During Spring Training, we are watching Gavin Cecchini try to show the Mets he is still the future second baseman of the Mets. We see Matt den Dekker trying to once again claim a spot in the Mets outfield. We watch Amed Rosario get reps to prepare to be the Opening Day shortstop, and we wait for Dominic Smith to play in a second Spring Training game.
We see this each and every year with Minor League players in camp. They are doing all they can do to prove themselves to the Mets to either create an impression with their manager Mickey Callaway or to show the organization they are ready. Overall, they are really looking to find a way to finally make it to the majors this season.
Right now, the Mets have five players on the 40 man roster who have never played in the majors. Can you name those five players? Good luck!
Like the rest of Major League Baseball, the Yankees are beginning to put together who will and who will not be on their Opening Day roster. With the recent acquisitions of Brandon Drury and Neil Walker, 1B/OF Adam Lind became more expendable than he already was. As a result, the Yankees released him allowing him to find the perfect situation for him to make an Opening Day roster.
For Lind, that situation should be with the New York Mets.
As the Mets progress towards Opening Day, the team is still unsettled at both first base and the outfield. In what should come as a surprise to no one, this is really the result of injuries.
While he is not technically injured, Adrian Gonzalez is dealing with back issues which require him to warm up two hours before a game. Whatever he is doing has not been working so far. No, we should not read too much into Spring stats, but Gonzalez going 5-30 this Spring should be cause for concern, especially with how poorly he has looked on the field.
Now, the answer at first base should Gonzalez falter was Dominic Smith. As Spring Training began, Smith was svelt, and he looked poised to give Gonzalez a real fight for the first base job. That was until Smith showed up late the day of the first Spring Training game. After that, he suffered an injury, and he has still only played in one Spring Training game.
Given the Springs we have seen from both Gonzalez and Smith, the first base job should be considered well up for grabs. Arguably, the Mets could circumvent some of this by moving Jay Bruce from right field to first base. That could have the added benefit of having Bruce not sprinting around the outfield with his plantar fasciitis.
However, Bruce may be needed in the outfield. Yoenis Cespedes just received a cortisone injection due to a wrist injury. With the Mets being the Mets, the team allowed him to play in a Spring Training game knowing he had the wrist injury. With the Mets being the Mets, we don’t know how long the wrist will be an issue.
If Cespedes goes down, this means both Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares will have to play everyday due to the thin outfield depth in the Mets organization. Unfortunately, both of those players have had their own injury issues. This necessitates the team add to its outfield depth because Matt den Dekker is not the answer.
This brings us back to Lind.
The left-handed hitting Lind is coming off a terrific year as a bench player for the Washington Nationals. In 116 games, he hit .303/.362/.513 with 14 doubles, 14 homers, and 59 RBI. He split time fairly evenly between first base and left field. While he’s not really good at either position, he at least has the experience to play them somewhat capably, and he hits enough against right-handed pitching to offset some of his defensive deficiencies.
In his career, Lind is a .288/.348/.504 hitter against right-handed pitching. This would make him an ideal platoon partner with Wilmer Flores at first. It would also make him a welcome addition to a team which features a bench with players like Jose Reyes and Lagares who hit left-handed pitching well but struggle against right-handed pitching. Essentially, Lind balances out both the bench and the roster.
At this point, the Mets really need to ask themselves if it is worth gambling with Gonzalez at first given how poorly he has looked this Spring. The team also has to consider if they are comfortable with den Dekker playing a larger than originally anticipated role. Taking all of this into account, the Mets should be picking up the phone to bring in Lind as first base and outfield insurance.
With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, and the recent announcement he cannot do any baseball activities for the next eight weeks, we are one step closer to everyone admitting David Wright is never going to ever play for the New York Mets again. Certainly, the Mets have operated this offseason like it will never happen. Indeed, if Wright were to be healthy enough to return at any point next season, the team will be forced to cut someone like Jose Reyes, or they will be forced to send someone like Brandon Nimmo, who may very well be the team’s center fielder, to the minors.
