deGrom again named NL Rookie of Month

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
5:27
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom is the NL Rookie of the Month for the second time this season.

DeGrom earned the monthly honor after going 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four September starts. That included matching a modern-day MLB record by striking out the opening eight batters in a start against the Miami Marlins. Opponents hit .189 against deGrom in September. He had 38 strikeouts and six walks (one intentional) in 27 innings before being shut down with one start remaining.

DeGrom also won the monthly award in July.

He is the favorite to become the Mets' first NL Rookie of the Year winner since Dwight Gooden in 1984. DeGrom's primary competition should come from Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton.

The annual award will be announced the week of Nov. 10.

Colon, wife become U.S. citizens

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
2:25
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon's season ended with more than 15 wins and crossing the 200-inning threshold. The 40-year-old right-hander also became a U.S. citizen, according to Katie Tichacek, a public affairs officer at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The ceremony with Colon and his wife Paula took place on Saturday, the day before Colon won the season finale at Citi Field.

The event happened so quietly, not even Mets officials were aware.

The Dominican-born Colon lives in Clifton, New Jersey.

More than 770,000 people became naturalized U.S. citizens last year. New York and New Jersey rank as two of the leading five states for naturalizations.

There are eight requirements for citizenship (reprinted below directly from the U.S. government fact sheet):

• Be at least 18 years of age;
• Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
• Have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years;
• Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months;
• Be a person of good moral character;
• Be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language;
• Have knowledge of U.S. government and history; and
• Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.

Kirk released from hospital

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
10:58
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis is being released from the hospital on Tuesday morning.

He had been hospitalized since Saturday with an infection, which was believed to be related to kidney stones.

A plan to make the Mets a contender in '15

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
10:00
AM ET
Getty ImagesHey Sandy Alderson, want to make your team better? Get Jose Bautista (left) and J.J. Hardy (right).

"The short answer is I don't know if there will be a dramatic spike or not. But I will say this: I don't feel that we will necessarily be constrained by the payroll next year. ... We're going to explore all of the options and see where it takes us. It may take us a while during the course of the offseason to full explore what those options are."

"Without sounding evasive, we have to improve the team by 10 wins, 12 wins. There are a number of ways to do that."
-- Sandy Alderson


We’re not sure what the heck Alderson means with regards to the payroll, but the win-total improvement is pretty straightforward.

So how do the Mets go about improving that much?

Here’s a plan:

Self-Improvement
The Mets can get better without spending a dime, if some of their younger players improve upon things with which they are currently struggling.

For example:

Wilmer Flores could change his plate approach to be a little more receptive to walking. A 20-point on-base percentage increase would go a long way.

Dilson Herrera can relax, both at the plate, where he struggled to hit heat, and in the field, where he seemed a little rushed.

Travis d'Arnaud can improve his pitch blocking and his throwing accuracy.

Lucas Duda, for as good as he was, still has a long way to go against left-handed pitching.

David Wright, returning from injury, needs to cut down on his overeager swings.

Lastly, Mets pitchers could vastly improve both their hitting and their fielding.

This is the worst collective group of pitcher-hitting in Mets history. They finished the season with the team’s worst-ever batting average, slugging percentage and OPS by pitchers. Much of that is due to Bartolo Colon, but Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee, we’re looking at you here, too. They were a combined 10-for-143.

Throwing to the bases, among other things, has also been a challenge for multiple Mets pitchers. Baseball Info Solutions ranks them tied for the fourth-most Defensive Misplays & Errors in the major leagues with 39. Their -6 Defensive Runs Saved are fourth-worst in the National League.

Replace Bartolo Colon with Matt Harvey
The Mets would be well-suited to find a suitor for Colon early this offseason and accept a deal in which the return was minimal, so long as the contract, or most of it (one year at $11 million) is off the books.

That frees up the money for the Mets to make one dip into the free-agent market. It also provides the rotation spot that Matt Harvey steps into. Colon was worth -0.1 WAR this season when you combine his pitching (0.5) and his hitting/fielding (-0.6). If Harvey is anything close to what he was two seasons ago, his return will make for a four to five win increase.

