No Way Am I Trading Pitching

If I were Sandy Alderson, I would not trade one pitcher for next season. Not one. Not even Zach Wheeler who likely will not be able to contribute until the second half of the season because of Tommy John surgery. I don’t understand the constant discussion of why the Mets should trade Matt Harvey now because the Mets won’t be able to afford him in three years when he is a free agent. Why are we concerned with the 2019 season right now, before the hot stove has hardly warmed up for the 2016 season? If Harvey and Bryce Harper end up on the Yankees in 2019 for roughly one billion dollars for two players, so be it.

I’m sure it has to do with the fact that the New York baseball writers need something to write about in this twelve month baseball season. Sure, I understand the basic premise. The Mets are about to lose two of their big bats this off season. They are going to have to make moves to make up for the lost run production. I get it. Ipso-facto, trade a deGrom or a Harvey and bring back a big bat. Well unless the big bat is Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout, hang up the phone.

Let’s first look at what the Mets are losing in terms of offense for next season.

First, it is very unlikely that Yoenis Cespedes returns to the Mets and based on his performance in the post season, I’m not too upset about him leaving. Cespedes will likely get his big contract from San Diego who tried to trade for him before. If not the Padres then another destination could be the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where owner Arte Moreno has never been afraid of signing players to huge contracts. There is no question that against not so good pitching, Cespedes is an absolute monster. But against good pitchers who are able to exploit a batter’s weakness, Cespedes could simply not adjust. Yoenis has great talent but he also has some major flaws. He at times and inexplicably does not hustle and his ability for situational hitting is surely lacking. For three years and sixty million, I would sign Cespedes, no question but beyond that—adios.

Second, Daniel Murphy’s days with the Mets are likely over also. He has already rejected the Mets qualifying offer of 15 million dollars for 2016. That will guarantee the Mets a sandwich pick in next June’s amateur free agent draft if he signs elsewhere. There is no question that Murph can flat out hit. He was the NLCS MVP and a main reason why the Mets persevered and made it to the World Series. He single handedly won game five of the NLDS against Los Angeles. He drove in two runs and scored another via one of the most heads up plays you will ever see a runner make on the baseball diamond. Yes, we are talking about Daniel Murphy and any casual Met fan understands the irony in that. But it’s his body of work over eight seasons with the Mets that makes the front office hesitant when considering a long term contract for Murph. While he was Dr. Jekyll in the NLDS and NLCS, he was Mr. Hyde in the World Series making two crucial errors that led to losses in game four and game five. And in the Series, his bat went suddenly silent. There is a better chance that Murphy returns then Cespedes however.  It was reported this week that the Mets still want to make a serious offer to retain Murphy, hoping his love for New York will give the Mets a discount. We’ll see.

I would love to see Murph come back but only on a reasonable two or three year deal.  I would like to see him become a super sub guy off the bench, a player who could play some third for when David Wright’s back is acting up or to give Duda a blow at first. Murph would also be the number one DH in ten interleague games in AL ballparks and his patience and approach at the plate give’s manager Terry Collins a premier pinch hitter in a crucial situation. There is no question that Murphy would continue to contribute to the Mets, just not at second base at least on a regular basis where the Mets must improve defensively.

Likely though, some team out there is going to offer Murphy a better deal than the Mets will be willing to give him and for that reason, he is likely gone. It will be the only time in Murphy’s career where he will be able to cash in and set his family up for life. So there is the Mets dilemma. How do they replace the production from Murphy and Cespedes?

Well for me, it’s not by trading Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Wheeler, or Jeurys Familia—ain’t happening. I am not robbing Peter to pay Paul. There are other avenue’s to pursue and it likely would be through free agency and the farm system. And when discussing the farm, I’m including players that have already contributed at the major league level this past season. As for trades, the problem there is that anyone the Mets might be interested in, opposing GMs are asking for one of the elite pitchers. And in many cases, the cost is not equal. The Mets are not going to give up a deGrom or a Syndergaard, or even a Matz, for a guy who is going to platoon with Juan Lagares.

So what can the Mets do to add to their offense? Some of the answers are already in place.

