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.
To be fair, no one really expected the free agent market to go the way it has. Really, as free agency opened, the Mets with their limited budget was not expected to be able to bring in Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Anthony Swarzak. Based upon past years, the Mets really only would have had the budget to get just one of them. However, with the way it has played out, it does beg you to re-visit the Mets offseason.
Certainly, there should be no quibbling with the aforementioned additions. Bruce provides the Mets both with a left-handed power bat as well as first base insurance. Frazier joins Amed Rosario to give the Mets a defensive left side of the infield they have not had since at least a decade ago. Swarzak helps solidify a bullpen that needed all the quality arms it could get.
Where you can question the Mets was their minor moves. The team brought back Jose Reyes back on a one year $2 million deal, and because the Dodgers are playing his 2018 salary, the Mets were able to sign Adrian Gonzalez for the league minimum. In retrospect, was this really the best move the Mets could have made.
When the Mets signed Bruce, it gave the team only four healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster. Two of those outfielders, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares, are injury prone. Already, both players are having health issues, which certainly calls into question whether the Mets outfield can last a full season. It gets even worse when you consider Bruce is dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Because of those injuries, the Mets may be left with the rock and hard place decision of choosing between putting Wilmer Flores in the outfield or playing Matt den Dekker and his career .234/.316/.354 batting line in the outfield. The Mets are faced with this decision because as Josh Lewin put it during the Mets Spring Training opener, Reyes has shown not interest in playing the outfield this year.
It does seem odd the player many consider to be the quickest, if not the fastest, on the team is not even going to try to play the outfield. Considering he was signed as a utility player, it certainly begs the question why he isn’t playing the outfield at all.
There’s also the matter of Gonzalez. There’s no doubt when he’s on the top of his game, he’s much better than Duda or what the Mets envision Dominic Smith will be. However, at 37 and with back problems, is Gonzalez really that player anymore? His last full season was 2016 when he hit .285/.349/.435 with 18 homers and 90 RBI. Considering how poorly he played last year, his needing two hours to work with trainers just to get onto the field, and his start to the Spring, it’s doubtful he even puts up those numbers.
Last year, Duda hit .246/.347/.532 with 17 homers and 37 RBI in 75 games with the Mets. Overall, he would have the second 30 homer season of his career. In three of his last four years, he’s hit 27 or more homers. The one year he didn’t was an injury riddled 2016 season.
Certainly, you can say Duda was a better bet than Gonzalez. Moreover, it’s fair to say giving him $3.5 million was a better decision than giving $2.5 million to Reyes and Gonzalez. It also would’ve given the Mets wiggle room to add another player to the roster who was at least capable of playing the outfield. Given their suspect depth there, you really need to question Sandy Alderson’s thought process on these respective decisions.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, this Mets story has been adapted from “Ten Apples Up On Top!”
One apple pops on up!
Two apples pop on up!
I can do it, also.
Plawecki can hit three!
Three . . .
Three . . .
He can do three
but d’Arnaud can do more.
Kevin has three
but TdA has four.
Look! Watch! Now!
Amed can bop
watch four homers
put the Mets on top.
Amed can bop
he’s swinging free
with four long
homers you can’t see.
Look here, you four.
Watch here, you four.
Wilmer can get five
Who hits more?
Bruce is so good
He will not stop
Now seven apples pop on up!
pop on up!
No pitcher can stop.
Five, six, seven!
Home Run, Home Run, Home Run!
Seven, six, five
four, three, two, one!
Frazier is as good as Bruuuce.
Wow! He has also let seven loose.
And Yo!, Cespedes!.
Eight! Eight pop up!
Eight apples up!
No ball will drop.
Trotting to home plate.
A bat flip and slow trot
to home plate.
But Wright can do nine.
in a blink!
No other team can do this,
Yo hits! Bruce hits!
Wright hits one too.
It’s outta here!
For the orange and blue!
