Spring training is only five days away and the New York Mets still are searching for answers in their outfield. The Mets have been flirting with the idea of signing Michael Bourn for several weeks now, and while that remains a possibility it appears more and more likely that the Mets will enter spring training with the outfield as currently constituted. The state of the outfield headlines this week's edition of Mets 101 News and Notes. Let's get started with:
The Michael Bourn Slow Dance:
The Mets and Michael Bourn remain interested in each other, but a deal is by no means imminent. Besides the obvious draft pick compensation issue, agent Scott Boras has been a major presence in these negotiations, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Mets have been holding firm on a three year offer for Bourn, but have hinted at the potential to expand the offer to four years. Boras has not agreed to those terms and has, according to Sherman's report, told the Mets that he has higher offers on the table for Bourn. The Mets and Boras have played this game before, as Boras successfully found more years and money for both Derek Lowe (the Mets offered three years, he signed for four with Atlanta) and Matt Holliday (the Mets offered five years, Boras found a seven year, 120 million dollar deal with St. Louis). Sandy Alderson, however, appears content to call Boras' bluff because he believes the Mets have the high offer on the table. It is a smart play for the Mets because there is no sense in overpaying Bourn just to add a major league outfielder to the roster.
Marlon Byrd Signs With the Mets:
While he isn't Michael Bourn, the Mets finally did add an outfielder with significant major league experience. The team has signed Marlon Byrd to a minor league contract, Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Byrd, 35, split time between the Cubs and the Red Sox in 2012 and had a subpar season by his standards, compiling only a .488 OPS in 47 games. Byrd was also suspended for 50 games after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, which effectively ended his season. Byrd does have some upside, however, as he was an All Star only two years ago. Given the state of the Mets' outfield, if Byrd can hit in spring training he has a strong chance to make the team as a starting outfielder. Byrd could be an effective table setter for a lineup which isn't very deep.
Terry Collins Not Worried About Contract Status:
Mets Manager Terry Collins is entering the last year of his contract, making him a lame duck in 2013. In spite of a lack of commitment to his future with the club, Collins isn't worried about his future, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. Collins, whose teams have won fewer games in each of his first two seasons with the club, told Kernan that he isn't worried about the future. Collins said, "I don't want anything to take away from what we're trying to do. I don't want this to be an issue; it's not with me. . . I have no problem where I stand." Collins referenced two of his colleagues, Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland, who both made the playoffs last season while managing as lame duck skippers. The lame duck manager doesn't, however, always work out. Houston's Brad Mills was a lame duck last season and was fired late in 2012 after leading Houston to a 39-82 record.
Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez find new homes:
The two big names to join the Mets bullpen in 2012, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, have both found new homes. Rauch has signed a one year deal with the division rival Miami Marlins, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports via Twitter. Ramirez, on the other hand, returned to the San Francisco Giants on a minor league deal, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors reports. Both Ramirez and Rauch were up and down as members of the Mets, so it makes sense that the Mets took a pass on resigning either of them. While the Mets will see plenty of Rauch in 2013, it is ironic that Ramirez returned to the Giants. Ramirez's deal means that the Giants have now re-signed both of the players they traded for Angel Pagan last winter. Andres Torres returned to San Francisco earlier in the offseason.
Brandon Lyon Close to Deal with Mets:
The Mets look to be wrapping up their work on the 2013 bullpen as they close in on a deal with free agent reliever Brandon Lyon, Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Lyon, 33, went 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA after spending 2012 with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays. Lyon figures to sign a guaranteed big league contract, and he could be the favorite to join Bobby Parnell in the set-up corps. Lyon also has experience closing, so he could be a hedge bet for the Mets if Frank Francisco continues to struggle. GM Sandy Alderson has intimated that he is done shopping for the bullpen if a deal is closed with Lyon. If that deal comes to pass, Alderson has done a good job giving the team a litany of low cost veteran options for the bullpen. The Mets have already added veterans Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison, and LaTroy Hawkins on minor league deals while re-signing Tim Byrdak to a minor league deal while he rehabs a torn capsule in his throwing shoulder.
Ryan Braun Among New Names Linked to Miami PED Ring:
Last week we reported about a new steroid ring that emerged via Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Miami. This week there are some more names linked to the clinic, the biggest of which is Ryan Braun. Braun, who had a steroid suspension overturned last season, is listed on a receipt from the company as "owing money", Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports report. Braun was never listed as having taken steroids from the clinic, and in a statement Braun confirmed that his lawyers consulted with Anthony Bosch, the clinic's founder, about nutritional supplements. Braun has said that he is willing to cooperate with the league's investigation, and he is not the only new name to emerge. Other players who reportedly owed money to Biogenesis include Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, free agent reliever Francisco Cordero, Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia, and Mariners catcher Jesus Montero.
Mets Wanted to Open Casino Next to Citi Field:
In a story that is just bizarre, Mets ownership reportedly wanted to open a casino next to Citi Field, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. Sterling Equities, the real estate group headed by Mets owner Fred Wilpon, reportedly wanted to open a live action casino next to Citi Field. Rubin's report indicates that the group had lined up the Shinnecock Indian reservation to run the casino, but the request went nowhere due to New York State laws barring live dealer casinos anywhere except on native tribal lands. The land has instead gone towards developing a three billion dollar entertainment complex which does not include a casino. The casino request was made in 2010, right in the thick of Fred Wilpon's financial troubles as a result of the Madoff scandal. The Mets denied comment on the report.
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