The NY Mets Search For The Diamond In The Rough

I had quite a busy Mets day yesterday as I resurrected my podcast with the help of Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal and then calling in as guest to the Rising Apple podcast.  In between podcasts, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a Mets Bloggers conference call with Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

Alderson has been gracious with his time to members of the Mets blogging community and has shown us great respect in regards to our questions and views pertaining to the New York Mets. Alderson has stated to us a couple of occasions how he enjoys the passion we have for the team and time and effort we put in to write and talk about the Mets.  When the Mets and Alderson first started to have these blogger calls the session lasted about 25-40 minutes, last night Alderson stayed on the line with us for about an hour. Name me another team or GM who does that? There aren’t any. As you can see from the transcript, (a great big tip of the Mets cap to Eric Simon and Chris McShane of Amazin Avenue for putting together a transcript of the conference call and while you’re at AA check out Chris’ column on Paul DePodesta and how the team has turned around the player development side of the organization, it’s a great read)

When my turn to speak to Alderson came up, I asked him about the turnover in the roster this past off season and the similarities in the position players he has added.   The players I looked at, Collin Cowgill, Andrew Brown, Brandon Hicks and Jamie Hoffman all poses good walk rates and isolated power percentages. They also have in common the distinction of coming from solid organizations (Cowgill came up through the Oakland A’s system, Brown the Cardinals, Hicks the Braves, Hoffman the Dodgers) when it comes to teaching proper fundamentals in the lower levels of their farm systems. This group also plays the game aggressively as well, on the base paths and on defense.   Here is the Mets GM’s reply to my question:

Well you listed off a lot of positive qualities. And to the extent that the players you mentioned are aggressive defensively, aggressive on the bases, command the strike zone, have some power, can run the bases a little bit. Yes, I would say that these are the kinds of players that we would like to have. Offense plays. You can be a great defender, if you can’t hit you probably can’t play anywhere. I’m not talking about the Mets exclusively. And also, it is possible that there are players that just don’t get an opportunity in certain organizations because they may be deeper at certain positions than they are at others. The minor league free agent market, or the fringe 25 man roster guy, playing for a club with a strong roster, given the opportunity may turn into something valuable. Mike Baxter is another example of this from previous years. Not that Mike has great power, but he’s a very valuable piece and part of the team. There’s no question that we value on base percentage, walk rates, isolated power is important, but as we’ve emphasized with a number of guys here in camp on base percentage, command of the strike zone is important. And look, it’s important on offense, it’s important on the pitching side. If you don’t walk anybody and keep the ball in the ballpark you can win games. Today was a good example of what can happen when you walk seven and give up a number of home runs. The same thing happened yesterday- we out hit the Marlins yesterday 9-5. They beat us because they had 14 total bases on 5 hits and we had, I think, 9 on 9 hits. So right, I think that these are the kinds of players were looking for, that we think can make a contribution at the major league level, and we’re going to find out given some opportunity here in the spring what we have. And, of course, we should have most of them going into the season and so we’ll get a chance to look at them again. You have to look for players wherever you can find them, particularly when you’re weak in that area in your own system.

The players I mentioned are very good complimentary pieces that you need to have on a winning team and as Alderson stated and as we’ve seen firsthand, the skill sets that the players I mention have, are lacking in the organization and as we see Alderson and his baseball ops guys went out looking for this prototype player from different organizations. I think it is also very telling the organization they signed these players from, teams who have rock solid foundation in teaching the right way to play in their minor league systems.

 

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When I’m Told, “Don’t Worry About Johan Santana”, That’s When I Worry About Johan Santana

 

After a hectic weekend I finally have time to gives some thought son the Mets and the beginning of spring training:

Sandy Alderson and Johan Santana can spin his shoulders woes all they want, Santana not being ready to pitch due to fatigue in his shoulder is a red flag. Sure it’s good that there isn’t any structural issue with his left shoulder but the fact that he needs to build up strength in the shoulder is problematic.  I hope the club and Santana use good judgment and work at a pace where Santana is fit to pitch and if it means a stay in extended spring training then so be it. Truth be told, I’d rather see Matt Harvey pitch on opening day any way.

