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Mets Money Would’ve Been Better Spent On Zack Wheeler

If you look at the Mets bullpen, the theme appears to be “If.” If this bullpen is healthy, and if this bullpen performs to its full potential, it is going to be one of the best in the game.

The flip side of that is if it isn’t, we’re going to see more of the same.

Still, you can absolutely go to war with a bullpen of Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Wacha, and Robert Gsellman.

In some ways, this is reminiscent of the great 2006 bullpen which added Billy Wagner, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver.

Then again, it could be the disaster that was the 2007 bullpen which had added Scott Schoenweis, Ambiorix Burgos, and Aaron Sele.

That’s the way it is with bullpens. You just try to acquire as many quality guys as you can, and you hope it works. Perhaps with Jeremy Hefner, this is more primed to work.

One thing we do know is starting pitching can help a bullpen. The deeper starters can go, the less you need to go to the well. This keeps your relievers healthier and fresher which hopefully leads to better productivity.

That brings us back to what the Mets have opted to do with their pitching this offseason.

In signing Betances, Wacha, and Rick Porcello, the Mets have spent $23.5 million guaranteed. That number rises to $30.5 million if Wacha hits all of his incentives.

That $23.5 million figure is important because that’s just a hair off of what the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler per year.

Essentially, the Mets believed Porcello plus a reclamation project in Wacha and Betances. With Betances, remember prior to the Achillies, he had dealt with a shoulder impingement and lat issue all through the 2019 season.

Even when Betances did return, he admitted to his stuff and velocity not being there. That was before he partially tore his Achilles.

Yes, Betances is an arm well worth the gamble. Not only has he shown the ability to flat out dominate, but he’s also shown the ability to do it in New York. That’s important.

Still, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of rolling the dice on three relievers when you’re already rolling the dice on two relievers who were supposed to be your top two relievers. Add to that the significant downgrade from Porcello, who you’re also rolling the dice on, from Wheeler, and you’re left wondering if this was the best allocation of resources.

That does double when you consider Wheeler stays in the division making the Phillies significantly better.

Ultimately, the 2020 bullpen and pitching staff as a whole may be better. Then again, the bullpen could be more of the same with the pitching staff as a whole far worse.

Of course, the Mets bullpen could’ve remained the same and been far better as a result of Diaz adapting better to New York, and the elimination of the super ball helping him, Familia, and the rest of the bullpen.

That’s the gamble the Mets took. They decided on adding a group of lesser pitchers being better than the known quantity in Wheeler.

It’s not a smart bet, but it’s still possible the Mets bet pays off. No matter what, the Mets better be right here.

34 thoughts on “Mets Money Would’ve Been Better Spent On Zack Wheeler”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I’d rather have 3 with proven upside for the price of one, and Brodie did so shrewdly with short-term, team friendly contracts.

    It also looks like we’re getting Cespedes back.

    We’re far deeper with the 3 signings. Signings that include 2016 AL Cy Young, and 2 all stars. All have postseason experience, one has a ring, and all are 32 or younger for the 2020 season. They’ve been there and done it. If healthy, we should get solid performance from all. All are motivated to rebound.

    Oldbackstop is also very much on point with Wheeler wanting 5 guaranteed years at 118 mil.

    Phillies assume risk longer term. Are they getting first half or second half Wheeler? Torn elbow tendon and ligament Wheeler, or 195 inning Wheeler?

    The signings od Porcello, Wacha and Betances also inject a newness and fresh energy into the player pool.

    I’m excited. Very New manager, some new coaches, Marisnick with his speed and defensive chops. And the scary that is Cespedes who’s running and doing baseball activities and is pushing to return.

    And I think Brodie’s still looking to make additional moves. I think one or more trades are coming. Also more signings.

    When all is said and done, we may have the best roster in the NL East – if not all of NL.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The Phillies are getting the Wheeler of the last two years while the Mets are getting three pitchers far removed from their top performances.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Two things seem all but inarguable. One, the Mets inevitably ad hoc approach over the last decade and their difficulty judging talent right in front of them left them unable to sign Wheeler when he was a low or even a medium cost option.

    It left them unable to recognize at the start of the 2018 season that they had one of the better pitchers in the game. That in turn left them unable to offer him a very small guaranteed contract in the 2017-18 offseason that would have guaranteed him a pleasant lifetime’s security and have locked him up through team options into at least 2022. It left them unable to offer him a modest deal at the 2018 ASB, too, when Wheeler had shown he was making his way back; or at the end of 2018 when the talk was that even 3/45m was probably much more than his one good year warranted.

    Two, the current Mets team even after the Betances signing is not any better than the March 2019 Mets. Given how many things went well for the 2019 team that stalled at around .530, that’s… well, it’s not good.

    This just isn’t a contender, not as currently constructed. The rotation’s 1 through 6 gave their teams 114 below league average starts by ERA in 2019. Those same 6 had only 64 above average starts in 2019. Contenders are only very, very rarely built this way.

    Should the Mets have signed Wheeler? That’s difficult to say. They clearly should have had a FO capable of weighing its future payroll and needs and figured that gambling on Wheeler as of the 2018 ASB made solid good sense. They could have backloaded the deal, of course, and paid little until Cespedes was off the books. Given the blunder of not signing Wheeler earlier, if they had decided as of the Stroman acquisition that, as now seems obvious, they weren’t going to sign Wheeler, then they should have been in on Cole Hamels, who at 1/18m satisfies any need for a short deal while giving them a starter who was both good in 2019 and who projects as significantly better than Porcello and Wacha.

