Optimism — and questions — heading into 2014

Michael Baron, Contributor

Mets senior vice president of player development Paul DePodesta believes the organization has taken significant steps forward toward becoming a consistent contender (Carig, Feb. 8).

“Ultimately, our job as an organization is to win at the big-league level,” DePodesta said. “And that’s where these successes need to manifest themselves. But there’s a road that you have to take to get there. I think we are passing significant markers in that road. That’s exciting.”

Jeff Wilpon, Curtis Granderson, Sandy AldersonDePodesta says there is a lot of optimism around the team, which feels it has a lot to prove.

I have mixed feelings on how this winter has gone for the Mets. They have created more payroll flexibility and continued to develop and protect the farm system. But, as DePodesta said, the most important thing is to win more baseball games and it’s looking like another spring with more questions than answers.

Yes, they’ve made some good moves on paper and the Mets should soon have Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom in the fold. But, even if they sign Stephen Drew, the roster is only marginally better today than it was before Matt Harvey got hurt and before letting go of John Buck and Marlon Byrd last summer. After enduring all of these losing seasons and waiting for these bad deals to come off the books, I expected the roster to be better than this heading into 2014.

I hope I’m wrong, but there’s unquestionably more work to do and little time left to do it…

Ike Davis 17 (Baron)

Ike Davis could get 80 – 100 ABs in Spring Training

Last week, Terry Collins said he planned to give 1B Ike Davis 80 – 100 at-bats during Spring Training (Rieber, Feb. 8).

“I think it’s very, very important to try to get him in midseason form when the season starts,” Collins explained. “A lot of guys leave spring training and have 50, 60 at-bats. I might get him 80 to 100 this spring just to make sure he’s ready to go when we start.”

Last spring, Davis got 55 at bats and hit .327 with an .885 OPS. He went on to hit .205 with a .661 OPS, 9 HR and 33 RBI during the regular season.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Ike’s either going to find himself or he won’t at this point, so I’m not sure overextending him in Grapefruit League games will net the results Terry is looking for. In addition, spring at-bats don’t mean much, and too much work too early often results in an injury, something the Mets just don’t need. Besides, if Ike is going to get 80-100 at bats, they won’t be able to get an adequate look at Lucas Duda or get Josh Satin the necessary work he needs to prepare for the season.

Read more: Plan B: Mets will try to get all of Ike Davis’ bad at-bats out of the way in spring training (Newsday)

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda

Ike Davis Rumors: Pirates could still try and trade for Davis

The Prates could look to trade for Mets 1B Ike Davis, Rangers 1B Mitch Mooreland or Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind, instead of signing free-agent 1B Kendry Morales (Cafardo, Feb. 9).

Despite continued attempts to trade Davis this winter, Sandy Alderson said last month he expects Davis and Lucas Duda to compete for the starting first base job in camp (SNY, Jan. 30).

In the event the Mets don’t want Davis or Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster, both players can still be sent to Triple-A to start 2014 since they each have an option and would not need to pass through waivers (Rubin, Jan. 21).

Stephen Drew 2 (AP)

Stephen Drew Rumors: Red Sox encouraging Drew to return, Mets remain the best bet

The Mets remain the best bet for free agent SS Stephen Drew, although he’s being encouraged by his former Boston teammates to rejoin the Red Sox (Cafardo, Feb. 9).

The Mets might be willing to offer Drew a three-year deal, but the third year has not yet become necessary, Sandy Alderson told a group of season-ticket holders Thursday at Citi Field.

However, Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, had been seeking an opt-out clause after the first year of any deal, something the Mets view as a deal breaker (Rubin, Feb. 6).

WFAN’s Mike Francesa said earlier this week that the Mets made an offer to Drew, but that was refuted by MetsBlog, the New York Post, Daily News, WEEI in Boston and SiriusXM’s Jim Bowden, all citing sources aware of the situation.

Boston reportedly made a two-year offer to Drew last week (Bowden, Feb. 3). However, according to an on-air report from MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Boston is asking Drew to be a utility infielder, while he’d likely be the starting shortstop for the Mets or Twins.

Michael Baron, Contributor

There’s been a lot of discussion on Twitter about the Mets letting Drew sign elsewhere and waiting for next year’s richer free agent shortstop class.. The problem with that is they really don’t have a proven, big league starting shortstop right now, and to go into this season with the same options as last season will likely to end with similar results. In addition, the Mets don’t have to give up a first round pick Drew today, whereas they might have to do so next year and pay more in dollars and years for another free agent shortstop.

Joel Hanrahan (AP)

Joel Hanrahan threw a light bullpen session for the Mets on Friday

Mets scouts watched free agent RHP Joel Hanrahan throw a light bullpen session in Texas on Friday (Carig, Feb. 7).

