What Will “Big Market” Mets Do With The $10-15 Million? (If It Exists)

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I’ve been hesitant to blog about potential Mets offseason acquisitions because it’s almost pointless to speculate when you have no idea what the team’s projected budget is for the 2018 season. Recent reports in Newsday cited sources indicating Sandy Alderson doesn’t even receive an actual budget from the Wilpons. If the Mets front office doesn’t have a real payroll estimate then how can anyone guess what the Mets will do?

In November (right before single game tickets went on sale) the Mets leaked this:

A month later Joel Sherman said this:

They went from being potential “players on some of the big free agents” to having a meager 10-15 million bucks to spend. Pathetic.

A few days ago the media started reporting that the Mets are entertaining trading Juan Lagares and AJ Ramos to clear salary to potentially add free agents. This leads me to believe that the Mets don’t even plan to spend 10-15 million unless they can dump the salaries of Lagares and/or Ramos (both extremely useful roster pieces). If that’s the case I’m liable to put my foot through the dry wall in my apartment before Opening Day.

In order to maintain my sanity and at least try to enjoy this offseason, I’m going to use this post to spitball about potential ways that the Mets can improve the roster. I’ll operate under the assumption that the Mets are truly willing to spend 10-15 million dollars.

In my opinion the Mets have a need for an infielder (needs to play 2B), an outfielder, starting rotation insurance, and even another relief pitcher (in addition to recently signed Anthony Swarzak).

Here are some options:

Spend It All On One Elite Guy:

You really can’t sign an elite player to fill even one of those holes with only 10-15 million to spend. It’s impossible. Yu Darvish, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain should all get more than 15 million per season, and they will receive enormous multi-year deals. Even the elite reliever Wade Davis will make roughly 15m per season.

If Sandy got the Wilpons drunk, and they agreed to sign one elite free agent (preferably Lorenzo Cain) I’d certainly consider signing a player like that and doing nothing else. But one elite players won’t single-handedly give the Mets the 15-20 wins they need to be a playoff contender. Their only hope is that they get the necessary wins from players currently on the roster. The Mets ain’t signing an elite player anyway so let’s not waste energy thinking about it.

Spend It All On One Pretty Good Position Player or Starting Pitcher:

Signing one second tier impact position player free agent (e.g. Jay Bruce or Todd Frazier) is going to cost you 10-15m. A trade for a comparable talent (e.g. Jason Kipnis, Josh Harrison) will also eat up all of the “available money” unless the Mets include Ramos or Lagares in a deal. The same goes for a deal with a starting pitcher like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. In my opinion it doesn’t make sense to spend all of the money on one player in this tier. The Mets lack the organizational depth (in majors and minors) to ignore the remaining holes.

Spend It On A Plus Relief Pitcher and Dumpster Dive for Position Depth

In 2017 Mets pitchers sucked, were injured, or both. The Mets lost their top starting pitcher (Noah Syndergaard) and top reliever (Jeurys Familia) to injuries, they lacked a veteran innings eater (the role Bartolo Colon previously occupied), they lacked major league ready depth at AAA, and everything fell apart.

On the bright side, the Mets for the most part had sufficient position player depth. They had six viable major league outfielders (Cespedes, Conforto, Bruce, Nimmo, Lagares, Grandy) in the organization and ten infielders (Duda, Flores, Dom Smith, Walker, Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera, Reyes, T.J. Rivera, Gavin Cecchini, Matt Reynolds). And they utilized every single one of these players at various points in the season due to injuries, trades etc.

If you believe in the Mets current position player depth and feel the starting staff will stay healthy/rebound then you could argue it makes sense to add another impact reliever and add scrubs for position depth. Bringing back Addison Reed (roughly 9m salary) to bolster the pen and bringing back Jose Reyes (maybe 4-6m per) would eat up the 10-15m. If you backloaded a potential Reed deal you might be able to squeeze in a cheap fifth outfielder like Ben Revere.

I’d like to consider Brandon Phillips and Howie Kendrick as options but I think they’ll make more money than Reyes. If Reed receives 9m per season and Kendrick/Phillips receive offers for 7-8m they’ll be out of the Mets price range. In this case the Mets would have to dig deeper in the position player dumpster for guys like Stephen Drew. Woof.

I don’t think the Mets have enough position player depth to spend big on another reliever. Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson are gone. Amed Rosario and Dom Smith are now on the major league roster and the AAA depth is non-existent. T.J. Rivera and Michael Conforto are recovering from serious injuries and they have to be considered question marks for next season.

If Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Jeurys Familia are healthy the pitching staff looks a lot better. If one of the other starters rebounds (Steven Matz? Matt Harvey? Robert Gsellman?), and a couple of arms step up in the bullpen (Jacob Rhame? Jamie Callahan? Paul Sewald? Seth Lugo? Dare I say Hansel Robles?) all of a sudden the pitching staff looks a lot better than the 2017 staff. My point is the Mets have internal pitching options (even if many of them are unproven or injury question marks). I’m not really seeing strong options when it comes to position players.

