The first to go was Daniel Murphy. That was the result of the Mets deciding they would rather have Ben Zobrist then later Neil Walker as their second baseman in 2016. Juan Uribe would also depart via free agency as he would pursue an opportunity to be the Indians everyday third baseman.
Kelly Johnson would leave via free agency, but the Mets would soon realize their mistake by not re-signing him. As a result, they would trade Akeel Morris to the Braves to reacquire Johnson. That move would be a key factor in the Mets making it back to the postseason in 2016.
While Murphy, Uribe, and Johnson left via free agency, the Mets just plain got rid of Ruben Tejada. Even with Chase Utley destroying his leg, the Mets would tender him a contract. On the eve of Opening Day, the Mets would opt to release Tejada thereby saving them some money.
Lucas Duda lasted a little bit longer. In 2016, he would suffer a back injury, which cost him most of the season. He would rebound in 2017, but the Mets wouldn’t. As a result, he was moved at the trade deadline in exchange for Drew Smith.
That left just Flores and Wright. With Wright going down just 37 games into the 2016 season, it was really just Flores remaining. Even with the Mets not winning the past few seasons, Flores was a reminder of that glorious 2015 season with a number of walk-off hits and game winning RBI. Those memories are now history as Flores was non-tendered, and he signed a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks.
Really, when you look at the Mets team, 2015 seems forever ago.Looking at the current roster, the only position players who will be active on Opening Day are Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. If Travis d’Arnaud is healthy, that makes three, and when he returns, if he returns, Yoenis Cespedes will make four. There isn’t much remaining from the pitching staff either. From the starting rotation, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz remains, and in the bullpen, Jeurys Familia is only one remaining, and that is because he was brought back in free agency.
It really is a shame too. That 2015 group was very likeable. It was a team who electrified not just Mets fans, but all of baseball. At the time, it seemed like this was going to be the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. If things broke right, it could be another run like there was with the 1980s Mets teams. Sadly, it never happened.
Still, we have the memories. Hopefully, the Mets now have a team who could win. And who knows? Perhaps we will one day talk about how the players who got their experience with the 2015 team being the players who leaned on that experience to help put the Mets over the top in 2019.
Last year, we saw Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera become significant contributors to a Mets team who claimed one of the two National League Wild Cards. Their contribution was as pleasant as it was surprising. In fact, no one truly could have predicated the slate of injuries that befell the Mets last year. This year? Well, that’s a different story all together.
With David Wright already questionable for Opening Day, and the Mets prospects performing better in Spring Training than many originally anticipated, many fans question not if, but when will we see these prospects contributing for the Mets. With that in mind, here are five prospects, who have yet to appear in a major league game, we may very well see at Citi Field in 2017.
Once Akeel Morris was traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson, Roseboom became the closer for the Binghamton Mets last season. Roseboom blossomed in the role and made it an eight inning game for the B-Mets. He saved 14 out of 15 games while posting a 1.87 ERA in 52 games on the year. From July 2 to the last regular season game on September 5, Roseboom held opponents to a .130/.193/.383 slash line, and a 0.92 ERA. This work has caught the Mets attention, and he was a non-roster invitee giving the Mets coaching staff an opportunity to get an up close look at him.
At a minimum, he could very well be the second left-handed reliever the Mets covet in the bullpen. With the struggles we have seen from Josh Edgin this Spring, that could be sooner rather than later.
#2 Paul Sewald
What is interesting about Sewald is his terrific results have not gotten him the attention he deserves. Seemingly every pitcher struggles in Las Vegas, and yet in the second half, Sewald converted 10 save opportunities while posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. While naysayers will point to his high 80s to low 90s fastball, Sewald has clearly shown the ability to get batters out even in the most difficult of pitching environments. As teams go through multiple relievers year-t0-year, it may only be a matter of time before Sewald finally gets his well earned chance to pitch in the majors.
This Spring, we have already seen Wright become questionable for Opening Day, and Lucas Duda need shots in his hip and have back spasms. For a Mets infield that already had injury questions to start the season, things are already progressing quite poorly. The Mets have talked about experimenting with Jay Bruce at first. Wilmer Flores has already shown he can be part of an effective platoon there as well. Neither player is the long term answer. That’s Smith.
