Coming into the season, the Mets were high on Dilson Herrera, and they viewed him as the second baseman of the near future. It is why the Mets let postseason hero Daniel Murphy walk, and they eschewed other long term free agent options to trade for Neil Walker who was a year away from free agency. However, the Mets made it perfectly clear they were willing to forego Herrera as the second baseman of the future if the right player came along. That is why the Mets doggedly pursued Ben Zobrist in the offseason. For the right piece or for the right price, the Mets were going to move on from Herrera to make the team better.
It is just hard to believe that player was Jay Bruce.
There is a lot to like about Bruce. He is a traditional slugger who is leading the league in RBI. He has a very affordable team option. He is insurance against Yoenis Cespedes missing an extended period of time this year, and quite possibly insurance against him leaving in free agency. He also helps with a sluggish Mets offense and with the Mets inability to hit with runners for scoring position. He is also more of the same.
This is a Mets team full of low OBP, high slugging outfielders – Bruce, Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto. With the exception of Cespedes, all of the Mets current outfield options are left-handed batters. What this team doesn’t have is a center fielder. Currently, the best defensive center fielder on the team is Alejandro De Aza. While he is the team’s hottest hitter and best defender, it is hard to imagine he is going to be an everyday player while the team sits one of Granderson or Conforto everyday. In sum, Bruce is a nice offensive upgrade, but he doesn’t solve the teams problems. With that in mind, it seems like Herrera was a steep price to pay for someone that doesn’t solve what ails the team.
It’s also selling low on Herrera in what has been a tough year for him. Herrera has gone from a .327/.382/.511 hitter to a .276/.327/.462 hitter in AAA this year. He has had nagging shoulder issues, and he has fallen into some bad habits at the plate. It has been the first time the 22 year old has struggled at the minor league level. However, given the fact that he is still young for his level, and the fact that his struggles are closely associated with an injury, there is every reason to believe Herrera will rebound and become the All Star second baseman the Mets envisioned he would become. That is a steep price to pay for a duplicative player that does not solve the Mets problems.
We are just seeing it now with Michael Fulmer in Detroit. Fulmer was the big time prospect the Mets traded last year. He is the leading Rookie of the Year contender, and he is certainly in the Cy Young conversation with him going 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. With each and every dominant start, it is a stark reminder how much the Mets need him this year with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery and Zack Wheeler being well behind schedule to return to the rotation. Overall, the idea behind trading Fulmer was to trade from depth to acquire a missing piece . . . a missing piece that was an imperfect fit. As we see last year, the Mets supposed depth was an allusion.
Now, the Mets did trade from depth with Herrera. Gavin Cecchini could move from shortstop to second, which now seems to be his destiny with the meteoric rise of Amed Rosario. Wilmer Flores could move over there next year. The Mets could always re-sign Neil Walker or another free agent or make another trade. Depending on David Wright‘s health, Jose Reyes could move from third to second. There are any number of factors at play, but as we see again this year, the Mets can never have enough depth as this team seems more snakebitten than any other team in the majors. With that in mind, the Mets are now less deep at second base, and they are quite possibly without their best second base option for next year.
The Mets traded away another big time prospect for another slugging corner outfielder. Hopefully, Bruce will have a similar effect on the Mets as Cespedes did last year. The Mets are going to need that type of performance to help them get back to the postseason. They are going to need that type of performance to help Mets fans forget about the player they gave away in Herrera.
Scott Kazmir is in the news again, and yet again, it makes Mets fans want to tear their hair out. First, he was inexplicably traded for Victor Zambrano. Then, we were enlightened how the Mets drafting of Kazmir symbolized yet again how bad the Mets front office was. Now, he’s the first player traded at a time when Mets fans have been begging the front office to do anything to help this offense.
It’s also notable this trade was completed by fellow 1962 expansion franchise Houston Astros. Much like the Astros, the Mets are competing ahead of schedule. Unlike the Mets, the Astros have made a move AND maybe looking to make more. Mets fans hear they won’t pick the remaining portion of Ben Zobrist’s salary. It’s disheartening. However, the good news is that apparently the market was set low with only lower-end A ball prospects being traded.
Maybe this trade will launch the Mets into action. There are already rumblings Michael Conforto will be called-up. I suspect they may start being tied to some players. Hopefully, they can pull the trigger on a deal.
Personally, I do not believe the Mets are going to move. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m starting to think that may not be a bad move. With that said, IF they were to make a move my vote would be Carlos Gomez.
My main interest in Gomez is he plays CF. We know of Cuddyer’s knee (and lack of production), but getting less play is Lagares’ offense and elbow. If Lagares goes down that means Kirk Nieuwenhuis from here on out. I know no one believes he’s going to repeat that three HR performance. Keep in mind SD came into the season with a CF problem, and Upton was never called upon to play center.
Also, Gomez makes less. This year he is earning $8 million compared to Upton’s $14.7 million. Obtaining Gomez would allow some payroll flexibility to go after another area of need like the bench or a LOOGY.
Finally, Gomez and Upton are having similar years. Upton has an OPS+ of 113 to Gomez’s 110. However, Gomez is more versatile in the lineup. He can comfortably hit leadoff or in the middle of the order. He helps the Mets in all the ways they need help.
I’m not sure why the Mets focus on Zobrist and his versatility when it’s Carlos Gomez’ versatility that they really need.
Ben Zobrist has a well earned reputation as a versitale high OBP player. He’s a player that both statisticians and traditionalist love. If he was added to the Mets right now, he’d have the 5th highest WAR (as per Baseball Reference) on the team behind Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores (in that order).
Zobrist’s 0.5 WAR puts him ahead of the players he could potentially replace: Daniel Murphy (0.1 WAR), Ruben Tejada (0.2 WAR), and Michael Cuddyer (0.2 WAR). In a vacuum, you could say he’s better go get him. However, I’m not interested. He’s not THAT much better than the aforementioned players, and he’ll cost something in terms of prospects.
With respect to SS, the Mets rightfully believed Zobrist wasn’t an everyday SS. Over the last five years, he’s only played the position in 99 games with none of those games coming this year. The Mets need a SS upgrade, but it’s not Zobrist.
With respect to 3B, I would rather have Murphy. I may be biased, but as the BABIP has indicated, Murphy has had some tough luck on top of injury problems that are in the rear view mirror. He’s been hitting much better of late. I also keep in mind Murphy has the ability to play in NY. Remember the unnecessary paternity leave controversy early last season? It lead to Murphy’s first All Star selection. On top of that, Murphy has shown the ability to hit in a pennant race when the Mets were collapsing yet again (2008).
As for Cuddyer, he hadn’t produced anywhere where he’s capable, and he has a balky knee. We all know it, but I highly doubt the Mets are interested in putting their prize offseason acquisition to the bench. Zobrist would be an upgrade, but that brings me to my next point:
We have to give up prospects to get him. If the Mets were the only team going after him, Zobrist may be available for a reasonable price. Right now, the Mets, Nationals, Giants, and Yankees are in on Zobrist. That means it’ll cost you, especially when the Mets are competing with the Nationals and Giants for a playoff spot. Sandy would be wise to drive up the price and move on to more affordable players having better years.