The Mets are focused this spring

Mets Spring BaseballA year ago at this time, we heard a lot of palaver about how hungry to return to the World Series the Kansas City Royals were. They were seen as fluky pennant winners in 2014 and were picked by some to finish as low as fourth in the AL Central in 2015, but in spring training previews – shows like MLB Network’s 30 Teams in 30 Days set – every interview stressed their desire to repeat as pennant winners. We should have listened. Fast-forward a year and the Mets are being mentioned the same way, despite being generally considered slight favorites in the NL East. They keep stressing about much they enjoyed the ride last year and are eager to line up for another go on baseball’s Space Mountain. Maybe we should listen.

Right now, a little over halfway through their spring training exhibition schedule, the Mets find themselves at 6-6-2 – you literally can’t get more .500 than that. David Wright has yet to toe the infield dirt. Asdrubal Cabrera might miss the first week of the regular season with strained knee muscles. Antonio Bastardo can’t seem to get anybody out. Ruben Tejada was waived. The overall defense looks a little shaky. Yet, confidence abounds. Why?

Maybe it all stems from the bump in the middle of the field. The Mets’ young pitchers have picked up where they left off last year. The starters, once they were finally trotted out there, have mowed down the opposition like spring crabgrass. A typical line from these early outings for the starters looks something like 4 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 R 1 ER. That’s what we’ve been accustomed to seeing since the middle of last year. If it continues like this through the season, the tickets for the ride will be punched.

Maybe it’s because the Sandy Alderson management team has earned the benefit of the doubt. They were able to come up with the necessary pieces in the middle of last year. They made some solid moves this off-season. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a head-scratcher or two in there. Why was Tejada tendered a three million dollar contract in December, only to be jettisoned in March? But here’s the thing, though: one can only assume Alderson knows what he’s doing. He proved that last July. Is he clearing space for Gavin Cecchini to get his feet wet at the MLB level while saving a few bucks in the process? Could be. At this point, management has earned a measure of our trust.

Maybe they really are as hungry as we think. Maybe the mental aspect of the whole dizzying ride last year has sunk in deep and they are ravenous to get back to late October. Maybe they like the attention. In any case, this spring has had a welcome absence of shenanigans – media-whipped or otherwise — and it would appear that everybody in camp is sharing the same vision: 2016 World Series Champions.

I’ll take it.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

13 comments for “The Mets are focused this spring

  1. March 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

    2 HR in 5.2 IP is not what we want to see from Bastardo. Hopefully he gets it out of his system now.

  2. Name
    March 17, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Nope. Talent doesn’t matter. Put together a bunch of scrubs and as long as they want it hard enough, they will win. All that matters is desire. In fact, there’s no reason to play the games at all. Just poll the players on all teams on a scale from 1 to 10 on their hunger and declare a winner that way

  3. Chris F
    March 17, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    “Why was Tejada tendered a three million dollar contract in December, only to be jettisoned in March? But here’s the thing, though: one can only assume Alderson knows what he’s doing.”

    Two things in the article caught my eye…and connected tight after each other.

    1. As James Preller commented elsewhere today: the Tejada situation is a mystery wrapped in a tortilla, smothered in guacamolito sauce, and sealed of by an extra large pepperoni pizza.

    Tejada’s contract was not settled in December as mentioned, but in mid January. The date matters, because Cabrera was signed as a FA at the winter meetings in Dec. That means SA knew he had Cabrera and Flores (and Reynolds for that matter) well before offering a 3M$ contract to Tejada. What I take is this: the fear many of us have about Flores being a SS, even in a back up role, is shared by the FO. Once ST games began and Alderson saw enough of Flores and Reynolds, he became confident enough that the team could get by with that as 2 and 3 behind Cabrera, who consistently gives >140 games a year. At that point Tejada became expendable as a 500k$ insurance policy.

    2. I think you are spot on with the Alderson knows what he is doing. I might rephrase it and say Alderson and the FO have a plan, a web if you will, with all the variables being looked at at all times. The point is there is so much more to the calculus in each FO that we never see, hear, smell or even know exists that its clear to me from my armchair, I dont know squat. Its best to generally accept their judgement and decisions given they have the full situational awareness.

    • March 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      But I think you’re missing a key element in your timeline. While Tejada’s contract was not finalized until after they acquired Cabrera and Walker, the Mets had to make the decision to tender him before that. The non-tender deadline was before the signing of Cabrera and the trade for Walker. Clearly, Alderson did not feel he was far enough along with acquiring either player that he could risk losing Tejada when that decision had to be made.

