Brandon Nimmo

Ex-Brave Beats the Ex-Met

This was a bizarre day even for the Mets. The Mets sent down Michael Conforto and calling-up Brandon NimmoJose Reyes was brought back despite the domestic violence incident.  With all of that going on, the Mets still had a game to play. 

Jacob deGrom was shaky early on needing a few double plays to get out of a couple of innings unscathed. Overall, he pitched well against a bad Braves team. His final like was eight innings, seven hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. However, he did not get the win as the Mets offense failed him. 
There was a threat in the third when Yoenis Cespedes tried to stretch a single into a double.  He was easily out at second when he refused to slide. Instead of second and third with one it, Curtis Granderson stood alone on the basepaths with two outs. A Neil Walker pop out would put an end to the Mets only real threat against Braves’ starter Julio Teheran

Teheran matched deGrom zero for zero. He too lasted eight innings. He only allowed five hits, no runs, and no walks with seven strikeouts. You could call it a pitcher’s duel between two talented pitchers. You could also call it an contest in ineptitude between two dreadful offenses. 

The Braves chance for a walk-off win was stymied in the ninth when Granderson made a sliding catch in foul territory to end the inning and send the game into extras. 

The Mets finally broke through in the eleventh when ex-Brave Kelly Johnson hit a homer off ex-Met Dario Alvarez to put the Mets up 1-0. All that was needed was for Jeurys Familia to shut the door and recorded his 26th straight save to open the season. Given the Mets luck and Familia pitching more than one inning thd night before, it didn’t promise to be easy. It wasn’t. 

The Braves had a runner on second with one out and Freddie Freeman coming to the plate. At that point, Terry Collins made something readily apparent. He watches Mets games as closely as Mets fans do. He knows Freeman kills the Mets like other Braves’ Mets killers in the past like Chipper Jones (sorry Larry), Brian Jordan, etc. With that in mind, Collins ordered Famila to intentionally walk Freeman. 

It was a smart play as it prevented Freemam from killing the Mets again. It was a smart play as it set up the double play. When Nick Markakis hit the comebacker, the Mets got end the game by turning the double play. The 1-6-3 double play was the Mets third of the night. 

With all the emotion from today and drama that followed the Mets around most of this year, it is easy to forget the Mets are only two games back in the division and one in the loss column. The Mets will try to get closer tomorrow. 

Game Notes: In honor of the Negro Leagues, the Mets wore Brooklyn Royal Giants gear. As Nimmo didn’t get to Atlanta in time, the Mets started Alejandro De Aza, who was 0-4 with a strikeout. Travis d’Arnaud threw out another would be base stealer. 

It’s Nimmo Time

Upon hearing the news that Yoenis Cespedes will not have to go on the disabled list with his sprained wrist, everyone from Terry Collins to Mr. Met to each and every Mets fan breathed a sigh of relief.  As soon as everyone realizes that Cespedes is day-to-day and Alejandro De Aza will get more playing time, the trepidation may return even after yesterday’s well played game.

Given that prospect, it might be time to call-up Brandon Nimmo up to the majors now to play center until Cespedes is ready to resume playing everyday.

Nimmo has certainly earned the promotion. He has gotten progressively better as the season as progressed. Here are his monthly splits:

  • April .260/.333/.315
  • May .326/.421/.565
  • June .388/.455/.642

Over his last 46 games, Nimmo is hitting .370/.453/.603 with 14 doubles, seven triples, five homers, and 34 RBI. Nimmo’s production is quickly moving from short sample size to true talent level. No matter the case, he’s playing extraordinarily well. This is the precise point you want to bring a player to the majors.

Furthermore, Nimmo helps the Mets in a lot of ways. On a station-to-station team, he’s a top of the order hitter that had the speed to take the extra base. He’s also a good defensive center fielder, which would permit Cespedes to play left field, his Gold Glove position, when he’s capable of returning to the line-up on a full time basis.

There’s just one problem with this line of thinking. It discounts Michael Conforto. This is the same Conforto that was a vital part of the Mets offense not only last year, but this year as well. This is the same Conforto that has risen to each and every challenge before him.

