Which Mets Team is Better?

There are many out there calling the Mets offseason a success so far. Personally, I don’t see it. Yes, I know the offseason isn’t over, but we’re also pretty sure the Mets aren’t replacing Yoenis Cespedes‘ bat. 

Overall, the Mets as constituted now are not better than the team that lost the World Series. Here was the lineup for the team that just lost the World Series, with their respective WAR from the 2015 season:

  1. Curtis Granderson 5.1
  2. David Wright 0.5
  3. Daniel Murphy 1.4
  4. Yoenis Cespedes 6.3
  5. Lucas Duda 3.0
  6. Travis d’Arnaud 1.7
  7. Michael Conforto 2.1
  8. Wilmer Flores 0.8

Combined 20.9

If the Mets make no other additions this offseason, which still remains a possibility, here’s the Mets 2016 starting lineup with the player’s WAR from last year. 

  1. Curtis Granderson 5.1
  2. Neil Walker 2.4
  3. David Wright 0.5
  4. Lucas Duda 3.0
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera 1.7
  6. Michael Conforto 2.1
  7. Travis d’Arnaud 1.7
  8. Juan Lagares 0.6

Combined 17.1

On paper, barring any further additions the 2016 starting lineup is worse than the 2015 World Series team. This is despite how more “athletic” the Mets are in the middle infield. In response, the argument is the Mets are now deeper. Are they?  Let’s compare the 2015 and 2016 benches. 

Before comparing, it should be noted I’m going to use a traditional 13 position players and 12 pitchers split. That means I will have to eliminate once bench player from the 2015 Mets. I’m choosing to remove Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the roster as he was called up in September.  

I’m also dropping Juan Uribe from the 2015 roster. When building a team, you’re going to want a backup shortstop. Uribe doesn’t fit the bill. Since Ruben Tejada was injured, and thus unavailable, I’m replacing him with Matt Reynolds, whom I’m assigning a 0.0 WAR since he didn’t play at all last year. 

Here’s the modified 2015 World Series bench:

  1. Kevin Plawecki 0.9
  2. Matt Reynolds 0.0
  3. Michael Cuddyer 0.5
  4. Kelly Johnson 0.3
  5. Juan Lagares 0.6

Combined 2.3

Here’s the current bench, which would be subject to change with a free agent signing:

  1. Kevin Plawecki 0.9
  2. Wilmer Flores 0.8
  3. Ruben Tejada -0.1
  4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis 0.7
  5. Eric Campbell -0.5

Combined 1.8

Now to be fair, the 2016 bench will mostly likely not have Eric Campbell on the Opening Day roster. Eliminating his -0.5 would balance out these benches. 

Here’s one big problem, if not Campbell then who?  Let’s assume Mets fans get their way, and the team signs Denard Span. Span had a 0.7 WAR last year. Yes, that’s the same as Kirk’s. Slotting Span into the everyday lineup has this effect:

  • Starting Lineup WAR increased from 17.1 to 17.2
  • Bench WAR decreased from 1.8 to 1.7
  • Eric Campbell or Kirk Nieuwenhuis is still on the Opening Day roster

Now, first counter-argument will be the offseason isn’t over, so the Mets can still make additional moves. Currently, without any other moves, the Mets payroll stands around $105.7 million. Let’s assume for arguments sake, the Mets have around $10 million to spend.  With that $10 million, the Mets are looking to add a reliever, a CF, and another bat. 

Span is estimated to receive about $12 million a year. Well, that blows the whole budget. Even assuming the Mets could get Span for less, they’re not going to have enough money for a reliever and another bat after that. So again, chances are either Campbell or Kirk will be in the Opening Day roster.

The next counter-argument is last year’s WAR doesn’t account for full years from Wright, d’Arnaud, or Conforto. This point-of-view is acceptable. However, you also have to acknowledge Granderson may be due for a regression at 35 years of age with a repaired torn ligament in this thumb. Also, based upon their histories, you can’t rely on Wright or d’Arnaud to last a full season. Essentially, while you can expect some players to improve or play more often, you can expect others to regress and/or suffer injuries. 

Overall, the Mets still might be able to win the NL East and return to the playoffs in 2016. They will do so because of their pitching. However, objectively speaking, you have to admit the 2016 Mets are and will be weaker than the 2015 Mets team that lost the World Series. 

That is unacceptable. 

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