Michael Conforto will become a much bigger part of the Mets offense next season. He will move up in the order and he will be in the lineup every day, even against left handed pitching. I would expect him to get better with more experience. There is no doubt that Conforto has the ability to become a star.  I also expect both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki to be more consistent offensively. The key for d’Arnaud is twofold. First he must stay healthy. If this guy gets 550 at bats, the Mets are going to score some runs, you can bet. Two, he also needs to work on his defense, specifically throwing out base stealers. Most importantly, d’Arnaud has got to figure out how to stay on the field. He has been plagued by injuries over his career, with the Mets at the major and minor league levels as well as when he was in the Toronto system. Plawecki should hit too. As a backup to d’Arnaud, Plawecki is close in talent although his hitting as not blossomed as of yet. d’Arnaud has more pop but Plawecki is a better average hitter, at least his minor league stats suggest that. Put simply the Mets are set at catcher for a while and injuries aside, this is a position not to be concerned with.

Curtis Granderson is a solid offensive player. He may still be the leadoff hitter or he could move down in the lineup depending on what other moves the Mets make like if they get a leadoff hitter through free agency or trade.  Juan Lagares has the ability to be a better offensive player as well and he’s already a gold glove center fielder. The Mets would like to get a lefty hitting center fielder to platoon with Lagares. Extra outfielders include Michael Cuddyer who hopefully will be better next season. He underwent surgery on a core muscle injury he must have played through all season long. Certainly no one is going to rely on output from Cuddyer but if he can produce more than last year, it will help.

Wilmer Flores should be a better offensive player also with a full year now under his belt. He faded toward the end of the long season. He’s still a very young player and playing deep into October was not something he was accustomed to. Some better conditioning and a bit more muscle could help Flores mature and be the type of hitter everyone expects. But he’s likely going to play second or at least share time with young Dilson Herrera who most scouts believe will be a star player one day.  It’s unclear who the shortstop will be next year. It could be Flores or perhaps Ruben Tejada who played very well down the stretch before he was taken out by a dirty slide from Chase Utley in game two of the NLDS. Perhaps Matt Reynolds will finally get a shot at short. He made his major league debut in the playoffs at least in terms of being on the roster. He has yet to take the field or get an at bat at the major league level. But Reynolds is a scrappy player and could be a Wally Backman type of infielder who is a catalyst on offense.

Outfielder Brandon Nimmo has made huge strides in the minors and could make his debut in 2016. Not sure where he would fit into a crowded outfield but it’s a nice problem to have. Then there are reasonable free agents available like Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra, Denard Span, and who knows who else the Mets may have interest in.

So obviously the Mets need to make moves especially in light of likely losing Cespedes and Murphy. Ideally they want a shortstop, an outfielder, and a solid setup man for Familia. Honestly I think Addison Reed could be the bridge to Familia. Of all the imports the Mets traded for in late July and early August, Reed is the one player who is not a free agent and still on the roster. But I do agree that finding another solid guy in the bullpen is a necessity this offseason.

Sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don’t make.  The Mets will need to tweak, not rebuild. I do not think for a second the Mets should trade one of their bright young pitchers unless they are simply blown away by an offer. And folks, that is not going to happen because any player the Mets are interested in, opposing GMs are going to ask for deGrom, Harvey, or Syndergaard. They are gauging the Mets for players of unequal quality. There is no way Sandy is going to bend unless he is bowled over.

So stop giving any credence to these reports that the Mets should or might trade one of the big three or even Matz or Wheeler. It is not going to happen and I agree with that decision.

The Big Question

Now that two plus weeks have passed since the Mets sheepishly ended the post season with only one win during the World Series, it’s time to consider the very serious questions.

When we look at some of the shortcomings the Mets experienced in the fall classic, it’s easy to focus in on the biggest questions of all. Do they have to do with middle infield defense, a power bat, a strong setup man? Hell no, the number one question on my mind for next season is what the hell are we going to rename the Pepsi Porch?

