Andres Gimenez

Mets Need To Obtain Corey Kluber

With the Mets reportedly not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason, the Mets have put them in a position where their options to improve their batting order are becoming increasingly limited.  That is at least on the free agent market.  Instead, the team is going to have to look towards trades to try to improve their roster.

When looking at trades, the team should look much further than any of their oft publicized and discussed needs.  Instead, the team should do all they can do to improve their roster.  If you are looking to build a World Series contender, that means obtaining Corey Kluber.

If the Mets are able to obtain Kluber, they are going to have the best rotation in baseball, and quite possibly, they could have one of the best rotations of all-time.  When you have pitching like that, you win games and postseason series.

Remember, the 2001 Diamondbacks won the NL West and the World Series riding Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.  While Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homers that year, the rest of the Diamondbacks team wasn’t great offensively.  That team had a 97 wRC+, which was ranked 15th in the majors.

The Mets would have that with Kluber and Jacob deGrom.  Kluber has led the Majors in wins over the past three seasons with the second most innings pitched and the third highest fWAR.  As for deGrom, he was the best pitcher in baseball last, and we have seen what he can do in the postseason.

As for the Mets offense, well, in the second half of the season last year, they were ranked 11th in the majors.  With a 38-30 second half record, the Mets were tied with the Braves for the best record in the NL East.  Combining that improved offense with the emerge of Zack Wheeler, and this is suddenly a very scary Mets team, which is something the Mets need to be building.

Notably, Wheeler is a free agent after the 2019 season, and after the 2020 season, deGrom will be a free agent.  The biggest hit happens after the 2021 season with Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz becoming free agents.  That’s a big chunk of the Mets current core, which means this organization has three years to win a World Series with this group.

It just so happens Kluber is under team control for three years with 2020 and 2021 team options.  All told, Kluber is owed just $52.5 million over the next three years giving the team some flexibility to add talent around an ace pitcher.

Now, there will be obvious skeptics as to whether this will work for the Mets.  This plan would require buying Amed Rosario making strides.  It also requires Jeff McNeil to repeat a second half which was fueled by .368 BABIP.  Todd Frazier is going to have to be what he was in April and stay off the disabled list, and Jay Bruce is going to have to learn first base.  You are also going to need a full season from Juan Lagares in center.

Then again, maybe you won’t.

Adding Kluber only adds to the possibilities.  With Kluber atop the rotation with deGrom, the Mets could look to trade Wheeler at his peak value.  Possibly, the Mets could move Wheeler to address other areas of need like their bullpen or a right-handed bat.  With Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel being free agents and Lance McCullers missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John, the Astros are certainly a fit.  Seeing how Wheeler pitched in the second half, there will obviously be other suitors.

Now, getting Kluber is going to hurt.  At a minimum, you are probably talking Peter Alonso, Andres Gimenez, and some other notable Mets prospects.  It’s entirely possible, a Major Leaguer will need to be included in the deal.  Certainly, giving up your top talent will hurt the system.

However, a more broad based analysis needs to take place here.  The Mets window is 2019-2021.  After that, the next real wave for the Mets comes a year or two after that as Jarred Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos all played in Kingsport this past season.  Considering how the talent is structured in the Mets farm system, the time to make a run is right now.

If you’re making that run, the Mets need to go all-out improving this roster.  Unless you are spending on the free agent market to get Machado and Bryce Harper, which the Mets aren’t doing, it means trading for big pieces.  That means giving up Alonso and Gimenez for a big piece.  Right now, there is no bigger piece than Kluber.  He’s the real difference maker.

Get Kluber and make a real run at 2019 and 2020.  The talent is here, and the Mets have the chips to do it.

Chaim Bloom May Be Interested In Mets Job Due To Mets Terrific Young Talent

Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom will not just take any job. At 35 years old, he can be selective, and he has. In the past, Bloom has outright refused to even interview for the Diamondbacks position. However, he not only has decided to interview for the Mets job, but he is also a finalist for the General Manager position.

