Alderson Goes Full Costanza, Buys At The Trade Deadline

I think it’s fair to say that the Mets organization is approaching George Costanza territory. Almost every decision ever made by this franchise has been wrong. Ultimately that has led to a life full of misery for every single fan. So what is Sandy Alderson doing? He’s going full blown Costanza mode and doing the opposite. The Mets suck. They have no chance of making the playoffs this year. Teams like that sell at the trade deadline. But not Maverick. He’s buying baby!

The Mets came out of nowhere yesterday to trade for the Marlins closer AJ Ramos. They gave up two decent prospects. The Mets sent the Marlins their 9th ranked prospect, pitcher Merandy Gonzalez (because who needs young pitching depth) and 22nd ranked prospect OF Ricardo Cespedes (who I assume will turn out to be better than our current Cespedes because #MetsLuck).

All joking aside, I understand why Sandy would make a trade to improve the bullpen. He’s already looking to next season, and AJ Ramos is an incredible addition to the roster and under control for one more year. A reliever on a one year contract is Sandy’s favorite thing in the world. He LOVES it.

The move is also savvy as hell because Sandy basically eliminated the primary competition for Addison Reed on the trade deadline bullpen market. He knew that most of the teams competing for a playoff spot were calling the Marlins for Ramos and the Mets for Reed. So he decided to snag Ramos. Brilliant. Now most teams will be forced to call the Mets for Reed assuming they all can get over the frightening possibility that Terry Collins has destroyed Addison’s arm over the past two seasons.

There’s one thing that’s bothering me about the fan reaction to the trade. I’ve seen so many fans and bloggers tweet some variation of the following:

“Wow we got Ramos! Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, and Drew Smith in the 2018 bullpen should be a big improvement.”

Ummmm first of all it’s insane to factor Drew Smith (the minor league pitcher we just acquired for Lucas Duda) into the 2018 bullpen blueprint. He’s 23 years old and pitching in Double-A. Pump the breaks on the Drew Smith 2018 Opening Day bullpen predictions. Second of all, Familia, Ramos, and Blevins don’t represent an improvement. Addison Reed will be gone. Ramos will replace Reed. That’s not a net improvement. So while I appreciate Sandy being proactive and starting to address the 2018 bullpen, I’m not patting him on the back until he actually improves the pen by adding new talent.

The bottom line is the trade deadline clock continues to wind down and Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, and Addison Reed are all still here. Wake up Maverick! Drop the Costanza act. Sell! Sell! Sell!

Jay Bruce Headlines Are Just A Distraction

jay-bruce

Almost every Mets’ headline after the Cespedes signing has been about Jay Bruce. Jay Bruce doesn’t fit on the roster! Bruce must be traded! Mets need to dump Bruce salary! Bruce suitors dwindling! Mets overplayed the market on Bruce! Two teams still interested in Bruce! Mets want two prospects for Bruce! Mets hope to land reliever for Bruce!

Whoooooooooooo cares?!? Don’t you see what’s happening here? These BS headlines are simply a distraction from the reality that the Mets haven’t done a damn thing to improve the roster this offseason. The Bruce headlines have fans in a frenzy. I see some people defending Jay Bruce as a player. I see the majority of people saying perennial 30 home run hitter Jay Bruce stinks and unproven Michael Conforto deserves all the playing time. The debate rages on every single day.

If you believe that dumping Jay Bruce should be the team’s top priority then you’ve been totally brainwashed by the Wilpon media.

If you read these headlines about Jay’s untradeable salary and let BruceGate dominate the winter conversation then you are allowing ownership to scapegoat Sandy and Bruce for the lack of activity.

This team let Bartolo Colon walk and didn’t replace him. This team is going to let Kelly Johnson walk for the second straight year and not replace him. This team already needed two set up relievers before the prospect of a Jeurys Familia suspension. What have we done to fix the pen? Nothing other than watch every viable reliever fly off the free agent board. And I’m not just talking about the high-priced relievers. Almost all of the middle tier arms have signed for 1 or 2 year deals. As of now it still looks like the Mets intend to let Jerry Blevins walk without replacing him. The Wilpons threw the fans a bone with the Cespedes signing, and then they told us to get back in our cage and shut the hell up.

I’m so damn tired of hearing the brainwashed fans cry about having Jay Bruce on the roster. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping Bruce if we can’t work out a mutually beneficial trade with some team. There’s plenty of playing time to divide up between Jay Bruce the defensively challenged slugger, Juan Lagares the defensive wiz who can’t hit right-handed pitching, young buck and unproven talent Michael Conforto, old man and new everyday center fielder Curtis Granderson, and Yoenis Cespedes who battled injuries for the entire 2016 season. And keeping Jay Bruce should have nothing to do with improving the bullpen. Nothing.

