Sandy Alderson’s remaining to do list

New York Mets Spring TrainingMets pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training in just four weeks. Now there’s something to smile about. However, with a quieter than usual hot stove season, many teams, including the Mets, find themselves with incomplete rosters and some remaining holes to fill and issues to sort out before the equipment trucks head south. Here is Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson’s remaining to do list.

Sort out the Jay Bruce thing

This discussion has grown tiresome. Now that Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo are off the board, surely a team in need of a power bat will come calling, right? Yes, there are other sluggers available, but Bruce may be a better alternative than two years of strikeout machine Chris Carter or a year of the less than super Brandon Moss, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, or *gasp* Ryan Howard. By now, every general manager in Major League Baseball, and probably in the other major sports as well, know that Bruce is available in trade. Alderson knows the situation, but despite his posturing, we can’t go to spring training with this third wheel in tow. It would create too much of a disruption. Whoever is willing to take on his salary can have him. Then our outfield logjam and payroll are clear.

Fill out the bullpen

The Mets are still clearly in need of a few more arms in the bullpen. We’ve got two great arms at the back end, some solid depth behind the rotation, a few guys who could compete for a last spot, and Hansel Robles. We need two more guys like him to bridge from early exit starter to Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia. At least one of them should be a lefty. There are still a lot of names that fit the bill available in free agency, and the list includes a number of former Mets. Lefties Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan, J.P. Howell and Travis Wood are all available, as are righties Sergio Romo, Greg Holland, Joe Smith, Joe Blanton, Fernando Salas and Jim Henderson. There are still more quality relievers reportedly available via trade like Sean Doolittle.

Gauge the Captain’s health

Prior to spring training, Alderson and Terry Collins should really try to have a good idea of where all the players are at who are returning from significant injuries. The list is long and it includes at least seven players critical to this team’s success in 2017 – Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and every starting pitcher not named Noah Syndergaard. By all accounts Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey are okay and will be ready to rock. Walker and Duda are coming off back injuries, which can be so tricky. Duda appeared to be okay when he came back at the very end of the season. Walker may not be a slam dunk and Wright is far from it.

The front office really needs to make a proper assessment of Wright and try to estimate what they can expect from him this season. There are no guarantees here, but it helps to be prepared. It’s been three years since he’s played a full season of baseball, as he’s battled spinal stenosis and then a significant neck injury. If we can realistically anticipate even a half season of play out of our captain, then we can get by with a combination of Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera filling in at third base. Those three players are all bound to see significant playing time, especially with Duda’s splits at first and Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera needing days off as well. By midseason, the front office can reassess, but for now, our infield depth should be sufficient to begin the season.

Settle up with Wilmer Flores

The aggressive approach the Mets front office took to arbitration this year was successful. Nine out of 10 eligible players settled, and most for less than what was estimated. The lone hold out is fan favorite and super sub Wilmer Flores who reportedly asked for $2.2 million but was offered $1.8 million and is now expected to take his case to an arbitration hearing, where the two sides will hopefully meet halfway and move on with their storied relationship.

Beyond those moves, all that’s left to do is count the days until the bats, bases, and gloves are loaded onto the moving truck headed for Port St. Lucie. Warmer days are coming.

19 comments for “Sandy Alderson’s remaining to do list

  1. Jimmy P
    January 20, 2017 at 9:55 am

    On Flores, my understanding is that once it moves on to arbitration, there’s no settling. The arbitrator picks one of the two numbers, done.

    I don’t think gauging Wright’s health is an issue, particularly, because it will always be tenuous. With Reyes in place — and Flores and Rivera and Cecchini hanging around — “Plan B” is set. Wright is here until he’s not here. I only think it gets ugly when it comes to production. My fear has never been Wright on the DL. I’m afraid of him playing and striking out at a 40% rate, playing subpar defense, becoming strictly a mistake hitter. I believe that smart pitchers will stop walking him.