Spend It On Versatile Position Players and Scrimp On Pitching

I’m leaning towards adding a versatile infielder, a versatile outfielder, and a pitcher with experience as a starter and reliever who’s a potential rebound candidate. I like Todd Frazier for the IF but he’s going to cost like 11-12m per and who are we kidding he’s going back to the Yankees. Lock that up.

I think Eduardo Nunez makes sense for the Mets. His glove is weak but he has experience all over the infield including shortstop. He has some speed and can hit. He could start at second base or third base. Who’s playing SS if Amed Rosario struggles or pulls a hammy? Asdrubal Cabrera? Matt Reynolds? Wilmer Flores?!? Yuck. I’d rather have additional depth at middle infield (with Nunez) and let Wilmer play first base if Dominic Smith needs more time at AAA.

I think center fielder Jarrod Dyson makes sense for the outfield. He offers speeds and glove skills. The Mets have NO OUTFIELD DEPTH WHATSOEVER right now. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo have dealt with serious injuries basically every year since they arrived in the majors. When Juan Lagares sprains his thumb again during spring training and Brandon Nimmo is once again hobbling around, who the hell plays outfield? Are the Mets going tape up Michael Conforto’s healing shoulder and tell him to cut his rehab time in half? Let’s just pretend Yoenis Cespedes is a healthy lock and ignore that he spent half of last season the DL and has battled leg injuries for two years now. Do we really want to sign someone like Adam Lind or Logan Morrison and wind up having a DH/1B playing 125 games in right field?

The Mets could potentially sign Eduardo Nunez (roughly 2 years 14m) and Jarrod Dyson (1 year 5-6m or 2 years 10-12m) and backload the deals a bit so we can afford to snag a pitcher like Francisco Liriano (roughly 1 year 3-4m). He has experience starting and relieving. He had success a few years back in Pittsburgh under their pitching coach Ray Searage. Maybe Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland can salvage something there and he can eat some innings as a swingman. Ubaldo Jimenez is another possibility. Slim pickings when you’re trying to recruit guys with a couple million bucks.

What Will Actually Happen?

Who the hell knows? I feel like there’s a 75% Sandy does absolutely nothing because Jeff Wilpon will spend the 10-15m on his stupid goddamn e-sports team.

The media keeps talking about Bruce and Walker so I suppose there’s a chance the Mets dump Juan Lagares’ salary (owed 15.5m over next 2 years and a 500k buyout of 2020 9.5m option) and use the money to sign Sandy favorites Jay Bruce and Neil Walker. Forgive me if I don’t break out the champagne to celebrate a reunion with members of the 70 win 2017 Flushing toilet squad. Also if this happens I’m sure Juan stays healthy, elevates his swing, learns to hit homers, and becomes an All-Star.

There’s a chance that Sandy brings back Jose Reyes and signs Adam Lind for roughly a combined 10-12m and then promises to spend more during the season. Maybe they’ll throw Bartolo Colon or some scrub pitcher we’ve never heard of a spring invite. Hip hip hooray.

And then there’s a chance they go with one of the horrendous scenarios I outlined above. What an exciting time to be a Mets fan! I can’t wait to spend the next 45 days watching every single free agent sign with a team other than the Mets.

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Stay Bruce? Fine By Me

According to the New York Post the Mets have informed Jay Bruce they plan to start the season with him as their everyday right fielder. And thus concludes BruceGate 2017 (Maybe? Is it really over?).

The prospect of Bruce being with the Mets on Opening Day doesn’t really bother me.¬†Why?¬†Generally, I refuse to get worked up over a Mets roster¬†“dilemma”¬†if the end result is¬†the Mets have more roster depth. You may not like Jay Bruce’s skill set and you may wish the Mets could freely spend his 13 million dollar salary on other upgrades, but that’s seemingly impossible to achieve at the moment. So the doomsday scenario is the Mets have five outfielders,¬†and in the long run additional depth is a positive not a negative.

Here are my thoughts on¬†some of the fears Mets fans have cited¬†due to Jay Bruce’s presence on the roster.

If Bruce Is here Michael Conforto will be ruined!

I’m skeptical of the claim¬†that¬†23 year old Michael Conforto’s career will be derailed as a result of limited playing time in 2017. If you feel the Mets are a better team with Conforto starting everyday or that we shouldn’t “waste” a year of his pre-arbitration service time then fine. Those are valid points worth discussing. But after his time in Vegas in 2016 and his experience with a veteran filled roster towards the end of last season, I’m confident Conforto will¬†be ready to¬†battle Curtis Granderson and one-dimensional Bruce for at-bats in 2017. In an ideal world he’d outplay them and force his way into the starting lineup. T.J. Rivera and Rene Rivera certainly accomplished that at their respective positions in 2016.

