Drew Smith

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Is The Season Over?

Right now, the Mets are 28-36.  That puts them eight games under .500, 9.5 games back of the Braves for the National League East, and 8.5 games back of the Nationals for the second Wild Card.  With the trade deadline about a month and a half away, it’s time to consider whether the Mets season is over.  Our Mets bloggers provide their opinion in the latest roundtable:

Michael Baron (nym.news)

To get to 85 wins, the Mets now have to go 57-41. That’s a .582 clip just to make it interesting. I’m guessing that won’t be enough with Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Arizona and for fun, San Francisco and Philly in the realistic hunt for a wild card. I do agree and have said if there’s any hope, it’s in the starting rotation, but 85 wins right now is asking a lot for this bullpen and roster which lacks any sort of competitive edge in the heat, not to mention what they probably need which is another 60-62 wins, or a 62-36 record the rest of the way.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

Fangraphs currently has the Mets’ playoff odds at 4.6%. It was 9.8% just two days ago; 22% at the start of June. The Mets’ offense has been historically bad. This is not an exaggeration: No team since 1900 has scored fewer runs and recorded fewer hits in an 11 game span than the Mets. So, what I’m trying to say is no the season isn’t over. Almost! But sadly no, we are not yet free. The starting pitching has finally been really, really good lately, and all without Noah Syndergaard. The offense cannot possibly continue to break records in futility, thanks to our new best friends the law of averages. In conclusion: it is definitely probably not over.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

It’s hard to be as positive as I was prior to the season, but I still think it’s too early to call it “over.” I wish I had a better feel for the organizational plan here, but I don’t know if Callaway is setting his lineups and managing his bullpen or if he is following a front office script. Until I can determine that, I’m going to wait and see.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

The season is far from over, but if the Mets can’t figure out how to score in more than one inning per game, they will be selling off pieces once again and we’ll all be counting down the days to the start of the football season.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

The season is definitely not over. The Mets will find a way to pull us all back in again. Just as everything seems to be ok again, BAM! Back to DL and losing some more.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I allowed myself a modicum of optimism after the Mets won the final game of their otherwise winless homestand. Get on the road, get a little momentum going…but the two games in Atlanta disabused me of the notion. Except for playing 98 more games as mandated, the season is 98% done (I of course will hang on the 2% chance it’s not).

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

No, I don’t think it is. That could simply be the eternal optimist in me coming out, but it’s a very long season. There are 98 games left. The ’99 Mets were 28-28 when they fired their hitting and pitching coach and finished the season with 90+ wins. Our pitching staff is only getting better and the bats are sure to come around at some point. This can’t go on forever, right? Maybe Roessler needs to go. Who knows? But there’s more than enough time to make up for this awful stretch. There’s too much talent here to ’02 this thing.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Not necessarily.  The Mets could always get on some hot streak and get back to .500 given that their starting pitching has been pretty solid. That said, I really want them to realize how unlikely that would be and fully commit to playing the kids. For example, give  Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starts in the rotation. Give Dominic Smith a good long look at first. See what you have in Wilmer Flores. Also call up Tyler Bashlor, Drew Smith, and Eric Handold to see the bullpen. If we get a large sample of these guys, then we can assess the off-season better and not get stuck with making poor insurance investments. This would require the Mets to move Asdrubal Cabrera soon and let Flores play but it should be a nice couple months to see the team get younger and see what might be in fold for 2019.

Mets Daddy

The Mets can’t score, and even when their starting pitching has turned things around, the bullpen has blown either the narrow lead it was given, or they have let a one run game turn into a 10 run game.  It would be worse, but really, a one run lead against this Mets team is like a 10 run lead.

Right now, we’re all pinning our hopes on Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes returning from the DL, but no one knows when or if that is going to happen.

Meanwhile, the Mets are continuing to keep Jose Reyes on the roster and go so far as to defend the decision.  That means no young players like Jeff McNeil are going to get a change.  Just when you think things couldn’t get more absurd, this team picked up Chris Beck and his career 5.94 ERA off waivers to try to help fix this bullpen.

Meanwhile, Jay Bruce can add a back back to his plantar fascitiis issues.  In that way, he’s much like Cabrera in that he’s adding more injuries than base hits.  Neither one of these players are even being considered for the disabled list.

Bartolo Colon is singing.  It’s over.

What isn’t over is the excellent work these Mets bloggers put out over the course of a season.  Much like GKR, these people give you reason to at least follow the Mets with their excellent work.  I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

Mets Only Hurt Themselves By Not Trading Duda Or Bruce To The Yankees

Heading into the trade deadline, there were rumors the Mets were willing to eat salary in order to maximize the return for a player. There were also the rumors the Mets would be willing to trade with the Yankees.

Ultimately, both rumors proved to be false.

When it came to Lucas Duda, the return from the Tampa Bay Rays was arguably weak.  In exchange for a top 10 first baseman, the Mets got a relief prospect.  Sure, Drew Smith could ultimately be a good reliever, but he’s still a reliever in the Vic Black/Bobby Parnell mold – big arm, hard time putting batters away.

