We're now less than three weeks away from the deadline for pitchers and catchers to arrive in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with plenty left for the Mets to accomplish in the offseason. General manager Sandy Alderson said on WFAN last week that he is "not happy" with where the Mets stand at this point.
Luckily for Alderson, time remains. And once the Mets do make a big league signing or two, they will be able to turn their attention to such roster questions as ...
Have the Mets finally decided that Jenrry Mejia's future is in the bullpen, or will he be given a shot to claim the fifth spot in the rotation?
-- Scott F., Plainview, N.Y.
The Mets have decided nothing of the sort. In fact, if the season started today, Mejia would probably be the fifth starter.
That could -- and probably will -- change once the Mets sign a veteran free-agent starter to replace R.A. Dickey, which Alderson has insisted they will do. But such a move will not necessarily knock Mejia back to the bullpen; there's a decent chance he will begin the season at Triple-A so he can continue developing as a starting pitcher.
A year ago the Mets were committed to giving both Mejia and Jeurys Familia a fair shake as starters given their vast potential in the role. But after last season, the organization seems more committed to keeping Mejia as a starter than it does Familia, who struggled as a starter at Triple-A -- particularly with command.
Although Mejia's strikeout rate took a worrisome dip in 2012, he was able to hold his own as a starter. Another year removed from surgery, he may be able to reclaim some of that swing-and-miss stuff in 2013. So even though the situation remains very much in flux heading into Spring Training, Mejia actually seems more likely to end up as a starter than a reliever, with Familia seemingly destined to end up as a reliever.
How expendable is Daniel Murphy? He's a decent bat, and for the most part held his own at second, but the Mets seem to have a few options at second with Reese Havens, Wilmer Flores and others. Couldn't they trade Murphy to a team that needs a third or first baseman, and get an outfielder or possible reliever?
-- William G., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Murphy's a lot less expendable than you think. Hardly an elite player, he is a solid bat at a traditionally defensive-minded position, which makes up for some of his shortcomings with the glove. The Mets like him enough that he will probably spend most of this season batting second, just ahead of David Wright. They've even considered him at leadoff.
Just as important, the Mets do not really have too many other options. Havens -- who, by the way, is only a year and a half younger than Murphy -- is a non-prospect at this point given his age and injury history. He's not even really on the radar.
Flores is a more interesting case, considering the Mets are still experimenting with him at second base. But Flores does not project to be any better than Murphy there defensively, and he may prove incapable of sticking at the position when all is said and done. So banking the future of second base on him does not seem wise.
Luckily for Alderson, the Mets do not need to solve that riddle right now. Murphy is a fine option for the immediate future, more productive at the position than plenty of Major Leaguers. That the Mets reportedly rejected an offer from the Padres last summer -- Murphy for shutdown reliever Luke Gregerson -- speaks volumes, I think, about his reputation within the organization.
Far from perfect, he is perfectly adequate for the Mets.
Why isn't anyone taking a serious look at Jeremy Hefner? He put up far better numbers than Mejia last season.
-- Boruch K., Queens, N.Y.
Count me among those who don't believe Hefner received an entirely fair shake last year -- such is life for an unproven pitcher without the "prospect" pedigree. Many of the rookie's starts came on short notice or odd amounts of rest, hindering his ability to prepare. Yet outside his seven-run debacle against the Phillies in late September, which did come on regular rest, he proved to be a solid spot starter.
But pedigree matters when doling out opportunities, and unlike Mejia, Hefner has never earned scouting acclaim for sensational stuff or velocity. His Minor League track record is far from notable.
Hefner has proven that he can hold his own at the game's highest level, which is important. And if the Mets change course and do not sign a free-agent fifth starter, he will certainly have an opportunity to battle Mejia and others for the job come spring. But barring some sudden improvement, he profiles as exactly the type of player he was last season: a spot starter or long reliever who, due to the nature of his job, will always be looking to adjust on the fly.
How much of the revenue that the Mets will get from hosting the All-Star Game will help their financial situation -- hopefully allowing them to use that extra money for the following offseason?
-- Frank G., Pelham, N.Y.
Hosting the All-Star Game will be no financial boon for the Mets -- at least not in the way you're describing.
The All-Star Game is an event run by Major League Baseball, not the hosting club. MLB will cover all of the Mets' expenses in running the event, and any revenues on top of that go to the league, not to the Wilpons.
The Mets' financial gain comes from their ability to bundle season-ticket packages with the right to purchase All-Star tickets at Citi Field, including admission to the Home Run Derby and other events. Depending on how many people that incentivizes to buy season tickets, such sales can certainly improve the franchise's bottom line. But they are the only direct monetary benefit the Mets will receive.