Trade Daniel Murphy
As Adam Rubin noted in late July, the Mets' payroll is almost certainly going to increase just from the natural progression of its arbitration-eligible players. But seeing how the Mets operate, it’s hard to expect a significant payroll boost.

The Mets can make little moves here and there to deal with that, with non-tender candidates including Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada.

That’s where getting out of Colon’s contract, and talk of trading Daniel Murphy, who is projected to make upwards of $8 million in 2015, would create the flexibility the Mets need.

As good as Murphy has been, his defensive shortcomings (three straight seasons of -10 Defensive Runs Saved or worse) still neutralize his offensive successes (as good a year as he had with the bat, it was only worth 2.0 WAR). He’s a good player, but the Mets have multiple options who could replace him at a cheaper cost in Herrera and Flores.

And if you’re annoyed at the idea of trading a homegrown fan favorite, at least acknowledge what it could allow the Mets to do ...

Trade for a corner outfielder, sign a shortstop (or vice-versa)
The Mets' offensive needs are clear. They are also fillable, but you have to give up something (money, players and perhaps even a draft pick) to get something. The team has surpluses to deal with this if it maneuvers correctly.

Forget the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki. They’re not coming. But there are other good options.

The first two calls the Mets should make this offseason are to the Toronto Blue Jays to inquire about trading for outfielder Jose Bautista and to the agent who represents playoff-bound Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Obtaining Bautista would be a home run in many ways. He hits for power and provides a presence in the middle of the lineup. He’s shown no signs of decline. He had the second-highest on-base percentage in the AL. And while he will turn 34, he is not over the hill.

He has a year and a team-friendly option, each at $14 million, and he can’t veto a trade, since he’s just shy of being a 10-and-5 player. (He’s just short of 10 years of service time.)

Hardy is one of the better shortstops in baseball. He may not be a superstar, but he performs both offensively and defensively at a high level -- even though his power dropped a lot in 2014. Hardy has posted at least three Wins Above Replacement in each of the last four seasons. The only shortstop with more Wins Above Replacement than him in that span is Tulowitzki.

Convincing the Blue Jays to part with their face of the franchise will be an extraordinarily difficult task, considering they don’t necessarily have a replacement lined up. That means the Mets have to overload the deal. Start with Wheeler and Murphy (the Blue Jays admit to needing a second baseman) and add the prospects (Brandon Nimmo and/or Kevin Plawecki, Steven Matz etc.) until GM Alex Anthopolous at least says “I’ll think it over.”

Getting Hardy will mean convincing a free agent that the Mets are a good fit. This will take both years and money. (We admit to having no idea, but three years and $33 million seems a good reference point.) It may also require the Mets forfeiting their first-round pick if the Orioles make Hardy a qualifying offer.

Yes, that’s a lot to ask, but to it produces a lineup that looks like this:

Juan Lagares, cf
Curtis Granderson, lf
David Wright, 3b
Bautista, rf
Duda, 1b
d’Arnaud, c
Hardy, ss
Herrera/Flores/E.Y. Jr., 2b

A bench that includes one of those unused infielders, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker and Anthony Recker.

With a starting rotation of Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Niese, Gee and Noah Syndergaard.

And a bullpen of Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Carlos Torres, Gonzalez Germen, (eventually) Bobby Parnell and name that minor-league contract signee.

You have to pay the price.

Have a Plan ‘B’
The Bautista-Hardy combo is going to be difficult to obtain. Backup plans require creativity, particularly in a weak free-agent market.

The best alternative we’ve been able to come up with at this point would be to construct similar (though less costly) deals to try to pry away Yoenis Cespedes from the Red Sox, Jay Bruce from the Reds or Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies to play the outfield and sign Hanley Ramirez or Jed Lowrie, or sign Nelson Cruz or Nick Markakis and trade for Starlin Castro. Another way to go would be to trade for a high-end prospect (like Cubs shortstop Addison Russell), but that's both bold and risky.

Regardless, the goal needs to be to do better than you did in 2014, not rely on Rule V picks (remember Brad Emaus), signing the top minor-league free agent (Greg Burke), or rolling the dice on players well beyond their best seasons (Chris Young) to solve the problems.

Actions > Words
The Mets' slogan this offseason should simply be: “We’re serious.”