With Daniel Murphy out nursing his sore intercostal muscle the last guy I want see playing 2nd base in his stead is Justin Turner. In a perfect world Reese Havens would get the nod to show what he’s got and remain healthy to take the job form Murph. I like Murph but let’s be honest, if Havens or Jordany Valdespin or Wilmer Flores got the chance to play 2nd base on a daily basis in spring and show themselves capable on offense and more importantly a better choice on defense, then Murphy could be unseated as the everyday 2nd baseman. As much as I like Murphy he shouldn’t be guaranteed an everyday job. So it would be quite interesting to watch someone make it uncomfortable for management to make a decision at 2nd base.

I think I’m going to enjoy baseball more watching Collin Cowgill enjoy himself playing baseball.

Got to feel bad for Pedro Feliciano as he deals with his heart problems. Taking two weeks off and carrying around a heart monitor puts Perpetual Pedro behind the eight ball as he tries to regain his LOOGY role with the Mets since the team is ripe with left handed relievers.

There’s comedy and then there is high comedy. High comedy is reading my Twitter timeline as Lucas Duda was striking out and striking out and striking out and striking out and striking out and striking out

Last week I went to buy a new dishwasher for my home. I got the dishwasher and another rather unexpected purchase, a new television.  My son persuaded my wife and I into this purchase to replace a projection TV we had for close to sixteen years. So now we have a brand new 60 inch LCD television that has a built in browser and wifi and everything else you can think of, so Saturday being that is was rainy, grey and cold outside what better way to spend the afternoon than to watch Mets spring training baseball.  I made a sandwich, got a cup of coffee and sat down with my feet up in my recliner and sat back to enjoy Mets spring baseball. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! What a wonderful experience, and that’s the problem.

I have loved going to live sporting events since I was six years old. I still get all pumped up going to a ballpark or arena for a sporting event. I love that feeling because it validates that I still have a deep rooting passion for my sports teams. But I have to tell you, with this new TV, I started to wonder, do I need to go to games in person anymore?

Last week I went to Madison Square Garden for the first time this season to watch the Rangers take on the Montreal Canadians.  The Garden has gone through its second phase on renovation and it looks a lot different inside. Thankfully the iconic ceiling is still the same but that’s about it. The Green Seats and Blue Seat section have been combined into one big sloping seating area. The only nostalgic feature left in the arena is the narrow seats and sparse leg space and the long bathroom and concession lines. It was while I waited on the men’s room line that I kept thinking if I were home I’d be able to watch something else other than this dog of a game plus I could grab a snack without waiting and use a clean bathroom.

This is a new phenomenon to me because there has never been any doubt about watching a sporting event in person or staying home to watch on TV as I always felt being at the event always enhanced the experience of watching a game. Damn you 60 inches of LCD gorgeousness, why must you put these bad thoughts in my head.

If you ever doubted that Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Kevin Burkhardt are the best sports broadcasting team in all of sports broadcasting, just take a look at Saturday’s Mets-Nat SNY broadcast of last Saturday.  The Four-some picked up right where they left off at the end of last season. There is chemistry with this group that no other announcing team has and they make watching Mets baseball that much more enjoyable.

I also love having Bob Ojeda sitting behind the plate give pitching play by play. Can we see that during the regular season as well? Please SNY?

 

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Sandy Alderson Blinked

 

You know who I feel bad for in this whole Michael Bourn saga? The young man the Mets draft with the 11th pick in the entry draft because if he doesn’t turn into the next coming of Willie Mays or Walter Johnson he will be scared for life.

So the Mets finally free up money to make not only a competitive offer but an offer that Bourn was eager to sign, if the reports are accurate, that Bourn’s first choice was the New York Mets. So a bit of a silver lining for Mets fans to embrace here that the Mets were in position to make an offer on a free agent and the free agent wanted to be a Met. The only thing it seems between Bourn flying around Citi Field as a Met or going elsewhere was that priceless 11th pick and Scott Boras doing his Scott Boras thing, taking his clients best offer and trying to get an even better best offer.  Remember his midnight phone call to Pee Wee Cashman when Carols Beltran was to become a Met where he all but begged Pee Wee to match the Mets offer. While it seems that the Mets and Bourn were just a signature away, Boras came back with an offer from the Cleveland Indians that matched the Mets offer and went one better with a 5th year option based on goals reached in that 4th year . Did that scare off Sandy Alderson?  Did it piss him off that maybe he was being played by Boras? Could be a little of both.