The Mets are so good,
Pitcher’s on the brink.
With nine, he’s gone
and he needs a drink.
Nine is very good.
But then . . .
Conforto will make it ten!
The Mets Home Run Apple
will not drop!
It’s not going to drop.
The Mets hit another
Get out. Get out. You!
It’s a curtain call!
Home Run! Home Run!
Another long ball
The Mets will not let
that apple fall!
Another on the way!
The Mets will not stop.
They will not let
the Home Run Apple drop.
The pitcher doesn’t feel good.
What can he do?
When apples start popping
for the orange and blue.
The Mets will hit them
once they see them.
Home run! We can not
stop watching them.
It has a chance!
No pitcher can stop
Mets apple fun.
That apple will not drop.
Here’s another one!
Another one! Another one!
Another one! Home runs all!
That Home Run apple will not fall.
They cannot get
that apple down.
Home runs! Home runs!
Flying out of town!
Apples pop on up!
What an incredible
No pitcher can
make Mets fun stop!
Our Home Run Apple
is never going to drop.
Another curtain call!
When Mets fans watch
those homers go over the wall.
If you go to the Mets website, you will see their Promotion Schedule for the 2018 season. If you look, there are some popular promotions like the Noah SyndergaardThor Bobblehead, the Yoenis Cespedes Garden Gnomes, and the Free T-Shirt Fridays. Those are fun and all, but I think we can do better, especially when we see promotions like a Fanny Pack.
No, I’m not kidding, the Mets are giving away Fanny Packs this year.
When you are giving away Fanny Packs and you are recycling old giveaways, it is time for some fresh ideas. Here is a look at a promotional idea for each player on the Mets expected Opening Day Roster:
Jerry Blevins 7 Line Subway Set – a man this thin deserves to have a rail in his honor.
Jay Bruce Ruby Cleats – click them together, and poof! You’re right back at Citi Field
Asdrubal Cabrera Flip Flops– I want to be a Met; I don’t want to be a Met. I’ll only play shortstop; I’ll play second. I’ll play third, but I want to be at second. Definitely, second base, but . . . .
Yoenis Cespedes Yo-ga Mats – he has undertaken yoga to make this finally be his healthy season
Michael Conforto Muppet – The man is Scooter.
Travis d’Arnaud Potato Head – you get the chance to put him together after he falls apart again
Jacob deGrom Hat Hair – in some ways this seems like a recycled idea, but with his hair cut, it’s now just a hat that will get many more people than ever expected to the ballpark.
Wilmer Flores Hanky Night – at some point or another, we have all cried watching this team play
Todd FrazierJersey Night – no, not jersey as uniform, just a celebration of New Jersey with Taylor Ham concession stands and Springsteen playing in the park all night long because in case you didn’t know Frazier grew up in Toms River, New Jersey.
Robert Gsellman Lollipop – if you’re always sticking your tongue out, might as well use it
Matt Harvey Hockey Jersey – Between the Winter Classic being played at Citi Field, Harvey’s notoriety as a Rangers fan, and his pitching arm looking like he was slammed with a Tie Domi cross-check, this seems like a natural fit.
Juan Lagares Foam Thumbs-Up – after all of his thumb injuries, his thumb must have the structural integrity of a piece of foam at this point.
Seth Lugo Wiffleball – With the wiffleball, you too can throw a curveball as a crazy as Lugo’s.
Steven Matz Take Your Grandfather to the Park Day – the only time you’ll see a grandfather spending time with their grandson at a game happier is when he’s there watching his grandson play.
Rafael Montero Sneakers – something comfortable for everyone’s feet as we all walk the park
Brandon Nimmo Mets Toothbrush – if you are always smiling, your teeth better be clean and your breath be minty fresh
Kevin Plawecki Dil – Actually no, let’s not do any promotions featuring the contents of player’s lockers
AJ Ramos Odd Couple Bobblehead – As a Subway Series special, the Mets and Yankees will each have a Bobblehead Day featuring roommates Ramos and Giancarlo Stanton with Ramos obviously playing the part of Oscar Madison.
