December 2013

Top five Mets Cetera posts of 2013

With the year winding down, it’s time to take a look back at the top five Mets Cetera posts of the year, in terms of total traffic:

metsceteraharvey5. Mid-July was All-Star season in New York, and it just so happened to coincide with the height of Matt Harvey’s rapid-rise fame. We linked to a skit that Harvey did on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, seeing how many so-called Mets fans recognized their newest and brightest superstar.

metsceteraoutfield4. Last offseason, Sandy Alderson famously poked fun at his team when he quipped, “What outfield?” in response to a question. By the end of July, Alderson had changed his tune so completely that he called the Mets “maybe the most productive outfield in baseball.” We investigated his claim.

metsceteracurse3. Just last week, we revisited the Curse of Kris Kringle that has haunted the Mets at their annual holiday party for the better part of a decade. Well aware of the curse’s history — Kris BensonMike Cameron and even Wright have been among the victims — Daniel Murphy suited up as St. Nick.

metsceterawright22. As usual, David Wright was a popular figure in 2013. In March, we held a Twitter contest for fans to create their best “Captain America” photoshop mock-ups. The winner, from @Miss_Met, featured the captain in full regalia on a DVD cover. The runners-up were nearly as impressive.

metsceterawright1. In December, we took a look back at Wright’s eight-year, $138-million contract and what he might have made as a free agent this winter. The consensus? You’ll have to click and see. But here’s a hint: it’s closer to Robinson Cano’s 10-year, $240-million deal than you might expect.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Merry Christmas from Mets Cetera

Christmas photos courtesy of the Mets:

SAMSUNG CSCwheelersanta2

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Valdespin hooks on in NL East: a match made in heaven?

The Marlins on Friday signed fun-times infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin to a minor league deal (sans invitation to big league spring training). Seems like self-written destiny, doesn’t it? It was barely more than a year ago that Valdespin created a mini maelstrom by tweeting a (since-deleted) photo of himself in a Marlins cap.

He was, at the time, an employee of the Mets.

valdespinmarlins

It was not an isolated incident in terms of Valdespin’s comportment. Remember this? Or this? Or this? (So much for this, I suppose.)

Ah, memories.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Beltran on Mets years: “They’ve got to blame the guy who makes the most money”

Carlos Beltran was officially introduced as a Yankee on Friday, and had some harsh words for the Mets. For the first time publicly, Beltran admitted the friction that surfaced between him and the Mets after he skipped a team visit to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington in 2010, and when the two sides clashed over Beltran’s medical procedures.

“All the controversy about the Walter Reed, the knee — the organization was trying to put me as a player that was a bad apple,” Beltran said. “‘I was this, I was that.’ I can deal with 0-for-4 and three strikeouts and talk to you guys. But when someone is trying to hurt you in a very personal way, trying to put things out there … then we got trouble. Now, it’s personal.

“When they say all that about myself, I was hurt. You cannot believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down. In that aspect, I felt hurt.”

Despite all that, Beltran’s legacy in New York still seems to be the called strike three he took against Adam Wainwright in the 2006 National League Championship Series — not the three homers and 1.054 OPS he posted that series, nor the .280/.369/.500 slash line he put up over seven seasons in Flushing, averaging 120 games played per season.

As Marty Noble writes, Beltran finally has a chance to rewrite that legacy — only with a different team. Give it a read.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

The Mets and the Curse of Kris Kringle (2013 Edition)

The Mets hosted their annual children’s holiday party on Tuesday, with Daniel Murphy reprising the role of Santa Claus that he first played in 2011. He should know better. The suit is cursed, and has betrayed him before.

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For the better part of the past decade in fact, nearly every player who pulled on the red-and-white suit either left the team, suffered injury or endured a serious decline in production within the next year. Consider the following:

The Year: 2004
The Santa: Mike Cameron
The Fallout: Tremendously popular amongst teammates, Cameron played Santa and then suffered a frightening outfield collision with Carlos Beltran the following August, knocking him out for the rest of the season and ultimately ending his Mets career.

The Year: 2005
The Santa: Kris Benson
The Fallout: Perhaps the most memorable Mets Santa of them all, Benson entertained in 2005 while his wife, Anna Benson, infamously showed up wearing a revealing Mrs. Claus costume. A month later, the Mets sent both Bensons packing in a trade to Baltimore.

The Year: 2006
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: By enjoying the best statistical season of his career in 2007 and winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at third base, Wright appeared to nix the curse of Santa Claus once and for all. But then he made a critical mistake, agreeing to suit up again four years later. Keep reading to see what happened.

The Year: 2007
The Santa: John Maine
The Fallout: Coming off a career year and looking every bit like a future cog in New York’s rotation, Maine played Santa Claus in 2007. The following year, he suffered the first of what became a litany of shoulder issues, resulting in multiple surgeries, robbing him of fastball velocity and ultimately leading the Mets to non-tender him in 2010.

The Year: 2008
The Santa: Mike Pelfrey
The Fallout: Like Maine, Pelfrey had just completed a career year when the Mets tabbed him to be St. Nick. The following season, Pelfrey’s ERA jumped from 3.72 to 5.03, his walk rate spiked and he lost more games than he won. Some argue that despite a strong first half in 2010, he never truly recovered.

