4 Mistakes the New York Mets Made During the 2014-2015 MLB Offseason
New York Mets fans are confident that there’s a method to the madness, that one day soon this beloved team from Flushing, Queens, will once again become a playoff-caliber ballclub.
In fact, earlier this week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told MLB Network that he believes his team has “players with the potential to improve us by 10 games next season."
Considering the club won 79 games in 2014, Alderson's estimate would put the Mets just one game below 90 wins next season. For context, the Kansas City Royals won the American League with 89 wins last season, and the Giants won first the National League and then the World Series with only 88 victories.
If he's correct, then the Mets would break .500 for the first time since 2008. Should the Mets fail to do so, however, Alderson will continue to draw his share of criticism for his lack of tangible production this offseason.
“One of the reasons we've been quiet in the offseason is that we have quality players at every position,” continued Alderson. “They're not all proven above-average major league players, but we're at the point now where we have to give them the opportunity to perform.”
Some may agree with Alderson and argue that such criticism is unfair. But there are certainly scenarios that the team will have to address heading into spring training and beyond.
Until then, many fans and critics will absolutely consider each of the following decisions to be a mistake.
Players Pay to Practice
In January, ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reported that Mets players are being charged to work out at fitness camps in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. One source told ESPN New York in the same story that the charge was $4,400 for MLB players and $1,000 for minor league players.
While the MLB Players’ Association says these workouts must be considered voluntary, Rubin added on Twitter that it “almost seems like there’s [a] penalty for not attending” such camps.
According to Mark Townsend of Yahoo Sports, the workout is led by Mike Barwis, who is the star of American Muscle on the Discovery Channel. Barwis reportedly rents out the facility, and charges for his time and services.
“In other words, the players working out would have to pay money if they hired another personal trainer,” wrote Mike Puma of the New York Post. “They pay Barwis $1,000.”
The New York Times' Tim Rohan noted that the Mets are covering a “sizable portion of the travel and lodging costs” for the camp. Additionally, his story mentions that Alderson and the Mets are subsidizing roughly $100,000 of the costs for Barwis to work with the nearly 30 players attending his camp.
Some, like 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith, received significant financial help. Others like longtime Mets star David Wright have received virtually zero help paying for these sessions.
It’s obviously more complicated than the fact that the Mets are charging players to practice this offseason. But I’m still not convinced. Barwis, obviously, requires compensation for his workouts. Does that mean it should come from the team? Of course not.
But when you’re charging for an optional workout, that puts an obvious pressure on players who did not attend. File this one in the “gray area” category, but I can’t imagine the MLBPA is very thrilled with this situation.
Talking Big Game
In November 2014, Mets coach Terry Collins said he expects his team to make the playoffs.
“We should be playing in October,” said Collins, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “I think 2015 is going to be a good year for us.”
These 2015 ambitions are lofty goals for the Mets, especially considering that a postseason berth would be the first for the team since 2006. Wright, however, was on that 2006 team (he made his first career All-Star Game that season) and echoes such sentiments.
“I fully expect us to be in the playoffs,’’ Wright said, according to the New York Post's Kevin Kernan. “It’s not coming out here and boasting, but I think where we stand right now, we’re a much better team than we were last year and in years past.”
There’s nothing wrong with the Mets talking with confidence before the season begins. That is, unless, you’re talking to 1986 World Series champion Bobby Ojeda. The former Mets pitcher was an analyst for SNY until recently, and in a recent interview, he didn’t hold back.
“They’re not going to be liked by writing checks with their mouths that their wins and losses have yet to catch up to,” Ojeda told Andy Martino of the Daily News. “Just let the optimism build in the Mets fans, and don’t overextend your reach at this point.”
Of course, the front office should not be expected to just take each game as it comes and without any confidence. But last season, Alderson also predicted that the Mets would win 90 games, which didn’t happen.
You’d hope that they’d have learned from that mistake last offseason. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This offseason, the big talk has continued. Hopefully, it won’t lead to more disappointed fans this time.
Not Trading Dillon Gee
Matt Harvey is going to re-emerge as the staff ace for New York this season. Zack Wheeler looked phenomenal last season and will have a spot in the rotation. So too will NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.
Then you have to add Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese to the back of the rotation, as well as emerging prospects soon to be MLB-ready like Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz or Rafael Montero.
After a not-so-phenomenal 2014 campaign from Dillon Gee, there’s an obvious odd man out.
With a $5.4 million contract, it’s tough to imagine the Mets moving Gee to the bullpen. But, then again, we’re talking about the Mets.
This late in the offseason, a trade suddenly seems unlikely, even if there were interest from teams across the MLB. But it didn’t have to be this way. In fact, according to numerous headlines, Gee seemed to garner some interest from multiple MLB organizations.
As recently as a few weeks ago, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that “three-to-four teams remain interested in Gee.” His list included the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, an anonymous American League team and the most likely suitors, the Colorado Rockies.
Earlier this week, however, the Rockies announced that they have signed right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick. He’d take the spot that would likely have been filled by Gee, almost certainly eliminating the possibility of a trade to Colorado.
This is causing Mets blogs like Amazin’ Avenue to post headlines like “Dillon Gee is Still a Met” without readers batting an eye.
I’m not saying that the Mets could have obtained the next Tom Seaver if they had thrown away Gee. I’m not even saying they could have gotten the next Zack Wheeler, Vic Black or Travis d’Arnaud—each of whom they were essentially able to obtain for the expiring contracts from Carlos Beltran, Marlon Byrd and R.A. Dickey, respectively.
But when you could have gotten some value for a pitcher who will almost certainly not make the starting rotation and you’re paying him $5.4 million, it’s almost certainly a mistake.
No Big-Name Additions
OK: Michael Cuddyer is going to be a nice fit for the Mets. He’s a lifelong friend of David Wright and an MLB veteran certain to add good chemistry to the clubhouse.
Last season, however, the Mets made a splash by signing longtime crosstown rival Curtis Granderson, as well as Bartolo Colon—who had 18 wins and just six losses for Oakland the year before he signed in Queens.
Granderson didn't have the 2014 people expected, but his move to the Mets was a huge story last season. This season, the Mets had talked quite a bit about how they “weren’t done spending” after the Cuddyer addition. Yet the only other notable name added to the roster this offseason was John Mayberry Jr. and he too is an outfielder.
The Mets whiffed, publicly, on Troy Tulowitzki. Nobody expected the Mets to acquire the superstar shortstop from Colorado. But it would have been nice. The same goes for the Mets' near-acquisition of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Now the Mets enter the 2015 season without a clear shortstop of the future, though Alderson seems confident (publicly) that it will be Wilmer Flores. So confident, in fact, that he recently compared Flores to Cal Ripken—who is often regarded as one of the best shortstops of all time.
"There's been a lot of conversation about Wilmer Flores and whether he can play the position. Cal Ripken didn't play shortstop professionally until he got to Baltimore,” said Alderson, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. “It happens with a lot of players, so maybe that's a good sign for somebody like Wilmer Flores."
Except the Mets didn't add the next Cal Ripken. They barely added anyone except for Michael Cuddyer.