This is also the same Conforto who has hit  .153/.213/.314 in the 42 games he has played since May 1st. Over the past week, he’s 1-14. He’s 4-44 against lefties this year.  There are many reasons why he could be hitting this poorly from his injured wrist to his approach at the plate. Whatever the cause, he’s not figuring it out in the majors right now, and he’s hurting the team in the process. The Mets need to do what is best for him and the team by sending him down to AAA. He can correct his approach there and gain some confidence while batting in the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League.

In the interim, Nimmo gets his well earned shot. Terry Collins can figure out left field until Cespedes is ready. With his recent play and especially yesterday’s game, it may not hurt to give Matt Reynolds some more games in left field. At least for right now, that is what will be best for the Mets.

It will also benefit the Mets in the future. Nimmo and Conforto are a big part of the Mets future.  Conforto needs to get himself straight at the plate, and eventually, Nimmo has to be thrown into the deep end to see if he can swim. Both can happen now, and both players could be better for it. It’s time to send down Conforto and call-up Nimmo.

Editor’s Note: this article was first published on metsminors.net

Mets Fans Can Still Dream

It seemed like disaster struck for the Mets. Both Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes were forced to leave Wednesday’s game due to injuries. For Cespedes, it was his left wrist. For Syndergaard, it was the dreaded elbow complaints. Speaking of elbow complaints, it appeared that Zack Wheeler had a Jeremy Hefner-like setback during his Tommy John rehab. 

It was seriousness enough that the Mets weren’t screwing around this time. They immediately sent Cespedes and Syndergaard to see Dr. Altchek.   

 
While these two Mets were getting themselves examined for potential season-ending injuries, Mets fans were left to drive themselves crazy. I spent most of the time trying to talk myself into Sean Gilmartin or Rafael Montero as a viable fifth starter.  I looked to see how Brandon Nimmo‘s numbers would translate to the majors. I thought about moves like signing Yusileski Gourriel
I kept reminding myself that Steven Matz was 7-3. I harkened back to last year when there was a big three of Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom. We haven’t seen the best of Harvey or deGrom yet, and Matz had shown the ability to potentially replicate what Syndergaard last year. I kept telling myself the Mets were going to be fine. All they have to do is make the playoffs with that pitching staff and bullpen. It was possible. 

Fortunately, Syndergaard put our minds at ease:

Happy elbows for me and mini Thor

A photo posted by Noah Syndergaard (@nsyndergaard) on

After that tidbit of good news, we learned neither he nor Cespedes are headed to the DL. Furthermore, tests revealed Wheeler has no structural damages. 

We don’t know when Cespedes can return to the lineup, nor do we know if Syndergaard will make his next start. However, we do know they will play again in the near future. We also learned there is still hope for Wheeler returning to the Mets to pitch this year. It’s a huge relief. 

Now, instead of staying up all night trying to dream up scenarios where the Mets can compete without their best hitter or pitcher, I can put my head down and go to sleep in peace. I imagine that I’ll dream of the Mets winning the World Series behind Cespedes, Syndergaard, and maybe even Wheeler. 

Demoting Keith Hernandez Worked

From time to time, if you listen to the Mets telecasts close enough, you will hear Keith Hernandez tell the story of his 1975 season.  After getting called-up and playing well in 1974, he thought he was in the majors for good.  That wasn’t the case.  In 1975, he was hitting .250/.309/.362 in 64 games.  He left the Cardinals with little other choice but to send him down to the minors, and they did.

Initially, Hernandez was humiliated by the moment.  However, he took advantage of the opportunity.  Down in the minors, he got his swing right.  He came back to the majors in 1976, and he he hit .289/.376/.428.  He was back in the majors, and he was back for good.  Hernandez would go on to win the 1979 batting title and MVP Award (shared with Willie Stargell).  He had a bat to match his unparalleled defense.  From that adversity, Hernandez would become a champion as a member of the 1982 and 1986 World Series teams.  In total, Hernandez put together a borderline Hall of Fame career.  It is something he might not have done had he not ever gone to the minors.  As he has said, it was the best thing that ever happened to his career.

If you listen to Mets telecasts closely enough, you will also notice that Hernandez is a huge fan of Michael Conforto.  You will also notice Conforto is struggling mightily like Hernandez did in 1975.