Who knew that not sucking enough in 2012 would hurt the Mets for 2013? Maybe going on a bit of tear after the 16-1 embarrassing loss to the Phillies wasn’t the best thing that could have happened late last season.  The big question I have is why did it take the Mets this long to contest the clause in the CBA on compensation for the inability to sign a draft pick? When going over the CBA didn’t anyone, not just the Mets but any team, look at that clause and say, “something is wrong here”. It’s ridiculous that the Pittsburgh Pirates get rewarded for incompetence and not doing their due diligence in know what it would take to sign RHP Mark Appel last season.   I’m not taking the Mets and Sandy Alderson off the hook here either they totally dropped the ball on this, even without the Bourn signing shouldn’t the Mets GM have been fighting  to get to the 10th pick anyway since the Mets had the 10th worst record in baseball?

All through this Bourn saga, I’ve wavered back and forth and now that it’s done and Bourn is not a Met because of this 11th pick and more importantly the slot money the Mets would lose. I’m pissed off that Alderson couldn’t finish the deal with Bourn/Boras.

That fact that Bourn, if he signed with the Mets would have been the second best  everyday player on the team, he also would have added speed at the leadoff spot, a bonafide top notch centerfielder and most important the message that the Mets are back in the baseball business. All of these factors in my opinion outweigh a draft pick and a couple of million dollars of slot money. Signing Bourn would have boosted the fan base moral and made the baseball establishment sit up and take notice.

Bourn to the Mets would have capped off a fantastic off season for Alderson. He signed David Wright to 8 year deal, he dumped Jason Bay and he show his onions trading R.A. Dickey in turn making the Mets future look brighter. That’s what has me puzzled over not signing Bourn. Why not sign him and then go to the MLBPA and argue the stupidity of the compensation rule. If you have the balls to trade not only a reigning CY Young Award winner but also one of the most popular Mets players in recent history, why lose your courage over a draft pick? Roll the fucking dice.

Alderson made a terrific offer to Bourn/Boras who in turn said I see your offer of 4 years and raise you a vesting option on a 5th. Alderson looked at his cards showing an 11th round pick on a player who odds are will never make an impact on the Mets, and the slot money, which I believe is more important to Alderson that the pick itself and said I’m out. That’s what has me mad as hell, Alderson found a strange time to lose his nerve. He should have matched the Indians offer. He’d have been a hero today. I hope to hell he has another plan up his sleeve if not he should lay low and stop with the wise ass jokes , I’m really not in the mood.

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Time To Play Mets Wheel of Bullpen Fortune

 

While Mets fandom awaits a decision on whether Michael Bourn will be patrolling centerfield of Citi Field, leading off and becoming the catalyst for the Mets offense, we also await the official announcement of Brandon Lyon becoming a Met and another contestant on Wheel of Mets Bullpen.

Counting Lyons, I’m looking at 11 candidates for 6 or maybe 7 spots in the Mets pen, a bullpen that I feel was the biggest reason for the second half collapse the Mets found them in last season. When you have a relief core that allows close to 32 % of inherited runners to touch home plate and also finds themselves in 55 save opportunities and blowing 19 of those precious assignments, will break the spirit of even the most strong willed teams so when you have a team like the Mets that doesn’t exactly ooze self-esteem and pluck, the ineffective pen was more a kick in the gut than uplifting last season. Sandy Alderson realizes this as well and has gone out this offseason to assemble relievers to come to Port St. Lonesome to engage in a big time completion to come North and become a strength for the Mets instead of last year’s failure.

Building a bullpen can be a bit of a crapshoot and last year one of the players Alderson went out on a limb on was closer Frank Francisco, signing the volatile reliever for 2yrs/$12mil, a signing I’m sure the Mets GM would love to take back . Between nagging injuries and ineffectiveness it was a lost season for Francisco. Although Francisco did save 23 games in 26 opportunities, when he entered games with runners on base his percentage of inherited runners left on base was a woeful 67.2 % and he’d shoot himself in the foot many time with walks as well.

