From Tom Seaver to Dwight Gooden to David Wright, A look at the New York Mets past, present and future.
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In a move that is beneficial to both the player(s) and team, the New York Mets traded Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a minor league reliever and player to be named later Friday April 18th. This trade had to happen after the Mets shopped Davis for much of the offseason and the organization liked the combination of power and on base percentage Lucas Duda brings to the position. New York brings in righty reliever Zack Thornton, a ground ball specialist, who will start at Triple A and could help the Mets pen sometime this year. The key to this transaction is the player to be named and according to credible sources ,like MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, NY will add a significant piece.
This was a tough night for the Mets players and fans like myself who liked Ike and wanted him to do well. But injuries, inconsistences and poor play forced GM Sandy Alderson’s hand. Having Duda and Davis on the 25 man roster over 162 games would not work and cost the team wins. Roster flexibility is key and a player like Josh Satin, who can play multiple positions, allows skipper Terry Collins to go to war without a hand tied behind his back. Davis was very popular within the Mets locker room and the core group of this team- David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell- are roughly the same age and have been together for 4-5 years in the big leagues. It was understandable that the team looked flat Friday night. As Collins said post game, these players are people too. As a reporter, this was tough to watch. Ike Davis was viewed as a future corner stone but did not workout and was moved. Tough to take.
I want to wish Ike Davis well- he was fun to cover and on the SNY broadcasts this year, Mets broadcasters and Collins have gone out of their way to mention how popular Ike was within the locker room. When the Mets were considering to sent him down to Las Vegas two years ago, Collins had 15-20 players outside his office waiting for word. Sideline reporter Kevin Burkhardt told a story last night about how he was having a rough day pregame a couple of years ago and Davis- in midst of a terrible slump- came over and tried to cheer him up. A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Playing in NY is not always easy and when the team is bad, very difficult. I know this was best for all parties involved but I will always root for Ike. Glad he is going to a good, young, up coming team in Pittsburgh with one of the best minds in the game in Clint Hurdle managing. Good Luck, Ike!
People laughed at me when I predicted good things for this team. Listen, I love the Mets and have for over 30 years but I get paid to report not promote. This team has pitching and athletes who can make plays defensively and on the bases. They play hard and this Manager(Terry Collins) has created an environment of effort and competition in a losing environment. That is not easy to do. You ever notice how the Mets get short chained on travel-off days and why they get shipped out to the West Coast from Atlanta in April? The commissioner’s office(and our friends in the Bronx) do not respect this team and want them to fail. Thats ok. Clearly, Joe Torre has memory loss.(First Managing Job with the Mets–look it up!) You win and lose on the field. This group has character and talent. The worm has turned. No more rolling out the balls and bats and getting the W. You might beat this team but the 2014 New York Mets will make you work and earn it. The first 3 weeks have shown that. This team started 0-3 and is now 8-7 after sweeping the Struggling Diamondbacks to complete a 6-3 city road swing thru Atlanta(Won 2 of 3), Anaheim(1 win) and Arizona. The sign of a good club is depth- guys like catcher Anthony Recker, OF Eric Young, 1B Lucas Duda and recent call up Kirk Nieuwenhuis all came up big during the trip and the Mets need contributions from EVERYONE if this season is going to be successful.
Juan Gone: One of the negatives of this week was a hamstring injury to rookie CF Juan Lagares, who was really playing well. The defensive hi-light reel was hitting over .300 and carrying my fantasy team!!!!!!! He has been DL-ed but initial reports have the a minor issue and Lagares could be back by early May. Nieuwenhuis is a very good defender and Both Youngs- Eric Jr and Chris- can also play CF. Meanwhile, Chris(Quad) is back with the team and will be activate off the DL for Friday’s opener vs the Braves at Citi Field. Lets hope both Chris and Juan are ok. I really like both players and this outfield in general. Meanwhile, free agent signee Curtis Granderson missed the final 2 games off the trip after running into the wall while making a defensive play. The Mets cleanup hitter escaped serious injury but was very stiff, sore and bruised on most of the left side of his body. He should return to the lineup sometime this weekend. New York wants to be careful with Granderson, who had a tough season in 2013 with two major injuries.
Mets Notes: The John Lannan experiment has ended and he was outrighted to Triple A pre game Thursday. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been recalled after pitching great in Las Vegas(2.25 ERA in 2 games) and will help in a long relief role. However, starters Bartolo Colon(Back) and Jenrry Mejia(Blister) are both less than 100% and any rotation depth would be a great asset…. Eric Young has been great over the last 9 games, hitting .333 with 12 runs and 9 stolen bases. People laughed when Collins said if he has a .350 On base he would score 120 runs. The man is the skipper of the Mets for a reason…. Dillon Gee was great Thursday, no runs over 7+ innings and did it economically. He became the 3rd Met in franchise history to throw 7+ innings using 75 pitches…. I know Travis d’Arnaud(.182, homer but hits in 3 of last 4 starts) has not hit much but I love the tandem of d’Arnaud and Recker behind the plate. Are they Mike Piazza? No but check out the lack of catching in MLB, this is a good unit in Queens… Two areas than concern me(Because I do have two eyes): Jose Valverde and Ruben Tejada. I watched Valverde for his entire career in Detroit and when he is bad, he is BAD. Think Armando Benitez on steroids. If this guy is the Mets closer for 6 months, we will need ambulances nightly at Citi Field. Good guy, teammate, etc but man, does he give up BOMBS. I am willing to give Ruben more rope because I am using it to hang Jose but Tejada is next. He just has awful at bats at times and Bobby Ojeda talks about it all the time on the Mets SNY post game show. I am old enough to have watched Bobby O pitch and when I see him talking about a lack of adjustments(Chasing high pitches as example) it makes me want to drink. I like- no love-Omar Quintanilla as a backup but neither player hits enough to draw 140 starts. This is a huge problem for New York and the Mets will be linked to Stephen Drew until he is on a major league team.
The New York Mets finished the opening home stand 2-4 vs the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field Sunday. The Nats- who seem to have New York’s number- swept 3 games while the Mets took 2 of 3 from the Reds. One constant for New York was starting pitching- in 5 of the 6 games, Mets starters posted quality starts(6 innings or more, 3 earned runs allowed). The lone game where the starter did not was Sunday’s game when Jon Niese was pulled with a pitch limit(90, still recovering from minor injuries in Spring Training) after allowing 2 runs in 5 and 2 thirds of an inning. Dillon Gee(Twice), Bartolo Colon, Jenrry Mejia and Zack Wheeler have all pitched well and kept the team in games. Meanwhile, veterans Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth have helped ease the burden of the unfortunate injury to closer Bobby Parnell and had strong outings with the new club. Mets fans need to be both guarded and optimistic after week 1, these are two of the better teams in the National League and although the Reds were minus star closer Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati is still tough. The Mets competed and did not look out of place. This team has a lot of new players and needs time to gel but they are tough and have talent. The days of people getting healthy vs the New York Mets are over.