It was not too long ago that Conforto seemed to be a budding superstar.  Having never played above AA, Conforto was called-up to the majors last year to hit .270/.335/.506 in 56 games.  He hit two home runs in Game 4 of the World Series.  He started this season off hitting .365/.442/.676 with four homers in April.  The question then wasn’t whether he was major league ready, the question was how high his ceiling could possibly be.  It seemed that Conforto was a likely All Star, possibly more.  Then the calendar turned to May.

Since May 1st, Conforto has hit .157/.212/.321.  There could be a multitude of reasons why this has happened from major league pitchers figuring him out and Conforto failing to make the needed adjustments to the cortisone shot Conforto needed in his wrist.  Bottom line is Conforto has gone from playing at an All Star level to being a player who belongs in the minor leagues.  Considering the fact that Terry Collins wants to “shake things up” it may be a signal that the Mets are willing to demote Conforto. It may not be the worst thing for Conforto or the Mets.

Conforto can go to Las Vegas and get himself right.  He can spend time down there not only working on his swing but also his approach at the plate.  Furthermore, hitting in a hitter’s haven like the Pacific Coast League could do wonders for a player that has been struggling for well over a month in the majors.  We all saw how well this worked for Travis d’Arnaud back in 2014.  He came back a much better player after his time in the minors.  We also saw the positive effects of such a demotion with Keith Hernandez.

In the interim, the Mets could choose to give Alejandro De Aza some additional playing time to see if he can start playing like the player they thought he was when the Mets signed him in the offseason.  The Mets could decided to turn to Brandon Nimmo who has been raking in AAA.  Maybe, just maybe, the Mets could allow Conforto to start taking grounders at first considering James Loney is not the long term answer and no one knows when Lucas Duda can return from the disabled list.

Ultimately, this could be the best thing that has happened to both Conforto and the Mets.  If the Mets have designs on returning to the World Series, they are going to need Conforto, who, when right, is the most complete hitter on the team.  While he’s finding his stroke in the minors, Nimmo could get his chance to see if he is indeed ready to play in the majors.  If Conforto is able to pick up first base, then the Mets could keep Nimmo in left when Conforto is ready to return to the majors.  It might be time to send Conforto to AAA for not only his own good, but also for the good of the Mets.

After all, it worked for Keith Hernandez.

Call-Up Dilson Herrera

After the game, Terry Collins revealed Juan Lagares was scratched from the lineup because he couldn’t close his left hand. At a minimum, it seems like a DL stint is inevitable.

The natural inclination would be for the Mets to call-up Brandon Nimmo. He’s certainly earned the promotion hitting .330/.411/.529 with five homers and 32 RBI. The 23 year old 2011 first round pick appears to be ready for a promotion to the majors.  He could take the place of Michael Conforto  in the lineup while Conforto waits for his wrist to react to the cortisone shot.

With that said, Conforto is expected back this weekend. Once he returns, it is likely Terry Collins will play him everyday. That will leave Nimmo on the bench which would be detrimental to his development. Nimmo needs to get regular at bats, and that does not appear likely at the major league level.

However, Lagares and Conforto aren’t the only Mets that are ailing. Neil Walker had to pull himself from a game on Saturday. He hasn’t been able to play since. Tomorrow, he is going to see a back specialist to be evaluated. Given the Mets luck lately with Lucas Duda and David Wright, no one should be holding their breath.

With that in mind, the Mets should call-up Dilson Herrera.

Herrera is the second baseman of the future, and depending on Walker’s back, the future may be now. Herrera is hitting .298/.344/.517 with ten homers and 36 RBI. Like Nimmo, Herrera has earned the call-up. Unlike Nimmo, Herrera has some major league experience. Moreover, Herrera doesn’t have an obvious impediment to his playing time.

In Walker’s absence, Collins has had to pick between Matt Reynolds and Kelly Johnson. Both have played well recently, but there shouldn’t be expectations for that to continue. Reynolds is the same player who has hit .282/.335/.420 in the Pacific Coast League, which is about as favorable a hitter’s league there is.  Even with his hot streak, Johnson is hitting .226/.288/.308 this year. Herrera should be an upgrade over these players.