Bloom’s interesting in the position should have Mets fans excited about the future of this team regardless of who the team hires to be the General Manager.

There is a lot to like with this Mets team. Just like 2015, it all starts with the rotation. Jacob deGrom has emerged this season as the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler looked like an ace himself posting the second best ERA in the second half. Noah Syndergaard had 13 wins in a down year, and he had a strong finish to the season. Finally, somehow Steven Matz actually made 30 starts last year. Now that Matz is able to navigate a full season, he can take the next step much like how Wheeler did this year.

There are also the y0ung left-handed bats on this roster. Using wRC+ as a barometer, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year and in the top 10 of all of baseball. After dealing with the shoulder issues, Michael Conforto hit .273/.356/.539 in the second half. Jeff McNeil emerged from out of nowhere to not just make to the majors but to also claim the second base job for 2019 by posting a 2.4 WAR and 137 wRC+ in just 63 Major League games.

The Mets also have a vastly improving farm system. Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Jarred Kelenic are viewed by nearly every outlet as Top 100 prospects. After a breakout season, Justin Dunn is on the cusp of cracking those lists as well. David Peterson and Anthony Kay are both left-handers who took steps forward and are not far from the majors.

There are also young players who people have lost enthusiasm but still have talent. Dominic Smith will not turn 24 until August, and there are still many who believe in his talent. For example, Keith Law of ESPN believes Smith could hit better than .262/.346/.459 if given the first base job next year. Before his season ending injury last year, Gavin Cecchini returned to the form he was when he was seen as a future middle infielder for the Mets.

This is before we even consider players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and even Desmond Lindsay with his retooled swing. The overriding point is the Mets farm system has plenty of talent, and Bloom, a Rays executive with a strong player development background knows this.

Ultimately, this is why Bloom is interested in the Mets General Manager job. This is also why Mets fans should be excited about the future of this team even if Bloom does not get the job because whether or not he gets the job, the talent is already here. It’s now just a matter of that talent continuing their development and winning the World Series.

Mets Will Have At Least $64 Million To Spend In Free Agency

As a second straight Mets season has completely fallen apart, there has been discussions about whether the Mets should blow the whole thing up. Those discussions have been ramped up with Yoenis Cespedes being out for at least 10 months with his having double heel surgery.

What’s odd about that is the Mets arguably have the best starting rotation in baseball with the top 1-2 combination with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Brandon Nimmo has played like an All Star caliber player, and lately Michael Conforto has returned to his All Star form.

The Mets have two potent weapons with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

There’s also good talent close to the majors with Peter Alonso, Justin Dunn, and Andres Gimenez. Of course, Jeff McNeil was just called-up.

There’s talent present which could make the Mets winners in 2020 or even 2019. However, for that to happen, the Mets will need to add some pieces.

Fortunately for the Mets, this could go down as one of the most consequential free agent classes in Major League history. Teams will be lining up to throw money to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, and A.J. Pollock.

Given all that has happened, the Mets will have the money to be competitors on the free agent market.  In fact, they are going to be quite flush with cash.

Expiring Contracts

Even if the Mets do not trade anyone who is due money past this season, the Mets will have money freed up because there are a number of contracts expiring after this season:

With respect to Mesoraco, there was an undisclosed amount of cash provided by the Reds when they obtained Harvey in exchange for Mesoraco.  While Mesoraco is due $13.12 million this year, it was Harvey’s $5.625 million salary that was part of the Opening Day roster.  Therefore, for the sake of calcualting how much money will be available, Harvey’s salary is used as the placeholder.

With the Harvey/Mesoraco caveat, the Mets will have $32.1 million coming off the books just from contracts currently on the books expiring after the season.

Subtotal $32.1 million

Familia Trade

With the Mets trading Jeurys Familia, the team not only was able to acquire two prospects in Bobby Wahl and William Toffey, both of whom will be earning de minimis minor league salaries, but the team was also able to remove Familia’s $7.925 million from the books with the team getting some cash savings this season with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia’s 2018 salary.