Jose Reyes Bunting – Fans can get their bunting and leave the park as soon as the Mets are assured of the lead.
Hansel Robles Rocket – You too can point in the sky after watching your Robles Rocket go soaring into the sky
Amed Rosario Daily Planner – No longer will you be surprised about what is coming down the pike, you will now be ready.
Anthony Swarzak Scrabble Tile – No other Mets player has as many high point Scrabble tiles in his name.
Noah Syndergaard Marvel Baby Met – if he’s going to keep up the gimmick of hitting on Mrs. Met, he should get to see what a Thor-Mrs. Met child would look like.
Jason Vargas Left Handed Kitchen Tools – For that left-handed innings eater in you.
David Wright Night – No gimmick or anything. There just needs to be a night to honor David Wright this season. He deserves that much from the team and from the fans.
After the positive feedback we received after our first Mets Blogger Roundtable, the Mets Bloggers have decided to come back for at least a second week. This week, we tackle the question “Which Mets player are we most excited about watching this Spring Training?”
Dominic Smith is the first player that comes to my mind, although there are several interesting stories to watch this spring. Here’s a guy who has spent a number of years now battling weight issues, and therefore reputation issues, and it’s no secret the organization has concerns with him. And, obviously, signing Adrian González clearly indicates that as well. I am looking for him to step up and look like the player and prospect everyone expects him to be, similar to howMichael Conforto performed last spring. If Dom does that, he’ll make for a tough decision a month from now, which is always a good internal conversation for Mets brass to have.
Do we all remember when Bret Booneabruptly retired a few days into Mets spring training camp in 2006? He admitted Jose Reyes “just kind of stared” at him “with that smile on his face” and realized the joy of playing baseball in himself was long gone. Well, I’m hoping Adrian Gonzalez looks at Dominic Smith, smiling and loving life with his old and new svelte physique, and realizes his future as a full-time top sub sandwich enterprise ambassador should be his present. Smith did not earn the full-time first baseman gig last season, but he’s already earned it before the first ST game. He wasn’t even in this good of shape last spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Dom Smith everybody warned with a smile was about to enter our lives last summer.
The player I am most excited to watch at Spring Training might surprise a few people. It’s Brandon Nimmo. I am by no means trying to say he’s an all-star, but I think he is often overlook for the value he brings to a team. First of all, his defense in center field (while not as good as Juan Lagares) is good. For me, I am more impressed with his approach at the plate. He’s one of the more disciplined hitters on the team, especially when it comes to his knowledge of the strike zone. Sure, his .260 batting average last year is not too impressive, but his on-base percentage was more than 100 points higher at .379. Despite not looking like he’s going to have a starting spot out of the gate, Nimmo is going to be an important piece on this team coming off of the bench. And knowing how hard he works, if there’s an injury, he’ll be ready to go in a pinch. It’s hard not to root for the kid.
Player I am most excited about? Great question. I know if the Mets had been smart enough to sign Joe Smith, he’d have been my answer. I guess I have to let that one go, though. Steven Matz is the other. There are certain guys I love to watch pitch, and Matz is the latest version of that.
The Mets player I’m most interested in seeing this spring is Yoenis Cespedes. The slugger is coming off a season that saw injuries limit him to only 81 games. He’s trained differently this offseason including doing yoga to make sure he is more agile and not simply bulked up like in 2017. It will be interesting to see if his offseason training can help him regain his decencies prowess that helped him win a gold glove in 2015. Also have to see if he can make it through all spring without a muscle injury which seemed to be a weekly occurrence for him last season.
When healthy, Cespedes has been everything the Mets hoped for when they traded for him and signed him to a four-year deal. The Mets are not going to be contenders in 2018 if Cespedes plays only 81 games and spring will be a good time to see if anything has changed for Yo.