If you haven’t heard, Pepsi ended their relationship with the Mets. Not sure why or what that’s all about. Was the contract up? Did Pepsi have an out clause in their contract like Zach Greinke did with the Dodgers? Can’t say except now the classic Pepsi Cola sign in right field that harkens back to the early days of the soda giant will have to be taken down. It has stood there, above the right field second tier of seats since the ballpark opened in 2009 and has become somewhat of an iconic symbol at the Flushing ballpark.

Now of course the “Porch” will still be there. The seats that overhang right field aren’t going anywhere. But the Pepsi sponsorship will be gone and the ballpark will look different in regard to what will be behind those seats. Will it have something to do with the next soda giant that will peddle their sugary products at Citi Field? It doesn’t have to be. I guess any concession mogul could step up and pay huge amounts of dough to put up their signage.

I would bet, and considering the large amounts of cash the company has, the new right field area will have something to do with Coca-Cola. After all, the Mets aren’t going to open up the 2016 season without offering their fans some form of carbonated cola drink. That’s as American as baseball itself. No cola at the ballgame would be as wrong as no hot dogs.

But Coke and Pepsi aren’t the only cola companies out there. During the 1969 season, the cola sold at Shea was Royal Crown Cola, otherwise known as RC. Who knows, maybe they will make a comeback. Back during those years of Cleon in left and Tommy in center, the ads for RC Cola in the Mets program featured actress Meredith McCrae in a very short red dress with the motto RC: The Comers. Okay, moving forward…

Let’s face it, if you were to name the two most prominent names in the cola industry, it would have to be Coke and Pepsi, with RC a distant but respectable third. The left field bleachers at AT&T park in San Francisco is dominated by a giant Coke bottle with a slide in the middle of it for the kiddies. Might we see something like that next season? And what would they call it, the Coca-Cola Cove? Not sure.

Anheuser-Busch is also a long time sponsor of the Mets. Maybe there could be a huge beer mug over sections 301 through 305. They could call it “The Brewery”. Ah but that rings too much like something you might see at Miller Park, a stadium named after a brewery for God’s sake. Plus the Mets likely won’t want to have such an obvious fan friendly location associated with an alcoholic product.

What about Subway, the sandwich sponsor of the Mets? Nothing like a big Styrofoam sub sandwich floating over the right field stands. Hey folks, enjoy a 2016 Mets game from the “The Subway Platform”. Just thinking out loud folks.

If anything, the fact that the Pepsi Porch will be no more simply illustrates how things have changed in stadium venues over the years. For forty-five seasons, Shea Stadium was home to the Mets.  Over that time, very little changed at the ballpark. There was a big scoreboard in right and a batters-eye in center.  That was pretty much it until the eighties when Diamond Vision was added in left along with new plastic seats and a coat of fresh paint. There was always limited signage on the scoreboards and really none inside the ballpark.  Renaming of ballpark areas was never a cause for concern.

Today, everything requires a sponsor. That includes within the broadcasts as well. You can’t get the game time temperature without giving a nod to some corporate sponsor.  Howie Rose and Josh Lewin report the game from the Peerless Boilers broadcast booth for goodness sakes. Someday, all 42,000 seats may each have a sponsor.

However and I have to concede that it’s completely understandable given today’s costs of running a major league franchise.  You want great ballplayers? You have got to pay for them. You pay for them through revenue and that does not mean just ticket sales anymore. It also includes TV money, both local and national. There is merchandising, concessions, and of course sponsorships.

The point is that in modern day ballparks, not much is permanent beyond the field, brick, concrete, and steel.  In addition to the Pepsi Porch, Citi Field has the Acela Club in the left field corner and the Party City Deck just behind the left field fence. The Mo-Zone (Modell’s) just behind the right field fence at field level unceremoniously became the Honda Clubhouse prior to the 2015 season. Even the stadium’s name is suspect. Shea Stadium kept its name from before it was erected to when it was razed in 2008. Citi Bank has a twenty year deal with the Mets for naming rights. So in 2029, who can say for sure what Citi Field might be called? You don’t like it? Well consider that Citi Bank is handing over 20 million bucks per year for two decades to simply put their name on the ballpark.

