Archive for January, 2014

By Steven Inmanima

The Mets came into the offseason with many holes but mainly two glaring needs; they needed power and a leadoff hitter. They handled the power aspect decently but completely failed to find a leadoff hitter. They looked into many different players but weren’t able to secure a player who could hit at the top of the order. They really haven’t had a player who could do that since 2011 when Jose Reyes left as a free agent. SS Stephen Drew would fit that category but Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said this week that it is unlikely that Drew would end up a Met. “I think that Stephen will always have other opportunities,” Sandy Alderson said Wednesday.

With no leadoff hitter acquired, Terry Collins will likely rely on Eric Young Jr. playing most days in left field and leading off. That would also move Chris Young to centerfield. More importantly that would cut into Juan Lagares’ playing time as new free agent acquisitions Curtis Granderson and Chris Young will obviously play every day. Lagares was a dynamic centerfielder last year and if he can just learn to hit .265 he will become a star for the Mets.

That won’t happen however if he is sitting on the bench. While EY Jr. got off to a hot start when he got to the Mets he didn’t hit much after and should be a bench player going forward. A good bench player, but still a bench player. It also would be nice to have Young Jr. on the bench as a pinch running weapon late in close ball games.

Lagares despite a poor .281 OBP, posted a three win season for the Mets according to WAR in just 121 games. That was second among Mets behind David Wright. For the Mets to be the best they can be Lagares needs to play every day. Spring Training performance will determine early season at bats but as of now it looks like Young Jr. will cut into Lagares playing time.

Who should get more playing time next year Eric Young Jr. or Juan Lagares?

By Steven Inmanima

The Mets have collected a few intriguing arms to compete for the fifth starter spot as we hit spring training. The job a few weeks ago looked like a sure thing for young Jenrry Mejia. Well now the right-hander has a little competition. Sandy Alderson has brought in John Lannan and resigned Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training. The two will compete with Mejia along with Jacob DeGrom for the last spot in the Mets rotation. So who deserves the job?

Matsuzaka, 33, was decent with the Mets last year in 38 innings. He went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 7 starts with the Mets. He looked better as he went along but he just takes so darn long to pitch, sometimes it’s tough to watch. Matsuzaka will make $1.5 million if he makes the team and can earn a little more money in incentives.

Lannan, 29, badly struggled last year with the Phillies before going down with a knee injury. The left-hander went 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA last season in 74 innings. The issue with Lannan is he really doesn’t strike anyone out and he has been homer prone in the past. However he has had a lot of success in the N.L. East as a member of the Washington Nationals so he can’t be counted out in this race. He is young enough to bounce back. Plus getting out of Citizens Bank Park to spacious Citi Field would benefit the pitcher a lot. Lannan will also make $1.5 million if he makes the team plus incentives. It would be nice to add a second lefty to the Mets rotation.

Jenrry Mejia has spent a lot of time on the sidelines over the past few years

Jenrry Mejia has spent a lot of time on the sidelines over the past few years

Mejia, 24, has the most upside by far of anyone in the Mets 5th starter race. The problem with Mejia is he just can’t stay healthy. He pitched just 27 innings with the Mets in 2013 before going down for the year with elbow problems. Mejia’s delivery is just so violent that it would be a surprise if he didn’t continue to have arm problems. I believe his best chance of success as a pitcher is to become a full time reliever. That doesn’t appear to be the plan however and as long as Mejia is healthy I believe he is the best man for the job. If he could just stay healthy he could easily be a #2 starter for the Mets going forward according to many scout and analysts.

If Mejia does not have a good spring training the Mets can send him down he has an option remaining.

The last candidate is probably the least likely to start the year in the rotation and that is Jacob DeGrom. DeGrom, 25, has moved through the minors very quickly and looks like he will make his major league debut in 2014 with the Mets. However he still has some work to do at the Triple A level so it looks like barring injury he will start the year in the minors.

Those are the four candidates for the job. It really will come down to performance and health in spring training and will be one of the top story lines to watch this March besides who wins the first base job.

 

 

By Steven Inman

Photo by Sports Illustrated

Photo by Sports Illustrated

The Mets payroll is currently at $87 million for the 2014 season, which is the exact number it was in 2013. However that doesn’t mean they are done spending money. The Mets according to multiple media reports outbid the Rays for Grant Balfour. Balfour had an outstanding year in Oakland last year and would have been a great fit for the Mets as insurance for Bobby Parnell.

