New York Mets: Grant Balfour

Morning Briefing: 4 more years for Sandy?

February, 19, 2014
2/19/14
6:34
AM ET

John Minchillo/Associated PressSandy Alderson wants to be general manager of the Mets for two or three more years, according to the Post.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: With position players due to report Thursday and the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday, the Mets have all but two of their players already in camp -- Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• Sandy Alderson wants to remain Mets GM for two or three more years, but “definitely not five,” Mike Puma reports in the Post, quoting a source. Alderson is in the fourth year of his original four-year deal, which also includes a team option.

• Alderson confirmed to columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News that the Mets’ offer to closer Grant Balfour exceeded the two-year, $12 million deal he accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays. Alderson told Madden he did not make a similar offer to Fernando Rodney (who ultimately signed for two years, $14 million with the Seattle Mariners) because Rodney’s camp indicated it wanted $10 million-plus a season.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates will continue to monitor Ike Davis for a potential trade, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports.

Meanwhile, will getting Davis double the typical number of spring-training at-bats help guard against another slow start to the season? Collins said it worked for Tim Salmon while Collins managed the Angels in the late 1990s. Still, Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger notes that the Phillies’ Domonic Brown led the majors last spring training with 90 at-bats and then hit only .233 in April.

• A Mets official severely downplayed a report the club is having dialogue with free-agent Nelson Cruz.

• The Mets signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor-league contract. Carlyle, 36, did not receive an invitation to big-league camp. Lefty Dana Eveland also received a minor-league contract with no invite.

• How excited can you really get about prospects, especially if you’re familiar with the bust that was Generation K? Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

There’s only one proven method for the optimists to prevail, and that’s with sheer numbers. These Mets hope they’re building such a model for success.

“We know the history. Some guys don’t make it. That’s just what happens,” Paul DePodesta, the Mets’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting, said Monday. “They get hurt. They have a disappointing performance. They don’t continue to develop at the same rate they had previously.

“But I think we’ve gotten to the point now, in terms of volume, where some of them are going to make it. Not every one of them will, but a good number of them should, based on what we have at this point.”

• Terry Collins does not foresee Wilmer Flores on the big-league roster if Flores is not a starter. Flores, meanwhile, is confident he can play shortstop on the limited occasions he gets exposure there during spring training. Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• Collins affirmed right-handed prospect Cory Mazzoni will get consideration for the Opening Day roster as a reliever, despite serving as a starter in the minors. Mazzoni actually breaking camp with the Mets would appear an uphill battle, though, unless there are injuries or Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are busts. Further complicating it: Mazzoni is not yet on the 40-man roster. John Rowe in the Record looks at the Mets’ late-inning relief.

• How can Eric Young Jr. increase his on-base percentage? By bunting more, Collins believes.

Regarding Young’s capability to increase his OBP, Alderson tells Marc Carig in Newsday: “The question is whether he has the potential to improve on that if it becomes a priority. On-base percentage is often a function of approach as opposed to mechanics. If we were asking him to hit 30 home runs, that’s not going to work. But guys can adjust.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Juan Lagares will start in center field in the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28, but will he be in the outfield on Opening Day at Citi Field? With Curtis Granderson and Chris Young now on board, that seems to depend upon whether EY Jr. is a starter. “I think I did good last year, but I know I can do a little better,” Lagares told the Post. Read more in the Daily News.

• Hitting coach Dave Hudgens believes Travis d’Arnaud will have more success at the plate now that he is not trying to hit every pitch for a homer.

• Mets pitchers in 2013 had their most strikeouts and fewest sacrifices in the team’s past five seasons, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com. Bartolo Colon, who has not played in the National League since 2002 with the Montreal Expos, has blisters from practicing hitting so much this offseason in the Dominican Republic, according to the report.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not forgotten, Collins told the outfielder Tuesday.

Zack Wheeler does not mind getting less attention this spring training with Noah Syndergaard generating the buzz.

• Mets pitchers are not keen on wearing the new protective hats, although several pledged to try it once a shipment arrives.

• With three Mets players’ surnames beginning with lower-case “D’s -- d’Arnaud, Matt den Dekker and Jacob deGrom -- team equipment manager Kevin Kierst worked with Majestic to design lower-case uniform letters, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal.

• Unemployed reliever Tim Byrdak had a little fun tweeting a job-wanted advertisement. Read more in the Daily News.

• Free-agent Johan Santana continues discussions with the Minnesota Twins, but no deal is imminent, Venezuelan journalist Efrain Ruiz tweeted.

