Dominic Smith

Jeff Wilpon Ducked The Media At The Jay Bruce Introductory Press Conference

Look, when a team is introducing a player to the media in a press conference, by its very nature it is a promotional event.  The organization is showing off their player to the fans thereby building excitement among the fan base with the hopes this eventually entices the fans to buy tickets for the season.

However, this is supposed to be a quid pro quo of sorts.  A team like the Mets gets to have more publicity surrounding their acquisition of a player like Jay Bruce, and in turn, the reporters are given an opportunity to ask questions about the team.

We did see that as reporters asked Sandy Alderson an array of questions covering topics like Michael Conforto‘s timetable, the first base situation with Adrian Gonzalez and Dominic Smith, the status of the bullpen, the second base situation, and whether the Mets could add another contract this offseason.

That last topic.  That’s one that could have partially been addressed by ownership, specifically Jeff Wilpon.  As the COO of the Mets, Wilpon would have intimate knowledge of that information.  He also possesses the answer to several other burning questions both reporters and Mets fans want to see answered.

The interesting thing was Jeff Wilpon was at that press conference . . .

. . . but not really,  Right after this photo, Jeff Wilpon got off the stage, and he sat in the front row effectively removing himself from the press conference just as the floor was going to be opened to reporters.

Once again, the Mets deftly controlled the press conference with the questions being granted to the following reporters:

  • Garry Apple, SNY
  • Pete McCarthy, WOR
  • Anthony DiComo, mlb.com
  • Lloyd Carroll, Queens ChronicleNot one question from a major media outlet or newspaper that covers the Mets.  Instead, the Mets directed questions to their television network, the “Radio Home of the Mets,” an MLB reporter, and finally a small local Queens newspaper.  If you have watched enough of these, this has become standard operating procedure for the Mets.

Here’s the best part.  When reviewing the SNY video feed, all reporters are directed to the left of the stage to continue asking questions.  If you pay close enough attention to the video, right at the 20:50 mark, you will see this:

That’s right.  Just as the reporters are told to go left, Jeff heads right.  There is really no other way to describe Jeff’s behavior and the Mets control of the press conference as ownership yet again ducking the media. You are almost left in complete awe of the lengths to which the Wilpons will ensure they do not have to interact with the media.  If they put even a tenth of that effort into the Mets, they would be perennial contenders.

Overall, we as Mets fans can get frustrated about both the lack of transparency from the organization, and how the reporters don’t ask the Wilpons the hard questions that need to be asked.  In reviewing this press conference, we see just how much the Wilpons stonewall the media and the lengths they will go to not be accountable to anyone.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO

Curtis Granderson A Blue Jay While Mets Sign His Polar Opposite

In an offseason where the Mets have been consistently linked to all of their former players, and actually signed Jay Bruce, the team was never truly linked to Curtis Granderson.

Well, they won’t anymore as Granderson has signed a one year $5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As we learned from his four years in Queens, any team that adds Granderson has done well for themselves. He’s a tremendous person and mentor in the clubhouse. More than that, he’s a good and durable baseball player.

Considering these qualities, it really is surprising the Mets showed no interest in a Granderson reunion. Last year, Granderson was a 1.5 WAR player, who played all three outfield positions. That’s important because the team doesn’t know when Michael Conforto will be able to return.  On top of that, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares cannot stay healthy.

Instead of looking for a versatile outfielder, the Mets opted to focus on 1B/OF due to the rookie season of Dominic Smith.  In looking to sure that up, the Mets signed both Bruce and eventually Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is the more interesting signing of the two because he is the anti-Granderson.

For his part, Gonzalez is not a healthy player, has not played well on the East Coast, and he has not been seen as a good clubhouse presence.  Considering the purported issues in the clubhouse late last year, Mickey Callaway managing for the first time in his career, and no one on the coaching staff having any MLB managerial experience this situation seems less than ideal.  Actually, it seems like it could be an impending disaster.

The reason no one is really questioning the Mets thought process here is because we all know why the Mets made the decisions they made.  Mostly, the team would rather have Gonzalez making the minimum than having Granderson for $5 million.  They would also rather bet on a 31 year outfielder for three years instead of a 37 year old one for one year.

