Dominic Smith

Rosario Getting Mets Fans Excited Again

After his warm-up act in Colorado, Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is finally coming to the bright lights of New York.  He’s going to run out of the dugout before the top of the first, and he’s going to go to that area between second and third base.  That’s the area that should belong to him for the next decade.  Maybe more.

Already, we have seen glimpses why everyone is so high on Rosario.  You’d be hard pressed to name a Mets player over the past decade who is as athletic as he is.  We’ve seen him go from home to third quicker than anyone over the past three seasons.  We’ve seen him make plays in the hole that no Mets shortstop since perhaps Rey Ordonez could have even contemplated making a play.  We’ve also seen him adapt.

Nothing speaks more to that than the grounders hit by Trevor Story on Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Tuesday, Rosario took a less direct route, and he tapped his glove before throwing to first.  Story would be safe on the bang-bang play.  On Wednesday, Rosario took a more direct route and threw on the run.  This time, Story was out on the bang-bang play.

It tells you a lot about a player who can adapt that quickly.

It also tells you alot about him the way he reacted to another tough play from that Tuesday game.  Rosario was in no man’s land on a DJ LeMahieu groundball.  He broke to cover second because it was his responsibility to cover the position.  With the ball in play, he broke back, but he could only get a glove on it.  From there, Nolan Arenado would hit an RBI single ending the game.  It was a tough play that caused Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, and Terry Collins to reach out and speak to him after the game.

If the play truly bothered him, we saw no ill effects from Rosario.  He played just as well over the next two games.  In fact, he hit triples in consecutive games to spark the Mets offense.  He was also flawless in the field again making plays we haven’t see a Mets shortstop make in 20 years.

Rosario is here, and so far he’s been everything we thought he could be.  Actually, that’s wrong.  He’s more than that.  He’s already shown the ability to put the tough plays behind him and learn from difficult plays.

In this tough 2017 season where it is has been difficult to watch the Mets at times.  We now have Rosario, who with this ability and effort level makes watching games for a team playing out the string worthwhile. Between him, Michael Conforto, and soon Dominic Smith, the Mets are showing us a young core of position players who can return the Mets to the postseason as soon as next year.

It’s time to get excited about the Mets again.

Five Mets Players Who Need A Bigger Role Now

The Mets have unofficially announced they are focusing their attention to the 2018 season.  Gone are Addison Reed and Lucas Duda, and in their stead are four promising minor league relievers.  The Mets have added AJ Ramos with an eye towards him being the primary set-up man for Jeurys Familia next year.  Amed Rosario has already played his first game with the Mets, and according to Sandy Alderson, Dominic Smith is not far away.

Seeing Ramos in the bullpen is a good start.  Rosario and Smith are even better.  However, that’s not enough.  As the 2017 season comes to an end, the New York Mets are going to have to find out about a number of players and how they factor into the 2018 season:

INF Wilmer Flores

2017 Stats: .287/.320/.486, 14 2B, 3B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, SB, 0.2 WAR

With Neil Walker being an impending free agent, Asdrubal Cabrera possibly having his option declined, and David Wright‘s continuing health issues, the Mets will enter the offseason with question marks at both second and third base.  Ideally, Flores could slot in at one of those two spots.

It was just two years ago, the Mets thought Flores could be the everyday shortstop for a playoff caliber team.  Since then, we have seen uneven performances at the plate and on the field.  The Mets have seemingly come to terms with him being a platoon bat, but lost in that is the fact he is still just 25 years old and an improving player.  That is exhibited by him being much better against right-handed pitching hitting .281/.326/.467 off of them.  If Flores can continue hitting like that against right-handed pitching, he could conceivably play everyday.

The key for him is to find a position.  That’s easier said than done, but he is a significantly better second than a third baseman.  In 667.0 innings at second, he has a career -7 DRS and a 0.3 UZR.  In 911.0 innings at third, he has a -16 DRS and a -4.4 UZR.  With that said, let Flores focus on second and see if he can be a solution there next year.

