During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen. As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”
The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.
This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching. Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.
That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis. Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare. He had shoulder and hamstring issues. While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.
At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade. The Mets killed that deal over physicals. The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years. That’s really interesting.
In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI. It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.
The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR. The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.
The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce. However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.
With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too. Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons. For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career. For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.
For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again. Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers. If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.
We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy. However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis. In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.
If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.
Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart. When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history. He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.
Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field. In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI. The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.
To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.
Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS). What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching. Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.
Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix. He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.
Realistically speaking, that will never happen. The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench. The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes. So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.
However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.
The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games. With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.
With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago. With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.
If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base. If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base. When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker. He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.
With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering. Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.
Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post
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.
The one thing that is interesting about Spring Training is you never know which prospect is going to make a name for themselves. Personally, the one that always comes to mind is Dillon Gee having good Spring Training causing then Mets manager Jerry Manuel to take notice. With that, Gee had an important champion in the Mets organization, and when the opportunity finally presented itself, Gee would get a call-up to the majors despite struggling in Triple-A with an injured shoulder. From there, Gee has put together a nice MLB career.
This Spring Training, there are a number of Mets pitchers who will now have the opportunity to impress new manager Mickey Callaway. Aside from the big names like Dominic Smith, here are five names to keep an eye on during this Spring Training:
RHP Tyler Bashlor
Bashlor was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft because he has great stuff highlighted by an upper 90’s fastball. He combines that pitch with a sharp curve which has led to the flamethrower putting up big strikeout numbers in the minors. His stuff was a big reason why he quickly went from closing in St. Lucie to closing for a Binghamton Rumble Ponies team who was fighting for a postseason berth.
If there’s any issue with Bashlor, it’s the walks. In his career, he’s walked 5.0 batters per nine, and he walked 5.4 batters per nine in 34 appearances for St. Lucie. Those are unsustainable numbers.
Still, he has immense talent which could one day lead to him closing for the Mets one day. Before we get to that point, he has an opportunity to work with Callaway, Dave Eiland, and Triple-A pitching coach Mickey Abbott to help him eliminate the walks. If he does, he’s going to contribute at the Major League level next year.
LHP P.J. Conlon
For the second straight Spring, Conlon finds himself as a non-roster invitee with a an outside chance to make the Opening Day bullpen as a left-handed reliever. Certainly, Conlon has earned the chance as he knows how to get batters out, especially left-handed batters.
Last year, he limited left-handed batters to a .252/.273/.358 batting line, and in 2016, he was even stingier limiting them to a .216/.267/.288 batting line. Conlon does this because he located well, and he has a great change-up.
However, with his topping out in the 80s, it appears the Mets have their doubts about Conlon’s viability as a Major League starter. In Spring, Conlon is both going to get the chance to prove his stuff will work in the Majors similar to what we have seen with Jamie Moyer and Bartolo Colon. More than that, he’s going to get a chance to show he belongs in the Majors right now to fill a now vacant second left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen.
RHP Corey Oswalt
Oswalt is coming off an outstanding year in Binghamton, and as a result, he was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Oswalt did this because he was able to locate all four pitches, and he has shown the ability to throw his fastball in the mid 90s. While all of the Double-A took notice of Oswalt, the Mets did as well adding the starter to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
It is no secret the Mets have health issues with their starters. Over the past two seasons, almost every Mets starter currently on the 40 man roster has had injuries requiring DL stints lasting more than half a season, requiring surgery, or both. As of the moment, the Mets have not added another starter to the roster, which has created an opportunity to show he should be at the front of the line when the Mets inevitably need another starter.
Right now, the Mets have a trio of injury prone second baseman in Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and Wilmer Flores. If one or any of the three go down with injury, there will be an opportunity for Guillorme, who is arguably the best defensive middle infielder in the Mets organization.
At the moment, we know he’s a great fielder. The question mark on him is whether he can hit enough to play in the Majors. To that end, early indications are Guillorme has increased his launch angle. If true, and the transformation is a successful one, Guillorme’s career will transform to not if he can be the Mets second baseman of the future, but when he will be the Mets second baseman. Given the aforementioned injury histories, he may get his chance next year.
With Tomas Nido‘s BABIP normalizing, he had a disappointing year at the plate for Binghamton last year. While the Mets are understandably high on him due to his defensive skills, Nido’s struggles do present an opportunity for another catcher to distinguish himself.
