front office, I know I am in the minority in that sentiment, but I really believe there will be at least one blockbuster trade that the Mets are a part of.

addicted to mets button

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Who Will Be The Mets’ Biggest Free Agent Splash This Offseason? Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:29:50 +0000 stephen drew

Is shortstop Stephen Drew “that” guy?

The financial handcuffs are finally off and Sandy Alderson apparently now has the wherewithal and flexibility to attack this offseason like he’s never had before.

If there’s a player out there that can help this team and improve the Mets in any particular area, money will not prevent Sandy from pursuing that option like it has in the past. Or so that’s the message the Mets are trying to convey this Fall and Winter… Whether or not you choose to believe it is purely up to you…

I was wondering what some of our writers thought about that, and who they thought would be the biggest splash we make this offseason that would improve the team.

Satish – Wow… do I let my pessimism run free here? My gut says LaTroy Hawkins, but I think we’ll go out and get Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta.

Kirk – I think in the end the biggest splash you may see from the Mets is the signing of a mid-rotation pitcher to hold us over while Matt Harvey makes his way back. Maybe a guy like Josh Johnson who is looking to prove his health and is willing to accept a one-year, incentive laden deal in order to do so. Another option would be someone like Matt Garza on a multi-year deal. He offers solid upside despite his late-season trouble in Texas which unlike Citi Field becomes a launching pad in the late stages of the summer.

Xtreem – That depends on the market, but I think they’d make the biggest play for Shin-Soo Choo.

DrDooby – I do believe the Mets have a real shot at Choo, Carlos Beltran or Jacoby Ellsbury – but could be involved in a heavy bidding war with a handful of more short term oriented teams. I do believe that the front office does see both the fit with one of these three players aligning with a need to show the public that the Mets will be serious players again, even below the “all-in” status of past years. As for who “WILL” be, I believe and have repeatedly stated that Bronson Arroyo would be a perfect fit in the current situation. 2-year-contract of about $25 million (comparable to what Ryan Dempster signed for last winter) – and provide a veteran stabilizer who takes the ball every 5th day for the otherwise young & fragile Mets staff.

Tommy – I think the biggest signing the Mets will make will be a mid-level bat with power, such as Jhonny Peralta or Nelson Cruz. In terms of signing a big name, Tim Lincecum could be on the way, although his popularity has exceeded his production the last 2 years.

Joe D. – As for me, a month ago I would have said Jose Abreu, fresh off of Sandy’s comments saying that his goal this offseason was to add a power bat and a first baseman. Obviously, that ship has sailed. I think the Choo, Ellsbury and Beltran ships will drift away from the Mets as well. I imagine that bringing back Marlon Byrd and hoping for him to duplicate his 2013 season would be right up the Mets’ alley for a number of reasons, the least of which would be the PR value and all the fluffy feel good stories that would accompany his signing. This is how the Men in Black operate these days. On the pitching front, I’d like to see them pursue a better class than they have in the last three seasons, but I wouldn’t rule out a simple one-year fix with Daisuke Matsuzaka or Aaron Harang. Shortstop is where they’ll likely exert their greatest effort and Stephen Drew could be that guy who becomes their biggest splash. Drew hasn’t played more than 125 games since 2010, but he’s coming off a somewhat solid season in which he batted .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI. I wonder how those numbers will play out at Citi Field? Nevertheless, Drew’s my pick for the biggest splash you’ll see the Mets make this offseason.

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MMO Roundtable: Who Are The Mets’ Biggest Trade Chips? Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:09:54 +0000 rafael montero travis d'arnaud

With so much work to do this offseason and many different areas that need to be addressed, it’s almost impossible to imagine that the Mets won’t make one or two significant trades this Winter to fill a couple of those needs.

Of course the follow-up to that is, which of our players would be most appealing to other teams that we would be willing to trade?

I threw this question to some of our staff:

Which players or prospects are the Mets’ biggest trade chips?

Kirk Cahill - The Mets three best trade chips, or more importantly, the three best chips that I’d be willing to deal would be Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese, and Rafael Montero. Teams are always going to target pitching, and I think Niese is an established pitcher signed to a team-friendly contract, while Montero offers upside and longterm team control. Murphy can provide a contending team with offense from a traditionally weak offensive spot, as well as a good clubhouse guy with a great work ethic.

Tommy RothmanZack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets can’t really trade Wheeler at this point unless they can trade him and not much else for a superstar bat. D’Arnaud should be treated similarly, because his value is lower right now than the Mets would like, and he is still an elite prospect who the team hopes can become an elite player. Syndergaard has been dominant, but he can be moved if we get a great hitter. I would NOT feel comfortable trading two of these three no matter who we get (with the possible exception of Mike Trout, which would never happen). The three guys the Mets should LOOK to trade are Rafael Montero, Wilmer Flores, and Dillon Gee. Trading these guys might bring in a bat or two, and Gee can always be replaced by signing somebody like Tim Lincecum.