RHP Rafael Montero

2017 Stats: 1-7, 5.56 ERA, 21 G, 7 GS, 56.2 IP, 1.729 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, -0.4 WAR

Montero has survived this long on the roster, and he has finally shown the Mets some glimpse of the talent that caused the Mets to keep him on the 40 man roster.  Since his latest last chance to prove himself, Montero has a 4.14 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9.  In this stretch, we have seen him pitch into the seventh inning, and we have seen him meltdown.

While there have been promising signs, his usage runs counter-intuitive to his utility to the Mets.  If Montero is going to be with the Mets next year, it is going to have to be in the bullpen as there will be no room for the Mets to even consider him being a part of the rotation next year. This means the Mets should be utilizing the rest of the season to see how he pitches out of the bullpen whether it is using him as a long man or as a late inning reliever.

The Mets need to do this because Montero is out of options.  This means he either makes the Opening Day roster in the bullpen, or the Mets stand to lose a player they have stubbornly held onto for so long.  Before making that decision, they should at least see if the new and improved Montero can hack it in the bullpen.

CF Brandon Nimmo

2017 Stats: 16 G, 25 PA, 21 AB, 7 H, 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.440/.381

While the Mets left side of the infield defensive deficiencies have been oft discussed, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the centerfield situation.  On the season, Mets centerfielders have a 0 DRS, which may not sound so bad on the surface.  However, consider this is 19th in all of baseball.  Also, consider this number has been propped up by Juan Lagares having played 216.0 innings at the position posting a 7 DRS.

The Mets answer lately has been Michael Conforto, who has a 0 DRS, which is remarkable considering he has never really played there full-time at any level.  There is still the possibility he could be adequate there, but shouldn’t the Mets first find out about Nimmo first?

Nimmo has been a center fielder throughout his minor league career.  While there is some debate over his ability to play the position, he does have the experience out there, and he deserves to benefit from the same major league coaching that has helped Conforto play there.

More than that, Nimmo has shown the ability to be a top of the order hitter who can get on base.  At a minimum, he has showed enough to earn the opportunity to serve as part of a center field platoon with Lagares.

Lastly, Nimmo was the first first round pick of the Sandy Alderson Era.  Doesn’t the team owe it to themselves to see what a player they heavily invested in can do at this level before looking to further address the outfield situation in the offseason.  Consider that once the Mets sign another outfielder, whether that is Jay Bruce or Lorenzo Cain, the Mets have effectively made a first round pick a fourth or fifth outfielder without so much as giving him an opportunity to win a job.

RHP Paul Sewald

2017 Stats: 0-3, 8 H, 4.07 ERA, 35 G, 42.0 IP, 1.238 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, o.4 WAR

After being used in a variety of roles this season, Sewald has found himself being used in the seventh inning or later in his last 10 appearances.  In those appearances, Sewald is 0-1 with six holds, a 2.79 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9.

Even with him walking five batters over that stretch, Sewald has shown he should get a closer look in one of the two primary set-up roles.  With Reed going to the Red Sox, and Ramos presumably becoming the new closer, there is no reason why the Mets wouldn’t use Sewald as their eighth inning reliever to close out the season, or at least until Familia comes off the disabled list.

If Sewald shows he can handle the stress of protecting a late inning lead at the major league level, the Mets are that much closer to building a bullpen that can compete in 2018.

3B Neil Walker

2017 Stats: 63 G, 266 PA, 233 AB, 35 R, 62 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, .266/.347/.455, 0.9 WAR

Since Wright went down with spinal stenosis, third base has been a black hole for the Mets.  With Wright presumably missing the entire 2017 season, it is now clear the Mets cannot rely upon him to return to play third or any position next year.  With no prospects coming through the pipeline, it is likely the Mets will have to address the position in free agency or via trade.

If they are going the free agency route, it may behoove them to re-sign Walker.  The two sides were interested in a long term contract extension this offseason.  Just because the two sides were unable to reach an accord does not prevent Walker from returning.