Subtotal $40.025

Insurance Money

David Wright has not played a Major League game since May 27, 2016.  With each passing day and each additional set-back, it becomes increasingly unlikely we will ever see Wright play in another game for the Mets.  Now when it comes to Wright, there are two factors at play which would give the team an avenue to spend more money this offseason.

First and foremost, Wright’s salary goes from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million in 2019.  Right off the bat, that gives the Mets an additional $5 million to spend this offseason.

Additionally, Wright’s contract is fully insured with insurance paying 75% of Wright’s salary.  As a result, the Mets will have an additional $11.25 million available to spend due to Wright’s inability to play.

But Wright is not the only injured player insured.  In addition to Wright, Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is also insured.  That’s important in light of the announcement Cespedes will have double heel surgery and will be out at least 10 months.  For what it’s worth, the Mets suggested he may be out longer than that.

Remember, Cespedes is out from 10 months from whenever he has the surgery.  Not from the date of the press conference.  With that in mind and for the sake of being conservative in the estimates, lets assume Cespedes is out for half the season.

With the Mets saying there is insurance that picks up over 50% of the salary owed to Cespedes, that means, the Mets will be able to recoup roughly 50% of a  half’s seasons salary.  With Cespedes due $29 million next year, insurance will pay at least $7.25 million.  With each passing day that number will grow.

When combining the monies covered by insurance for Wright and Cespedes, the team will have an additional $18.5 million available to spend.  When you include the $5 million drop in Wright’s salary, that number is $23.5 million.

Subtotal $63.525

Other Factors

As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, ownership says it considers Wright’s contract part of the payroll, and the team does not reinvest the money saved into baseball operations.  Putting aside what that means in terms of money available for a second, what this does mean is the team has saved and socked away $15 million of the $20 million due and owing to Wright this season.

The same likely applies to whatever the team can and will recover from insurance from Cespedes’ $29 million contract this season.

Additionally, the team saw savings of roughly $3 million for trading Familia, and they will likely see the same savings when other players are traded for the roster.  Presumably, since that money is not being invested into baseball operations this season that would make that money available for 2019 and beyond.

For a moment, we can presume for a moment the $3 million saved on Familia can offset the $3 million pay increase due to Jay Bruce next season. Of course, the pay raises due in arbitration and the like will very easily be offset by the money saved on the Wright and Cespedes insurance policies.  Really, there should be money to spare.

What This All Means

Looking at the Mets as currently constituted, they have tw0-third of their outfield set with Conforto and Nimmo.  On the infield, they have Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario.  They will also have Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera, and Jeff McNeil, who could become part of a time sharing at either first or second.  If he can get healthy, the team could have Bruce at first or right depending on the development of Alonso, or yes, even Dominic Smith.

All told, this means the Mets have the payroll room and the spots on the roster to add at least one player of significance.  Perhaps even two.

With that in mind, with the Mets having $63.525 million to spend this offseason, there is no excuse why this team shouldn’t aggressively pursue Machado and Harper.  They should come away with one of them plus an additional piece to help take them over the top like a Kimbrel, Pollock, or yes, even a Daniel Murphy (first base only).

If the Mets do that, this is a potential World Series contender, especially with this starting pitching.  If the team goes out and does this, the fans will pack Citi Field to the gills.

The time for excuses is over.  It’s time to act like a big market club with a chance to win a World Series.

 

 

 

Jeff Wilpon’s Treatment Of Sandy Alderson His Latest Despicable Act

When it comes to Jeff Wilpon, you keep wondering how one person could be just so despicable.  Over the past few years, he fired an unwed pregnant woman leading the team to have to settle a lawsuit.

In 2015, when former co-owner Nelson Doubleday died, the Mets held a moment of silence, but they refused a uniform patch or even a black armband for the man who rescued the Mets in 1980.

As reported by the New York Time this past December, Jeff Wilpon holds a grudge against Ed Kranepool stemming from an incident from about five years ago when Kranepool said rather than buying shares available for sale, he wanted to buy the team from the Wilpons because he could run the team better.

