The Mets were so pleased with the results of last year’s offseason conditioning program in Michigan that they’re moving it to Port St. Lucie this winter, major league sources told reporter Andy Martino (Daily News, Oct. 31).
Last winter, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Juan Lagares worked with Mike Barwis in Michigan. Duda and Flores raved about the experience and both had successful 2014 seasons.
They are all expected to attend again this offseason, with some players starting work as early as this week, according to Martino.
The organization recently appointed Barwis to oversee their strength and conditioning program.
Matthew Cerrone: I’ve heard David Wright and other players may hit up the camp as well, though that has yet to be confirmed. In either case, I think this is great. The Mets are rarely at the forefront of new ideas and this reads like something no other team is doing, all of which will become more clear as the they talk more publicly about their relationship with Barwis over the next few months. So far, they’ve been quiet, which is understandable, since technically it’s the offseason and this is an unofficial clinic.
The way I understand it, Jeff Wilpon met Barwis a few years ago and the relationship with the team grew from that point. The players seem to really benefit from his ability, speed and coordination program, which is what Flores talked up and benefited from last season.
I’m intrigued by all of this, especially in a post-steroids environment. Investing in health and fitness is great for the players and probably a good brand strategy for a team that was the butt of jokes in this area as recently as a few years ago.
By the way, Barwis has a sign that hangs in his gym that reads, “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t,” which I think is pretty badass.
The Orioles have officially declined the $17.5 million option on OF Nick Markakis for 2015, making him a free agent (Oct. 30).
Markakis, who turns 31 in November, hit .276 with a .342 OBP and .386 slugging percentage this past season while hitting 14 home runs and driving in 50.
It’s not yet known whether the Orioles will make a qualifying offer to Markakis. If they do, Markakis will be attached to draft pick compensation for teams without a protected pick.
The Mets and Giants are among teams expected to look in to Markakis, according to Boston reporter Nick Cafardo (Oct. 20).
The Mets had interest in Markakis and other Orioles last winter, when the two sides frequently checked in with one another, according to MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone (Oct. 20).
The Orioles are interested in re-signing Markakis (Oct. 9), though they did recently decline his $17.5 million option for 2015.
Markakis, who has played 147 or more games in eight of his nine big-league seasons, hit .276 with 14 HR this season, while playing right field.
In a MetsBlog poll last week, 83 percent of more than 7,700 voters said the Mets should not look to give a three-year deal to Markakis (Oct. 16).
Maggie Wiggin: Markakis is an interesting candidate. He fills an area of obvious need in right field (though his defense has been a question mark lately due to his poor range) and he has the potential to provide a solid bat. I say “potential,” because his 2013 season was terrible and, while he bounced back in 2014 (with reduced power), it’s reasonable to worry about what trajectory he is on as he begins his age 31 season. That said, if he can put up an OBP anywhere near his career .358 mark, he would be a huge upgrade at leadoff for the Mets. I would balk at signing him to a three-year deal, especially with a draft pick attached, but if he’d sign for two years and an option, I think it’s a good match.>> Read more, plus reaction from Michael Baron and Brian P. Mangan.
Gil Hodges is among the 10 names on the Golden Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 8 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.
Hodges was named to eight All-Star Games in an 18-year big league career as a first baseman with the Dodgers and Mets, winning three Gold Glove Awards and leading the Dodgers to seven National League pennants and two World Series titles.
As a manager, he led the 1969 Mets to a World Series title.
Brian Erni, SNY.TV Contributor: Every year, I hope that Gil earns what I feel is his proper spot in Cooperstown and, thus far, I’ve been disappointed. Admittedly, most of my impressions of how dynamic a manager Hodges was comes from reflective stories from my father, but what he was able to accomplish in 1969 remains one of the most stunning miracles in sports. Add to that his imposing offensive presence on the great Dodgers teams of the ’50s (including the 1955 club that won the World Series) and I think his resume speaks for itself.
John P.C., Reader of MetsBlog: I know everyone’s up in arms about Mike Piazza not being in the Hall of Fame, but to not have Hodges in is disgraceful. During his time, he was unbelievable. Six pennants, he won the first three gold gloves, held the title of most home runs by a righty, and coached the Mets to a World Series. All of this before age 47 when he died. I know Vin Scully has been trying to push to get him in, but to no avail. Instead of being the Hall of Very Good players, which it has become, it should be the extremely elite and Hodges was one of them.
