The New York Mets may or may not re-sign pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, but it appears that a Japanese news organization jumped the gun when it reported that Matsuzaka was close to signing a minor league deal with the Mets.
Matsuzka would be a sensible option for the Mets if he’d agree to a minor league deal. After his first three dreadful starts, he got noticeably better and finished the season with four strong performances in September. The Mets do need a low-cost option who could fill the last spot in the starting rotation – I’m not convinced about Jenrry Mejia‘s ability or his health after a bone spur brought his 2013 season to an early end.
But I’d be lying if I said I was excited about the prospect of seeing Matsuzaka pitch for the Mets again. Steve Trachsel is the only Mets starter I can think of that was less fun to watch.
With a month to go until the start of spring training, the remaining free agents have got to be feeling some pressure to sign contracts, and maybe that will allow Sandy Alderson to find a hidden gem to surprise us the way Marlon Byrd and LaTroy Hawkins did in 2013.
I hope it does. Because Alderson’s moves to date really just amount to the team trying to tread water (again.) Curtis Granderson offsets the loss of Byrd. Bartolo Colon fills the innings pitched by Matt Harvey. Chris Young represents an upgrade over players like Rick Ankiel and Colin Cowgill, but he’s a gamble.
For the 2014 Mets to succeed, Chris Young needs to have a good year. Travis d’Arnaud needs to get his name into the Rookie of the Year award discussion. Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis or Lucas Duda need to show that they can be major league starters. Jonathon Niese needs to finally put together that big year, and somebody – whether it’s Bobby Parnell, Vic Black or a pitcher we’re not even thinking about – needs to step up as the closer.
Let’s see what happens.
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2 thoughts on “Matsuzka & the Mets”
I have been hoping they would resign Matsuzaka since the season ended. First of all, because I want a Topps card of Dice-K as a Met (hey, I’ve got my priorities); it really chaffed my hide to see Dice-K as an Indian–a team he never pitched for–in the 2013 Topps Update series. But, secondly, because it seemed a shame and an injustice to be the ones who corrected a mechanical flaw that had him pitching so badly only to have some other team benefit. Let’s face it, the Mets break more ballplayers than they fix (Ike Davis leaps instantly to mind). If we find one we can fix, I want to keep him.
I’m not nearly the pessimist everyone else seems to be about the Mets. I frankly don’t get it. They were a better team at season’s end than they were at its start. And they are a better team at this season’s start than they were at last season’s end. That’s what you want…forward movement. Its a slow march to contention and that was never ever ever going to happen by this year (even if Sandy sort of intimated it might). It takes a minimum of five years to build a farm system from absolute zero, which is what Omar left us with. We’re coming into year four. Chin up–there’s light at the end of the tunnel. But Matt Harvey’s injury might actually be a bit of a blessing for the organization because nobody can honestly think we’re playoff bound without him.
You talk about Marlon Byrd as though he’s been our main guy for a decade. Hey, he was a nice surprise. Since he’ll probably never play that well ever again, what are we replacing really? And we got two blue chip prospects for him. Black could easily be your closer. He hits 98 mph routinely and 100 on occasion (smoking Billy Wagner heat), plus he’s got a pretty good curve. Will he close this year? I doubt it. I hope not. What you want is to spend a year putting him in positions to succeed, positions where, barring a complete meltdown, he can’t help but succeed. Young pitchers–and I know everybody hates hearing it, but its true–are fragile. OK, he’s 25 or thereabouts. Still, you want to prime that pump for success. Frankly, closers are over rated anyway. But you’re always better off building your own than trading for one or buying one. Black’s your closer next year and established in time for 2016. Herrera could well be the second baseman we’ve been looking for. His swing has no holes and he’s got third base pop at the second sack. ETA 2016.
Notice a trend, here? How long have I been saying hang on til 2016? Quite a while. Because that’s how long it takes to build a winning organization out of the pile of dung Omar left here. We’ll be better this year than last (even without Harvey) and we’ll be in the hunt for a wildcard in 2015. 2016 is when it all comes together. Who, in ’67, thought the Mets were on the cusp of a Championship? Nobody, except the Mets. You had Seaver coming up and you just brought in Tommy Davis. Cleon was still finding his way (he hit .246 in ’67). Heck, Grote hit .195 in ’67. Your first baseman was Kranepool and your third baseman was Ed Charles. Your 2B was Bucheck; nuff said. Nobody thought they were championship worthy. Buddy was solid at SS, but not spectacular. Swoboda had a decent year, but never would live up to his hype. Your number 2 starter–honestly your #1 going into the season–was Fat Jack Fisher, who went 9-18. A very young Koosman was 0-2 with an ERA over 6. An even younger Tug McGraw was 0-3 with an ERA approaching 8 (he was a starter at the time). Your closer was Ron Taylor. He saved 8. The Mets used more players in ’67 than in any other year of their history. But they were on the cusp.