Considering Walker’s back issues as well as his getting older, he may be best suited to playing third base.  Certainly, the way he has hit as a Met, he does have the bat to play the position.  The only question remaining is if he can play the position.  The Mets have 59 games to find out.

If Walker can do it, the Mets know they have a team player who has been a liked figure in the clubhouse.  They will also have a veteran who can help show Rosario and Smith the ropes.  More than that, they have a middle of the order bat to really extend the lineup.

No One Wanted The Mets Position Players

Entering the trade deadline, the Mets had eight players who were impending free agents and another two who could be free agents if the Mets declined their 2018 options.  Despite the Mets looking to get something in return for each of these prospects, they walked away from the trade deadline having made just two deals:

Lucas Duda for Rays minor league reliever Drew Smith

Addison Reed for Red Sox minor league relievers Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista

If you are going to question why the Mets didn’t do more look no further than their 48-55 record.  Simply put, the teams in contention didn’t have much interest in the players who have led the Mets from potential World Series contenders to also-rans.

Sure, there will be people who point out it was not a robust market for position players.  That’s true, but it did not prevent the White Sox from moving Melky Cabrera, the Athletics from moving Adam Rosales, or for that matter, the Mets from moving Duda.  This brings about the question over why teams weren’t interested in the Mets pieces.  For each player, there is a different answer:

RF/1B Jay Bruce

2017 Stats: .263/.326/.523, 19 2B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.3 WAR

When assessing why teams aren’t interested in Bruce, one thing to keep in mind is team’s don’t covet home runs much in the same fashion they once did.  Remember, Chris Carter went from winning the National League home run title last year to being a non-tendered free agent with little interest on the free agent market.  So, yes, the 27 homers are good, but they do not completely define a player’s value.

Keep in mind, Bruce is no longer considered a good defensive player.  While, it should be noted his 8 DRS and 2.6 UZR are good defensive numbers, it is coming off a season where he posted a -11 DRS and a -8.9 UZR.  To the eyes, Bruce does look a step slower in right.

As for the rest of the value, Bruce has shown himself to be a first half player who tapers off in the second half.  To that end, he hit .250/.281/.500 in July.  Potentially, this could be the beginning of a prolonged slump like we saw Bruce have with the Mets last year.  Certainly, other teams noticed that as well, and they might be scared off by how poorly he performed when asked to change teams mid-season.

INF Asdrubal Cabrera

2017 Stats: .260/.339/.404, 15 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, SB, -0.4 WAR

In 2017, Cabrera got hurt, and when he was asked to move off shortstop, a position where he has posted a -9 DRS and -4.7 UZR, he balked.  First, he demanded his option be picked-up, then he demanded a trade.  Things like that don’t go over well when you have shown yourself to have a lack of range at three infield positions, and you are not hitting well at the plate.

OF Curtis Granderson

2017 Stats: .224/.330/.446, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB

To a certain extent, the relative lack of interest in Granderson is surprising.  After a slow and painful start, he has been a much better player since June 1st hitting .258/.404/.558.  He’s also accepted a role on the bench without being an issue in the clubhouse.  As a pinch hitter this year, he is hitting .267/.421/.533.  If your team has an injury, you know he can capably fill in at three outfield positions.  He’s also a tremendous clubhouse presence.  Ultimately, this tells us teams were scared off by his age and his $15 million contract.

INF Jose Reyes

2017 Stats: .226/.289/.387, 17 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB, -1.0 WAR

Let’s start with the obvious.  Adding Reyes to your team is a potential PR nightmare.  The Cubs thought it worthwhile for Aroldis Chapman, but it is likely no one is going down that road with a below replacement level player.  As noted, the main issue is Reyes has been bad this year.  Even with the recent surge, he still hasn’t been great this year, and there was zero interest even before he was hit on the hand.

C Rene Rivera

2017 Stats: .232/.277/.374, 4 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI

Rivera’s reputation as a defensive catcher and pitching whisperer has taken a bit of a hit this year.  Whatever the reason, he did not have the same touch with pitchers like Robert Gsellman like he did last year.  Also, while he is throwing out more base runners, he has taken a significant step back as a pitch framer.  Overall, he still has a good defensive reputation and is a good backup catcher, but he hasn’t excelled in the areas where he excelled in year’s past.