It will be interesting to see what finally is going to happen upstairs in right field. That iconic Pepsi Cola sign with whatever that round doohickey thing was on top will be gone leaving a hole in the outfield skyline. But with the revenue to be made from branding and concessions, you can bet something big will be there. And once that’s figured out, maybe we can get on to secondary business like who’s going to play short and who is going to set up Jeurys.

Baseball Break, It’s Time for The X-Files

I need a brake from baseball. After 176 games, I’m finding it difficult to get into the hot stove. I just need time to absorb the season that just concluded. So for now, no MLB network, no SNY Mets Classics, need a brake.

Instead I’m binge-watching on the X-Files on Netflix, getting ready for the new six episode season that starts on January 24th on FOX. Couldn’t be as a far away from baseball as that.

I’m not watching every episode that featured David Duchovney as special agent Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson who portrayed Dana Scully, another special agent as well as a forensic doctor. That would take much more time than I have. There are over 200 episodes that aired over nine seasons between 1993 and 2002. I watched the show when it first debuted and really enjoyed it. Ironically I didn’t think I would because I really don’t believe in UFOs, ghosts, Big Foot, or anything else of paranormal origin. But like Field of Dreams that revolved around the unlikely scenario of ghost baseball players returning to play in a corn field in Iowa, the X-Files stories were told so well, it was easy to get caught up in the mania.

What’s interesting is that the Netflix episodes are presented in full high definition. In the United States, HD broadcasting did not begin until 1998 and not by most networks and cable channels. Apparently, from what I have read, producer Chris Carter was forward thinking enough to shoot the show using widescreen format cameras to portray the escapades of agents Mulder and Scully. (Now to make this somewhat baseball related, I am fairly certain I read a very long time ago that Agent Scully’s name was in honor of the great Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully but I could be wrong).  Other producers of other shows at the time were also using widescreen cameras because they liked the video quality compared to standard cameras. However, they blocked their  takes for 4:3 aspect ratio and if you were to go back to the original widescreen footage, you would notice the edges of sets, mic booms, and crew members on the left and right sides of the screen. The footage was virtually unusable when set to 16:9 aspect ration. Carter originally blocked the shows for 16:9 aspect ratio even though in 1993, no one owned a widescreen television. (I think that was not true of the pilot. I read that Netflix cropped that episode to show it in widescreen).

Netflix did a great job processing these episodes. A few long shots, here and there, look a bit fuzzy. Overall however, besides the fact that the technology used by the agents is so dated now, the episodes look as if they were just produced. I find that watching a lot of old shows on an HD TV not to be enjoyable because of the grainy video quality and the black bars on both sides of the screen. Not true of the X-Files. They look 98 percent new.

The X-Files episodes came in two basic flavors–stand alone or myth story arc. A stand alone episode was one where the paranormal de jour was all wrapped up in one episode. There was no carry over to the next week. The mythical story arc of the series revolved around a vast alien conspiracy. It turns out that Mulder, through various sources hidden deep within the government, was given pieces of information motivating him to investigate the government’s involvement and cooperation with an alien civilization hell bent on re-colonizing our planet. One must ask, can any one of these aliens play shortstop?

There would be seven to ten of the story arc episodes each season and typically each season ended with an alien cliff hanger that completed after the long summer break. There would also often be two part episodes throughout the season that revolved around the alien threat.

The show defies science at every possible turn but it always told their stories extremely well. And it specifically did a wonderful job of portraying Mulder and Scully’s relationship. There was no question of the sexual tension between the two main characters but the show never let that interfere with the basic paranormal story to be told and solved. Mulder and Scully were two characters whose work came first and everything else came last. Eventually, in the two movies that were made when the TV show completed production, it became clear that the two became an item. It will be interesting to see how producer Carter picks up the two characters, who are now twenty years older, in the new series. The show was never afraid to include humor. Mulder always had a good line or two per episode that would make you laugh. And some episodes were made with humor the utmost in mind. The third season Jose Chung’s From Outer Space comes to mind.