Accordingly, Herrera should be called-up to play second until such time as Walker is ready to return. In the interim, Collins can go with either Johnson in left, like he did Wednesday, or Alejandro De Aza, who Collins wants to get more at bats. Herrera can and should effectively man second base until Walker is ready. When that happens, the Mets will do what they always do in these situations:

They will call up Eric Campbell.

However, before that happens the Mets need to call-up Herrera. He’s the best option at second base behind Walker. Additionally, in Wright’s absence, the Mets can judge whether it is time to let Herrera play second while moving Walker to third. This is an option the Mets have internally discussed. They now have a window to see if it is feasible.

It’s time to call-up Dilson Herrera.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

This Draft Pick Will Be Better Than Steve Chilcott

In 1966, the Mets made what was perhaps their worst decision in franchise history.  With the first overall pick in the draft, the Mets selected Steve Chilcott.  It was the worst decision in franchise history not only because Chilcott never played in the majors.  It was the worst decision in franchise history for the reasons why the Mets didn’t make the obvious pick.

No, the Mets passed on a player named Reginald Martinez Jackson, or as you better know him, Reggie Jackson.  This wasn’t a case of a player being overlooked for another player.  No, Reggie was widely seen as the best player in that draft as was evidenced by the then Kansas City Athletics selecting him with the second overall pick in the draft.  The Mets didn’t pass on Reggie because they felt stronger about Chilcott than other organizations (although they might have).  They didn’t pass on Reggie because they believed he wasn’t suited for New York (turns out he was).  They didn’t even pass on him because they felt there was an organizational need for a catcher (they didn’t with Jerry Grote aboard).  No, the Mets passed on Reggie for the dumbest reason of all – racism.  It turns out the Mets didn’t like the fact that he was dating a Hispanic woman.

When Reggie Jackson got his opportunity to exact revenge upon the Mets, he did.  Reggie was the MVP of the 1973 World Series.  While the Mets were floundering in the late 70’s, barely getting over a million fans to Shea Stadium, actually lower in other years, Reggie was leading the Yankees to the 1977 and 1978 World Series.  In 1993, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

Meanwhile, Chilcott flamed out at 23, in part, because he suffered a shoulder injury.  Chilcott became an unfortunate footnote in MLB history as the first ever first overall pick not to make the majors.  It’s worth nothing that the Mets did eventually get the first overall pick right when they picked Darryl Strawberry in 1980. It’s also worth nothing that no first overall pick made the Hall of Fame until this summer when the 1987 first overall pick, Ken Griffey, Jr. will officially be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Overall, the MLB draft is full of hits and misses.  It’s natural for players to be compared with the players who were drafted above and below them.  Drafting in major league baseball is an inexact process.  We were reminded of that this past weekend with Jose Fernandez shutting down the Mets, while the player drafted immediately before him, Brandon Nimmo, is still developing in AAA.  However, we can live with decisions like Nimmo over Fernandez as there were sound reasons to draft Nimmo over Fernandez.  If Nimmo continues his current development, he will become an effective major league player.  That’s a lot more than anyone can say about Chilcott.

It’s important to keep the Reggie Jackson/Steve Chilcott situtation in mind each and every draft.  There are busts, and there are players who exceed expectations.  The only thing you can ask of your team is to have the right process in place when making draft picks.  The Mets didn’t have the right approach in 1966.  Presumably now, even in the absence of Paul De Podesta, the Mets have the right process in place.  As such, we know the Mets are going to make a decision based upon the proper criteria.  Accordingly, we know that the Mets are about to make a much better draft pick than the one they made in 1966.

Time to Call-Up Matt Reynolds 

Due to the stress Jacob deGrom‘s injury and Steven Matz‘s short start out on the bullpen, the Mets were forced to call-up Rafael Montero to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Rather than out deGrom on the DL or demote another pitcher, the Mets sent down Eric Campbell. Even with deGrom looking more and more like he will miss his next start, the Mets still won’t put him on the DL. Essentially, the Mets robbed Peter to pay Paul. 

With a weekend Interleague series in Cleveland, the Mets can get away with a short bench. While it does limit their ability to pinch hit and make defensive substitutions, they should be able to navigate the situation because they won’t have to pinch hit for a pitcher. However, come Monday, they’re back to playing National League ball, and they’re going to need a full bench. 