I called this from day one of the offseason. I wrote a post that said trading Jay Bruce is fine but a salary dump is unacceptable. I knew that if the Mets tried to work out a deal involving Bruce it would be primarily motivated by their desire to rid themselves of his 13 million dollar salary. I knew there was no way they’d take that 13 million and re-invest it in the roster. There was never a chance they’d eat some salary to make a better deal. 0% chance from day one.

My current frustration has nothing to do with Jay Bruce. I understand that we gave up a nice prospect for him, and he’s not a great fit on our roster. I get that he’s a one-dimensional slugger. Yes he can’t play the field. Sure he’s blocking Conforto and Terry Collins will always play him over Conforto even if Jay is batting .150 for three straight months. Does that frustrate me? Nope. All of my frustration is directed at the Wilpons for cutting off contact with the media after the Yo signing and closing up their wallet.

At this point I want the Wilpons to be stuck paying Bruce out of spite. Screw them. And who are we kidding? Spring injuries are an unequivocal lock for the Mets. Bruce will be playing everyday and batting fourth once God is finished smiting our regulars and destroying our depth. At least if we keep Bruce we have a viable option for when the inevitable injuries strike. I certainly can’t say the same for the bullpen.

P.S. With each passing day it’s looking more and more like Jay Bruce The Fish will be joining my family. Just like the real Jay, he’ll never walk and he’ll probably stink.

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.

The Ghosts Of Cold Stoves Past

Did Sandy Alderson’s pre-2015 signing of John Mayberry Jr. excite you? What about when the Mets signed Chris Young before the 2014 season or Alejandro De Aza before the 2016 season? I don’t know about you, but I’ll never forget the 2012/13 offseason when the Mets signed Shaun Marcum and Brandon Lyon and traded for Collin Cowgill all in the span of a few months. What a whirlwind of exciting activity.

Whenever MLB’s all-time best reliever free agent signings are discussed, I know Mets fans love to debate whether the Frank Francisco (2011/2012) or Antonio Bastardo (2015/2016) signing made a bigger mark in Mets history. One day I’ll tell my children about Sandy’s first year as Mets GM when he snagged D.J. Carrasco and Chris Capuano for the staggering combined total of 3.9 million dollars.

Then there’s the list of talented players that have walked (or been forced) out the door during the Alderson era including Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan after the 2011 season, Justin Turner after the 2013 season, and Daniel Murphy after the 2015 season.

The MLB Hot Stove has always been the primary thing that helps me survive the winds of winter. But that stroll down Mets memory lane should serve as a reminder that Sandy Alderson generally keeps the stove pretty cold. He’s never been about the flashy headline grabbing moves.

Sure he’s made the occasional offseason splash during his tenure as Mets GM. He extended David Wright (8 years 138 million) before the 2013 season which obviously hasn’t worked out due to David’s injuries, but was a no brainer at the time. He signed Curtis Granderson (4 years 60 million) and Bartolo Colon (2 years 20 million) after the 2013 season.

He searched far and wide for a big bat before the 2015 season and ended up with Michael Cuddyer (2 years 21 million) who promptly fell apart physically and retired (Whoops!). And then obviously last year he signed Asdrubal Cabrera (2 years 18.5 million (with a team option)) and retained Yoenis Cespedes (even if it only turns out to be for one extra season).

Sandy’s most impactful offseason trade was probably the R.A. Dickey deal since it netted Noah Syndergaard. But the Jon Niese for Neil Walker deal after the 2015 season was a close runner-up.

The bottom line is we’ve all seen the Alderson front office strategy. He generally makes some minor additions to the roster during the winter and leaves something to be desired. He’ll make a few cost efficient signings and an occasional under the radar trade. Then he adds major league depth via trade or the waiver wire to the extent the roster needs it over the course of the season (e.g. Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, James Loney, Jose Reyes etc.) before going big at the trade deadline (e.g. Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce).

In no way am I trying to criticize anything Sandy has done as General Manager. Sandy built up the farm system, lifted our franchise out of the doldrums, acquired two of the most talented players to ever don the Mets uniform in Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes, and all of his actions have resulted in two straight playoff appearances.

That being said, as a sofa GM who lives for the rumor mill, it would be a refreshing change to see an offseason full of meaningful moves for the Mets. Plus, the whole strategy of making trades over the course of the season to patch up roster holes isn’t the best way to maintain the talented minor league system that Sandy helped create.

I suppose it’s possible we will see some more action this winter considering the last two years the Mets’ Hot Stove has trended up in temperature. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up folks. I’m grabbing my gloves and scarf just in case Sandy sticks to his typical plan and avoids any major signings. But if adding a middle reliever, a right-handed hitting bat for the bench, and a backup catcher on one year deals lights your fire, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the kind of “heat” the Mets bring.