As Wright inches towards what seems to be in the inevitable, we get closer and closer to taking stock of his career. For his career, Wright has 49.9 WAR, 40.0 WAR7, and a 45.0 JAWS. These numbers fall short of the 67.5 WAR, 42.8 WAR7, and 55.2 JAWS an average Hall of Fame third baseman puts up in their career.
Looking over those numbers again, Wright is tantalizingly close, but falls short. Right now, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus Wright falls into the Don Mattinglyterritory in that he was a great player when healthy, but ultimately, his health cost him a shot at Cooperstown.
However, upon reviewing Wright’s career, it does not appear his health issues will be the only reason Wright will fall short of Hall of Fame induction.
In the final two seasons at Shea Stadium, Wright emerged as a true superstar. In successive seasons, he posted an 8.3 and 6.8 WAR season. With him entering the prime years of his career, it looked like Wright was well on his way to the Hall of Fame. What ensued was two ugly years at Citi Field.
Over 2009 and 2010, Wright’s offensive numbers would see a precipitous drop across the board. As a result, in the prime of his career, by WAR, Wright had the two worst healthy seasons of his career. A player who went from averaging a 7.6 WAR in the final two years at Shea struggled to accumulate a 5.9 WAR over two year.
If you are looking for reasons why this happened, look not further than Citi Field. In its original form, Citi Field would see no doubt homers died on the edge of the warning track because the park was beyond cavernous:
- Left Field 335 ft
- Left Center 384
- Center 408
- Right Center 415
- Right Field 330
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a 16 foot left field wall Harry Rose dubbed “The Great Wall of Flushing.”
Considering Wright was a batter who hit it to all fields and who had natural power to right center field, his new ballpark was completely ill suited to his particular skill set. It should come as no surprise Wright’s oWAR and overall WAR nosedived.
In 2012, when the outfield walls at Citi Field were brought in and lowered, Wright started putting up Wright-like numbers again. That year, Wright had a 7.0 WAR, the second highest of his career. This would also prove to be his last healthy season.
The end of Wright’s peak was 2013. Astonishingly, Wright had a 5.9 WAR in just 112 games. Considering the stats he put up, it does make you question what his stats would have looked like in 2009 and 2010 under “normal” conditions.
Taking the last two years at Shea and the first two with the newly constructed Citi Field outfield walls, Wright averaged a 7.0 WAR. If he were to averaged a 7.0 WAR in 2009 and 2010, his numbers would have been:
Yes, Wright would still fall short of the 67.5 WAR an average Hall of Fame third baseman produced over the length of their career, but Wright would have eclipsed the 42.8 WAR7 and been just short of the 55.2 JAWS. Essentially, with Wright you would have had a real argument to induct him on the strength of his peak years.
Even if you want to be a little more conservative and say he would have averaged 5.9 (his low in 2013) instead of the 7.0 average, he would be at a 55.8 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, and a 50.2 JAWS.
Again, Wright would have had the peak years argument, and with his spinal stenosis, he would have had a tangible Hall of Fame argument. Certainly, if Kirby Puckett got the benefit of the doubt with him suffering a career ending injury at 35, Wright would have had a case with his injury happening at 32, if not sooner.
In the end, Wright’s career and spinal stenosis has left us with many what ifs. Looking at the numbers, we should also question what if Citi Field was not so ill designed when it first opened? Would David Wright have made it to the Hall of Fame.
Based upon a look at the numbers, I would argue he would have been enshrined and deservedly so. However, because of the original Citi Field dimensions and many other factors, it appears Wright will not make the Hall of Fame, which is a damned shame because Wright certainly deserved better than all of this.
While we can question many things about Tim Tebow, the one thing we seem to not be able to question is his mission in life to help others. Time and again, we have not only seen him do charitable work, but we have also seen him take an active role in things rather than just being the proverbial person who does nothing more than cutting a check. We heard about it again just the other day:
The Mets excused Tim Tebow from camp two weekends ago so he could attend his foundation golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He wound up raising $2.2 million for children in need. (Photo courtesy the Tim Tebow Foundation.) pic.twitter.com/XO8XRPY6zM
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 12, 2018
Not even the most cynical among us can find fault with Tim Tebow the Man as he raises $2.2 million for his foundation which does things to help the mentally and physically challenged. No, there is no fault with Tebow the Man. However, what about Tebow the Baseball Player?