Barry Duchan – Since everyone wants prospects over decent but unspectacular major leaguers, the top 3 chips are probably Wheeler, Syndergaard, and d’Arnaud, but I wouldn’t trade any of them except in multi-player deals where the Mets get at least one established (overpaid?) star e.g. Andre Ethier as well as other players.

DrDooby – I believe that in the Mets current situation, free agency is by far the best way to go. There´s plenty of payroll space. There´s a somewhat deep free agent class – in terms of at least average major leaguers, something the Mets have lacked. I´d be very hesitant to trade any of Syndergaard, Wheeler, d’Arnaud or Montero – as that´d be robbing Paul to pay Peter. I also believe that a prospect like Cesar Puello has more value to the Mets than other organizations for now. And a prospect package for a significant player is never headed by an A-Ball prospect, so forget about those as anchors. So, in terms of trade chips that – realistically – can be moved, I´d say either Duda or Davis; either Jake DeGrom or Cory Mazzoni as a 2nd tier upper level power arm and then as a throw-in Ruben Tejada if the Mets get a real starting SS. That obviously doesn´t get you any stars. But it fits the Mets current situation better.

XtreemIcon – It would be Syndergaard, Flores and D’Arnaud, though the players I’d trade them for is on a very short list. I’d only trade Syndergaard and TDA for David Price or Jurickson Profar.

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Pie In The Sky Mets Rumors: Lincecum, Napoli, Kemp, Ellsbury… Mon, 14 Oct 2013 15:05:24 +0000 As the post season crawls to a close, thus ushering in the hot stove season, there seems to be a growing tide of great and unrealistic expectations for players the Mets could or should target.

Over at MetsBlog, they’ve spent this weekend writing multiple times about Tim Lincecum as well as other potential free agents or players presumed to be on the block like Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

Readers here should already be conditioned to understand that these are all mostly pie in the sky Met rumors with no basis in any fundamental belief that any deal is forthcoming.

Let me spend this beautiful Columbus Day morning by running down these players and giving you my quick take on their situations as it pertains to the Mets.

Jacoby Ellsbury – There’s no doubt that Ellsbury would fill a void for the Mets, but seriously, do you believe the Mets are in a position to make him the team’s new $100 million dollar man? I seriously doubt the Mets would entertain paying the oft-injured Ellsbury through his age 35 or 36 season especially when the team seems committed to the further development of Juan Lagares in center field.

Mike Napoli – This might be one of the worst possibilities for the Mets on this list. Already 32, and seeking a 3-year deal that will pay him more annually than the $13 million he earned this season, Napoli would only add to the logjam that already exists at first base for the Mets. And there’s good reason to believe that he may not even represent an upgrade. Essentially we’re talking about a career .259 hitter who is entering his declining years. Jose Abreu would be cheaper and six years younger with more power and upside to go with it. Oh, and Abreu won’t cost the Mets their second round pick like Napoli would.

Tim Lincecum – After earning $22 million in 2013, Lincecum went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 197.2 innings for the Giants in spacious AT&T Park. It was the second straight season of pedestrian results for the 29-year old righty, but the Giants want to keep him and he wants to stay. They are at the negotiating table as we speak and are reportedly making progress. It’s been two years since he last touched 95 mph on the radar gun, and he makes zero sense for the Mets anyway.

Matt Kemp – Kemp just had shoulder surgery on Wednesday in addition to the career-threatening, micro-fractured ankle he still suffers from. It’s ridiculous to entertain the notion that the Mets would take on the $130 million he still has remaining on his contract with all of that risk. They wouldn’t do it even if he were 100% healthy – which he’s not. And if the Dodgers agreed to eat any portion of that contract, they’ll want the Mets to kick in Noah Syndergaard on top of the big package it will take to acquire him. Let’s get real…

Andre Ethier – He’ll be 32 and is owed an average of $17.5 million through 2017 with one of those Bay-esque vesting options for 2018. He’s averaged 14 home runs per season over the last three years and he peaked seven years ago. Ethier has no speed, never scored 100 runs in a season, and only had one 100 RBI season back in 2009 and has never come close to duplicating that. In fact, he’s averaged 67 RBI’s over the last three seasons. Do you really want to pay him superstar money for that kind of production?

Many of the names on this list represent a reckless spending era that we’ve been trying to distance ourselves from. Don’t buy into everything you read. The Mets want you to think they are interested, it’s great for season ticket sales. Or at the very least it can’t hurt, but really they’re not targeting players like this.

If the front office were going to spend this offseason, something that has yet to be proven, it would be for someone younger and with more upside, and not for players whose best seasons are clearly behind them.