On the converse, the Mets opted to try to resurrect the career of an injured soon to be 36 year old first baseman rather than have Bruce at first and Granderson in right.

Whether this proves to be the correct decision remains to be seen.  However, we do know one thing – you are always better off having a player and person like Granderson in your clubhouse.  For that, the Blue Jays are better today, and the Mets aren’t.

Mets Second Base Problems Are On Sandy Alderson

After the 2017 season ended, and the Mets set out to build their roster for the 2018 season, the most glaring need was a second baseman.  Given the options in free agency and the state of the Mets farm system, it also proved to be one of the most difficult holes to fill.

Initially, the Mets did act prudently by looking to obtain Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers.  While he was coming off a down year offensively, he was still a very good defender at the position.  If rumors were true, the Mets stepped up and they made the best offer to the Detroit Tigers.

The problem was Kinsler had a no trade clause to the Mets.  He used that clause to force a deal to the Angels.  Very likely, the reason was all of the gaps in the Mets roster and their limited budget this offseason.

Speaking of the limited budget, yes, we can absolutely blame the Wilpons for not fully investing in this team.  While many will defend them on the concept of finances, it should be noted the Wilpons did have money to invest in an eSports team and the Islanders new arena.

With that said, there was money to be spent.  Yes, it wasn’t enough, but if spent properly, there was enough to at least build a credible roster.  The problem is Sandy Alderson isn’t spending the money wisely.

Certainly, you can justify the Anthony Swarzak signing.  If the Mets have any intentions of competing next year, they needed an extra arm to bring to Jeurys Familia in the ninth.  With Swarzak joining AJ Ramos to set up for Familia, the Mets have a good 7-8-9 tandem.  With Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, you can reasonably assume the Mets will be able to find an arm or two to join Jerry Blevins to form a good if not formidable bullpen.

The problem is what Sandy Alderson has done with the money since signing Swarzak at the close of the Winter Meetings.

The first issue was a trade for Jason Kipnis was rejected by someone with the Mets.  The natural culprits are the Wilpons as the reports said someone higher up.  It’s a baffling decision because even if you have your concerns about him, he’s a good fit in the lineup and in the clubhouse.  There’s also the benefit of his knowing Callaway from their days in Cleveland.

But no, someone with enough decision making authority didn’t want him.  So instead, the Mets went out to address the holes in their roster by signing Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

Of course, this means three things.  The first is the team is all but done with Dominic Smith, at least for the 2018 season.  The second is Michael Conforto is likely out longer than advertised.  The third is the Mets are effectively punting on second base.

Howie Kendrick, who was a viable second base candidate, is now off the board, and with him went the last reasonable shot at getting a starting second baseman in free agency.  That is, unless, you believe Eduardo Nunez, will now be healthy, capable of playing second, and the Mets have enough to sign him.

If you want someone in a trade, like Josh Harrison, get in line.  Teams with much deeper systems, like the Yankees, have interest in him as well.  As a result, this means the Mets are out on him.

Overall, this means the Mets are going to bring back Jose Reyes to play second alongside Amed Rosario.  This is the same Reyes who was one of the worst regulars in all of baseball last year.  He had a -0.6 WAR, a 94 wRC+, and he accomplished the astounding feat of posting a negative DRS at FOUR positions.  One of those was second where he had a -5 DRS in 207.1 innings.

And remember the last time Reyes played second base full time?  That would be the 2004 season when the Mets big acquisition was Kaz Matsui.  When your offseason plan mirrors the plans of your 2004 plans, you know the Mets are in trouble.

And yes, they are.  They’re in trouble because they don’t have the money to spend and because Sandy Alderson isn’t spending it wisely.  Consider for a second, Matt Adams and Kendrick, two versatile players that would have been immensely helpful to the Mets for depth and/or platoons, signed with the Nationals for a combined $11 million.  That’s less than a million more they are paying Bruce and Gonzalez on a team that already had Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, and Smith.

Overall, the Mets may not have had much money to spend, but whatever money they did have, Sandy Alderson squandered it away on duplicative players.  Remember that when the Mets second base situation holds the team back throughout the 2018 season.

