By Steven InmanSpring 2013 014

With Steven Matz’s incredible debut Sunday the countdown to Jon Niese being kicked out of the Mets rotation has already begun.

Niese has had a subpar season although he has been a lot better recently. He clearly is the next guy to lose his spot but Jon still has a pivotal role in the 2015 Mets season.

Niese is the Mets trade bait.

Teams like the Cubs (who Niese faces tonight) and Dodgers have shown some interest in Niese. The Mets won’t be getting all that much in a deal for Niese but clearing his $7 million salary could help the Mets go out and get the bat they are going to need. The Mets aren’t going to be trading one of their top prospects like Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz to get the bat they are looking at the trade deadline and they won’t be adding significant payroll which really prevents them from doing nearly anything. However if the Mets can clear Niese’s $7 million then they can use that money along with lesser prospects to go get a versatile bat in a separate deal.

The Mets waited far too long in similar situations with players like Ike Davis and Dillon Gee, overvaluing their market which forced them to give away Davis and DFA Gee.

The perfect fit for the Mets on the trade market is Ben Zobrist. He can play many positions including shortstop, second base or the outfield. Zobrist won’t cost Sandy Alderson a player like Matz or Thor to get as he is 34 and a free agent to be. He is also on a reasonable contract as he is making just $7.5 million in the final year of his contract. Expect the A’s to get a ton of interest in the Zorilla but his best fit is clearly with the Mets because he can play so many different positions and he has also hit everywhere in the batting order in his career. (Including 120 starts as a leadoff batter)

Zobrist is hitting .383 with three homers and 13 RBI over his last 14 games. He had a slow start thanks to April knee surgery but he seems to be back in his All-Star form and the A’s are 10 games out of first place in the A.L. West at 35-44. They should be ready to sell soon and the Mets should be knocking on their door to acquire Zobrist once they clear Niese’s money.

By Steven InmanSpring 2013 014

The Mets continue to labor to simply score more than a run or two a night. David Wright is still out indefinitely and payroll restraints will prevent this club from adding a significant player at the MLB trade deadline next month. Their best option may actually be their only option as Michael Conforto has been raking in Binghamton (AA) and could be ready to make his MLB debut soon.

Conforto, 22, is hitting .377 with a .482 OBP in 19 games since being called up from St. Lucie (A+).  He has hit 9 homers and drove in 40 in 253 at bats across two levels of the minors this season.

It makes too much sense. The Mets can platoon Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson in one corner with Cuddyer playing against lefties and Granderson against right handers. Both are older players that could probably use more days off. Conforto could infuse a power bat into a lineup that has scored just six runs in their last four games, all losses. Between Cuddyer and Granderson whoever produces more will stay in the lineup.

The former Oregon State standout has only played in 19 games in Double (AA) but he is the most advanced hitter to come through the Mets system in at least five years in terms of how fast he is approaching the big leagues. If he struggles they can simply send him back down.

The Mets are headed down a very dark path as they continue to lose very winnable games. Their defense is horrendous, they don’t hit and the bullpen has lost most of its depth. If things continue Terry Collins is going to undeservingly lose his job. The team must do something to shake things up and if they are unwilling to pay the price to get better in terms of taking on salary or trading away prospects then they should give Conforto a shot.

By Steven Inman

Sandy Alderson's top prospects are highly regarded throughout baseball

Sandy Alderson’s top prospects are highly regarded throughout baseball

The Mets offense has been dismal this year. Sandy Alderson has attempted to build an offense of power and patience but to date has failed miserably. The Mets are 25th in both runs and slugging percentage. Alderson signings such as Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson haven’t displayed any reason for hope that the Mets offensive struggles will change any time soon. That being said, there is hope and that hope comes from the Mets minor league system.

The Mets collected a great group of minor league arms with Steven Matz the last of that group still in the minors. Matz should be in the bigs around the All-Star Break. All of those pitchers have lived up to the hype so far. Now we could be seeing the new wave of Mets prospects, the position player side.

Led by 2014 first round pick Michael Conforto, the Mets have quietly accrued a group of solid position player prospects. Here are the guys that could balance out the Mets lineup in the next few seasons.

Michael Conforto- Although Michael is the newest player to the Mets farm system of this group, he likely will be the quickest one to the majors. Conforto is hitting .375 in Binghamton (AA) after starting the season in St. Lucie. Conforto has a quick bat and looks to be an upcoming star. Ideally he gets to Las Vegas (AAA) by September if the 51’s make the playoffs, which would allow him to be a phone call away next season. Conforto came into the draft last season with a reputation that he would have to be hidden somewhere defensively but the Mets have been very impressed with his outfield play and his bat will work well in left field.

Dom Smith– This sweet swinging first baseman is probably awhile away but the Mets have been impressed with his at bats. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of power (2 homers) as St. Lucie and the Florida State League is a very difficult environment to hit. Smith reminds me of a James Loney type of player. Expect him to hit for a high average but home runs will always be a question when you play first base.