We all knew the deal when Tebow first announced his intentions to play baseball. By and through his celebrity status, he was going to get a chance to play professional baseball, a chance that not even some other professional athletes might have received. An organization, like the Mets, would be interested in Tebow because he would not only be a positive presence with their young and developing minor leaguers, but he would be a revenue machine.
To a certain extent, he was likely Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own. As Dugan would so eloquently put it, “It was made very clear to me what I’m supposed to do here. I smile, wave my little hat… I did that, so when do I get paid?”
Sandy Alderson has really made no bones about it. On the topic of signing Tebow, Alderson said, “Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business. My attitude is ‘why not?’” (Newsday). While Alderson has recently touted Tebow as someone who could one day make the majors, it should still be noted, Tebow was never originally signed to make the majors.
To that extent, Tebow was signed to be a side-show of sorts. People would pay the Mets money to watch the former Heisman Trophy winner try to play baseball. They would cheer wildly when he hit that unexpected home run. They would call and beg for his autograph. They would be disappointed but not surprised when he made an error or struck out.
If Tebow wants more out of this experience, or experiment, it’s really up to him.
It’s incumbent upon Tebow to show he’s dedicated. He needs to show us all he’s not just a side show. He has to show us he is here to be the best baseball player he can possibly be.
While I understood this was a side show, I never doubted Tebow’s integrity in wanting to become a Major League player. That is until now.
We can argue about his having an offseason job w0rking college football. We can debate whether his charitable endeavors really stand in the way of him becoming the professional athlete he always wanted to be.
What we should be all willing to agree upon is if Tebow’s serious, he can’t be leaving Spring Training to do work for his charity. Yes, it is amazing his charity raised $2.2 million. However, shouldn’t we all ask why this didn’t happen a month or so ago? This is his foundation, and as a result, you would think he had some say as to when the event would be held. Someone who was truly interested in his baseball career WOULD NOT have HIS FOUNDATION’s charitable golf outing during Spring Training.
He just wouldn’t.
Then again, maybe Tebow was never truly interested in playing baseball. Maybe he was just interested in keeping a high profile to help boost his charitable efforts. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, you could argue his willingness to subject himself to ridicule and to withstand the rigors of a minor league season with the end game of helping those in need makes him an even better person than we believed.
What we can’t argue is this means he wants to be a baseball player. Real minor leagues with a real hope of making the majors don’t skip out on Spring Training.
As a Seton Hall fan, I see the team embroiled in the latest NCAA Men’s Basketball Scandal. Like many of these scandals, this one involves team’s illegally paying players, and all the hot takes have ensued. We have seen all the usual from paying players all the way to just scrapping the entire system and starting over. Really, all of these takes and suggestions stem from one guiding principle – the system is broken.
Overall, when making suggestions, the one guiding principle needs to be these are student-athletes. The NCAA has always wanted to at least create this allusion, and as such, they need to put rules in place to treat the athletes like other students whenever possible. There are other legal and economic realities that need to be addressed as well. With those in mind, here are some suggestions and realities when trying to fix NCAA basketball:
You Can’t Pay Players
Look, time and again, we have seen record revenues for the NCAA Tournament, and we have see calls for schools to pay players. While, it sounds good, it’s just not possible.
First and foremost, while private universities like Duke and Stanford can do this, there is a real question about the ability for all of college basketball to do this. There is a real question whether smaller schools like SUNY Binghamton could pay their players. If pressed to pay their players, it is eminently possible we will see smaller schools shut down their basketball programs thereby creating fewer chances for players to receive an education. That should not be the goal of college athletics.
There is also the Title IX issue. With Title IX, you can certainly argue college programs which pay their men’s players will also have to pay their women’s players. For programs like UConn and Notre Dame, that may not be such a big deal. However, when you look at mid majors or even lower tier major conference schools like Providence, this could be a deal breaker. Ultimately, it may lead to the reduction of varsity sports offered on campus, and once again, we are back to limiting opportunities for students. That should never be the goal.
