Earlier reports about the Mets (in)ability to spend have gone by the wayside with Sandy Alderson getting annoyed with the questions. In its place, we have Sandy playing the role of Omar Minaya with the Mets being linked to key players this free agency:
- The Mets want Carlos Santana because he’s a “difference maker.”
- They have interest in Lorenzo Cain who could solve their OF issues.
- They’re monitoring the second base market, especially players like Dee Gordon and Jason Kipnis.
- They want to give Jacob deGrom a contract extension.
- Underperforming players like Dominic Smith will not be guaranteed anything, and in fact, will have to earn a role on the team. That is, if there is still a role left to earn.
- And the coup de grace, the Mets may enter the bidding for the Japanese Babe Ruth – Shohei Otani.
In addition to that, the likeable and infectious new Mets manager Mickey Callaway has been making the rounds. He’s talking about keeping players accountable, including but not limited to getting Yoenis Cespedes to drink water.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence this flurry of big ticket names and moves Mets fans have been clamoring for happened just as the team began selling single game tickets:
— New York Mets (@Mets) November 14, 2017
It’s also purely coincidental the Mets are making this push a season after attendance dropped, ticket prices rose, and the team lost 92 games.
Given how the Mets have been operated post-Madoff, and given the timing of this news, color me skeptical. Really, it was just days ago the Mets were talking Wily Peralta.
I’m not falling for it, and I’m not rushing to go out and buy tickets. If the Mets truly want my business, and for me to go to more than a game or two, go get one of those aforementioned players. Better yet, get a couple of them and build a World Series contender.
If you are a Citi Cardmember, you have the exclusive chance to go out and purchase Mets tickets before they go on sale to the general public on November 17th. Essentially, the Mets are really encouraging fans to go out there and start spending their hard earned money at a time when they are cutting payroll.
No, payroll doesn’t win championships; players do. But look at the current state of the Mets roster and ask yourself whether the requisite talent is present. Look at it this way. If the Mets do not make another move, here is Opening Day defensive alignment:
It’s not exactly a group the Mets are excited about themselves. In 2016, they explored trading d’Arnaud, and when they couldn’t move him, they got him a catching guru. Sure, d’Arnaud was better, but he wasn’t exactly the All Star we all hoped he could be.
The reports are also that the Mets have soured on Smith, and they are not only looking to have him start the year in Triple-A, but they may actually pursue a first baseman in free agency.
With respect to Flores and Lagares, the Mets have long since determined each are platoon players. That could be where Brandon Nimmo finds a role as a platoon partner. However, that’s only if he’s not the starting right fielder, which is dependent on when Conforto will be ready to play again. That will also depend on whether Cespedes has a healthy season.
And by the way, the Mets have a massive hole in their pitching staff. The team does not believe enough in AJ Ramos to be the primary set-up guy leaving them looking for another reliever. Truth is, they probably need two or three.
In the rotation, the Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. After that, there are a number of question marks. This means the Mets could use another starter. If the Mets truly want to contend, they would get a top tier pitcher like Yu Darvish, but more likely, the team will be looking at fifth starters.
When you look at all these holes, the $30 million the Mets have to spend is nowhere near enough. And by the way, this also doesn’t address what promises to be a weak bench. Based upon past history, that bench will be weak with Sandy Alderson only being interested in building depth if the Mets promise to be good.
So, with the Mets having all these problems and them not looking to spend the money that is required to fix the roster, the question to Mets fans is this: Why are you in a rush to give them money they won’t fully invest in becoming the postseason contender this team was just a year ago?
In Marc Carig’s Newsday post-mortem on the 2017 season, he detailed how the trades of Jay Bruce and Neil Walker helped deteriorate the clubhouse. With the Mets so heavily invested in Amed Rosario to be not just a big part of the 2018 season, but the next decade, the Mets need to make sure they bring in character guys this offseason to not only improve the clubhouse culture, but also provide the leadership that Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and other Mets young players could benefit.
The hope is that David Wright could help serve that role in some respect, but with his health issues, no one can be sure he can provide anything next year. Fortunately, for the Mets, there are plenty of other guys available this offseason. Better yet, they could serve roles beyond providing leadership:
OF Curtis Granderson – Granderon was seen as a leader on the Mets clubhouse, and he helped a young crop of Mets players reach their full potential helping them win the 2015 pennant. Putting Aprils aside, Granderson is as reliable and clutch a player as the Mets have ever had.