With the imminent signing of Brandon Lyons, the back end of the Mets pen should be improved over last year (in the words of Sandy Alderson when asked about whether the pen will be better in 2013 said “how could it be worse?”)  And what we will see in the camp is a good old fashion open completion for not just bullpen spots but for the very important back end of the pen spots.  So looking at the very early morning line let’s see who could or should emerge as the core of the Mets bullpen in 2013.

The guys I look for to make the move to be the 7th inning, 8th inning and closer are Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin, and Scott Atchison.  All five look to be Mets for 2013 but who of these 5 will step up to grab the closers job? I don’t see Bobby Parnell getting the job as he is much more effective in innings 6 thru 8 and last year he started to lose a little bit of velocity on his fastball and he has tried to make his curve to be more effective. Edgin has been on a fast track to the big leagues on the strength of using a hard fastball and effective slider that helped the stout lefty rack up K’s at a 10.53 per 9 IP.  Scott Atchinson may be the find of the off season. He was the one bright spot in the train wreck that was the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Atchinson relies on a solid cutter that he has under great command and last season he stranded 85 % of the runners on base that he inherited which is why I can’t wait to see him pitch this spring. Brandon Lyon could be the guy that takes on Frank Frank for the coveted closers role. The Mets will be banking on getting Lyon back to his effective D’Backs and Tigers days to solidify the back end of the pen and hope that the blown saves and late inning bullpen meltdowns are a thing of the past.

Jureys Familia and Jenry Mejia are two wildcards in the bullpen completion. Should either or both work as relievers or starters? There are varied opinions on the direction of both pitchers and it could boil down to how each are used this spring and if either pitchers shows more at one spot than the other. I could see Familia sticking as reliever more than Mejia who has a starter’s mentality and is also at a point in his career that the Mets love to find pitchers at, second year after Tommy John surgery.

LaTroy Hawkins comes to camp as a guy whose has seen a lot of big league baseball and could be more of an asset as a sounding board for the younger relievers that his work on the mound. Hawkins looks to be a 6th inning guy or a guy to give a break to an overused reliever that is if it makes the team.

It’s Robert Carson’ job to lose as the LOOGY especially with Pedro Feliciano back from rotator cuff surgery (2nd year after surgery seems to be the Mets pattern of obtaining pitching) and Tim Byrdak back in a minor league deal off of last season’s shoulder surgery.

So if I had to put out an early projection of the Mets bullpen I’d rank thusly:

CL Francisco/Lyon

SU Parnell

SU Edgin

SU Atchison

RP Carson

RP Familia/Hawkins

Whoever is not named closer moves to set up role and to tell you the truth; the Mets have the makings of a pretty decent bullpen. Hopefully between Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Ricky Bones can work this pen correctly unlike last season when there was a communication breakdown between the relievers and the Manager and Pitching Coach. That’s a post for another day.

 

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Mets-cetra

 

As the equipment truck heads down I-95 towards St. Lonesome there is a few pieces of Mets information in the news today, so let’s take a look-see shall we?

According to the NY Post, Fred Wilpon and Uncle Saul Katz would like to build a casino on the soon to be re-developed Iron Triangle. Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.  The one think the Mets have going for them in this new scheme business venture is that Governor Cuomo is a proponent of having casinos in New York State but mostly he wants them upstate New York and not in the NYC limits. This reminds me of the time years ago the urban legend around Brooklyn was that Frank Sinatra was buying up a whole bunch of real estate because casino gambling was coming to Coney Island. Of course that never happened. Neither will Willets Point Casino. The part of the story that made me choke on my bagel was that the city has “handed” the Wilpon’s 23 acres of NYC real estate back in 2011 that they have turned into park spaces. Nice of the Bloomberg administration to be giving away land maybe folks in Staten Island, Rockaways and Breezy Point can get a nice gift like that.

Are the decision makers in the MLB Commissioners office on vacation or just asleep?   Can someone give a ruling on whether the Mets can have their 11th pick in the Entry Level draft protected or not so the club can get down to business and sign Michael Bourn. The Pirates are being reward for not doing their due diligence on Mark Appel  taking the RHP with the 8th pick in the last year draft and having the pitcher turn down $3.8 mil to go back for his senior season at Stanford.  It’s not just the draft pick that concerns the Mets it’s the slotting money that the club would lose that has them in the conundrum they’re in concerning Bourn.  Not an easy decision for Sandy Alderson.