2B Neil Walker

2017 Stats: .266/.347/.455, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0.9 WAR

If Walker stayed healthy, there may have been some semblance of a trade market for him.  When he has played he has hit, but he has only played in 63 games as a result of a partially torn left hamstring.  This was a year after he had season ending back surgery.  Between the injury history and his $17.2 million salary, the lack of trade interest in him is certainly understandable.

Looking at the above, it is understandable why there was at best tepid interest in the Mets trade pieces.  That is why they are still on the Mets roster.  However, this does not preclude an August trade.  To that end, Mets fans were all disappointed the Mets weren’t able to moved Marlon Byrd at the 2013 non-waiver deadline.  Twenty-seven days later, Byrd was traded with John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

Hopefully, not moving these players is just a temporary set-back.  Hopefully, the failure to move these players does not prevent the Mets from calling up Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario to the majors.

AJ Ramos Should Get You Excited

Last night, the Mets made a surprising trade obtaining AJ Ramos in exchange for minor leaguers Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes

It’s an interesting trade to say the least. When looking at a pitcher like Gonzalez, he has the stuff where trading him could haunt you one day. With that said, Gonzalez will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason meaning the Mets need to add him to the 40 man roster to protect him from the draft. 

It’s no guarantee the Mets would add Gonzalez to the 40 man roster, and it was certainly plausible an organization would pick him in the draft. To that end, it certainly makes sense to get something for Gonzalez instead of losing him for nothing. 

The deal should also help the Mets maximize the return for Addison Reed. All the teams who were in on Ramos were in on Reed. If someone really wants a late inning reliever, the cost for Reed is likely higher than it was yesterday as there is one less viable option.

These are all well and good reasons to like this trade. However, that’s not the reason why I like this trade for the Mets. The reason why I like this trade is what it signifies. 

The New York Mets are going for it in 2018. 

The Mets are in the middle of a fire sale. The team is likely getting younger with rookies Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario expected to be important parts of the team. The uncertainty of David Wright continues to hang over this organization. The players returning to the roster have all had injury  issues. There’s a couple of holes that need to be filled. 

On of those holes is the bullpen, and Ramos goes a long way towards filling it. 

With his sinker-slider repertoire, he not only has the ability to return to his All Star form, but with his working with Dan Warthen, he could be even better. 

Regardless of what happens, Mets fans should be excited about this deal. It is an indication the Mets will do all they need to be a much better team in 2018. That news alone should get that Mets fans excited. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on MMO

Assessing The Lucas Duda Trade

Now, one thing I have been upfront about is that I am partial to Lucas Duda.  For me, seeing Duda go from the Mets organization was more than just seeing a good player leave, it does close a small chapter of my life.  Unlike most writers, I want to be upfront about my biases because everyone writes with some bias.  If you understand that, you’re better able to assess the evaluation.

Now before addressing this specific trade, Duda was arguably worth a second round pick or the equivalent due to the changes in the qualifying offer system.  Ultimately, when assessing the Mets trade of Duda for Drew Smith, the question is whether the Mets accomplished that in this deal.

The answer?  Maybe.

On the one hand, only earlier this year his trade value was just a fourth outfielder in Mikie Mahtook.  However, judging his value on that alone is silly.  It’s very possible the Tigers made a bad trade.  It’s also possible Smith got better as the year progressed.  With Smith, it seems both might be true.

Based on various scouting reports, Smith is a reliever who throws it in the high 90s and he can reach 99 MPH.  He combines that with a good but inconsistent curveball. Both pitches have been dominant for him this year with him going 1-2 with a 1.60 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, and an 8.0 K/9 across three levels of the minors and in two different organizations.  Smith certainly gets the most out of these pitches because he locates both of these pitches well.