The Year: 2009
The Santa: Jeff Francoeur
The Fallout: The affable Francoeur seemed a perfect choice for Santa after raking in his first few months after a trade to New York. He scored points for his jolliness, before hitting just .237 for the Mets in 2010 and losing his starting job to Angel Pagan. Frustrated with his production, the Mets eventually dealt Francoeur to the Rangers, who cut him after the season.

The Year: 2010
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: Making his second career appearance as Santa, Wright suffered a stress fracture in his lower back the following April, struggled while attempting to play through the pain, and ultimately spent more than two months on the disabled list. The resulting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging were only half the story; Wright also endured fallout from owner Fred Wilpon’s critical comments about him in the New Yorker magazine.

The Year: 2011
The Santa: Daniel Murphy
The Fallout: Perhaps Murphy ended the curse once and for all? It was not until after tearing ligaments in both knees that Murphy played Santa in 2011, still recovering from the second injury. Though he recovered to play a full healthy season in 2012, Murphy did not enjoy the same type of success that he had in 2011.

The Year: 2012
The Santa: John Franco
The Cameo: R.A. Dickey
The Fallout: The Mets wised up in 2012, using a former player instead of a current one for their Santa. It didn’t matter. Despite not receiving an original invite, Dickey attended the party as well, using it as a platform to express disappointment with his contract negotiations. A week later, the Mets traded him to the Blue Jays.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

David Wright, the $200-million player that could have been?

When the Mets flew David Wright to the Winter Meetings last year to finalize his eight-year, $138-million contract, they did so without assurances of what the deal would look like in the future. Injury and performance aside, it was impossible to predict how the market would shake out, and how Wright’s $138 million would stack up.

wright6

A year later, it’s clear that the Mets inked Wright for far less than he could have made on the open market this winter, when he would have been a free agent for the first time in his career. Just look at some of the position player deals that have been done:

  • Ten years, $240 million from the Mariners for second baseman Robinson Cano
  • Seven years, $153 million from the Yankees for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Five years, $85 million from the Yankees for catcher Brian McCann
  • Four years, $60 million from the Mets for outfielder Curtis Granderson

Though none of those players are terrific comps for Wright, they serve to demonstrate how much players are currently worth on the open market.

With that in mind, I spent some time at the Winter Meetings informally surveying a handful of executives and agents, asking them what Wright could have received as a free agent. The answers did not dip below $170 million, rising as high as $200 million.

One person suggested tacking $5 million per year onto Wright’s existing deal, resulting in an eight-year, $178-million pact. Another said that Wright probably would have been able to push for a 10-year deal, which would have taken him through his age-39 season. Two suits budgeted $200 million on the dot — a number that only five players in history have earned in a single contract: Alex Rodriguez (twice), Cano, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. On more than one occasion, Wright’s squeaky-clean franchise cornerstone reputation came up as a potential negotiating platform.

Imagine those numbers in the context of the Mets’ rebuilding efforts. Even if Wright fell short of that $200 million mark, his $170+ million value might have forced the Mets to reconsider their commitment. Market factors alone could have transformed franchise history.

Wright knew he would be taking a discount to sign with the Mets a year before hitting free agency, but he still did it because he knew New York was where he wanted to be. (Recall that Wright shaped his deal like a bell curve to help the Mets retain present and future payroll flexibility.) He and the Mets are both happy things worked out the way they did.

But the rest of baseball was left wondering what Wright would have received on the open market had — like so many others — he chosen to play for the highest bidder.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Poll: Do you like the Bartolo Colon signing?

The Mets on Wednesday agreed to terms on a two-year, $20-million contract with right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon. Your thoughts?


Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets’ Opening Day lineup? Forever Young is in their mind

After the Mets inked Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60-million deal, the popular thinking was that the signing would push Eric Young, Jr. to the bench, giving the Mets an outfield of (from left to right) Granderson, Juan Lagares and Chris Young. Yet one Mets official cautioned Monday that that might not be the case. The Mets were enamored with what Eric Young, Jr. gave them last season, and want his bat in the lineup in some capacity.

If the Mets trade Daniel Murphy, they could achieve that by sliding Young into the starting second base role. Short of that, and assuming the Mets trade Ike Davis instead of Lucas Duda, their Opening Day lineup could look something like this:

Eric Young, Jr., LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Curtis Granderson, RF
Chris Young, CF
Lucas Duda, 1B
Travis d’Arnaud, C
Ruben Tejada, SS
Jon Niese, LHP

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Wilpon: Torre’s accomplishments “speak for themselves”

Though Joe Torre will always be best-known for his work as the four-time World Series-winning Yankees manager, he will also be inextricably linked with the Mets. Torre ended his playing career with three seasons in Flushing from 1975-77, then began his managing career with five seasons from 1977-81.

torremets

Upon Torre’s election into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon offered the following statement:

“We are thrilled that Joe Torre has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame,” the statement read. “Joe has distinguished himself throughout his career both on and off the field.  His records and accomplishments as a player and manager speak for themselves.  All of us at the Mets salute and congratulate Joe.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

What should the Mets’ top priority be at the Winter Meetings?

Here we are at the Winter Meetings at Disney, where the Mets are looking to add a starting pitcher, reliever, shortstop and backup catcher. Which need is most important? We ask you.


Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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