NEW YORK — The loudest ovations were for R.A. Dickey and David Wright. Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Ralph Kiner received a standing ovation as he read the starting lineup.
“There’s an old expression,” Kiner said. “I’m very happy to be here. But at my age, I’m happy to be anywhere.”
After that, along with a ceremony to honor late Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, Opening Day began for the Mets. Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard sang the national anthem at Citi Field, marking the first time all-female singers from each branch of the military have sung together at a major U.S. sporting event.
“When you spend your whole life doing this, Opening Day means it’s the start of the things you like to do best, and that’s play the games,” manager Terry Collins said. “Summer’s on the way. Winter’s over.”
Entering his second season at the helm, Collins was not the only member of the Mets anxious to begin. General manager Sandy Alderson, who had not tweeted from his @MetsGM account since February, relayed a message roughly a half hour before first pitch.
“Opening Day with beautiful weather and Johan Santana on the mound,” Alderson wrote. “What a great way to start the season. Let’s go Mets!”
In a Twitter post early Friday morning, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Mets and Mariners have joined the Marlins, Reds, Red Sox and Rangers as clubs checking up on Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez.
From a New York perspective, that one is tough to figure. This is the first time all winter the Mets have been rumored to be looking into acquiring an established Major League player, as opposed to trading one away. As recently as last week, the Mets had discussed dealing their own young left-handed starter, Jon Niese, with a list of teams including the Angels and Yankees.
General manager Sandy Alderson has been adamant in saying that he is looking at trades to improve the Mets both for the future and for 2012. Gonzalez would certainly represent more of the latter than the former; though just 26 years old, he is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, meaning his salary is poised to skyrocket.
What’s more, Alderson stated publicly last week that the top-tier prospects in New York’s farm system — Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey et al — are the only untouchables in the organization outside of David Wright. Given that such prospects are presumably what Oakland would be seeking in a deal for Gonzalez, it is unclear what the Mets could offer in a swap.
The Mets and Dodgers discussed a trade of infielder Daniel Murphy at the Winter Meetings, a source told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, and may revisit those talks later this offseason.
Murphy’s name has come up sporadically in trade rumors this offseason, and for good reason: he ranked fifth in the National League batting race at the time of his season-ending knee injury in August. But Murphy does not have a clear defensive home and will hit arbitration after next season, making him a more expensive proposition than he currently is.
The Mets have been active in trade talks in recent days, also discussing potential deals for Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell, according to sources. General manager Sandy Alderson has indicated that the only players he would not consider trading this offseason are David Wright and the organization’s top handful of Minor League prospects.
The Mets spent time Wednesday fielding inquiries on hard-throwing right-hander Bobby Parnell, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. Parnell, who has been squeezed out of New York’s late-inning bullpen mix due to the recent acquisitions of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, struggled down the stretch last season, blowing four of his final seven save opportunities. But the Mets believe his triple-digit fastball may attract suitors.
No Major League player is currently untouchable for the Mets, who also fielded inquiries Wednesday on left-handed starter Jon Niese.
The Mets met with representatives for free-agent outfielder Endy Chavez on Tuesday, in a continued effort to fill out their bench. An industry source said that the Mariners, Rangers and Orioles all remain potential landing spots for Chavez, as well. No deal appears imminent with any of those teams.
Chavez has spent the last six years bouncing from New York to Seattle and Texas — though he is best-known as a Met, transforming into a fan favorite after his game-saving catch in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at Shea Stadium. Signing him could give the Mets a modest public relations boost.
The Mets are one of five teams on free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle’s list of finalists, according to an industry source. The Rangers and Marlins are also on the list.
After losing shortstop Jose Reyes to the Marlins, the Mets have $20-25 million to spend on player acquisitions, freeing them up to pursue higher-caliber pitching than they once thought possible.
The Mets are strong players for right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. Dotel, who celebrated his 38th birthday last week, posted a 2.61 ERA for the Cardinals in October after compiling a 3.28 ERA, 32 strikeouts and five walks for St. Louis in 24 2/3 innings this season.
A former closer who saved 21 games for the Pirates in 2010, Dotel could potentially assume that same job in New York or slide into a setup role. General manager Sandy Alderson has not ruled out signing more than one free-agent reliever to bolster the back end of his bullpen.
But the Mets are not the only team wooing Dotel . The Cardinals have also expressed interest after the 13-year veteran played a significant role in their World Series run following a midseason trade from Toronto.
The Mets have made it clear that they have no desire to give up compensatory Draft picks in order to sign ranked free agents, which originally precluded them from pursuing Dotel. But Dotel’s Elias ranking was recently reduced from Type A to Type B as part of baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, meaning the Mets would not have to give up a Draft pick to sign him. The Cardinals did not offer Dotel arbitration, but will receive a supplemental-round pick should he sign elsewhere.
As for the Mets, they have already missed out on Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton, two former closers coming off injuries who signed with the Rangers and Royals, respectively. Still, plenty of closer candidates remain at large, including Dotel, Brad Lidge, Matt Capps, Frank Francisco and Francisco Cordero.
The Mets originally signed Dotel as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1993. He made his Major League debut for them as a starting pitcher six years later, before making his career as a reliever with the Astros, A’s, Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays and Cardinals.
After officially announcing the trade of Carlos Beltran to the Giants Thursday afternoon, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said that, barring something unforeseen, he is done moving players prior to this weekend’s non-waiver deadline.
“By trading Carlos, we’ve made it a little tougher on our remaining players and the Mets club,” Alderson said. “There’s no question about that. I certainly acknowledge that. On the other hand, we have a pretty tough group and lots of highly motivated players, and I think that’s been evidenced throughout the season in the face of much other adversity, losing players to injury, slumps. The team as a whole has responded extraordinarily well in almost every situation, and I think that’s a tribute to Terry and the coaching staff but also most importantly the players.
“I’d be very reluctant to make it any tougher on them. I really have some confidence, real confidence, that this group is going to respond to this change, as they have to other situations earlier in the year. I really believe that this group still has the kind of persistence and tenacity that could lead them to some positive things this year.
“To make a long story short, unless something extraordinary were to come up, I wouldn’t rule it out. But for me personally, I’m reluctant to make many other changes. I like the group that we have. I like the remaining players. I’ve got a lot of confidence in them and would like to see what they can do.”
Various reports this afternoon are putting Carlos Beltran in a Giants uniform, possibly as soon as today. Multiple Mets officials declined comment, though multiple published reports have indicated the deal is centered around either right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler or outfielder Gary Brown.
Beltran has already said that he would waive his no-trade clause to join the Giants.
The Rangers are out of the running for outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to a tweet from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who also identified the Giants as frontrunners for the Mets outfielder.
Along with the Giants, Braves, Phillies and Red Sox, the Rangers had been one of five teams seemingly most likely to swing a deal for Beltran prior to this weekend’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Beltran has said publicly that he would waive his no-trade clause to join any of those clubs.