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

The Mets Will Double Down In 2017

Do you like teams built around talented young power arms that could fall apart due to injury at any moment? Do you like streaky power hitters and an offense that scores the majority of its runs via the long ball? Do you like short term contracts and a hard mandate from ownership to avoid expensive long term deals? Well then you probably love the team Sandy Alderson has assembled in Queens. Pitching, power, and payroll flexibility have been three of the hallmarks of Sandy’s New York Mets. And if you’ve watched him operate over the last six years you also probably realize that he’s unlikely to change his approach for the 2017 season. That’s right folks. Don’t get excited about the prospect of the Mets adding a number of new high-priced free agents. Brace yourselves. Sandy is about to double down on the current roster.

Pitching: Despite the injuries to our pitching staff of young aces, the Mets had the third ranked team ERA (3.58) in 2016. Noah Syndergaard emerged as a stud ace. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz are all supposed to be healthy and recovered from their surgeries by Spring Training. Bartolo Colon has stated he wants to return to the Mets in 2017, and considering he was the most durable arm on the staff in 2016 (led the team with 191.2 IP) the Mets have every reason to bring him back. Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and Gabriel Ynoa stepped up down the stretch and gave the Mets confidence in their organizational rotation depth.

Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed were arguably the two most reliable relievers in baseball in 2016. The Mets aren’t likely to shell out big bucks on a late inning reliever like Aroldis Chapman when they already have an elite back-end bullpen combo. They aren’t likely to bring in another starter when they have all the young aces due back for Spring Training and other young arms ready to step up at Triple-A. All signs point to the pitching staff remaining fully intact and mostly unchanged next season.

Power: The Mets hit 218 homers as a team in 2016 (5th in baseball). They had four regulars who hit 20 or more homers (Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera). Jay Bruce hit 8 home runs as a Met and 33 on the season. Lucas Duda and David Wright failed to amass double-digit home runs totals due to injury, but they’ve both done so many times during their careers. Travis d’Arnaud had an awful season at the plate in 2016 and struggled to throw out base runners, but it’s possible that some of that was due to the rotator cuff injury he suffered during the season.

D’Arnaud is under team control for three more seasons, and the Mets will almost certainly bank on him returning to his 2014/15 form where he showed his power potential. Asdrubal Cabrera is signed for next season and his second half power surge helped propel the team to the Wild Card game. David Wright seemingly plans to attempt another comeback and has no interest in retiring. Lucas Duda is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and is likely to be tendered a contract. Curtis Granderson is signed for one more season, and when the Mets inevitably pick up Jay Bruce’s one year 13 million dollar option he’ll be under team control as well. If Sandy has his way, this entire group of power hitters will return in 2017.

Payroll Flexibility: The final characteristic of Sandy’s club is an emphasis on payroll/roster flexibility. Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Jose Reyes are all likely to return next year on one year contracts. That sounds like a Sandy Alderson payroll/roster flexibility dream scenario. It will allow him to re-evaluate a large portion of the roster at the end of next season.

The only real offseason question marks surround the future of Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes. This is where the payroll flexibility trait becomes a double-edged sword. On the surface, it makes sense for the Mets to retain Yo and Walker. They were arguably the two most productive hitters on the roster last year. But we all know ownership is unlikely to engage in a bidding war and pay Yo the contract he deserves if he decides to opt-out of his deal. Based on historical precedent, it’s unlikely that Sandy signs Neil Walker to a long-term deal either. But his late season back surgery at least makes it conceivable that he will entertain accepting a one year 16.7 million dollar qualifying offer if the Mets extend it. If by some miracle Walker accepts a qualifying offer and ownership is willing to add a few extra years to Cespedes’ current deal to keep him from opting out, the Mets might just be able to keep the entire roster intact while also meeting Sandy’s long-term payroll flexibility standards.

The bottom line is once you take a look at the state of the roster outlined above, it becomes pretty clear that Sandy is going to double down on his three pillars- pitching, power, and payroll flexibility. They may look to trade some outfield depth for another player that fits better on the roster and to create an opportunity for Michael Conforto to play. But based on how Sandy has operated in the past, I wouldn’t expect a massive roster overhaul. He’s more likely to make every effort to bring back this entire 87 win squad and hope that the team has some better luck in 2017. And considering Sandy led this team to two straight playoff appearances for only the second time in franchise history, it’s hard for me to doubt him if that turns out to be his approach.

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

Sandy and Matz? Respect 

Final Score: Mets 4, Cubs 3

Before last night’s game even started, the media talked to Sandy Alderson about the state of the team. I respect the hell out of what Sandy said. Sandy basically said there’s no savior coming. He said there’s no Yoenis Cespedes on the horizon. There’s no big trade or trades that will help the Mets salvage this season. Sandy put the onus on the players on the current roster. Sandy essentially said “step the hell up”. Which is what I’ve been preaching for a while. I really respect Sandy doubling down on the roster he built. It may come back to burn him. But in my opinion he’s saying the right thing.