Heading into the 1999 season, the Mets desperately needed another infielder. After debating names like B.J. Surhoff, the Mets went with 30 year old Robin Ventura, who was arguably coming off his worst season at the plate since his first full season in the majors.
While Ventura’s bat may have been a bit of a question mark, his glove wasn’t. At the time he was signed, Ventura was widely regarded as one of the best defensive third baseman in the game – if not THE best. With him alongside Rey Ordonez, the Mets knew from a defensive perspective they were going to have the best left side of the infield in all of baseball.
As it turns out, it was much more than that. With John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo, the Mets assembled what many regard as the best defensive infield. Both Ventura and Ordonez would win Gold Gloves giving that infield the metal it needed to prove the point.
More than that, Ventura was rejuvenated as a Met. In 1999, he had his best every year hitting an astounding .301/.379/.529 with 32 homers and 120 RBI. He would amass the third most WAR among NL position players, and he would finish sixth in the MVP voting. As we know, he still had some magic left, as with this help of Todd Pratt, he would launch the Grand Slam Single in Game 5 of the NLCS.
After his Mets career, Ventura would eventually find himself as a manger of the Chicago White Sox, and he would manage Todd Frazier, the player who is now looking to pick up his mantle from the 1999 season.
Frazier has built himself a reputation as a good defensive third baseman. In 2017, among players with over a thousand innings at third base, he had the third highest DRS trailing just Nolan Arenado and Evan Longoria. With Frazier now joining Amed Rosario on the left side of the infield, the Mets promise to have the best defensive left side of the infield they have had in decades. Along with the San Francisco Giants, they are on the short list of teams that can argue they have the best defensive left side of the infield in baseball.
At the plate, Frazier is a good hitter. Over the past four seasons, he’s averaged a .243/.322/.464 batting line with 33 homers and 86 RBI. That equates to a 113 OPS+ and wRC+. Many will knock him for his declining batting average, but it should be noted last year, he had a career best .344 OBP and 14.4% walk rate. In sum, his batting average is going down, but he’s getting on base more frequently.
Like Ventura, there’s optimism for a much improved season at the plate. We have already seen him become a more patient hitter at the plate. We have also seen him post an absurdly low .236 and .226 BABIP in succeeding years. Part of that is Ventura is a dead pull hitter making it easier to shift against him. Seeing how low those marks are and how hard he hits the ball, there’s some bad luck involved.
All of this makes him a prime candidate for a turnaround similar to what we saw with Jay Bruce last year. The Mets will give him the information and will have him work with Pat Roessler. This should allow Frazier to have a much improved year at the plate.
If that is the case, Frazier is going to have a great year with the Mets. And while he’s admittedly not as good a player as Ventura was, he can have a similar impact. Frazier can be the guy in the clubhouse blasting “Mo Jo Rising,” helps create a great left side infield defense, and deepen the Mets lineup.
And if all that happens, this could be a postseason team, which should give us excitement over what heroics we are about to see next.
Considering how the offseason has moved at a glacial pace, the Mets remain uncertain about what they are going to do at both second and third base. Largely, that decision rests on exactly what the Mets elect to do with Asdrubal Cabrera.
Given his injuries and his age, both the Mets and Cabrera know he is no longer suited for shortstop. Even if he were, Amed Rosario is going to be the Mets shortstop for the next decade. That leaves either second or third for Cabrera.
Based upon the numbers last season, Cabrera belongs at third. In 350.1 innings at third last year, Cabrera had a 1 DRS. Conversely, in 274.1 innings at second, Cabrera had a -6 DRS. Based upon this information, this would lead you to believe the Mets should leave him at third, and the team should pursue a second baseman.
The problem there is the top talent remaining on the free agent market are third baseman: Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, and Eduardo Nunez. With his history of back injuries and his -5 DRS in 796.2 innings at second last year, former Met Neil Walker also belongs at third base.