But that requires showing, rather than telling. It’s one thing to say you’re interested in the Stephen Drew’s of the world. And admittedly, it’s a good thing the Mets didn’t sign him last winter.

It’s another thing to do what it takes to get them.

You may not have liked the regimes of Steve Phillips or Omar Minaya -- mostly because of how they ended -- but one thing that those two did was: If they wanted someone, they did what it took to get them, whether it meant an extra few million dollars, or throwing in an extra prospect to close a deal. That's what the team across town does.

The bottom line from everything we have brought up is the Mets need to live up to the promise that 2015 is the year in which everything will come together. They need to be aggressive and smart and understand their fans will not be appeased by news of unproductive meetings taken with Robinson Cano's agent.

The opportunity is there for them to pounce and create a team that will flourish as the ones of the mid-1980s and late 2000s.

They seem to want to take advantage of it. But will they do so? We’ll find out.

Jon Niese doesn't need to see doctor

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
3:31
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Mets initially indicated Jonathon Niese would see a doctor on Monday for a follow-up after departing Saturday's game with a rapid heartbeat. However, Niese is doing fine and intends to head home to Ohio without the need for an examination.

Niese also had rapid heartbeats on the mound during games in 2011 and '12. In those instances, he was required to wear a Holter monitor to determine if any heart irregularities existed.

Although a surgical procedure known as ablation initially was recommended, Niese ultimately was examined after the second instance at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. They advised him that no procedure was required.

Niese has said the issue has been limited to the three instances on the mound. He has added that it quickly goes away and is not considered concerning.

Kirk expected to be discharged Tuesday

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
2:44
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was hospitalized Saturday with an infection, is expected to be discharged Tuesday.

The belief is the infection was related to kidney stones.

Nieuwenhuis is said to be feeling a lot better.

Nieuwenhuis will be out of options in 2015 and figures to contribute off the bench, provided he is not part of any offseason trades. Nieuwenhuis, 27, hit .259 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 112 at-bats this season.

Murph nominated for Hank Aaron Award

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
2:39
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy is the Mets' nominee for the Hank Aaron Award, which annually recognizes "the most outstanding offensive performer in each league."

With other NL nominees such as Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, Murphy probably should not hold his breath for claiming the award.

The award was created in 1999. No Met has claimed it so far.

Mets: Take 'em or trash 'em time

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
2:18
PM ET

NEW YORK -- Fresh off a contract extension through the 2017 season, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson again has quite a bit on his plate during the offseason.

Among his tasks: He must try to upgrade shortstop and left field, while potentially shopping starting pitchers including Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee.

What's your call on who stays and who goes?

Click here to vote.

Ex-Met Gardenhire out with Twins

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
2:04
PM ET

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsThe Twins have fired ex-Met Ron Gardenhire as manager.


NEW YORK -- Ron Gardenhire has been fired after 13 seasons as manager of the Minnesota Twins.

Gardenhire spent his entire major league playing career with the Mets, from 1981 to '85. He hit .232 in 710 at-bats and appeared in 285 games during that span.

Read the full news story here.

30 for 30 Short: Sasser's Field of Fears

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:21
PM ET
video

NEW YORK -- Despite playing in the league for close to a decade, Mackey Sasser's Mets career is defined by one word, "Yips." Via interviews with Sasser and his sports psychologists, and a look at his treatment, this film examines the mental side of sports.

Terry Collins salutes 7 Line crowd

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:09
PM ET


NEW YORK -- Throughout the season, The 7 Line has sponsored days in center field at Citi Field, filling the entire section with spirited fans wearing a uniform, themed T-shirt.

That again was the case on Sunday, for the season finale against the Houston Astros. And Terry Collins made sure to pay tribute after the final out of the season.

deGrom heavy favorite for Rookie of Year

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:06
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom is getting married on Nov. 8. The NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced the following week.

Let's just say it figures to be a pretty good month for deGrom.

Oddsmaker Bovada has labeled deGrom a 1-to-3 favorite to win the award.

That's not 3-to-1. That's 1-to-3, as in wager three units to win one.

The only other candidate on the board is Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton. He's listed at 2-to-1.