This isn’t a Moneyball thing or the Wilpons being cheap… This is just a common sense approach…

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Mets Offseason Options Could Dwindle If Choo, Pence, Tulo and Cargo Stay Put Mon, 23 Sep 2013 15:58:31 +0000 Shin-Soo Choo

It happens every year… You take a pass on going hog-wild in the offseason with the belief that a better crop of stars will be available next offseason. But as is usually the case, the best players end up getting signed to extensions during the season and those that make it to November usually re-sign with their former teams.

Sometimes it’s all a matter of logistics and strategy. For example, let’s take a look at Shin-Soo Choo. The Reds can make him a one-year qualifying offer which would mean losing a draft pick to the signing team. All of a sudden the player becomes less desirable and it drives his price straight down. We saw this play out with Michael Bourn last offseason. He thought he would be endowed with a $75 million dollar deal heading into free agency, but instead had to settle for just 65% of that amount.

With that dynamic in play, it sometimes behooves the marquee player to work out an extension with his team rather than roll the dice in an open market that has few teams willing to part with their first or second round draft picks. Even the big market teams are thinking twice before losing their top picks.

With that in mind, there is already some scurrying about in the pre-dawn weeks leading into a new hot stove season.

troy tulowitzki

It’s been almost a foregone conclusion that the Colorado Rockies may move Carlos Gonzalez and possibly even Troy Tulowitzki this Winter as many reports have suggested. Not so, said a source with direct knowledge of the team’s plans, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. (MLBTR)

“There’s still a very small possibility that one will be dealt to address multiple needs, but there is zero likelihood that both will be moved.” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirmed the report adding that that Rockies ownership doesn’t have much interest in moving either player.

Getting back to Shin-Soo Choo, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer says the outfielder loves it in Cincinnati, and his Reds teammates are all lobbying him to re-sign with the team. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he will do everything he can to re-sign Choo and confirmed he has already reached out to agent Scott Boras. They are expected to exchange numbers soon after the season.

hunter pence

Two other players whose names frequently come up as potential Mets targets are outfielder Hunter Pence and righthander Tim Lincecum who are both pending free agents. But according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Giants want to retain both players. He believes that the Giants could offer Pence a four-year, $56 million deal similar to what the Indians gave Nick Swisher last Winter.

Both Pence and Lincecum have expressed a willingness to remain with the Giants, but either way both of them will receive and decline qualifying offers from the Giants as they each seek multi-year deals.

Did somebody mention Carlos Beltran? MLB Trade Rumors featured him in a Face-Off against Nelson Cruz. Over 70% of their readers preferred Beltran to Cruz in a poll question, but they pointed out that due to Beltran’s declining defensive skills, he might be best suited to a switch in leagues where he can DH twice a week. Beltran has always rejected the thought of that, they write, but reality and age might make Beltran reconsider his options.

So as the Mets get set to navigate a fourth consecutive offseason with Sandy Alderson at the helm, it will be interesting to see if the GM can prove me wrong and actually outbid other teams to get the pieces the Mets need to compete in 2014 – the year when everything is supposed to change. I think it’s a daunting task and while the Mets keep insisting they will spend, they always punt when asked how much, and keep ducking questions about how much the Mets payroll budget will be next season.

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Could Tim Lincecum Be The Veteran Starter The Mets Need? Wed, 18 Sep 2013 13:46:21 +0000 tim-lincecum-verducciWhat might the New York Mets be wondering as they look into the Giants’ dugout and see Tim Lincecum?

Could they be mulling over the idea of signing him as a free agent this winter? He’ll be pricey, but if the Mets are serious about contending in 2014, they’ll have to pay for pitching.

With Matt Harvey opting for rehab over the next two months instead of immediate Tommy John surgery, the Mets have no certainties with their young ace. Surgery is still a possibility, and that would mean he would miss all of next year.

At the time Harvey went on the disabled list and surgery was anticipated, GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets would have to prepare to not have him next season.

Perhaps he didn’t want to reveal his true thoughts in front of Harvey in a press conference, or perhaps he didn’t want to come across as being desperate, but Alderson backed off that sentiment yesterday.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect our offseason planning as much as has been speculated,” Alderson said. “The one thing we have is a great deal of starting-pitching depth, some of it untested at the minor league level. But we have a lot of confidence in the quality and quantity of our starting pitching.

“So hopefully Matt is part of that rotation next year. But if he’s not, I don’t foresee us working hard to fill his spot from outside the organization.”

What Alderson should have said is the Mets have “potential’’ starting-pitching depth.

Harvey, of course, is no given. Jenrry Mejia just underwent elbow surgery. Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready, and there’s nothing imminent with Rafael Montero.

By my count, the Mets will go into spring training with a rotation of Zack WheelerJon Niese and Dillon Gee. Tonight’s starter, Aaron Harang, could be invited to spring training and so might Daisuke Matsuzaka. Are you comfortable with those last two options?