Matz Respect: Before the game, it was being widely reported that Steven Matz was considering surgery to get that bone spur removed from his elbow. Apparently the Mets convinced him to battle through the injury. They gave him the anti-inflammatory injection. Now, it goes without saying that nobody should ever trust the Mets medical advice. He shouldn’t pitch if he’s risking any long term damage. That being said, I respect his decision. I respect that he went out there and gave the Mets a chance to win. He basically abandoned his slider because it puts the most strain on his elbow. I’m not sure if his approach is sustainable, but I respect him for not giving up on us.

Steven Matz went 5.1 innings, gave up 7 hits, 3 runs, walked 3 and struck out 6. He certainly wasn’t at his best. In the first inning, Kris Bryant hit a 2 run jack off of Matz. Matz tried to get a 1-2 pitch down and in, and he left it over the plate. Bad pitch. Great hitter. In the 6th inning, he left another pitch out over the middle and Javier Baez made him pay with a solo blast that made it 3-0 Cubs. Once Matz’s pitch count got over 100, Terry decided to yank him. It worked out because Erik Goeddel gave the Mets 1.2 innings of solid relief.

Yo Bomb: In the bottom of the 6th inning, Yoenis Cespedes did his job as team spark and crushed a moon shot homer off of John Lackey. It went to the upper deck in left. It was over 450 feet. Absolute bomb. The Mets didn’t score anything else that inning, but I think it woke the team up.

Finding Nimmo: So I think the Cespedes homer helped wake the team up, and also the Cubs bullpen was dog crap. Travis d’Arnaud hit a one out single off of Lackey in the 7th inning. D’Arnaud had two hits in the game. He needs to get things going for the Mets to have any chance of competing this summer. Anyway, Cubs reliever Joel Peralta came in and promptly walked Alejandro De Aza. I don’t care that De Aza had a nice AB. Inexcusable walk by the Cubs pen. Then last night’s leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo came to the plate. Nimmo had a fantastic AB against Peralta. He got the count to 3-2 and managed to rope one up the middle to drive in d’Arnaud and get De Aza to third base. I can’t even remember the last time the Mets had a clutch hit, but this one was as clutch as they come. That made the score 3-2 Cubs. Then Joe Maddon brought in Pedro Strop and the Cubs essentially gave the Mets the lead. With De Aza on third and Nimmo on second, Neil Walker hit a ball to second baseman Javier Baez. Baez threw the ball to third base to try and get Nimmo, and he made a terrible throw that missed Bryant’s glove. De Aza scored and Nimmo scored and that made it 4-3 Mets.

The Bridge: Addison Reed came in for the 8th inning and gave up a single to Willson Contreras. He struck out the next two batters, although he did toss a wild pitch along the way that allowed Contreras to get to second base. Then in the “Battle of the Addisons”, Reed walked Addison Russell and Terry pulled him from the game. Luckily, Jerry Blevins came in, retired Jason Heyward and preserved the lead.

Thank You Jeurys: Jeurys Familia did his 2016 tightrope routine. He walked leadoff man Miguel Montero and gave up a double to Ben Zobrist. Then he struck out Kris Bryant for the first out. He walked Anthony Rizzo intentionally to load the bases. Then Familia got a strikeout followed by a pop out to end the game.

Fire: Steven Matz was ready to charge the mound last night when Lackey almost hit him with a pitch in the fifth inning. Nimmo was jacked up when he won his battle against Joel Peralta and smacked that clutch hit in the 7th inning. Addison Reed was ready to punch a wall when Terry pulled him in the 8th inning. Jerry Blevins was screaming and shouting when he got the last out in the 8th. Familia’s head was about to explode when he closed the game out. I’m sure these guys are jacked up for the Cubs. There’s no doubt about it. But they have to be jacked up to turn this season around too. They knows what’s up. They feel our pain. I hope they keep this fire all weekend.

Today: Jacob deGrom goes tonight. Let’s win two games before Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester take the mound. Right the ship baby. Score runs please.

Weekly Roundup: Takeout Slides, Chipper Predictions, and Prayers for Maverick

MLB/Union Closer to 2B Takeout Slide Rule Change: I ranted in a January 27th post about how the league still hasn’t done a damn thing to rectify the 2B takeout slide problem. Well it seems they heard my complaining. Now that Ruben Tejada has finally shed his walking boot and Jung Ho Kang is making big strides in his daily physical therapy, the league has finally made some alleged progress. Heck, according to Buster Olney’s report, the Union and MLB claim they may make real changes before the season begins. Olney said they want to make sure runners “touch the base or make an effort to touch the base”. The planned rule change is meant to “improve safety” while maintaining “players’ aggressiveness”. In addition, they are still debating whether slides in question can be reviewed by instant replay.