METS NOTES: OF Chris Young was placed on the DL with a quad issue and Niese took his spot on the 25 man roster. Look for Eric Young to play left field almost exclusively in his absence with Andrew Brown(3 run homer on opening day) getting occasional work… The team announced Friday April 4th that Lucas Duda would be the starting First Baseman heading forward. Duda responded with 2 home runs. Meanwhile, Ike Davis hit an incredible walk off grand slam as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th Saturday to cap a 6-3 win. Honestly, the best Mets win in about 6 years. Manager Terry Collins will continue to look for ways to get Davis some work and with several games coming up on the road vs American League teams look for Davis to DH…. 2B Daniel Murphy, his wife and new born son are the 1st non story- story of the year. What #28 and his family do and are allowed under the CBA is not news. People taking shots at a guy being a good father and husband are. The Met organization supported the player and he returned to the team a day early. Some people need to report that. Daniel Murphy is a good player, works hard and did absolutely nothing wrong. END OF STORY…. While I am on my soap box let me toss out this stat- and those who read my blog know I am a BIG Curtis Granderson fan- 3 players in the history of the New York Yankees have had seasons of 40+ home runs, 100= rbi and 100+ runs back to back. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and…. CURTIS GRANDERSON. Stop with the Jason Bay, Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar references. Call me in July…. While the injury to Chris Young stinks for Chris, CF Juan Lagares has seized an opportunity offensively(.350, homer, 3 rbi, 5 runs, 1.117 OPS) while playing spectacular defense. I cannot say this enough- play this kid everyday, twice on Sunday. HE IS A PLAYER!!!!!!!
The New York Mets and their beleaguered bullpen took a major hit Sunday night when it was announced closer Bobby Parnell will undergo Tommy John Surgery Tuesday and be lost for the remainder of the 2014 season. After blowing a save in the season opener, Parnell underwent an MRI on his right elbow which showed a partially-torn MCL. Originally the team was hoping to rehab the injury with rest and a throwing program. However, by having the surgery now a return for the start of the 2015 campaign is realistic. The normal recovery time for Tommy John is 12 months. Of course, Mets ace Matt Harvey had a similar procedure last October as well. New York will continue to use Jose Valverde in the 9th and could possibly groom a Triple A pitcher such as Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom to fill the role. Street free agents such as Ryan Madson, Kevin Gregg or Joel Hanrahan are also options. I cannot say this enough- the Mets cannot and will not use this injury as an excuse. It stinks, sucks,etc for Bobby, the players, Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson,etc. But injury provides opportunity and the team that won the World Series in 2013- The Boston Red Sox-had 2 closers go down and turned to Koji Uehara, who was both dominant and historic(4-1 in 73 games, 21 for 24 in saves, 101 Ks to 9 walks, 1.09 ERA and .57 WHIP). MLB is not going to cancel the Mets season or feel sorry for them. The show most go on. This team can and will win games without Bobby Parnell.
The Mets season fortunes took a major hit on Tuesday April 1st and unfortunately it was not a joke. Closer Bobby Parnell, who had surgery on a disc-neck problem late in 2013, was diagnosed with partial tear of the UCL in his right throwing elbow. This type of injury usually requires Tommy John Surgery(Jeremy Heffner had a similar issue in 2013) but the team is hoping a treatment plan will give Parnell the ability to return in 2014. The righty will rest for 2 weeks after receiving a plasma rich therapy injection and resume a throwing program at that date. The Mets will then make a determination medically on how to head forward. Let it be noted that Matt Harvey tried a similar approach with a different type of ligament(UCL) but still required Tommy John. Free agent signee Jose Valverde is the top option on the current roster to close games.
On the eve of the Mets opener, I am very excited about the prospects for the 2014 team. I like this group- on the field and off it— the management team of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have rebuilt this roster and assembled a team that has both youth and vets. Anyone who follows the game knows what the Mets have on the horizon and where their farm system stands. The current team should be fun to watch and has kids with serious upside(C Travis d’Arnaud and CF Juan Lagares come to mind) while 2 reclamation projects(SS Ruben Tejada and 1B Ike Davis) hold the key to this team being presentable or awful. I hear from fans all the time “but If we had Matt Harvey, we could win.” I am a HUGE Matt guy— he was the top pitcher in the NL in 2013 before he got hurt. But— this team has added a solid veteran pitcher in Barolo Colon to take rotation spot, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee are proven ML starters and many view Zack Wheeler as the better pitcher long term. Do not cancel the season over that injury. And something to think about regarding Colon- AL pitcher going to NL(HUGE plus) as well as the fact that he is an extreme fly ball pitcher now playing with an elite outfield defense in a monstrous ballpark.
What worries me about this team? The division for one. The Washington Nationals are loaded and have star power. The Atlanta Braves are the Braves- with severe injuries to their pitching- but they have 3-4 core everyday players and the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel. The Phillies have 2 elite starting pitchers and 3 veteran stars in SS Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard who have been thru the wars. The Marlins have a ton of kids and not much else but they are almost always better than people think they will be. I think for the Mets to be successful, they need Chris Young to have a big year. I think Curtis Granderson can project to do what Marlon Byrd did- .270-280, 25-30 hrs, 90-100 rbi. And don’t buy this nonsense about Granderson being the product of the new Yankee Stadium. I watched the guy be a doubles and triples machine in Detroit for 5+ years. Comerica Park is one of the biggest parks in MLB— gigantic power alley and gaps. Young must produce- a .260-.270 yrs with 20 homers and 75-80 RBI would be HUGE. I love Daniel Murphy and David Wright. We get 300 games out of those two, we can and will contend.
SEASON PREDICTION: The Mets are due some breaks and the injuries to Braves starters have opened the door for contention in the NL East. I think the Nationals run away with the division but the Mets compete into September and set the tone for 2015. The surplus of pitching in the system gives Alderson options to fill needs(SS, OF, 1B) and he can make a move similar to what Arizona did this offseason for OF-1B Mark Trumbo. Keep that in back of your mind. Not everyone of these pitchers will make their splash in Queens. Think of the 80s Mets- for every Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling their was a Tim Leary and Walt Terrell, 2 young pitchers they moved for bats. Mets record- 88-74, 2nd place in NL East.
American League Division winners: Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Oakland(World Series Champion)
National League Division Winners: Washington(NL Champion), St. Louis, San Francisco
AL Wild Cards: Boston, Cleveland
NL Wild Cards: Milwaukee, Pittsburgh
AL Awards: Mike Trout-MVP, Justin Verlander- CY Young, Xander Bogaerts-Rookie of the Year
NL Awards:Bryce Harper-MVP, Adam Wainwright-CY Young, Billy Hamilton- Rookie of the Year
The New York Mets made their final roster moves before the opener Monday March 31st, sending down 5 players including pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kyle Farnsworth to Triple A Las Vegas. The team also purchased the contract of Omar Quintanilla, adding him to the 40-man roster. Matt Harvey was transferred to the 60-day DL and LH Jon Niese on the 15 day, retroactive to March 21st, making him to be eligible for his 1st scheduled start April 6th. Here are the remaining opening day roster spots: Catchers Travis D’ Arnaud and Anthony Recker, Infielders Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Quintanilla, Ruben Tejada, Josh Satin and David Wright. In the outfield, we have Andrew Brown, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. The 4 starters are Barolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia and Zach Wheeler. Finally, the bullpen: Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, John Lannan, Bobby Parnell, Scott Rice, Carlos Torres and Jose Valverde.
METS NOTES: As I type, no word on who will start at 1B or how the Outfield-batting order will be configured. I think Davis will be at 1B and Lagares in CF with Granderson in RF and Chris Young in LF…. Harvey and the team have come to agreement on how his rehab from Tommy John surgery will progress. When the Mets play at home, he will be with his teammates. On road trips, he will report and train at the team’s spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla… NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will throw out the 1st pitch at Citi Field Monday.. Matsuzaka was reportedly shocked at the demotion to Triple A but needs to realize this is a pitching rich team and he will get his opportunity if he continues to pitch well.