The argument in response will be there was a weak market for 1B/DH players, and Duda had an e luring deal. Lost in the argument was the Mets failed to create a real bidding war.

As Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported, the Mets didn’t make Duda available to the Yankees. As an unnamed Yankees official stated, “he Mets just wouldn’t trade him to us.”

To those who were skeptical of the report, please turn your attention to the Jay Bruce trade.

In exchange for a player on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season, the Mets received Ryder Ryan from the Cleveland Indians. Ryan is a former 30th round pick who is a converted reliever. In the deal, the Indians took on all of Bruce’s salary.

For those Mets fans thinking Bruce should’ve netted more, you might be right.

According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Yankees were interested in Bruce, and according to his sources, the Yankees were offering two prospects many teams inquired about at the trade deadline. According to Carig, “Yankees would have covered only a portion of salary, but Yankees offered better players it seems.”

If true, this is complete and utter nonsense. The Yankees possess a deep farm system with players who could have helped the Mets in the long run.

Who cares if Duda or Bruce helped the Yankees win a World Series?  They weren’t helping the Mets win one this year. In fact, the only way these players would’ve helped the Mets win a World Series was to get an important piece in return who could have been a significant part of a winner. At the moment, it’s hard to make that argument for Smith or Ryan.

In reality, a Mets team who has been unwilling to spend commensurate with their market size and window of contention, once again took the cheap route. They dumped two players on smaller market teams and got underwhelming returns.

Their actions proved they were unwilling to ear salary for a better return, and they were unwilling to help the Yankees win. It was petty, small-minded, and it was bad business.

It doesn’t matter if this came from Sandy Alderson or Jeff Wilpon. What matters is it happened, and the Mets are arguably worse off for it. In the end, I really hope Smith and Ryan was worth it. Chances are they won’t be.

UPDATE: It gets better.  Not only did the Mets care more about money than the prospect return, but they also cared about those four meaningless games against the Yankees

Assessing The Addison Reed Trade

In assessing how the Mets fared in the Addison Reed trade, let’s start with the obvious.  The fact Sandy Alderson was able to turn Miller Diaz and Matt Koch into a great run with Reed plus Red Sox prospects Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista was absolutely phenomenal.  No, it doesn’t rank up there with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, but nevertheless, it was a coup.

Still, the question remains whether Sandy got a good return for the 2017 version of Reed.

Let’s start with this.  Since joining the Mets, Reed has been one of the best and more versatile relievers in baseball.  He has deftly handed the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning.  His 142.0 innings pitched since joining the Mets is fifth in baseball, and his 2.09 ERA over that stretch is great. Intuitively, you may not believe Reed is a top reliever in baseball, but he was.  From 2016 to the present, Reed posted the sixth best fWAR in the majors (3.5).  Aside from Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller, who we all know are otherworldly right now, Reed is as good, if not better than any reliever in baseball.

Looking over the list of potential free agents, Reed could have arguably been considered one of if not the best reliever on the free agent market.  With that being the case, it was likely worth gambling and giving him the qualifying offer putting his value at a second round pick or the equivalent.

Looking at the Mets haul, they most likely received that.  The trio of arms all throw in the upper 90s.  With respect to Nogosek and Bautista, they both have a good but inconsistent slider, and there are some control issues.  If they figure it out, and realistically speaking, they are in the right organization to do so, the Mets have two potential late inning relievers.  With Callahan, they have a near MLB ready reliever who can generate a high number of strikeouts and could be ready to help the Mets as soon as next year.  To that end, the Mets certainly did receive a second round equivalent.

Where the debate becomes dicey is when you ask the question whether the Mets could have done better.

For starters, there is no real way of knowing that.  We are not privy to the general back-and-forth between general mangers.  We also don’t know if there was a theoretical better offer the Mets rejected because they liked the players the Red Sox offered more.

We should also consider, last year, the Yankees seemingly built an entire farm system (hyperbole) by trading Miller and Aroldis Chapman.  Each trade fetched the Yankees two of their trade partners’ top five prospects.  In terms of Gleyber Torres, it got them one of the best prospects in baseball.

With Reed arguably being the top reliever on the market with at least eight teams interested, it makes you question how the Mets walk out of a deal without an organization’s top five prospect.  The counter-argument is the prices this year are not the same as they were last year.  In the end, we have no idea if this was the proverbial best trade, and the reviews on the trade have been all over the place.

Ultimately, I find the trade underwhelming, and I do question the Mets motives a bit.  If you look at their recent moves, they have all been bullpen driven.  Lucas Duda was moved for Drew Smith.  The team went out and obtained AJ Ramos.  Now, the Mets got an arguably low return for a trio of fireball throwing relievers.  I’m not so sure the Mets approached this trade deadline with the intent on rebuilding the minor league system as much as they were intent on rebuilding their bullpen.

In the end, if the Mets goal was really to build the bullpen in the trade market, they have to back that up by spending real money in the free agent market to back up their decisions.  If they don’t do this, they may not have only lost out on the possibility on maximizing their returns for the pieces they did move, they may also miss out on the 2018 postseason.

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.

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