For me, the last couple of seasons of The X-Files were not as good as previous seasons. I just think it was a case where a series went just a bit two long, two seasons too long in fact. A new agent (Robert Patrick) was introduced who mostly replaced Duchovney who wanted to do other things and only made a few episodes the last couple of seasons. But looking back, the X-Files was one of the better TV shows ever made. It actually became a world wide favorite by its third season, probably not as widely watched as The Walking Dead is today but pretty close.

There will be only six episodes of the new The X-Files with all the main characters returning, even Cancer Man, the chain smoking bad guy who I thought was killed off. But I guess in a story where aliens and humans routinely procreate, anything is possible. It’s not clear if this is a one time thing or if there are plans to bring back the show on a more permanent basis. The X-Files will run from the end of January through February. Oh perfect, when it ends, pre-season baseball will begin.

Predicting the Past

Here are some predictions that were made for the Mets prior to the season beginning.

From Bill Price, New York Daily News:

“The Mets will make the playoffs. I have been on the other side of this all winter, and when things look too good for the Mets, I usually look at that as a sign something is about to go bad. But this year will be different. The Mets will make the playoffs due to a few factors: 1. Matt Harvey says they will make it. 2. They play in a division with one great team (that is severely banged up), one up-and-coming team and two of the worst teams in baseball. 3. They have depth in the starting rotation and a lineup that should be good enough to win some games. 4. You are taking a 79-win team and adding an actual left fielder, a No. 1 ace, a healthy David Wright and a full season from Jacob deGrom. The division may actually be in reach, but a wild-card spot is there for the taking.”

Well not bad. Bill was correct, the division was in reach and the Mets took it and then some. He was wrong about a healthy David Wright though but in fairness, no one saw that coming.

Here’s one from Athlon Sports and Life website.

“Teams often follow years of losing with a transition year in which they contend for a while but ultimately fall short, absorbing the lessons of a pennant race and applying them the next season. This could easily happen for the Mets in 2015, and if so, it would ultimately be an improvement over the last few years. But their goals are higher than that, and they should be. This team features a playoff-caliber rotation, and the offense showed real signs of life last season. The Mets will be a legitimate factor in the chase for a spot in the postseason.”

Not too committal but they were correct in that the Mets should have contended.

ESPN’s voting by committee said…

“The Washington Nationals led the way as our pick to win the World Series, receiving 42 percent (37 of the 88 votes) of the vote from our panel of experts. The Los Angeles Dodgers came in second, getting 19 percent (17 votes) of the vote… In the National League East, the Nationals were the overwhelming winners (85 votes) followed by the Miami Marlins (2) and New York Mets (1).”

Hey, I’d like to know who the one guy that voted for the Mets was. Give him a promotion. What I love about this one is the Mets took care of both of ESPN’s darling picks, Nationals and the Dodgers.

The Sporting News in conclusion of their prediction:

“The Mets will sweep the Braves at home in late September to edge within two games of the wild card, and will have to like their chances as they hit the road to woebegone Cincinnati and Philadelphia before wrapping up the season at home with the already-clinched Nationals. Their winning record will be assured, but the Mets will go 2-4 against inferior competition on that last road trip, rendering the final games of the season meaningless. It will be a good season for a team that has been downtrodden for so long, but an unsatisfying finish.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Mets didn’t sweep the Braves. In fact they lost the series winning only the first game. Not sure how the Mets could go 2-4 on their last road trip since it was a seven game road trip but they did go 4-3 sweeping the Reds in a four game set, clinching the NL East in the third game. The Sporting news was correct however that the final home stand of the season against the Nationals would be meaningless and that there would be an unsatisfying ending. Just not in the way they thought. predicted the Mets to finish 82-80, 18 games back of the division champion Nationals. Hey, back then I might have felt okay about that. Sports Illustrated also predicted the Mets to win 82 games in 2015 and to finish in third place. I guess that was a safe bet. But here’s an interesting note that SI added:

“He (Daniel Murphy) doesn’t get mentioned enough as one of the better second basemen in the National League, but he should. He’s never going to win a Gold Glove, but the guy just hits. I agree with Kevin Long, who said that Murphy could win a batting title someday. He took his hitting to another level last year.”

