Each and every offseason, the common refrain is the Mets are in need of an additional left-handed reliever in the bullpen. Mostly, it is a call for the Mets to add a second left-handed pitcher, but this offseason it is more of a need to add a primary left-handed reliever. Time and again, this call misses the mark because what the team needs, what any team needs, is good relievers regarded of handedness.
While not axiomatic, the 2015 Mets who went to the World Series are a good example of this. Their left-handed reliever situation was a mess. Jerry Blevins injured himself early in the year, and then he would injure himself again. Alex Torres was terrible until he was finally released. They took a flyer on Eric O’Flaherty late in the year, and he was worse than Torres. Their one left-handed pitcher who made the full season was Sean Gilmartin, who was the long man in the bullpen, and he actually had reverse splits.
The reason why the Mets were able to make it work was because the team had right-handed relievers who pitched well against left-handed pitching. In fact, if you just looked at the splits and ignored the handedness of the pitchers, you would believe each one of them was actually a LOOGY:
- Jeurys Familia .214/.291/.325
- Hansel Robles .167/.214/.346
- Erik Goeddel .189/.250/.270
- Logan Verrett .200/.293/.388
- Tyler Clippard .136/.229/.236
When you boil it down, who cares if the pitcher is right-handed, left-handed, or Pat Venditte? The goal is to get batters out, and you want the pitcher most effective at getting those outs on the mound. If you look at the current Mets bullpen, the team has right-handed pitchers who have had success against left-handed hitters:
Right there, your three most trusted relievers are pitchers you trust to get left-handed batters out in pressure situations. Delving into their young right-handed power arms, Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have also posted good numbers against left-handed hitters. This also overlooks Daniel Zamora who utilized his excellent spin rates to hold left-handed hitters to a .222 batting average against during his brief time in the majors.
Assuming the Mets go with Zamora and one of their young right-handed power arms, the 2019 Mets bullpen will have five pitchers who pitch well against left-handed hitters. Adding another arm to address getting left-handed hitters out is superfluous. Moreover, when you look at how Mickey Callaway uses his bullpen combined with this being an era of increased bullpen use, you really have to question the wisdom of having two of your seven relievers dedicated to getting one batter out a game.
Ultimately, this should be about getting the best relievers you possibly can. If that reliever happens to be left-handed, great. Certainly, someone like a Justin Wilson is good against right and left-handed batters. However, if that guy is Tony Sipp or someone of his ilk, you really have to wonder why this team would limit the manager and tax the better arms in the bullpen to get just two batters out per game. Really, when you break it down, the Mets need better, not more limited, arms.
It was inexcusable for the Mets to lose this game, but what else is new.
Heading into the seventh, Zack Wheeler battled. He gave you the six innings needed, and he fought a tough Brewers offense.
Through it all, the Mets were up 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Sure, you wish they could have plated more runs in a four run second inning. But even with Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce leaving the bases loaded, the Mets had a two run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh thanks in large part to an Asdrubal Cabrera solo shot in the top half of the inning.
That’s when Mickey Callaway repeated the same exact mistake he did from the previous loss.
Now, two days ago, Shaw double off Gsellman. However, Gsellman has limited left-handed batters to a .174/.291/.413 batting line. Jerry Blevins, on the other hand, is morphing into Scott Schoeneweis and Eric O’Flaherty.
This season, lefties are hitting .296/.367/.370 off Blevins. Predictably, Blevins allows the base hit to bring the Brewers within a run.
It didn’t matter as Michael Conforto struck out to end the game.
There were many reasons to be frustrated by this loss, including a suspect home plate umpire. However, it was the Mets and their manager repeating the same mistakes that did them in.
Game Notes: Flores left the game in the fourth with a back injury. He’s being evaluated in New York while the team travels to Atlanta.
By the end of August 2015, it was clear the Mets were going to the postseason. With that in mind, the Mets needed to do something to address their bullpen – something that has been a theme of the Sandy Alderson Era. The Mets did just that in August picking up both Eric O’Flaherty and Addison Reed. Given the Mets lack of a LOOGY, it was believed O’Flaherty was the bigger pickup. Boy was that wrong.
At the time Reed joined the Mets, he was having his worst season as a professional pitching to a 4.20 ERA with the Diamondbacks and having made a trip down to Triple-A. Due to his relatively high salary, he was likely ticketed to be non-tendered in the offseason. When the Mets obtained him, it was little more than a gamble for a pitcher with prior closing experience. Certainly, Miller Diaz and Matt Koch were worth paying for the gamble. As we know, that gamble paid off.