Whatever your feelings on Campbell is, he’s not going to be eligible to be recalled. Unless deGrom (or someone else) goes on the DL, Campbell will have to spend 10 days in the minors. Looking over the Mets 40 man roster, there would be three eligible candidates: Dilson HerreraMatt Reynolds, and Brandon Nimmo. Now with one extra spot left on the 40 man roster due to Zack Wheeler being on the 60 day DL, the Mets could recall another player like a Ty Kelly

In reality, the decision is between Reynolds and Kelly. Nimmo isn’t quite ready, and even if he was, the last thing the Mets need is another outfielder. Herrera still hasn’t started playing games in the field yet due to a sore shoulder, and even if he has been, the Mets see him as the second baseman of the future. They’re not wasting service and development time for him to be on the bench. 

Kelly is 27 years old, and he has yet to play in the majors. He plays second, third, and the corner outfield positions. He’s a very disciplined hitter, who is extremely selective at the plate. For reasons that aren’t completely clear, he’s spent five seasons in Triple-A, and he’s never played a major league game. Overall, the truth really is Triple-A is his ceiling. At best, he’s a AAAA player. 

Even if that assessment was wrong, it’s still not time to call-up Kelly. First, the Mets would have to add him to the 40 man roster and would not be able to denote him unless he clears waivers. Additionally, his skill set doesn’t match what this team needs. There’s no room for him in the outfield. Terry Collins is going to play Neil Walker almost everyday. So in essence, while Kelly has some versatility, the positions he plays do not match the Mets’ needs. 

Accordingly, Reynolds is the player the Mets need to recall. During Spring Training and this early minor league season, Reynolds has played every infield position but first. His addition to the major league roster would create more flexibility across the infield. It would permit Collins to sit both Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda in the same game. Additionally, it would permit Collins to double switch with any player with the full knowledge that there’s another player on the bench who is fully capable of playing any position should another double switch be needed or there was an injury. 

Offensively, Reynolds is a right hand batter who profiles better at the next level than Kelly. He’s not as patient as Kelly, but then again no one is. Reynolds profiles as a gap to gap line drive hitter. He does have more pop in his bat than Kelly. More importantly, at the very least, Reynolds projects as a bench player. 

If Reynolds is going to wear a Mets uniform past smiling and waiving before Game One of the NLCS, he’s going to be a super-utility man in the mold of Flores or Joe McEwing. Reynolds has worked hard at it during the offseason and Spring. He knows this is his future, and he’s fully embraced it. 

Better yet, he’s scorching hot right now. He’s hitting .353/.476/.529 with a homerun in five games. In those fives games, he’s played second, third, and short.  At this point the only plausible reason for not calling up Reynolds is the Mets want to have a short bench. 

Reynolds has earned his shot, and he’s playing well. It’s time for the Mets to call-up Reynolds. 

Cost of the Projected 2019 Starting Lineup

After the Mets make a decision at catcher, the team appears like they will have between $82 – $96 million to build a roster and re-sign their pitching

Looking at the roster, the Mets will need to obtain starters at the following positions: 1B, 2B, SS, and RF.  David Wright is scheduled to make $15 million, so whether or not you believe he will be able to stay at the position, he will remain with the team in some capacity. Michael Conforto should still be with the team as the leftfielder. Finally, unless the Mets can move him, Juan Lagares and his $9 million salary will be the team’s centerfielder. The Mets organization is fairly well stocked with position players right now, and they might be able to fill out the roster with cheap, cost-controlled talent. 

First Base

Somewhat controversely, Keith Law named Dominic Smith the 29th best prospect in all of baseball. He’s the first baseman of the future. 

Accordingly to the scouting reports, Smith is a good defensive first baseman that should be able to hit. The debate really is whether he will hit for power. Whether or not he hits for power, people see him as being able to field the position and be a good major league hitter. 

With Lucas Duda being a free agent in 2018, the Mets will need Smith to be ready. If he’s not ready, the Mets will need a stopgap. In either event, by the time the Mets pitchers start to become free agents, Smith should be the first baseman earning around $500,000. 

Second Base

We have to assume that one of these years Dilson Herrera is going to transition from second baseman of the future to the Mets second baseman. With Neil Walker only having one year until free agency, it appears that time will be 2017. 