Tampa landed the Australian closer Thursday with a two year $12 million contract. I believe the reports that the Mets outbid the Rays. It makes sense from the Mets perspective to add another arm to the pen but Balfour wanted a guaranteed closers job and has had a lot of success with the Rays in the past.  Plus no Florida state tax probably made the Rays offered more appealing to Balfour.

It’s nice to know however that the Mets won’t necessarily admit they’re done spending. If the Mets were willing to give over $12 million for a reliever, perhaps that means they still have a chance at Stephen Drew. Drew will get more than $12 million but with camps opening up next month, his demands should start going down soon.

Another possibly is the Mets adding another reliever instead of a shortstop. The Mets have been talking to former Rays closer Fernando Rodney about a contract. Rodney was dominant in 2012 but had a more mediocre 2013 thanks to a rough start to his season. The Orioles are also talking to Rodney.

We will have to wait and see but the Mets offseason may not be over just yet….

imagesCAU5LIB3

Lucas Duda will compete with Ike Davis for the Mets first base job in Spring Training next month

By Steven Inman

The Mets and Lucas Duda have settled on a one-year deal worth $1.6375 million, avoiding an arbitration case. Their really wasn’t much doubt that the Mets and Duda would settle as they had no intention of attacking the slugger’s fluctuating confidence in a court case over a few hundred thousand bucks. 

The Mets have now settled all seven of their arbitration cases. Their payroll is now at a shade under $87 million, which was the exact payroll of the 2013 Mets. The Mets may be done signing players to major league deals at this point but this is the time in the off season where bargains can be had, such as SS Stephen Drew

By Steven InmanimagesCAU5LIB3

The Mets have lost out on another outfielder to the Phillies that they liked, as OF/DH Bobby Abreu has resigned with Philadelphia. Abreu, 39, did not play in major league baseball last season but had a very strong showing for his winter league team in Venezuela.

Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens was his manager in Venezuela and according to Jon Heyman the Mets were very close to signing Abreu for their bench.

Abreu who turns 40 in March really can’t play a position anymore so it would handicap a Mets bench that already have two backup 1B’s on it and only four outfielders on the roster. The Phillies seem to specialize in  signing older players who can’t play the field anymore such as Matt Stairs and bringing back Jim Thome a two years ago.

Abreu was a star for the Phillies for nine seasons before playing for teams such as the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers.

Even if Abreu can hit at this stage of his career, his best days are clearly behind him and the Mets are fortunate that he chose to play in Philadelphia over New York in my opinion.

By Steven InmanimagesCAU5LIB3

The Mets have signed LHP John Lannan to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Lannan, 29, has had a lot of success in his career against the Mets as a member of the Washington Nationals but Lannan has had a lot injuries since then.

He will go to Spring Training and compete with Jenrry Mejia for the 5th spot in the Mets rotation.

Lannan’s deal is for $1.5 million if he makes the major league team, and could earn another $2 million in innings pitched bonus. He can opt-out of his contract if he’s not in the majors by June 15.

I like this signing as Lannan has a lot of upside if he is healthy. If he isn’t healthy he won’t cost the Mets much since he was a minor league signing.

Lannan had a rough time with the Phillies last year going 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 71 innings but he is still young enough where he could bounce back.

Lannan lifetime has a 4.12 ERA in 858 career innings, all in the N.L. East.

By Steven InmanimagesCAU5LIB3

The Mets have taken care of six of their seven arbitration eligible players before Friday’s deadline. The only player left to negotiate with is Lucas Duda. Duda filed for $1.9 million. The Mets countered at $1.35 million.

If the two sides cannot agree to terms, they will go before an arbitrator in St. Petersburg, Florida in February.

Duda hit .223 with 15 home runs and 42 RBI in 384 plate appearances for the Mets in 2013. He is in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

With all the talk of Duda’s perceived lack of confidence, the last thing the team wants to do is go to court against him, pointing out all of his faults. It doesn’t make sense to tear through Duda’s confidence completely for $550,000.

The Mets can continue to negotiate with Duda until the eventual hearing. The belief is the two sides will get a deal done.