They will have to add somebody regardless of what Alderson said and Lincecum could be available. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $40.5-million contract, and the Giants haven’t said anything about bringing him back.

If not the Giants or Mets, somebody will offer Lincecum a contract, and considering what he made this year there won’t be much of a salary cut.

Lincecum was signed to the contract after the 2011 season, in which he went 13-14, but with a 2.74 ERA and having worked 217 innings. The feeling it was due to a lack of run support.

Lincecum was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 2012 and a drop to 186 innings. He has thrown 184 so far this season while going 10-13 with a 4.40 ERA. Both this year and last there were reports his velocity is down. Even so, something had to be there to throw a no-hitter.

There’s some sentiment a change of scenery might benefit Lincecum, who is only 29. The flip side reported in San Francisco is the Giants might sign him for one year plus a team option.

Of course, the Mets might offer the same. They might have to.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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Wheeler to the Bullpen? Wait, What? Fri, 02 Aug 2013 18:08:19 +0000 WheelerThere are bad ideas and then there are really bad ideas, and the New York Mets considering using Zack Wheeler out of the bullpen falls into the latter category.

Wheeler has thrown a combined 114.1 minors-and-majors innings this season with a cutoff number at 180. With the intent of limiting his innings, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are mulling using Wheeler out of the bullpen.

This is a bad idea on so many levels, beginning with the up-and-down nature of a reliever. The Mets will say they will only use Wheeler at the start of an inning, but that’s no guarantee. It is still a change in routine and they must scrap this idea immediately.

The Mets’ goal of winning as many games as possible in the second half and limiting Wheeler and Matt Harvey aren’t mutually compatible. The best way to achieve their goal of making a .500 run is to not change their pitching, which has been good.

Pitchers are creatures of habit and Wheeler hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2010. For the past three years, he’s worked in the routine of a starter. Bouncing from starter to reliever in the middle of a season is never a good idea. The Mets should know that by now with Jenrry Mejia, who went from reliever to starter and ended up having Tommy John surgery.

A coincidence? Perhaps, but why take the chance? Considering how the Mets handled Wheeler with kid gloves, thrusting him into a new role is counter productive. It might be different if the Mets were in a pennant race, but they are not.

Figuring ten more starts they should simply cut Wheeler at six innings a game and do not deviate under any circumstances. That would give him 174.1 innings, just under the limit. This way, it keeps Wheeler in his normal routine and eliminate the different strain on his arm caused by working in relief. A starter has a set program, but a reliever does not.

San Francisco used Tim Lincecum out of the pen last year, but he’s a veteran more capable of making the adjustment than Wheeler.

Currently, the Mets are operating with a six-man rotation, which could go back to five once Jonathan Niese comes off the disabled list. The Mets have not said they’ll continue with six when Niese returns. Doing so might not be a bad idea because it would accomplish the dual  purposes of monitoring Wheeler and Harvey, not to mention protecting Niese.

If the Mets go down to five, it would give Wheeler and Harvey additional turns. In that case, they should be skipped or pushed back a turn, which is preferable to shaving innings piecemeal..

The Mets haven’t said whether they will have an innings limit on Wheeler and Harvey next season, but if they do, they should map out their plan from the beginning than doing so mid-stream.


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Two More Years! Two More Years! Fri, 02 Aug 2013 17:00:02 +0000 It seems that recently, the Mets discussion has centered around the guy who is or isn’t writing out the lineup card.

It’s likely a minority opinion, but I think the Mets need to lock Terry Collins up to a two year deal now, and put the discussion to rest.

Wally Backman was my favorite player growing up. I have nothing against him at all, but I believe that MOST of the people who want him to be the Manager, have likely never seen him manage.

I believe you can take any Manager decision that didn’t work, and use it to build a case toward firing that Manager. Most of the people that do not want Terry Collins back in 2014 have some legitimate arguments. The problem I have is that most of the time it’s based on things like “handling of a bullpen,” or a “late game decision,” and when they reference Backman as the answer – I wonder how do they know he wouldn’t make those same mistakes?

Backman has zero experience at the big league level as a coach. If he was to be hired, he’d make mistakes – does that mean we let him go as well?

wally backman 1

When the managerial search was on, there was a large majority of Mets fans that wanted Backman over both Collins and Melvin. Melvin is on his way to possibly his second straight Manager of the Year Award. Sometimes the answer isn’t always the popular one. I do believe Backman deserves a chance somewhere, and I hope he gets it one day.

I said it before, managing can be summed up by a move that Eric Young Jr. made this week. If when he goes for the delayed steal and is thrown out by a mile – it was a stupid move and people are angry. But, he was safe and so it was a gutsy, and “heady” play that should be applauded.

To me, the Manager is more about what he gets out of the players then what one move out of thousands that they make.