Ideally, you don’t want Cabrera to play second, but you don’t want to enter the season with Jose Reyes as the team’s top second base option. Sooner or later push is going to have to come to shove. With that being the case, why not at least investigate a less than desirable option?
After being traded to the Miami Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Starlin Castro has voiced his displeasure, and he has requested a trade. Certainly, those calls will only be heightened after the Marlins recently traded away Christian Yelich. While you understand the demand, there does not appear to be a real market for him.
There are a few reasons for that with the main one being Castro has not yet developed into the player many believed he would one day be.
The main issue is he has not proven to be a good second baseman. Over the past two years, he has posted a -6 and a -8 DRS in successive seasons. Typically speaking teams would accept a lesser fielder at a position if they were a good hitter. The jury still remains out on Castro.
For his career, he is a below average hitter with a 97 wRC+ and a 98 OPS+. While these stats are league and park adjusted, people will still likely lament his putting up those stats in hitter’s parks like Wrigley and Yankee Stadium. If you dig deeper, you see Castro profiles similar to Wilmer Flores offensively in that he beats up on left-handed pitching, and he struggles against right-handed pitching.
Considering the Mets already have Flores for much cheaper, it does make you question why you would even consider targeting Castro. The answer to that question could be because it would help the Mets improve their 2018 ballclub at little cost to them.
While Castro has struggled defensively at second, he still promises to be much better than Flores, Reyes, or Cabrera at second. While he has proven to be a platoon bat, so has the Mets internal trio.
However, unlike the Mets trio, Castro was an All Star next year, and unlike Reyes and Cabrera, at 27, he’s entering his prime. And remember, Castro hit .323/.363/.516 in the first half last year. Much of that fall off could be attributed to a leg injury that plagued him throughout the second half of the season.
Point is, there’s reason to believe there is room for improvement for Cabrera. With him only making $2.4 million than Cabrera next season, it is worth investigating a trade that is centered around Cabrera for Castro. Considering the relatively meager returns the Marlins have accepted for their big time outfielders, it may not be as ridiculous as it may seem. That goes double when you consider Castro is due $11.8 million next year with a $1 million buy out if his team does not pick up his $16 million 2020 option.
Overall, for just $2.4 million next year, the Mets could really improve their second base situation, and they could still have room to add a Frazier in free agency. More than that, with his working with Pat Roessler, they may obtain something reasonably close to the 2017 first half Castro. Considering the position the Mets are in at the moment, it is certainly worth a risk.
Looking at the different talent evaporators around the sport, many will peg the Mets farm system in the lower third of farm systems. There are a myriad of conflicting and reasonable opinions why this exists.
There is the fact that over the past few seasons, the Mets organization has seen top prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario graduate from prospect status. Knocking names like these off your lists is going to take a toll on how your farm system is perceived.
There are those like Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, who surmises the Mets have made a series of mistakes in the draft that include drafting Gavin Cecchini over Corey Seager and drafting L.J. Mazzilli over Cody Bellinger.
While either or both of these may be true, there may be an alternate explanation. What if, the Mets are actually drafting the right players, but they are failing their prospects by failing to do what is needed to help cultivate each prospect’s talents to get them to reach their full potential?
Consider for a moment, the difference between Keith Law’s 2017 and 2018 prospect lists. In Law’s 2017 rankings, he had listed Mets prospects Rosario (1), Dominic Smith (29), Thomas Szapucki (60), Robert Gsellman (76), and Justin Dunn(84) in his Top 100. (ESPN Insider). This year? Well, only 2017 first round pick David Peterson made the list. (ESPN Insider).
Now, it is true Rosario, Smith, and Gsellman are no longer considered prospects. It is also true Szapucki and Dunn have dropped off the list. Their dropping off the list does seem to answer the question why the Mets prospects are not developing with way many believed they would.