Well Murph’s performance in the NLDS and the NLCS lived up to the praise that SI poured upon Murphy, that’s for sure. But it’s doubtful the Mets think of Murphy as highly as SI does when it comes to the future at second base or even on the Mets.

It’s fun to look back to see what the writers thought. And this coming spring it will be just as interesting when they make much bolder predictions of fortunes for the Mets. If you look back at all the twists and turns the Mets season took, it’s a wonder that anyone really comes close. And this article at kind of sums up why it is so ridiculous to make predictions as to who is going to win and who is not.




Light Up the Stove

The Mets only have 60 million guaranteed on the books for 2016 but including the players under their control that they will have to pays, the number is more like 90 million. How the Mets will be constructed next year will first depend on their own players that have now become free agents.

Here is a list of the National League Champion Mets that filed for free agency on Monday.

  • Yoenis Cespedes OF
  • Bartolo Colon RHP
  • Juan Uribe 3B, 2B
  • Tyler Clippard RHP
  • Daniel Murphy 2B (3B, 1B)
  • Bobby Parnell RHP
  • Jerry Blevins RHP
  • Kelly Johnson 2B, 3B

It is very possible that none of them come back.

Yoenis Cespedes – I think we have seen enough of what Yoenis Cespedes has to offer. When NL pitching wasn’t quite sure what to make of him, Cespedes tore up the league helping to propel the Mets to the NL East title. There is no question he brought much to a meager lineup. But once he was figured out, his offense went cold. He swings for the fences with every pitch, not able to lay off the high fastball that he is unable to hit. He appears to have difficulty adjusting to pitches elevated in the strike zone. Stay out of his wheel house, low and in, and you pretty much control his game. In the NLCS he hit a home run in Los Angeles and bomb of a home run against the Dodgers at Citi Field but not much else. During the post season, his bat was really absent especially in the World Series. Cespedes is going to want a ton of money and I can’t see this player development centric front office giving a huge dollar and long contract to him. Frankly I agree. This would be a bad signing.

Bartolo Colon – There is probably no room for Bartolo Colon on this pitching staff, or is there?

It’s dangerous to assume that Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz will have no issues through an entire campaign. Both Harvey and deGrom will be coming off of seasons that had them throw more innings than ever before. Harvey did it in the first year back after Tommy John surgery.  Zach Wheeler is expected back mid-season but realistically it will not be clear on how much he can be counted on. Colon offers some protection in the rotation and in the bullpen as he proved in the post season. He’s a fan favorite and clearly appeared to enjoy his time in New York. He’ll be 43 years old next May so it’s unlikely anyone will offer him a multi-year deal. Would the Mets be willing to offer a one year deal with an option? I would.

Juan Uribe is another player like Colon. He’s great in the clubhouse, and very serviceable at the plate and in the field. The Mets are going to need a guy like this, especially to fill in for Wright when he needs a blow. I would offer Uribe a year but no more because there will be other players out there that can do the same thing. He just seems like a good fit.

Jerry Blevins – Unfortunately the Mets traded outfielder Matt den Decker to the Washington Nationals prior to the season for right handed pitcher Jerry Blevins. The right hander was very effective early on but suffered a broken forearm off of a line drive and never returned. If he signs elsewhere, den Decker was traded for nothing. Blevins, if healthy could be a nice piece for the 2016 pen if he can return to form. He only made 2.4 million in 2015 and might not cost much more to keep him around. With his limited playing time in ’15, can’t see too many clubs fighting over Blevins. I would offer him a one year deal. He has something to prove and might feel motivated seeing what happened in Flushing this past season.

Tyler Clippard – He is gone, you can be sure. However, I don’t think he was managed quite well. Terry Collins could not seem to shake the idea that Clippard had to be the eighth inning guy. Clippard’s tendency to allow base runners on during the World Series, especially via the walk, certainly was one of the many things that went wrong. Plus when he screwed up, Collins would bring in Familia early to clean up, messing up his usual routine as well. Clippard could be effective again but I think it’s unlikely the way Collins manages the bullpen and since Terry is returning, I doubt Clippard will be.

