Chat with Adam Rubin
Welcome to ESPNNewYork.com! On Thursday, New York Mets writer Adam Rubin will stop by to take your baseball questions.
Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
Send your questions now and join Rubin Thursday at noon ET!
Adam Rubin (12:01 PM)
Thanks for joining me ...
Hey Adam. Obviously Sandy needs to address OF and C. Do you think Victorino might be a fit to hit leadoff and play CF? Also, what are possible external solutions at C?
Adam Rubin (12:04 PM)
I would take Sandy Alderson at his words that there will not be a big free-agent splash this offseason. I think you'll see one-year contracts in the $1 million to $2 million range to plug holes. That's why one very likely scenario is for Kirk Nieuwenhuis to be the Opening Day center fielder. As for catcher, we're talking that price tag too. I know they're not enthused with Kelly Shoppach, so they'll look around at what's available as far as a righty hitter to pair with Josh Thole. It may end up being Shoppach, though. I'm not sure David Ross wants to leave Atlanta and would be in the Mets' price range, but he'd been someone to look at. I believe Ramon Hernandez has one more year on his deal with the Rockies, so perhaps there can be a contract swap. There was serious conversations with Colorado about him in mid-July.
The mets finished #1 in Baseball in Quality Starts. It is clearly the best asset the Mets have (especially when you consider Wheeler is on his way in 2013). Do You expect Sandy to keep that group intact or use one of them (Niese amkes the most sense) to get an outfielder?
Adam Rubin (12:05 PM)
Sandy said yesterday you need a safety net in starting pitching. But the flip side if you have to give up something of value to gain something. So I can certainly see a starter (Niese, Gee, even Dickey if the contract talks are not progressing) in order to address other needs.
Alon (Brooklyn, NY)
We have the #11 pick in the draft this year. If we sign a type A FA, do we lose our pick?
Adam Rubin (12:07 PM)
They're not called Type A anymore, I don't believe. But same concept. If the player is offered arbitration, then only the top 10 picks are protected. Because the Mets fall outside that range, they would lose the pick. I suppose the silver lining of not having money to spend and not pursuing high-end free agents is that the Mets won't have any temptation to forfeit that pick.
Your prediction of Opening Day 2013 outfield?
Adam Rubin (12:08 PM)
Geez, no idea. Nieuwenhuis in center. Perhaps Duda in one corner, but I can see a scenario with Ike traded and Duda at first. There will be at least one new face in the starting outfield, I suspect. Maybe two.
Slim-dogg Millionnaire (Coral Springs, FL)
In your opinion, how much longer before the Mets are competitive? And will Sandy Alderson still be around at that time?
Adam Rubin (12:09 PM)
Well, it won't be 2013, because they're neither spending nor introducing new position players from the farm system -- at least impact guys. So I suppose we'll see what they do with their payroll flexibility after 2013, when Jason Bay and Johan Santana are off the books. They'll earn a combined $50 million next season including 2014 buyouts.
One topic that has not come up with Sandy is Daniel Murphy. Does the organization view him as the everyday 2B through his arbitration years?
Adam Rubin (12:10 PM)
He cannot play the outfield. So he's a 2B unless David Wright were to somehow depart or Lucas and Ike were unavailable for first base. I think Murph progressed as the season went on at second base. Given the outfield and catching holes, unless Murph is part of a trade, I don't think you'll see him moving positions.
Why would the Mets think about trading Ike? They do realize they need *more* bats, not less, right?
Adam Rubin (12:11 PM)
See the story from a couple of weeks ago, in part. And they need to give up something to get something. I don't think Lucas would match Ike's production at 1B, and I know he wouldn't match defensively. But it's not Ike or Lucas. It's Lucas at 1B and an addition you get in a trade that can help elsewhere. That said, they certainly recognize they cannot trade Ike (32 homers) without getting back in that deal or otherwise acquiring some major power.
How much trade value does Daniel Murphy have at this point? He had a pretty strong season, and definately improved his defense.
Adam Rubin (12:12 PM)
He can be part of a trade, but I would believe he -- like Duda -- is more valuable to the Mets than what they can command in a trade.
Predictions on players that will return/not return next season?
Adam Rubin (12:14 PM)
Out: Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Andres Torres, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Byrdak (unavailable because of surgery).Scott Hairston, I predict, may sign elsewhere for a higher price.They have interest in Chris Young, but unless they trade a starting pitcher, I don't get him coming back. His guaranteed salary will start to rise. And he's not flexible enough to switch to the bullpen if there's a full rotation healthy.I don't think they particularly care for Kelly Shoppach, but he could come back because the price may be right.
So this goes without saying, but... it doesn't bode well for the Mets in 2013 if Scott Hairston is too expensive for them, does it?