All Basketball Players Should Be on Scholarship
Personally, I have always found the measure to pay the athletes disingenuous. When this point is raised, people mostly want to pay the top athletes for a school who are real revenue generators. Essentially, people are okay with the leading scorer getting paid, but are nowhere near as concerned as the last guy on the bench. As per rules, remember that last guy on the bench puts in the same amount of time off the court as the star.
Also, in what is constantly a point of contention, players are already compensated with a scholarship plus reasonable expenses.
If you go to USC, that is compensation of roughly $60,000 per year. It could be more. We can dicker over whether this is fair market value or not. What cannot be argued is that’s a fairly large compensation for a 18 year old student. The only problem is you’re only getting it if you’re deemed one of the top players/recruits.
This is an inane decision designed to create competitive balance among schools. If you’re an organization who maintains these are student-athletes, why would you create an impediment for a student to select the school they want to attend? Let them decided if they want to sit for a year or two while going to the school they want to attend. Don’t take away their chance to go to Kentucky because Calipari has already handed out all of his scholarships.
Ultimately, each player on the team contributes to the school and the team. They are due compensation. In NCAA basketball, that is in the form of a scholarship.
As an aside, this would also end the shameful practice of dangling a scholarship to a student, and revoking it when a better player comes along, the student doesn’t produce on the field, or when the student suffers an injury.
Allow Players to Profit from Their Likeness
As part of a goal to promote amateurism, there have been many roadblocks for players to earn a living. For some players who live in poorer areas, they do need more than the scholarship. They need actual money. However, they are prevented from doing so, which in turn, creates the corruption the NCAA wants to avoid.
Really, by not allowing players to earn any money, you create an environment in which boosters or agents can slip money under the table to help entice students to attend their university. By permitting students to earn some money and by giving everyone a scholarship, you eliminate some of this.
Certainly, there should be some reasonable guidelines. For example, student-athletes should only be permitted to do these activities when they are not in-season. As we know, there are only so many hours of the day. These students do need to practice and study. Adding shooting a local commercial takes away time from both. However, there is an open window over the summer.
This would give the student a possibility to get money they need to not only take a girl out, but more importantly, to improve their standard of living. Ultimately, that’s the goal of attending college in the first place.
Allow Players to Have Agents
Let’s admit student-athletes are not normal students, and they really have more on their plate than the average student. Regardless of background, it’s a lot for an 18 year old to handle, and they need all the help they can get.
Sure, you can argue that’s the job of the head coach or the Athletic Director. However, it is fair to question whether they have adequate enough time to address all the needs a player has. That goes double when you place restrictions on how frequently a player and coach can interact.
A player having an agent would be helpful. The agent could effectively communicate with a player what their realistic draft stock is. Considering this would be an ongoing relationship, there may not be the same push to get that player to declare.
If there are family issues where someone needs money or the player runs into trouble, there is someone else to help handle the situation. If a player gets hurt, there is someone there to protect the player from both himself and a myopic school looking for an Elite 8 appearance.
There’s room for reasonable restrictions here. The NCAA can certify those agents themselves, and they can also set down contact and recruiting periods for agents to contact students. Maybe you limit a student to just one agent during his four years in college. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the student with both someone who will look out for them as well as another buffer against the corrupt boosters who look to take advantage of the players.
Students Should Be Allowed to Transfer When a Coach Leaves
It’s flat out dumb when a coach leaves, he can go to a new school the next day. However, if a player left behind by that coach wants to leave too, he has to sit out a year. The NCAA can come up with a number of reasons why this is a good rule, but it’s not.
The NCAA came up with a system where the coaching staff is supposed to be the ones who recruit a player to come to the school. As a result, the deciding factor why a student opted to attend that school was the coach. With the coach gone, the student should be permitted to re-assess their decision. If they decided they don’t like the new coach or new direction, they should be permitted to transfer once the season is over.
Students with a High GPA Should Be Allowed to Transfer without Sitting Out
Absent a coach leaving, there are very good reasons why you don’t want to see students being able to switch schools year to year. Mostly, it’s a constant distraction which would impede a student’s ability to concentrate in school or on the court. With that said, this is supposed to be about education.
While basketball players are a bit different, all students are just looking for the best opportunity they can get. Typically speaking, that comes with getting better grades. To that end, why not incentivize student-athletes to get better grades. The NCAA should set a floor, and if a student-athlete clears that GPA, they could then transfer without waiting out a year.