    A second issue with Wright is the “opportunity cost.” If he bats in front of Cespedes, that’s a hitter who is going to see fastballs, be challenged. It’s a great spot for a hitter to do some damage. Is Wright the best guy to capitalize on that opportunity? Personally, I’d like Conforto in this spot.

    By your post, Matt, it appears that all the Mets problems with Bruce would have been solved . . . if Sandy never tendered the contract. How much time has he spent trying to move this guy, and for what return?

    I know there’s a groundswell of support for Bruce building up — hey, he’s good, let’s keep him — but I am not in the company. He is a microcosm of everything that was wrong with the Mets offense, as designed by Sandy Alderson, last season: big power, poor baserunning, high strikeout, low average. On a balanced team, that type of hitter in the 6 or 7 spot is fine. But too many of that same type and you’ve got . . . a lot of what we’ve seen in the past. With Bruce, I can’t shake the Tony Fernandez-Richie Hebner vibe that he just doesn’t belong in NYC.

    I also do not believe the idea that Bruce was insurance in case the Mets lost Cespedes. We’ve seen Jay Bruce play baseball. He was not going to replace Cespedes. If Mets lost Cespedes and let Bruce walk, they would have had $40 million to remake the team.

  2. Matt Netter
    January 20, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Jimmy P – I was against the trade for Bruce. I never cared for him as a player and agree that his personality doesn’t fit NYC. Alderson took a calculated risk picking up his option in hopes that he could flip him for a solid prospect or a reliever. Maybe he’ll still be able to, but it appears that he may have gambled and lost and the sooner he accepts that the better off this team will be.

    If Wright is healthy and striking out at a high rate then Collins needs to drop him in the lineup. I do believe he’s earned a shot to bat in the top half of the lineup but the leash should be short.

  3. BK
    January 20, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Every team except maybe the Cubs has issues. Compare the Mets to a team like Seattle, which has made roughly 650 trades in the past two weeks yet still boasts a weak rotation with no depth. The Mets will be in good shape as long as the pitching staff remains healthy. The other issues will sort themselves out.

  4. Eraff
    January 20, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The questions about Wright seem to be posed out of Polite Obligation. His health is simply not a question mark…the Upside is normally identified as a 100-110 games…Tops!—with greatly reduced ability and production, and absolutely Zero availability on days he does not start.

    Face Facts…the true upside is that He and They quickly identify his ability to retire under the coverage of Insurance—then, Alderson can package some of his assets and Solve a Major Hole. That type of trade may involve Bruce and other names.

    Including Wright, 3 of 4 infielders are Post Surgical. 4 of 5 Pitchers were not pitching at the end of last year….3 of them have more recently seen a Live Surgeon than a Live Batter.

    2-3 weeks into ST…that’s the time to identify your to-do list. The Dry Powder that you kept on hand through Hot Stove may come in handy.

  5. Matt Netter
    January 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    A’s just signed de Aza to a minor league deal…in case anyone is interested.

  6. January 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    For the minority opinion, I think the Mets are in a good spot with Bruce, in that there’s upside with whatever happens.

    If they trade him, they can get a reliever and/or a depth starter with the savings. If they keep him, they can play a guy who posted an .875 OPS in the first part of the year (402 PA) in 2016.

    Everyone seems to think that Bruce is destined to suck and that Conforto is guaranteed to be good. While neither of those outcomes would shock me, it’s far from written in stone.

    With the benefit of hindsight, the Mets should have let Bruce walk. But I’m not going to declare the current situation hopeless.

    • NormE
      January 20, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      I agree. The key here is patience. What difference does it make if Bruce is moved in Jan., Feb., or March? As fans we are probably growing stir-crazy and want some action. SA will make a move when the market is there. Injuries, or other unforeseen events may change any team’s needs. No reason to sell low at this moment.
      Even if Bruce does open the season in RF, it’s not the worst case scenario.

    • Chris F
      January 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      I also agree.

    • TexasGusCC
      January 20, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      I agreed with you until the part about letting him walk. If you open your comment with saying they’re in a good position with him, why then say he should have been let go?