Adam Rubin (12:16 PM)
No. He could get a two-year, $8 million deal somewhere, I can see. And it's scary a New York team couldn't consider that amount of money if it deemed it worthwhile. The scary thing is the raises for arbitration-eligible players (Ike, etc.) plus the raises for players under contract (Niese, Dickey, Wright, etc.) actually offset the amount coming off before they start pretty much -- especially considering Bay and Santana's buyouts count toward 2013. So the payroll is the same in 2013 minus Pelfrey, Torres, Rauch, Ramirez, etc. before ANYBODY new is added.
As much as I love him... it's in the Mets best interest to trade Dickey this offseason. He's 38, will have real value as a trade chip, and they aren't making the playoffs next year. Do you think the Wilpons would let Sandy trade him, though?
Adam Rubin (12:17 PM)
I asked a Mets person point blank. I believe they'll make an earnest attempt to re-sign him, as with David Wright. But if he's going to get a four-year, $60 million deal somewhere else, I cannot see the Mets touching that. So at some point this offseason they could pivot and send him elsewhere. I'm not predicting it, per se, but it's not out of the real of possibility.
SalPacino6 (The Wack)
If they can't sign David this offseason would a Wright-J Upton swap make sense?
Adam Rubin (12:18 PM)
No. If you're trading David Wright, you're getting players who are under your control for a long time -- players the age/status of the Ike Davis and Jon Nieses of the world. Or Zack Wheeler types who can contribute soon.
Any chance Jason Bay gets moved for another big contract that is under-performing as a way to give both players a fresh new start?
Adam Rubin (12:21 PM)
I don't know that anyone would want him, even if the contracts match up. I did a writeup a few weeks ago on the blog (http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/57713/toxicology-report-bad-contracts-2012-edition)about bad contracts that might match. The one that jumped out at me was Seattle, with Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez. They're owed a combined $15.5 million. Bay is $19 million with the 2014 buyout. So even out the money and maybe you have a start of something. Plus, while Bay has a no-trade clause, he lives in Seattle. So it would seem like a no-brainer for him to waive it.
What do you think the offseason priority will be - building a longterm winner or selling 2013 tickets? Because with that budget, I don't see how you can do both.
Adam Rubin (12:22 PM)
It's a mix -- trying to stay competitive and "fool" the fans, for lack of a better way to describe it, while waiting for contracts to expire and the farm system to kick out more players. Sandy Alderson said point blank he's not dismantling. Arguably, you could take a tact that the Mets should gun for 2015 when Wheeler and Harvey are clicking on all cylinders. Trade Wright and Dickey. But Alderson explicitly said Wednesday in Miami he's not rebooting the whole thing.
Alon (Brooklyn, NY)
What will happen with Backman next season?
Adam Rubin (12:24 PM)
Good question. And I don't know. I think we all recognize Las Vegas isn't a good match for him. I wouldn't discount him managing there, but I'm not sure. Plus, aside from the stuff that goes on there, I don't think he's keen on 5 a.m. flights. Every road trip for Las Vegas is a flight, unlike with Buffalo (which had road trips to Rochester, Syracuse, Lehigh Valley, etc.). Perhaps he gets an offer on another major league staff. I don't know if there will be turnover with the Nationals, but Davey Johnson seems have an affinity for him still.
It was disappointing to see Terry Collins pat himself and all his coaches on the back after a 74-88 season, where the team collapsed again in the second half of the season. Fans (like myself) want to see some fundamental change in regard to player personnel and management. Trading Ike and having Duda plah first is a step back. Duda is no more than a DH at best. Kirk has proven thus far he cannot hit a good curveball/slider. Who do the Mets think they are kidding? Citifield will be a ghost town all next season unless the Mets get an outfield and catcher. Hasn't Thole proven he is not a starting catcher?
Adam Rubin (12:25 PM)
I don't think you're characterizing Terry's point of view properly. He takes losing harder than anyone -- I suspect a lot harder than virtually all of his players. He was trying to be upbeat on the last day of the season. He's immensely disappointed, even if he really didn't have the horses to compete.
How long does ownership continue to cry poverty? Is there a finite plan for this operating philosophy, or is this the new normal?
Adam Rubin (12:27 PM)
I asked Sandy Alderson yesterday if the free-agent spending would only be because Santana and Bay's contracts come off the books or because the payroll will grow. He said he hoped for both. But it's like the chicken and the egg. They need revenue before they can spend. And they need to spend to get a team that will prompt fans to come and generate revenue. So I would expect a $100 million or so payroll for the next 2-3 years. Just my hunch.
Have you heard what the asking price for D Wright would be? 6 years 100 mil?
Adam Rubin (12:28 PM)
Oh, you're way low. He wants the next contract to take him to retirement. Maybe he'll accept a vesting option for a year at the end based on plate appearances. But if you're throwing out the option and starting from scratch, I don't understand why he would jump at an offer of less than eight years, $150 million this winter. It'll be interesting.