The New York Mets last week of spring training has them juggling some roster spots and making final preparations for the opener Monday March 31st at Citi Field. LHP John Lannan was moved to the 40-man roster and will make the club as the 2nd lefty reliever to help Scott Rice. The Outfield will feature free agent signee Curtis Granderson in RF, Chris Young splitting time all over and Juan Lagares in Center with Eric Young JR also getting regular work. Manager Terry Collins insists all 4 will get regular playing time. Young JR jump starts the offense with his wheels and energy while Lagares is special in center. If used properly this group can be a major strength, the key is all 4 can play defense and run. The 5th starter spot is down to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Both have impressed this Spring but Dice K’s veteran status and Mejia’s recent issues with his right foot give the free agent signee the edge. Not sure how this team translates wins wise but this is the most talented Mets team in 5+ years.
Mets Notes:RP Kyle Farnsworth was bought out and brought back on a minor league deal. The team will stash him at Triple A Las Vegas under the watch of Wally Backman and his coaching staff…. Chris Young has had a great camp(.327,7 doubles, homer and 4 RBI in 52 at bats) and if he can carry that into April, watch out! This guy has talent…. Veteran reliever Jose Valverde has also looked good in camp and will more than likely get save opportunities when closer Bobby Parnell is overworked or needs a day…. Ruben Tejada has won the shortstop job and Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin(Lefties only) will somehow split time at 1B. The final 2 bench spots appear to be between OF Andrew Brown(Good power stick off the bench, 2 Hrs,11 Rbi in 50 spring ABs),1B-3B Eric Campbell(.313,7 XBHs and .910 OPS in 44 at bats) and INFs Omar Quintanilla and Anthony Seratelli…. Very quietly OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis has had a strong spring. .256 with 5 XBHs and a .857 OPS in 39 plate appearances. Always a favorite of Collins, he is a good bet to be an early call up if any moves are made or needed.
The New York Mets announced Monday March 24 that Dillon Gee(12-11,3.62 in 32 starts in 2013) will start on opening day versus the Washington Nationals at Citi Field March 31st. Gee becomes the 23rd Met to start opening day and the 8th homegrown product to get the ball on day 1. The tall righty finished strong in 2013, going 10-5 with a 2.71 ERA in his final 22 outings and boasts a 3.04 ERA in 12 career starts vs. Washington.
I have been inundated with questions about how I feel the 2014 Mets will do and if I like the direction the team is headed. In both actions and words, YES. Let me put it this way, last Sunday(March 16th) I had my 1st of 2 Fantasy Baseball drafts. I drafted 4 Mets out of 25 players. Curtis Granderson, Zach Wheeler, Bobby Parnell and Bartolo Colon. When was the last time I could say that? Heck, I wanted to grab Daniel Murphy as well but missed him by 2 or 3 picks. I like this team and the competition we have at some former spots of weakness- 1B and Outfield specifically- and we have seen the development of young players coming up thru the system. Do I love everything about this team? No- I would like them to have 2 more bats and Matt Harvey but I believe in the plan and improvements implemented by GM Sandy Alderson and skipper Terry Collins. Rome was not built in a day, it is a process yet I see a light at the end of the tunnel and better days ahead. If the Mets do not break .500 and contend for a wildcard spot this season, I will be both stunned and disappointed. Those goals are both realistic and the expectation.
The two major issues the Mets faced entering camp remain unresolved as Mid March approaches. First Base was supposed to be a the battle between Lucas Duda(Hamstring) and Ike Davis(Calf) but both have been shelved with minor leg injuries and should return to action sometime this week. Josh Satin has played well in 8 games(.263 average with homer and .391 OBP) and remains a strong bet to at least platoon with either Davis or Duda. Meanwhile, SS Ruben Tejada has struggled(.111 in 4 games with shoddy defense as well) and the team has been giving reps to super prospect Wilmer Flores at the position. I still do not believe that the Mets everyday shortstop in 2014 is currently on this team and ex Met great-SNY TV color man Keith Hernandez said as much on a broadcast this week. Keep an eye on both the Arizona Diamondbacks(Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius) and Seattle Mariners(Nick Franklin) as potential trade partners. Free agent SS Stephen Drew remains unsigned and will stay that way til his agent Scott Boras opens his eyes.
Mets Notes : CF Juan Lagares(.318 Batting average) is having a great spring and making the Mets decision on which Outfielder to feature with offseason signings Chris Young and Curtis Granderson easy. Eric Young Jr, who won the 2013 National League Stolen Base crown, is likely going to be a bench guy and play the odd day at 2B and in the outfield. However, his speed makes him a vital weapon late in close contests… With the struggles of Josh Edgin in camp, team might use John Lannan out of the pen as the 2nd lefthanded reliever. This spot in vital and needed in the lefty bat heavy NL East.
The Mets got some welcomed good news February 27,2014 when he MRI on LHSP Jon Niese throwing shoulder came back clean after he experienced a dead arm earlier in camp. Niese is part of what should be a team strength- the starting rotation- and any serious injury to the lefty would catastrophic with ace Matt Harvey(Tommy John surgery) set to miss 2014. GM Sandy Alderson has the team in a strong position with the 4 veterans- Niese and returnees Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler as well as free agent signing Bartolo Colon- as well several camp invitees(John Lannan and Dice K the most prominent) and young promising arms with Jenrry Mejia leading the way and fortifying depth. Noah Syndergaard is also on the horizon ala Harvey and Wheeler.
Alderson- and this blogger- really like how this team looks and Manager Terry Collins appears ready to see the fruits of his labor. The Mets GM has publicly stated that 90 wins is a realistic goal and you know what? I like that! Put pressure on your team, be confident in the product you put out and believe in your players. This should be a very athletic team with 4 excellent defensive outfielders, David Wright is David Wright and Daniel Murphy has quietly become a top 10 player at 2nd Base. I like our catchers and bullpen- an underrated unit btw. If this team can figure out 1B(I think they will internally) and Shortstop(Not as confident, Nick Franklin anyone?!) 90 wins might be a low number. People forget, this team was 50-50 over the final 100 games in 2013. Look at that roster and look at the 2014 club. Who would you take?
Been a tough week or so for me and my hometown of Andover, Massachusetts. Our legendary High School Football Coach Richard “Dick” Collins passed away February 20,2014 after a period of poor health at the age of 82. Summarizing Coach Collins takes someone with a higher pay grade than this blogger but one of my fellow Andoverrites said it best- He was the Vince Lombardi of Andover. The proud Dartmouth alum and US Marine is best known for coaching both the Andover High Football and Track Teams(1959-1996), was also an outstanding Social Studies- History teacher and headed the department for many years. If I failed to mention those facts, He would have me running hills right now(Coach Collins’ famous punishment). After his retirement he continued to champion kids while serving in our towns School Committee for 5 terms. Coach Collins was so much more than these positions and titles, he was a game and life changer who would fight for the star or guy on the bench as long as they did two things- Did their best and NEVER, EVER QUIT. The man gave me direction and goals, I would not be where I am today without his support and encouragement. Thousands of his former players and students can make the same claim. When people ask how I bring such fire and enthusiasm to a job covering a bad team, think of Coach Collins.