Smith is a terrific fielding first baseman who reported to his first major league camp in the best shape of his professional career. So far, the only concern about him is if he will hit for power. He quieted some of those concerns in the final 58 games of the season. During that 58 game stretch, Smith hit .355/.426/.537 with 16 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 42 RBI. Extrapolating that over the course of a 162 game season, that would translate to 45 doubles and 20 home runs. That type of production can definitely play at first base especially when Smith has the promise to do even more.
#4 Amed Rosario
Across baseball and the Mets organization, Rosario has been dubbed a superstar in the making. The only question is when his star will begin shining at Citi Field. Arguably, he is further away from Citi Field than Smith as Smith played a full season in Binghamton last year. Moreover, you probably want to give both players until the All Star Break before you even begin to consider calling them up to the majors. And yet, as Michael Conforto proved in 2015, if you are a truly special talent, you can come to the majors and contribute for a World Series caliber team in the thick of a pennant race.
In Rosario, the Mets have a game changer in the field and at the plate. Should any infielder go down, room can be made for Rosario. Certainly, Asdrubal Cabrera has shown in his career he can play second and third. Also, do not discount the Mets trying to play Rosario at third this season so he can become more versatile, and quite possibly open a spot for him on the major league roster this year.
#5 Chris Flexen
Arguably, this spot could go to P.J. Conlon, but Flexen is on the 40 man roster. Also, Flexen pitched a full season for St. Lucie last year, whereas Conlon only pitched half a season there. Another issue is Flexen’s stuff plays better in the bullpen as Flexen has a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve ball. If the Mets were to be willing to move Flexen to the bullpen, he can rocket through the Mets system.
In addition to Conlon, another name to consider is Corey Taylor. He’s got terrific stuff, and the minor league closer is already drawing Jeurys Familia comparisons. Overall, the Mets farm system has plenty of players who should be able to contribute at the major league level at some point next year. It should give you some hope the Mets should be good in 2017 even if there is a rash of injuries. It should give you more hope that the Mets should be good in years to come.
Editor’s Note: I consulted Michael Mayer while making my list, and he pointed out to me he wrote a similar column for Mets Merized Online. His list is slightly different as he includes Champ Stuart. As Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Mets farm system, please give his article a read as well.
With the Mets adding Gavin Cecchini to the 40 man roster to sit on the bench as the Mets are chasing down a Wild Card spot, the team had one less decision to make on who should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Even if the Mets didn’t add Cecchini now, he was going to be added in the offseason. Cecchini is too valuable a prospect, and he would be snatched up immediately in the Rule 5 Draft.
Cecchini was not the only player the Mets were going to have to make a decision on this offseason. In fact, the Mets have to make a decision on 66 different prospects about whether or not they should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Here is a review of some of the more notable Mets prospects that need to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:
SS Amed Rosario (Advanced A & AA) .324/.374/.459, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB
Yes, if it hasn’t been apparent this entire year, Rosario is in a class all by himself. If he’s not added to the 40 man roster someone is getting fired.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
1B/3B Matt Oberste (AA) .283/340/.409, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB
One issue that has plagued Oberste his entire minor league career is he has to fight for at bats as he is usually behind a bigger Mets prospect. That has been literally and figuratively Dominic Smith (who is not yet Rule 5 eligible). Oberste was an Eastern League All Star; however, the issue that is always going to hold him back is the fact that he is a corner infielder that does not hit for much power. Most likely, Oberste will not be added to the 40 man roster.
CF Champ Stuart (Advanced A & AA) .240/.314/.349, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB
Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 bases this season. The issue with Stuart is he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton. While he certainly has the tools to possibly be a big leauger one day, he’s too far away at this point. Also, with teams putting more of a premium on offense than defense, it’s likely he will not be protected, and he will go undrafted.