Plenty of good moments for a 79-win team

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
11:52
AM ET


What were the moments and stats that will be best remembered from the 2014 season for the Mets? Here’s one man’s list.

April 5- Ike Davis hits a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam as the Mets rally to beat the Reds, 6-3 for their second win of the season.

Stat to Remember: The Mets traded Davis to the Pirates 13 days later and this turned out to be one of the most important moves of the season as Lucas Duda became the everyday first baseman. Final tally for 2014: Duda 3.7 WAR, Davis -0.2 WAR

April 25- The Mets turned a 3-2 deficit with two outs in the ninth inning into a win on Omar Quintanilla’s game-tying hit and Curtis Granderson’s walk-off single. The win put the team three games over .500 at 13-10.

Stat to Remember: Granderson’s season had a lot of fits and starts. But he did edge out Lucas Duda for the club lead in Win Probability Added, which measures context-based performance (in other words, he had a decent number of key hits).

May 11-12- The Mets rallied from 4-1 down in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies 5-4 in 11. Daniel Murphy and Juan Lagares had the key RBI in the tying rally. Ruben Tejada’s hit won it in the 11th.

The next day, the Mets rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the seventh inning to win at Yankee Stadium, 9-7. An Eric Young home run cut the lead to one run. Chris Young’s home run in the eighth put the Mets ahead for good.

Stat to Remember: Derek Jeter hit .364 in regular-season games against the Mets, the second-highest batting average by anyone with at least 200 career at-bats against them. Rico Carty remains the all-time leader at .380.

June 1- Lucas Duda’s 11th inning homer put the Mets ahead of the Phillies and they’d hang on for a 4-3 win. It was the second in a pair of consecutive extra-inning wins over the Phillies. They’d won the previous day on David Wright’s 14th-inning hit.

Stat to Remember: The Mets relished playing the Phillies, winning 13 of 19 games against them to match the most wins they ever had in a season against them.

June 19- Zack Wheeler goes the distance with a three-hit shutout of the Marlins as the Mets win, 1-0. It was the best start in a turnaround from a slow start. Wheeler went 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA in his last 16 starts after posting a 4.45 ERA in his first 16.

Stat to Remember: Wheeler’s biggest area of growth for 2015: getting deeper into games. He lasted beyond seven innings only twice all season.

June 24- In his first game back after being sent to the minor leagues, Travis d’Arnaud hits a three-run homer as the Mets pound former prospect Scott Kazmir and the Athletics, 10-1.

Stat to Remember: d’Arnaud was hitting .180 at the time of his demotion, but after being recalled, he hit .272 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 69 games, showing the potential that prompted the Mets to trade for him.

July 25- The Mets scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning against former closer Francisco Rodriguez to beat the Brewers 3-2. Duda’s two-run homer was the decisive hit.

Stat to Remember: This came in the middle of arguably the best stretch by a Mets hitter all season, during which Duda had 10 hits, six home runs, 10 runs scored and 12 RBIs in nine games (during which the Mets went 6-3).

August 2- The summer of Jacob deGrom reached its peak in a pitchers duel with Jake Peavy, in which each took a no-hitter into the seventh inning (Peavy’s bid was for a perfect game). The Mets would score four runs in the seventh inning and hang on for a 4-2 win.

Stat to Remember: deGrom’s 1.99 ERA from June 21 on was the third-best in the National League, trailing only Clayton Kershaw (1.41) and Edinson Volquez (1.85).

September 15- deGrom tied a modern major-league record by striking out the first eight batters of the game and finishes with 13 strikeouts in an eventual 6-5 loss to the Marlins.

Stat to Remember: deGrom’s 9.24 strikeouts per nine innings ranks eighth in Mets history for a single season among those pitchers who qualified for the ERA title and is second-best for a Mets rookie, trailing only Dwight Gooden’s 11.4 in 1984.

September 27- Duda poked a two-run, two-out home run off the foul pole to give the Mets a 2-1 win over the Astros. It marked only the second time they’d ever won a game on a walk-off home run when trailing and being shut out (the other was in 1963).

Stat to Remember: Arguably the most fun thing about the 2014 Mets is that you had to watch them until the last out. They won six games in which they trailed entering the ninth inning, the most of any National League team.

