NL East Links: Mets Payroll, Phillies, Harper, Nats

The Mets‘ relatively low payroll has left them with the ability to make additions that will boost the payroll on the trade market this summer, GM Sandy Alderson told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times yesterday. We have the authority to go higher if it’s necessary at the trade deadline,” Alderson told Kepner. “I’m not worried about that at all.” Alderson, who somewhat controversially stated a goal of 90 wins for the Mets prior to the season, said he’s optimistic about his team’s chances, knowing that the rotation can continue to compete and the offense is bound to improve.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. participated in a Q&A with Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News and discussed a host of Phillies-related topics. Asked if he was concerned that every right-hander who opened the season in the bullpen (with the exception of Jonathan Papelbon) had been demoted to Triple-A, Amaro replied: We’ve already started looking outside with other teams and also with possible free agents. We’ve touched base with a couple of them to see if they’re fits.” Asked if the team had the money to spend on a free agent reliever (i.e. Joel Hanrahan), Amaro said, If there’s money to spend and we feel it’s something we should do, then we’ll have to address it.”
  • Also within that piece, Amaro discussed his lack of production at third base from Cody Asche. Amaro noted that Asche has typically been a slow starter at every level and preached patience in Asche. Of course, if his struggles continue, the Phillies do have top prospect Maikel Franco waiting in the wings. Franco, however, is hitting just .172/.234/.253 in 94 Triple-A plate appearances after his monstrous .339/.363/.563 line at Double-A in 2013.
  • FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that there’s too much scrutiny on Bryce Harper, who, at 21 years of age, would be the youngest player on the Nationals‘ Triple-A affiliate and even the youngest on their Double-A affiliate. He praises Nats manager Matt Williams for pulling Harper following a lack of a hustle just two days after a team meeting in which he mandated such behavior. However, Rosenthal questions Williams’ willingness to discuss the situation at length with the media.
  • In a blog from earlier this week, ESPN’s Keith Law took a more critical view regarding the Nationals‘ handling of Harper (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Law feels that Williams singled Harper out with his public reprimand, pointing to the fact that veteran Jayson Werth gave a similarly half-hearted effort on a check-swing grounder a day after Harper’s benching and received no public criticism. Law writes that the Nats made a mistake in hiring a manager with zero experience.
  • Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan analyzes the curious way that pitchers are pitching to Anthony Rendon and wonders why the league hasn’t adjusted to him yet. Rendon, Sullivan writes, has seen more in-zone fastballs than all but two hitters over the past year, and he’s tattooed those pitches accordingly, yet the rate of in-zone fastballs he’s seeing is actually increasing. Sullivan points out that players who see a comparable amount of fastballs are names like Jeff Keppinger and Jamey Carroll, but Rendon possesses significantly more power than either, leading to his great success thus far in 2014.

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