Gavin Cecchini– Perhaps the biggest surprise of all of the Mets minor leaguers, Cecchini has emerged as a legitimate shortstop option for the Mets going forward. He is hitting over .320 in Binghamton (AA) and has played a strong shortstop defensively. There was serious question whether his bat would hit enough for him to play one position everyday. Now it’s looking like Gavin can stick. He’s only 21 years old so expect him to continue to grow offensively.

Brandon Nimmo- Sandy Alderson’s first draft pick as Mets General Manager got off to a rocky start to his Met tenure. Nimmo has slowly moved up the minor league ladder and can legitimately get to the big leagues by the end of next season. He was on the DL for a little bit but like Conforto it would be a big accomplishment if the outfielder could reach Las Vegas (AAA) this season. The concern with Nimmo is can he hit left-handed pitching. If not he’ll be a fine platoon player in the Mets outfield.

Amed Rosario– Out of this group of prospects, Rosario is probably the rawest but most scouts seem to like him more than just about any other Met prospect. The Mets aren’t sure if he will stick at shortstop but most think the bat will develop. Don’t expect to see Amed anytime soon in the majors however.

Sandy Alderson has rightfully taken a lot of criticism for his sculpting of the Mets lineup but if most of these five position players can hit in the big leagues then Alderson’s tenure as Mets GM will be deemed a success, it’s that simple. All five of these players were signed by Alderson and his staff. According to MLB.com, eight of the Mets top ten prospects are now position players, a drastic change from where the Mets were a year ago.

The Mets are going to have to pay their young pitchers in the next few years so getting impact bats at the major league level making the league minimum would be huge.

Which Met position prospect are you most excited to see?

By Steven InmanSpring 2013 014

After six seasons with the New York Mets, the Dillon Gee era is over. The right-hander imploded Sunday in a spot start against the Atlanta Braves, giving up eight runs and raising his ERA to 5.90. The Mets designated the right-hander for assignment a few moments ago. It’s a mystery why the Mets DFA’d Gee instead of just optioning him to Las Vegas (AAA). Since Gee doesn’t have five years of service time he can’t refuse the option but the Mets elected to wipe him off the 40-man roster completely. They now have 10 days to find a trade partner or they will have to give Gee his unconditional release.

The whole situation is very similar to the Ike Davis situation last season in that it was completely botched. The Mets who desperately needed Gee’s $5.3 million salary off the books, now will most likely be on the hook for all of it except the league minimum. The Mets fielded trade offers for Gee last winter but elected that the players they were getting back weren’t worth losing their rotation security blanket. The Mets didn’t get many offers for Gee but they definitely could have moved the right-hander if they lowered their asking price.

Even if they weren’t being offered much a Gee trade could have opened up $5.3 million for the Mets, which could have allowed them to be active in trade talks for a bat right now. The Mets were picky in what they were asking for and held Gee, like Davis last season, to a higher asking price in trade talks than the rest of baseball.

The Mets were asking for a haul two winters ago for Davis, turning down some pretty good offers in the process. In the end, like Gee, the Mets hung on to Davis far too long and were lucky to move him to Pittsburgh in a salary dump in the end.

Teams like the Rangers, Royals, Twins. Rockies and Giants all inquired about Gee this winter. All of those clubs could use another starter now.

If the Mets just traded Gee last winter they would be in a much better spot right now. Although the six man rotation seemed like a great idea to limit their young starters innings, it seemed to cause most of their pitchers to struggle, most notably Gee. A few Met starters complained publicly about the new rotation messing with their routines. The Mets kept yanking Gee around to various roles all season so it really wasn’t a surprise that he struggled. The Mets will likely find a trade partner for Gee within the next ten days but it remains to be seen how much money the new team would be willing to take on.

By Steven Inman

Michael Cuddyer and the Mets have had trouble putting the ball in play on most nights

Michael Cuddyer and the Mets have had trouble putting the ball in play on most nights

With the Mets hanging around the Nationals for first place in the N.L. East there is plenty to be happy about in Metland. However the team has obvious holes up and down the lineup and all of the talk from media and fans has been about what the club should do to fix these offensive problems. While adding a big bat to bolster the lineup couldn’t hurt it isn’t something the club is likely to do so we should simply stop talking about it.

After being no-hit in ugly fashion by Chris Heston, the trade talk around the club will only get louder.

This Met club is at the absolute max their payroll is going to be at for awhile so talking about adding payroll is just a waste of breathe. The team also isn’t going to give up a Steven Matz or a Noah Syndergaard to get that big bat so we really are just wasting our time talking about outside additions.

The Mets will be getting reinforcements when Dilson Herrera and Travis d’Arnaud are activated off the DL this week. If Travis can get into a rhythm and get back to the way he was hitting pre-injury, then that is a huge bat to help a struggling Met offense. It isn’t known if Herrera will be back with the big league club immediately or if he will be optioned to Las Vegas (AAA) for a little while.