C Tomas Nido ( Advanced A) .320/.357/.459, 23 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB
This year was a breakout season defensively and offensively for the Florida State League batting champion. Normally, with Nido never having played a game in AA, the Mets would be able to leave him unprotected and be assured he wouldn’t be drafted. However, with catcher being such a difficult position to fill, it’s possible a bad team like the Braves takes a flyer on him and keeps him as the second or third stringer catcher all year. It’s exactly how the Mets lost Jesus Flores to the Nationals many years ago.
SP Marcos Molina 2015 Stats (Rookie & Advanced A) 9 G, 8 GS, 1-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
Molina did not pitch for the Mets organization for the entire 2016 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Arizona Fall League will be his first time facing batters in a game since his eight starts for St. Lucie in 2015. It’s likely he will go unprotected and undrafted.
ARMS THAT COULD HELP IN 2017
RHP Paul Sewald (AAA) 56 G, 5-3, 19 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.0 K/o
In many ways, it is surprising that a Mets bullpen that was looking for an extra arm never turned to Sewald. While he struggled to start the season like most pitchers transitioning to the Pacific Coast League do, Sewald figured it out and had a terrific second half with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP. Sewald should be protected. In the event he isn’t, he should be as good as gone.
RHP Beck Wheeler (AA & AAA) 47 G, 0-3, 6 saves, 5.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.1 K/9
Wheeler went unprotected and undrafted last year, and based upon the numbers he put up in his time split between Binghamton and Las Vegas, it appears the same thing will happen this year. The one reservation is like with the Braves interest in Akeel Morris, teams will always take fliers on guys with mid 90s fastballs who can generate a lot of strikeouts. It just takes one team to think they can help him reduce his walk rate for him to go in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Chasen Bradford (5 saves, 4.80 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) – Bradford regressed statistically from last year in large part because he is a sinker/slider pitcher that pitches to contact. On the bright side, he walks very few batters meaning if you have good infield defense, he will be a successful pitcher for your team. His numbers should scare off a number of teams in the Rule 5 draft just like it did last year.
RHP Ricky Knapp (Advanced A & AA) 25 G, 24 GS, 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K/9
Knapp started the year in St. Lucie, and he finished it with a spot start in Las Vegas. Knapp doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he gets the most out of all of his pitches because he is excellent at hitting his spots. He is a very polished product that is best suited to being a starting pitcher. Since he doesn’t strike out many batters, teams will most likely pass on him in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Luis Mateo (AA & AAA) 51 G, 4-4, 1 save, 2.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9
He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with a low 90s fastball that generates a fair share of groundball outs while keeping the ball in the ballpark. While his ERA should entice teams, his WHIP and strikeout rate may keep them away just like it did last year when the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft. He will most likely begin next year in AAA.
2B/3B/SS Phillip Evans (Advanced A & AA) .321/.366/.460, 30 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB
The Eastern League Batting Champion certainly raised his profile with a much improved offensive season. He’s starting to become more selective at the plate and learn how to be less of a pull hitter. The main issue for Evans is he may not have a position. While he can make all the plays at the infield positions, he lacks range to be a solid middle infielder. He also lacks the arm strength and power numbers you would want at third base.
RHP Chris Flexen (Advanced A, AA, AAA) 25 GS, 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
Flexen appears to be in the mold of a typical Mets pitching prospect in that he has a high 90’s fastball and a good slider. Despite the repertoire, he is not generating a lot of strikeouts right now. On the bright side, he does generate a number of ground balls while limiting home runs. He was rumored to be part of the initial Jay Bruce trade that fell apart due to an unnamed prospect’s physical (does not appear to be him). A second division club like the Reds could take a flyer on him and put him in the bullpen for a year to gain control over him despite him never having pitched at a level higher than Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Tyler Bashlor (Full Season & Advanced A) 54 G, 4-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.8 K/9
While the 5’11” Bashlor is short on stature, he has a big arm throwing a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider which he used to dominate in the Sally League. Bashlor used these pitches to strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Like Flexen, there is danger exposing a big arm like this even if the highest level of experience he has is four games for Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Kevin McGowan (Advanced A & AA) 42 G, 4 GS, 2 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
McGowan is a fastball/changeup pitcher that still needs to develop a breaking pitch. While that fastball/changeup combination has been good enough to get batters out at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he is going to need another pitch if he is going to progress as a pitcher.