Essentially, Mazeika is everything Nido isn’t. In his career, Mazeika has shown himself to be a good hitter, who is quite adept at getting on base. What is interesting with him is he has shown glimpses of power; however, it should be noted those flashes have mostly come when he is filling in at first base for extended stretches.
What remains at issue is his defensive abilities. It is an area where the 6’3″ catcher continues to make strides, but ultimately, the question is whether he is progressing quickly enough. With him being a non-roster invite to Spring Training, he is going to get the benefit of getting in work with Major League coaches like Glenn Sherlock, which could help him make the adjustments necessary to take the next step in his career.
Ultimately, if the Mets coaching staff sees what they like with him, he may soon find himself in the Major League mix at catcher. Having watched Travis d’Arnaud‘s injuries the past few years as well as Kevin Plawecki having mostly struggled in the Majors, his chance may come sooner than expected.
Overall, the Mets have a number of Minor Leaguers who are going to get a chance to go out there and show the Mets why they should be an important part of the future. In the end, it is up to them to emulate Dillon Gee and make the most of this opportunity. If they do, we may see them in Queens sooner than anticipated.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMN
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.
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.
Finally, for the first time since 2014, Jeff Wilpon answered questions about the Mets payroll. Of course, it was typical mixed messages and partial truths. Rather than putting it in my own words, I’m going to use the tweets from reporters:
Jeff Wilpon says there's a chance payroll goes up if there is a way to significantly improve the team. Says increasing payroll doesn't necessarily translate into wins.
— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) January 23, 2018
Wilpon says the Mets payroll could conceivably match last year's or it could be "$10 million less."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 23, 2018
Right off the bat, we have at least a perceived contradiction. Jeff Wilpon’s statement the payroll will go up if there’s an opportunity does not jive with matching or reducing last year’s payroll by about $10 million. To give him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume he means he could increase payroll from it’s current point.
According to Spotrac, the Mets payroll currently sits at $128.9 million for the 25 man roster and $130.7 million total. Last year, the Mets payroll was $154.8 million. This means the Mets have somewhere between $13 to $23 million left to spend this offseason.
According to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the trade for Kipnis was rejected by “higher ups.” In fact, Heyman said, the deal was “killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.” Over the next two years, Kipnis is due $28.2 million over the next two years with a $2.5 million buyout if the Mets do not pick up the $16.5 million 2020 team option.
With respect to Harrison, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported the Pirates ask of Brandon Nimmo was too high considering Harrison’s contract. While we can debate the merits of trading Nimmo for Harrison, the contract balk is confounding with Harrison due $10.25 million next year with succeeding team options of $10.5 million and $11.5 million.
And for what it’s worth, Kipnis and Harrison do meet Jeff’s “Significantly Improve” Test as the Mets current options are Wilmer Flores, who has never been given a real opportunity to play second due to his poor glove, or re-signing Jose Reyes, who had a -0.6 WAR last year.
For a minute, let’s revisit another topic Jeff Wilpon raised when he said increasing payroll doesn’t necessarily translate to wins. Now, on the surface, that may appear to be true. Certainly, if you go out and spend $20 million on Jose Reyes, it is not going to make your team better. Also, for what it’s worth, for a team that desparately needs a second baseman and could also use a third baseman, center fielder, and a couple of arms, Jay Bruce doesn’t necessarily translate to wins either.
Sarcasm aside, let’s take Jeff Wilpon at his earlier word that he will spend if the move significantly improves the Mets. Let’s also focus on those players that would translate to wins instead of harping on a player like Jonathan Lucroy, who is really more a name than an All Star at this point in his career.
With the free agent market where it is, the Mets could obtain Todd Frazier, who is a significant upgrade at third over Asdrubal Cabrera. Moving Cabrera to second would at least solve the position with a credible Major League hitter.
In center field, Lorenzo Cain is still available, and his market is dwindling. This was a 5.3 WAR player last year, and as we all know, is a World Series champion. Considering center field is now manned by Juan Lagares, who is as brilliant defensively as he is poor at the plate and keeping healthy, Cain would be a significant upgrade that would translate to wins.
Same goes for a reliever like Greg Holland, who was an All Star in Colorado of all places last year. Really, Holland was terrific as a closer up until he likely tired toward the end of the year. Wouldn’t he be a significant upgrade that translates to wins, especially when you combine him with Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins?
The answer to all of the above is they will significantly improve the team and would likely lead to wins. The same could be said for Kipnis and Harrison, two players the Mets balked at over money. If the Mets are balking over $10-13 million at the biggest area of need this offseason, what would lead any of us to believe the Mets will spend that amount on other players?