From the minute Reed put on a Mets uniform, it was like he was a completely different pitcher. Seemingly, he found one of the remaining telephone booths in Queens, stripped out of his Diamondbacks uniform, and emerged as an elite MLB reliever.
To close out the year, he’d make 17 appearances going 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, and a 10.0 K/9. At a minimum, Reed locked down the seventh inning for a team hoping to make it to the World Series. As we know, the Mets did, and Reed played his part.
Reed would appear in nine of the Mets 14 postseason games, and he would appear in all five World Series games. Reed was reliable in those games allowing no runs in seven of those appearances and just one run in another. That one run came in Game Two of the NLDS right after Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg.
In the World Series, where three of the five games had been a battle of the bullpens, Reed had mostly done his job. Through the first four games, he had allowed no runs and just one hit. Unfortunately, with him being on fumes, he fell apart in Game Five of the World Series becoming the losing pitcher after allowing three runs in the 12th inning.
Reed would emerge from this heartache as possibly the best pitcher in the National League in 2016. During the 2016 season, Reed made 80 appearances going 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.940 WHIP, a 10.5 K/9, 209 ERA+, and a 1.98 FIP. His 2.9 WAR that season was the highest among relievers. In short, he was great out of the bullpen. All year long he helped a team with little bullpen depth stay afloat, and when he last stepped off the mound in the Wild Card Game, the Mets still had a chance to advance to the NLDS.
This year, all he had to do was step in for Jeurys Familia and become the team’s closer. Like he had done in his entire Mets career, Reed took on the role the Mets needed him to do, and he was great at it. In what was his final stint with the Mets, Reed made 31 appearances going 1-2 with 19 saves, a 2.57 ERA, 1.122 WHIP, and an 8.8 K/9.
Since joining the Mets, Reed was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He has pitched the fifth most innings (142.0) while maintaining a sterling 2.09 ERA. He has fulfilled whatever role the Mets needed him to fulfill by going from 7th to 8th and finally to the 9th inning. In that sense, Reed has become the rare pitcher in baseball. He took on whatever role was asked of him, and he performed well in that role.
In essence, Reed was exactly what you want in a bullpen arm. He was a guy who went out there and did whatever the team needed. He was used frequently, and he was one of the few arms who was not burned out by Terry Collins during his Mets tenure. He was a great reliever, and some would go so far as to say he was Raddison.
Reed is now a member of the Boston Red Sox. He goes to a team in need of a reliever capable of setting up for Craig Kimbrel. As we have seen during his Mets tenure, Reed can certainly do that. He can also give Kimbrel the occasional day off.
In the end, Reed is where he belongs. He is with a contender. Hopefully, he gets that ring he feel agonizingly short of winning in 2015. Hopefully, he will have the same success with the Red Sox he found with Mets. Hopefully, with his being an impending free agent, Reed finds his way back to New York.
Even if he doesn’t, Reed was a good Met who twice helped pitch the Mets into the postseason. Now, it is time to wish him well as he once again pursues October glory. Here’s hoping he finds it this time.
It’s a good thing the Mets won this game because they were sloppy, and they looked like a Little League team. Case in point – look at this “hustle” from Jose Reyes:
Oh this is definitely worse than thinking there are two outs, Jose. pic.twitter.com/zTHCoOIsay
— Rising Apple (@RisingAppleBlog) May 4, 2017
Right there, Reyes turned a routine fly ball off the bat of T.J. Rivera into an inning ending double play.
Reyes had yet another issue in the field. In the third, he helped the Braves get on the board by throwing off line. Instead of an out, Adonis Garcia reached safely. He got some home town scoring with him being awarded a hit on the play.
Reyes wasn’t the only one with gaffes.
It should be noted that as much as his team wasn’t helping him, Jacob deGrom wasn’t helping himself much either.
The aforementioned run allowed in the third was started with deGrom issuing a lead off walk to Dansby Swanson. Still, he should’ve gotten out of the inning unscathed because Garcia should’ve been the third out.
In the fourth, he enduced Jace Peterson to hit into a double play leaving the Braves with a runner on third and two outs. deGrom then walked Swanson again. By the way, Swanson entered the game hitting .158/.214/.232. The two runners would come to score on an Emilio Bonifacio triple.