Those are our choices. What are yours? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Winter primer: Murph, Niese, Gee goners?

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:30
AM ET
NEW YORK -- The Mets believe they will contend next season, fueled by dominant young arms including Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom as well as the reintroduction of Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell following Tommy John surgeries.

It’s no secret, though: GM Sandy Alderson clearly has to upgrade the offense.

Yet, perhaps counterintuitively, at least one popular and productive batter may be on his way out if the right deal presents itself.

The Mets have showed no inclination to engage Daniel Murphy's representatives in extension talks. And there is a strong possibility Murphy will get traded this winter, especially if a team in need of a first or third baseman is willing to offer a comparably valued outfielder with some power.


Getty ImagesBartolo Colon is actually less likely to be traded this offseason than Daniel Murphy.


One major league executive suggested the Mets might be able to get the same -- or more -- for Murphy by waiting until the July 31, 2015 trading deadline, when Murphy’s $8 million to $9 million salary will be more palatable and a team might be aggressive in needing to rent a player. Still, it appears the Mets are more likely to deal Murphy this offseason. After all, it would be difficult to subtract Murphy in late July if the Mets are in contention, as they expect to be.

Internal candidates exist to take over at second base for Murphy -- with Wilmer Flores having looked comfortable there, and Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds also MLB-ready, or very close. Ruben Tejada could slot in as a backup middle infielder in that scenario.

Flores, like Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the outfield, will be out of options in 2015 and cannot be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers. As a result, Flores should be on the Mets in some capacity, including potentially as the starting shortstop if Murphy remains.

The Mets undoubtedly will investigate external shortstop options, including revisiting potential trades with the Cubs or Diamondbacks, plus deals with any other teams. Still, no one is expecting the Mets to be willing to package multiple higher-level prospects, such as Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Kevin Plawecki, in order to pull off a deal for a blue-chip young shortstop (or outfielder, such as Yoenis Cespedes). So the expectations trade-wise should be more modest. Free-agent-wise, the shortstops include J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew and a way-too-pricy Hanley Ramirez.

With Harvey slated to return, the Mets obviously have a surplus of starting pitching. And while that very easily can become depleted through injuries, the expectation is the Mets -- while not giving away a starting pitcher -- will find an attractive offer for Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese or Dillon Gee.

The external perception might be that Colon is the most likely to be moved since he has one year remaining on his contract at $11 million, but that’s not necessarily true. Colon is capable of logging 200 innings next season, despite turning 42 years old, which would be helpful. And the Mets might find a more attractive offer for Niese or Gee, both of whom have relatively team-friendly contracts. So look for one of the latter two pitchers to be traded, rather than Colon.

Niese, albeit the lone southpaw in the rotation until prospect Steven Matz is deemed ready, is due to earn $7 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016. A couple of team options, at $10 million and $11 million, follow.

Gee earned $3.625 million in 2014 and is again eligible for arbitration this offseason. He remains under team control through the 2016 season.

One hot topic with the Mets is always payroll, especially after it dipped to roughly $85 million this season.

Team insiders note the payroll is not going to spike to $130 million this offseason, but they insist there is upward mobility. Of course, given all the raises owed to players, the 2015 payroll will be about $93 million before the Mets have any winter activity.

The educated bet is that the payroll flirts with $100 million in 2015, with spending offset by reductions, such as a trade of Murphy and an established starting pitcher.

Although Alderson “likes to zig when everyone thinks he’s going to zag,” according to one Mets insider, don’t look for long-term free-agent deals from the Mets this offseason. That’s as much due to Alderson’s aversion to long-term commitments as to payroll constraints. The Mets desperately need an outfield power upgrade, but a six-year, $100 million commitment to Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas just isn’t going to happen. The Mets, in general, are gun-shy of longer deals given how Jason Bay and now even Curtis Granderson worked out.

Veteran free-agent outfielders who would command shorter-term deals include Michael Cuddyer (a childhood friend of David Wright) as well as Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Michael Morse, Colby Rasmus and Chris Denorfia.

Morning Briefing: See you in St. Lucie!

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
7:34
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: That’s all folks!