I really, really, really like Johan Santana but can he stop with the” I want play in the WBC” proclamations?  How about getting in shape and being ready for opening day for the team that PAYS you?  I get all this Nationalism and stuff but Santana finished the season on the disabled list so the Mets are within their rights under the CBA to tell Santana no way and I would bet that Sandy Alderson will stick to that. This is Santana’s last year (months?) as a Met so what’s he gonna do? Besides the Mets need for Santana to show some positive starts so he can be used as trade bait in July.

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Sandy Alderson and the Mets Baseball Ops Explain the Facts of Life to Season Ticket Holders

Last night at Citi Field Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, JP Riccardi and John Ricco sat down for a Q & A session with Mets season tickets holders.  Of the season ticket holders in attendance were the first couple of Mets Blogdom Ed Leyro and Taryn Cooper.  On Ed’s Studious Metsimus site he gives a recap of the some of the questions posed to the group and the answers given by the Baseball Ops members assembled. Some of these stood out to me, such as being asked why it’s taking so long for Alderson to make the Mets a contender. And Alderson replied “”We don’t want to be there one year and gone the next.” There is segment of Metsfandom whose craniums are as thick as a milk shake at the Shake Shack. When you inherit a holy mess both personnel and cash flow wise, it’s going to take some time to straighten things out. Alderson and his crew have the Mets on the right path and the impatient Mets fan (who I believe like Chipper Jones said puts a Highlander cap on when the Bronx Bastards play in October)  is either too dense or quite frankly too ignorant to see this. In case you missed it, MLB on its 2013 Prospect Watch ranked three Mets in the top 30 of its top 100 list, Travis d’Aranud  at #6, Zack Wheeler #8 and Noah Syndergaard #29 . Wheeler and d’Aranud will be up by no later than mid-season, Syndergaard in two seasons at least add them to Matt Harvey and you have a nice foundation for the future. Oh yeah I know what you’re saying but the outfield sucks!!!!

Alderson has let it be known in interview after interview that yes, the outfield is a problem spot and yes, I could have spent money to find a bonafide ML outfielder but he wasn’t happy with the sticker price, something he also admitted he has to get over:

  “We understand what the market dictates and we have to be prepared to exist in that market,” said Alderson, who indicated there is an urgency to winning, and that he has not set out on a 10-year plan

Seems Alderson felt there were a couple or three players out there he could have signed but was unwilling to match the price set by the market. I wonder if he could have a do over, if he’d been a little more aggressive in bidding for Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross or even Reed Johnson as any of those three would be the Mets top outfielder and none of them broke the bank in their newly signed deals. Ross was a player I wanted badly on the Mets as he hits with some pop from the right side of the plate and would have been a big upgrade in right field.  To be fair here as well, there was not much else to choose from in the outfield free agent pool since there was no way in hell Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher were going to be Mets, nor should they have been and my other wish list outfielder Shane Victorino got a year a couple of million dollars more than I thought he would from Boston and even though he’s born and bred  Phuck Phace  I’d have taken a run at him. Would you be happy with a Duda, Victorino, Ross/Baxter outfield? I would.

The best part of all this is in 11 days Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Port St Lonesome and 5 days after that the full squad will be there and then we can see for ourselves what we have in store in 2013 with our own eyes (and the eyes of those covering the camp) and be done with all this off season speculation.

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Bourn To Be A Met?

 

So it seems Sandy Alderson and John Ricco took a trip to Houston to have a bite with Michael Bourn and Scott Boras over the weekend. I’m sure Alderson let Bourn and Agent Orange know that, yes I’m interested in making you a Met. No I do not want to lose my spot in line to pick the Next Great Baseball Prospect but if I were to give that pick up I want you on my team at my price and my terms.