Take the Yankee four game series for example. The Mets came into that series having lost 5 of their last 6 and when you compared each team’s roster you had a clear advantage leaning the Yankees way even with their injuries. The Mets came back to win the first two games, one of which was against the greatest closer who ever lived, and then went into Yankee stadium and dominated the so called “big brother.”

I look at the July 1st game against Arizona when the Mets were down 3-0 in the 7th inning, chipped away at the lead and blew a tied game in the 13th inning thanks to a Cody Ross HR and then coming back to score 2 runs to win the game.

Even the July 4th game when the Mets lost to Arizona in 15 innings after Arizona took a lead in the 13th and 14th inning, the way the team played that game was a reflection on their manager despite the loss.

To me, the Manager is less about X’s and O’s and more about how he leads the team and whether the team responds to his leadership. Bobby Valentine can be a great X’s and O’s guy, but he was a total bust in Boston because he lost the clubhouse before the season started.

I’ll admit, I didn’t like the idea of throwing Valdespin out there to be beaned, and I even said I thought it was a reflection of Collins being more of a minor league instructor than a big league manager. It was a mistake. valdespin 2

When you look at this team, and try to figure out their future – you see David Wright, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and then a bunch of question marks right now. This franchise needs stability from the top down, they need a leader that the players can count on and Collins has proven to me that he’s that guy.

Heading into the 2009 season, San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy was heading into his final year of a 3 year deal. Fans in San Francisco were comparing his bullpen management to that of Dusty Baker as a reason why the Giants should look elsewhere for a Manager.

With a 24 year old Tim Lincecum, and a 23 year old Matt Cain the Giants won 72 games in 2008 which was the first year the Giants began their “Bonds-less” path.

Heading into 2009, Bochy was 143-181, and prior to that he was 951-975 with San Diego. The Giants gave Bochy time to see the rebuild through, their franchise was in a transitional/rebuild phase. They trusted that their plan of Lincecum+Cain could work in the future and that after a four long terrible seasons, the franchise needed stability in leadership, and not another change.

Bochy’s Giants won 88 games in 2009, and he was given a two year extension.

The next thing that happened? Well you know the rest. Bochy’s Giants have won two World Series’ in the last 4.

Now I’m not suggesting Collins will win two out of the next four World Series’. From my fingers to God’s eyes right?

But, what I am suggesting is that Collins is in a similar spot with his roster as Bochy was in 2008.

Unfortunately, Collins’ contract expires so he doesn’t have the 2009 season to give everybody an obvious reason as to why he deserves two more years.

I believe Collins deserves two years because I think the next two years are significant for this franchise and the front office. The excuses are gone, the accountability must be present.

The bad contracts are off the books, the young players are finding their way to the big leagues – it’s put up or shut up time for everybody in the Mets organization.

The Mets do not NEED a new manager – they NEED a new 1B, SS and OF.

What they need to do is remain stable in their leadership and provide the best tools possible in 2014 and 2015 to try and finally turn things around.

I believe Collins is the leader they need, and he has shown me enough to suggest he deserves two more years.

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Have the Mets Reached a Turning Point? Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:29:37 +0000 strawberry hernandezThe 1983 Mets finished their season winning 31 of their final 60 games, including a stretch from July 31st to August 23rd where they went 15-7. They also won six of their final eight. Many will point to 1984 and the way the Mets stormed out of the gate as the turning point, but for me, the writing was on the wall as early as the second half of 1983, when their run in early August signaled a team that was playing .500 baseball with real signs of promise. I’ve been waiting for a similar moment in a Mets season for the past 3 years without so much as a smidgen of hope.

That may be changing. The Mets have gone 20-14 since a pivotal June 16th walk-off win against the Cubs. They are currently 9 games under .500. They have not only been playing better lately, they have managed to beat some pretty good teams. The Mets have been scoring more, pitching better, and the bullpen has been surprisingly solid. While Sandy Alderson’s moves over the past three years have been suspect or inconsequential, 2013 has seen a pronounced string of good signings and shrewd trades.

Marlon Byrd, Scott Rice, LaTroy Hawkins, Carlos Torres, David Aardsma, Eric Young Jr have all played their parts well.

The good moves are starting to pile up, but I wonder whether part of that may have more to do with the organization as a whole turning their focus and resources more to the major league club? For the past three years the focus has clearly been on building up the farm and improving development programs, that also appears to be shifting.

The thing about Alderson is he is fairly conservative in that he will do what’s been proven. Stockpiling quality pitching in the minor leagues is a no-brainer … doing it during a period when the owners are distressed and unable to spend much makes it all the better because they have an excuse for not fielding a competitive team.