• The Houston Astros may relocate their spring-training complex to the area, but there are no active discussions with the Mets about sharing the Port St. Lucie complex, according to a source. The Astros, who originally tried to pair with the Toronto Blue Jays to build a complex, now may partner with the Washington Nationals somewhere in Palm Beach County, the Houston Chronicle reports.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is pleased WOR and the Mets have found 710 ways to please their listeners. … Mets Police asks if you would trade Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey. … John Delcos at Mets Report concludes the organization has future payroll flexibility. … NY Mets Life looks at the lost art of the complete game.

BIRTHDAYS: Poet and former Mets pitcher Miguel Batista turns 43. … Alvaro Espinoza is 52. … Tim Burke turns 55.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you want Sandy Alderson to remain GM a few more years?

Mets, Rays had identical offer for Balfour

January, 23, 2014
1/23/14
3:16
PM ET
Grant Balfour, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to close games, had an identical offer on the table from the Mets, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

A Mets official disputed to the New York Post a similar report by Fox's Ken Rosenthal.

Balfour chose the Rays because they were closer to his Clearwater, Fla., home, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

Balfour went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA and 38 saves in 65 relief appearances for the Oakland Athletics last season.

The Mets' offer suggests they do have payroll flexibility under the right circumstances. The payroll currently stands at about $87 million.

The offer also underscores how, despite the optimism, it is not fully known how Bobby Parnell will recover from herniated disk surgery.

Mets morning briefing 7.19.12

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
8:33
AM ET
WASHINGTON -- David Wright and Jason Bay (yes, Jason Bay) had solo homers in the ninth, but the Mets' comeback fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night in D.C.

Now, R.A. Dickey (12-1) must top Gio Gonzalez (12-4) in a battle of the NL's wins leaders for the Mets to halt a six-game losing streak and avoid returning to Citi Field with a winless second-half-opening trip to Atlanta and D.C.

Thursday's news reports:

Terry Collins called a pregame team meeting Wednesday to rally his team. The manager suggested it primarily was spurred by Pedro Beato's postgame comments Tuesday, which seemed to question whether Josh Thole could have blocked a game-ending wild pitch. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

Miguel Batista, who has been selected to start Saturday's game against the Dodgers at Citi Field over Matt Harvey, offered some bullish comments after Wednesday's loss. After allowing the Nats' final two runs in two-thirds of an inning on the day a starting pitcher normally would throw a bullpen session, Batista suggested the Mets are the best team in the majors. His right leg, which took a glancing blow on a comebacker, is fine, he suggested.

Mike Puma in the Post reported Harvey could debut as soon as next Thursday's road-trip opener at Arizona if Batista is a bust against L.A. Puma suggested one reason the Mets went to Batista first is because he would be the likely roster casualty for Harvey. And, if Harvey struggled, the Mets potentially would have lost Batista and not had a viable fallback.

Chris Young was flawless in a scoreless duel with Jordan Zimmermann until the sixth inning, when Adam LaRoche delivered a two-run homer on a pitch that actually was off the plate. "There's no satisfaction tonight. We lost the game," Young said. "We needed a win, and I didn't get it done. ... I didn't think it was a bad pitch. It wasn't like I missed my spot or left something over the plate that he punished. He hit a decent pitch." The Mets' deficit swelled to three runs once Batista allowed a two-run double to Steve Lombardozzi. Batista had fallen behind in the count, 2-0, and put a ball over the middle of the plate. Read Wednesday's game recaps in the Post, Record, Newsday, Daily News, Times and Journal.

Jeurys Familia limited Toledo to one run and three hits in a career-high eight innings, but Triple-A Buffalo lost in extra innings to the Mud Hens. With St. Lucie, Mike Baxter went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as the DH in the fourth day of a maximum 20-day rehab assignment. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• Bay actually went 2-for-4 with the ninth-inning solo homer. Pregame, Collins was explaining why Bay -- and not Jordany Valdespin -- got the start. Valdespin, the would-be hero of Tuesday's game with a three-run pinch-hit homer before things went awry, this time struck out against the same pitcher, Tyler Clippard, for the final out. Read more on Bay in the Daily News.