There are not enough ABs to go around for all these outfielders.

Have the people saying this¬†ever watched the Mets? An injury is likely to occur and a full time job will open up for Conforto before you can say “Spring Training.”

The position players on the Mets roster, as it’s currently constructed, are old and injury prone. Duda, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares¬†dealt with injuries in 2016. Grandy will be¬†36 years old by Opening Day¬†and Bruce had¬†knee surgery in 2014. If he doesn’t have a starting job outright due to injury, I can see Conforto being double switched into games regularly for defense and¬†starting a few days a week to keep these veteran guys fresh.

In addition to¬†filling in at all three outfield spots, Conforto can work at first base in Spring Training. Conforto increasing his¬†versatility¬†is a positive thing for next season and beyond.¬†If¬†Dominic Smith isn’t ready to take over the job in 2018 then we’ll need someone to fill in for Lucas Duda if the Mets let him walk after the 2017 season.

The Mets Outfield Defense Will Be Terrible With Bruce

Unfortunately there’s not much I can say to refute that claim. The Mets outfield defense will likely be below average in 2017. But the outfield defense is going to be poor regardless of the alignment. This squad won’t¬†specialize¬†in run prevention as long as Granderson, Bruce, and Conforto are drawing the majority of starts in¬†center field and right field.

If you wanted the Mets to acquire a true starting caliber center fielder this winter and shake up the roster¬†to emphasize defense then you’re probably disappointed. But clearly the overwhelming supply of power hitters in the free agent market limited the Mets ability to move¬†their expensive corner outfielders.¬†If Sandy wants to prioritize upgrading the defense it will be easier for him to achieve that next offseason when many of our current position players become free agents.

The Mets don’t have any payroll flexibility to upgrade the bullpen

This may be true, but it’s hardly Jay Bruce’s fault if ownership has capped the team’s payroll at the current¬†amount. If the Mets fail to upgrade the bullpen and that hurts the team down the road, the only people to blame are Sandy Alderson for misallocating financial resources and ownership for not providing additional funds to improve the pen.

I’m trying to look at the bright side of having Bruce on the team and here’s where I’ve landed:

  1. If Jay Bruce hits in line with his career numbers, then¬†the Mets will benefit from the additional offense. The¬†team’s struggle to generate runs¬†is the reason¬†they traded for him in the first place. If we dump him before the season we’ll probably wind up trading another prospect for¬†someone like him¬†by the trade deadline.
  2. If Bruce performs and the team is inexplicably blessed with health then he becomes a expendable trade chip to flip¬†for a piece the team actually needs. And hopefully by then the market isn’t as flooded with comparable players.
  3. If Bruce struggles and Conforto stands out in his limited playing time then Michael starts and Bruce becomes an expensive pinch hitter. Will Terry Collins play Jay Bruce for three straight months even if he’s hitting .200?¬†Maybe but that’s a problem with Terry’s managerial style not a Bruce issue.
  4. The stats show us that Jay Bruce’s contribution (at least from 2014-16)¬†in the power department is essentially negated due to his below average defense. He’s basically¬†a “net negative.” Just like our old friend Daniel Murphy. I’m hoping that Jay Bruce¬†becomes the new Kevin Long reclamation project and somehow¬†takes his power to the next level in¬†a contract year.

In the end, the team defense may wind up stinking with Bruce in the fold¬†and maybe Conforto won’t handle a reserve role well, but at least the 2017 Mets will hit a lot of dingers again. Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce, Granderson, Cespedes could all supply¬†20+ homers. If our starting pitching is healthy and returns to its 2015 form and the lineup has the¬†Citi Field¬†Home Run Apple popping¬†on a¬†nightly basis, good things will be in store in 2017¬†whether Bruce is in the lineup or not.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on Mets Merized Online.

Grainy Video Of David Wright Swinging Bat Surfaces

I think that’s a video of David Wright swinging a bat. It’s either Wright or some other thin white guy between the ages of 20 and 40 with a spine more brittle than a pretzel rod and a neck fused together with rubber cement.

I was literally thinking about my man D-Wright earlier today when this grainy video surfaced. I was thinking about how everyone counted Peyton Manning out when he had his neck fused in 2011. They all said his career was over. Then he showed up everyone by winning NFL comeback player of the year in 2012, MVP in 2013, and the Super Bowl in 2015/16. Then we all found out Manning allegedly had enough HGH shipped to his house to make Bartolo Colon jealous, and the allegations totally tainted his career resurgence.

Even if our beloved Captain America followed in Peyton’s footsteps and healed his neck with banned substances, I don’t think all the juice in the world could fix his degenerative spinal condition. Every report on his spinal stenosis indicates it’ll only get worse. There’s no scenario where he magically heals and successfully plays out the last four years of his contract.