No More One and Done
This is an area where the NCAA has to work with the NBA because the one and done rule is an NBA and not an NCAA rule. We can debate the intentions of the rule, but what we do know is it is having an undesired effect on the quality of play and level of interest in college basketball.
There are a few options the NCAA and NBA could investigate to replace the one and done rule.
There is the MLB model where a player can declare for the draft out of high school. If they do not like their draft position or the bonus offered, they are then given the option to go to school. The caveat there is that student is not draft eligible again until after their Junior year.
Another idea is the old Larry Bird rule. No, not the salary cap rule. Back in 1978, Larry Bird was drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics. In lieu of signing with them, Bird went back to Indiana State for his senior year. He then played Magic Johnson and Michigan State in the Championship Game which elevated both the NCAA Tournament and NBA.
The caveat with Bird was the Celtics had to sign him before the 1979 Draft was held. Had they not, Bird would have re-entered the Draft. Really, there is no reason why that rule couldn’t be put back in place. Let teams draft and follow a player. There can be a signing period both before and after the NCAA basketball season. This can be tinkered with as the NBA and NCAA see fit, but there are good reasons to implement this.
The NCAA is currently in the state they are in because they are trying to maintain a 1940s idea of amateurism. They are seeking to maintain their level of revenues without incurring additional costs. That’s all well and good as it does help to pump money into colleges and universities. However, it should not come at the cost of helping student-athletes.
At the end of the day, if you give them all scholarships, incentivize learning, and allow them to earn money in the offseason, there is no reason why the NCAA cannot be put in a much healthier situation.
On March 4th, Amed Rosario was hit on the kneecap with a pitch. He’s undergone an MRI, and it came back negative. While that is great news, it is important to note Rosario has not played since that March 4th game. More to the point, he is no longer being listed on the group of players available to participate in Spring Training games. When he will be able to return to the Mets is anyone’s guess right now.
The Mets are easing Rosario back, but given how this is the Mets, Rosario’s status for Opening Day is still in doubt. As such, it is time the Mets begin looking at alternative options.
To some, the answer should obviously be Jose Reyes. Reyes was signed to be the team’s top utility player, and as an extension of those duties, Reyes is the most obvious candidate to step-in and play any infield position for long stretches of time should any of the regulars get injured.
While the obvious choice, Reyes may not necessarily be the correct choice.
Defensively, Reyes’ -27 DRS made him the worst infielder in Major League Baseball last year. At his natural position of shortstop, Reyes had a -15 DRS in 630.1 innings played there last season. Believe it or not, the last time Reyes had a positive DRS season at shortstop was in 2007.
Given his experience at the position, the Mets would be more than jusified putting Reyes at shortstop for the occasional game. However, asking him to play there for extended periods of time would be to significantly compromise the Mets defense. Worse yet, you are doing that at the most important defensive position.
With the Mets signing Todd Frazier to play third, the left side of the infield defense has become one of the strengths for this Mets team. It would certainly behoove the team to keep it that way even in Rosario’s absence. That is why the Mets should really consider Luis Guillorme to take over for Rosario should he not be able to play on Opening Day.
In the absence of Rosario, Guillorme is the best defensive shortstop in the Mets organization. In fact, there are some who would argue Guillorme is the better of the two. Playing Guillorme at short in Rosario’s absence would maintain a great left side of the infield defense.
The obvious caveat here is Guillorme’s bat. He’s never hit for power, and there are many who question if it will ever play at the Major League level. Truth be told, the Mets are going to have to find that out sooner or later, so why not now?
Looking at his minor league numbers, this is a player who has shown an ability to get on base, which could give the Mets some hope he could profile as Luis Castillo – the Marlins version, not the Mets version. With Guillorme working on driving the ball, and showing some positive results for those efforts this Spring, his ability to stick in the lineup becomes less of a doubt.
And if we are being honest, his bat should not be a deterrent; at least not now. Since 2015, Reyes has been a 91 OPS+ hitter, and in each of those seasons Reyes has gotten off to some dreadful starts. Since 2015, Reyes has hit .205/.263/.301 in the Month of April.