Looking at the stats and his stuff, there is a lot to like.  He has been getting good results.  One thing that stands out with him is he has allowed just five extra base hits in 45.0 innings pitched.  Four of those extra base hits were doubles, and the lone home run he has allowed was to now fellow Mets prospect Peter Alonso.  Remarkably, that homer is the only one he has allowed in his career.

On the downside is there’s not a lot of strikeouts.  For someone with his stuff, you’d expect a lot more.  More troubling is the fact he has yet to strike anyone above Single-A.  It should be noted he’s pitched 4.2 innings above Single-A.  One of the reasons why his strikeouts are low could be his fastball is a straight fastball.

Given his repertoire and the low amount of strikeouts, as Mets fans we may be looking at another Bobby Parnell or Vic Black.  Depending on your point of view, that’s a good or bad thing.

Ultimately, Smith is an interesting relief prospect, but in some ways, he’s also a project.  Given Duda’s production, the Mets probably should have done better than this.  Arguably, they should have also received another lower level prospect in return to mitigate some of the boom/bust potential in Smith.

However, this analysis does ignore the down market for sluggers like Duda, and the fact Sandy Alderson probably waited too long to trade him.  It also ignores this is a pitcher with high upside.  If he hits his ceiling, and he’s in an organization where he very well could, you’re probably calling this trade a win for the Mets.

Another factor is this trade does make room for Dominic Smith to play sooner rather than later.  This will allow Smith to get his feet wet this year and make the necessary adjustments heading into the 2018 season to help him be a much better player.

Overall, the Mets likely sold low on Duda.  In the end, we’re probably not going to care much if Smith becomes the 10 time All Star Duda said he wants him to become.  We’ll care even less if Smith becomes a dominant late inning reliever.  As of today, anything is possible

Good Luck Lucas Duda

With the Mets trading Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, we bring an end to the Mets career of one of the better Mets in their history, and we also see the beginning of the end of an era of Mets baseball.

Duda was a player with a promising bat the Mets that first Omar then Sandy tried to get into the lineup.  With players blocking his path to his natural first base position, Duda would be moved to the outfield.  Duda would be standing there ins what was then a fairly cavernous right field when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Lost in that game was Duda homering in the sixth to put the game away.

Despite Duda being in the outfield during one of the biggest moments in Mets history, it became increasingly clear he wasn’t an outfielder.  He belonged at first base.  The fact he even forced a competition for the spot with Ike Davis was impressive.  Duda did all he could to wrestle that spot from Davis, and he finally showed the Mets what he could do hitting 30 home runs in 2014.  He had more in store in 2015.

When people have typically written about the 2015 season, they usually credit with Yoenis Cespedes for winning the National League East.  This overlooks how Duda almost single-handedly pulled the Mets into first place in 2015:

In that pivotal series that saw the Mets go from second to first place, Duda was 8-9 with a double, three homers, and five RBI.  With Mets fans debate over whether Duda was clutch or not, this series should answer the question in the affirmative.

As we know that season would eventually end in heartbreak.  Duda played his part throwing away the ball in Game 5 allowing Eric Hosmer to score the tying run.  It was hard to watch, and unfortunately, it masked all the good he had done that season including his grand slam in the division clincher and his homer effectively sealing the pennant:

These are many of the many great things Duda has done in a Mets uniform.  He was the second Mets player in history to hit three home runs in a game at home.  Shockingly, he was second to Kirk Nieuwenhuis.  Speaking of homering at Citi Field, Duda leaves the Mets as the all-time leader in home runs at Citi Field.

Hitting homers was one of the things Duda did well.  This year, he passed notable Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin McReynolds, and Todd Hundley to finish his Mets career with the seventh most in Mets history.  Depending on whether you view Dave Kingman as an outfielder or first baseman, Duda’s 125 Mets homers are either the most or second most for a Mets first baseman.

There were many great moments with Duda, but none of the aforementioned moments were my favorite.  My favorite Duda moment was a seemingly meaningless Spring Training Game in 2015.