But if the baseball gods would grant David one more full productive season in 2o17 and a World Series Championship to go with it, I have to believe he’d call it a career. Then the Mets could give Wright a big fat deferred buyout spread out over the next 100 years. The Mets will need someone to take the torch from Bobby Bonilla once the team finishes paying him in 2035. The Captain could step right in and fill the void. It just wouldn’t be the same in Metsland if fans no longer had an excuse to have the same tired annual debate about contracts and the time value of money.

Instead we’ll suffer through our other annual tradition where we watch Wright ramp up baseball activities, laugh as Sandy and Terry foolishly pencil him in for 130 starts at third base, and cry when the Wilpons pocket the insurance money that covers Wright’s salary.

Do people even draft Wright in fantasy leagues anymore? I can’t imagine a league where he’s anything more than waiver wire fodder. I guess I’ll send this video to the other members of my league and try to fool them. I’ll say “Hey I’m hearing Wright looks great. He’s primed for a big comeback season.”

In the end I’ll probably wind up drafting him, stashing him, and praying. Basically the same approach the Mets have taken for four years now.

Some Mets Fans: “Launch Grandy/Bruce Into The Sun”

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The Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes a week ago, and it was glorious. It briefly felt like his signing would be the start of a special offseason where the team would look to bolster the entire roster before going to war in 2017 with the Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers, and Giants.

Fast forward a week later and the mainstream media is reporting that the Mets feel they’ve completed their heavy lifting this offseason. The plan going forward seems to be 1) sign any reliever willing to accept a one year deal (i.e. the Mets annual reliever dumpster dive-athon) and 2) Trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson for a second “cost controlled” reliever.

That’s the plan?!? The team retained the two best hitters from their 87 win club and now we’re done? Oy vey. And what makes it worse is some fans are seemingly enthusiastic about the plan to trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson (less so for Grandy). Fans are ready to launch Bruce/Grandy and their combined 63 home runs from 2016 right into the sun. Fans are passionately debating which middle reliever they want in return. I’ve never seen a fan base so enthusiastic about a salary dump in all my life.

Curtis Granderson has done nothing but live up to his 4 year 60 million dollar contract during his time in Flushing. He’s played 150+ games and launched 20+ homers for three straight seasons. He’s served as an unwavering veteran presence on a roster that for the most part has lacked The Captain David Wright during that stretch. He was a major contributor during the run to the 2015 World Series and down the stretch last season.

That being said, if the Mets want to trade Curtis Granderson for a late inning cost controlled bullpen arm and then sign Dexter Fowler to play center field, I can get comfortable with that. But if the Mets are dumping Grandy to save 15 million and to ultimately platoon Michael Conforto/Juan Lagares in CF then to hell with that plan.

If the Mets want to dish Jay Bruce for a talented reliever, re-sign Jerry Blevins, and add a legitimate utility player for the bench, that works for me. It was reported today that the Mets want Brad Brach from the Orioles for Bruce. He’d be a great addition to the bullpen. But apparently the Orioles want the Mets to cover some of Bruce’s salary to consider that type of return.

If the Mets find a team to take on all of Bruce’s salary, I’d love to see the team reallocate that 13 million dollars on a free agent that fits better on this roster. But is that the plan? What about Luis Valbuena who can play all over the infield? Nope. Today Sandy said Wright is our third baseman (he failed to add “for 30 games at most”). What about Welington Castillo, Matt Wieters or some other upgrade at catcher? Nope. Apparently Travis d’Arnaud is our guy.

Also keep in mind, there’s absolutely nothing stopping the Mets from retaining their outfielders and bolstering their bullpen via free agency other than the organizations reluctance to give multi-year deals to relievers. The free agent reliever market is very deep this offseason. It’s not a great practice to sign relievers long-term. But will the franchise be ruined if Brad Ziegler or Jerry Blevins don’t work out on three year deals? Give me a break.

So should we prepare for the same roster cycle? The cycle where we assemble a roster, injuries cripple that roster, and then we make trades during the season to fill the holes but we don’t retain any of those players after the season. Hell, I could easily see the Mets needing offense come July 2017, and Jay Bruce being an option on the trading block. The old Kelly Johnson roster boomerang trick. Been there done that. Speaking of Kelly, where’s he at? I hear he wants to return but we have no interest. Back to Atlanta for Kelly. I hope he didn’t sell his house.

If the Mets dump Curtis Granderson (arguably their most reliable position player over the last three years) and Bartolo Colon (arguably their most reliable arm over the last three years) in the same offseason and replace them with two bleh relievers on one year deals, I’m going to be livid.

Let me add the standard stupid disclaimer language that Mets bloggers are supposed to add now that we signed Cespedes:

** Please note, I trust our renowned General Manager Sandy Alderson to make the best moves he can possibly make with the resources he is provided. Sandy is a genius. We’ve made the playoffs two years in a row. Thank you Sandy. We signed Cespedes. Thank you Sandy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be curling into a ball on the floor and muttering “In Sandy We Trust” over and over for the rest of the week until the Winter Meetings are over.