What made Coach Collins so great? I could write and tell stories that would make a book the size of the Bible. With all the wins, titles and championships he produced, He would be most proud of this number. ZERO. The amount of kids he cut from his program. He loved undersized players(This blogger was one of many) and featured the likes of Ryan Murphy, The DeBenedictis brothers(Tom and Andy) and Rodney Lumley who would not have played much or at all for other teams. Coach championed underdogs such as the kids from the ABC program as well as the handicapped and disabled. They became fixtures at team functions, practices and games. His letterman system with the Track and Field program allowed athletes who never competed in an event to earn a letter by being great teammates and supporting their fellow classmates. Whether it be with perfect attendance at practice or helping officials and staff at meets, He made team spirit measurable. Coach Collins demanded you respect your opponents and if you didn’t, you paid the price. After I ripped rival North Andover in the Local paper prior to the 1989 contest, he angrily kicked me off the team. For 24 hours. We won 41-0. All was forgiven. The biggest lesson he taught me -and it is something I still have a hard time with- is handling defeat. The members of the 1989 Andover High Football team learned this the hard way when we lost an opportunity to play in the SuperBowl in Foxboro when officials called an obviously short and wide left last second field goal good vs. Central Catholic in our Annual Turkey Bowl. Everyone knew the referees blew the call and cost that team a chance to win Coach Collins his 3rd Super Bowl. The defeat was devastating but Coach told us how proud he was of our effort and to be our coach and he wanted us to hold our head high. On the the FG, he said these things eventually even out over the course of the year. PUBLICLY.
Coach had a famous saying that he passed on to each and everyone of his teams and it particularly hit home with my High school class(AHS ’91). He talked about the concept of “51″ all the time- Think of a Track and Field athlete in a throwing competition. If your opponent throws 50, you will do what it takes to win regardless and toss a 51. Bottom line, find a way to get it done. Joe Iarrobino was a promising QB-DB in my class who suffered a serious shoulder injury in his Sophomore season and was forced to concentrate on baseball and basketball. Coach still found a spot for him with the team and he served as stat man and student assistant his last two seasons, Dan Ely was popular center and classmate of mine who was gravely injured in a moped accident in the 2nd half of our sophomore year. He was paralyzed and in the hospital. Coach Collins also had Dan’s Dad- Jack- as a player earlier in his Andover career and called to check in on him. Mr. Ely mentioned Dan ,as hurting as he was, would not stop saying 51 to the medical staff. Coached rushed to the hospital and would not allow Dan to fail or be forgotten. The phrase 51 became the rallying cry for our team during the 89-90 seasons and Dan, who recovered at record pace, was one of our team captains in 1990 and was walking with crutches by training camp the same year.
When you are Coached by such a great figure, you produce many memorable student-athletes. In my two years in his program I had some incredible teammates and made some lifelong friends. I played with the greatest individual leader-captain of anything I have come across- Brian Donnellan(’89 Captain). “Cap” as I nicknamed him used a phrase that sticks with me til this day- Stand for something or fall for everything. Joe Marinaro progressed more from his sophomore year to senior year than any player could hope for. Their is a reason he started for 3 years at The University of Michigan and served as captain in 1995. Scary intense. You can travel to the ends of the Earth and not find a harder worker and more self made player. Our other captain in ’89- Johnny Thompson- was quite simply the best player I have ever seen. He could do anything athletically and I spent everyday at practice trying to beat him. IN ANYTHING! He was great to me and proud that I made it thru training camp. (or surprised?!) Hunter Lochman and Pat Finn(’89) also make the list for being great teammates and welcoming me- the rookie junior- to the team. Peter Reming? Nobody got more out of less than this guy, he was my size(5’9,140ish) and started on defense for a team that posted 7 shutouts. Bad guys be on alert, he is now a cop in Andover! Things did not go as expected for me heading into my senior year off the field and many of my teammates(Under Coach Collins’ direction/Urging)- Brett Hammond, Dave Blank, Jeff Hurley, Andy Carleton, Scott Bernard, Mark Avery, Greg Dyer, Ryan Beal, Matt Perry and Stefan Fodor(’90 team)- all stepped up huge. For a guy who missed most of his Junior Year with a shoulder injury! I mention all of these people not for cause but effect. They bought into Coach’s family concept- We will all win and lose together, star or bench warmer. The spirit of 51 and NEVER, EVER Quitting in anything- on or off the field- was never more in play.
Finally, I want to talk about the 3 Men who have assumed the coaching positions Coach Collins manned previously. First, Coach Peter Comeau , who served as an assistant for football during my high school years, now runs both the Winter and Spring Track Teams. We all like to think we were Coach Collins’ favorite and he did love us all. But if you had a Mount Rushmore for his “guys” Coach Comeau would be on it. EASILY. Anyone who has meet Peter needs to be reminded of this fact- He is the greatest hurdler in the history of Andover High. What makes this more astonishing is Coach does not have ideal body type for Hurdles. He was under 5’10 and stocky, hardly Edwin Moses. Yet he won All State and All New England in the low then Intermediate Hurdles. Coach Collins would tell anyone who wanted to listen how proud he was of Peter claiming ” he had never seen a more remarkable feat in track in my entire life.” When you have someone of this intensity and work ethic, you want him Coaching. When he wasn’t yelling or kicking me in the rear end, Coach Comeau was on Coach Collins’ track staff for 9 years before taking over. Andover High could not be under better care with Coach Comeau and we are lucky to have him. Coach Collins is applauding as I type this. And Peter, the nickname you gave me still sticks— 30 years later!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As much of an impact as Coach Collins had on me, Our relationship does not even happen if I did not win the lottery when I meet Ken Maglio in 1985. Mr. Maglio, who became the AHS Football Coach in 1997 and served til 2009, was a popular Physical Education teacher at West Junior High. He was also a long time freshman football Coach for the Andover as well. His style was different than Coach Collins but like him, he looked out for kids and loved smaller guys like me. He nicknamed me Floppy and still calls me that to this day. But the biggest thing he did for me was get me focused into academics and school. Before becoming his student manager on the Baseball team for two years, I was on my way to one of the 3 things- a technical school, jail or cemetery. I avoided all 3 and Mr. Maglio was a major reason why. Coach Collins stood up and fought for this man when he was caught in a political power struggle. EJ Perry- The oldest of 4 Perry brothers to play for the Golden Warriors- has done amazing work with our Football program and won 2 Merrimack Valley Conference Titles already. I have known the Perry’s for almost 35 years and Like Peter and Mags, EJ is the right man to fill the shoes of the man. I will never forget going to his younger brother Matt’s birthday party in 2nd or 3rd grade. We had a track and field meet in the back yard! EJ likes to tell a story of how Coach Collins helped him in high school when he was struggling academically. Coach told him his history term paper would be on the Pole Vaulting.(Not coincidently EJ’s event) EJ did a great job and you now see a coach who is doing amazing things and will continue to do so.
I hope this blog has helped paint the picture of how special and amazing a man Coach Collins was. Like many of his former players and students, not a day goes by that I do not apply something he taught me- some days more than others but this is true every day. He coached an emmy award winning actor who is one the stars of the Fantastic Four Franchise(Mike Chiklis), a major rising local politician(Barry Finegold), a climbing NFL assistant coach(John Perry) a top sports writer for USA Today(Gerry Ahern ) and a high ranking New Hampshire State Trooper(Jack Dalton) . We all bring parts and pieces from his teachings everyday. Our star Lineman of the mid to late 80s Mike Marinaro said it best-”We all should have the impact on the World he did.” Mike could not be more correct and that is why I am dedicating the 2014 season of Tomseaverfan.com to Richard “Dick” Collins and his entire family. RIP, Coach. We all love and miss you! 51
As most of my readers can attest, I am pretty honest when it comes to my assessments on the Mets-players, management,etc- when I don’t like something or someone I say it. I have liked- no LOVED- the offseason moves and think this team is headed in the right direction. But the shortstop position- aka Ruben Tejada- scares me to death. I do not ask for much- show up on time, ready to play, compete and be a good teammate- well Ruben was 1 for 4 last year and the team banished him to Triple A Las Vegas for most of the season. I am supposed to be excited about having this guy my SS on opening day? I would not sign Stephen Drew(Money, Boras, Why are the Red Sox not signing him?,etc) but I would take a long look at Wilmer Flores at the spot and/or sign or trade for a major leaguer at that spot. Nick Franklin- a man without a position in Seattle- has been rumored. I am not asking for Cal Rikpken Jr Here but I am also looking a pro who does not place the Mets last at OPS at the position. I know Christmas was almost 2 months ago but please Santa Sandy!