The session was intended to gauge Hanrahan’s progress in his recovery from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon muscle, and Hanrahan’s agents intend to showcase him for multiple clubs in early March. He is expected to be fully recovered by May.

Hanrahan, 32, went 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in only nine games for the Red Sox in 2013.

He saved 76 games for the Pirates between 2011 and 2012, allowing just 96 hits, 52 walks and nine home runs in 128 innings.

Joel Hanrahan 2 (AP)

Mets to send scouts to see Joel Hanrahan

The Mets will have scouts watching free-agent RHP Joel Hanrahan at a showcase in Texas on Friday, Sandy Alderson told a group of season ticket holders on Thursday.

Hanrahan, 32, went 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in only nine games for the Red Sox in 2013.

He had season-ending surgery last May to repair a torn flexor tendon muscle in his right arm.

Hanrahan saved 76 games for the Pirates between 2011 and 2012, allowing just 96 hits, 52 walks and nine home runs in 128 innings.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Hanrahan could have a lot of upside. Before his injury, he was still throwing very hard and he was dominant in his two seasons in Pittsburgh before being dealt to Boston last winter. He’s a hard thrower with two pitches – a fastball and slider – that fit the profile of a closer. He often struggles with his command, but he typically misses a lot of bats and keeps the ball in the yard. If he hasn’t lost too much velocity, he should be able to return to form when he’s 100 percent healthy.

Fernando Rodney 2 (BARON)

Mariners to sign Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14m deal

The Mariners have signed free agent RHP Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million deal (Keri, Feb. 6).

Rodney can earn an additional $1 million in incentives during the life of the contract.

The Mets and Orioles both showed serious interest in Rodney (Nightengale, Feb. 4).

The Mets are still looking for a closer-type reliever even after signing Kyle Farnsworth earlier this week (Rubin, Feb. 3). However, Sandy Alderson said last week he’s more likely to limit free-agent relievers to minor-league deals (DiComo, Jan. 29).

The 36-year-old Rodney posted a 3.38 ERA and a 1.335 WHIP, with 37 saves, for Tampa Bay in 2013. Rodney pitched to a miniscule 0.60 ERA and 0.777 WHIP, tallying 48 saves in 2012.

Fernando Rodney (BARON)

Fernando Rodney Rumors: Mets, Orioles, and Mariners showing serious interest

The Mets, Orioles and Mariners are all showing serious interest in free agent RHP Fernando Rodney (Nightengale, Feb. 4).

The Mets are still looking for a closer-type for the bullpen, even after signing Kyle Farnsworth on Monday (Rubin, Feb. 3). However, Sandy Alderson said last week he’s more likely to limit free-agent relievers to minor-league deals (DiComo, Jan. 29).

To read Michael Baron's thoughts on Rodney, click here...

Michael Baron, Contributor

The Mets have been looking for relievers who have experience closing, not just to deepen their bullpen but to provide insurance to Bobby Parnell in case he doesn’t return to form. Rodney certainly fits the criteria for what they were originally looking for, although I wonder if they have more confidence in Parnell’s abilities today than they did earlier in the off-season. Unless the Mets are looking to make Parnell a setup man, I can’t see Rodney ultimately joining the Mets with other opportunities to close elsewhere.


Stephen Drew 1 (AP)

Stephen Drew Rumors: Red Sox made an offer, Gammons likes Mets

MLB Network’s Peter Gammons said Tuesday that he believes free-agent SS Stephen Drew will eventually sign with the Mets.

Last week, Sandy Alderson said he’s continuing to monitor Drew’s situation, but signing the shortstop remains unlikely (DiComo, Jan. 29).

It was reported late Tuesday that the Red Sox made a two-year offer to Drew (Bowden, Feb. 3). However, according to Gammons, Boston is asking Drew to essentially be a utility infielder, playing shortstop, third and second base.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

The way I understand it, Drew is still insisting on a three- or four-year deal, and no team (including the Mets) seems to want to go there. The Blue Jays, A’s and Twins are also reportedly interested (Martino, Jan. 27, Heyman, Jan. 28), so maybe he still feels he has leverage.

He’s reportedly willing to play multiple positions, but I assume that is simply a way to get more teams involved. In the end, I have to think he’d prefer to be a starting shortstop, which is something the Mets can offer him that Boston cannot. The Blue Jays have Jose Reyes and Houston has a bright, up-and-coming prospect ready to take over. The A’s have Nick Punto and Jed Lowrie. So, again, like I said months ago, the Twins and Mets may end up Drew’s best option…