Jon Rauch had his knees drained before the series opener and was unavailable Tuesday. He returned to game action Wednesday and pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:

Rauch said he was in "quite a bit of pain" Tuesday due to his knees filling up with fluid, "to the point where I could barely even walk." Around game time, a doctor came to the clubhouse to drain both knees and give Rauch a cortisone injection, which reduced the pain. Because of the procedure, Collins believed that Rauch was unavailable in the 10th inning Tuesday -- even if Rauch disagreed. "I could have pitched," Rauch said. "I could have pitched through pain. It wouldn't have been the first time." Rauch has undergone surgeries to both knees in his career and endured arthritis for years, prompting him to receive an injection of synthetic cartilage on July 8. But he had a bad reaction to the procedure and his knees filled up with fluid, which a doctor drained Tuesday.

• The Mets are aiming for Frank Francisco (oblique) to begin a rehab assignment next Friday, so the closer should miss the upcoming homestand against the Dodgers and Nationals.

• VP Paul DePodesta, who oversees the farm system and draft, spoke about Jenrry Mejia's future role, expectations for Harvey, Zack Wheeler's innings limit and sleeper prospects in the system during a Q&A with ESPNNewYork.com. Read Part I and Part 2.

• Dickey has allowed five runs apiece in three of his past four starts. He tells Tom Pedulla in Newsday: "During the course of the 162-game season, every starter, whether it is Justin Verlander or whoever it may be, has to weather some storms and not overthink things. That's when you get in trouble."

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about the importance of Dickey's outing against the Nats:

Somehow, he has lost the touch, getting smacked around in three of his last four starts to the tune of 15 earned runs. Dickey doesn’t seem to know why the knuckler has flattened out of late, but if he can’t find the feel that made him mostly unhittable for three months, the Mets are dead. If Dickey can’t deliver a win, it will feel like they are dead. Two days ago it was none other than Terry Collins who said this was a crucial series for the Mets, as much for their psyche as what it could mean in the standings. “We need to come out of this series feeling good about ourselves,” Collins said. “Whether that’s one, two, or three wins, we need to come out of it feeling like we’re still competing.” Collins apparently didn’t consider the possibility of zero wins.

Read more in the Times.

• On the trade front:

David Lennon in Newsday reports the Mets have targeted Oakland reliever Grant Balfour.

Sandy Alderson tells Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger: “We’re not interested in doing something just to create the impression that we’re doing something." McCullough reports the Mets have scouted Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez, San Diego’s Huston Street, Kansas City’s Jonathan Broxton and Houston’s Brett Myers.

Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

According to people familiar with their thinking, the Mets are targeting a closer-type, with three pitchers in particular topping their wish list: Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez, Houston's Brett Myers and San Diego's Huston Street. But the Padres are said to "have no plans" to trade Street, their All-Star closer, and are not even listening to offers at this point. And the Brewers just made the former Met Rodriguez their closer, replacing the struggling John Axford, so it's not clear whether he'll be on the market. Myers, the Astros' 31-year-old closer, appears to be the most attainable of the three at the moment. But the high end of the relief market is a slim one. ...

They've talked to the Athletics about Grant Balfour, but their interest in him is described as tepid. And they've talked to the Padres about setup man Luke Gregerson, who entered Wednesday with a 3.32 ERA in 44 appearances. But the Mets balked at San Diego's request for Daniel Murphy in such a deal, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

Cody Derespina in Newsday recaps Alderson's trade history with the Mets.

Michael Salfino in the Journal notes Harvey has had more Triple-A seasoning than most college pitchers who fit his profile. Writes Salfino:

Harvey has already pitched 105 innings in Triple-A Buffalo since 2011, compiling a 3.34 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning. The average Triple A-stay of the 20 active pitchers drafted out of college in the first 15 overall picks since 2005 is just 22.8 innings, according to Stats, LLC.. And seven didn't even stop there at all before proceeding directly to the majors. The White Sox had all-star lefty Chris Sale -- drafted six spots after Harvey -- toss a mere 6.3 Triple-A innings before calling him up for good. The Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg a 33.3-inning layover. Tim Lincecum pitched just 31 innings at the highest minor league level before winning the Cy Young Award in 2008.

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record writes about the fall of Lenny Dykstra. Writes Klapisch:

The idea of Dykstra in an orange jumpsuit seems impossible to those who remember the fearless ballplayer who took on the world in a 5-foot-9 frame. But that person is “gone,” said Darryl Strawberry. “That Lenny has been gone for a long time.” Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Darryl echoed the sentiment of most ’80s-era Mets, acknowledging the depths of Dykstra’s crimes, yet somehow still feeling sorry for him. “Mentally, Lenny just isn’t the same person. He doesn’t have the same mental capacity as he did when he was playing,” Strawberry said. “Whatever Lenny put in his body, it changed his personality.”

