With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, and the recent announcement he cannot do any baseball activities for the next eight weeks, we are one step closer to everyone admitting David Wright is never going to ever play for the New York Mets again. Certainly, the Mets have operated this offseason like it will never happen. Indeed, if Wright were to be healthy enough to return at any point next season, the team will be forced to cut someone like Jose Reyes, or they will be forced to send someone like Brandon Nimmo, who may very well be the team’s center fielder, to the minors.
As Wright inches towards what seems to be in the inevitable, we get closer and closer to taking stock of his career. For his career, Wright has 49.9 WAR, 40.0 WAR7, and a 45.0 JAWS. These numbers fall short of the 67.5 WAR, 42.8 WAR7, and 55.2 JAWS an average Hall of Fame third baseman puts up in their career.
Looking over those numbers again, Wright is tantalizingly close, but falls short. Right now, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus Wright falls into the Don Mattinglyterritory in that he was a great player when healthy, but ultimately, his health cost him a shot at Cooperstown.
However, upon reviewing Wright’s career, it does not appear his health issues will be the only reason Wright will fall short of Hall of Fame induction.
In the final two seasons at Shea Stadium, Wright emerged as a true superstar. In successive seasons, he posted an 8.3 and 6.8 WAR season. With him entering the prime years of his career, it looked like Wright was well on his way to the Hall of Fame. What ensued was two ugly years at Citi Field.
Over 2009 and 2010, Wright’s offensive numbers would see a precipitous drop across the board. As a result, in the prime of his career, by WAR, Wright had the two worst healthy seasons of his career. A player who went from averaging a 7.6 WAR in the final two years at Shea struggled to accumulate a 5.9 WAR over two year.
If you are looking for reasons why this happened, look not further than Citi Field. In its original form, Citi Field would see no doubt homers died on the edge of the warning track because the park was beyond cavernous:
- Left Field 335 ft
- Left Center 384
- Center 408
- Right Center 415
- Right Field 330
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a 16 foot left field wall Harry Rose dubbed “The Great Wall of Flushing.”
Considering Wright was a batter who hit it to all fields and who had natural power to right center field, his new ballpark was completely ill suited to his particular skill set. It should come as no surprise Wright’s oWAR and overall WAR nosedived.
In 2012, when the outfield walls at Citi Field were brought in and lowered, Wright started putting up Wright-like numbers again. That year, Wright had a 7.0 WAR, the second highest of his career. This would also prove to be his last healthy season.
The end of Wright’s peak was 2013. Astonishingly, Wright had a 5.9 WAR in just 112 games. Considering the stats he put up, it does make you question what his stats would have looked like in 2009 and 2010 under “normal” conditions.
Taking the last two years at Shea and the first two with the newly constructed Citi Field outfield walls, Wright averaged a 7.0 WAR. If he were to averaged a 7.0 WAR in 2009 and 2010, his numbers would have been:
Yes, Wright would still fall short of the 67.5 WAR an average Hall of Fame third baseman produced over the length of their career, but Wright would have eclipsed the 42.8 WAR7 and been just short of the 55.2 JAWS. Essentially, with Wright you would have had a real argument to induct him on the strength of his peak years.
Even if you want to be a little more conservative and say he would have averaged 5.9 (his low in 2013) instead of the 7.0 average, he would be at a 55.8 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, and a 50.2 JAWS.
Again, Wright would have had the peak years argument, and with his spinal stenosis, he would have had a tangible Hall of Fame argument. Certainly, if Kirby Puckett got the benefit of the doubt with him suffering a career ending injury at 35, Wright would have had a case with his injury happening at 32, if not sooner.
In the end, Wright’s career and spinal stenosis has left us with many what ifs. Looking at the numbers, we should also question what if Citi Field was not so ill designed when it first opened? Would David Wright have made it to the Hall of Fame.
Based upon a look at the numbers, I would argue he would have been enshrined and deservedly so. However, because of the original Citi Field dimensions and many other factors, it appears Wright will not make the Hall of Fame, which is a damned shame because Wright certainly deserved better than all of this.
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.
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.
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.
Despite Daniel Murphy winning the 2015 NLCS MVP, the Mets seemed all too happy to let him depart via free agency. Instead of Murphy, the Mets first sought after Ben Zobrist, who spurned them for the Cubs, before trading Jon Niese for Neil Walker.
Walker was supposed to stabilize the position, and there was hopes he would be a Met for the long haul with the team offering him the qualifying offer. Instead, Walker had two injury riddled years before he was traded to the Brewers for minor league right-hand relief prospect Eric Hanhold.
Now, the Mets are once again in the position of finding out who their next second baseman will be. That task becomes all the more difficult when Ian Kinsler rejected a trade to the Mets, upper management rejected a trade for Jason Kipnis, and the Mets are reportedly not entertaining trading Brandon Nimmo for Josh Harrison.
The end result likely is the second base quagmire will continue. That quagmire has seen the Mets play 12 different players at second base over the past two seasons. Can you name them all? Good luck!
In what was really a disheartening 2017 season for the Mets, Brandon Nimmoemerged as a bright spot for the franchise.
The 2011 first round pick, the first one of the Sandy Alderson Era, proved he belonged in the Major Leagues. With him hitting .260/.379/.418 in 69 games, he slowed he could potentially be more than that.
That makes how the Mets have handled him this offseason all the more baffling.
As the offseason began, Nimmo’s name was never truly promoted as a possibility as a starter in center. Sure, there are those who question whether he could truly handle the position in the majors, but the fact remains he played 456 games in center in the minors as opposed to just 92 games in the corners.
Ideally, Nimmo was the perfect platoon partner with an injury prone and defensive wizard Juan Lagares, who appeared to be the early favorite to be the everyday center fielder.
This became somewhat of a moot point when the Mets signed both Jay Bruceand Adrian Gonzalez. With both players in the fold to at least start the 2018 season, this means Michael Confortowill be the center fielder when he returns from his shoulder injury.
Considering Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes are each signed through the 2021 season, Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce should be the outfield alignment over the next three seasons.
This begs the question about where this leaves Nimmo.
Well, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, it could have left Nimmo in Pittsburgh.
First, the Pirates reportedly wanted Nimmo in exchange for former MVP and impending free agent Andrew McCutchen.
With McCutchen averaging a -22 DRS in center the past two years, dropping from a 21.5 WAR player from 2012 – 2014 to a 6.7 WAR the past three years, and his impending free agency, you understand the Mets thought process.
Another consideration is the Mets believe the Pirates could accept Nimmo as a centerpiece for Josh Harrison. Harrison is a versatile player who can handle second, is owed $10.25 million with two succeeding team options, and has asked the Pirates for a trade.
Considering there’s no path for Nimmo to become a regular on the Mets for three years, it would appear moving him for Harrison or another player would make a ton of sense. That goes double when you consider the Mets have a huge hole at second, and the free agent options are quite poor.
But no, the Mets are hesitating on trading Nimmo at all. They not only still believe Nimmo could be a good player for them, but the team is hesitant to trade away good young talent from their depleted farm system.
Even if you take the Mets at face value they see a future for Nimmo, that future is not for another three years. By that time, he will have exhausted all of his options, be 27 years old, and a year away from free agency.
In the end, the Mets are keeping Nimmo in a misguided attempt to hold onto an asset for its own sake. They would rather have him stapled to their own bench than let him potentially thrive somewhere else. That decision isn’t helping Nimmo, and it isn’t helping the Mets.
It really makes you question whether the real reason the Mets won’t trade him is they’re really afraid of looking bad by watching him thrive elsewhere. Why else would the Mets simultaneously refuse to trade him and block his path to playing time?