So to recap, the current 2B slide rule essentially says the runner should be close enough to touch the base. The proposed new rule would say the runner must attempt to touch the base, and it wouldn’t discourage aggressive slides. I can really see the differences in the rules. Sounds like a groundbreaking reform that will really change the sport. And of course they don’t want umpires to be able to review these types of slides because it may slow down the games. This is going to go well. I will reserve judgement until the final rule is published but needless to say I’m skeptical. If it goes anything like when they changed the home plate collision rules, we are in for a long season full of confused players, managers, and umpires.

Chipper Predictions: Chipper Jones in a radio interview this week said the Mets are his early season favorite to win the World Series. Larry is really something else. From the Mets archrival to the team’s biggest booster. After the Chase Utley takeout slide he came out and ripped Chase a new one. Now he’s endorsing the Mets as future 2016 World Champions? And it’s not like he’s unemployed and endorsing the Mets from his couch. He literally works for the Braves. He just got hired as a special assistant.

He’s got to be working an angle. Still trolling us after all those years of crushing the franchise. It started with him naming his kid Shea. Now he’s taking it up a notch by pretending to be our biggest fan. I completely understand why Chipper would love our team. It’s designed exactly like his 90s Braves squad. A potential juggernaut built around young pitching. However, I think Chipper’s “love affair” with the pitching rich Mets is kind of like Eli Manning’s “love” for his brother Peyton. Right now, Chipper has the championship swag like Eli did before last week’s Super Bowl. So he’s “rooting” for the Mets like Eli was “rooting” for Peyton. The Mets are just a similarly designed team with aspirations to be as successful as the 90s Braves. We want to win 14 consecutive division titles like the Braves did between 1991 and 2005. We want to advance to the World Series 5 times like they did in the 90s. But the second we win one lone championship like Chipper did with the 1995 Braves, his cheerleader routine will stop. If we ever found a way to win two, Chipper could have twins named Citifield and Shake Shack, and he still wouldn’t get his championship mojo back.

Pray for Maverick (and Wright): Sandy Alderson conducted an interview with Steve Serby of the NY Post. First off, in the interview Sandy talked about how he was diagnosed with cancer four days after the Mets clinched the NL East last season, and he is still undergoing chemotherapy. The guy is a front office legend and clearly tough as hell. I hope the Wilpons actually give him some time off this season so he can recover instead of making him face the relentless media day in and day out. But it’s more likely the Wilpons remain in the panic room they had built in 2008 after Madoff was arrested and just let their lackey John Ricco deal with the press. Either way, pray for Sandy.

And while we are at it, pray for David Wright. Sandy said he hopes David and his titanium spine can play 130 games next season. Honestly, I will take anything we can get from David. 100 games would work for me. Quite frankly, we’d be better off keeping Wright cryogenically frozen until 2017 when the NL institutes the DH so he can take that job full time. Although considering our trainer Ray Ramirez can barely administer an X-Ray, I’m not sure I’d trust him to handle the freezing procedure.

Two New Cubans: This week, two new Cubans defected from the motherland. 31 year old 3B Yulieski Gourriel and 22 year old SS/OF Lourdes Gourriel Jr. were supposedly two of the top players remaining in Cuba. Are they brothers? Noooooo…….Yes!!!!

These two brothers are expected to be impact players in the major leagues. Pretty much like every Cuban player that has defected to date. The older brother Yulieski is supposed to have an immediate impact while the younger brother may need some minor league seasoning. It’s hard to complain about the Mets lack of interest in Cuban players considering we just signed the best one in the business. That being said, John Ricco should have a welcome party on standby in Florida, and we should be signing every Cuban player that comes ashore. Especially a Cuban star that plays 3B considering Wright is our biggest question mark. But I’m sure he’ll just wind up a Yankee as they are one of the teams rumored to have interest.

Clippard Departs, Mejia Promptly Banned: I wrote earlier this week about the departure of Tyler Clippard for a 2 year deal in Arizona. And of course, four days later Jenrry Mejia is promptly banned from the game for life due to a third positive PED test. Mejia getting banned for life makes too much sense. Things were too quiet in Mets land. It was inevitable that the first bad thing of 2016 was going to happen. I also think it’s hilarious that at the trade deadline we acquired Clippard and immediately afterwards Mejia received his second steroid suspension. And now once again, Clippard’s move and Mejia’s suspension happen simultaneously.