TRIVIA: In what stadium did Wright make his major league debut?

Wednesday's answer: The Braves' Diory Hernandez was at third base and scored when D.J. Carrasco balked in the winning run at Turner Field on June 16, 2011.

Mets morning briefing 6.29.12

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
6:15
AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Young topped former teammate Chris Capuano, David Wright drove in a pair of runs and Bobby Parnell converted his first save attempt as Frank Francisco's fill-in as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 3-2, Thursday night.

R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.31 ERA) opposes right-hander Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.81) in Game 2 of the series at 10:10 tonight.

Friday's news reports:

• Parnell flopped in a September audition for closer last season, but he touched 101 mph Thursday night while tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Parnell had to wait until the sixth game with Francisco unavailable before finally getting a save chance, since the Mets had lost four straight, then posted a 17-1 win against the Cubs before arriving in L.A.

• Young and Capuano appreciated lining up against each other in the opener, since both used opportunities with the Mets to revive their careers. Capuano, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers last offseason that includes a team option for 2014, fell to 9-3 despite pitching effectively. Read more in Newsday.

• Wright, already the franchise's RBI, runs and doubles leader, passed Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record for walks in his final plate appearance Thursday. Earlier, Wright had launched a solo shot against Capuano to pull even with Howard Johnson for third on the Mets' all-time homer list.

• Read game recaps in the Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Post and Daily News.

Jack Egbert picked up the win with two scoreless relief innings as Triple-A Buffalo beat Louisville, 4-2. Read Thursday's full minor league recap here.

• On the injury front: Jason Bay rode a stationary bicycle Wednesday and did not have any post-concussion symptoms arise, Terry Collins said. Mike Baxter (displaced collarbone) has not done any significant physical activity, the manager added. Mike Pelfrey, who is expected to be nontendered and become a free agent in December, is working on strengthening exercises following Tommy John surgery and should begin tossing a baseball in late August or early September.

• Despite struggling in a relief role with Buffalo and the organization considering moving Jenrry Mejia back into a starting role in the minors, Mejia will remain doing bullpen work with the Bisons for now, Collins said.

• Collins, who was overseeing the farm system in 2010, recently told reporters Dickey nearly was released rather than reassigned to minor league camp that spring training when he was the first cut from big league camp. Brian Costa in the Journal speaks with then-GM Omar Minaya about how close it came. Writes Costa:

They were wondering if Dickey was even worth sending to Triple-A Buffalo. "There was a possibility he was going to get released," said Omar Minaya, the Mets' general manager at the time. "That was talked about." It turned out to be the best move Minaya never made.

• A resolution could come Friday as Ike Davis awaits word of the amount of his fine and about a potential suspension. The discipline decision stems from Davis touching umpire Manny Gonzalez with his glove while disputing a safe call on a pickoff attempt Tuesday in Chicago.

• Dodgers slugger Andre Ethier, who suffered an oblique strain Wednesday in San Francisco, will avoid the DL for now.

• The Mets' victory in the opener came despite grueling travel. The team spent 4 1/2 hours Sunday evening on a plane with mechanical trouble at O'Hare before shifting to another that could fly the team to L.A. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

• Right-hander Zack Wheeler as well as third baseman Jefry Marte and first baseman Eric Campbell were selected to represent Double-A Binghamton in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11 in Reading, Pa.

• ESPN's Buster Olney writes that Oakland right-handed reliever Grant Balfour makes sense for the Mets to pursue via trade.

Lenny Dykstra wil plead guilty to bankruptcy fraud and faces as many as 20 years in prison.

TRIVIA: Wright passed Strawberry for the most walks in franchise history. Who ranks third?

Thursday's answer: First baseman Jeremy Reed misfired on a throw to the plate on May 18, 2009 at Dodger Stadium that allowed the winning run to score in the 11th inning.

Olney: Balfour appears match for Mets

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
3:28
PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- The Mets likely will look to upgrade their bullpen if they remain in contention as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. And ESPN's Buster Olney believes the Mets line up well with the Oakland A's to try to acquire right-handed reliever Grant Balfour.

Balfour, a 34-year-old Aussie, is 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA, seven saves and a 1.026 WHIP in 38 innings spanning 37 relief appearances this season.

Balfour is making $4 million in 2012, the second season of a two-year, $8.1 million deal. He has a $4.5 million team option for 2013, or a $350,000 buyout.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187