Sherman of the Post claims that the Mets could work a deal with BournBoras on multiyear deal with an out clause after one year. Interesting concept and imaginative as well but why would BourneBoras take the risk? Is it because the market for Bourn is more of a gas station mini mart with the Mets and Mariners the only teams mentioned in the running for Bourn’s services rather than the big box store teams like the Highlanders, Red Sox , Cubs or the new and biggest high end store the Rodeo Drive Dodgers?

I’m trying to see where BournBoras have any leverage, we are a mere two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training and here’s Michael Bourn still on the free agent ho’ stroll.  It seems the only hold up in the Mets making an offer and signing Bourn is the elusive 11th pick in the entry draft. MLB it seems will not help the Metropolitans out with a favorable ruling of allowing the Mets to receive the 10th and protected pick in the draft over the Pittsburgh Pirates who are being rewarded for their incompetent handling of Stanford RHP Mark Appel in last year’s draft.  

I go back and forth on the value of the 11th pick over signing a better than average CF’er. Seems Alderson feels the same way. The shame of it is Bourn and the Mets are a perfect fit both need each other in the worst way but the obstacles in front of them may derail this match made in baseball heaven.

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Is The 11th Pick In The MLB Entry Draft That Valuable ?

Ok nervous Nelly’s the Mets have signed a major league free agent. Word broke just a little while ago that the Mets have signed RHP Shaun Marcum to a one year deal pending a physical, of course (or unless you’re Omar Minaya and look to save the co-pay. See Putz J.J.)

Marcum isn’t much of a risk as his deal is for just a season and he’ll be relegated to the back of the rotation  (Santana, Niese, Harvey, Gee, Marcum or Marcum then Gee if all breaks right) keeping a spot warm for the arrival of Zack Wheeler something after the All Star break.

Marcum has some injury history with Tommy John surgery (I’m guessing that pitchers a year or two removed from TJ surgery is the new undervalued commodity in baseball at least as far as the Mets front office is concerned) and last year he had some nagging elbow problems but if he can stay relatively healthy Marcum should be a nice addition to the Mets rotation.

Marcum is a real finesse pitcher who relies on his changeup and cut fastball more than more than your standard fastball which coming out of the hand of Shaun Marcum isn’t very fast. He can be prone to the HR and does get a lot of balls in the air which means the Mets outfielders……………Oh Snap……………The Mets are going to need some outfielders………………….Damn!!!!

One guy who is a looooooooooooooooooongshot to be in the Mets outfield in 2013 is Michael Bourn. The only reason Bourn is a longshot is the cost of signing him. Not monetarily but the high cost of the draft pick the Mets would surrender in his joining the Metropolitans.  When looking at the 11th pick in the MLB draft over the last 10 years, the lone stand out is Andrew McCutchen (Pirates 2005), other formable names taken with the 11th pick are Neil Walker, Jeremy Hermida, Max Scherzer and Justin Smoak. Save for McCutchen it’s mostly solid to serviceable big leaguers who’ve blossom from that slot. So should Sandy Alderson hold on to that draft pick as tightly as he has or should he use it as a chip to sign Boune ? Tough choice as we don’t know what the Bourn/Boras contract demands are. Safe to say Bourn/Boras is not really in the driver’s seat since they are at least taking the Mets phone calls. I guess Boras decided to go shopping in the frozen food aisle after finding the shelves bare in the meat department.

Its real tough choice when you add in that Bourn is just 29 years old (he turns 30 in December) he gets on base at a decent rate (lifetime .339 OBP not great not awful) can steal a base and plays a fine centerfield.

When word of the Mets being interested in signing Bourn I thought they  should pass but after looking at the history of that 11th spot in the draft the last 10 years and the Mets desperate need for a bona fided Major League outfielder, I have to say if I’m Sandy Alderson I have to open up a dialog with Scott Boras to see if there is a way to make this a match both money wise and years wise.

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Metscellaneous

 

Before I get started with some Mets-cellaneous items, a moment of silence please to remember both Earl Weaver and Stan Musial two baseball titans who passed away this past Saturday.

 

 

I would like to congratulate David Wright on the announcement of his engagement to his long time squeeze Molly Beers. I’ll be checking the mail for my wedding invitation

The Bitter Bill got to meet R.A. Dickey last Saturday night at the New York Baseball Writers dinner and found out what everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting and talking to R.A. discovered, he’s not only a gentleman but one of the most interesting people you’ll ever run into in your life.  