Alderson’s catchphrase since he’s gotten here has been sustainability. I don’t think he cares all that much about the Mets’ win-loss record over the past few years, but I think Alderson and his assistants are starting to because the fruits of their labor in the minor leagues are getting closer, and the fan base has finally had enough. They’re pushing their luck asking for a 3 or 4 year rebuilding phase from a beleaguered Met fan base. It’s all about timing. We’re getting to the point where even a lengthy small market rebuilding plan would have run it’s course, and the natives are getting restless.

The real effect of Alderson’s tenure probably won’t be felt until he’s gone. The plan to propel the Mets into perennial contention involves a sustainable minor league system focused on producing quality pitchers and a budget where big contracts are staggered, allowing for flexibility … we get it. If you need a model for the kind of pitching based sustainability we speak of, look no further than the Rays, who continue to churn out ace caliber pitching year after year (Chris Archer anyone?). That they would actually consider trading David Price in the midst of a season where they are not only contending but are probably the most dominant team in the game over the past month, is mind boggling.

syndergaard montero nimmoAlderson’s plan is clearly to construct something along these lines. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen, but honestly, as a Met fan you can’t help but be excited about Harvey, Wheeler, Montero, Syndergaard and the slew of quality arms moving through the system. The hope, for the Mets, is that sometime in the very near future we will finally see a confluence of this pitching reaching maturity, and a sizable bump in spending, which should theoretically move the team into almost certain contention. But this isn’t Kansas City, it’s not even Pittsburgh … New York has been remarkably patient with this down period and we’ve reached the point where the team needs to show us something. It is increasingly looking like this something may indeed occur as soon as 2014, but is it happening even now?

Was the June 16th win against the Cubs the turning point? It was also around this time that something else occurred. On June 18th the Mets called up Zack Wheeler. Has a legitimate second fire-balling threat on the Mets rotation, triggered a kind of tipping point? Two aces, that’s been the recipe, from Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, there have been numerous examples of teams who’ve managed to win with two aces atop their rotations and little else.  Alderson and his brain-trust have hedged their bets on their ability to augment Harvey with at least one more ace caliber pitcher over the next few seasons. Between Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero, you’ve got to like their chances.

It’s true that one reason Alderson was brought in was to slash the budget and right the financial ship, but Alderson almost certainly also saw it as an opportunity to tear the system down with impunity and build it back up in a very different way. An opportunity that, ironically, would not have been available were it not for the Madoff disaster. They knew they had a good 2-3 year window during which time the Wilpons and their spending cuts would be perceived as the main culprits, so they had a chance to implement strategies and program models typically seen in smaller markets while the fans lamented a financially challenged ownership group.

Whether you are an Alderson apologist or a detractor, there is no doubt that signs are pointing up. Pitching wins, and there is nothing like having a couple of lights-out no-doubt show stopping arms in the rotation with several more in the pipeline. Whether or not you believe that dawn is finally breaking over this long dark baseball night for Mets fans, and regardless of where you stand on current management, the team is winning. Granted it’s a limited sample, but, dare I say it, the team’s current play has a sustainable feel to it. That they rebounded Tuesday night the way they did after Monday’s heart wrenching loss says something.

wheeler, harvey, geeThe question that looms as we head towards the trade deadline increasingly appears to be whether this Met team has a miracle run in them. They are 11 games back of both the first place Braves as well as the Wild Card with 66 games left to play. Crazier things have happened and did so with this franchise twice before. It nevertheless sounds as if Alderson is content to stand pat with one or two minor trades, and then only if the moves stand to benefit the team “moving forward.” Another way of saying they do not intend to trade away any core prospects. While trading Byrd and Parnell would likely be a death knell to the season, trading any of our prized pitching prospects for a bat may take away from the “critical mass” of pitching they’ve been stockpiling. We’re not quite where the Rays are in terms of being able to trade from a known and established talent pool.

It’s a tough call, and, as always, Alderson appears to be straddling the fence. He may trade Byrd and hold onto Parnell, he may trade a lower level pitching prospect but not any of our bigger names, he may simply continue to bide his time until he can spend and more of our prospects come on line. Personally I’d rather he take the conservative route.

As much as I’m beginning to enjoy the games again with an eye on an outside shot at some real drama, I wouldn’t risk 2014 by trading from the pitching that appears to be at the center of the limited success we’ve been enjoying for the past month. I’d rather stay the course, particularly as the present course appears to be winning more games than it’s losing.

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2013 Comeback Player of the Year Candidate – Marlon Byrd Fri, 12 Jul 2013 16:14:34 +0000 byrd  hr 2

Andy Martino of the Daily News, spoke to a person with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking who said that the Mets are more likely to keep Marlon Byrd this summer, rather than trade him before the Trade Deadline on July 31.

We can debate the pros and cons of that, but I want to discuss Byrd in a different context for now.

When you think about a player that deserves to be MLB Comeback Player of the year, you think about an athlete that was once touted as the next big thing, or has had a string of good years and then something happened, either he just lost it, it was mental or just his mechanics.  This player can’t find what it is that caused his sudden decline,  so he struggles for a season or maybe even two, or maybe it is so bad that he never recovers and his career is never the same.

