Mets Diamond Notes: Sandy Talks Offseason, Johan and Kirk Shut Down for 2012

By Matt Musico

There has been plenty of news swirling over the last week or two concerning the Mets’ payroll going into the 2013 season. Will it remain the same? Will it decrease, again? How much money does Sandy Alderson have to spend? A source told Adam Rubin last week that the New York GM would be “lucky” if he had $10-15 million to spend this winter. However, Alderson spoke to Mike Francesa on the WFAN yesterday, and detailed some thoughts moving into the off-season.

Alderson said the Mets roster will be much different next season because they need to bring in more productive players. The best way for the organization to do that is via the trade, as he feels they have some attractive chips in the system to offer potential suitors. As for a few other talking points, he still has Lucas Duda in the team’s future plans, and isn’t ready to wave goodbye to Jason Bayjust yet, as he could potentially platoon with Duda in left field. He’s interested to see how the young players on the current roster, including September call-ups, will fare through the rest of the season. Although he claims they still haven’t talked about the budget for next year, he won’t rule out signing a left-handed power hitter for $12 million or more (thanks to MetsBlog for the info).

We’ve seen plenty of times this season that what Sandy Alderson says and what he does are totally different. Everything he said in his interview with Francesa could be seen as encouraging, but he also said a whole lot of nothing. For instance, he said he wouldn’t rule out signing a left-handed power bat….well, who wouldn’t rule that out? I know I wouldn’t. I know this is a rebuilding process and I do believe in Alderson’s vision, but I’ll believe a flurry of moves when I see it.

In our last bit of daily Johan Santana news, the MRI on the southpaw’s back showed inflammation, so the Mets placed him on the disabled list, while stating he will not pitch again in 2012. Although he threw the franchise’s first no-hitter this season, it was downhill from there, as Santana finishes with a 6-9 record and a 4.85 ERA. The injury is not serious, as surgery is not needed, and he just needs rest. The organization is confident he will return next season, stronger than he was in 2012 with a year of pitching under his belt following shoulder capsule surgery. Let’s hope so. Collin McHugh will be added to the 40-man roster to fill in for Santana’s spot in the rotation.

Bad news about Kirk Nieuwenhuis also surfaced, as the rookie outfielder has also been shut down for the season to rest the torn plantar fascia in his right foot after seeing a doctor. Captain Kirk exploded onto the scene by infusing the Mets with unexpected offense when he made his debut on the second day of the season in place of the injured Andres Torres. However, a slump into the second half led to a demotion to Triple-A, then the injury. Nieuwenhuis finishes his season with the Mets by posting a .252/.315/.376 line.

Watching Zack Wheeler pitch in Triple-A gives many fans hope for a bright future. However, it’s clear that their #1 pitching prospect is not quite ready for the Big Leagues just yet, as he’s 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA in four starts with the Buffalo Bisons. In those four starts, he’s handed out 10 walks, which has been his biggest problem since the promotion. So, he’ll most likely start 2013 in Triple-A, with an eye to possibly promoting him later on in the season.

In his tenure with the Mets, Terry Collins has given his team a stern talking to at strategic times. He’d finally had enough after their 6-2 loss against the Rockies Tuesday night, as he scolded his players in a closed door meeting following the game. His biggest point is that perception is reality, and with all the losing and sloppy play, the perception is that the team has packed it in. If they want respect, they need to go and get it, and not make any excuses. Amen, Terry! We’ll see if the speech struck a cord.