Right now, Herrera has less than one year’s service time. For all the supposed newfound depth, it’ll probably be Matt Reynolds getting called up to the Mets. That will preserve his service time. It means that in 2019, Herrera should be the second baseman, and he will have accrued two full years service time.  Unless he gets enough playing time, it appears like he will avoid Super Two status meaning he will be in the same $500 –  $600 thousand range as Smith. 

Shortstop

As far as organizational depth, the Mets seemingly have an embarassment of riches with two high end shortstop prospects with Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. They also have the aforementioned Reynolds. 

Given Asdrubal Cabrera‘s contract, Cecchini and Rosario are going to have time to develop on the minors. At a minimum, Cabrera is signed to be the Mets shortstop through the 2017 season. If he produces well, or the prospects need another year, Cabrera has an option that could keep him with the Mets through the 2018 season. 

As such, neither Cecchini or Rosario will be arbitration eligible at the time the Mets pitchers start to reach free agency. Accordingly, the Mets will only have to spend around $500 thousand when the pitchers begin to become free agents. 

Left Field

It seems Michael Conforto is the leftfielder of the past (2015), present, and future. He very well should be too. Even if Conforto doesn’t improve upon his 162 game averages he achieved as a 22 year old, who never played above AA, you’re getting a good defensive outfielder who will hit .270/.335/.506 with 26 homers and 75 RBI. 

Fortunately, Conforto will not have accrued enough service time to achieve Super Two status. Unfortunately, Conforto will most likely become arbitration eligible the same time that the Mets pitchers are reaching free agency. 

Looking over the past few years, there isn’t really a good comparable to Conforto. It seems that when teams have good young corner outfielders, they lock them up. With that in mind, although an admittedly imperfect comparison, J.D. Martinez is instructive. 

In 2014, Martinez was 26 years old, and he hit .325/.358/.553 with 23 homers and 76 RBI in 123 games.  He became arbitration eligible after this season, and he agreed to $3 million. In 2015, he had another good year hitting .282/.344/.535 with 38 homeruns and 102 RBI. He and the Tigers avoided an arbitration hearing.  Martinez’s contract extension bought out the remainder of his arbitration years  he’s due to make $6.75 million in 2016 and $11.75 million in 2017. 

While we may or may not agree on whether Martinez is a good comparable, it would be fair to say Conforto is at least capable of hitting .272/.344/.535 by his age 25 season, if not sooner. If that’s the case, it would be fair to suggest Conforto could earn anywhere from $3 – $6 million in his first year of eligibility. 

Right Field

Curtis Granderson‘s contract will expire after the 2017 season. Since he will be 37 heading into the 2018 season, it’s hard to imagine he will be re-signed to be the everyday right fielder. 

Now, Wuilmer Becerra projects to be an everyday player. Scouts believe he has the bat to play the corner outfield spot. The issue as far as the Mets are concerned is how quickly the 21 year old minor leaguer will need before fulfilling that promise. Last year, Becerra played his first year in full season A ball. That’s a long trek to the majors by 2019. 

So unless Brandon Nimmo can handle the corner outfield offensively, which unfortunately seems unlikely, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fill that void. 

If Becerra is still a well regarded prospect, the Mets are likely to bring in a player on a one to two year deal. In retrospect, depending on how he finishes out his contract, Granderson could be coaxed back on a one-year deal ata much lower contract price. 

As a placeholder, let’s presume the cost of a right fielder would cost about $15 million. That’s what Granderson is slated to earn the last year of his contract. 

Cost of the Projected 2019 Starting Lineup

If everything breaks right for the Mets, they will have a group of young, cost-controlled position players at the time their starting pitchers hit the free agent market. If this pans out, the Mets everyday position players would cost about $46.5 million. 

That’s roughly what the Mets are paying their current starting infield. In total, the 2016 Mets starting lineup is due to be paid roughly $90 million. Essentially, the Mets will be spending half the amount of money on their starting lineup in 2019 than they will this season. 

Overall, this leaves the Mets between $35.5 – $49.5 million to build a bench, a bullpen, and to pay their starting rotation if the payroll remains stagnant at the $140 million range. 

Why Roger Bernadina?

Yesterday, the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal. Anytime the Mets sign a player on a minor league deal, I think it’s a great low risk high reward move.With that said, I’m curious why the Mets signed Bernadina. 