With that being the baseline April production, the Mets should really consider starting Guillorme on Opening Day should Rosario not be available. The offensive floor is low, and his defense right now has no ceiling.
In what is a yearly tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a fan vote over which player should be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. For a number of reasons, the Mets do not hold such a vote for their fanbase, but in vein of what the Cardinals are doing, the Mets Bloggers tackle the issue of who should be the next Mets great inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame:
What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.
Former Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey has retired from the game of baseball after a 12 year career, and he has accepted an assistant coaching position with Division II Newman University. Now, Pelfrey can play the part of Rick Peterson in helping a young pitcher learn about which one of his pitches is like putting ketchup on ice cream.
Reflecting back on Pelfrey’s career, I mostly remember the disappointment.
There was his inability to jump from being the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft to truly help an injured Mets rotation. That certainly stung when we watched Steve Trachselget pounded for five runs over the first two innings of a pivotal Game 3 of the 2006 NLCS.
There was also Pelfrey being a part of the 2007 and 2008 teams that collapsed. In 2007, his September 24th start saw the beginning of a five game losing streak with the Mets losing six of their last seven games to see a two game lead become an embarrassing collapse.
Pelfrey was a much better pitcher in 2008 with him going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA. His improved pitching did not stop him from going 0-3 with a 4.06 ERA to help the Mets second consecutive collapse.
Still, Pelfrey showed enough to give Mets fans faith for the future. To that end, the rotation was set up so he would be the first ever Mets pitcher to toe the rubber at Citi Field. The third pitch throw in Citi Field history would be deposited by Jody Gerut into the left field stands for a lead-off homer.
Still, with Pelfrey, Mets fans always had hope for him, and we were waiting for him to finally turn that corner to be the front line starter we all imagined he could be. It just never happened for him.
He followed a good 2008 with a disappointing 2009. He rebounded in 2010 by winning 15 games, but he then went 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA. By that point, we all figured he was one of those every-other-year type of pitchers. It all seemed that way when he jumped out of the gate in 2012.
Through three starts, he had not recorded a decision, but he had a 2.29 ERA. His last start was an eight inning gem that would have been a win had the Mets not started that season with Frank Francisco as the Opening Day closer. A few days later, it was announced Pelfrey tore his UCL, and he was going to require season ending Tommy John surgery.
With his impending free agency, this mean that April 21st start would be his last in a Mets uniform. It would seem somewhat fitting his last win in a Mets uniform was from the previous August when he had a six inning three earned run quality start against the Phillies.
That was Pelfrey’s Mets career. His flashes of brilliance really led nowhere, and you were left to look for the little joys in his moments of mediocrity.
Still, it wasn’t all bad memories. He did bring hope with him. He was a player who chomped on his mouth-guard and kicked his fingers while he tried so desperately to succeed. As noted, there was a few seasons he did succeed. There was also a signature moment.
In 2010, there was a crazy 20 inning game between the Mets and Cardinals. With the Mets out of relievers and the team desperately clinging to a 2-1 lead, Pelfrey entered the game despite throwing 106 pitches just two days prior. On that day, Pelfrey saved the day.
That was always the case with Pelfrey. He was always willing, and he did all he could to improve even if that meant his stop putting ketchup in his ice cream.
In the end, he put together a 12 year Major League career full of adversity and perseverance. It’s a career un which he can take much pride. It’s one that will be of immense value as he now seems to impart his wisdom to a new generation of pitchers.
As a Mets fan, I know I wish him the best of luck.
During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen. As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”
The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.
This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching. Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.
That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis. Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare. He had shoulder and hamstring issues. While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.
At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade. The Mets killed that deal over physicals. The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years. That’s really interesting.
In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI. It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.
The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR. The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.
The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce. However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.
With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too. Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons. For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career. For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.
For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again. Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers. If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.
We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy. However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis. In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.
If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.
Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart. When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history. He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.
Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field. In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI. The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.
To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.
Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS). What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching. Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.
Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix. He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.
Realistically speaking, that will never happen. The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench. The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes. So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.
However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.
The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games. With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.
With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago. With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.
If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base. If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base. When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker. He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.
With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering. Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.
Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post