In my knowledge only one player has fit that bill and I can remember Phillies Closer Mitch Williams being greatly affected by the 1993 Series-clinching three-run home run that he gave up to Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter that propelled the Jays to World Champs.  After that game Mitch was never the same and his career spiraled in the wrong direction. In 1993, Williams saved 43 games but the years to follow he never recovered from that home run and he would never find his dominance again. If Williams would have come back even in 1995 and been somewhat as dominant as he was in 1993, he definitely would have won the award.

Experts and critics always look at what propelled a player not to be able perform at a level he had been accustomed to. Bleacher Report ran an article by MLB Lead Writer Jason Martinez on March 20, 2013 that listed the Top Candidates for the 2013 MLB Comeback Player of the year. Lance Berkman, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Howard, Ubaldo Jimenez, Tim Lincecum, Victor Martinez and Troy Tulowitzki all made the cut.

All these players are certainly worthy candidates heading into this season. The one who stands out to me is Red Sox outfielder Jacob Ellsbury who in 2012 and only 74 games,  batted .271 with 4 home runs, 26 RBI’s and 14 stolen bases. The sudden decline from his 2011 stats when he posted a .321 batting average, with 32 home runs, 105 runs batted in, and 36 stolen bases, was because of shoulder issues that forced him to the disabled list.  Now in the first half of 2013, he is batting .306, 7 triples, 36 stolen bases and 57 runs scored. He has helped propel the Red Sox into first place in the American League East.  If he continues this trend, he can be a viable consideration for Comeback Player of the Year.

marlon byrd

One player that no one seemed to have on their radar is our very own, Marlon Byrd. Yes, even in the first month or so of this season, Mets fans were not impressed with his production and were basically calling for him to be traded or even waived.  He wasn’t the power hitter that the fans hoped the organization would have picked up in the off-season.  Byrd’s best year was in 2009 while playing for the Texas Rangers when he batted .283 with 20 home runs and 89 RBI’s.  Since then he has not come any where near those numbers and even served a 50 game suspension in 2012 for testing positive for Tamoxifen, which is a medicine that blocks the effects of the estrogen hormone in the body.

As reported on on June 25, 2012, Byrd issued a statement through the MLB Players association when he stated:

“I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season.”

Well Byrd was given that chance but it came with the 2013 Mets and if his play of late is any indication that he is ready to make a comeback, it is with a team that desperately needs this type of player.  Byrd is batting .268, with 15 home runs, 49 RBI’s and 14 doubles.  He leads the Mets in home runs and RBI’s and as of late has become the go to guy when a big hit is needed.  Byrd is the sudden surprise to a team that only a month ago was looking for answers as to who can they put in the outfield that can stay and make a difference, well Byrd has stepped up and assumed that role.  He is on pace to smash his 2009 stats with the Rangers and hopefully help the Mets to save a lost season.

I chose Byrd as my candidate for MLB Comeback Player of the Year, because of where his career had been heading and how it all came crashing down after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.  But he worked hard to build up his reputation in the game and especially with the fans.

People will never forget what he did and he will never live down what he did, but because he loves this game, he put the work in that was needed to save his career, even if it is just for one season.

Byrd is what the Mets might have hoped he would be and even better.  If he finishes as strong as he is ending the first half of 2013, then he should be given the award. Baseball awards are not handed out based on half-seasons, but from what we have seen so far, Marlon Byrd is a great candidate for the award.

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Solid Bullpen And Tired Giants Defense Lead To Mets 4-3 Win Tue, 09 Jul 2013 08:10:03 +0000 eric young

The Night’s Still Young!

In what looked on paper to be a pitcher’s duel between Matt Harvey and Tim Lincecum, turned out to be an extra-inning duel between both bullpens.

Buster Posey struck first with a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Giants an early 2-0 lead. It took Harvey 50 pitches to get through the first two innings.

Lincecum took a no hitter into the fifth, but Marlon Byrd broke it up with a leadoff single. The Mets got on the board with a double by John Buck that drove in Byrd later that inning to cut the lead in half 2-1. The Mets looked to get more, but Omar Quintanilla struck out on a questionable call that had Terry Collins chirping from the dugout and Harvey grounded out to end the inning.

The Mets tacked on two more to take a 3-2 lead in the sixth after a Daniel Murphy single, a doubleplay groundout by Ike Davis that scored a run and some sub-par defense by the Giants’ outfield.

Harvey went out to pitch the seventh inning with 107 pitches under his belt and it cost the Mets. Harvey surrendered a leadoff triple to Hunter Pence on the first pitch and promptly gave up a single to Brandon Crawford to tie the game 3-3. With Harvey on pace to throw about 240 innings, it didn’t make a lot of sense to keep him out there. It would have been the perfect time to pull him and save him an inning pitched down the road.