The Braves got to deGrom again in the fifth. Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp led off with back-to-back singles. deGrom then issued yet another walk, this time to Tyler Flowers, to load the bases. Two runs scored on an ensuing Peterson RBI double. The Braves wouldn’t score another run in the inning, but that wouldn’t prevent deGrom from issuing yet another walk to Swanson.
Once the fifth was over, deGrom was done for the night having thrown 109 pitches. His line was ugly allowing eight hits, five runs, five earned, and five walks, and five strikeouts. It broke deGrom’s stretch of ten strikeout games.
And despite all this, the Mets actually won the game. They won the game because the Braves pitching was that bad.
Right away, the Mets went to work with Michael Conforto hitting a lead-off double. Asdrubal Cabrera and Walker each hit RBI doubles to make it 2-0. As noted above, Walker then ran the Mets out of the inning.
The Mets got to work again in the third. Cabrera reached on a hit by pitch, and Walker walked. Curtis Granderson then hit a huge double to make it 3-1.
It was a huge night for Granderson. After asking for a day off to help him get his swing straight, Granderson was 2-5 with three runs, two doubles, and an RBI.
Reyes and Rene Rivera hit RBI singles to make it 5-1. Again, as noted above, Reyes ran, actually he walked the Mets out of inning.
Fortunately, the Mets wouldn’t run out of the inning in the fifth. After knocking Colon out of game tagging him with five runs on seven hits, the Mets beat up on Josh Collmenter.
Granderson’s second double of the game set up runners in second and third with one out. It should be noted that Glenn Sherlock held up Walker despite it looking like he could score. So far, from what we’ve seen from Sherlock is he is much more cautious than Tim Teufel. After a number of bad sends last year, this is somewhat of a refreshing change.
Despite the hold, Reyes and Walker would score. Reyes scored on a Rene single, and Walker scored on a TJ RBI double. Then, deGrom knocked in both Rivera’s to make it 9-3.
After deGrom struggled through the fifth, he turned it over to the bullpen to preserve the 9-5 lead. Josh Edgin, who has been terrific of late, pitched a scoreless and hitless sixth, which included a strikeout of Freeman. Addison Reed had his first good inning in a while with a scoreless seventh.
Watching the game, Reed was clearly not happy having pitched the seventh even if he was pitching to the Braves 3-4-5 hitters. Reed being upset is certainly understandable because Terry Collins has shown himself to be a paint by numbers manager when using the bullpen. Using Reed in the seventh was the smart move, but it was an uncharacteristic one.
The Mets finally blew things open in the eighth when they finally got to Eric O’Flaherty. The rally SHOCKINGLY started with Conforto getting a hit off the left-handed pitcher. Despite reports to the contrary, he can actually do that.
The Mets then loaded the bases, and it looked like the team wasn’t going to take advantage with a Walker shallow fly out to center, and a Granderson fielder’s choice. That’s when Reyes blew the game open with a bases clearing double. He then scored on a Rene RBI single to make it 13-5.
After a TJ double, Rene scored on a Juan Lagares RBI pinch hit single. Conforto came back up in the inning, and hit a two RBI double up make it 16-5.
Things were going so well, Fernando Salas even pitched a scoreless inning. It wasn’t easy, but it was a scoreless inning, which is important to note when he allowed a run in his previous four appearances.
The Mets bats absolutely came alive and finally destroyed a poor Braves pitching staff. Every starter reached base at least twice. Mostly, they took advantage of their scoring opportunities:
The Mets are 13 for 19 with runners in scoring position tonight. pic.twitter.com/0kKoF8tnU3
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) May 4, 2017
Fact is, with all of the Mets starters struggling or injured, the offense will have to carry the team to some wins. This is an important first step until the pitching figures it out.
Game Notes: Travis d’Arnaud missed the game after his wrist injury blew up again.
On any given day, any of the following would have been the worst thing to happen to the Mets. First, there was the announcement Noah Syndergaard needed to have his start skipped with bicep issues that radiate up to his pitching shoulder. Then Matt Harvey goes out in his place, doesn’t have his typical velocity, and he can’t get out of the fifth inning. Just when you thought things couldn’t go any worse, Yoenis Cespedes had to be helped off the field in the fourth inning after hitting a lead-off double.