 

Does Bruce Or Gonzalez Play Second Base?

Heading into this offseason, THE major hole on the Mets roster was second base. So naturally, the Mets went out and have made sure to collect a bunch of first base options:

That’s right. The Mets brought in Gonzalez. On a Major League deal to boot. Presumably because teams were beating down the door of a soon to be 36 year old first baseman with back problems who skipped out on a postseason run with the team to go on vacation. 

Clearly, the Mets were enticed by his .242/.287/.355 slash line. 

In all seriousness, this move makes no sense on many levels. 

First, the team already had Bruce to move to first if Smith wasn’t ready. Second, Smith might be ready by Opening Day, and he’s now blocked by a broken down player. Third, there were plenty of options available. 

Matt Adams went to the Nationals for just one year $4 million. Adam Lind and Lucas Duda were still available. Heck, even Mike Naploli and his clubhouse leadership is still there for the taking. 

Nope, the Mets went with the cheapest option available, which is not at all surprising:

While all this tomfoolery was happening, the Mets nixed a deal for Jason Kipnis because, wait for it, he makes too much money. They’ll say not a good value, but essentially, it’s the same thing to the Mets. 

Kipnis is likely the best option available to them at second. Many will say Josh Harrison, but with teams with much deeper minor league systems also pursuing him, it’s not likely the Mets emerge out on top. 

Sure, we’ll hear about Eduardo Nuñez and Howie Kendrick, but do we really believe the Mets will sign them?  Their pursuit of those players is like their pursuit of the non-Gonzalez first base options. 

At this point, with Bruce and Anthony Swarzak likely having eaten up the offseason budget, aside from Gonzalez type deals, it means the 2018 second baseman is likely on this roster. 

With Jose Lobaton already in the fold, every Mets fan should know that the second base plan is for next season. 

That’s right. It’ll be Travis d’Arnaud and Asdrubal Cabrera switching back and forth between second and third depending on the handedness of the batter. 

Jay Bruce Returns To The Mets – Why?

The free agent market has been stagnant, and to the surprise of many, the Mets made a splash signing Jay Bruce to a backloaded three year $39 million contract.

Whenever a team makes a move, it tells you something about the team. It tells you something about how the team views both its postseason chances and the composition of their roster.

The problem with Bruce is you don’t know exactly what his signing is telling you about the team.

Conforto

Prior to Bruce signing, Michael Conforto was penciled in as the 2018 right fielder. At least, that is the case when Conforto was to return.

While the Mets have been publicly bullish on his return, they readily admit he won’t be ready by Opening Day. Beyond that, we don’t know because there is no timetable.

And even when he returns, we don’t know if he will return to his All Star form.

Are we to read the Bruce signing as Conforto being out longer than anticipated and/or the Mets being uneasy about what Conforto will be when he returns?

Lagares

Last year, Juan Lagares returned to his best defensive center fielder in baseball form with him leading all MLB center fielders in UZR/150.

As if this wasn’t enough to get you at least intrigued about him returning to an everyday role, Lagares is working with the coach who completely changed the course of J.D. Martinez‘s career.

That coaches helped Martinez go from a .250/.272/.378 hitter in 2013 to a .315/.358/.553 hitter the following season. For a point of reference, Lagares hit .250/.296/.365 last year.

If Bruce stays in right, this would mean Conforto would go to center when he comes off the DL thereby forcing Lagares to the bench.

Are the Mets really willing to make Lagares a high paid defensive replacement with him making $6.5 million this year and $9 million the next?  Is it possible the Mets aren’t interested in seeing whether Lagares could become at least an improved hitter thereby bringing him closer to the 5.5 win player they so eagerly extended prior to the 2015 season?

Dom

There’s no doubt Dominic Smith had a disappointing stint in the majors last year posting a -1.2 WAR in 49 games. After that stretch, the Mets let anyone who’d listen know they’ve soured on Smith. Even with them walking it back a bit, they still have been actively looking for a first baseman this offseason.

Here’s the thing – not only has Smith been getting in much better shape this offseason, but he’s also been a player who has gotten better after some early struggles at his new level.

Last year, Smith hit .324/.377/.498 in April in May. After that, he hit .336/.394/.537 until he was called up to the majors.