It took me awhile to wrangle this but I am proud to announce I was able to purchase the sponsorship of Ed Kranepool’s player page on Baseball-Reference.  The other pages I sponsor are, Ken Boswell, Duffy Dyer, Jay Hook, 1947 NY Giants, and 1977 NY Mets. It’s the least I can do for all the info I pluck from the Baseball-Reference site.

So Sandy Alderson made a funny at the baseball writer’s dinner:

There’s been a lot of talk about our outfield. And I want you to know that I’m in serious discussions with several outfielders I met on the Internet. There’s one I really like. He says he played at Stanford.’’

 and some folks are upset that he made a joke about the Mets outfield situation. Really? Seriously? Lighten up!

The San Francisco Giants honored their New York roots this past weekend by bringing not only the 2012 World Series trophy to town but the great Willie Mays as well.  By the way, with all the debate over retiring numbers that we Mets fans seem to love argue about, how a dialog about retiring #24 to honor the greatest player in baseball history?

You should also read this column by George Vecsey on the Giants World Series trophy tour of NY.  I let out a big “SIGH” when I was done reading.

Oh the Cubs had a FanFest over the weekend. Tip O’ the Mets cap to Mets Police for the linkage and for putting me in a more pissed off mood about the baseball team I love.

Hey look whose back, Perpetual Pedro all recovered from shoulder problems and full of Highlander bucks has come home albeit with a minor league deal. Feliciano will join Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, Darin Gorski, Aaron Laffey, and post-op Tim Brydak as the Mets attempt to form the first all left handed bullpen in history of baseball.

My podcast mate on Mets Kult of Personalities Tayrn Cooper, has penned a guest column on Jeff Pearlman’s website, taking up the cause for Mike Piazza’ enshrinement into the Hall of Fame and calling out the voters for short sightedness in not voting Piazza in his first year of eligibility. Pearlman will also be guest on Coops Gall For All Seasons Podcast this week as well.

 

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Sandy Sez

Mets GM Sandy Alderson was on with Mike Francesa yesterday to answer some questions about where the 2013 Mets currently stand. The team stands in the same spot as it stood since the R.A. Dickey deal, stalled. The picture Alderson gave of this upcoming Mets team was not very rosy but seriously what did you expect?  Some of you in the fan base love having smoke blown up your ass, all you want to hear is positives and unfortunately for you the GM is not the smoke blowin’ type. Others are shocked; SHOCKED when the Alderson is candid and tells you the truth, that the outfield is not one he wants to put on the field and that he is having a hard time constructing a bullpen that doesn’t contend for the worst in baseball. He also is on the level when he tells you there isn’t much out there in either trade or free agency that would make a whole helluva lot of difference so why just spend precious Skill Sets Bucks to prove that he has precious Sill Sets Bucks to spend.

Let’s look at some of the highlights from Alderson’ call with ’ ZAUN:

On what his ball club looks like right now and how he’ll improve it going forward Alderson said:

Well I’d say right now it’s an incomplete. But there’s still time in the semester, to give an educational metaphor. We’ve been watching the market, we know what’s available, we’ve known what’s available. We reconvene and review periodically, meaning every couple of days. There are a number of things that we’re currently involved in pursuing. But we’re hopeful we’ll have some additions before spring training starts, and I expect that we will have some additions, but at this point to say we’ve been patient is probably an understatement but that’s what we’ve been.

I get the idea that Alderson would have loved to have made further renovations to this roster but the over value of many of this year’s uninspiring free agent class and unreasonable trade options have hinder that plan.  Would Alderson like to trade for Justin Upton? Sure. Would he deal away Zack Wheeler for him? Hell no. Would he like to bring in a veteran outfielder? Of course. But  would he go 3years/$39mil (Shane Victorino to the Red Sox) or even 3 years/$26 mil (Cody Ross to the D’Backs) ? Nope, and if he did you know you’d scream holy hell.