Anything else that happened today didn’t matter because the Mets just might’ve seen their season flash before their eyes.
It doesn’t matter that a poor decision not to throw home in the second inning seemed to finally wake up Jose Reyes who would subsequently nail two runners at home and hit a home run. It doesn’t matter Neil Walker seemed to wake up offensively. It doesn’t even matter that Jay Bruce continues to hit well.
What matters is the Mets are faced with the very real prospect of losing Syndergaard and Cespedes for a long time. It also matters that Harvey took a big step back from the pitcher who was gradually getting stronger to start the year. Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with him. The way things are going with the Mets right now, you shouldn’t have much hope.
Overall, the offense isn’t hitting, and the pitching is getting further compromised.
With all the talk about how the Mets fleeced the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey must’ve smiled with this win. Not only was he able to pitch on a game Syndergaard wasn’t, but Travis d’Arnaud was also 0-2 with a strikeout against him. By the way, Wuilmer Becerra is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to play the field this year.
Yes, you do that trade 279,684,800,441,574,796 times out of 100, but at least in this game Dickey felt vindicated. He must have felt further vindicated with the Braves leaping the Mets in the standings leaving the Mets in last place. Unless things start to change, it’s hard to argue the Mets won’t stay there for a while.
Game Notes: Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a hit to the Mets since his first disastrous outing. The Mets have not had a lead in over 56 innings. They have no lost 10 of their last 11.
For a Mets team that brought in no new players this offseason, it is quite fitting this team picked right up where they left off last season. For those that forgot, and how could you, Noah Syndergaard was dominant, and the Mets couldn’t get that big hit off the other team’s ace.
Today, Syndergaard was dominant. His final line was six innings, five hits, no runs, none earned, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Basically, he was just as dominant as he was in his last game only he pitched one less inning. He pitched one less inning as he had to depart with a blister on his pitching thumb. Again, the Mets are picking up where they left off last year.
Overall, Syndergaard was up to his old tricks. Fastballs at 99 MPH. Change-ups and sliders between 90 – 94 MPH. Hitters frustrated and overmatched. The real surprise is that he had to get out of two separate jams. In the fourth, he worked around a one out triple off the bat of Freddie Freeman (ball was played terribly by Jay Bruce in right) by striking out Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.
In the sixth, Syndergaard had runners at the corners with one out. Again, he struck out Kemp by keeping the ball low in the zone. He then induced a harmless fly ball off the bat of Markakis to end the inning.
Offensively, the Mets struggled against Julio Teheran. While Teheran was 7-10 last year, he is a terrific pitcher whose record really was hindered by a lack of run support. In addition to the 7-10 record, Teheran had a 3.21 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 129 ERA+, and an 8.0 K/9. Against the Mets last year, he was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, and a 5.4 K/9 in four starts. Struggling against him is certainly no red flag.
And yet, if you are a pessimistic Mets fan, you saw some troubling signs. The team did rack up six strikeouts in six innings. There were seven left on base, and the team was 0-3 with RISP. The main culprit there was Lucas Duda who twice came up with a chance to knock in a run and both times he came up short.
With Syndergaard leaving with a blister and Teheran leaving due to his pitch count, the game became a battle of the bullpens. Fortunately, the Mets, even without the suspended Jeurys Familia have a terrific bullpen. Hansel Robles added a slight hesitation in his delivery to go with the quick pitch, and he mowed down the Braves in the seventh.
The deja vu would end in the seventh. With Ian Krol allowing a lead-off hit to Rene Rivera, Wilmer Flores hit into a fielder’s choice, and he stole second off Tyler Flowers. After Jose Reyes walked, Asdrubal Cabrera lined a single up the middle, and Flores was sent home. Center fielder Ender Inciarte nailed Flores at the plate.
Or did he?
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) April 3, 2017
Upon replay, it shows Flores just got his foot in front of the tag from the way too far behind home plate Flowers. With that, the Mets got the lead and momentum. After Yoenis Cespedes walked to load the bases, Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly off former Met Eric O’Flaherty to make it a 2-0 lead. He then walked Neil Walker and Jay Bruce back-to-back to force in a run to make it 3-0.
While Bruce had a misplay in right field, it was a very encouraging day for him. On the day, he had four good at-bats going 0-1 with three walks and an RBI. He looked more patient at the plate and more willing to take a walk. If he continues this for the full season, its going to be a huge year for him.