Wanted to update my previous post regarding the 3 veteran pitchers the Mets signed to minor league deals. Both relievers- Kyle Farnsworth(March 23) and Jose Valverde(March 26th) have dates to make the major league roster or they can become free agents. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka must be on the Mets by May 30th or he can also opt out of his deal. In English, the relievers have more of a sense of urgency because they are fighting for contracts in camp while Dice K is viewed as more of an insurance type signing who can use Spring Training to build up arm strength and progress slowly. In this bloggers opinion, two of these 3 will make the Mets when they break camp for the 2014 season.
You can never have enough pitching and Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson has added 3 proven vets in the past 2 weeks to minor league deals. Daisuke Matsuzaka(53-40,4.52 ERA thru 8 yrs)and relievers Kyle Farnsworth(43-63,4.26 in 15+ yrs ) and Jose Valverde(26-32,3.19 over 11 seasons) are in camp and have little guaranteed money yet upside. Matsuzaka(1.5 million if he makes ML roster) closed out the 2013 season with NY and made 7 starts(3-3,4.42) while Farnsworth(1.5 mill as well) and Valverde(1.0 mill) can earn more money with appearances and games finished incentives. As example, 75K for 40,45,50 and 55 appearances. 100K for 30 and 35 games finished, 250k for 40 and 45 and 300K for 50. Valverde has 286 career saves and Farnsworth 54 while serving in high leverage hold type situations in the 7th and 8th innings. These type of signings are low risk,high reward- think Marlon Byrd- and give the Mets options and the ability to not rush their promising minor league arms.
The New York Mets and baseball lost a larger than life figure Thursday February 6th with the passing of Ralph Kiner at the age of 91. A Hall of Fame Outfielder-1B who led the majors in home runs a record 7 consecutive years(Think about that stat!), he was part of great Mets broadcasting core from the franchises inception in 1962. Kiner, Lindsay Nelson and Bob Murphy were both the voices and faces of the Mets and Ralph hosted the popular Kiner’s Korner post game show on TV, one of the first of its kind in baseball. Kiner was my introduction to Mets baseball in the early 80s and millions of fans can make the same claim. This man brought a lot to the table, having seen Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb play while competing against Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial on the field. Kiner was relegated to spot duty in 2006 and would often join Gary(Cohen), Keith(Hernandez) and Ron(Darling) on SNY broadcasts during the season. A Hall of Fame player but better man who will be missed by all who watched or listened. RIP, Ralph.
Number one thing with this team is unless he hits .150, Juan Lagares plays 145-150 games in Centerfield. You put him between Curtis Granderson(LeftField) and Chris Young(RightField) in Citi Field plus other cavernous ballparks(See The Miami Marlins stadium) you will save runs and add wins. This lineup will not be the 1975 Cincinnati Reds but will score enough to win if we catch the ball. The 2013 Mets played markedly better when the Eric Young Jr. trade went thru. What did he bring? Athleticism— speed and defense!!!!! Lagares will impact this team on a daily basis, game to game. I don’t care who plays 1B- My vote would be Keith Hernandez- but Mets management prefers Lucas Duda over Ike Davis for a number of reasons ranging from approach(Duda is good OBP player), salary and fan reaction to Ike’s struggles. Lets be frank here, neither resembles Lou Gehrig. However, the team can win with solid production out of this spot. The Mets have had a great offseason and this position should not hurt the team if others put up numbers their baseball card says they should.
1- CF Lagares-RH
2- 2B Daniel Murphy-LH
3- 3B David Wright-RH
4- LF Granderson-LH
5- RF Young-RH
6- 1B Duda-Davis-LHs
7 C Travis d’Arnaud-RH
8- SS Ruben Tejada-RH
Mets Closer Bobby Parnell(Neck surgery) has been medically cleared and resumed a throwing program in Florida. He was shutdown late in the 2013 season after having a breakout campaign with 22 saves in 26 chances and 2.16 ERA. He cannot lift weights currently but will report to the Mets spring training facility a month early(Mid January) and has also regained the 20 pounds he lost after surgery. The good news on Parnell is a huge positive for the team and gives Manager Terry Collins a bona fide closer and stress relief.
ARBITRATION UPDATES: The Team has signed 6 of the 7 arbitration eligible players(All 1 year deals) and exchanged numbers with 1B Lucas Duda(asking for 1.9 Million) as well. 1b Ike Davis(3.5), SP Dillon Gee*3.625), INF-OF Eric Young Jr. (1.85), 2B Daniel Murphy(5.7), SS Ruben Tejada(1.1) and Parnell(3.7) all inked up and Duda and the team can negotiate before the February hearing.
METS NOTES: The Mets signed 7 yr major league veteran LHSP John Lannan(45-58, 4.12 ERA in 148 starts) to a minor league deal and he has been invited to spring training. A ground ball specialist, his skill set will translate well to spacious Citi Field. The lefty has allowed only 83 home runs in 858 major league innings. Lannan is a Long Island kid and a gives the Mets depth for a rotation that needs it, He will compete with Jenrry Mejia for the 5th rotation spot….Middle Infielder Omar Quintanilla was signed to give the team middle infield depth. The 8 yr veteran was the everyday shortstop for most of 2013 with Tejada having a tough season. In 359 plate appearances, he hit .222 with 2 home runs and a .589 OPS… Veteran backup C Taylor Teagarden, a defensive specialist, was also signed to a minor league deal and will compete for a spot behind Travis d’Arnaud. In 467 ML at bats over 6 major league seasons, he has hit .206 with 20 home runs and 63 rbi.
All quiet on the Mets front as GM Sandy Alderson has done some major work to add a top 3 starter(veteran Bartolo Colon) and 2 versatile former all star OFs( Curtis Granderson and Chris Young) to a young,improving team prior to the Christmas Holiday. The team still has some needs but with the 3 moves mentioned above, if the season started with this roster as constituted, fans would be happy. Even with Matt Harvey out for 2014. Lets look at 3 areas the team is still trying to address.
1-Shortstop:The Mets and Red Sox appear to be the final actors in the Stephen Drew sweepstakes and when you factor in Drew’s agent is Scott Boras, the waiting game could go along time. The super agent is notorious for holding out his clients to the last possible minute to get max dollars, recent examples include 1B Prince Fielder and SP Kyle Lohse. The Red Sox also have an elite prospect in Xander Bogaerts ready to take over at SS and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and Manager Terry Collins have praised SS Ruben Tejada for his new found commitment and strong work ethic this offseason. Drew also carries free agency draft pick compensation after he turned down his contract tender from Boston after the 2013 season. Keep in mind with the Mets 1st pick being protected, they would lose the 85th pick after forfeiting their 2nd rounder when they signed Granderson. With a strong free agent SS class after the 2014 campaign and some other trade options in play, I think the Mets will stay away from Drew. However, giving Drew a 2 year deal would not be a bad thing for either New York or the player. Drew’s combination of defense and strong offense(.777 OPS with 442 At bats) would be a major asset in Flushing.