RHP Bartolo Colon – Even with Colon having a poor year last year, there were signs his leadership among the pitching staff was missed. One area that was pointed at was walks. From 2015 to 2016, Mets pitchers gave up the fewest walks in the majors. Last year, the Mets gave up the fourth most. In terms of leadership, Colon could help, but the Mets need to be cautious to not promise him anything more than a chance to compete for a spot on the team as the soon to be 45 year old is nearing the end of his career.
3B Todd Frazier – In addition to his being a clubhouse presence, Frazier is a plus defender at third base posting the third best DRS among MLB third baseman with over 1,000 innings at the position. He’s also in the top half of batters per wRC+ and OPS+. Additionally, with his first base experience, he could serve as a platoon partner for Smith, or even take over if Smith should prove not ready to play a full season at the MLB level.
UTIL Howie Kendrick – Kendrick put a tough 2016 season behind him, and he had one of his better offensive seasons, albeit an injury prone one. With the Mets having a number of holes, Kendrick could slot into any number of them. That includes RF with the uncertainty as to when Michael Conforto could begin the season. In addition to that, Kendrick has been long considered a positive presence in the clubhouse.
DH Carlos Beltran – It’s not likely Beltran is going to play next year with him being over 40, coming off his worst season, and with him already having won his World Series ring. Still, if he’s available, and the Mets have struck out other fronts, the team should consider a reunion with a player who had a profound impact on a young Astros team. He could do the same with the Mets playing the 1984 Rusty Staub or 2006 Julio Franco role.
Overall, the Mets have viable veteran options to help the team. If not one of these players, the Mets need to find another player who could serve that role.
With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency. In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher. In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.
During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades. That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster. To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.
One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited. That’s not limited by recent standards. Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.
Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million. That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:
Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe. Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.
For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe. It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster. From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs. It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:
- Mike Moustakas 5 years, $85 million ($17 million AAV)
- Lorenzo Cain 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Wade Davis 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Lance Lynn 4 years, $56 million ($14 million AAV)
- Greg Holland 4 years, $50 million ($12.5 million AAV)
- Addison Reed 4 years, $36 million ($9 million AAV)
- Todd Frazier 3 years, $33 million ($11 million AAV)
- CC Sabathia 2 years, $24 million ($12 million AAV)
- Neil Walker 2 years, $20 million ($10 million)
- Eduardo Nunez 2 years, $14 million ($7 million AAV)
There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.
Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player. This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second. Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.
Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.
In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons. Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.
Anytime you enter into a search for a new manager, you are really dealing with the realm of the unknown. For first time managers, you really have no idea if that person is truly ready for the big leagues, he is better suited to the minors, or is a better coach. For every Davey Johnson you hire, there are also the Joe Torres of the world, who were talented managers, but not ready to manage at the time you gave him the job.
Really, in these instances, you have to look at the relevant information available and the recommendations of other baseball people. Mostly, you’re going with your gut.
The Mets gut told them to go out there and hire Mickey Callaway.
The Mets only needed one interview to choose Callaway over former manager and Mets coach Manny Acta. It was sufficient enough for them to bypass current hitting coach Kevin Long.
Callaway had impressed so much during his interview and during his time with the Cleveland Indians, the Mets were not willing to wait. They had Fred Wilpon sit down and sell him on the franchise similar to how the team once did with Billy Wagner and Curtis Granderson.
Give the Mets credit here. They identified their man, and they did all they could do to bring him into the organization. Deservedly so, many complimented the Mets on making a smart hire, including the fans who were skeptical of the direction the Mets would go.
Their man also happened to be a pitching guru, who will now be tasked with the responsibility of fixing Matt Harvey as well as finding a way to keep Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia healthy for a full season.
If Mets fans want a reason to be excited for this season, there is no bigger reason than Callaway choosing to manage this pitching staff. By doing so, he’s announced he’s a believer, and he’s put his and the Mets future on this lines.
The team hiring Callaway so early and so aggressively had a domino effect. It looks like the first domino to fall will be hitting coach Kevin Long.
Long has had a positive impact on the players on this Mets roster. He helped turn Yoenis Cespedes from a slugger to a star. By OPS+ and wRC+, Asdrubal Cabrera had two of his best five offensive seasons. Michael Conforto would prove he could hit left-handed pitching at the Major League level.
With Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith being two cornerstones of the franchise, Long was exactly the man you wanted to help them reach their offensive ceilings. Now, that won’t happen because Long is likely gone.