Bernadina is a 31 year old outfielder that was originally signed by the Montreal Expos. He played three full seasons with the successor Nationals before being released. Bernadina bounced around a bit since, and he spent all of 2015 in the minor leagues. He’s a career .236/.307/.354 hitter. He’s played all three outfield positions in his career reasonably well. Considering the Brandon Nimmo injury and the Darrell Ceciliani trade, this was a good depth move. Or was it?

His current deal with the Mets he has a June 15th opt out clause. That’s the same day the Mets can trade Alejandro De Aza without any restrictions. This begs the question whether Bernadina was signed as minor league depth, or whether he was signed so the Mets could trade De Aza?  Is Berndina slated to be the fifth outfielder or is he really just depth to protect against injury?

Time will tell. In either scenario, this was a solid organizational depth move by the Mets. 

Mets Real Problem

Something occurred to me last night. The Mets have a real problem this offseason. It’s one that they partially created. In a nutshell, they arrived too soon. 

At the beginning of 2015, no one saw the Mets winning the NL Pennant. They were coming off a 79-83 season. The already dominant Nationals added Max ScherzerBryce Harper wasn’t the only one who thought the Nationals were bound to win a ring. Even with Jacob deGrom winning the Rookie of the Year and the return of Matt Harvey most thought the best case scenario was the Mets competing for one of the Wild Cards. 

What happened?  The National faltered so badly they had to fire their manager. deGrom was even better than he was in his rookie year. Harvey showed no rust and has no setbacks in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets offense and his play in AA forced the Mets to call up Michael Conforto, who played well. Noah Syndergaard had an incredible rookie year. Jeurys Familia became a great closer. 

Add that to Curtis Granderson having a great year and an amazing two months from Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets win 90 games and win the NL East. When the young pitching delivers in the postseason and Daniel Murphy becomes unhittable, you win a pennant. Man was that an unlikely pennant. Going into the year, you would’ve thought everything wouldn’t had to break right for the Mets to get to this point. It was quite the opposite. 

Zack Wheeler‘s season was over before it began with him needing Tommy John surgery. David Wright missed most of the season with spinal stenosis. Murphy was in and out of the lineup in the first half with injuries. Michael Cuddyer wasn’t as good as they hoped, got hurt, and became an expensive bench playerWilmer Flores struggled at shortstop creating a strange platoon with Ruben TejadaDilson Herrera couldn’t fill the gaps because he still wasn’t ready. Travis d’Arnaud had two long DL trips, and his replacements couldn’t hit. Juan Lagares took big steps back offensively and defensively. Lucas Duda had a streaky year with prolonged slumps. Oh, and their closer, Jenrry Mejia, had not one but two PED suspensions. 

Really, this wasn’t some magical season. It was frustrating for most of the year. It was magical from August on. If not fit the Nationals ineptitude, the Mets should’ve been dead and buried. The Mets should’ve been looking to build off of a strong 2015 season. The Mets still have prospects a year or two away. The year was really supposed to be 2017. That was the year the Mets pitching would’ve been firmly established with the Mets having quality players at every position across the diamond.

No, they’re way ahead of schedule. They’re ready to let Murphy walk after he’s been a solid player for many years, let alone that postseason. There’s no room for Cespedes. The Mets are again talking about not being able to expand payroll. It’s creating an air of frustration amongst the fan base. It’s strange considering what happened in 2015. 

What’s also strange is a poor NL East is seemingly getting worse. The NL East may very well be there for the taking WITHOUT the Mets signing even one player. In actuality, not signing anyone could arguably be a prudent move for the future of the team. 

Do you really want to block 2B with a large contract when Herrera is a potential All Star. Do you grossly overpay for a bad shortstop when the Mets have not one but two big prospects at that position who are not far away?  Why are you getting a terrible centerfielder when Brandon Nimmo is so close

Do you block the path for some potential All Stars for aging players who MAY help you one year and be an albatross when the prospects are ready?  How do you not build upon a team that went to the World Series last year?  Can you reasonably ask a fan base to wait another year after all the losing? How do you explain last year might’ve been a fluke?

That’s the Mets real problem. They’re trying to juggle the present and the future. The front office is going to have to earn their money this offseason.