2-FirstBase:The Mets have had little success trading 1B Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The team clearly favors moving Davis because of his lack of consistency and the organization likes Duda’s combination of patience and power. What has hurt the team is the 1B market has lots of options similar to Davis- with Mitch Moreland, Gaby Sanchez, Garrett Jones -all similar players to the Mets Firstbasemen- all traded or on the market, a law of supply and demand has harmed trade possibilities. Alderson is said to be asking for young pitching in numerous reports. It is beginning to look like both Davis and Duda will be on the roster when Spring Training opens up this Winter.
3- Bullpen-Back up Catcher: The team added minor league veteran RHRP Ryan Reid off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and have been actively scanning the free agent market for bullpen help. Reid had a strong 2013 in Triple AAA(7-2,2.63 ERA in 36 games, 56 Ks in 59 innings) and 1.64 ERA in 7 games(11 innings, 1 save) and could help the Pen. New York has been heavily linked to veteran RH reliever Mitchell Boggs(6 year veteran of The St. Louis Cardinals, traded late in year to Colorado). The Mets would still like to add a proven backup catcher to help super prospect C Travis d’Arnaud. Regardless of what the team does heading into the final month of the offseason, this team has done great in free agency and Alderson has filled major needs. When a team wins 70+ games for 5 straight seasons, you have holes. The team added two very good Outfielders and a top of the rotation starter for under $50 million. This has been a GREAT offseason for a team that needed it.
The New York Mets and General Manager Sandy Alderson continue to add veteran talent and they addressed a huge need with the signing of veteran starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to a 2 year/20 million dollar contract, pending a physical. 17 year veteran went 18-6 with 2.65 ERA for the American League Champion Oakland A’s over 30 starts(190 1/3 innings) in 2013. This move helps them offset the loss of the 2013 National League All Star game starting pitcher Matt Harvey(Tommy John Surgery) for 2014 and should also support the collection of young pitchers the Mets have assembled(LH Jon Niese and RHs Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler). The Starting rotation now appears set with these 4 and more than likely a homegrown candidate(Jenrry Mejia,The early favorite) to man the number 5 spot. This is another great signing by Alderson and he has filled 3 glaring needs with free agent signings. Next on his agenda is trading a 1B(They prefer it be Ike Davis), singing or acquiring veteran options to the bullpen and somehow addressing the shortstop blackhole.
A week after adding veteran Chris Young to the Outfield, the Mets signed free agent OF Curtis Granderson Friday to a 4 year 60 million dollar deal pending a physical. This is a big signing for New York and gives GM Sandy Alderson and this franchise credibility as well as face to sell with 3B David Wright. A well respected clubhouse leader and class act off the field, Granderson,32, adds power(217 career Home Runs, Back to Back 40 Homer seasons-2011-12), speed(122 steals) and defense with his bat and glove. The 3 time All Star recently played for the Yankees(2010-2013) but started his career with the Detroit Tigers(2005-2009). He is coming off a tough season that saw him miss over 100 games with a broken forearm and pinkie, both caused after being hit by a pitch.
People will moan and groan about his stats being inflated due to the cozy set up in Yankee Stadium(Helps all Left handed sticks, No one mentions this with Robinson Cano!) but I saw this guy play in Detroit(Comerica Park very comparable to Citi Field) and his game translates very well to the spacious dimensions at his new home in Queens. CHECK HIS TRIPLE NUMBERS!!! Defensively, This gives you an elite Outfield defensively with 3 Primary CenterFielders playing in a the Outfield in Granderson, Young and 2nd year man Juan Lagares. Heck, Eric Young Jr. is a very good defender as well. How Manager Terry Collins deploys these three will be key but my best guess is Lagares will be in CF, Granderson in Left and Chris Young in Right. Clearly, we have seen the Mets becoming more of a defense and pitching dependent team under the leadership of Alderson and Collins, which makes sense considering how enormous Citi Field is. Cannot say again how much I love this signing. This is a great day for the Mets and their fans. Tremendous move.
METS NOTES: The team also cut several names fans would recognize with the 40 Man roster upgrades on the 1st of the December. RHP Scott Atchinson and Jeremy Heffner as well as SS Omar Quintanilla,INF Justin Turner and INF-OF Jordany Valdespin were all declared free agents as the team placed 4 minor league pitchers on the 40 man: LHP Steven Matz and RHPs Jacob deGrom, Erik Goeddel and Jeff Walters. Quintanilla filled in admirably at SS with the team souring on Rueben Tejada in 2013 and the Mets would not have made the strides they did in this year without his efforts. Heffner was outstanding over the 1st half of 2013 and filled a variety of roles in his 2 plus seasons in NY but had season ending elbow surgery and is out for 2014 while Turner was a popular bench option and club house presence over his 3 year stay with the Mets. Atchinson is a solid veteran relief option who has struggled with remaining heathy but is a good ML pitcher. Valdespin is a enigma and talented(Power and Speed combo) one at that. He lacked a position and seemed to regress severely in 2013. Combine that with his me first attitude and You can see why the Mets moved on. Best of luck to these four veterans finding new teams.
The Mets added a proven major league Outfielder and lost a respected veteran reliever in the last week. The team and OF Chris Young finalized a 1 year 7.25 million dollar deal November 25th. Young had a tough year in Oakland in 2012(.200- 10 hrs-12 steals) after spending 7 seasons with the Diamondbacks. From 2007-2011 he averaged 23 homers and 20 steals. However,over the last 2 injuries have taken a toll and he has mustered only 26 HRs and 18 steals. Young is an excellent defensive outfielder and natural centerfielder who can also play the corners as well.(26 starts in Right, 24 in Left in 2013) This is vital when you consider that Juan Lagares is a difference making defender and the club would like to find playing time for Eric Young Jr. as well. Having players that can play multiple positions well aids this approach. Young also has platoon like career split numbers. He has handled lefties( A recent Mets weakness) with career splits of .262/.363/.474 vs Southpaws compared to .225/.295/.415 vs righties. This is an excellent signing by New York GM Sandy Alderson and reminds fans of the Marlon Byrd move of 2012. If he hits and fields anything like Marlon, this is a win, win move for both Young and the Mets.
Meanwhile, The team shockingly lost veteran reliever Latroy Hawkins to the Colorado Rockies. Numerous reports almost guaranteed the popular club house leader would remain in Queens but the lure of being the closer and a good contract(1 yr/ 2.5 Million Guaranteed) ended Hawkins tenure with the Mets. Hawkins,41, was huge for the this team in the last two months, filling in for injured closer Bobby Parnell. His ability to pitch in almost any role in the pen was a major reason the Mets finished .500 over the last 100 games. Want to wish Latroy luck in Denver, a real class act who will be missed.