Cespedes The Merciful Returns To Mets

In Sandy we trust! Sandy Alderson that sly dog has done it again. He convinced Yoenis Cespedes to accept a four year deal at an incredibly high annual average value of 27.5 million dollars a season and just like that the Mets get their best player back. Sandy¬†basically said the Mets (The Wilpons) weren’t willing to go¬†to five years for Yo, but he was still able to convince Cespedes to¬†return on the Mets’ terms for the second year in a row.

Cespedes The Merciful once again shows tolerance by remaining in Queens despite the Mets refusal to extend him¬†a five year deal. Yo’s tender-hearted nature and love for the Flushing Faithful has once again inspired¬†him to forgo¬†an offseason bidding war for his services.

I genuinely believe if Yo wanted to go to the highest bidder,¬†he would have found a longer more lucrative contract elsewhere.¬†Are teams¬†genuinely scared off by¬†his age and his golfing, smoking, and sports car driving nature? Apparently so. Do I care? Hell no. The most valuable player on the team will be back next year. That’s all that matters.

All¬†the credit in the world goes to Sandy Alderson for thoroughly taking advantage of the one thing that has remained a constant since we traded for Yo in 2015. Yoenis Cespedes wants to be a New York Met. It’s really that simple. The man displays a unique loyalty to the ball club in Flushing which totally¬†separates him¬†from the majority of professional athletes.

Obviously a four year deal with the second highest AAV for a position player and a full no trade clause is extremely appealing.¬†But Yo could still go through the process of pitting teams against each other and trying to squeeze every last cent out of some organization. But he doesn’t do that. Instead he shows the Wilpon-led Mets compassion.

All that being said, this offseason can be summarized as follows:

  • Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes (the two¬†most valuable¬†hitters from our 2016 team) return. That’s good.
  • Eric Campbell heads to Japan. That’s great.
  • Bartolo Colon (our most durable starting pitcher) goes to a division rival. That’s bad.

In other words, there is a lot of work to be done. There’s a bullpen and bench to be bolstered. The rotation could use some insurance. A new catcher would be nice. Let’s hope this uplifting Cespedes signing is the first domino to fall in what will continue to¬†be a big offseason for Sandy. Thank the gods for Yo. He makes this team go. His return means the 2017 Mets have a chance to win the World Series. The window remains open, and I for one couldn’t be happier.

Psychics Agree: No Fifth Year For Cespedes

The New York Post indicated that the Mets remain interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes to a four year contract but a fifth year could wind up being a deal breaker for the team. We can spend all day speculating about the actual reason for this rumored line in the sand.

Many fans still think the Wilpons have no intention of signing Yo and are just trying to give the impression that they made their best effort to keep him here. It’s also possible that this is all just part of the negotiating process for Sandy Alderson.

The Mets may just be leaking this news to the media purely as a negotiating tactic. In the end the Mets may cave and give Cespedes exactly what he wants because they recognize how important he is to the team.

The Cespedes negotiations have implications that go beyond simply losing or retaining the most valuable bat on the team. Many fans will see the outcome as a signal for the direction of the franchise. If Yo leaves, some Mets fans will see that as confirmation of their worst fears regarding the Wilpons’ willingness to spend. On the contrary if he signs a multi-year deal with the Mets, some fans will see this as a sign that the team’s payroll is going in the right direction.

That being said, many baseball “psychics” seem to know exactly how the Cespedes deal will turn out. I can’t tell you how many fans have talked to me or tweeted at me to state their support of a four year deal for Cespedes but not a five year deal.

The baseball fans that take hard stances against giving a free agent “the extra year” always baffle me. Baseball doesn’t have a hard salary cap. The Mets’ payroll is not approaching the current MLB luxury tax threshold. So why do Mets fans have strong views on this? Do people seriously feel that a four year deal is acceptable, but a fifth year is so unreasonable that they’d rather not watch Cespedes (i.e. the most exciting baseball player in New York City) play at Citi Field?

Why are some people specifically afraid of a fifth year? Do you have a crystal ball? These fans act like they know with certainty that at 35 years old Yoenis Cespedes will cease to be a productive major leaguer. At 34 he’ll be fine. But at 35? He’s done!

In my opinion, you can make one of two arguments when it comes to Cespedes.

Argument 1: Don’t sign Yo and instead spread out that money across multiple players to improve the team.

If you feel this way then fine. I can think of many ways to spend the 25-30 million in annual salary in lieu of signing Cespedes.

Argument 2: Go all out to sign Yo to a four to six year deal and hope he maintains his power and health over the course of the deal.

I understand that there’s uncertainty surrounding a contract that takes a player into his mid 30’s. But arguing over the merits of a four or five or six year contract for a 31 year old player coming off the two best seasons of his career, drawing arbitrary lines in the sand is ridiculous in my opinion.

