MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets

Manfred defends Fred Wilpon’s role on finance committee

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred does not understand why people have been critical of his choice to name Mets owner Fred Wilpon head of the league’s finance committee (NY Times, Jan. 25).

According to Manfred, the committee mostly deals with executive compensation and budget reviews. Issues dealing with possible fraud or inconsistencies in financial statements are handled by a separate group.

“I understand the whole Madoff thing, but – before and since – Fred Wilpon was an extraordinarily successful businessman,” Manfred told reporter Tyler Kepner. “If you really understand which committees do what, I don’t see it as an issue. He understands how the budget process in baseball has worked, and he’s more than qualified to fill that role.”


ICYMI: Names in the mix for Opening Day, 25-man roster

This post originally published January 18, 2015

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone: It’s early, and things could change, but here is where how I see things eventually shaking out on the 25-man roster…

Starting Lineup

Terry Collins has said his every-day lineup will likely be CF Juan Lagares, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B David Wright, 1B Lucas Duda, RF Michael Cuddyer, LF Curtis Granderson, C Travis d’Arnaud and – yep – SS Wilmer Flores, followed by the pitcher. Cuddyer will shift to first base, with John Mayberry Jr. in right field, pushing Duda to the bench, when facing a difficult left-handed starting pitcher, he has said.

The Bench

Johnny Monell will be in camp, but Anthony Recker will probably end up the back-up catcher again. The rest of the bench will be Mayberry, Ruben Tejada and probably Eric Campbell, though that will hinge on whether another shortstop is ever acquired.

Matt Harvey 6The big debate will be choosing Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker to be the fourth outfielder. I prefer den Dekker, but Nieuwenhuis is out of options. So, they’ll probably go with Nieuwenhuis and – if Lagares is out for a significant amount of time – call up den Dekker when needed.

Starting Rotation

The starting rotation should be really good, featuring Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, because I assume Dillon Gee will eventually be traded. The buzz from Citi Field is that Harvey may start the year on the DL or at least not pitch Opening Day, instead making his first start of the season at home a week later. How he handles this news, and if it changes their minds, remains to be seen.


I really like the bullpen, regardless of who they use as their closer. Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin and Bobby Parnell (when he returns from the DL after the start of the season) have the potential to be as good as any bullpen in baseball.

I assume Rafael Montero will also end up in the bullpen, and I figure LHP Sean Gilmartin, Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez or Jack Leathersich will be added as a second left-handed reliever.


ICYMI: Who, why and when can a team sign Yoan Moncada

This post originally published January 20, 2015

The Yankees are considered the early favorites to sign 19-year-old Cuban SS Yoan Moncada, according to conversations with several industry sources (Badler, Jan. 20).

The Mets have done their “due diligence,” but they don’t see Moncada as a realistic acquisition because of their budget, according to reporter Anthony DiComo (Twitter, Jan. 20). Similarly, the Twins will not pursue Moncada for fear the bidding will be too high (Wolfson, Jan. 20).

Moncada is not yet eligible to sign a big-league contract. Nevertheless, the Yankees, Giants, Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox and Padres have all conducted private workouts with him in Guatemala as he waits for approval from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (MLBTR, Jan. 20).

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone: So, according to these reports, while the Mets sit on the sidelines with the Twins, the rest of the league’s big-market teams will be going after this kid… This is more than disappointing, it’s incredibly frustrating.

The thing is, it’s important to know this is not a typical draft or free agent situation. There are complicated restrictions, penalties and league rules about how much a team can spend on pool-eligible players, none of which have to do with market size, revenue or big league payroll.

January 21, 2015, 5:43 pm

The Mets have already spent around $2 million of the $2.7 million bonus-pool money allocated to the them by MLB for 2014-2015 international signings.

According to multiple reports, Moncada will likely command a $30 million contract.

The penalty for exceeding the bonus pool allotment is a 100 percent tax, plus that team is prohibited from being able to give more than $300,000 to any player during the next two signing periods. In other words, if a team decides to give him a $30 million deal, it’s really $60 million. Also, if you’re going to go all-in on Moncada, you’d be better be sure another Moncada (or someone better) isn’t around the corner, because you’ll be automatically out of the bidding.

The way Ben Badler at Baseball America explains it, if Moncada is willing and able to sign a deal before July 2, the Yankees will likely outbid every one, pay the 100 percent and get him. The Yankees are already over the limit, so if he isn’t able or willing to sign before mid June, they’ll be limited to a $300,000 bid and have no chance to get him.

The Mets, on the other hand, should be clear to make the decision based entirely on how much they want to spend, how much they’re willing to pay a 100 percent tax, and how confident they are he’s worth restricting themselves the next two bidding cycles.

The kid isn’t even free to sign a contract yet. Nevertheless, some Mets fans are already getting mad about money not spent on a player no one can spend money on yet. I understand the skepticism and conditioned response, but I’m going to refrain from judgement until he’s able to sign a deal and contracts are (or aren’t) being offered.


ICYMI: Wheeler, Harvey and deGrom in same rotation at the same time

This post was originally published on January 23, 2015

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone: Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom have never pitched in the Mets rotation at the same time. I know you know this. It’s obvious. But, it’s worth repeating.

In fact, Wheeler and Harvey have only spent roughly 60 days on the active roster at the same time.

In other words, for all the talk of how strong this team’s starting rotation can be, we’ve actually never seen them in action together. I think this may be why I’m so anxious for the regular season to get started. I’m tired of being excited about something I can only imagine. I want to see Harvey back in the ring, center stage, in shape, strong and in command, and I want to see him, Wheeler and deGrom, together, challenging one another to be the team’s ace. It’s going to be fun.

maggieMaggie Wiggin: Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom will be one of the best threesome in any starting rotation and at least 60 percent of this season will be a lot of fun to watch. However, the back end of this rotation is not too shabby either. Bartolo Colon is in the twilight of his career and Jon Niese is always going to be battling injury, but either one of them is a solid No. 3, let alone a fourth and fifth starter. Just as importantly, they offer very different looks compared to the young guns at the top of the rotation.

Here’s audio of Harvey’s talk with SNY about his teammates, rehab and plan for 2015

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M’s plan to keep young shortstops, sign veteran pitcher

The Mariners plan to keep shortstops Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, the team’s GM Jack Zduriencik said Friday (News Tribune, Jan. 24).

According to Zduriencik, Miller and Taylor will compete to be their team’s starting shortstop, with the loser being relegated to a bench player or returning to Triple-A.

The team has talked before about using Miller as a back-up first baseman, outfielder and middle infielder.

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone: The Mariners talked with teams about Miller and Taylor early in the offseason, presenting them as players available in trade when still trying to fill holes on the big-league roster. However, Zduriencik solved his problems by not going down that road. So, good for him. That was their goal. They built a big-league team they like without trading away a promising young hitter (Miller) and good fielder (Taylor) who they feel can help them win now.

Seattle is said to still be looking for depth in the rotation, but they’re thinking of signing a veteran or two to compete in Spring Training who will accept an assignment to the minor leagues. This doesn’t describe Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon. I’m sure they’d take Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz, but no way is Alderson doing that deal. And, while Alderson has other prospects to deal, at that point, Zduriencik would likely keep Miller and simply sign someone like Johan Santana, since the Mariners already have a strong crop of big-league arms ready to step in to the rotation.

Fantasy Fix: How will new Citi Field impact Mets and opposition

In an effort to generate more offense, the Mets moved in the fences at Citi Field for the second time in five years this past off season.

Fantasy baseball writer Tim Heaney explains why changes will help the team’s offense more than it will hurt their pitching >> Read more at USA Today’s Fantasy Fix