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Mets Have Not Done Nearly Enough This Offseason

While Brodie Van Wagenen was touting Dellin Betances‘ ability to “blow the cover off their ceiling,” the fact of the matter is the Mets offseason has been tremendously underwhelming thus far. Really, when you break it down, it’s difficult to ascertain how this team can make up 11 games on the Atlanta Braves.

With Zack Wheeler departing for the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s 4.1 WAR going to a division rival. While they haven’t yet signed with another team, it is expected Todd Frazier (2.2 WAR) and Juan Lagares (-0.7) will sign with other teams.

Combined, that’s a 5.6 WAR.

With the additions of Betances (0.0), Jake Marisnick (1.2), Rick Porcello (1.1), and Michael Wacha (0.2). the Mets have only brought on players worth 2.5 WAR combined in 2020.

As a result, the Mets have yet to replace the production they’ve lost. What makes this problematic is their offseason appears fairly set.

Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are taking up two roster spots, and with their salaries, the Mets are not going to just cut bait. Instead, the Mets are going to hope Cespedes can do what Troy Tulowitzki couldn’t do – return from double heel surgery.

When they finally discover what was wrong with Lowrie that limited him to eight pinch hitting attempts last year, we can then have a conversation about what, if anything, he can contribute.

Remember, this a Mets team which finished 11 games behind the Braves. They also finished behind the World Series Champion Washington Nationals too. The Mets needed to gain ground, not lose it.

Keep in mind, they’re not just losing grounds to the teams ahead of them, they are also losing it to the Philadelphia Phillies. That 4.1 WAR the Mets lost in Wheeler went to the Phillies. Joining him there is Didi Gregorius, who had a 0.6 WAR in limited duty. When you add a healthy Andrew McCutchen, they have not only offset the 1.7 WAR they lost with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, but they have improved upon it.

Now, this is where someone may want to point out how the Braves and Nationals are both searching for a new third baseman, and that the third basemen they had last year were their best players. That is true. The Braves losing Josh Donaldson (6.1), and the Nationals losing Anthony Rendon (6.3) were significant losses.

With respect to Donaldson, it should be noted both teams are still in on him and trying to do all they can to sign him. If either team signs him, that narrative is no longer in place as it comes to that team.

Going beyond that, both the Braves and Nationals have made moves to bolster their teams in the event they cannot land Donaldson.

The Nationals have been aggressive this offseason re-signing mid-season acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson. They have also added Starlin Castro (0.8), Eric Thames (1.6), and Will Harris (2.1). Combine that with the anticipation Carter Kieboom may be ready next year, and the Nationals have at least braced themselves for losing Rendon and missing out on Donaldson.

The Braves have also left third base open while addressing other areas. On the bullpen front, they have brought in Will Smith (2.2) while bringing back Chris Martin and Darren O’Day. They have also added Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. They also potentially upgraded their rotation signing Cole Hamels to replace Dallas Keuchel.

When talking about the Braves, they also have a wealth of young talent in Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, and others to close the gap on the potential loss of Donaldson. The same can be said with the Nationals with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.

As for the Mets, they could also seek to get some help internally with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario taking the next step. However, the issue with that is whether it is enough to overcome not just the diminution in the talent the team had last year, but also whether it is enough to overcome the significant gap which already existed between them and the rest of the teams in the division.

While it is certainly possible the Mets can win the division in 2020, it is also fair to say they certainly have not done nearly enough this offseason to do that. Really, when you boil it down, the Mets are relying more on luck than anything else. Considering what is ahead and behind them in the division, that is not the best plan, and when you boil it down, they really needed more than just Marisnick.

0 thoughts on “Mets Have Not Done Nearly Enough This Offseason”

  1. Bart Scriv says:

    FANGRAPHS projects the Mets as the best team in the division — 2nd best in the NL — using its STEAMER/ZiPS projection blend:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=Team

    so how are the Mets relying solely on LUCK?

    reminder: This is fWAR — the exact same metric you are using for this article — but I can’t wait for your response to this which will be something along the lines of “I’ve done research that shows METSDADDY PRIOR YEAR fWAR is bettor indicator then ACTUAK PROJECTIONS” blah blah

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Your response to my article is that the Mets aren’t relying on luck because they’re projected to lose the division?

      1. Bartus Scrividus says:

        the Mets are projected to WIN THE DIVISION by the 2 most reputable public peojections systems using fWAR.

        I don’t think a UFO carrying E.T. is going to land on my driveway tonight but I can’t be certain since it’s — ya know — in the future! … I’m relying on luck.