In response to this, with Kranepool suffering through real health issues causing him to sell off some of his personal memorabilia, Kranepool said, “Not that I need them to do anything for me, but Fred or somebody could have called to say, ‘How you feeling?’”

In and of themselves, each of them are despicable acts, but in true Jeff Wilpon fashion, he seemed to raise the bar yesterday.

In what was a surprise press conference, where Sandy Alderson was announcing he was stepping aside so he could continue his battle with cancer, Jeff Wilpon led things off by saying this:

This is a results business and we’re well below our expectations, from ownership on down.  Talk to the baseball department, the scouting department, the development department, the coaches, the players. Nobody expected to be in this position.

You have a range of emotion just like our fans that include incredibly frustrated, disappointed, angry about our season at this point, certainly.  We’re in a results business and at this point, we’re well below our expectations.

From there, he went into saying how Sandy Alderson was basically stepping aside, and how there was going to be the triumvirate of J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco, who would bring the decisions to Jeff much in the same way they were handled by Alderson.

Put another way, before giving Alderson the floor, Wilpon trashed the job Alderson did this year, essentially said he could do Alderson’s job better, and then he sat there stone faced, disinterested, and playing with the paper in his hands as Alderson, a man fighting for his life, fought through tears to get through everything.

Jeff Wilpon just sat there as Alderson took responsibility for this season and in his saying his performance does not merit him returning to the Mets after he hopefully wins this battle with cancer.  Mets fans can all agree Alderson made some mistakes over the years, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single one who believes everything was completely his fault.

To that end, this smelled more like a “dignified” firing with cancer as an excuse that allowing a good man to focus all of his energies fighting cancer and then being given an opportunity resume his duties as the Mets General Manager.  Certainly, Jeff Wilpon had plenty of opportunities to say Sandy was welcome to return to the Mets, but he always made sure to steer clear of that.

Perhaps most disgusting of all was there was not one thank you uttered from the lips of Jeff Wilpon.  Not one.

This is a man whose hiring probably helped the Wilpons retain control of the team post-Madoff.  This was a man who did the rebuild which led to the Mets making it all the way to the 2015 World Series.  He is just one of two Mets General Managers to make consecutive postseasons.

Last year, after the season fell apart, he focused on saving the Wilpons money than maximizing the return for each and every single of those the players traded.

Mostly, this was a good man who fought for his country, and who did all he could do for the Mets.  In all the years after 1986, Sandy Alderson was quite possibly the closest to winning that third World Series.

When he leaves, he leaves behind players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario.  He also leaves behind a farm system with Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Peter Alonso, and so much more.  Long story short, he did an admirable job in difficult circumstances.

At the very least, even as Jeff Wilpon was trashing him and allowing Alderson to take the heat all upon himself, you would think at some point Wilpon would offer a simple, “Thank you.”

Thank you for serving the Mets for the past eight years.  Thank you for 2015.  Thank you for allowing us to retain control of the team.

That “Thank you” never did come, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it never comes.  After all, Jeff Wilpon has shown himself to be a despicable person who can’t help one gravely ill person in Kranpeool, who fires pregnant women and jokes about it, and lastly, allows Alderson to take the heat for all that has gone wrong.

The point cannot be driven home enough.  Jeff Wilpon is a petty and despicable man, and what he did to Alderson yesterday was inexcusable.

For about the millionth time, shame on him.

Eleven Mets Minor Leaugers To Protect In An Expansion Draft

In the NHL draft tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights will be drafting players from each of the other 30 NHL rosters.  There is a provision that players who have less than two years of service time are automatically protected thereby not making a team choose between a significant player and a huge prospect.  It does beg the question about what would happen if that provision were removed.

Better yet, what would happen if teams were forced to protect just 10 of their best prospects in an effort to permit the new team to stock their minor league system.  If the Mets were put in the position to select eleven players with under two years service time, who should they select?