Ideally the Mets will get Daniel Murphy back too in the next couple of weeks but the lineup is going to be an issue for the club all year. They aren’t trading Jon Niese or Dillon Gee to acquire the offense they are going to need. That is just a pipe dream as those two pitchers don’t have any value. Any trade involving either pitcher is just to dump salary. If the Mets make anymore offensive changes, expect them to be internal. Maybe things change as we get closer to the trade deadline on July 31st but that is what to expect from the Mets at the moment.

The talk around this team should be about what they do have, and what they are getting back not what they don’t have or what they can’t afford. The Mets have an elite pitching staff and if the club is able to scratch out just four runs that should be enough to win on a majority of nights. It is not ideal but the Giants won multiple championships with great pitching and that ability to scratch out runs, there is no reason the Mets can’t do the same when healthy.

By Steven Inmanima

When the Mets offense was going well the first couple weeks Daniel Murphy was the lone Met not hitting. Murph hit .198 with a .258 OBP in April. May has been an entirely different story for both Murphy and the Mets. Murphy has gotten red hot and is hitting .329 with a .376 OBP in May but has been the only Met player to hit this month. Murphy leads the Mets in RBI with 24. Remember Murphy was battling a hamstring injury all March and never really had a Spring Training.

It is no secret if you read this blog that Danny Murphy will not be a Met for much longer. The Mets believe they have his heir apparent currently on the DL in Dilson Herrera. While Murphy in 2015 is clearly the better hitter, the Mets would save $7.5 million by letting go of Murph and would improve defensively.

The question is not if but when Murphy will be elsewhere. The Mets will move Murphy at the trade deadline if they are out of the race. If they are near a playoff spot they can’t justify to the fan base moving one of their better hitters in a pennant race so they will just let him depart in free agency this winter.

Murphy has been a loyal player for the Mets now for eight seasons. A natural third basemen, Murphy has moved from left field, then first base, to second base, back to third and then back to second. The point is despite his defensive shortcomings, Murphy has never been afraid to move to an unfamiliar position if the Mets felt it was in the clubs best interest. That is not something that can be said for a lot of players who have established themselves offensively.

Murphy is one of those rare players that wants to win as bad as David Wright does. The two of them are the “gym rats” on the team so it is really a shame that Murphy’s only winning season to date came in 2008, his rookie season when the ball club failed to make the postseason by a single game.

Murphy’s future is entirely based on the Mets other hitters. If the club continues to not put up a competitive offense, then Murphy will be traded to a contender near the deadline. If Met hitters like Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer can get it going, then the Mets will be contenders and they will need Murphy’s bat here. In that scenario Murphy and Met fans will get the pennant push that they desperately crave.

The Mets being contenders in 2015 has become as simple as this, if they can score runs they will win games. The Mets have the third best record in baseball when scoring 4 runs or more.

Everyone in the game of baseball is rooting for a quick David Wright return

Everyone in the game of baseball is rooting for a quick David Wright return

By Steven Inman

In another sad turn for the Mets All-Star captain, 3B David Wright will be shut down indefinitely with spinal stenosis. It’s a diagnosis that doesn’t come up all that often in baseball but it did force former Met Lenny Dykstra into an early retirement.

The Mets hope that Wright won’t need surgery, instead praying that rehab could fix the issue but that is hardly a guarantee. This is an injury that very few professional players have really dealt with so its really an unknown when the Mets third basemen could be back.

Remember Wright was originally on the DL for a hamstring strain and has only played in eight games this season.

This is a very serious injury that could put one of the best hitters in Mets franchise history on the bench indefinitely. Wright is the all-time hit leader for the Mets with 1,713 knocks but you now have to worry about his baseball mortality. Wright obviously wants to be back and if he can rehab this injury and be back soon he will.

Obviously this is a very gloomy situation for Wright and the 2015 Mets who really can’t score runs. That being said this could be even worse news for future Met teams.

Wright, 32, is due $87 million over the next five seasons. If they are going to be juggling Wright in and out of the lineup for the next couple of years than the contract would obviously look like a major mistake. That isn’t even including the $20 million Wright is owed in 2015, a season that is looking like a lost campaign for Captain America.

If the Mets are going to keep having payrolls around $100 million or less than an injured Wright making $20 million a year will cripple them for the duration of the contract. It will make Wright feel even worse about his situation as fans will be waiting for the day when the Mets stop paying him. It is hard to imagine that scenario when Wright signed his big contract a couple of winters ago.

Although it was before my time as a baseball fan it reminds me of what the Yankees went through with Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball was one of the best players in the majors in his prime but his team wasn’t winning so he never got the recognition he deserved. Mattingly had serious back problems later in his career that zapped his power and the former MVP retired from the game he loved at the age of 34, right when before his Yankees started their dynasty. Wright has had his power zapped as he has gotten older and now he is facing his toughest challenge as a pro, right when the Mets have enough pitching to compete for playoff spots.

Everyone should hope the Mets get lucky for once and this injury doesn’t keep Wright out as long as many think.