While fans have been impatient with the teams lack of activity, let me point out some facts. Their has been very little movement throughout the game outside of the blockbuster trade between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers involving 1B Prince Fielder and 2B Ian Kinsler. Anyone who has watched the Tigers in the last two postseasons knows why they had to make this move. A dead lightbulb supplied more power than Fielder in October. Part of this is two words: Scott Boras. The super agent has almost all of the top free agents in his stable of clients and is notorious for not getting deals done at the start of free agency. 2nd, Until teams start to lose out on free agents you will not see many major trades. They want to have money ready for contracts and if they fail in free agency will turn to teams like the Mets that have prospects to trade and/or major league players(1B Ike Davis, 2B Daniel Murphy) to offer as well. Let some of the free agent 1B sign-a Mike Napoli, Justin Morneau, James Loney,etc- and then Alderson can move Davis. Most of these teams are dipping their feet in many pools. The Outfield position is an area where I think the Mets will make a trade to get a power bat to play with Young and Lagares. Keep an eye on Milwaukee, Toronto and the Dodgers. Now the bad news. The Mets desperately need a major league shortstop and after Rueben Tejada’s awful 2013 campaign, they lack internal options. Unfortunately, Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken Jr. are not coming to Queens soon. After Jhonny Peralta signed his insane deal with the St. Louis Cardinals(4 years/52 Million), it became apparent how valued this position is throughout the game. Alderson needs to find someone to man this spot and it is going to cost him either in the wallet or trade market. A name to keep an eye on? Ex Atlanta Brave and Cardinal Rafael Furcal, who missed all of 2013 after Tommy John Surgery. Teams like the Diamondbacks have a surplus of Shortstops to move as well.
Baseball America has started with their annual Top 10 prospects issues by division and the National League East is featured in the newspaper style magazine dated November 12-26, 2013. The Mets top minor leaguer-RHP Noah Syndergaard-graces the cover.
NY METS TOP 10 PROSPECTS:
2- Travis D’Arnaud,C
3- Rafael Montero,RHP
4- Dominic Smith, 1B
5- Kevin Plawecki,C/1B
6- Wilmer Flores, 2B/1B
7- Amed Rosario, SS
8- Brandon Nimmo, OF
9- Gavin Cecchini, SS
10- Jake DeGrom, RHP
Some quick news updates,news,ideas,etc with the Start of the MLB GM meetings starting this Monday November 11 thru 14 in Orlando, Florida.
PRIORITIES: Mets GM Sandy Alderson and I are on the same page and he is clearly looking to address the shortstop position in a big way. Numerous media reports have New York favoring ex Detroit Tiger SS Jhonny Peralta over Boston Red Sox free agent Stephen Drew due to a combination of contract demands and compensation(Drew was tendered a contract by Boston(Team that signs him forfeits a draft pick), Peralta was not). The Mets have also discussed corner outfielders and two names to look at from the free agent group are Curtis Granderson(NY Yankees) and 1B-OF Corey Hart(Milwaukee Brewers).
METS NOTES: Veteran reliever Latroy Hawkins will resign with the Mets for the 2014 season according to a report in the NY Daily News. Excellent move for a great guy who contributes a lot on and off the field… Look for NY to trade 1B Ike Davis and go with a platoon of LH Lucas Duda and RH Josh Satin at 1B. Alderson has fielded several offers from teams regarding the slugger…Keep an eye on the Milwaukee Brewers as a potential trade partner. OF Norichika Aoki would be a great fit in the Mets outfield and has a .350 OBP out of the leadoff position… The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for ML starting pitching for either 1B Edwin Encarnacion or RF Jose Bautista. If Matt Harvey was 100% healthy in 2014 NY would be an ideal trade partner but they are reluctant to deal Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Zack Wheeler with their ace out for the year. Hard to see a major trade between the two teams.
After showing promise and appearing to turn the page in 2013, How should Mets management led by GM Sandy Alderson approach this important offseason? What postions should they be targeting with trades or free agent signings? What players and teams should fans focus on? Lets look at some areas, names and clubs my readers should keep an eye on. Here is my plan to return the New York Mets to winning ways.
Positions of Need: The Mets have some obvious needs, here is a prioritized list: Middle of the Order bat,Everyday Rightfielder and Shortstop, Top 4 Starting pitcher, Bullpen and Leadoff options.This team is starved for power and needs at least 1 bat to make the opposition nervous not named David Wright. A 20+ homer power bat to hit 4th would be ideal. Unfortunately those type of players do not fall out of trees. Mets GM Sandy Alderson will have to be creative, money or no money. NY suprisingly got an outstanding season out of Marlon Byrd before trading him at the deadline and rookie Juan Lagares electrified fans with his defense. Alderson and his staff made a great deal early in the 2013 campaign ,acquiring Eric Young Jr. to play LeftField and bat leadoff. EY was not Rickey Henderson but he was a legit threat in that spot and even won the National League stolen base title. His defense was also a major strength and he proved energy from day 1 in Queens. However, the team still needs at least one proven major league outfielder and ideally, two corner outfield options.
The Mets have not replaced Jose Reyes at SS since he left after the 2011 season via free agency. Two names to look at are current free agent options in 2014- Stephen Drew(World Champion Boston Red Sox) and Jhonny Peralta(Detroit Tigers).Drew is an elite gloveman and solid bat while Peralta has limited range and more stick. Both would be significant upgrades over the hodge podge NY rolled out in 2014 as Ruben Tejada’s play and attitude deteriated to the point where he was demoted to Triple A Las Vegas. This is the most glaring hole in the Mets infield. With Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zach Wheeler locked in the top 3 rotation spots starting pitching is solid. But with the recent surgery to ace Matt Harvey shelving him for the 2014 season, NY has a need for 200+ innings veteran starter. Alderson has done a great job adding reclamation projects with upside to the back end of the rotation in recent years so look for the Mets to spend around 15 million total for 2 starting pitchers.
Alderson and Manager Terry Collins pieced together an effective bullpen in 2013 but injuries cost them their closer(Bobby Parnell) and top LH option(Josh Edgin) in the 2nd half. Veterans Latroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano and David Aardsma stepped up and helped the team close out strong.However, this is an area the Mets will address in the offseason. Hawkins is free agent but would be a great fit back in Queens. Both the team and Hawkins sound optimistic. He has a big fan in Collins. Three players that showed the are ready to be full fledged major league contributors in 2014 and beyond? Carlos Torres, Gonzalez Germen and Vic Black. With some minor moves and return to health, this group could be deadly FAST.
Free Agent Targets: OF Shin-Soo Choo,SS Drew and Peralta, Starting pitchers Tim Hudson, Bronson Arroyo and Roy Halladay.
Teams to Trade With: Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays. The Rockies are an ideal team for the Mets to deal with due to their stars playing need positions for NY in SS Troy Tulowitski and RF Carlos Gonzalez. However, Colorado ownership is reportedly very reluctant to trade their franchise players and the price would be very steep. I think a smaller trade for OFs Michael Cuddyer(Close friend of Mets captain David Wright) and Dexter Fowler would fill two holes and really improve the Mets. One of New York’s biggest issues last season was the lack of major league bats— these are two pro’s and would be upgrades defensively as well. Fowler could play LF or CF, dependent on the roles of Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr and his game would translate well to the vast confines of CitiField.
The Angels have 4 players that fit specific needs for the Mets: 1B-OF Mark Trumbo provides incredible power, 2B Howie Kendrick is pro with bat and glove and SS Erick Aybar would be good fit in the field and batting order. Finally, speedy OF Peter Bourjos defensive skills and offensive upside make him appealing. The Royals have a loaded farm system and abundance of young players to trade. Like the Mets they are close to being a serious contender. Not sure if he is in play but if you could pry OF- Lead off man Alex Gordon out of Missouri he would look great in Queens. The cost would be high but think David Wright like skills and character in Left Field. Finally,we have the ML version of GroundHog Day- The Toronto Blue Jays. This team never changes and are floundering. They are reportedly open to trading anyone and everything for the right price. All Star RF Jose Bautista would be a great middle of the order addition and has a favorable contract situation. If all else fails and Alderson wants to acquire a SS and leadoff man ex Met All Star Reyes could be had. The cost for these two would also be high.