With respect to Dunn, Law comes close to, but does not quite say the Mets handling of him was a complete disaster. In a conference call discussing his Top 100 prospect list, Law had this to say about Dunn:
They probably pushed him too far to high A just speaking in hindsight, but also there were a lot of issues with his fields of pitch, with his fastball command, with lack of life on the fastball that you almost look — and again, this is all hindsight, but you look and say, nobody caught that? Nobody on the player development side looked and said, well, hey, wait a minute, here are two things we’re going to have to work on in instructional league last year in spring training this year, before sending you out to high A, which is normal for a typical college draftee, but maybe not for him.
Really, it is quite an indictment on the Mets organization to say they completely missed something on a top prospect during the Instructional Leagues, and the team also failed to address the issue during a season in which Dunn would go 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA.
As we saw with Law’s rankings, seasons like this tend to cause evaluators and organizations to begin re-assessing their opinions of certain players. This is not something unique to Dunn.
Certainly, we saw something similar happen with former first round draft pick Kevin Plawecki. Entering the 2015 season, the Mets were excited about him, and when Travis d’Arnaud got hurt in April, they rushed Plawecki to the majors. Over the next few seasons, he would bounce between Triple-A and the majors. In that time, he would never quite progress. That was until last year, when he finally had a prolonged stretch in Triple-A. Judging from his performance last year, that helped him figure things out and help him enter the Mets plans for the 2018 season.
Certainly, the mismanagement of the development of prospects goes further than Dunn and Plawecki. The same could be said for someone like Cecchini, who after two very good years in 2015 and 2016, completely regressed last season, and his status on the 40 man roster is now teetering.
While the Mets handling of prospects like Dunn and Plawecki are instructive. The situation with Szapucki is equally as enlightening.
After dominating opposing batters in his first two professional seasons, Szapucki first appeared to take small step back with Low-A Columbia. Eventually, it was discovered Szapucki had a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.
With that Szapucki joined other promising Mets prospects Jordan Humphreys, who was having a break-out season on the mound, and position player Blake Tiberi in needing the surgery. If only, those were the only season ending surgeries and injuries the Mets suffered in their minor league system last year. Frankly, it has become a pattern, and it’s hindering development, and it is one that has not escaped Law’s attention:
They have had a ton of injuries on the farm, too. I’ve written the Mets’ org report already. I think it goes up on Monday. And I’m struck by how many guys were hurt, are coming back from getting hurt, guys who haven’t come all the way back. Luis Carpiois a good example of a guy who I thought was going to be a pretty good prospect at least, threw out his shoulder, had surgery, and has just not been the same player since he returned. So some of this is health, and I don’t know if that’s player development, the training staff, or just rotten luck.
Really, it goes much further than Szapucki, Humphreys, Tiberi, and Carpio.
Catcher Ali Sanchez has had hand injuries in successive seasons. Desmond Lindsay has had issues staying on the field, and he needed major surgery last year. Jhoan Urena effectively lost two seasons of development time to injuries. Even rising star Peter Alonso has suffered broken bone injuries the last two seasons, which given the Mets current track record, should give everyone pause. It should surprise no one the list goes on and on from there.
Looking at everything, maybe you still conclude the main issue is the graduation of prospects. It’s still possible many believe the real issue is the inability to select the right player. Regardless of your point of view, the one thing that cannot be discounted is this Mets organization is having difficulty keeping players healthy, keeping them on the field, and surrounding them with the things they need to succeed.
Many have pointed out reasons why Jose Reyesreturning is a good thing for the Mets. Typically speaking, the main arguments in support of Reyes’ return are:
- He adds a dimension of speed on an otherwise slow roster;
- He will be present to continue to mentor Amed Rosario;
- He had a good second half;
- He’s versatile; and
- He wants to be a New York Met.
Now, some of these are valid points, but it should be noted that those points are only valid to the extent upon which Mickey Callaway chooses to utilize Reyes and whether the Mets will indeed go out and get another player which would force Reyes to the bench.