      I still believe that while he has drawbacks, overall they will benefit via a trade or playing him by keeping him. He has the motivation of free agency, and there’s always a way of getting people playing time and injuries will happen.

      • Jimmy P
        January 20, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        Sandy stood in front of the cameras before the winter meetings and said that we needed to fortify the pen and explained that he believed the outfield as currently configured was too left handed. No one disagreed.

        He still has time to address those things. I hope he does.

      • January 20, 2017 at 7:09 pm

        Why? Because you make decisions based on the information available to you at the time. On November 3rd, it was unknown if either Cespedes or Walker was returning. If Alderson knew for sure that both would be back and that the trade market for Bruce would be so cold — he would not have made the offer. On Nov. 3rd, the correct decision would be to pick up the option on Bruce. If the Mets could have made the decision on Jan. 20th, it would have been the opposite.

        • Jimmy P
          January 21, 2017 at 6:25 pm

          Here’s a link, randomly selected, from 12/8/16, with video of Sandy discussing goals and his relaxed timetable.

          This was a post about Sandy’s “to do” list.

          By that reckoning, he still has things to do. That’s not a judgment for or against. It could be that he’s changed his mind — possibly, again, because he’s not happy with the return for Bruce — which, again, might indicate a misreading of the market.

          And it could be that the Bruce situation has, as SA has stated, kind of hampered his pursuit for a reliever.

          My position remains that there’s still time to try to improve the NY Mets. Otherwise I’d be looking at two clearly stated goals that were not attained.

    • NYM6986
      January 21, 2017 at 9:59 am

      I believe there is no downside bringing Bruce to camp if need be. Many teams will determine the need for a 30 HR bat at that time. The reality is they needed to get the Brewers catcher and not Bruce as that is where the problem started. Perhaps with a full spring he will be what he was at the end for the Mets and what he was for the Reds – a home run hitting poor fielding OF.
      Since the mets lineup as presented will still live or die by the long ball having his bat may be critical to our success especially if we can slot him down in the 6th hole.
      As far as the Captain, even if he comes to camp feeling good, history and his particular health issues indicates that he won’t stay healthy. So we are back to plugging holes with part-time players not ready to be starters. All last year I said we need more offense. I would like to see a new CF who can lead off and steal bases. We are never really able to manufacture runs. I see this as our most glaring weakness. That and unless someone teaches TDA to throw out runners we will lose games when we don’t hit three HRs. In the face of many critics we have done well under Alderson and Collins. Looking forward to making the post season three years in a row for the first time.

      Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  7. MIke Ryan
    January 20, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I would really like to see the Mets sign Greg Holland and Jerry Blevins I agree with Brian that having Jay Bruce remain with the team would not be the worst thing in the world. If trading him is the only way to clear up the salary to sign relievers then I believe that is the way to go.

  8. Metsense
    January 20, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Top priority is settling the bullpen.
    If Bruce can’t be moved I can live with it.
    There is roster depth that is sufficient to handle the usual injuries.
    If the starting pitching holds up I can see a division crown. It all centers around the pitching so another good relief pitcher should be obtained.

  9. Jim OMalley
    January 21, 2017 at 12:00 am

    The ’16 imjuries to the pitching staff clearly indicate to me that a reinforced bullpen not only provides reliable help for the srarting rotation but also diverisifes the team’s points of strength.

  10. TexasGusCC
    January 22, 2017 at 1:24 am

    So, Herrera and Wotell and the Cincy fans wanted more? Man, we got screwed from the start.

  11. TexasGusCC
    January 22, 2017 at 1:33 am

    Hmmmmm… These people state that relievers are getting more important than starters, and that trend should continue…

    Another thing Sandy doesn’t want to hear.

  12. TexasGusCC
    January 22, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Last one tonight:

    I can understand why Steve Phillips was never given another franchise to run. He has no problem just burning other people’s money. Besides, as a team builder I think he sounds like a fool.

    The more I listen to Dan O’Dowd on MLBN, the more I like him. This article shows how stable and careful he is.

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