If the Mets do trade Niese, what young lefties do we have in the system to replace him?
Adam Rubin (12:29 PM)
Nothing immediate. Terry Collins seems to like Darin Gorski in Double-A, but it's a stretch to proclaim him a rock-solid future major leaguer. So there would not be an immediate replacement. So Santana might be the only lefty in the 2013 rotation under that scenario, unless they signed someone like a Randy Wolf (just the first name that came to my head ... don't read anything into it).
How about a Frank for John Buck trade? Help clear up the bullpen and get a c.
Adam Rubin (12:31 PM)
I'm kicking myself for not including John Buck on the list of bad contracts. Heath Bell and Buck for Bay would be a contract swap that might make sense a little for the Mets, but can't imagine the Marlins would do that without the Mets sweetening it somehow. And I cannot fathom Bay saying yes to going to that ballpark. He'd struggle to hit a homer.
when can sandy begin talking contracts with david and ra, does he have to wait until after the post season or can he begin now?
Adam Rubin (12:31 PM)
Your own players, you can do it anytime. So now. He joked he would begin right after yesterday's game. For other teams' free agents, you can start talking five days after World Series.
If you gave Sandy a lie detector, would he want to have the Yankees payroll flexablity or is he happy that he has to work under a tight budget?
Adam Rubin (12:33 PM)
Any GM would. It doesn't mean you have to spend it all, but it can mask a lot of mistakes. I think Alderson has said on occasion he did not believe the payroll constraints would be as tight as they are now. You may remember Alderson's first full season, when Fred Wilpon said in the magazine piece about a $100 million payroll, Alderson projected it as closer to $120M. Fred turned out correct. And I don't think Alderson was being disingenuous. I believe it's a lot more restrictive than he thought it would be.
If a guy like Byrdyk gets hurt during his one year contract with the Mets and therefore is prevented from playing the next year-and making a salary-is there some kind of workman's compensation coverage for players who are injured in the line of duty-that covers them when their contract has expired? Just curious.
Adam Rubin (12:35 PM)
I believe he's out of luck as far as getting payment if he's unavailable. That's one reason why Mike Pelfrey underwent the Tommy John surgery May 1 rather than go through the season. It would have been an uphill battle to try to continue. But if he did the surgery back then, he's rehabbing while getting paid by the Mets and is ready in time to sign a new contract. If he tried to gut through the season and then needed surgery afterward, he'd be rehabbing all of 2013 without any income.
Alon (Brooklyn, NY)
Will the bullpen be revamped next season? Anyone from the current roster staying?
Adam Rubin (12:37 PM)
Well, three staples -- Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and Tim Byrdak -- I'm pretty sure are gone, unless Byrdak re-signs midseason if he recovers really quickly from shoulder surgery. Frank Francisco is going to be the closer because he's owed $6.5 million in 2013. Bobby Parnell is a usable late-inning piece, although I can see him traded, too. Josh Edgin and Robert Carson can serve as lefty relievers, but the Mets will look to sign a veteran lefty too. And they certainly need a veteran eighth-inning guy (what Rauch was intended to be for this year) so that there are options besides Parnell. I'm not sure both Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia will be in the Opening Day bullpen, but I bet one is.
what would it take for the mets to trade for justin upton, if they were truly interested
Adam Rubin (12:37 PM)
Money. Not happening.
Will R.A. Dickey get a big payday (bonus), if he wins the Cy Young Award?
Adam Rubin (12:38 PM)
I'm not aware of any performance bonus for winning the Cy Young.
Keith (Stillwater, NY)
If Wright were to leave either this year or next, is Wilmer Flores the projected heir apparent?
Adam Rubin (12:40 PM)
Not right away. I would imagine Daniel Murphy would be the interim third baseman. Flores has spent only a half-season in Double-A. And not getting a September call-up tells you he's not in the April plans. Plus, if they deemed him such a priority at third, they would not have had him sharing time there at Binghamton with Jefry Marte.
Do you see the entire coaching staff returning next season? Who stays/goes?
Adam Rubin (12:41 PM)
Already announced. Entire staff stays.
How much should we expect out of Johan Santana next year?
Adam Rubin (12:42 PM)
It's all speculation on that. I can certainly see a similar pattern play out ... Good first half after offseason rest, fades from workload. Then again, who knows? It will be fascinating to watch. He is such a competitor he will get the most out of what he has. And, like Pedro Martinez late in his career, you can reinvent yourself with lesser velocity.
I don't understand, how does Dan Warthen keep his job?
Adam Rubin (12:43 PM)
The starting staff did well. In fact, Matt Harvey did far better in the majors than Triple-A. So I guess you would conclude they felt the bullpen failures were related to the quality of the personnel.