Oh, and by the way, Jeff Wilpon essentially ruled out the team signing any combination of those players with his announced payroll restrictions.
And of course, if all of Jeff Wilpon’s statements didn’t see contradictory or disingenuous enough, he also made this statement:
Wilpon: "There is no concrete line to go up, there is no concrete line to go down or stay same. It’s somewhat in flux to have conversations with Sandy and the rest of the baseball department to determine what the best course of action might be.”
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 23, 2018
However, despite all of that, let’s just believe for one second, you still think the Mets are going to go out there and significantly improve this team. There’s still plenty of top tier free agents available, and there are deals to be had. Well, you’re dreams and assumptions should die with this statement on David Wright:
Among the factors Jeff Wilpon cited in counting David Wright's insurance covered salary as part of the payroll is the cost of the policy, "which is not cheap."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 23, 2018
That’s right. At a time when the Mets are giving mixed messages about payroll parameters, they’re complaining about the cost of an insurance policy that saves them roughly $20 million per season.
Really, everything Jeff Wilpon said proves out two things. First, the team really believes that spending to acquire better players does not necessarily translate to wins. Second, and more important, he thinks Mets fans are dumb.
Why else would he try to have us believe acquiring better players doesn’t lead to wins or publicly bemoan the cost of Wright’s insurance policy?
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.
Heading into this offseason, THE major hole on the Mets roster was second base. So naturally, the Mets went out and have made sure to collect a bunch of first base options:
That’s right. The Mets brought in Gonzalez. On a Major League deal to boot. Presumably because teams were beating down the door of a soon to be 36 year old first baseman with back problems who skipped out on a postseason run with the team to go on vacation.
Clearly, the Mets were enticed by his .242/.287/.355 slash line.
In all seriousness, this move makes no sense on many levels.
First, the team already had Bruce to move to first if Smith wasn’t ready. Second, Smith might be ready by Opening Day, and he’s now blocked by a broken down player. Third, there were plenty of options available.
Nope, the Mets went with the cheapest option available, which is not at all surprising:
Mets: Dom is bad. We need a new first baseman.
Santana's Agent: He wants $20 million a year.
Mets: We were too harsh on Dom. He's our first baseman of the future.
Braves: We're releasing Gonzalez
Gonzalez's Agent: He wants league minimum
Mets: Yo Adrian!
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) December 20, 2017
While all this tomfoolery was happening, the Mets nixed a deal for Jason Kipnis because, wait for it, he makes too much money. They’ll say not a good value, but essentially, it’s the same thing to the Mets.
Kipnis is likely the best option available to them at second. Many will say Josh Harrison, but with teams with much deeper minor league systems also pursuing him, it’s not likely the Mets emerge out on top.
At this point, with Bruce and Anthony Swarzak likely having eaten up the offseason budget, aside from Gonzalez type deals, it means the 2018 second baseman is likely on this roster.
With Jose Lobaton already in the fold, every Mets fan should know that the second base plan is for next season.
Throughout the offseason, we have heard the Mets have been looking to trade Juan Lagares and his bad contract in the hopes of freeing up money to make another move this offseason. However, after the Mets signed Jay Bruce to a backloaded three year $39 million deal, there was this report:
I had mentioned it last night, but am told with regards to Lagares: Mets could move him, but would prefer not to. Mets need good defensive players, and there's uncertainty with Conforto.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 11, 2018
Just think about that for a second. Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets gave the starting shortstop job to Wilmer Flores despite everyone knowing he was not defensively capable of handling shortstop for a full season.
Now, with the Mets adding Bruce, the likely outfield alignment would place Michael Conforto in center field.
Last season, Conforto posted a -4 DRS in 328.2 innings. That’s dreadful, and it’s not likely to improve with Conforto spending an offseason rehabilitating a major shoulder injury.
If the outfield is Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce, how can the Mets possibly put up the front they need good defensive players as a justification why they’re keeping Lagares?
If that was the case, the Mets give Lagares another shot to prove he can play everyday, don’t hand an infield position to Cabrera, and they’d focus on adding good defenders like Todd Frazier this offseason.
The Mets aren’t. Instead, they’re going with the better hitters at all positions while ignoring the defensive ramifications. It’s what Sandy’s always done, and judging from the Bruce signing, it’s what he will always do.
So no, they’re not keeping Lagares to keep good defensive players. They’re keeping him because they can’t move him.