After the Bruce walk, Duda finally got a hit with runners in scoring position with a bases clearing double off of O’Flaherty.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 3, 2017
O’Flaherty’s work in the seventh inning was the most he has done to help the Mets than all he had done for them in 2015. His final line was 0.1 innings, one hit, two runs, two earned, three walks, and no strikeouts. For Mets fans, it was nice being on the other side of an O’Flaherty outing.
In the fateful seventh, the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate, and the team scored six runs on three hits, five walks, and a sacrifice fly. Basically, this Mets team featuring a number of smart veteran hitters feasted on a poor bullpen. With the six run seventh, Robles would be the winning pitcher.
Cabrera was easily the best Mets player on the day . . . well, Mets player not named Noah Syndergaard. He went 3-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. It was a refreshing change of pace from the Cabrera who seemingly went the first half of the 2016 season without a hit with RISP.
Cabreras wasn’t the only one in midseason form. Gary, Keith, and Ron were great today including them honoring the late Bill Webb. Keith Hernandez told a terrific story about how Webb used to get Keith fined $100 by filming him smoking in the first base tunnel. Keith deadpanned about how all Mets fans knew he used to smoke.
Overall, this was about as good a start to the 2017 season as you reasonably could have asked for. While you were obviously concerned about Syndergaard leaving the game with a blister, you had to be encouraged by Robert Gsellman entering the game in the ninth because Gsellman would be the guy to start in Syndergaard’s place should there be an issue serious enough to cause him to need to miss a start.
After Gsellman’s scoreless ninth, the Mets are 1-0 and in first place where we expect them to be after Game 162. The win also improves the team’s MLB best Opening Day record, which is now 35-21.
Game Notes: Mets fans complain about d’Arnaud, but Flowers is much worse. Both Cabrera and Flores were able to steal bases off of him. In his first Opening Day with the Mets since 2011, Jose Reyes was 0-3 with a run, walk, and two strikeouts. Reyes also became the first Met since Ty Wigginton to be the Mets Opening Day third baseman other than David Wright. Travis d’Arnaud entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner for Rivera. This marks the first season without Bill Webb as director of the Mets games.
In 2015, the Mets not only won the National League East, but they went all the way to the World Series. During that wonderfully unexpected run, the team left a bevvy of left-handed relievers in their wake. Time and again, the team tried to solve their presumed issues with not having a left-handed reliever to no avail. Here is a look at all the left-handed relievers they went through that season:
- Josh Edgin – needed Tommy John surgery before the season began
- Jerry Blevins – appeared in seven games before suffering a broken arm
- Alex Torres – pitched to a 1.515 WHIP and was released on August 4th
- Sean Gilmartin – used as a long man in the bullpen due in part to his reverse splits
- Jack Leathersich – shuttled back and forth between New York and Las Vegas before his season ended due to him needing Tommy John surgery
- Dario Alvarez – appeared in six games before suffering a groin injury that cost him the rest of the season
- Eric O’Flaherty – 13.50 ERA and left off the postseason roster
The lack of the left-handed pitcher did not prevent this team from making it to the postseason or to going to the World Series. The main reason is that team’s right-handed relievers could pitch to left-handed batters. In fact, the batting lines suggests the right-handed relievers performed just as well as a LOOGY would:
- Jeurys Familia .214/.291/.325
- Tyler Clippard .137/.231/.237
- Addison Reed .253/.330/.368
- Hansel Robles .179/.287/.299
The moral of the story is that you do not need a left-handed pitcher to get out left-handed batters. Rather, you need pitchers who are effective at pitching against left-handed batters to get them out.
There are some caveats. First, the Mets did go with Jon Niese as the left-hander in the bullpen during the 2015 postseason, and he did get some big outs including a key strike out of Anthony Rizzo in the NLCS. Second, Blevins was an extremely important part of the 2016 bullpen. Without Blevins in the bullpen, it is quite possible the Mets do not get one of the two Wild Card spots. This creates a problem as Blevins is now a free agent – a free agent that is about to cash in on a terrific year.
So far, we have seen arguably less talented left-handed relievers get big contracts. Brett Cecil received a four year $30.5 million contract from the Cardinals. Marc Rzepczynski received a two year $11 million contract from the Mariners. Mike Dunn received a three year $19 million from the Colorado Rockies. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Blevins was already seeking a three year deal worth $5-$6 million per season. Based upon the contracts already handed out, it is easy to assume Blevins will get the deal he is seeking.