The Mets completed their season with a 79-83 record, tied with the Atlanta Braves for second place in the NL East.

Heck, the Mets won the season series from Atlanta, 10-9, if you want to crow about actually topping the Braves.

Now, the work belongs to Sandy Alderson and the front office, trying to upgrade the offense.

Alderson suggested the Mets were not that far off, though. According to the GM, the Amazin’s merely need to move from a middle-of-the-pack offense to top five in order to pick up 10-12 wins.

The Mets finished exactly in the middle in the NL in runs scored -- eighth -- and averaged 3.9 runs a game. They tied for 13th in batting average (.238), ranked ninth in on-base percentage (.308) and tied for ninth in home runs (125).

“I think it seems that a lot of individual guys, and us as a team, have finished on such a strong note that we have some momentum going into the offseason,” captain David Wright said. “Hopefully that carries over into spring training. Lucas Duda hitting his 30th home run, the way Wilmer Flores has swung the bat as of late, our pitching staff, a lot of good things happened. Although we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish, there’s a lot of solid and some great individual performances by some of the guys in this clubhouse.

“We’re close. We’re close. And that’s a good feeling going into an offseason.”

What’s next?

The Mets will announce “limited” coaching changes in the next couple of days, with the turnover expected to center on the hitting-coach positions and no room for Wally Backman on the major league staff.

Jonathon Niese is due to be examined on Monday after a recurrence of a rapid heartbeat this weekend.

Travis d'Arnaud (bone chips) on Wednesday Jenrry Mejia (sports hernia) on Thursday are due to undergo surgery.

And hopefully Kirk Nieuwenhuis gets released soon after spending the past two nights in the hospital with an infection.

Monday’s news reports:

• Duda slugged his 30th homer and finished with 92 RBIs and Bartolo Colon crossed 200 innings and notched his 15th win as the Mets closed the season with an 8-3 win against the Astros.

Retiring Bobby Abreu singled in the fifth inning and received a resounding sendoff as he was pulled from the game. Abreu plans to play a couple of games in winter ball with Caracas to have a farewell in his native Venezuela, too. He aspires to serve as a hitting coach, although he’s not sure he will begin that phase of his career in 2015.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Alderson confirmed the dimensions in center and right-center at Citi Field are “likely” to be trimmed to assist Curtis Granderson and Wright. Read more from Alderson, including his thoughts on what the team needs to upgrade, in the Post and Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Abreu’s sendoff in the Record and Newsday.

• Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, initially out of the lineup, was inserted after social-media uproar and secured the AL batting title at Citi Field. Read more in the Times and Post.

Daisuke Matsuzaka said he wants to be a starting pitcher next season. Presumably, that may mean pitching in Japan in 2015.

Josh Satin finished the season unavailable with a fracture in his right hand. The injury will not require surgery.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post offers a suggestion for how the Mets can stop “being such a laughingstock.” Writes Davidoff:

If the Mets can just climb into the $100-$110 million range, then they can trade their assets only for baseball reasons and not for financial ones. They can build on this year’s step forward with confidence. There’s little indication from Alderson this will actually happen.

• Mike Puma in the Post reported the Mets asked Daniel Murphy about playing some left field next season, but Murphy balked and the club won’t “press the issue.” Frankly, Murphy may not even be a Met in 2015.

• Puma in the Post asks five questions for 2015.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger lists four ways the Mets’ offense can improve.

• Long Islander Nick Tropeano allowed four runs in five innings at Citi Field on Sunday before a large contingent of family and friends. "Warming up, you could hear them screaming, 'Trope!' and that kind of stuff," Tropeano said postgame, according to Colin Stephenson in Newsday. "You know, good, bad, win, lose, it's kind of a celebration for me just being here, and making it up here, playing the New York Mets -- it's surreal. It's good."

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear delivers its Closing Day soliloquy. … Blogging Mets has its annual Mets report card for the season.

BIRTHDAYS: Heath Bell turns 37. ... Minor-league outfielder Enmanuel Zabala is 20.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What should Sandy Alderson do to improve the offense?

Note: This is the final “Morning Briefing” for 2014. Thanks for reading!

SPONSORED HEADLINES

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