Sure long-term deals can be hit or miss. Jose Reyes signed a six year deal with the Marlins at 28, and it didn’t really work out due to injuries and his off the field problems. David Wright signed an eight year deal at 29 and due to his health issues that hasn’t really worked out.

On the other ¬†hand,¬†Carlos Beltran signed a seven year deal with the Mets at 27, and he’s still going strong at 39. The four year deal we gave to Curtis Granderson has worked out thus far, and he’s 35 years old.

The point is unless these baseball fortune tellers have seen Yo’s medical reports and somehow know for a fact that he’s on the path to early retirement, I don’t how they can possibly sell me on the argument that a four year deal makes sense but a five year deal is irresponsible.

Speaking of multi-year deals, the Mets just announced that they have agreed to a new long-term contract with Gary Cohen. For those of you keeping track at home, the re-signing of Gary Cohen is arguably the most significant news of the Mets’ offseason other than Neil Walker accepting the qualifying offer and Eric Campbell leaving to play in Japan. I suppose it’s possible that the brass at SNY spent weeks debating whether or not to give Gary the extra year on his new contract. But when it comes to superstars like Gary, sometimes you need to go the extra mile to keep them happy.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on Mets Merized Online.

Prepare For The Yo-pocalypse

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Have you seen the latest Hot Stove rumor? The Yankees are interested in Yoenis Cespedes.

If the Yankees sign Cespedes I will cry. Tears will actually roll down my cheeks.

If Yo signs with the Yankees we’ll be forced to listen to delusional Yankee fans raving about how players are drawn to the pinstripes.¬†It would¬†be the biggest setback for the Mets since…well since we lost the 2015 World Series and then saw all of our young aces undergo surgery on their arms. But it could destroy¬†the progress the Mets have made in shifting the overall balance of baseball¬†power in New York City.

Sandy Alderson did an interview this week, and he sounded optimistic about the Mets’ chances of re-signing Yo. He said that Yo texted the club saying he’d like to return, but added “we’re going to have to wait a while to see how this turns out”. Doesn’t this sound familiar?¬†Yo wants to stay, but the Mets haven’t made him an offer yet.

Instead the Mets will continue to play with free agent fire. They’re essentially calling out every team¬†in the¬†league and daring them to make a substantial bid for Yo. And now the Yankees are making phone calls to his agent? I don’t like it. If the Red Sox sign Carlos Beltran the Yankees could easily pivot and go for Yo. This whole thing stinks.

So for now I’m sitting¬†on my couch with my¬†tinfoil hat, preparing¬†for the worst, and¬†urging¬†everyone to take action:

Don’t Stop Complaining: I think¬†every Mets fan has a daily obligation to tweet or post on Facebook “Sign Yo”.¬†If you are driving and¬†stop at a red light, you should¬†roll down your window, honk¬†your horn, and scream “Sign Cespedes” at people walking nearby.¬†Last year, the World Series appearance really energized¬†the fan base and sparked the #SignYo movement. I’m genuinely worried that the movement has lost some momentum. So this is a reminder to keep it going.

Contact Your Local General Manager:¬†When American citizens are angry about the political process, we are supposed to¬†“contact our representative” in¬†Congress.¬†Well in baseball, the best we can do is contact our GM. And it just so happens that Sandy Alderson has a Twitter account.

Considering his most recent tweet was a 2014 plea to make David Wright the #FaceofMLB, it would seem¬†he’s not exactly an active Twitter user. But it’s better to tweet at his idle account than to do nothing. It’s¬†about as useful¬†as calling your congressional representative and leaving a voicemail.

Don’t Donate To The Wilpons: The Mets have been releasing schedules and sending out ticket promos. Ummm let’s hold off on all those purchases people.¬†Obviously Noah Syndergaard is amazing every fifth day. But Yo¬†is the number one¬†daily attraction at Citi Field. The Mets already let Bartolo Colon, the sexiest man in all of sports, take his talents elsewhere. Hold off on sending the Wilpons any money until we know where they stand with Yo.

Secretly Hope The Yo Propaganda Scares Teams: I’ve spent so much time disputing the anti-Yo press.¬†But it’s possible that the golf playing, non-hustling, smoking, horse riding, flashy car driving, distracting superstar narratives will scare off other teams. I want Yo to get paid big money and stay with the Mets. Whatever makes that possible works for me.

Pray For A Wilpon Cabinet Post: Maybe Donald Trump will appoint Fred and Jeff Wilpon as co-Secretaries of the Treasury? The Madoff stuff didn’t stop Major League Baseball from appointing Fred as head of the league’s Finance Committee. Maybe they’ll join Trump’s cabinet and be forced to put all their holdings (including the Mets) in a blind trust.¬†If my choices for ownership are the Wilpons or a non-Wilpon human being controlling a blind trust, I’m going with the non-Wilpon¬†every day and twice on Sundays.