However, it should be noted that deal is likely not coming from the Mets. As already noted, Sandy Alderson does not want to give out multi-year deals to relievers. Furthermore, it does not not appear the Mets are interested in investing $6 million a year on a left-handed reliever. With that being the case, the Mets best chance might be to revert to the 2015 model thrust upon them.
From that team, Familia, Reed, and Robles still remain, and they are still effective as ever in getting left-handed batters out. Here were their stats from the 2016 season:
- Familia .239/.315/.313
- Reed .210/.264/.269
- Robles .179/.287/.299
There is also some promise with Edgin. Despite him not fully regaining his velocity after his Tommy John surgery, he still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out in a very small sample size. In 2016, he faced 20 left-handed batters, and he limited them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.
Between, Familia, Reed, Robles, and Edgin, the 2017 Mets may already have sufficient bullpen depth to get left-handed batters out. Moreover, with the Mets resportedly wanting to cut payroll from where it currently stands, the team may be forced to stick in-house and instead seek a seventh inning reliever.
That is certainly a justifiable route because the bullpen as constructed already has enough depth to get left-handed batters out. As such, the team does not need to add a left-hander for the sake of adding a left-hander.
Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006. Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:
- In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
- The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees. Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year. In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
- The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher. Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP. As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.
As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa. Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty. Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.
As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season. They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces. Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes. The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade. Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.
Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no. It’s for good reason as well. When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat. Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton. He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect. Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.
This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI. Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario. Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap. If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop. If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney. Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.
It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future. He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate. He showed that he has unique power for the position. Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors. Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury. This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all. He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league. Part of that might be teams figuring him out. Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate. He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year. If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star. If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.
Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization. He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders. He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate. However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera. Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield. By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day. What you don’t know is what he will be. Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility? With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did? Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player? Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.
Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him. He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions. However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer. He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time. Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games. These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches. Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions. Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup. He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.
Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy. However, they need to be very careful about which one.
In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters. These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected. You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith. These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years. Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.
That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini. The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera. However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly. Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes. In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.
The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors
Over the past year, the Mets have made a number of trades to not only help them go to the World Series last year, but also to help them become World Series contenders again this year. With Neil Walker returning to Pittsburgh to not one but two standing ovations, and the draft scheduled for later today it seems like today is a good day to take a cursory view of how the players the Mets traded away are faring.
Robert Whalen – Whalen has made 11 starts for the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate going 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP. At the time of the trade, Whalen was seen as a back of the rotation starter, and his performance this year should not change those impressions.
John Gant – Despite never having pitched above AAA before this season, Gant got a cup of coffee early on with the Braves showing off his very unorthodox delivery. He predictably struggled pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in seven appearances. Gant was sent back down to AAA where he has pitched better. In eight appearances, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP. He appears on track for another promotion before the year is over, especially with the way the Braves want to sell everything.
Casey Meisner – The 20 year old Meisner pitched well for Oakland’s Advance A affiliate pitching going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP in seven starts. This year, for the first time in his brief career, Meisner is struggling going 0-9 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.645 WHIP in 11 starts. At 21, Meisner is still young for his league, and he is still walking too many batters. If Meiser can make the ncecessary adjustments, he can get back on track to being the mid to top of the rotation starter he was projected to be.
Michael Fulmer – Fulmer only received three AAA starts before the Tigers felt compelled to bring him up to help fix a beleaguered rotation that included former Met Mike Pelfrey. Fulmer has shown himself to be every bit the ace people anticipated he might be one day. He has gone 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP. In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP.
Luis Cessa – Cessa was actually traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and he made his major league debut with them. In his three appearances, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP. In the minors, he has been in the rotation with less success. In his five starts (with one relief appearance), he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP. Ultimately, Cessa has the stuff to be either a back end of the rotation pitcher or a middle reliever. His brief cup of coffee with the Yankees has shown he does have the ability to pitch in the majors.
Dawrin Frias – After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Frias become a minor league free agent. To date, no one has signed him.
Miller Diaz – Diaz is struggling mightily for the Arizona Diamondback’s high A affiliate going 0-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 2.414 WHIP in 15 games (inlcuding three starts). Diaz was seen as nothing more than a major league reliever, at best, and these statistics make that proposition a stretch.