What to do about Daniel Murphy?

Update 11/6/2015 – The Mets made Murphy a one year qualifying offer assuring the club of a sandwich pick in the June 2016 amateur draft.

Original Post – Look if money were not part of this equation, I would say keep him as a super-sub, fill in for David at third, pinch-hit, and play DH during interleague games kind of guy. There is no question of Murph’s value as a hitter even without his Herculean performance in the NLDS and NLCS. But the problem with Murphy is his defense. He’s just not a second baseman. For the sake of this young, fine starting pitching staff, the Mets must play better defense up the middle. It’s true that Murphy sometime makes spectacular plays but they are generally offset by blundering miscues.  The word on the street is the Mets will offer Murphy a qualifying offer of 15 million so they can receive a sandwich pick in next June’s amateur free agent draft. But the Mets might be afraid that Murphy just might take it.

Bobby Parnell – is an interesting case. He likely needs more time as he struggled through much of the season after coming back from having Tommy John surgery. But with all the young arms in the organization, I can’t see the Mets bringing him back unless it’s on a minor league contract. It might just be better for Parnell if he gave himself another shot with a different organization. Some new scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.

Kelly Johnson – I like Kelly Johnson off the bench. He’s got some home run pop and is adequate defensively and clearly a positive influence in the clubhouse. I would not mind seeing him back but there will likely be competitive offers out there for the veteran and the Mets will not over spend for Johnson’s services.

In addition to these free agents, the Mets will have eleven players eligible for arbitration. The more prominent ones include Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, and Addison Reed. It’s going to be a nice payday for Harvey and especially Familia who had a break out season. Certainly Duda and Tejada will get nominal raises.

Other arbitration eligible players are Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin who will be coming back from TJ surgery, Eric Young, Buddy Carlyle, Anthony Recker, and Jenrry Mejia who will still be serving a suspension. Out of this group I could see the Mets holding on to Torres and Edgin, and perhaps catcher Recker for defensive purposes. The Mets will likely cut ties with the rest.

Back next year, unless traded over the off season, will be David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, Jonathan Niese, and Juan Lagares. All have guaranteed contracts. Under control, pre arbitration players include Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Wilmer  Flores, Eric Campbell, Rafael Montero, Erik Goeddel, Dilson Herrera, Dario Alvarez, Johnny Monell, Sean Gilmartin, and Wilfredo Tovar.

According to, arbitration eligible Mets will cost around 43.2 million for 2016. Other players under control will likely cost the Mets around 6 million. Add it all up and the Mets will already have a payroll of roughly 109 million dollars. One would assume that coming off of a National League championship season that saw Citi Field attendance and TV revenues rise that the Mets are poised to raise that payroll if the right players can be found through free agencies and trades.

We have waited for a long time for the Mets to get to the place they are now. They have a core of fine young players but will most certainly need a boost from the outside of the organization in terms of bullpen and offensive help. It should be a very interesting hot stove.

The Plays That Made All the Difference

Of the five World Series the Mets have been in over the past forty-six years, the 2015 Series was the worst.

Of course I am referring to how the Mets played. To me, it seemed clear the Mets pressed the entire time, and defensively they were simply atrocious. With crisper play, the Mets could have led the series three games to one heading into last night’s game, even with scoring so few runs except for in Game Three.

Here are the plays that if had been made, the Mets might have won their third world championship instead of losing.

The first miscue was on the very first pitch of Game One. Yoenis Cespedes should have made the catch that turned into an inside the park home run. And after watching the replay several times, I am convinced Cespedes was attempting a nonchalant if not a hotdog backhand catch. I give Michael Conforto credit for taking the blame protecting his teammate but that ball simply had to be caught, plain and simple. And clearly Juan Lagares would have made the catch.

Now of course, if Cespedes does make the catch, we have no assuredness that the game continues the same path. However, the homerun given up by Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the ninth would have made the score 4-3 instead of 4-4. The Mets should have and could have won Game One.