Remember Where We Play: The important thing for Mets fans to remember is we deserve Yoenis Cespedes.¬†Our team plays in New York City, and we deserve all the luxuries other big market clubs enjoy. Yeah we made the playoffs two years in a row. That’s amazing and in large part due to the fact that Sandy Alderson is an incredible executive. But this team has a legitimate chance to win the World Series with the pitching we have and we have to take advantage of the opportunity.

My Demands: What do I want? I want the Mets to head to the Winter Meetings in December and make some damn noise. The Braves signed R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon and they reportedly want Chris Sale. The Marlins are supposedly targeting Kenley Jansen. You know the Nationals are going to make big moves.

Well I want¬†Yo, another stud closer, a new catcher, a bat off the bench, and a starting pitcher to replace the innings we gave to the Braves in the form of Big Sexy.¬†I want a roster stacked with talent¬†and¬†the fans¬†deserve that. I’m saying that the Mets should spend money to try and win during our window. I refuse to settle for less.¬†As long¬†as the Mets continue to¬†have a¬†payroll in the middle of the pack,¬†I’m going to complain about it. And if that means I’m¬†labeled a broken record by brainwashed¬†Mets fans that have accepted the Wilpon way of operating then so be it.

Neil Walkyear Returns To The Mets

Neil Walker has officially accepted the Mets’¬†17.2 million dollar qualifying offer instead of testing free agency. Neil Walkyear 2.0 commences effective immediately. 2017 continues to¬†go down as the year of the walk-year for the¬†Mets as Neil is added to the list of guys playing for a contract.¬†It’s a smart move by Neil since the market¬†for his services may have been hurt by his¬†late season back-surgery as well as the draft pick compensation tied to¬†signing¬†him as a result of the qualifying offer. Now he will have another full season to show he’s healthy, and it’s also possible that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will modify the qualifying offer system and eliminate draft pick compensation as part of the process. So in an ideal world for Neil, he will prove his health¬†in 2017¬†and have a chance to sign a 3-5 year deal next offseason without being tied to a draft pick.

On the surface this is great news for the Mets, assuming Neil’s back injury doesn’t linger and turn out to be a chronic issue (i.e. it evolves into a classic strain of METS disease). Obviously as¬†a Mets fan I fear the worst, but even if the back problem persists the Mets aren’t committed to Walker long-term. They get to keep the roster/payroll flexibility that Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons love so much.¬†The 17.2 million dollar price tag may be a bit higher than the 13-15 million¬†annual¬†salary Walker would probably earn as part of a¬†long-term deal. But it’s a small price to pay to avoid the¬†extra commitment in terms of years.

The downside of course is that nobody really knows the Mets projected payroll for next season. I’ve¬†heard speculation that this contract may prevent the Mets from signing Cespedes. I’ve heard speculation that this deal may¬†force the Mets to dump some extra salary in order to make a¬†reasonable offer to Yoenis Cespedes. I’ve heard that the Mets ideally would like to keep Cespedes and Walker and won’t make any significant additions to the roster beyond the retention of those two guys.

The bottom line is this. If Neil Walker’s decision to accept the qualifying offer truly prevents the Mets from signing Yo or making other meaningful acquisitions then the organization is a lost cause. I’m hoping the Mets keep Yo, Walker and make other big additions to both the bullpen and the bench. We’re trying to win a championship. So let’s improve this damn roster and make a run. Retaining Yo/Walker and¬†dumping the salaries of¬†Bartolo Colon and Jay Bruce to make that possible doesn’t exactly equate to a net improvement of the roster heading into 2017. But the offseason has just started. Let’s see what happens.

The next step is to sign Cespedes. The Mets should have already signed Yo. But there’s still time. Do it tomorrow.¬†And at least today is a good day. A Neil Walkyear reboot is a pretty good thing. As long as he doesn’t catch the stenosis. Pray for his back. Pray for all¬†their backs.

Mets Are “Interested” In Some Top Free Agents

The most significant news coming out of Sandy Alderson’s address at the GM meetings on Monday was that the Mets supposedly want to retain Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker and:

If you accept that quote, then you believe the Mets will have the necessary financial resources to sign Cespedes. If you doubt that quote, then you’re probably used to hearing the Mets feed us lines like the one above over the past few years. Let’s see how it plays out, but the Cespedes to the Nationals/Yankees rumors are already starting. Get your antacids ready. It’s going to be a long offseason.

Other than the ambiguous Yo news, we heard a few more news nuggets to kick off the Mets’ Cold Stove.

Outfield Situation and Jose Bautista:

I saw this tweet and my first thought was “I’d love to have Yo and Bautista mashing dingers in the Mets’ outfield.” Then I remembered the Mets aren’t a true big market club like the Cubs/Yankees and Bautista would be considered as a replacement for Yo not a complement. In that case it’s a hard no from me. I have no interest in signing an older, less mobile version of Cespedes. Pass.