Matt Koch – Koch is having another strong year in AA. In his five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. While Koch was seen as a bullpen piece, if he keeps improving the way he has, he may have a shot to stick with the back end of someone’s rotation.
Jon Niese – Niese’s early season struggles have seemed to go by the wayside. While he started the year 3-1 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.680 WHIP, he has settled down and pitched much better of late. We just saw him pitch seven innings in beating the Mets. In his last six starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.
For the most part, the players the Mets traded are playing well. It shows the Mets gave up valuable pieces for the quality players they received. The hope is the Mets have enough trade assets this year to swing a deal or two like they did last year.
Before the game, Matt Harvey declared he figured out his mechanical problems, and that he was back. He took no chances as the Mets ore the traditional road grays instead of the blue alternates he prefers. The Mets need him to be back because he has not resembled the Matt Harvey we’ve seen:
Harvey in his career:
Bases empty: .199/.247/.296
Men on: .252/.302/.365 https://t.co/SqB05IV6Hd
— Michael Mayer (@themainemets) April 22, 2016
First inning, Harvey came out guns blazing. He got three quick outs, including one strikeout. After the first, it was a struggle. It could’ve been the same problems he’s had all year. It could’ve been the delay due to the need to change home plate umpires due to the home plate umpire getting injured on a foul tip. In any event, Harvey’s pitches were up. His velocity was generally down (about 1-2 MPH), and the Braves were making solid contact.
Fortunately, the Braves were only able to score runs in the second. The first was an RBI single by old friend Kelly Johnson. Another run would score off an RBI double by Mallex Smith. Harvey would be in trouble most of the night. He would’ve allowed more runs in the fifth but for Yoenis Cespedes’ arm:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 23, 2016
Keith Hernandez was right. He missed the cut-off man, but it was a near perfect throw that got the runner. It reminded me of Major League when Lou Brown essentially said to Willie Mays Hayes to never do it again.
Cespedes also left his impression at the plate with his seventh game with an extra-base hit. In the seventh, he hit an RBI double to score David Wright, who hit an opposite field one out double himself. Cespedes came up gingerly after sliding awkwardly into second. It should’ve been a standup double, but he didn’t break it out of the box presumably thinking it was a homerun. A noticeably uncomfortable Cespedes stayed in the game despite the a Mets having a 6-2 lead. He would eventually have to be pulled:
Juan Lagares had already taken the field for the bottom of the eighth before the rain delay started. Yoenis Cespedes was leaving game.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) April 23, 2016
Curtis Granderson was responsible for the other five. In the second, Granderson hit his first grand slam as a Met. In his very next at bat, he hit a solo shot off of Braves’ starter Bud Norris. Granderson looks to be rounding into his 2015 form after a tough start.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 23, 2016
The Mets’ bullpen would come through to get Harvey his first win of the year. Antonio Bastardo pitched 1.2 innings before needing to be pulled with runners on first and second. Jim Henderson only faced one batter – it was the seventh after all- and he allowed an RBI single to Adonis Garcia. Jerry Blevins came on and ended the rally by striking out A.J. Pierzynski. Blevins was the only one to get Pierzynski out all night.
After about an hour rain delay, Addison Reed came on to pitch the eighth. Originally, it was supposed to be Blevins, but the rain eliminate that option. Reed pitched a scoreless eighth despite a throwing error from Asdrubal Cabrera.
Jeurys Familia had a save opportunity in the ninth because God has a good sense of humor. With Cespedes out if the game, Terry Collins allowed Michael Conforto hit against Eric O’Flaherty. Conforto hit a soft liner to the shortstop, and Juan Lagares was doubled off of second for the inning ending double play. It didn’t matter. Familia pitch a scoreless ninth to preserve the 6-3 win.
In any event, Harvey struggled. He only pitched five innings allowing seven hits, two earned, one walk and five strikeouts. He fought through it. He still had work to do, but at least he has a win under his belt.
Game Notes: Freddie Freeman got his first hit in 20 at bats against Bastardo, who Collins was trying to pitch for two innings. While Harvey was struggling, Travis d’Arnaud tried talking to Harvey in the dugout. A visibly frustrated Harvey wanted none of it.
On another note, Ricky Bones was the pitching coach. Dan Warthen missed the game because he was attending his mother’s funeral. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Warthen family at this time.