The other day the New York Mets made the smart decision to retain Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach. It was a move necessary because Hefner was going to be a free agent at the end of the month, and the team needed to act quickly to make sure they retained a coach respected by the Mets pitching staff.
The problem with this decision is it seemed a little out of order. Typically speaking, you do not hire or retain a pitching coach without hiring a manager. To wit, you don’t hire a manager without having general manager and president of baseball operations in place. And yet, that’s exactly where the Mets find themselves.
The Mets seem to be at a bad spot in their search. Their pie in the sky choices in Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, and David Stearns will not be joining the organization. Unfortunately, they’re striking out at the second level and extremely qualified choices like Matt Arnold, Peter Bendix, and Scott Harris. This is far from an exhaustive list. Really, what seems exhaustive is how many times the Mets have been unable to fill this role for well over a year now.
We’re now at the point of the sensational. For example, Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News published an article indicated Mets owner Steve Cohen is relying upon his employees at Point72 as well as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the search for the new president of baseball operations. Honestly, this doesn’t pass the sniff test considering Cohen’s background, but by the same token, we can expect to see more of the same until the position is filled.
That said, there is a bigger issue here. There are certain actions which need to be undertaken in short order, and it appears those decisions will need to be made before the new POBO is hired. Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard are free agents, and the team not only has to decide if they want to extend the qualifying offer, but they also need to see if they want to re-sign them. Marcus Stroman cannot be offered the qualifying offer, but the team does need to figure out if they want to keep him (they should).
This is a team who needs to fill vacancies at third base, and they need to complete their rotation. With Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup being free agents, they need to build the bullpen. The team needs another outfielder, and they need to see if they are going to keep Javier Baez. There really is just too much to do for the Mets to wait for a new POBO.
Yes, you want a POBO making these decisions, but you can’t sit around and not make key organizational decisions until that person is hired. There is no sense not permitting the 2022 Mets to be as good as they can possibly be because they didn’t hire a POBO.
There is far too much at stake this offseason. Sitting around and doing nothing means the Mets will remain third best in the division, and in all likelihood, it puts them in a position where they are forced to rebuild. The problem is what’s here is a solid enough core to win a World Series. The Mets cannot sit on their hands and wait. Like it or not, Sandy Alderson has to take reins and operate as the POBO until one is hired.
No, it’s not what Mets fans necessarily wanted to hear, but it’s the truth of the matter. The sad, frustrating, and irritating truth.
The attack du jour of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is his Twitter account will harm his ability to hire a quality president of baseball operations. It’s what the unnamed source told Mike Puma in his New York Post article, and it’s been a continued talking point.
The problem with the premise is it runs contrary to facts. While Cohen has occasionally scrutinized his players, his tweets have actually been supportive of the front office. A recent example is his tweet about the Javier Báez acquisition:
Where are the Twitter “experts” complaining about Baez now. They must be away for the weekend
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) September 5, 2021
There was also his defense of the failure to sign Kumar Rocker. He’s also put the blame squarely on the players for the disappointing results. Essentially, he said the right players are here, but their results aren’t.
You’ll see tweaking of the fans and questioning of the players. What you won’t see is attacks of Sandy Alderson and the members of his front office. That was when the case with the firings after the organization or Zack Scott’s recent DUI.
With the way you see how Cohen operates his Twitter account, you may see a limiting of the unnamed source taking shots at the team. As we saw with the recent drama, these individuals with an axe to grind may think twice before attempting to anonymously attack Cohen and his front office.
If you’re a big time target like a Billy Beane or a David Stearns, why would Cohen’s Twitter account scare you? At least publicly, he’s not going to make your life any more difficult.
Cohen doesn’t criticize his front office on Twitter. Certainly, people have noticed this. Manager and players? Different story, but at least on the player front, as we saw with Francisco Lindor, Cohen is going to make a personal connection with the player and open the checkbook.
Therein lies the heart of the matter. Under Cohen, the Mets promise to present deeper pockets and more opportunities to create a team of your own vision than anywhere else.
Taking a look specifically at Beane, he was a subject of a critically acclaimed book and movie. He was lambasted for sharing secrets. He shrug that all off and moved on with his life. Do we really think a potential tweet is going to stop him from taking the job?
Of course not. The whole notion is preposterous. And that’s before you consider there’s no negative tweets from Cohen scoot the front office all year.
Overall, Cohen is going to get the man he wants for the job. Then, he’s going to tweet about it to the joy of everyone.
Despite the spinal stenosis, David Wright was playing well in 2016. He was hitting .226/.350/.438 with seven homeruns and 14 RBI. He had hit homeruns in three straight games before it was discovered he had a herniated disc in his neck. It was a cruel setback for a player who has worked so hard to get back to this point. It leaves everyone questioning if this is the straw that will break the camel’s back. If it is, or if Wright needs another lengthy stint on the disabled list, the Mets are going to have to find a long term solution to third base.
Wilmer Flores. Going into this season, the Mets tabbed Flores to be the main backup at four infield positions. With Wright needing days off here and there due to the spinal stenosis, it was presumed Flores would play a lot of third base. At the outset, Flores appears to be the player who will get the first crack at the position. However, if he continues hitting .167/.231/.267, the Mets are going to be forced to turn in another direction.