One night, I was sitting up watching the game with my then one year old half watching a Spring Training game when Duda ripped a double leading to an enthusiastic Gary Cohen call to the effect of “LUCAS DUDA rips an RBI double . . . .”  My son immediately latched on and began screaming Duda, and he wanted to see Duda play more and hit more.  As that season wore on, he became more and more interested in baseball, and he would learn the Mets players.  First one he’d learn:

That was a magical year as both a father and a Mets fan.  I’d get to see the Mets go to the World Series for the third time in my life, but it would be the first time I’d get to experience it with my son.  I still remember him trying to stay up to watch the games with me.  I remember him getting me a Duda jersey for Father’s Day and getting the Duda growth chart at one of the Mets games.  Even with Duda gone, we will still use it.  I also remember him going crazy during that World Series cheering for the Mets:

Duda leaving does not only mean we are saying good bye to a good player who began his career with the Mets.  We are also saying good-bye to a part of a Mets era.  It was an era that saw the Mets go from a frustrating team a team that came so close to winning a World Series.

On a personal note, I see Duda leaving as part of the ever changing realization that my son is no longer a baby – he’s now a little boy.  He doesn’t just snuggle up with me at bedtime trying to watch Mets games, he now goes outside and plays baseball with me.

It was time to move on, especially with Dominic Smith waiting in the wings.  Still, as Curtis Granderson would point out, you just want to hold onto all of these moments just a little longer:


Like Granderson, I still want to hold on to not just Duda, but all of these memories.  In reality, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.  With that said, I enjoyed each and every minute Duda was a Met (except for that throw), and I appreciate all he has done in a Mets uniform.  He was a class act, who was always there to answer questions in even the hardest of times.  On a personal note, he helped make another great fan.  He deserves another opportunity to win a World Series, and I hope he does get that ring.

Good luck Lucas Duda.

Future Starts Tonight With Chris Flexen

While many Mets fans wanted Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith to be the first major call-up of the 2017 season, with Zack Wheeler‘s potentially season ending injury, that honor is going to go to Mets right-handed pitcher Chris Flexen.

Heading into the 2017 season, Flexen was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, and Mets Minors rated him the Mets 20th best prospect.  As noted in the prospect analysis, Flexen had all the tools to be a good starting pitcher.  His fastball is the mid to upper 90s.  His curveball was a devastating out pitch.  What was holding him back was the refinement of his change-up, and his delivery.

With his working with both Marc Valdes in St. Lucie and Glenn Abbott in Binghamton, he has largely address those issues.  The results have been astounding.

In 10 starts this year, Flexen is 6-1 with two complete games, a 1.76 ERA, 0.815 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9.  For a pitcher that spent much of his professional career struggling with control he has dropped his BB/9 from 3.4 last year to 1.5 this year.  Opposing batters are hitting just .183/.217/.260 against him.  Put simply, Flexen has been a dominant starting pitcher this year who has certainly earned a call to the major leagues.

When he toes the rubber on a major league mound for the first time tonight, Flexen brings not just his big right arm, but he also brings hope in what has been an otherwise dismal 2018 season.

He brings the hope Matt Harvey did when he went from a start in 2012 to starting the 2013 All Star Game.  He brings the hope we saw when Jacob deGrom took an unexpected opportunity and became the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year.  Noah Syndergaard and his 100 MPH gave you hope the 2015 Mets could win a World Series, and he did his part being the only Mets pitcher to win a World Series Game at Citi Field.  We also had hope that hot June afternoon when Steven Matz and his grandfather become beloved figures.

All four of these pitchers turned that hope into a National League Pennant in 2015.  It has been a rough road since, but the Mets are not far away from returning to that point.  Seeing Flexen toe the rubber tonight, we can once again have hope and dream the Mets can return to the World Series.

Flexen has a big arm, and he has been dominating the minor leagues.  He is joining a pitching staff who very well know what it is like to dominate hitters.  He’s joining a pitching staff that wants to get back to that point.  If he pitches well enough tonight and for the rest of the season, he may very well be a member of that rotation in 2018.