RF Wuilmer Becerra (Advanced A) .312/.341/.393, 17 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB
Around the time of the Rule 5 Draft last year, the debate was whether a bad team like the Braves would take a flyer on Becerra just to get the promising young outfielder into their organization. Unfortunately, Becerra would have a shoulder injury that would rob him of his budding power. More importantly, that shoulder injury would require surgery ending his season after just 65 games.
1B/3B Jhoan Urena (Advanced A) .225/.301/.350, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB
With the emergence of David Thompson, Urena was pushed from third to first. However, that isn’t what was most troubling about his season. In fact, many questioned whether he could stay at third given his frame. The issue was the switch hitting Urena stopped hitting for power this season. With his not hitting for power, Rosario’s best friend in the minors should go undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft.
LHP Paul Paez (Advanced A & AA) 34 G, 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
This year Paez failed to distinguish himself by not pitching particularly well for St. Lucie and then struggling in Binghamton. He only has a high 80’s fastball and lacks a true swing and miss breaking pitch. While lefties hitting .308 off of him this year, he may not even have a future as a LOOGY in a major league bullpen.
NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP
OF Patrick Biondi (Advanced A) .271/.352/.332, 17 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 34 RBI, 26 SB
While Biondi’s stats look good on the surface, it should be noted at 25 years old, he is old for the level. On the bright side, Biondi has speed and is a good defender in CF. However, until he starts getting on base more frequently, he will not be considered for the 40 man roster.
RHP Nabil Crismatt (Short & Full Season A) 13 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 1 Save, 2.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
Crismatt is only 21, but he is mature in terms of his ability to control his changeup and curveball and throw them at any point in the count. Couple that with a low 90s fastball that could gain velocity as he ages, and you have someone who has the repertoire to be a major leaguer. However, considering he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet in his career, he is nowhere ready for the majors, at least not yet.
2B/3B/SS Jeff McNeil 2015 Season (Advanced A & AA) .308/.369/.377, 18 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 16 SB
Coming into the season, McNeil appeared to be more mature physically and at the plate. He seemed ready to begin hitting for more power while still being able to handle 2B defensively. Unfortunately, he would only play in three games this season for Binghamton before going on the disabled list needing season ending sports hernia surgery.
RHP Tim Peterson (Advanced A & AA) 48 G, 4-1, 2 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.3 K/9
At each and every level Peterson has pitched, he has shown the ability to strike people out with a fastball that touches on the mid 90s and a plus curveball. The only issue for him in his career so far was his PED suspension in 2014.
OF Travis Taijeron (AAA) .275/.372/.512, 42 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB
Taijeron continued to do what he does best, which is get on base and hit for power. Despite a strong Spring Training and another solid offensive season, the Mets really showed no interest in calling him up to the majors. He will most likely go unprotected, but maybe this year a team out there desperate for some power in the outfield or on the bench will give him a shot.
2B L.J. Mazzilli (AA & AAA) .239/.320/.348, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB
Lee Mazzilli‘s son is a grinder out there who plays a decent second base. Unfortunately, it appears his bat will prevent him from ever getting a real shot to ever play in the big league.
Likely: Flexen, Nido
Bubble: Bashlor, Knapp, McGowan, Sewald, Wheeler
As for the remaining players, the Mets may very well gamble exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially lose them to another team. It is also possible the Mets unexpectedly protect a player like Knapp. In any event, the Mets have a number of important decisions to make that can have far reaching implications.
Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason. Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.
The foundation of this team is its starting pitching. Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome. There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.
Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break. Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season. While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain. He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch. At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons. Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.
There are more question marks in the rotation. Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors. Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year. Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective. Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation. Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems. The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.
The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors. Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters. That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.
As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.
As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all. The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup. Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat. Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base. In 2015, Duda had a disc issue. This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back. There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate. The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising. That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.
This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.
Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available. The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned. That’s the hope why he will stay. However, it’s more narrative than fact.
The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market. Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else. The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason. It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes. There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.
It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him. Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason. If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.
The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017. The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.
Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team. Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year. Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed. Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue. Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential. In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.
Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front. The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare. The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera. They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith. The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.
Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner. They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return. Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.
Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year. As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete. With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets. It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step. But after that?
You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee. You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410. He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015. You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year. Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year. You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties. You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season. It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.
As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.
Here’s a list of all the Mets who got hits off the Pirates rookie phenom Jameson Taillon through the first seven innings:
Don’t worry. Yoenis Cespedes put an end to the tomfoolery by immediately grounding into the 5-4-3 double play. Taillon would pitch a career high eight innings allowing two hits, no earned, and one walk with five strikeouts. Before tonight, Taillon never pitched more than seven innings at any level. He went past that point making the Mets look foolish in the process.
The Mets put out a lineup with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera, who were two high priced players free agents signed more for their offense than anything. Until this year James Loney and Alejandro De Aza were major league quality players. By the way, remember when De Aza was supposed to be the answer in centerfield? Also, the Mets had Kelly Johnson in the lineup, who the Mets thought so highly of they parted with Akeel Morris to get him (after thinking Eric Campbell was a better bench option).
The other two batters were Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki. Flores was the Mets starting shortstop last year because the Mets thought he was better than players like Jung Ho Kang (more on that in a minute). Now he’s a bench piece. Plawecki was the former first round pick, who, putting it nicely, isn’t any good. He showed us how bad he was again today.
Aside from the 0-3, he was dreadful in the field. In the sixth, he dropped what should have been a foul out off the bat of Andrew McCutchen extending the at bat. Later in the inning, he bounced a an offline throw when Josh Harrison tried to steal second. The ball went into center, and Harrison went to third. Because Jacob deGrom was so good neither error hurt the Mets.
However, deGrom wasn’t perfect when the Mets needed him to be. He made a mistake that Kang turned into a two run homerun in the sixth. The final line for deGrom was six innings allowing six hits, two earned, and one walk with nine strikeouts. For any other team, this would’ve been good enough for the win. Not for this putrid Mets offense.
Jim Henderson allowed a two run home run to Starling Marte. The homer made the score 4-0, and it put the game out of reach. You know, if it wasn’t out of reach at 2-0.
Look, teams will look bad against good pitching. Mets fans have seen their pitching do this to opponents. There is no shame is being shut down by a phenom like Taillon. The problem is, lately, every pitcher looks like Taillon against the Mets.
The Mets have gone through Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Matt Reynolds as bench players. Unfortunately, none of them performed up to expectations. Finally, the Mets felt compelled to trade a good prospect like Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. It was a deal made after the Mets had already gone through almost every single last option they had in the minors who could play multiple positions.
Actually, they didn’t. The Mets never gave T.J. Rivera a shot.
Rivera has done all you could ask from a player. He has learned multiple positions. He’s capable of playing every position in the infield even if he’s not truly adept at any single position. After being passed over for a promotion to the majors by Kelly, Rivera dedicated himself to learning the outfield to make himself even more attractive to be a major league call-up. He has hit .361/.401/.526 so far in AAA this year. He as the Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Month for the month of May. Again, Rivera has done everything to merit a call-up. It just isn’t happening.
Was Rivera the solution to the Mets bench problems? Probably not. He was still a 27 year old undrafted minor league player. Yet, he still possessed skills that could of translated to the major leagues. He had the potential to be a contact hitter with doubles power. He could have filled in all across the diamond. There are a lot of things Rivera was capable of doing if only he got the chance. He won’t for reasons that are still unclear, and frankly, are unfair.
So yes, the Mets minor league system is worse for having lost a real prospect in Morris. It’s frustrating that he was traded away for a player that could have been re-signed by the Mets in the offseason. However, that frustration doesn’t match the frustration Rivera must be feeling now knowing that the Mets may never give him his chance despite him having earned an opportunity.
For the second straight year, the Mets entered the season with questionable depth. The result of the questionable depth last year was the Mets were forced to raid their minor league pitching depth to build a bench and a bullpen. Overall, the Mets traded away Robert Whalen, John Gant, Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, Dawrin Frias, Miller Diaz, and Matt Koch. The end result was a National League Pennant and only one player under contract beyond 2015.