      And I disagree 100% that we should generally accept their judgment and decisions. While I acknowledge they know far, far more than anyone else, their track record in overall player acquisition has not come close in earning this front office that distinction.

      • Chris F
        March 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

        It was clear they would tender a contract at the time given where the team was in making a deal for Cabrera…it was essential. The thing that caught us all by surprise is that SA offered 3M$ at a point where everything else was a know quantity…and that was a big raise to settle on (1.2M$). If it were thin to keep him, why not go to arb and go low? Anyway, the Tejada story looks like he was potentially “the guy” to becoming “insurance” to becoming an extra piece…a three month slide right off the cliff.

        Well, Ive done a lot of introspection regarding the calls the manager and FO makes. Its fun to play boss and scream at the TV or computer, but the long and short of it is that the team makes decisions with information far greater than what any of us knows. Unless the decisions are clearly derelict, which would quickly surface in the media, Im just deferring to the people with actual information — even if I still will scream and be prone to throw things when we lose in the 9th.

        • March 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm

          Because if you go to arb and go low, you run the risk of the arbiter picking the player’s filed salary.

          I could not find info for what numbers the Mets and Tejada filed for. But I did find these numbers, with the player’s filing first, the club’s filing second and the settlement third:

          Walker $11.8/$9.4/$10.55
          Duda $7.4/$5.9/$6.725
          Familia $4.8/$3.3/$4.1

          These are all settled at just over halfway between the player and club. It’s not unreasonable to speculate the Mets filed around $2.5 million and Tejada around $3.5 or so

          As for the other issue – it’s not just information, it’s choices. For instance, the Mets chose to go underslot with their first-round pick, giving bonuses less than the recommended slot for both Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith. Even though they had more information, that choice deserves to be questioned, if not ridiculed. If they passed on Lucas Giolito because of injury concerns, that’s one thing. But they don’t get off from criticism for all of the other guys they could have picked if they were willing to pay a slot-level bonus.

          I will always question their choices to spend so much time and money on LOOGYs

          Name has listed before all of the free agent choices that blew up in Alderson’s face.

  4. Eraff
    March 17, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    The idea that we’d never discuss or debate Personnel moves by any of our sports teams is an outlandish position, all around.

    The Tejada decision may not even make sense from a Financial perspective—although that would be the only logical argument to make. Any veteran, skilled position player becomes more valuable in season—when the stakes have been raised and needs arise. The Mets and Other teams will be in that mix.

    The Mets gave away depth and a trade chip for no good reason—certainly not a baseball reason.

    I am curious about the recent move to add back service time from his minor league exile. Did they somehow find conscience? Maybe they are just doing Right by Reuben—literally allowing him to find and define a better situation for himself.

    • March 18, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Perhaps we should have recognized the move to cut Tejada was coming when they gave him the extra service day…

    • Chris F
      March 18, 2016 at 8:37 am

      I’m saying I’m not really going to dissect every FO move. All the jibber jabber adds up to nothing in the end. It’s easy to make decisions sitting in front of the tv.

      There was a statement that they added time so he could reach FA faster. Clearly the team was posturing itself to move on. With the Cabrera contract and the rising pipeline folks RT was done being an every day guy on the team.

    • James Preller
      March 18, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Tejada was never a trade chip.

  5. Name
    March 19, 2016 at 12:11 am

    So happy to see Fartolo getting whipped around for 8 runs! Gotta love Spring Training when you can hate players on your favorite team and not have to worry about the outcome.

    David Wright has been talked about ad nauseam… yet i don’t think i’ve seen one worrisome post or comment about the overpaid piece of lard. Can that be rectified please?

    • Chris F
      March 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Look it was aweful. Period. But heres a guy that is a vet who deals with a limited set of goods pitching against a team he will face many times…its possible he wasnt going out there with his best stuff. I mean, if you are Sean Gilmartin or Jim Henderson or Buddy Carlyle, you better be bringing the stuff to show you should make the team, but thats not Colon. How much time does he need to get his mechanics ready to throw 90% fastballs? I bet 2 bull pens and 2 live BPs and he’d be ready to start the season. So, yes, its a concern because we saw him at his worse give up strings of HRs and yesterday reminded us all of that. I just cant help but wonder if he was actually treating this like BP. (Note: Im trying to force myself to believe it is not a problem…like Matz, who presently has the Mayor of Panic City pacing the office very time he has the rock).

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