Another person you would want to help lead young players like Rosario and Smith is Joe Girardi. In his one year with the Marlins, and this past season working with young players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees made a surprising run this season that ended with a Game 7 loss in the ALCS.
What is interesting is the Mets were rumored to want Girardi. As reported by the New York Post, the Mets were looking to possibly “pounce” on Girardi if the Yankees did not bring him back.
That was written during the ALDS when it appeared Girardi’s job was in jeopardy. After the Yankees recovered and upset the Indians and took the Astros to seven games, there weren’t too many people who stuck believed Girardi would be looking for another job.
And yet, he is. This should at least raise some questions whether the Mets should have done their due diligence. Maybe another round of interviews were in order. Conducting that extra round could have left the Mets open to the chance of not making an hire before Girardi became available.
Maybe if there was a second round of interviews, Long feels more appreciated instead of taking his binders to another job. That other job could be as the manager or hitting coach of the Washington Nationals where he would reunite with Daniel Murphy. Maybe with Long at the helm, the Nationals finally get past the NLDS.
If that were to happen, and if Callaway falters, it would be too much for Mets fans to bear. Yet again, the Mets let one of their own go to the Nationals leading them to further success because they were enamored with someone from another organization. Like with Murphy and Justin Turner, Sandy Alderson will have opened himself up to justifiable second guessing.
The team jumped the gun costing themselves a chance to hire a terrific manager in Girardi, and it might have cost them the opportunity to retain a coach they thought highly enough of they almost made him their manager. The Mets were left with a manager who has never managed professionally, and they have to rebuild a coaching staff.
Instead of making the safe choice like they did when they hired Terry Collins, the Mets instead chose to go for the high risk – high reward hire. It worked with Davey, and it failed with Torre.
This is exactly why the Mets need to be right about their decision to hire Callaway.
Yesterday, Odell Beckham, Jr. broke his leg as the Giants lost to go to 0-5. It doesn’t matter how optimistic a Giants fan you are, the season is over.
The Rangers still have a talented group, but they got off to a 1-2 start. One of the “highlights” of the young season is Alain Vigneault benching promising young player Filip Chytil for no other reason than he’s a young player. There is still reason to believe the Rangers can make a run, but any excitement you would have is tempered by Terry Collins, sorry, AV, leading the way.
The Knicks, well, they are the Knicks.
If things continue this way, it promises to be a long winter until Spring Training begins.
Unless Sandy Alderson gets to work, it’s going to be a full year without hope. He needs to build a bullpen beyond AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia. There needs to be more on the infield than Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario. There needs to be more starting pitching depth due to the injury histories of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler.
There’s a lot to do here. Hopefully Sandy does it. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be a long year in the New York sports scene.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.
Or is it?
The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.
Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.
That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.
Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.
The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.
Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.
Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.
That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.
As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees. They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets. More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.
Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series. With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse. Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear. That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.
If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds. On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful. On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite. That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.
Who knows? If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action. We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team. Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.
Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team. If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series. They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario. The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.
Matt Harvey put it best tonight in his post-game presser when he said:
Matt Harvey: "The positive is that this nightmare of a season is over for me."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 30, 2017
It really has been a nightmare season where you didn’t know what was going to happen next for Harvey. Just when you thought nothing worse could happen, Harvey balked:
Matt Harvey, 2017 pic.twitter.com/81YeBdSgjW
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) September 30, 2017
That third inning balk would force in the Phillies fourth run of the game giving them a 4-1 lead.
Harvey would last one more inning. His final line was 4.0 IP, seven hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
We can talk about a number of improvements Harvey made, but he struggled again. At the end of the day, he finished the season with a 6.70 ERA, which is the highest ERA ever for a Mets pitcher with at least 15 starts.
Harvey would also suffer his seventh loss of the season because the Mets offense could only muster two runs off a pair of solo shots. The first was a Jose Reyes first inning home run. The next was a Dominic Smith fifth inning homer.
The Smith homer brought the Mets within two. After Hansel Robles struggled in his second inning of work, the score was 6-2, and the game was well out of reach.
Watching this game, there seemed to be a malaise over this team. That should come as no surprise in the aftermath of the article wherein unnamed players are front office people trashed Terry Collins.
In the end, it took David Wright, someone who has not played a game all year to say what needed to be said:
David Wright: "For a player to not put his name on the quote and to bash Terry, who has a lot of success. …that is cowardly and lazy."
