Juan Lagares

Re-Revised NLDS Roster

Well, it seems I was wrong about Eric Young, Jr.  I can’t say I am too upset about it. It seems like the last man on the roster will be Kirk Nieuwenhuis, although I still think Dilson Herrera is getting a long look as he’s not on the taxi squad. 

With that said, here’s my re-revised NLDS roster projection. 

Catchers

1. Travis d’Arnaud

2. Kevin Plawecki

Infielders

3. Lucas Duda

4. Daniel Murphy

5. David Wright

6. Ruben Tejada

7. Wilmer Flores

8. Kelly Johnson

Outfielders

9. Michael Conforto

10. Yoenis Cespedes

11. Curtis Granderson

12. Michael Cuddyer

13. Juan Lagares

14. Kirk Nieuwenhuis 

Starting Pitchers

15. Jacob deGrom

16. Noah Sundergaard

17. Matt Harvey

18. Bartolo Colon

Bullpen

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Addison Reed

21. Tyler Clippard

22. Hansel Robles

23. Jon Niese

24. Erik Goeddel

25. Sean Gilmartin

If he’s healthy, and he won’t be, Juan Uribe would replace Nieuwenhuis. Also, I’m not putting Steven Matz on my projected roster because he didn’t pitch. If I hear differently with the Instructuonal League appearance, I may still leave him off the projected roster. 

I can’t trust the Mets to be honest on the topic. If I’m convinced, then I would slot him in the rotation moving Colon to the bullpen. That would then bump Gilmartin from the roster. 

Should We Be Nervous about Cespedes?

Mets fans let out a collective sigh of relief when we discovered Yoenis Cespedes didn’t suffer a fracture after being hit by a pitch. However, that doesn’t mean he’s alright:

As Keith Law stated the problem is even if Cespedes can play, he may lose his power. That’s problematic because his power is what makes him a special player. Without the power, he’s a guy who has a .319 career OBP that doesn’t have the range to play CF. I hate to say it, but without the power it suddenly becomes a debate as to whether the Mets should start Juan Lagares

I’d still start Cespedes. I’m hopeful that a week will be enough for his fingers to heal. I’m hopeful because Cespedes said he’s ready to play now. I’m hopeful because Terry Collins is doing the right thing and giving Cespedes time to heal. It’s important to keep him healthy because he’s been a terrific playoff performer

The Mets will need him. They will need him at full strength. If he’s not, the Mets are in trouble. Until we know Cespedes is Cespedes, Mets fans should be nervous. 

Thank You Omar

Look, this is Sandy Alderson’s team. He decided to keep the players he kept and trade the players he traded. He pulled off the trades and signed the free agents. However, he was able to do a lot of what he did because he was left with good players after Omar Minaya was terminated. 

Here are the players in the 40 man roster who have a link to Omar Minaya (asterisked players are players obtained with players combined by Minaya and Alderson):

Jerry Blevins – obtained for 2010 draft pick Matt den Dekker

Eric Campbell – 2008 draft pick. 

Darrell Ceciliani – 2009 draft pick. 

Travis d’Arnaud – part of the R.A. Dickey trade. Dickey was a free agent signing. Josh Thole was a 2005 draft pick. Mike Nickeas was initially obtained by trade in 2006.

Jacob deGrom – 2010 draft pick. 

Lucas Duda – 2007 draft pick. 

Jeurys Familia – 2007 amateur free agent signing. 

Wilmer Flores – 2007 amateur free agent signing. 

Erik Goeddel – 2010 draft pick. 

Matt Harvey – 2010 draft pick  

Dilson Herrera* – part of Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade. Buck was part of the Dickey trade (see d’Arnaud). 

Juan Lagares – 2006 amateur free agent signing. 

Steven Matz – 2009 draft pick. 

Jenrry Mejia – 2007 amateur free agent signing. 

Akeel Morris -2010 draft pick. 

Daniel Murphy – 2006 draft pick. 

Bobby Parnell – 2005 draft pick. 

Addison Reed* – obtained in exchange for Matt Koch and Miller Diaz (signed by Mets in 2009).

Hansel Robles – 2008 amateur free agent.

Noah Syndergaard – part of Dickey trade (see d’Arnaud). 

Ruben Tejada – 2006 amateur free agent. 

Again, these players are in the roster because Alderson kept them. The decision of who to keep and trade is important. That is what makes them Alderson’s players and team. Additionally, while It was Alderson that hired Terry Collins, it was Minaya who brought him into the Mets organization. 

However, it is important to truly acknowledge Minaya’s role, especially when he has been unfairlyand wrongly   marginalized. 

You see I was on the same Jet Blue flight as Omar Minaya. The photo with this post was Minaya and me in the terminal before the flight. He was accessible to Mets fans who wanted to shake his hand and take a picture. No one, and I mean no one, had the “courage” to mock him on the flight.