That’s what Flexen’s start tonight is.  It’s hope.  Hope that the 2017 season was just a one year blip.  Hope the Mets have another big arm who can complete the rotation.  Hope the Mets can win the World Series as soon as next year.

Don’t Just Give Away Lucas Duda

With the Yankees pulling off that blockbuster last night, which included Todd Frazier, one of the few logical landing spots for Lucas Duda might have been eliminated.  Considering the Tigers got a less than impressive haul for J.D. Martinez, who was widely considered the best bat on the trade market, it makes you wonder if the Mets are going to be able to get anything of value in exchange for their trade pieces – namely Duda.  Certainly, that is troubling considering the Mets don’t want to lose the impending free agent without getting anything in return for him.

The soon to be 32 year old Duda is having another good year at the plate for the Mets.  Through 67 games, the slugger is hitting .244/.351/.542 with 16 homers and 34 RBI.  His 132 wRC+ is in the top 10 in the major leagues among first baseman with at least 250 plate appearances.  Essentially, Duda is in the top third of first baseman.  It is a position he has been since he took over the first base job from Ike Davis in 2014.

Arguably, a player like that is a second round draft pick or similar talent as the new free agent compensation system in place awards teams a second round pick for players the reject a qualifying offer and sign elsewhere.

Generally, one WAR is worth approximately $8 million.  (Business Insider).  In 2014 and 2015, Duda averaged a 3.3 WAR.  After a lost year last year, Duda is seemingly back to being that player, which would make him worth about $26 million per year.  With last year’s qualifying offer being $17.2 million, Duda is arguably worth whatever the qualifying offer number will be for the 2018 season.

But there is a difference between being worth the money and whether giving Duda roughly $20 million is a good allocation of resources.  The Mets have significant holes that need to be addressed this offseason.  The team needs to overhauled their bullpen.  They also need a second baseman, third baseman, center fielder, and possibly a catcher.  With the 22 year old former first round pick Dominic Smith waiting in the wings, the real question is whether another year of Duda is worth it?

There’s just no clear cut answer to that question.  As easily as you can point to Duda’s production and the value in giving Smith more time to develop in the minors, you can also argue Duda hinders the Mets ability to build the best possible team in 2018.  Moreover, there is the risk Duda could re-injure his back.

Of course, Duda can also reject the qualifying offer.  Coming off his 2014 season, he rejected a three year $30 million contract extension.  He could similarly reject a qualifying offer to get the contract he believes he is worth.

No matter which direction the Mets go there is a risk.  Considering the likely worst case scenario is the Mets are stuck with a first baseman with a good OBP capable of hitting 30 homers a year, keeping him instead of moving him for something less than what he is worth is a risk well worth taking.

Keep Curtis Granderson

As the Mets head to the trade deadline, this team is clearly in a position to sell, and they should look to sell every player they have on an expiring deal.  Certainly, if the Mets are offered a good return for Curtis Granderson, the team should trade him.  But with him being 36 years old and with his being a fourth outfielder at the moment, are teams really going to offer the Mets something of value for Granderson?  At this point, it doesn’t appear likely.

And in some ways that’s actually good for the Mets.

At the trade deadline, it is eminently possible, the Mets will move Jay Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda.  If the Mets are able to move these players, it will create an opportunity for the Mets to play Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo (once he returns from the Disabled List), Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith. It will be a small sample size, but we will find out if these players are ready to be big pieces of the Mets in 2018.

One of the ways the Mets can make their transition to the majors smoother would be to have a strong veteran clubhouse presence to show them what it takes to succeed in the major leagues.  We saw how Cliff Floyd took a young David Wright under his wing, and we have seen Wright become the consummate professional.  Obviously, you would want Wright to be that for another player.  Unfortunately, with the myriad of health issues he faces, it is difficult seeing him be that player.  With that being the case, the best player to do that for the Mets would be Granderson.

And really, who better than Granderson?  In his time with the Mets, he has done everything the team has asked.  He’s moved all over the batting order.  The team has shifted him across the outfield.  This year, they made him the fourth outfielder despite his arguably being one of the top three outfielders on the roster.  This is exactly the type of guy you want around your young players.  You want them speaking with Granderson.  You need to have Granderson showing them what it takes to succeed in the major leagues.