Bartolo Colon and Pitching Depth:

The Mets, like any competitive team, should want to bolster or at least maintain their pitching depth in the offseason. Seemingly we feel the best way to do that is by letting our most durable and reliable starting pitcher leave via free agency. Bye bye Bartolo Colon. Pray that he’s willing to take a one-year discounted deal with the Mets once again. Pray.

Interested In The Guys We Have:

The Mets Hot Stove is really sizzling. Oh boy do we love our internal options. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo it is!!

No Big Arms:

The Mets will probably lose Jeurys Familia for a third of next season once he’s suspended for his domestic violence arrest. Our bullpen needed some depth before Familia’s potential suspension. So what’s the move? Apparently it won’t be to replace him with another “higher-tier” reliever like Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon. Sounds great. Just bring back Jim Henderson¬†or some other low impact arm and get it over with already.

Showcase Showdown:

Greg Holland would be a great guy to take a flier on. I’m shocked we sent a scout to see him. I’m guessing the scout got right back on the plane once he found out it’ll take more than a spring invite to sign Holland.

Improve Catching by Doing Nothing:

Travis d’Arnaud was terrible last year. Kevin Plawecki has shown nothing at all in two seasons filling in for Travis. Rene Rivera was a great receiver but can barely hit over .200. What’s our plan to improve at the catching position? Apparently we’re going to pray that the results change with the same personnel. Exciting stuff.

Offseason Just Started But…

So far there’s been no surprises in Mets land. I already wrote about the Mets annual Cold Stove and the fact that Sandy is just hoping to double down with the same roster in 2017. The Cold Stove reality was reinforced when it was reported that the Mets are unlikely to make a splash if Yo departs via free agency. I’m still crossing my fingers for some Mets’ offseason fireworks. But for now it looks like we’re just “interested” in everything and planning to do almost nothing as usual.

Yo News Is No News

It’s early, but so far the Mets’ offseason highlights are:

1) Eric Campbell was “cut” (and he wasn’t really cut he was just removed from the 40-man roster and sent to Vegas so he’ll be back).

2) Tim Tebow slammed into the outfield wall trying to make a catch during the Arizona Fall League. And it won’t be long before Tebow jerseys dominate the racks at Modell’s and the Cespedes jerseys are out of stock.

3) The Binghamton Mets have been renamed the “Rumble Ponies” as a result of a fan vote. Frankly, I’m surprised the Wilpons didn’t sell the naming rights and force us all to watch the Binghamton Citi Preferred Platinums.

The rest of the Mets’ offseason has basically followed the anticipated script. The Mets picked up Jay Bruce’s one year 13 million dollar contract option which was a no brainer. Now we can listen to certain fans continue to complain about the Mets choosing to play slugging outfielder Jay Bruce over the unproven Michael Conforto. The Mets picked up Jose Reyes’ contract option which pays him the league minimum salary. After all, they did their due diligence on his off the field “mistakes” and they had no problem with any of them. But trust me, if they had to pay Jose Reyes 10 million dollars instead of the league minimum they may have had a problem with some of his off the field “drama”.

The Mets also extended the 17.2 million dollar qualifying offer to Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes.

I think there’s a chance Neil Walker accepts the qualifying offer and becomes Neil Walkyear 2.0. The uncertainty around his back injury makes the one-year “prove it” deal so appealing. I suppose he could reject the offer, do a showcase for interested teams, and hope that he gets a multi-year offer. But if he can play next year for the Mets, have another big season and stay healthy, he could come back next offseason and potentially score a 4 or 5 year contract.

Then at the GM Meetings, Sandy Alderson finally addressed the media. And as expected, the Yo news was no news. Sandy said the Mets would like to retain Walker and Cespedes and didn’t really elaborate beyond that. I suppose it’s a positive thing that he said the Mets want Yo. That’s nice.

In my opinion, it was an enormous mistake to let Yo test free agency. The Mets already passed on a chance to lock him up and prevent the whole free agency process. Now that he’s available to everyone, I genuinely feel it’s only a matter of time before a lone wolf crazy bidder gets into the mix and steals him from the Mets.

On the flip side, the Mets only have two players on the roster signed to guaranteed multi-year deals (David Wright and Juan Lagares). They have plenty of flexibility to retain Yo on a big contract and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Plus, with Matt Harvey having injury problems and Jeurys Familia being arrested for domestic violence, I think it’s less likely that the Mets commit to them long term. So that should theoretically free up even more money to allocate towards a deal with Cespedes. But whatever. The Mets are going to do their cheap negotiating tactics no matter how much I complain.

As much as I love the Hot Stove, I’m going to make an effort this year to remain emotionally disconnected from the Mets’ news cycle (spoiler alert: I’ll fail). But obviously I pray that the free agency gods smile upon the Mets and deliver us Yo like last year because in the end, the Yo news is the only news that matters.