Mejia wasn’t part of the team last year, and we replaced Clippard with Antonio Bastardo, so I suppose our pen will be fine. But it still isn’t good that two relief options for 2016 have evaporated in one week. And speaking of Bastardo, he has to be next on the Mets steroid watch list right? He’s been suspended before, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see our primary set up man go down for a second time.

Royals Plan Two World Series Celebrations: The Royals announced this week that they plan to have a World Series celebration in both games against the Mets to start the season. Banner raising the first game and then ring presentations on night two. Really just rubbing our faces in it. Well that’s just perfect. At least this doubles the chances for former Royals Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto to catch the ceremonies on TV. But in all seriousness, screw the Royals. I hope this fires the Mets up and helps them keep their eyes on the ultimate prize.

Minor League Notes: This week the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. He may play all 3 outfield positions but he’ll never fill the void left by Triple A Vegas legend Kirk “3 Dingers” Nieuwenhuis.

Also, the Texas Rangers have officially signed former Met Ike Davis to a minor league deal. Oh how the mighty have fallen. From first round pick to Quadruple-A All-Star. I’m not sure how smart it was for him to take the deal considering Texas is just over an hour flight from Arizona where he contracted his Valley Fever. Although I suppose he had no real choice. Maybe another fresh start will finally cure him of the Valley Fever aka Mets disease. Nothing worked for Jason Bay, but perhaps there’s still hope for Ike. Not bloody likely.

2016 Mets: Pre-Season Scapegoat Predictions 

Before the Democrats had Wall Street and Trump had Mexican immigrants, Mets fans had the Wilpons to blame for all the team’s ills. Whenever the Mets were at or near the basement of the NL East over the last 7 years, the fans would ready their fingers for pointing at Jeff and Fred. “They are slashing payroll! They are in debt! They meddled in baseball decisions! We can’t win unless they sell the team!”

As you might expect, the Wilpons heard the criticism and simply joined in on the scapegoating. In fact, you could say they were the trailblazers for all the modern political finger pointing trends by blaming Bernie Madoff and Latin American immigrant General Manager Omar Minaya. It would be nice if Mets fans, the Wilpons, politicians, and society as a whole could all just unite in their scapegoating and find one illegal immigrant Mexican insider trading hedge fund manager to blame for all of the world’s problems, but I fear that day may never come.

Anyway, whenever the losing set in over the last 7 years (usually right before the All-Star break), Mets fans were ready with the stock Wilpon excuses. However, 2016 will be the first season in a long time where the Wilpons won’t be the default scapegoat. In fact, because the Wilpons signed Yoenis Cespedes and let Maverick Sandy make every move he wanted, fans can’t possibly blame them. At least not this year.

That being said, in a season that begins with the highest of expectations, finger pointing is inevitable the second the slightest thing goes wrong. So without further ado, here is the list of Top 5 likeliest goats if things fall apart in 2016:



5) The New Guy –
Whenever things go wrong, the easiest thing to do is to blame the new guy. And when the new guy is replacing a particularly popular player in Daniel Murphy, it makes him an even likelier target. Neil Walker has been one of the most consistently productive offensive 2B in all of baseball over the last 5 seasons. He’s a switch hitter, a better defender than Murphy, and he’s in a contract year. There’s almost no reason to believe he will do anything but thrive in the middle of the Mets lineup and earn himself a nice big payday after the season. That being said, after watching Jason Bay come over to New York as one of the most productive outfielders in the league and inexplicably deteriorate right before our eyes, there’s no guarantee that someone will thrive in the Big Apple just because they excelled in Pittsburgh. Plus look at the guy. I know he’s got a reputation as a hard-nosed player, but he appears to be butter soft. He looks like the kind of guy that reads the Bible in the hotel room on road trips. And not in that Daniel Murphy psycho fundamentalist Christian way but in that “I read it for the wisdom within” kind of way. I’m confident he is going to have a huge season for us. However, he’ll be one of the first fan targets if he has a rough start to the season and the team struggles.



4) Old Man Collins
– The manager is always a top scapegoat target especially when the team has high expectations for the season. Terry “Cotton Hill” Collins has faced a ton of adversity during his tenure managing this team. From the time he was hired in 2011 until August of last season, the team was completely awful. But the team was bad by design during those years. For the first time ever, Terry has the real NYC spotlight on him, and every managerial decision he makes is going to get scrutinized at an extreme level. Just look at Harveygate in Game 5 of the World Series. Even though he’s made a ton of questionable in game decisions during his time as manager, Game 5 may have been the first time he was broadly criticized by all the MLB talking heads. Why? Because it was a big game and people were actually paying attention. Now Terry is going to face that level of scrutiny for 162 games. We’ve seen Terry handle losing when it was expected, but it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a losing streak when Vegas expects us to win.