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) September 29, 2017
Game Notes: Jacob deGrom will not make his last start as he is suffering from gastroenteritis.
In what is likely Terry Collins last game as the Mets manager at Citi Field, he went out the way he would’ve wanted to go out. No, not batting Jose Reyes lead-off while sitting Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto against the left-handed Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Although, we can be sure he was happy to do that. No, Collins went out a winner.
The main reason the Mets won this game was Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman would allow just one run over six innings while allowing six hits. That sole run came off an Ozzie Albies two out RBI single in the third. That wouldn’t be the Braves last threat.
In the fifth, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs with Mets killer Freddie Freeman striding to the plate. Gsellman would get out of the jam striking out Freeman: one of his four on the night.
Gsellman would depart in the sixth due to the bat of Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud would have all three Mets RBI on the night.
Gsellman led off the fifth with a walk, and Reyes followed with a single. After a Lagares strikeout, an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout moved Gsellman and Reyes to second and third for d’Arnaud, who delivered a two RBI single under the diving Swanson for a 3-1 lead.
The game would stay tight until the seventh when the Mets would blow the doors open with the help of a Freeman error.
That error proved costly as Smith would snap out of a 3-35 streak with a three run homer into the Coke Den.
.@TheRealSmith22's 3-run homer highlights the 4 run 7th. 😀
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2017
Surprisingly, the rally would continue. Matt Reynolds singled, and Nori Aoki walked chasing Johnson. The Braves substituted Ian Krol for Johnson. In what may prove to be Reyes’ last at-bat at Citi Field in a Mets uniform, he doubled home Reynolds and Aoki giving the Mets a 7-1 lead.
Jamie Callahan, Chasen Bradford, and Paul Sewald combined to pitch the final three scoreless innings preserving the 7-1 win.
This game closed a chapter in the legacy of Collins and perhaps Reyes. It’s very likely neither one of them will be Mets next year. For Collins part, he deserved to go out this way.
Through it all, he gave his all to the Mets and treated Mets fans better than any other Mets manager. Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill on that front.
Almost five years ago to the day, R.A. Dickey took the mound for the Mets, and he earned his 20th win of the season all but locking up his highly improbable Cy Young Award.
While Dickey hasn’t been anywhere near that good since the 2012 season, he looked like that pitcher once again tonight. He controlled his knuckleball extremely well not walking anyone. He kept the Mets honest by throwing his fastball just enough.
Really, the Mets didn’t seem like they were going to touch Dickey until Kevin Plawecki hit what seemed to be the first mistake Dickey made all night for a two run homer. The homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2 making the game a bit more perilous for Dickey than originally anticipated when the inning began.
It would be a two out Amed Rosario triple that finally chased Dickey from the game. With Dickey having been a beloved Met during his tenure, he received a well earned ovation as he entered the dugout.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 27, 2017
In the second, Montero got himself out trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson. He scored on a Jace Peterson double, and Peterson scored on an Ozzie Albies RBI single. It was be enough to ensure Montero would finish the year with an ERA over 5.00.
On the season, Montero finished 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA. Keep in mind, this is what was deemed to be a resurgent year for Montero where the Mets think he could realistically be a contributor next year.
While the three runs were enough to ding Montero, it would not prove enough to give Dickey a win partially because Sam Freeman was snake bit.
The first issue was his issuing a one out walk to Nori Aoki. Johan Camargo would then throw the ball away on a Jose Reyes grounder setting up second and third with one out.
Asdrubal Cabrera then ripped a line drive that should have give the Mets the lead. It would only be a game tying sacrifice fly because Inciarte did it against the Mets again:
After a scoreless ninth from Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off. It was going to be difficult against A.J. Minter who has had a terrific rookie season.
The Mets would give the rookie his first loss of his career.
The game winning rally started with a Plawecki single, and Juan Lagares pinch ran for him. Terry Collins then uncharacteristically allowed Dominic Smith to face a left-handed pitcher. The decision was all the more surprising when you consider the Mets had a bench full of right-handed batters.
Smith rewarded Collins’ faith when he drew the first walk Minter has issued in his brief career. Not just a walk to a left-handed batter. First walk.
After Rosario failed to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Taijeron delivered with a single to left giving him the first walk-off hit of his Major League career.
Five years later, Dickey was great, and the Mets won the game. If this was really the end of his career, it was a fitting end for a pitcher that really helped turn the Mets around.
Game Notes: AJ Ramos has been unavailable with a bicep issue, and he may be done for the season.