On Travis d’Arnaud making the club’s opening day roster:

Yeah, I think it would be unfair given his situation, the level of his development to say, look, he can’t make the team out of spring training, but we had a somewhat open situation with Matt Harvey last year, too, and he had a fairly good spring training, and yet he opened the season at the minor league level. I just don’t want to rule anything out. At the same time, I don’t want to create false expectations on the part of our fans or any sense of pressure on Travis himself. But look, he hasn’t played since last June, he was out all the second half of last season with the knee injury. He would have been in the big leagues last year had he not been injured. Had he not been injured and played last year, I doubt he would have been available to us in a trade. So you take the good with the bad. But as far as Opening Day is concerned, he could be with us, but we do have a very capable veteran in John Buck as well.      

Ok now Alderson is blowing smoke up your ass. d’Arnaud only breaks camp with the team if Buck gets hurt, otherwise his arbitrational clock is more important than early season big league at bats. Last season’s knee injury and lack of playing in the second half of last season will come in handy to justify this decision.

The next topic to come up from ‘ZAUN was the outfield:

Well, the outfield is not a strength at this point, there’s no question about that. There’s a need for an upgrade at almost every one of those positions. Some of it could come internally. We may see Lucas Duda substantially improve defensively and offensively.

Or we may not see Lucas Duda substantially improve defensively and offensively. Duda is a liability in the outfield and would be a perfect DH if he could…you…know….HIT! Is it me or does Duda also strike you as a guy you makes playing baseball a chore?

Alderson then laid out what the outfield could look like on opening day:

We’re looking at him(Duda) in left. Center field right now is probably [Kirk] Nieuwenhuis and a player we obtained from the A’s, Colin Cowgill, who I think will be an interesting player to watch in spring training.

Ah yes Colin Cowgill. I too am interested in seeing Cowgill play as he looks to be the player that Mets have been waiting for the Alderson regime to bring in, the under the radar AAA to AAAA player who gets a chance to play regularly and makes an a strong contribution.  From looking at Cowgill’s minor league numbers he’s shown the ability to get on base, to steal a base and not get caught hit with a bit of power and his defense is a major plus and he bats right handed. Cowgill is an upgrade over Scott Hairstion and speaking of Scott Hairstion he is the exchange between ‘Zaun (‘Zaun is a play on the name of Francesa’s show Mike’s On but when the singers of his theme song make it sound like “MIKE ZAUN”) and Alderson:

 Francesa: You expect to have a Hairston back or another player in the mix before the season starts?

Alderson: Oh, we’re working on it. Yeah. And I think there’s been speculation about Scott. I think that…

Francesa: That he asked for too much money…

Alderson: You know, money’s always an issue and I wouldn’t deny that, but it’s also a question of playing time and he wants to play — we understand that — and one of the things that exists for us right now, the dynamic is, that in order for us to sign Scott we want to be able to commit a certain amount of playing time. This is where you balance two or three things going on at the same time. If one or two other things were to happen, it might affect his playing time. So it’s not just about the money, it’s also about playing time and what we can readily commit to Scott.

Francesa: You want to see what you can pull off before you commit to him?

Alderson: [Pause] … Uhh, yeah.

Francesa: Okay, that’s fair. I think that’s fair. I mean, it is fair. I mean, so it’s not a case of it just being a price, it’s also a situation of a couple other things actually can still happen or not.

Alderson: Yeah, absolutely.       

Trying to read between the lines here, it seems Alderson is waiting and hoping that some GM out there (Kevin Towers) panics and will trade from an over stocked outfield for some fringe prospects.   It goes back to the Upton talk I think Alderson believes he still has a shot at Upton and at his price but it’s going to take some more time and some more patience’s to pull it off. Even if it’s not Upton he gets it, seems before he commits those precious Skill Sets Bucks to Hairston, he leaves no options uncovered. No one is giving Scott Hairston 2ys/$8mil.

Alderson goes on in the rest of the interview to talk about how he sees both Johan Santana and Dillon Gee bouncing back from injury, how he hopes the younger bullpen arms he has will make an impact, how he has an eye on 2014 but his ‘dominant eye” is on 2013, and how he’s not happy with the way the Mets have finished that lase few seasons.

Big tip of the Mets cap to Amazin’ Avenue and Eric Simon and Steve Flanagan who posted a transcript of Francesa and Alderson’s conversation. Great job guys !  

 

 

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