3) David Wright‘s Titanium Spine
– Last season, David Wright‘s spinal stenosis and all the injuries on the team in general had a major impact on the Mets pre-trade deadline performance. However, the injured players didn’t get blamed as much as the Wilpons did for not allowing Sandy Alderson to build a deep roster. Well now we have a deep roster, and David Wright has started his inevitable transformation into an injury-prone cyborg. With his spine deteriorating by the day and his desperate need for a futuristic titanium replacement growing, he’s in danger of becoming more machine than man. If he once again misses lengthy periods of the season and the team struggles, the fans may finally start complaining a little more about his frailty and gigantic contract. Or maybe all his robot parts will translate into a late career surge in performance and like astronaut Steve Austin he will transform into the inflation adjusted 138 million dollar man that we always hoped he would be.



2) Matt Harvey and his Sexcapades
Matt Harvey is the face of the Mets franchise. He demanded to be the face when he arrived, and he got his wish. He is always on the brink of being blamed for everything under the sun. He tweeted out that picture after his Tommy John surgery where he was flipping everyone off and he was widely criticized. At the end of last season, everyone was ready to crucify him because of the media fabricated story that he wanted to stop pitching once he reached his “innings limit”. Before the playoffs started he missed some BS workout and everyone was freaking out. The point is everything he does is going to be scrutinized. And all those criticisms I mentioned have happened while he’s been at the top of his game. If he experiences just the slightest amount of playoff hangover fatigue and his performance dips, it won’t be long before the media is blaming his appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers for the team’s “lack of focus”. As long as the team is winning and he is performing at the top of his game, he can turn his limo into a clown car full of models and take them all to see the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. If Harvey and the Mets struggle, he’ll be run out of town faster than you can say “Dark Knight”.



1) Yoenis Cespedes and his Smoking/Bat Flipping/Laziness
– The acquisition of Cespedes, his torrid summer, and the Mets playoff run, happened so fast that fans barely had time to complain about anything let alone about Cespedes. But that didn’t stop a contingent of asshole Mets fans from forming after the World Series who thought the Mets should let Cespedes walk because he misplayed Alcides Escobar‘s lead-off inside the park home run in Kansas City. That’s right. There were fans who turned against the man who carried the team to the playoffs because he had a bad World Series (along with everyone else on the team). Imagine how quickly they will turn on him if he has a down month and the offense can’t get anything going during his slump. I can hear the complaining already. “His bat flipping is cocky” and “He takes lazy routes to the ball” and “He doesn’t run hard to first base” and on and on. Let’s not forget that Cespedes already has a made up reputation for being a clubhouse distraction, so it’s only a matter of time before the media decides to dust off the old lies and re-print them. In fact, he’ll wind up getting scapegoated for a lot of the same reasons Trump scapegoats Mexican immigrants. Basically a bunch of made up racist reasons. Anyway, let’s hope that we win 100 games and his bat flipping becomes an iconic memory of the season rather than a symbol of his “immaturity” like the Mejia save stomp (R.I.P. Jenrry).

After a run to the World Series and a successful offseason, it’s hard to feel anything but positive about our chances coming into the season. That being said, these are the Mets we are talking about. And I know come Opening Day when the Mets are losing to the Royals in Kansas City and my beer is half-empty, I am going to be looking to point my finger at someone. Better to just prepare for the inevitable now.

Reality Check: Trading De Aza Makes No Sense


Today the Mets held a press conference to re-announce the Yoenis Cespedes signing. Just a little show for the cameras and another opportunity for Cespedes to say through his translator that he’s happy to be back in New York and wants to win the World Series. Great. Fantastic. Fans love to see events like this, and they get everyone pumped for the season.

The problems started when Sandy came out for Q&A and the focus of the beat reporters shifted from Cespedes to the future of Alejandro De Aza. That’s right. On this exciting day for the franchise, the beat reporters couldn’t stop asking Sandy questions like “how will everyone get enough playing time?” And “will you consider trading De Aza this spring?”

To the trade question Sandy responded, “We’re not pursuing any of that at the moment”. He also talked about how everyone on the roster is a “regular” and we should look at “the full complement of players”.

But of course the media is focusing on how he added De Aza’s situation is “a little less clear” and his admission that a trade is “conceivable”.

Ummmm what the hell is everyone talking about? After creating an incredibly deep and talented roster, why would we want to trade away the depth?!? Why are the reporters even wasting our GM’s time by asking him these stupid questions? These questions imply that having depth is a problem and that trading De Aza makes sense.

News flash everyone: You need depth to win. Did we learn nothing from the second half of last season? Do we really want to line the bench with garbage players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis who strike out every time they get up to bat? And by asking the question about De Aza’s playing time, the reporters are ignoring what De Aza did the second Cespedes signed. He logged on Facebook and wrote:

“Looking forward to playing alongside Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and the rest of my new Met teammates. Focus is not on individual accomplishments, its on winning a championship for the city of New York.”