Same thing with the ’83 Mets (the Mets won 98 games in ’85, usually enough to win). The Mets were so bad in ’81 and ’82, nobody saw a contender coming. Except Frank Cashen. Going into ’83, you had Kingman at first, Hubie Brooks at third, Ron Hodges behind the plate. Your manager was George Bamberger. The Strawberry kid had promise. There was talk of a potential ace down the line in Gooden. And, in fact, overall, the pitching had promise. Seaver was back. Darling and Gooden on the horizon. But your actual rotation was Seaver, Mike Torrez, Craig Swan, Walt Terrell and Ed Lynch. None of them won more than 10. Orosco, your closer, won 13. But you had so many holes around the diamond, who knew you’d win 98 in ’85 and win it all in ’86. Keith came over in June in one of the greatest steals in baseball history. And why did we get him so cheap? Hmmm. Something about…cocaine? Which about 40% of major league players were doing in those days. And did the Mets say, “sure, he deserves a second chance, but it doesn’t have to be with us.” Did the fans say that? Oh, hey, it was the eighties. And its not like cocaine is a dangerous drug like, say, human growth hormone.
Anyway, Tommy Davis became Agee and Weis. George Foster didn’t become anything. But Davis and Foster were the Granderson of their times–a signal that the Mets were getting serious about winning. Didn’t happen right away. But it happened sooner than you could see it at the time. Harvey’s your Seaver or Gooden. Wheeler’s your Koosman or Darling. You could do a lot worse than Niese as your #3. And you’ve got a bevy of young arms on the come–Montero, Syndergaard, Matz, Mateo, Walters, Leathersich. Enough arms to fill some other holes. Maybe Kolarek, Mejia and Gee become your shortstop. Maybe D’Arnaud is your future first baseman (if he can hit; I’m stll not sold). Pawklecki’s looking pretty good (ETA 2016 or 2017). Dominic Smith is coming up (ETA late 2016). And I’d wager that Sandy will add one major piece mid-season–maybe Braun, maybe Ethier, maybe someone else.
We’re on the cusp. And our goal for 2014 should be to play better ball. The record is secondary. Play better ball and the record should be better (but may not be…it happens). And having three centerfielders playing the outfield at spacious Citi Field–compared to that hot mess we had last year–I don’t see how we can not play better ball. Patience, Grasshopper. The one thing I will say is that its time for Terry Collins to go. If he’s back next year, then something is seriously wrong.
A Daisuke Matsuzaka baseball card showing him in a Mets uniform would be a good thing.
Sandy Alderson made a great move to turn one month of Marlon Byrd into two prospects, even if Vic Black is nothing more than a middle reliever and Dilson Herrera never makes the major leagues. Even if Byrd can duplicate his 2013 stats, he wasn’t going to do it with the Mets because Alderson was not about to match the Phillies’ contract offer – and he shouldn’t have.
Nevertheless, Curtis Granderson is coming in to fill a spot where the Mets got production in 2013: He’ll have to improve on Byrd’s .285 /.330 / .518 line with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs to represent an offensive upgrade, and I don’t see that happening.
As far as the farm system goes, Alderson has been working hard to rebuild it and he’s stocked it with plenty of “depth” pitchers and one or two that the prospect pundits think could be stars. The position players aren’t really there yet.
The problem with the pace of rebuilding the Mets is that their two current stars – David Wright and Matt Harvey – are unlikely to be able to contribute much by the time the rest of the pieces are in line.
Harvey becomes arbitration eligible after the 2015 season, and will probably be out the door by the end of 2016 (or 2017, at the latest) unless the Mets’ payroll situation significantly improves. Wright turns 34 in 2016, and will be looking back at the best years of his career.
The Mets are a mess, and while there are some reasons to hope, there are others that make me wonder if the team really has a shot to compete with a payroll in the bottom half of Major League Baseball.
This sounds more pessimistic than I actually feel about the 2014 season. I want to see what Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler can do over a full season, and if Juan Lagares can hold onto his center field job with the new additions that came in to take outfield playing time. I’m even interested in the likely competition for the first base job.
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