The Mets had the whole offseason to make sure that didn’t happen again. They didn’t. The team decided not to re-sign Kelly Johnson, and they waived Ruben Tejada. The end result was the Mets started the year with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster. Keep in mind, the 2015 Mets which supposedly had less depth had Campbell in the minor league system.
Unfortunately, Campbell did not reward the faith the Mets placed in him. Campbell hit .159/.270/.222. The Mets were forced to move on from him. Next up was Ty Kelly, who the Mets signed to a minor league deal over the winter, and Kelly hit .111/.200/.111. Another option was Matt Reynolds, who is still up with the team, who is currently hitting .167/.231/.167. By the way, the Mets have now made it readily apparent they are not going to give T.J. Rivera a shot. Long story short there are kiddie pools with more depth than what the 2016 Mets had this season. Accordingly, the Mets were in a position where they were forced to make a move to improve their depth.
Today, the Mets traded away Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. This is the same Kelly Johnson the Mets thought Eric Campbell was better than in the offseason. This is the same Kelly Johnson who is currently hitting .215/.273/.289 this year.
Again, the Mets could have signed him in the offseason and not forfeited a prospect in return. Either the Mets thought Campbell was a better player and were wrong, or they made a money decision. There is roughly a $1.5 million difference between Campbell’s and Johnson’s salaries, and the Mets did release Tejada before the season in an effort to save money. Keep in mind, the Mets not only obtained Campbell in the deal, but as per Jon Heyman, the Mets also received some money in the deal as well. Because of the Mets penny wise pound foolish decisions, the Mets once again had to dip into their minor league system to address their poor depth.
This time the cost was Akeel Morris. Last year, Morris was terrific in his 23 appearance in AA. He went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. This year, for the first time in his major league career, he is struggling. In his 22 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP. Lost in those stats is Morris’ stuff. He can get his fastball up to 95, and he has a good changeup. With his ability to strike people out, he could have been a late inning reliever. With the development of another pitch, like the Warthen slider, he would be. If he does reach his potential, it will be with another organization as the Mets decided they desperately needed someone who is hitting worse than Kevin Plawecki this year.
Regardless of his struggles, Johnson is an upgrade over what the Mets have been playing lately. Johnson may also benefit from returning to a team where he played well last year. If Johnson does play well, it’ll be a reminder the Mets should not have let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. It will be a reminder that the mistake the Mets made a mistake in thinking Campbell was the best choice for the bench. Ultimately, the cost of that mistake is the career of Akeel Morris.
Look, this is Sandy Alderson’s team. He decided to keep the players he kept and trade the players he traded. He pulled off the trades and signed the free agents. However, he was able to do a lot of what he did because he was left with good players after Omar Minaya was terminated.
Here are the players in the 40 man roster who have a link to Omar Minaya (asterisked players are players obtained with players combined by Minaya and Alderson):
Eric Campbell – 2008 draft pick.
Darrell Ceciliani – 2009 draft pick.
Jacob deGrom – 2010 draft pick.
Lucas Duda – 2007 draft pick.
Jeurys Familia – 2007 amateur free agent signing.
Wilmer Flores – 2007 amateur free agent signing.
Erik Goeddel – 2010 draft pick.
Matt Harvey – 2010 draft pick
Juan Lagares – 2006 amateur free agent signing.
Steven Matz – 2009 draft pick.
Jenrry Mejia – 2007 amateur free agent signing.
Akeel Morris -2010 draft pick.
Daniel Murphy – 2006 draft pick.
Bobby Parnell – 2005 draft pick.
Hansel Robles – 2008 amateur free agent.
Noah Syndergaard – part of Dickey trade (see d’Arnaud).
Ruben Tejada – 2006 amateur free agent.
Again, these players are in the roster because Alderson kept them. The decision of who to keep and trade is important. That is what makes them Alderson’s players and team. Additionally, while It was Alderson that hired Terry Collins, it was Minaya who brought him into the Mets organization.
However, it is important to truly acknowledge Minaya’s role, especially when he has been unfairlyand wrongly marginalized.