        Projecting the future performance of several dozen baseball players over the course of 6 months carries even MORE UNCERTAINTY than my thoughts on UFO landings on my property! … Luck is required! … But sorry there is every reasonable indication that the Mets are no more reliant on luck than their peers in the division.

        Because … again:

        the Mets are projected to WIN THE DIVISION by the 2 most reputable public peojections systems using fWAR.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      I’d note I used bWAR, not fWAR

    3. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      @Bart Scriv: “FANGRAPHS projects the Mets as the best team in the division — 2nd best in the NL — using its STEAMER/ZiPS projection blend:…”

      —Let’s keep it fun and light, amigo. I currently have $500 in idle money that wants to be bet against this projection. Here’s the unambiguous phrasing of my bet: “In 2020 the Mets will not win the NL East and will not have the 2nd best or better record in the NL.” There are places on the internet that hold wagers for the required length of time. Do you accept my bet?

      1. metsdaddy says:

        They don’t

        1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

          @MD — a search without brackets using the terms [ are there places on the internet that hold bets between friends? ] or [ peer-to-peer betting apps] reveal numerous sites that will do so. There are also specific sites such as betyou dot ie.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I have zero interest in placing bets as there are far too many unforeseen circumstances.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Good writeup, MD. Whatever we think of WAR, b or f or P, it’s a useful shorthand in cases such as this.

    On a specific point, I’d note the Mets have not improved their 5th spot much if at all over Vargas from 2018-2019 when he was with the team, particularly if you discount the first half of 2018 when the Mets sent him out injured for 9 starts because they foolishly didn’t want to use a minor leaguer instead of a guy whose ERA would reach 8.60, but was just 3.81 in 11 healthy starts after the ASB).

    You and I disagree on the value of Vargas, but from the 2018 ASB through the end of his time with the Mets he had 30 appearances (29 starts) with an ERA of 3.95, while Porcello’s ERA last year was 5.52. The Mets would be thrilled if Porcello and Wacha ended up with ERAs of 3.95 in 2020, an improvement of over a run on their combined 2019 ERAs–so how exactly could anyone argue the Mets have upgraded the rotation over what they had at the beginning of the 2019 season?

    I’m painfully aware of how zips is put together, having posted on the old BaseballThinkFactory during the phase when its unbalanced author, when he wasn’t posting nascent versions of zips–and whose politics were… let’s just say poorly thought out–would seethe and rant then, as moderator, delete entire 1,000 comment threads to cover his descents into lunacy and profanity. It’s easy enough to see why he has the Mets at around 92 wins, but it’s worth remembering that zips / steamer doesn’t take into account the thing the Mets are worse at then every other would-be contender: They don’t get replacement level performance once you get past the 25 / 26-man roster. Far from it. The players from #26 through 55 cost the Mets 8.8 fWAR in 2018, and 6.6 fWAR in 2019. Subtract either of those figures from 92 wins (instead of the 0.0 fWAR zips uses) and you get a team winning in the mid80s, and just two wins better than .500 in the former case. It’s why I keep a close eye on the Syracuse roster, since any changes in its composition matters more for the Mets than probably any other team.

    Zips also doesn’t account for the manager, where given their complete novice the Mets are unlikely to be above average, particularly given the front office’s interference—any projection of the Mets that doesn’t account for Van Wagenen’s and the Wilpons’ managing of the team will further overestimate their likely results, and it’s fair to assume they reserved the right to dictate to Beltran as a condition of his hiring.

    —-fwiw last year fangraphs had the Mets projected to win 84. What’s changed since then is clear enough. There’s a full season from Alonso, whose baseline sensibly is now much higher than zips had it. McNeil’s baseline is higher–his performance wasn’t better than in 2018, he just showed he could do it for a full year. deGrom’s baseline is higher; a 2nd Cy will do that for you. So is Conforto’s, Lugo’s, Rosario’s, Dom’s and JD’s (although the latter three don’t matter that much, given their projections increase only very fractionally and two are likely part-timers). All of the following have lower baselines, though: every reliever not named Lugo and Wilson (who tread water despite only pitching 39 innings), Ramos, Nido, Nimmo, and Cano (who was projected to be worth 3 WAR). That’s 3/5ths of the lineup and most of the pen.

    Zips has the Mets pen as 2nd (on average) in the majors because when each of Familia, Diaz, Lugo, and Betances are ON, they’re great, great pitchers, and each has a very good to great season in his recent history. If just two of those four have excellent seasons, the Mets are already getting 4 WAR out of their bullpen, when 5 WAR is something only three teams’ pens are projected to reach. BUT–the Mets are only getting that 4 WAR if you completely discount relievers 7 through 20, who are likely to produce significantly negative results, costing WAR and wins.

