I was reading Mike Puma’s summation of the New York Mets’ offseason and Spring Training preview for the New York Post.
Here are his thoughts on first base and shortstop, two positions most of us thought would certainly be revamped in some way.
Ike Davis, who bounced between the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas last year, was on the trade block for most of the winter, but Alderson never found a suitable offer in return, leaving Davis in a logjam with Lucas Duda at first base.
At shortstop, the job belongs to Ruben Tejada after a winter in which Alderson hoped to sign Jhonny Peralta, but wasn’t about to outdo the Cardinals’ offer of four years and $53 million. The Mets also have shown interest in Stephen Drew, but remain a “long shot” to sign the veteran. So that leaves the job to the underachieving Tejada, who hit only .202 in 57 games for the Mets last season.
When anyone asks me my thoughts on the offseason, I sum it up this way. I thought the signings of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon were necessary. David Wright is running out of prime years and we needed a cleanup hitter. Clearly, Ike Davis is not that guy, at least not this current version of him. Which brings me to my own summation of the offseason. Despite the many positives, the one negative was that we are bringing back the same identical infield we had last season. I never expected that.
Here is what Sandy Alderson said on September 30 in an interview with Mike Francesa. (via Amazin Avenue)
Francesa: Did you have in your mind have you made up your mind about guys you needed to make up your mind about? Have you made up your mind about Ike, and Duda, and Tejada or is there still some question marks and some things to be worked out with those three players?
Alderson: Well I think at first base you have to be honest with yourself and say look, I’m not sure we have learned everything that we need to about those two guys, but ultimately you have to make a decision, and sometimes you don’t have full information when you do. So going into next season we’ve got really three possibilities at first base: one of those two guys, neither of those two guys, or both of those guys, either at the major league level or the Triple-A level. We’re getting to the point where we have a sample large enough to try and make a choice.
We’re also getting to the point where they’re not inexpensive, you know? Together next year they could cost four million dollars plus so we’re at the point where we need to try to make a decision. Another factor will be frankly the trade market, what is the market for a first basemen with potential, and power, and the potential to be better? These guys, Ike is not that old. So anyway we’re getting to the point where you can make a decision on those two guys or going into a different direction entirely.
Francesa: All right how about the shortstop, do you feel you have a shortstop? Can you put Tejada at shortstop and be comfortable or do you need to go out and look at a shortstop?
Alderson: Well I think the problem is that you can’t go into the season with three or four below average positions. You can get away with one, maybe you can get away with two if your pitching is really good and you’ve got the offense elsewhere and maybe they give you defense at average or above. You can’t go into the season with a bunch of positions that are below average. Can we go into the season with what we had last year? Well we got by with Quintanilla and Tejada and so forth, but that’s not what we’re trying to do next season so it’s definitely an area we have to look at.
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I would bet Sandy is as disappointed that we did nothing to address the infield as many of us are. Based on what he said at the beginning of the offseason to WFAN, clearly he missed his mark. He said that he was done evaluating players like Duda, Tejada and Davis and had enough information to move forward and take some action to improve the team. He didn’t.
We can be as optimistic as we want, but regardless of who starts between Lagares and Young Jr., the Mets will have five players in their starting lineup who batted .229 or less last season. I thought the infield was the best opportunity to possibly fix that.
Maybe Alderson’s price was too high for Ike and that’s why he’s still a Met, and maybe his price was too low for Stephen Drew and that’s why he’s not a Met. The best laid plans of mice and men.