In Double-A in 2016, he hit .267/.317/.396 in April and May. After that, Smith hit .323/.397/.495.

What if Smith follows a similar path this season? Are you willing to bench him or demote him to Triple-A when he’s playing well?

Defense

One of the biggest issues with the 2017 Mets was their defense.  They did not have a positive defender anywhere across the field.  Things are going to be just as bad, if not worse, with this signing.

Likely, Bruce signing means an outfield of Yoenis Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce.  Last year, Conforto had a -4 DRS in center in just 328.2 innings there.  Based upon those numbers, why would the Mets actively look to put him in center not just this year, but over the next three years?

Also, why would you ask a player coming back from a significant shoulder injury to play a relatively unfamiliar position he has not had an opportunity to prepare to play this offseason?

This is asking for more poor defense from the Mets.  That become all the more puzzling when we are currently playing in an era where batters focus on hitting the ball in the air.

Money

Initially, it was believed the Mets had around $30 million to spend this offseason.  However, after the Anthony Swarzak signing and Sterling Equities getting involved in the Islanders Belmont arena, that number was reportedly lowered to just $10 million remaining to spend in free agency.

If we take a look at Bruce’s backloaded deal, you will notice he is slated to earn $10 million next year.  Is this really an accident?  If it isn’t does this mean the Mets just spent all of their money on a right fielder when they are already had one?  Why would you do that with huge holes on this roster including second base?

Building A Complete Roster

It is quite surprising Bruce was the choice.  Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, Howie Kendrick, Lorenzo Cain, and Addison Reed remain free agents.  Each one of those players fills a real need on this roster.  Bruce is a luxury item that based upon budget reports prevents another move.

Such a move would be Jason Kipnis, who Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reports the Mets nixed a deal for him over money.  Whether that was before or after signing Bruce is not clear.  What is clear is the Mets still have limited resources, and they are now allocating them poorly.

Where to Go From Here

At the moment, the Mets are eventually going to be forced to figure out what to do with Lagares and Smith once Conforto is healthy.  However, that is a little down the road.  At the moment, the question is what do the Mets do to fill their other needs.

They just nixed Kipnis over $30.7 million over the next two years with a third year option.  Are we really to believe Josh Harrison and his being owed $11.5 million with successive options is that much more palatable?  If so, can we really believe the Mets will get him over teams like the Yankees who have a much deeper farm system?

Also, what are the Mets going to do to address the rest of the bullpen and their bench.  Seeing where the finances are, it is not likely the Mets do much.  This likely translates to a Jose Reyes reunion despite him being one of the worst regulars in all of baseball last year posting a -1.7 WAR.

And that’s the problem.  Rather that looking to make significant improvements with their payroll constraints, Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons are going with a failed measure.  Add power.  Eschew defense.  Go with guys you like personally.  Hope it works out.  Well, it didn’t work in 2017, and with a worse roster heading into next year, it’s not likely to work again in 2018.

So overall, the Bruce signing really doesn’t address any problems, it creates more issues, and it likely assures the Mets will not be competing for a spot in the postseason next year.

 

On The Mets And Eric Hosmer

One of the more polarizing free agents this offseason is Eric Hosmer.  The main reason why is he just looks like a better player than he actually is. 

For that, look no further than his Gold Gloves. In four of the last five seasons, he has taken home a Gold Glove despite posting a cumulative -6 DRS over that stretch with his posting a -6 and -7 DRS over the last two seasons. 

Offensively, over the last three years, he has averaged 159 G, .294/.359/.463, 29 2B, 23 HR, 97 RBI. Pretty good looking numbers, but those numbers translate to a 119 OPS+, 120 wRC+. 

For this some teams, including the Royals and possibly the Padres, are willing to pay him over $20 million a year for seven years. That’s a gross overpay for a player who is averaging a 2.9 bWAR and 2.5 fWAR during the prime of his career. 

Now, there are some plausible reasons why you could say he’s more than the numbers say he is. By all accounts, he’s a leader and a tremendous clubhouse presence. The man seemingly does everything it takes to win. 