Game Two goes to the Royals. They beat the Mets in all facets of the game by a score of 7-1. So the Mets returned home 0-2 instead of 1-1. That was a huge difference regardless of the Mets heading home to play in front of their home crowd at Citi Field.

The Mets best game clearly was Game 3 when they defeated Kansas City handedly by a 9-3 score.  Noah Syndergaard turned in the Mets’ best pitching performance up to that point. David Wright had his signature World Series moment driving in four runs including a first inning bomb into the left field stands. Game three had all the earmarks of the August through September Mets. Unfortunately the first two and the final two games were much more reminiscent of the May through July Mets.

For much of game four, it looked like the Mets were going to tie the series. Steven Matz did a great job considering his age and inexperience. But the Mets were again incapable of tacking on runs and the two walks by Tyler Clippard and the error made by Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning broke the Mets back and gave Familia an undeserved blown save. If Murph makes the play, there are two outs with runners on second and third. Certainly Familia would have had a good chance of getting out of the inning. Instead the roof collapsed with Familia giving up two more runs with the Royals taking a 5-3 lead. Instead of the series tied 2-2 the Mets were in a big hole trailing three games to one.

In game five, Matt Harvey pitched the game of his life pitching through eight innings protecting a 2-0 lead. Then confusion set in. Terry Collins wanted to remove him for the ninth but Harvey insisted he stay in. The pitcher won the battle in the dugout then walked Lorenzo Cain, the first batter he faced. Collins elected not to remove Harvey which certainly could be questioned. After Cain stole second, Eric Hosmer’s double over Michael Conforto’s head made it a 2-1 game and knocked out Harvey. Familia came into the game in another difficult situation. Jeurys got a ground out that moved Hosmer to third. A ground ball to third caused ultimate confusion. Wright should have run to third. The ball was headed right for Wilmer Flores at short. Wright cut it off and threw to first for the out but with no one covering third, Hosmer broke from home and Duda’s wild throw allowed Hosmer to score the tying run. If Wright covered third and kept Hosmer close, the run doesn’t score. If Duda makes an accurate throw to home, Hosmer would have been out, the Mets win and it’s off to Game Six.

Once Game Five was tied, every Mets fan at Citi Field and all watching on TV knew the inevitable. It would only be a matter of time for the Royals to pounce on a lesser bullpen while Mets hitters tried to hit one out to win because at some point during the offseason, the Mets offense became incapable of rallying for a run.

It was a tough way for the series to end but it was fitting considering how the five games went. Murphy made another error in the twelfth drawing boos from the Mets faithful. That error led to more runs being scored after the Royals had already taken the lead off of an ineffective Addison Reed. Clearly the magic Murph enjoyed in the first two rounds left him In the Series.

Today it stings, not because they lost but how they lost. This was a team that played so well during the LDS and the LCS. It was as if the intensity level got turned down and the Mets simply felt good about being there. I’m sure that’s not true but that’s what it looked like.

I will feel better in a few days when I look back on this season. But for now, the way the Mets played in three of the five games is pretty tough to swallow.


It’s A Long Uphill Climb Now

The Mets now trail the 2015 World Series three games to one.

It’s rare that a team comes back and wins three in a row to win a World Series. Ironically, the last time it happened during the Fall Classic was in 1985 when the Royals won games five, six, and seven against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, the Royals were home for games 6 and 7. The Mets must win Game 5 Sunday evening at Citi Field’s last game of 2015. Then they must sweep two at Kaufmann Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday evening. That may very well be an insurmountable task.

The Mets must pin there hopes on Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Three pitchers who have never thrown the amount of innings like this in their career. Plus these will be very pressure packed innings. And Yoenis Cespedes must wake up from his month and a half long slumber. I have seen enough of the slugger now to really wonder if it will be in the Mets best interest moving forward to sign this guy. Maybe we are seeing why he has been on four teams in two years.

We will have lots of time to discuss these issues during the off season. But for now, the Mets have at least one game left. And btw, tomorrow evening will be the first time the Mets ever played a game in November. Including spring training, baseball is now a ten month sport.