Vince (Westfield, NJ)
Thank you for a great (and honest) job this season. While I realistically understand that the Mets shouldn't commit millions of dollars to a FA, why do they alienate the fan base NOW by stating that they have little money to spend? When will the Wilpons understand that until they put a better product on the field and show they actually care, the attendence will NEVER go up! Oh, and one more thing: can't wait for the new excuses in 2014 when Bay & Santana are off the books and they still don't spend!
Adam Rubin (12:43 PM)
Why would the Mets keep Thole? I would prefer Shoppach over him. At least Shoppach has some power and defense. I know Thole is cheaper but you can't just nickle and dime your catcher position away.
Adam Rubin (12:46 PM)
Here's the question: Who are you going to replace Josh Thole with? You already need to re-sign Kelly Shoppach or another righty bat. Now you're going to be in the market for two catchers with no money at a position that attractive people aren't available? I'm not saying Josh should start 120 games. Have him start 50-60 and get a bona fide righty hitter. But he's first-time arbitration eligible and will make $700,000 or $800,000 or so. You're not going to get better. And, he did a nice job catching Dickey. And I expect his average to get back up to .280 or better once he gets all the tinkering they did with him out of his head.
Benji (New York)
Where do you see Familia and Mejia next year?
Adam Rubin (12:46 PM)
One in the bullpen, the other in Triple-A rotation as safety net, perhaps. Familia, after things went back and forth, will work in relief with Gigantes in winter ball this offseason.
Adam, Flores did split time at 3B with Marte in Binghamton. They basically had Flores playing 2B/3B/1B, and Marte playing 3B/1B/DH in the second half.
Adam Rubin (12:47 PM)
I understand. What I'm saying is that if Flores were such an urgent priority at 3B, he would have been there more regularly.
Adam,In regards to yesterday's Sandy Alderson's state of the Mets, I think the first priority for the Mets is to get a Righthanded hitting RF and a CF with some speed. Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer would be nice fits. Catcher would be a very close second, preferably a good defensive hitting veteran catcher to help out all the young pitching coming up. I think Shoppach fits, btw, the catcher will be hitting 8th in the lineup. Lastly, a couple of veteran middle releivers to help out the young power arms in the pen. What do you think?
Adam Rubin (12:48 PM)
Don't think Cuddyer is a free agent off the top of my head. Would need to be a trade. But the priorities position-player-wise clearly are 1-2 outfielders (leadoff-hitting center fielder and power corner bat) and a righty-hitting catcher.
anthony (piscataway nj)
I think the Mets should trade some young talent away.Win now approach should be taken since its been about 4 years since we were able to contend all season and not die out at the all star break or in september
Adam Rubin (12:49 PM)
They're going to do the opposite.
thanks so much adam, you were awesome as always this year. Anyways, there has been some talk about trading niese for a bat. I personally think it makes sense to hold onto him, muddle through next year offensively, but have strong pitching in 2014 with the hopeful addition of some good hitting once bay and johan come off the books. what do you think.
Adam Rubin (12:49 PM)
That's probably the most likely scenario.
Could Hairston possibly bring back compensation if we give him a qualifying offer and he declines?
Adam Rubin (12:51 PM)
No. I don't have the new rules in front of me, but basically any free agent can be offered a one-year contract at about $12 million. If the Mets did that with Hairston -- or Ramon Ramirez or Jon Rauch -- then they would get a draft pick if they went elsewhere. But, obviously, the Mets are not in the position to offer that type of one-year deal as a means to get a draft pick. Those players would turn around and accept.
Is Bay destined to be $16 million bench player, or would they actually consider cutting him loose and eating the contract, as with Ollie and Castillo?
Adam Rubin (12:53 PM)
Here's the thing: They have $19 million tied up in him for next season with 2014 buyout. Would they release him in spring training? That means they have five better outfielders than him -- and without debate the No. 5 guy would have to be better. So while it's plausible, I don't think the release is overly likely. Right now, the only three outfielders I can name are Lucas Duda (unless he's a first baseman), Mike Baxter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. They'd need to add probably three more outfielders (all head and shoulders above Bay) before he got dumped. And they have no money. So I'm not sure how that happens.
Following up on RMW's question, why would the Mets keep Hudgens? Their offense badly underperformed this year, particularly during the second half.
Adam Rubin (12:54 PM)
He's implementing the plan the front office has -- and has strong ties to the front office from Oakland. I suppose their reasoning would be more along the lines of: The team did fine hitting wise, albeit absent power, for a year and a half, and the difficulties only came in one second half.
Adam Rubin (12:55 PM)
Anyway, thanks for joining me for nearly the past hour. I appreciate the positive feedback on the coverage this season. And I appreciate the volume of questions considering a poor season is now over.