My personal favorite is when his GM Dayton Moore said, “”If you told Eric Hosmer, ‘We need you to hit 40 home runs,’ he would be able to hit 40 home runs. He’s that type of athlete.”  (WEEI). 

Basically, all you need to do is to tell Hosmer to do something, and he’ll do it. Whatever it takes to win, except hitting 40 homers because he doesn’t need to do that to win. What he will do is make the mad dash home Alex Gordon didn’t the prior year and scoring a run as Lucas Duda‘s throw went nowhere near home. 

That brings us to the Mets. 

There’s no doubt the Mets could very well use a player like Hosmer in the clubhouse. There’s value in adding a winner, and there’s more value in adding a headsmart player on a young team. 

The first problem with considering Hosmer, which the Mets purportedly aren’t, is Dominic Smith

The young first baseman was a well regarded prospect who struggled in his debut. This led the Mets to tell everyone who will listen they’ve soured on Smith. They soured on him so much they began the offseason listing first base as a need. 

It was more than a short-term consideration. The team did inquire on Carlos Santana as the Mets viewed him as a “difference maker.”

Apparently, he wasn’t enough of a difference maker to garner $20 million a year. Although, that may have more to do with the Mets not having $20 million to spend this offseason. 

Therein lies the problem. We’ll never truly know how much of an impact a player like Hosmer would have on the Mets. We don’t get to see the blending of new and old school and how they work together to build a winner. 

In fact, the way the Mets offseason is transpiring, you’d be hard pressed to argue this team is really looking to build a winner for 2018 or beyond. 

That leaves Mets fans watching Hosmer dashing for a chance to win again while we all look on in horror. 

Mets Should Consider Moving d’Arnaud To The Infield

On August 16, 2017, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud bounce back-and-forth between second and third base. Twenty-three times in total.

The reason for the switching was because Terry Collins wanted to have Asdrubal Cabrera play on the pull side of the Yankee batters. d’Arnaud was in the field in the first place because (surprise, surprise), the Mets were playing short. With Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores unable to play the infield, d’Arnaud had to play there.  On the evening, d’Arnaud would have just one ball hit in his direction.  d’Arnaud would cleanly field that ninth inning pop up off the bat of Todd Frazier forever giving him the highest fielding percentage for a Mets second baseman.

Fast forward a few months, and the Mets are in the same exact situation they were just months ago. The team needs to fill in spots at second and third, and really, Cabrera is the only player they have capable on handling those positions everyday.

But it’s more than that.  The Mets are currently not satisfied with Dominic Smith at first base, and they want competition for him.  At a minimum, they’d like a platoon partner for him there as Smith has historically struggled with left-handed pitching.

Historically, this is where you would point to Flores being a solution for second, third, and/or first.  However, Flores has also shown himself not in position to be that player.  He cannot handle third base defensively.  The Mets won’t let him handle second.  And the overriding problem is he’s still a platoon bat even with him making strides against right-handed pitching.

Looking back at that August night, it may be worth toying with the idea of bringing d’Arnaud out from behind the plate to learn either second or third base – preferably third.

First and foremost, the roster composition would allow such a move.  At the end of last season, Kevin Plawecki showed he may finally be ready to push for a starting catching job in the majors.  Also, the Mets signed Jose Lobaton to a minor league deal.  In his career, Lobaton has showed himself to be a more than capable backup catcher.

That tandem not only allows the Mets to handle the inevitable d’Arnaud injury, but it also allows the team to move d’Arnaud.

Presumably, third base would allow d’Arnaud to stay healthy.  As we have long seen, d’Arnaud has been an injury prone player.  By moving him to another position, you may be able to keep his bat in the lineup.

His bat is where things get a bit dicey.  If d’Arnaud is the player he was in 2016 or 2017, you don’t want that bat in the lineup.  It may be possible at catcher, but it’s not at third.

However, in 2015, he was a 126 OPS+ and 130 wRC+ hitter.  That will play at any position.  Keep in mind, when he was drafted, and when he was twice moved for Cy Young Award winners (Roy Halladay and R.A. Dickey) this is what he was expected to be as a hitter.

Getting d’Arnaud’s bat into the lineup everyday and giving Plawecki a shot to be the everyday catcher may go a long way towards helping the 2018 Mets get the most out of the talent on their roster.