You see I was on the same Jet Blue flight as Omar Minaya. The photo with this post was Minaya and me in the terminal before the flight. He was accessible to Mets fans who wanted to shake his hand and take a picture. No one, and I mean no one, had the “courage” to mock him on the flight.
Additionally, this should dispel the notion that Minaya left the Mets with a depleted farm system. On the contrary, he built a strong farm system that helped make up this team. Minaya had his faults, and he probably deserved to be fired when he was. That doesn’t mean we should ignore his work.
It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t extend our gratitude to him for what he left behind.
As of today, the Mets 40 man roster is full with Erik Goeddel and David Wright on the 60 day DL. Since players on the 60 day DL do not count towards the 40 man roster, two players will have to be removed from the 40 man before Goeddel and Wright can be added.
The first decision could potentially come on August 11th, when Goeddel is first eligible to come off the DL. The Mets can send down Hansel Robles, who has options, but that only solves the 25 man roster issue. As of today, here are the people who are on the 40 man roster, who are also not on the 25 man roster:
- Dario Alvarez
- Vic Black
- Jack Leathersich
- Steven Matz
- Akeel Morris
- Logan Verrett
- Gabriel Ynoa
- Johnny Monell
- Anthony Recker
- Dilson Herrera
- Danny Muno
- Wilfredo Tovar
- Darrell Ceciliani
- Michael Cuddyer
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis
In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:
- This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
- A player must be on the 40 man roster as of August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster (there are loopholes however).
Immediately, you can rule out the pitchers. They’re young, under control, and will be snatched up by another team . . . even Vic Black. That leaves eight players for two spots.
Next, we can eliminate Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from consideration. Cuddyer is set to come off the DL soon. Nieuwenhuis is a possibility, albeit remote right now for the postseason roster. We’re done to six players.
I would next eliminate Dilson Herrera, who is seen as the second baseman of the future. This is especially important with Daniel Murphy, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe set to be free agents. We’re down to five players: Monell, Recker, Muno, Tovar, and Ceciliani. Here’s where things get tricky. You can make cases for all of these players to stay or go.
I’ll start with the catchers, who have been awful this year . . . absolutely terrible. I’m expecting the Mets to move on from both of these players in the offseason. However, we need to remember Travis d’Arnaud has been injury prone. You don’t want to him to go down and have no playoff replacement. At a a minimum, one catcher must stay on the roster. Possibly both.
Up next are the young middle infielders. Admittedly, they have both been pretty bad in very limited major league experience. Accordingly, you can’t use that experience as the sole reason to outright that player. It should be noted neither player is a top prospect in the Mets organization. I think both are candidates, specifically Tovar, who is behind Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario on the organization’s SS depth chart.
Finally, we have Ceciliani, who played decently with the Mets this year (even if he was a little exposed). It should be noted he was passed over in the last two Rule Five Drafts. I don’t imagine his limited playing time changed the minds of the other 29 teams. Furthermore, with Nieuwenhuis being on the bubble for the postseason roster, there’s no chance he would even see the field. In my opinion, this makes him the most vulnerable.
Now, I have no connections whatsoever, but I would believe Ceciliani and Monell are the two players who will be moved to make room for Goeddel and Wright. You could easily interchange that for Recker and Ceciliani or one of the middle infielders. However, I think Ceciliani and Monell are the two least regarded players on this list.
Further complicating matters is Rafael Montero, who is also on the 60 day DL. Terry Collins recently went to talk to Montero to encourage him to ramp up his rehab so he can help the team. If Montero is coming back, the Mets are going to have to make yet another roster move. I believe at this time, the middle infielders would definitively be in danger of being removed from the 40 man roster. My guess would be Tovar, but then again, I could be wrong.
The only way to avoid removing anyone, and risking losing a player, is to make a trade with another team. The problem there is if these players had value to other teams, they would have been moved already. Specifically to Ceciliani, we’ve seen teams pass on him a number of times. There is also the possibility that the player to be named later in the Eric O’Flaherty deal is one of the aforementioned 15 players making part of this post moot. However, I think that is unlikely.
Overall, the Mets have a lot of important decisions to make with an eye towards who they want on the postseason roster. It’s fun to be a Mets fan again.