    Then, at 3/55.5m, in Keuchel, there was the straddle between someone like Porcello, who has a great chance of being awful, and the now-expensive Wheeler. In sum, the Mets seem to have bought themselves the worst of the worlds possible to them.

    —In any event, you can’t build an ostensible contender like this. With the Mets decent but nothing special offense, you can’t then give 76 starts to pitchers with below average ERAs as they did in 2018; give 70 such starts in 2019; then for 2020 go out and get nothing but guys with below average starts on their 2019 resumes and hope to contend. Could they get very lucky? Sure. But this isn’t how a contender is built. This isn’t a team that has any realistic chance of winning 90.

    —And if anyone wants more misery, the Mets lost more games because of the back end of their roster than probably any other contender. Every team loses games because of the worst 20-25 players out of 50-55 they put on the field, but good teams hold it to a couple of losses from those players. The Mets, on the other hand, lost 7 games from such players.

    Despite this, there has been no overhaul of the Syracuse roster that will provide most of those players.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      After what the Mets did to Dilson Herrera and Devin Mesoraco, no one of real value is going to sign a minor league deal with the Mets unless they literally have no other options.

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Of course they have upside. I stay clear of trends and evaluate circumstance, history, drive, health, work ethic, mental make up, statcast, smarts, physicality, age, mechanics, approach, skill, open-mindedness, adjustments and talent. I look for the source of struggle and how to fix that in players with the tools and health to succeed.

    Porcello for instance has very similar fastball velocity average as he did in his 2016 CY Young season. Averaged 90.2 in 2016, and 90.5 in 2019.

    Wacha’s fastball average last season is very similar to much of his big league career. 93.1 in 2019, a tad down from 2018 at 93.5. But similar to 2013, 2014, 2016 at 93.5, 93.2, 93.2.

    Wacha just has to get healthy and reduce his BB rates to what it was earlier in his career.

    Wheeler’s indeed trending up in half seasons, and has the talent and beautiful mechanics to become an ace or #2. It just hasn’t consistently happened thus far. The Phillies are paying him big bucks on 5 year deal for what they hope he will consistently be. The Mets wanted to bring him back but not on the type of deal he would get on open market.

    His shoulder fatigue, DL stint and 4.71 era on 7-26-19 before trade deadline nixed his trade value. He’s very talented, and is getting paid for that talent, rather than consistent performance. Now there’s pressure on him to be “the man,”not just a #3.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      What hurt Porcello was a terrible Red Sox infield. He’s facing a very similar problem with the Mets. Things get exacerbated by Ramos being a terrible fit for him.

      As for Wacha, the Mets have never been a place where players go to get healthy. There’s very good reason for that.

      Despite everything I’ve seen people say about Wheeler, he’s going to be just fine in Philadelphia. In fact, he’s primed to take off working with a good catcher and having a better defense behind him.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Both Wacha and Porcello signed here voluntarily, believing this is great place to get back on track. They have access to the same info as the rest of us – and then some.

        The 2019 Mets starting rotation made 154 starts.

        There’s also a new cutting edge pitching coach and manager.

        Porcello’s problem the past few seasons was the long ball. Adjusting his mechanics and pitching approach, and getting out of the AL East, should hopefully fix that.

        Whatever happens with Wheeler will happen. He’s now a division foe. He has one year with Realmuto who becomes free agent thereafter and hopefully signs with us with Cohen majority owner.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Porcello largely signed with the Mets to fulfill a childhood dream, which I applaud.

          Wacha signed here likely because no one showed any interest, nor should they.

  4. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Metsdaddy,

    I suspect Mets did not promise Meso the job if he was outplayed in spring training even if D’Arnaud went on DL. Nido indeed outplayed him and Meso passed through waivers unclaimed by 29 other teams. Mets had every right to send him to minors per his contract which he signed.

    Here’s What Mesoraco’s Agent Said After Meso Opted Not To Report After Passing Through Waivers::

    “He feels as if he was — not misled, because the team certainly had a right to make whatever decisions they wanted on personnel,” Abbott said. “But with what was communicated to Devin, I would think they might be willing to make an exception.”

    https://www.sny.tv/mets/news/devin-mesoracos-agent-explains-why-the-catcher-will-retire-if-mets-dont-release-him/305695860

    As for Herrera, can you provide proof they promised him a call up?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      With respect to both I can tell you promises were made to both, and in both instances, the Mets reneged on their promises.

      I was told this by multiple people in the know.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Herrera hit .184/.268 /.414/.682 in the majors in 2018 after early August call up, through season’s end, and then had .584 OPS performance in winter ball, and Mets promised him call up after signing him to minor league deal?

        That sounds rather far fetched considering his stats with the Mets the last time he played in majors weren’t much better.

        If i’m not mistaken, Dilson didn’t even get spring training invite on that contract.

        Dilson Herrera had high K’s but otherwise a solid 2019 AAA season on offense, and was signed by the O’s to minor league deal on December 5th. . There’s no indication on their MLB.com transaction page or elsewhere, that he got spring invite even from very bad team.

        https://www.masnsports.com/school-of-roch/2019/12/orioles-sign-dilson-herrera-to-minor-league-deal.html

        http://m.mlb.com/bal/roster/transactions/

        1. metsdaddy says:

          After he opted out, the Mets told him to stay, and he’d be called up next. Instead, the team went with Guillorme and then Haggerty over him.

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