Now, this understandably seems ridiculous, and you know what?  It is.  It is absolutely ridiculous we need to even contemplate d’Arnaud switching positions because of the failures of this team.

Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart both chose to become Angels.  Rumors persist the Indians are not looking to move Jason Kipnis, at least not to the Mets.  Josh Harrison was linked to the Yankees, not the Mets, in trade rumors.  The team has a limited budget, so we can probably forget Frazier, Mike Moustakas, or even a Howie Kendrick.

The Mets don’t have the money, and they don’t have the prospects to get things done.  With that in mind, you might as well contemplate moving d’Arnaud to the infield because . . . well . . . the Mets don’t really have any better options.

Omar Minaya Returning Is Great News

In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson.  In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development.  While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:

1.  Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised

One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system.  There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.

However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there.  As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant.  It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.

Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal.  That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.  If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.

2.  Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend

When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent.  He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.  He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado.  He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.

Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal.  However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal.  It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other.  If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.

3.  Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System

The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing.  So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario.  Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.

Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level.  Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith.  It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.

In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned.  When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up.  There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.

Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons.  He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent.  Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant.  With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.

Mets Interest In Adrian Gonzalez Is Sadly Predictable 

In a vacuum, the Mets purported interest in Adrian Gonzalez makes a ton of sense. 

Gonzalez had a forgettable 2017 season largely fueled by back problems.  This led to him posting a -1.2 WAR, easily the worst in his career. 

In the three years prior, Gonzalez was a .279/.345/.466 hitter who averaged 35 doubles, 24 homers, and 99 RBI.  That’s good for a 124 OPS+ and a 123 wRC+.  In the field, he averaged an 8 DRS.  Overall, he averaged a 3.3 WAR. 

These numbers were dragged down by a down 2016 season. Still, Gonzalez had a 111 OPS+, 111 wRC+, 3 DRS, and a 2.1 WAR. 

With Dominic Smith struggling mightily in his first exposure to the majors, Gonzalez would arguably be the perfect insurance policy for the 2013 first round draft pick (11th overall). 

However, this is all in a vacuum. The offseason tells us why this is a much different story. 

Sandy Alderson began the offseason saying Smith “didn’t win [the first base job] in September, let’s put it that way.”  (Mike Puma, New York Post). 

This gave way to comments about Smith’s weight. More importantly, it gave way to interest in Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce

Well, the price tags for both were set high. While Bruce has dropped his price, Santana signed a three year deal with a $20 million average annual value. 

This would eventually give way to the Mets being very high on Smith. (Puma, New York Post).  Admittedly, this did come on the heels of Smith losing over 10 pounds since the season started. 
So great, Smith is keeping his end of the bargain. The Mets can now allocate resources and 25/40 man space to fulfill other holes on an immensely flawed roster. 

Nope. The Braves, who already have Freddie Freeman, obtained Gonzalez in a bad contract trade with the Dodgers. To the surprise of no one, Gonzalez was released despite being owed $22.3 million next year. 

Accordingly, Gonzalez’s new team would have to pay him just the league minimum. 

And now, the Mets are interested in adding a 35 year old first baseman coming off an injury plagued season. 

Again, this would be the smart decision for the Mets. In Gonzalez, you’re getting a cheap safety net. You may be also getting a potential difference maker should he rediscover his form. 

However, the Mets started this offseason by saying Smith didn’t win a job, and he needed to lose weight . . . again. Essentially, they said they’re not sure they can count on him at all in 2018. 

You cannnot go from that to someone who will turn 36 next year, who is coming off the worst season of his career. You don’t go from being dismissive of Smith to an old declining player who now has back issues. 

Gonzalez isn’t insurance. Rather, it’s just the team collecting league minimum contracts hoping one player sticks. 

That’s not how you build a team you think can win a World Series. That’s pushing all your chips despite holding 2-7 off suit. 

This is yet another example of the Mets being dissatisfied with their own draft picks and being unable to spend to offset that. That’s not exactly the best combination in a franchise. 

Mets fans are likely left hoping and praying the combination of Smith and Gonzalez works out better than that. 

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.