So De Aza doesn’t even care about his damn playing time. He publicly told everyone that’s he’s jacked up to backup.

And the questions are even more absurd because of the chain of events in our organization the last 7 days. Brandon Nimmo, our top outfield prospect at AAA just tore a ligament in his foot. He’s out 4-6 weeks. Yesterday we traded away Darrell Ceciliani to the Blue Jays to make room on the roster for Cespedes. So if we trade De Aza who the hell steps in on the bench? Eric “Soup” Campbell? He’s more likely to hit .400 in Triple-A Vegas than hit .150 in the major leagues.

The beat reporters spent the entire offseason writing articles about how Cespedes wasn’t a good fit for the team and how we needed to instead build a deep and versatile roster. Well they were all proven wrong about Cespedes when Sandy Alderson disagreed with their crackpot theories and brought him back. Now we have our star and our deep roster. Can everyone just shut up, smile, and enjoy it?

Weekly Roundup: It’s All Part of The Plan

 

On Wednesday, Sandy Alderson, Jeff Wilpon and Cespedes’ agent held a conference call to discuss how the Mets reunion with Cespedes unfolded. The details don’t really matter. The takeaways are that Cespedes is really happy to be here. He wants to win a championship. He wants to stay with the Mets forever. However, there were two notable comments. When asked about the impact the fan outcry had on the team’s decision making, Alderson said, “We understood the magnitude of this issue with the media and our fans and we didn’t want to over-project what we thought might happen.”

In other words they heard the fans, absolutely wanted to appease the masses, and didn’t want to disappoint them by promising to get Cespedes and then missing out. That is a perfectly acceptable and understandable response. 

When asked the same question, Jeff Wilpon dismissed the impact of the fan base and said, “It was the right time to get the deal done.” He added for the team to do a deal with Cespedes it “had to make business sense and had to be part of the plan.” 

He said it was all part of the plan!!! Baaahahahahaha. That’s gold. 

He then added, “You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that we are going to do everything we can to improve the team, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old star player may not be back next season, well then everyone loses their minds!”

Fantastic insight from renowned sociopath Jeff “The Joker” Wilpon. It’s extremely comforting as a fan to see that even after the Cespedes signing (i.e. the finest hour for the Wilpons in recent memory) that Jeff still remains completely out of touch with reality. He still has no sense of what the fans actually want (hint: it’s winning), what they want to hear and how to regain some goodwill after years of destroying it. 

Matt Harvey has Group Sex? Duh: Matt Harvey appeared this week on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, along with TV news anchor Connie Chung. In the segment hosted by Bravo’s creator Andy Cohen, the group played “Never have I ever” and revealed some shocking secrets. The first “secret” revealed was that Matt Harvey had a ménage à trois on a baseball field in college or something like that. Andy Cohen also acknowledged having a three-way or two in his life. Absolute shock of the century to hear that rich handsome celebrities have group sex. Quite frankly I imagine group sex is pretty much all Harvey and Cohen do when they aren’t playing baseball and interviewing Housewives of [insert trashy location] respectively.  

Cohen also revealed he’s done a lot of blow in his day. Harvey just shook his head and obviously remained silent on his own personal drug habits. When asked about her use of cocaine, Connie Chung (who I previously thought was a fictional character) stared blankly into space (possibly in the midst of a drug fueled paranoid hallucination). 

Final Notes: The Mets revealed Brandon Nimmo has a partially torn tendon in his left foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. Now that we have a deep major league roster, this news doesn’t sting quite as much as it could have. However, this does suck for Nimmo because he desperately needs to have a breakout 2016 season at AAA in Vegas. He was picked 13th in the 2011 draft out of high school, but he will be 23 in March and he has reached the point where he needs to separate himself from the pack in the minor leagues. In 12 months if Nimmo hasn’t taken big strides in Vegas the word “bust” is going to start being tossed around. I read some scout comparing him to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. That’s not good. He should probably find a way to shake that comparison. 

With illegitimate reliever Anthony Bastard officially added to the roster, the Mets were forced to put rubber armed reliever Carlos Torres on waivers. He’s probably going to get claimed. I would rather not lose him because I like him as a depth bullpen arm on the roster. That being said we really pitched him into the ground over the last few years. He’s probably physically dunzo. 

Finally, when asked about how to hit Mets pitching, A-Rod said “you go to church on Sunday and light up a couple of candles”. I hate A-Rod but you gotta love when any hitter says the only hope against the Mets staff is to pray. I also love A-Rod continuing the trend of MLB juice heads pointing to the man upstairs for the answers. As Manny Ramirez once said regarding whether or not to expect another positive steroid test, “Only God Knows”.