It is also a reason why you want to keep Granderson beyond this season.

Re-signing Granderson not only means you’re bringing back the player.  It also means you are bringing back the man.  The man who does everything right on and off the field.  He is a model human being that has played in New York for eight years.  He should be telling players how to prepare for a game, how to deal with teammates, how to balance being a ballplayer and helping your community, and how to deal with the press.  Having Granderson around will help put the young players in a position to succeed.

Another consideration is you probably need Granderson the player next year as well.  Considering Granderson will be 37 next year, it is not likely he will get many offers to be a starting outfielder.  In fact, he may very well get none.  If that is the case, re-upping with the Mets is likely his best bet.

Since coming to the United States, Yoenis Cespedes has had chronic leg issues.  We have seen that arise the past two seasons with Cespedes landing on the Disabled List.  While he’s still young, Michael Conforto has been snake bitten a bit with a wrist issue last year and a bone bruise this year.  Certainly, with their health issues, you want a fourth outfielder whom you can trust to play everyday.  You can trust Granderson.

Look, if the Mets are blown away with a trade offer, you have to trade Granderson.  If Granderson gets a starting outfielder job, especially one for a contender next year, he has to take it.  With both situations unlikely, the Mets should be talking about a contract extension with a player who they need to have a profound impact next season.

What Do We Make Of Wilmer Flores?

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets made the somewhat controversial move to make Wilmer Flores the everyday shortstop for a team that believed they could compete for a spot in the postseason.  As the season progressed, Flores would lose his job to Ruben Tejada.  From that point forward, Flores has had opportunities to prove he is a starting player in the majors.

Starting with Lucas Duda‘s back injury on May 20th last year, the entire Mets starting infield would go on the Disabled List for an extended period of time.  With David Wright going out for the year on May 27th, there was a permanent spot open in the starting lineup for Flores.

For the most part, Flores earned that spot.  From May 29th until his ill-fated slide into home plate on September 10th, Flores had good overall numbers that masked his extreme platoon splits. Flores hit .373/.409/.807 with three doubles, 11 homers, and 28 RBI in 88 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.  Comparatively, Flores hit a meager .241/.297/.362 with nine doubles, four homers, and 19 RBI in 192 plate appearances.  Put simply, with splits like that, Flores proved he was nothing more than a platoon bat.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t even been that in 2017.

So far this season, Flores is hitting .281/.311/.448 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 25 RBI.  Against, left-handed pitching, he is only hitting .292/.304/.462 with five doubles, two homers, and six RBI in 69 plate appearances.  Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting better than his career numbers, but he’s still only at .276/.314/.441 with seven doubles, one triple, five homers, and 19 RBI.

The end result is a player with just a 97 wRC+.  That’s not a bat the Mets can keep in the lineup, especially when Flores has a glove that shouldn’t be in the field:

Innings DRS UZR
1B 244.2 2 1.9
2B 633.0 -6 -0.2
3B 893.0 -15 -4.4
SS 1313.2 -15 -0.2

At this point, Flores has been in the majors for five years, and he has yet to truly make a case for the Mets to keep him around.  All we get out of him is glimpses.  We do not see any sustained success.  That’s problematic considering the Mets are in a strange place as an organization.

The team needs to start making some decisions on some players.  They need to decipher who can be a part of the next World Series Championship team.  With the emergence of T.J. Rivera coupled with Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith awaiting their own opportunity to prove they belong in the majors, it becomes harder and harder to keep Flores on this roster.

Still, Flores is still just 25 years old.  It is quite possible he may still figure things out and become a good major league ball player.  The unfortunate reality is he’s running out of time to prove it.  He is already in his arbitration years, and he is due to be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Sooner or later, the Mets will have to make a decision on Flores.  Is he a piece of the Mets next World Series title?  Is he a guy who can become the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy?  At this point, we don’t know, and we are running out of time to find out.