The bullpen was stellar in this one. Carlos Torres came in to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth. David Aardsma held the Giants scoreless again in the 10th and 11th. Greg Burke came on after that and held the Giants at bay in the 12th and 13th. Josh Edgin came in to pitch the 14th and 15th and surrendered no runs. After the Mets grabbed the lead in the 16th, Bobby Parnell shut the door to finally end the five-and-a-half hour marathon.


The Home (Team) Recker

The Mets had a chance in the 11th with two outs and runners in the corners. Byrd couldn’t leg out an infield single after Crawford made a great play to get him out and the game continued. They had another opportunity in the 12th after a leadoff single by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Buck struck out and the inning was abruptly ended by a fine snag at third by Pablo Sandoval who doubled up Nieuwenhuis at first. The offense went ice cold till the 16th when Eric Young singled and eventually made it to third. After Wright was intentionally walked, Anthony Recker came in to pinch hit with runners in the corners and two outs. Recker grounded to Crawford who made an error that allowed Young to score, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead.

A move lost in the game was Collins’ decision to stick with Davis in the ninth to face left-handed Jeremy Affeldt instead of hot-hitting Josh Satin. Davis proceeded to pop out and Sergio Romo came on to get the last two outs. Seems like Collins is sticking to his guns when it comes to Davis.

All-in-all, good win for the Mets. It was worth the wait. Now, it’s my bedtime.

Stay tuned for the next two games against the Giants where I’ll be live tweeting from AT&T Park.

Note from Joe D.

This just in from Daniel, Collins said Jordany Valdespin would have pitched after Parnell if the game continued.

“Recker had hit,” Collins said. “I wasn’t going to bring in Dillon Gee with his issues with his arm.”

Also, Harvey has been pitching with a blister the last three weeks, but after the game, Harvey said he’s fine.

“It kind of started not the last start, but the start before,” Harvey said. “It’s no excuse for my poor pitching. And I feel fine with it. I just have to figure some things out and get back out there.”

Additionally, Collins said that Harvey might skip his next scheduled start against the Pirates. It would be the first time Harvey has ever skipped a start. Collins said it wouldn’t be because of the blister, but because of Harvey’s pending appearance in the All-Star Game. Collins said Harvey’s outing would either be shortened or he wouldn’t pitch at all in preparation for the All-Star Game.

Geez… What am I still doing up? I’m outta here… The Mets win!

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Hefner Shines, Satin Rakes, Mets Plug The Brewers 2-1 Sun, 07 Jul 2013 21:30:55 +0000 josh satin

Josh Satin‘s RBI-Double was one of three hits on his big day…

The New York Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers by the score of 2-1 before 39,677 at Miller Park today on Hank Aaron Bobblehead Day.

hank aaron

Game time temperature was a beautiful 87 degrees and the first pitch was at 1:10 pm.

Jeremy Hefner was crisp and precise working quickly through seven innings while striking out eight and allowing only two hits and walk. Hefner gave up just one earned run on a home run to dead center by Jonathan Lucroy on an 0 – 2 count. Otherwise the kid was brilliant. The eight strikeouts matched a career high. Hefner now has a 1.27 ERA over his past seven starts and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of those outings.

Tom Gorzelanny matched zeros with Hefner for the first three innings until the Mets broke through in the 4th with a run on a throwing error by Juan Francisco. The Brewers again were awful in the field and it cost them dearly.

Josh Satin continued to rake extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He hit the ball hard all day going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single lifting his season average to .382 and on-base percentage to .485.

David Wright and Eric Young also had two singles each and Young added a stolen base.

Bobby Parnell got a four-out save without incident to preserve the win as the Mets took the series in Milwaukee and head off to San Francisco.

This was a series the Mets should have won as the Brewers didn’t appear particularly competent in any facet of their game. They seem like a pretty good offensive team, but don’t muster a whole lot of punch without Braun in the lineup. The biggest knock on the Brewers is their defense, and they were about as bad as you can be during this three game series. It was nice to see the Mets beating a team they are supposed to beat.

Game time: 2 hours 46 minutes

Winning Pitcher: Jeremy Hefner 105 pitches, 71 strikes, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 hits, 1 HR.

Losing Pitcher: Tom Gorzelanny, 83 pitches, 64 strikes, 2 runs, 0 earned runs 8 hits, 0 walks.

Here’s a funny video clip I took of John Buck disrupting the Sausage Race:

Maybe Buck was auditioning to be a Knockwurst….

The Mets now head to San Francisco where Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.27) opens up the three game series on Monday against Tim Lincecum (4-9, 4.66). First pitch is at 10:15 PM ET. MMO will be at AT&T Park for all three games, so keep it tuned right here. I hope you enjoyed my coverage from Milwaukee.

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