T.J. Rivera. Eric Campbell already had his shot, and he hit .159/.270/.222 leading him to be designated for assignment. Matt Reynolds had a brief call-up and he hit .100/.182/.100 in limited duty. The revolving door has now brought us to Ty Kelly, who is hitting .167/.231/.167 in limited duty. While this triumvirate has been given the opportunities and failed to hit, Rivera stays in AAA hitting .364/.399/.535. Sooner or later, he’s going to get a shot to play in the majors with the way he has been playing.
Gavin Cecchini. The former Mets 2012 first round pick is currently hitting .308/.390/.400 in his first season in AAA. The issue is in his minor league career, Cecchini has only played SS. If he gets called up, the Mets would have to choose between playing him at a position he has never played before or making him the SS while Asdrubal Cabrera moves to third, where he has only played one inning in his major league career.
Dilson Herrera. The Mets could elect to call-up Herrera to play second while sliding their second basemen to third like they have the past few seasons. The issue here is Herrera is not raking in AAA the way he usually does, and Neil Walker hasn’t played third base regularly in his big league career, and he hasn’t played there in six years.
If you are going to make a move at this point, you are really only going to be able to obtain a player from a team that is completely out of the pennant race, or a player that has been designated for assignment. With the current two Wild Card format, a safe line of demarcation is any team 10 games or more out of first place is out of contention. Looking over the standings, that would mean the Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds (who have nothing of value), and the San Diego Padres. Of course, due consideration should be given to the Oakland Athletics, who are always ready, willing, and able to make a trade.
Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe is one of the many reasons the Twins are having a down year as he is hitting .246/.273/.369. For his career, he’s a .245/.307/.417 hitter. As such, he’s not going to resolve any of the Mets offensive problems. Also, as per UZR and DRS, he has only been an adequate defensive third baseman meaning he doesn’t have the superior defense to carry his bat.
Eduardo Nunez. The former Yankee is having a nice year for the Twins hitting .340/.367/.507 in 42 games. This year he has mostly played third and shortstop. In the event Wright does come back, Nunez can be a valuable utility player. The main issue with the 29 year old Nunez is that he will not be cheap as he still has a couple of cost controlled years before he becomes a free agent in 2018.
Kelly Johnson. Johnson was a valuable bench piece for the Mets last year hitting .250/.304/.414. The benefits are you know he can play in New York, and he should not be expensive. The downside is he’s hitting .218/.279/.307 this year.
Gordon Beckam. While Beckham has never quite lived up to the hype, he is having a good year this year as a utility player for the Braves playing second, third, and short. The career .244/.307/.374 hitter is hitting .293/.393/.446 this year for the Braves. Maybe it’s the small sample size of 30 games, maybe it’s the change to the National League, but Beckham is a better offensive player this year.
Aaron Hill. Hill is having a tremendous year as the Brewers’ third baseman this year hitting .275/.351/436. He’s also capable of played second in his career. The main sticking point with Hill is his salary. He is earning $12 million this year with the Arizona Diamondbacks paying $6.5 million of that. If the Mets were to obtain Hill, they would have to take on the prorated portion of the $5.5 million the Brewers are paying him or part with additional prospects to get the Brewers to eat some of that salary.
Brett Wallace. Wallace is a left-hand hitting third baseman. He has bounced around as he has never reached his full potential at the plate. He has also been a below average fielder wherever he has played, including third base. He seems to have found a home as a Padre these past two seasons. This year he is hitting .219/.379/.381. The issue with him is he’s still a cost-controlled player just entering his arbitration years.
Yangervis Solarte. Former Met Roger Cedeno‘s nephew, Solarte, is hitting .300/.397/.600 this year while playing mostly third base. He is a versatile player with a good bat. He is only making $525,000 this year, and he’s not arbitration eligible until 2017. If you want him, you’re going to have to pry him away from the Padres. Remember, this is the same Padres front office that rejected Michael Fulmer for Justin Upton. Solarte would be a great fit for the Mets, but it is unlikely the Mets are going to be willing to pay the price of what it’ll take to acquire him.
Ruben Tejada. Simply put, Tejada is a major league caliber player that is better suited to playing shortstop. He was a career .255/.320/.323 hitter on the Mets. He played poorly with the Cardinals hitting .176/.225/.235 before being released. He’s better suited for the bench than he is as the third base option. Even if he’s not the third base solution the Mets should claim him and put him on the bench.
Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is in the midst of a good season hitting .309/.351/.360 for the Athletics. He is capable of playing second, third, or shortstop. However, he has little power, and he is in the middle of a relatively large contract that pays him $7.5 million this year and $6 million next year with a team option/buyout in 2018.
Danny Valencia. Valencia is having a terrific year this year hitting .333/.370/.558 while playing third base for the the Athletics. He has an extremely reasonable $3.15 million salary this year. However, that is part of the problem. He has a reasonable salary this year, and he is under team control until 2018. Given the way Billy Beane does business, he will be extremely expensive.
Overall, that is the problem. If Wright is really going to miss a significant amount of time for the second straight season, the Mets are going to need a real long term solution. If the Mets enter the trade market and pay high prices for good, quality players like Solarte and Valencia. For the most part, you are looking to trade with a Brewers franchise you cancelling a trade with last year, or a Padres or Athletics team that really drives a hard bargain. That leaves the Mets in a very difficult situtation. Therefore, for the time being, the most prudent course might be to see if Flores can handle the position defensively and offensively. If he doesn’t the Mets will need to make a big trade just like they did last year. If that time should come, hopefully, they will have the pieces necessary to make that happen.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on metsmerizedonline.com