However, even conceding some of the positive points about Reyes, he may ultimately prove himself not to be the what the Mets needed for the 2018 roster.
The reason is because Reyes does not solve two of the biggest continuing issues during Sandy Alderson’s regime – Injuries and Defense.
As Mets fans, we have become all too aware this team has been injury prone. In recent vintage, Travis d’Arnaud has become the poster boy for players that cannot stay on the field. If it isn’t apt already, that label may also be tagged upon Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo. That’s just on the position player.
Fair or not, that was a label that had once been placed upon Reyes during his first stint with the Mets. Back then, the team tried everything they could do to keep him on the field including trying to change his running style and having him have extended warm-ups before games. Now, there was a healthy stretch of Reyes’ career, but overall, he has played over 150 games just five times in a 15 year career. With him landing on the Disabled List in each of the past five seasons and seven of the last eight years coupled with his turning 35 next year, you would be hard pressed to find a reason why he would be healthy in 2018.
Maybe, the Mets believe Reyes being a part-time player will help keep him healthy. So far in his career, he has not served in that role, and therefore, it cannot possibly be ruled out that he could remain healthy with reduced playing time. The next question that needs to be asked is how he would help the team on the field.
This Mets team is built upon pitching. With Noah Syndergaard hopefully ready to go a full season, a new pitching coach in Dave Eiland, and a new training staff, the hope is the pitching will be ready to take off again next year and help bring the Mets back to the postseason.
One of the elements the Mets would need to help the pitching is the defense, which was putrid last season. The Mets team defense had an MLB worst -70 DRS. One of the biggest contributors to that mark was Reyes.
As Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions pointed out, Reyes had the worst DRS among Major League infielders last year with a -26 DRS. If not for Denard Span, Reyes would have had the worst DRS in all of baseball. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a matter of Reyes being bad at third base. Frankly, he was bad everywhere:
Looking at that, you’d be hard pressed to argue Reyes will help this team in the field. In the event Reyes has to be a long-term solution at a position due to injury, chances are Reyes will prove to be a poor defender at that position. This includes second base, where as of the moment, he is the most likely candidate to play the position next year.
All in told, you see why Reyes had a -0.2 WAR last year. When you factor in his 94 wRC+ last year as well as his averaging a .261/.315/.406 slash line, 0.0 WAR, and a -14 DRS, you wonder why the Mets brought him back let alone give him $2 million and a guaranteed roster spot.
With the second base position remaining unfulfilled, the team only having four healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster, and the Mets in desperate need to improve this club defensively, you should really question whether Reyes was truly the right player, right now to help improve the 2018 Mets. In reality, the stats say he isn’t.
When Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager, one of the areas of emphasis was supposed to be building a sustainable farm system that would give the Mets continued success throughout the years. This, in turn, would prevent the Mets from having to give out those proverbial second generation contracts Alderson purportedly despises giving to players.
Now, in order for that to happen, the team was going to have to not only draft well, but they were going to have to identify international talent. If the Mets had indeed done well in those efforts, the Mets Opening Day roster would have looked something like this:
But as we know it doesn’t. One of the reasons why is the team has not developed position players as well as the organization, or really anyone would have liked. If you are not being so understanding, you would say the Mets whiffed on high draft picks by drafting players who are either backups or career minor leaguers.
Look, no one has a perfect draft record, and we should remember this regime did draft Conforto and Michael Fulmer. The problem there is they traded Fulmer away. That is something they are reportedly not willing to do with Nimmo despite the fact he is blocked by Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce for the next three years.
With respect to Cecchini and Smith, the Mets have decided at a minimum, neither are ready to start next season in the majors. This would be easier to swallow had either received a real shot of proving their abilities. Instead, the Mets will go with broken Adrian Gonzalez and who knows what at second.
Overall, the 2017 Mets are not what Sandy Alderson envisioned what they would be when these players were first drafted. That’s fair to a certain extent because no one imagined that the Mets would look this way when the team won the pennant in 2015.