1.   SS Amed Rosario

By any account, Rosario is among the top prospects in all of baseball if not the top prospect.  He has more than justified that billing this year.  Through 69 games, Rosario is hitting .325/.368/.479 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 48 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.  He’s great, and there is no circumstance in which the Mets should even think about losing him to another team.

2.   1B Dominic Smith

The Mets have been aggressive promoting their 2013 first round pick through the minor leagues.  Last year, he was the youngest player in the Eastern League.  This year, he has been among the youngest in the Pacific Coast League.  Through it all, he has held his own, played a terrific defensive first base, and is developing power at every stop.  He is the first baseman of the future for a team who will likely lose their current first baseman at the trade deadline or free agency.

3.   RHP Justin Dunn

Last year’s first round pick has terrific stuff, and he showed it off last year.  While he struggled this year, he has been better off for those struggles.  Since being demoted to the bullpen to help him find himself, Dunn has gone 3-1 with a 0.86 ERA and an 8.1 K/9.  When you have a player that struggles and improves this much, this is a player you make sure to keep.

4.  RHP Robert Gsellman

Gsellman started last year pitching in Double-A, and he finished it helping pitch the Mets into the postseason.  He’s had an up and down 2017 season, but he has shown flashes of his tremendous talent.  He is just 23 years old, and he still has the stuff he did last year when he posted a 2.42 ERA in eight games.  With a better infield behind him, which we should see with a Rosario promotion, we will likely see a return of the stats we saw last year.

5.   SS Andres Gimenez

The 18 year old dominated the Gulf Coast League last year showing off his skill set that had him one of the highest regarded international free agent signings in 2015.  He has skipped short season ball and held his own during his 37 games for the Columbia Fireflies.  He has a good bat regardless of position.

6.   LHP Thomas Szapucki

Szapucki is potentially a top of the rotation starter with a mid to high 90s fastball and a very good curve ball.  He used that to be completely dominant in rookie ball.  After an injury to start the year, he has just returned from the disabled list, and he is rounding into form.

7.   CF Desmond Lindsay

The man dubbed as the “Offensive Machine” when he was drafted has certainly taken off lately.  While he struggled to start the year, he has adjusted to the Sally League, and he has begun dominating.  Since June began, he has been hitting .333/.400/.694 while playing a good center field.  It seems he may have put his leg issues behind him, and he is taking the next step.

8.   C Tomas Nido

After years of struggling at the plate, Nido broke out last year winning the Florida State League batting title.  After a slow start to the season in Double-A, he is once again showing he is as complete a catcher as they come hitting .300/.353/.483 with 10 doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI in his last 32 games.  He is proving last year was no fluke, and he is the Mets catcher of the future.

9.   RHP Marcos Molina

Despite missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets believed enough in Molina to add him to the 40 man roster.  They were right to do so.  In five starts for St. Lucie, he was 2-3 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.767 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9.  That has earned him a promotion to Double-A and a clear path towards the major leagues.

10.  RHP Seth Lugo

With spin rates, we know Lugo’s curve ball is the best in the majors.  He has used that to help propel him not just to the majors, but also to have success in the majors.  In addition to that, he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s when he needs a big out.  He used this repertoire to help pitch the Mets into the postseason last year.  He has used it again this year to be effective in the rotation upon his return to the rotation from his elbow injury.

11.  LHP Anthony Kay

The Mets have long wanted him.  After failing to sign him out of high school in 2013, they made him their second first round draft pick last year.  That is because he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s with a promising curve ball and change.  Like many college pitchers, his arm was abused by his coach, and he has suffered an injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  He should be able to bounce back and be the pitcher the Mets have long thought he could be.

In the above list, the Mets have lots of pitching talent, but that would also leave a lot of pitching talent exposed.  If the Mets went this route, they could lose a Harol Gonzalez or Jordan Humphreys, both of whom are having terrific years.  There is also the potential position player cost.  Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini are both former first round picks who are close to being regulars at the major league level.

Even if you were to make some amendments to the above list, you are still going to leave a very talented player exposed.  This speaks to the depth of the Mets farm system that the Mets continue to improve with each draft and each international signing period.