    What zips also doesn’t see is what people who watch the team see. It doesn’t see the AAA and AA talent, nor something as simple as Betances missing a season to debilitating injuries. From its point of view, Betances might just as well have been perfectly healthy and sitting on a beach in Bermuda for the duration of 2019. His injuries didn’t ‘happen,’ according to zips. His injuries don’t put him at risk for further injury in the future, according to its method–he’s only credited with 0 WAR for the season. That docks his 2020 projection, but that’s different from tearing your Achilles, or wrestling with a boar. Last I knew zips also didn’t break seasons into halves, so a player contributing 4 WAR before the ASB and 0 WAR after (missing three months to serious injury in this example) is projected for the following season to do just as well as a player who had been injured in the offseason, missed the first three months, but came back at an MVP level and whose season was just the reverse: 0 WAR before the ASB, and 4 WAR after.

    —-So… are the Mets really, according to fangraphs, at the top of the 2nd tier of teams, only significantly trailing four teams: The Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox? That’s hard to credit. They were an 86 team playing in obvious good luck overall, and lost more this offseason than they’ve added. Are they really now as good as the Rays, better than the Nationals, Athletics, Twins, and Indians, and four games BETTER than the Braves? That’s very hard to credit.

    The thing to do, as thoughtful commenters all, is figure out why.

    1. Oldbackstop says:

      I think everyone is playing a fun game, a tempting fame…..the only winter game, maybe, with adding WARs up. They are hand grenade numbers. Tango has said many times that the margin of error is such that you can’t distinguish intelligently between a point or two in one given season.

      Those little errors are magnified by conflating the decimal points out to a full roster.

      Of course, then you can start putting your finger on the scale and making tweaks and adjustments and weighting and projections……ok.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        You’re trying to distract from the issue here. That goes double when you consist this isn’t the matter of a few decimal points

  3. Bik says:

    Just adding up a previous season’s WAR is NEVER going to be a good analytic metric to use, so throw those away. In fact, forget about WAR for a minute and look at the team that has been constructed. They are covered at every position (except maybe backup catcher). They replaced Wheeler with Porcello and Wacha on team-friendly one-year deals, they replaced Laguares with Marisnick, and added Betances to the back end of the bullpen, but the biggest addition to next season’s team will improved performance from people they had on their roster. While you can’t expect 50+ HRs out of Alonso again, and you can’t expect McNeil and Davis to each hit over .300 with 20+ homers again, you can expect that some of Cano, Familia, Diaz, Nimmo, Gsellman, Matz and Syndergaard to improve; and, you have to think that Rosario and Conforto have a bit more to give.

    Besides, they still have time and options. Some of the biggest names in MLB are currently on the trade block. The Mets have pieces that other teams want. If Cespedes does return to effeciveness (not keeping my fingers crossed), it really gives the Amazings an undeniable advantage over both Philadelphia and Washington. The Braves, however, are another animal. Not sure they could have done anything (with their current roster as it is) to overcome those 11 (on-paper) wins. You have to hope that Donaldson moves out of the division as he chewed up Mets pitching in his first year in the National League.

    Overall, I like where they are at, and I like where they are going. Very un-Mets-Fan of me.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Sorry, but ignoring production because it doesn’t match your personal feelings is not a persuasive argument.

      1. Bik says:

        Your valuations don’t make a persuasive argument. Your argument is that the Mets haven’t done enough and to support that you use last years bWAR without considering the context of those statistics. The team’s makeup is good. This isn’t the NBA where two superstars can carry a team to the title. It doesn’t work like that. Besides, the point I’m trying to make is that production from these players have been superior to last year’s output. If they are 20 percent better (and for Cano, Familia, Nimmo, Diaz, and Betances that wouldn’t be too much to ask), you are at the very least looking at a contending club.

        Production is where it’s at, but without context, the “lets just add up last year’s bWar” argument just seems like sour grapes, when in reality you should be optimistic going into this year, given the team’s track record. Would I like to see further acquisitions? Sure. But if Donaldson signs with Minnesota or Texas (or somewhere outside of the NL East), I don’t see any other free agent acquisition that would work to keep the Mets out of the playoff hunt this year.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I’d first note it’s not my valuations. Second, I’d again note you’re substituting opinion for analysis.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Omg, your mission statement is opinion over evidence. It is in the comments on every article. 80 percent of your retorts contain zero stats. Don’t insult your readers by saying they rely on pie-in-the-sky opinions

          2. metsdaddy says:

            You rely on pure opinion, and your outright reject statistical data which doesn’t conform to your feelings.

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