GM JAY:If I was Sandy Alderson my first move would a trade with the Rockies to bring Cuddyer and Fowler to Flushing. My package would be built around pitching prospect Rafael Montero, INF Wilmer Flores and either 1B(Lucas Duda OR Ike Davis). I would include some minor prospects but that is the cusp of the deal. Check Outfield off the list. Next I would get super agent Scott Boras on the phone and talk about Drew. I think he would be great in NY and the Mets would be great for him. But I have a number in mind— actually 2 numbers. I would offer 3 yrs at 40 million total or 4 at 50. Drew will have some serious bidders and we need to have this position- a MAJOR hole- filled…ASAP. If Boras does not bite, I would sign 2 low level free agents in Brendan Ryan and Willie Bloomquist to be a defense-offense platoon at shortstop. Finally, I would then sign Arroyo with a 2-3 year deal to round out the top 4 of the rotation. My reclamation target for the starters? Halladay. If he does not sign, I would look at ex Mets Johan Santana and Scott Kazmir. Bullpen wise, bring back Hawkins and sign a top level free agent lefty to team with Edgin. San Francisco Giant free agent Javy Lopez fits the bill.
The New York Mets announced Monday November 4th that they have signed a deal with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment AM 710 WOR to become the flagship station for the team starting in 2014. The deal is for 5 years and more lucrative than the contract the Mets had with WFAN. The Clear Channel family of stations consists of 6 station(5 FM and WOR)can be heard over 93% of the New York DMA population. The Mets and WFAN ended their broadcast relationship at the end of the 2013 season after a 26 year partnership since the stations inception in 1987.
ROSTER REDO: The Mets front office has been busy preparing for the Rule 5 draft and has made some minor moves to reshape the roster as the November 20th deadline approaches. The team transferred several big names from the 60 Day DL to the 40 man On Halloween, October 31st, hi-lighted by ace Matt Harvey, Closer Bobby Parnell, 1B Ike Davis and pitchers Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, Jeremy Heffner and Jenrry Mejia. The moves were balanced out when the team had several veteran pitchers became free agents: David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco. Aaron Harang, Latroy Hawkins and Daisuke Mastuzaka are all eligible to sign with other clubs. Hawkins and Feliciano are the best bets to return to Queens while Harang and Mastuzaka would be low risk high reward rotation fillers.
Mets ace Matt Harvey underwent successful Tommy John surgery Tuesday October 22 in Gulf Breeze, Florida. The top sports surgeon in the world, Dr. James Andrews, performed the reconstruction of his right elbow and Harvey ix expected to make a full recovery. The starter for the National League in the 2013 All Star game at CitiField is out for 2014 but with proper rest and rehabilation, should return to the mound in 2015. The Mets have a big hole to fill in the rotation but have a 3 solid major league starters on the roster and a farm system stacked with arms on the way. This offseason is huge for the Mets as they enter 2014.
The Mets have made some minor moves in the past couple of days to prepare for the Rule 5 draft(November 20th) and the post World Series deadline 40 man roster adjustment. Teams must have all eligible players they do not want to expose to the draft on their 40 man roster 5 days after the conclusion of the World Series. For a team like NY that has a strong farm system and promising future, these are important dates. The Mets have 8 players on the 60 day DL including big names like 1B Ike Davis, SP Matt Harvey and closer Bobby Parnell. These players must be transfered to the 40 man or could be eligible for the draft. The team lost LHP Robert Carson(Los Angeles Angels) and OF Mike Baxter(Los Angeles Dodgers) to waiver claims this week and currently has 36 players on the 40 man. With some minor moves and cuts, GM Sandy Alderson should be able to manage this situation.
METS NOTES: Numerous media reports have the team and News radio 710 WWO AM nearing a deal after the Mets 27 year partneship with WFAN ended after the 2013 campaign. WWOR has the same wattage level as WFAN and Howie Rose, the long time voice of the Mets, would be retained. No word on his partner Josh Lewin…. Good news for Mets fans and Wally Backman supporters. Several media outlets are reporting the popular former NY 2nd baseman will be retained and continue in his role managing the team’s top minor league team at Triple A Las Vegas. Backman led the team to a 81-63 record and Pacific Coast League playoff berth. More importantly, he is praised for his work and development with young players. This is a win-win for both Backman and the Mets. Personally, I love the guy.
The 2013 New York Mets made tremendous progress and this writer is a great example of how far this group has come. I have been a Mets fan since 1979, seen a lot of good and bad. The Last 3-4 seasons(2009 and on) have been tough to watch and brutal to cover. Quite often I could not wait for the season to end. However, when the Mets 2013 campaign concluded I was sad. I genuinely liked watching this team play, a big part of this is the Mets amazing announcing trio of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez. But those 3 have been on the mike when I looked forward to the season being over. This team was different and I think the reason is hope. You see young talent and improvement, you see what the team has coming off the books and what the Mets can spend in the offseason. As the old saying goes you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Lets look at how one of the most important off seasons in team history should unfold.
POSITIONS FILLED: Obviously, the Mets are set at Third Base. Some guy named David Wright has manned that spot since 2004. I am a big Daniel Murphy guy and would like to see the team stick with him at 2nd. Young Catcher Travis d’Arnaud should be the present and future behind the plate, the team also has a promising Triple A option in Juan Centeno and an up and comer at Single A as well. I love great outfield defense and Juan Lagares does enough with the glove to carry a .250 average in CF. The Mets should be solid at 1B as well with a platoon of involving Josh Satin and the winner of the Ike Davis- Lucas Duda front office debate. Not sure where you will play him but I am a big Eric Young Jr. guy. Ideally, I would add 2 offensive players in shortstop and Rightfield then find a low cost option to platoon with Young in Left.
The Mets pitching remains a strength organization wide even with the recent news of pending Tommy John Surgery for ace Matt Harvey(9-5,2.27 ERA in 26 starts)The team has 3 very good starting pitchers returning in RHs Dillon Gee and Zach Wheeler as well as south paw Jon Niese. Top prospect Noah Syndergaard was one of the starting pitchers in the 2013 Future’s Game at Citi Field and appears to be on the fast track to the big club ala Harvey(2012) and Wheeler(2013) by mid season. Scouts throughout baseball continue to marvel at his potential. Bullpen wise, closer Bobby Parnell(5-5,2.16 ERA,22 saves) was outstanding in his first full season in the role but a herniated disk in his neck-back area ended his 2013 campaign. Reports on his recovery have been promising but the Mets need to have a plan B in place. Manager Terry Collins made great use of trade deadline acquistion Vic Black(3-0,3.71 in 18 games with his 1st ML save) as well as Gonzalez Germen(1-2,3.93 ERA) in late innings while veteran Carlos Torres(4-6,3.33 ERA in 33 games with 9 starts) filled a variety of needs in a swing man role. A key to the Met’s bullpen in 2014 is healthy return of LH Josh Edgin, who was strong after a late season callup in 2012, struggled in early 2013(9.64 ERA in 11 April games) yet was great when recalled (1.29 ERA in 9 June Games, 0.73 in 14 July Games) from Triple A before missing the end of the year due to injury. A strong left handed reliever is vital for Collins, who tends to favor a matchup game.
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