Las Vegas oddsmaker Bovada lists the Mets as a 40-1 shot at winning next year’s World Series, ranking better than just just seven teams, including the Marlins and Phillies…
|NL East Team
Read More: To see the full list of teams and odds, click here.
Brian Mangan: FanGraphs projects that Wilmer Flores will hit 14 HR and 68 RBI in only 475 at bats next season, making him the fourth best player on his team next season.
It might be a stretch to say he’ll be better than Lucas Duda, but I do think he will provide plenty of positive value to the team.
These projections over the course of a full season would be somewhere closer to 17 HR and 80 RBI. I’d take that from my shortstop. By the way, this projected line is almost identical to expectations for Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Brad Miller.
As I demonstrated on MetsBlog last week, teams can win with essentially any combination of players with any combination of strengths. Forget the molds, forget the stereotypes, you can win with Derek Jeter’s poor defense and you can win with Brooks Robinson’s bat. Given the option, I’ll take a great fielders, like Keith Hernandez at first or Ozzie Smith at shortstop, but you can win with an offensively-minded Flores just as well as you can win with defensively-minded Juan Lagares.
Is there a chance Flores might be giving something back defensively up the middle, as opposed to Ruben Tejada or some veteran, defense-first guy? Sure. But this hypothetical veteran shortstop, even if he fits “the mold,” either isn’t going to be an upgrade, or won’t justify the cost to acquire him in dollars or prospects.
Flores deserves to start at shortstop because he’s the best shortstop that the Mets have, and could easily be the better option when compared to realistic acquisitions. Furthermore, he hit .260 with a .300 OBP, .420 SLG and 5 HR in 46 starts from August 2 to the end of the year, proving he’s capable of taking ownership of the job.
Brian Mangan is an attorney who lives in New York City. His writing can be found at The Read Zone. Follow his Mets-related thoughts on Twitter: @brianpmangan
Mets RHP Dillon Gee can expect a $1.3 million raise and a total salary of $4.9 million in 2015, based on calculations by Dan Masi and Jesse Kantor from Pace Law School (ESPN NY, Oct. 29).
MLB Trade Rumors projects Gee will earn slightly more at $5.1 million (MLBTR, Oct. 14).
Gee struggled most of the year with a strained right lat muscle, tossing just 137 1/3 innings. He had a 2.73 ERA through the first eight games of the year before going on the disabled list. Returning in early July, he posted a 4.78 ERA over his next 14 games and finished the year overall with a 4.00 ERA and 1.245 WHIP.
Matthew Cerrone: I still think Gee and Jon Niese are far more likely to get traded this winter than Bartolo Colon.
It’s not that the Mets don’t like Gee and Niese. It’s that they are younger, make reasonable money, they’re under contract and easier to value. Also, if the Mets are looking to get back usable, quality talent to help now, Gee and/or Niese, plus a young arm and position prospect, are more likely to make that happen than Colon. I say Gee, mostly because he makes less money, he’s not left handed like Niese, and my hunch is he’s more valuable to other teams than the Mets, who have an excess of pitching for the first time in decades.
MLB’s free agency began today at 9 a.m, the day after the final out of the World Series.
The Mets have an exclusive five day window to negotiate with their only free agent, Daisuke Matsuzaka, after which he can negotiate with other interested teams. Bobby Abreu, who is also eligible, announced his retirement at the end of the regular season.
Matsuzaka reportedly considered returning to pitch in Japan last winter. He is expected to do the same again this offseason.
In terms of free agents that may interest the Mets, possible outfield targets could include Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Yasmany Tomas, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Nori Aoki, Jonny Gomes, Colby Rasmus, Michael Morse, Chris Denorifa and Ryan Ludwick; as well as infielders Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, Ben Zobrist, Mike Aviles, Clint Barmes and, yet again, Stephen Drew.
MLB teams also must decide in the next five days whether to make a one-year, $15.1 million qualifying offer to their eligible players. Players extended an offer have 12 days to accept or decline. In the event a player accepts, he returns to his team with that fixed salary. If the player declines, any team that signs him will lose its highest available draft pick in the next amateur draft.
Teams can begin signing free agents on November 4.