Additionally, this should dispel the notion that Minaya left the Mets with a depleted farm system. On the contrary, he built a strong farm system that helped make up this team.  Minaya had his faults, and he probably deserved to be fired when he was. That doesn’t mean we should ignore his work. 

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t extend our gratitude to him for what he left behind. 

Should Conforto Be Left off the NLDS Roster?

Sounds absurd doesn’t it?  Michael Conforto has exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. He’s been a huge part of the team. However, he’s been used strictly as a platoon player. It’s probably because he’s hitting .167/.231/.167 against lefties this year, albeit in only 13 plate appearances. 

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Dodgers will be starting three lefties in the NLDS. If Clayton Kershaw starts Games 1 & 5, that means Conforto won’t start in four of the five NLDS games. I don’t think the Mets will prep Conforto for the lefties either. On clinch day, the Reds had a lefty on the mound, and Conforto was the only lefty who wasn’t in the lineup. 

The question that arises is what use can Conforto be as a bench player?  Even with his surprising defensive ability, he’s not a late inning defensive replacement; that’s Juan Lagares‘ job. That leaves him for pinch hitting and double switch and pinch hitting duties. 

You could argue that role may be better left to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who can play CF, or Eric Campbell, who’s right handed. Campbell is also versatile, which could be useful after the Juan Uribe injury. Both Nieuwenhuis and Campbell are also more accustomed to being bench players that sit for long stretches at a time. 

However, this neglects Conforto’s limited work as a bench player. Conforto has hit .333/.429/.500 in seven plate appearances as a pinch hitter. Also, he’s just a better player than Nieuwenhuis and Campbell. When you’re selecting your playoff roster, you want your best players on the roster, even if they’re not going to play as much as they should. 

However, if he’s left off the roster I’m not going to take issue. Anytime a player is potentially not going to play four out of five games, there should be a discussion whether there’s a player available who can better serve the team. 

I just don’t think there is a better player than Michael Conforto. 

The Projected NLDS Roster

Now that the Mets have clinched the NL East, the time is fast approaching to set the NLDS roster. Keep in mind, this is for the NLDS only. The Mets can the roster if they advance to the NLCS. 

I’ve made some changes to my prior analysis. The reason is due to injuries to players like Juan Uribe. Another reason was the possibility that Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon may move to the bullpen. 

Note, this is not what I would do, but rather, what I think the Mets will do. I am taking into consideration the Dodgers lefty heavy starting rotation and lineup. Without further ado, here’s my best guess:

Catchers

1.  Travis d’Arnaud 

2.  Kevin Plawecki

Infielders

3.  Lucas Duda

4.  Daniel Murphy

5.  Kelly Johnson

6.  David Wright

7.  Ruben Tejada

8.  Wilmer Flores

Outfielders

9.  Michael Conforto

10. Michael Cuddyer

11. Yoenis Cespedes

12. Juan Lagares

13. Curtis Granderson

Pinch Runner

14. Eric Young, Jr.

Rotation

15. Matt Harvey

16. Jacob deGrom

17. Noah Syndergaard

18. Steven Matz

Bullpen

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Tyler Clippard

21. Addison Reed

22. Hansel Robles

23. Sean Gilmartin

24. Jon Niese

25. Bartolo Colon

I’m not 100% confident in this. I could see Uribe getting healthy enough to play knocking EY, Lagares, or Johnson out of the lineup. With all the lefties, I could see Eric Campbell or Dilson Herrera (3-4 with a walk, a homer, two runs, and a two RBIs on Sunday) making the team as well. 

I also think there is real competition and consideration for the last three bullpen spots. Erik Goeddel has been great all year (when healthy). Carlos Torres is a Terry Collins’ favorite, who may make the team if healthy. Logan Verrett has made his car all year bouncing between starting and reliever. If Colon takes Matz’s spot in the rotation, there will be more bullpen spots because the Mets won’t put Matz in the bullpen

No matter who is on the roster I’m excited for the playoffs again. Lets Go Mets!

Mets Need Lagares in the NLDS

It appears the Mets have soured on Juan Lagares. Last year, he was a Gold Glove winner, who showed some promise with the bat hitting .281/.321/.382. Using WAR, he was a top 25 player in the majors last year (12th in the NL). 

This year has been much different. Lagares hasn’t been the same offensively or defensively. His UZR has slipped from 18.6 (excellent) to 2.1 (average). His arm was terrific last year, but with his injured elbow, he doesn’t seem to have the same zip on the ball. With his defense compromised, you can’t justify his declining offense. This year he has regressed to .259/.289/.362. 

This is probably why the Mets tried to send him to the Brewers in the failed Carlos Gomez trade. This is the reason the Mets are playing Yoenis Cespedes out of position. It may be the reason he was the only Mets outfielder who didn’t get in the game yesterday. 

In any event, he’s been reduced to a platoon player and a late inning defensive replacement. His arrow is trending down while Eric Young, Jr.‘s is trending up. He’s been a terrific pinch runner that can come in handy in the playoffs. We also shouldn’t forget he’s a Collins’ favorite. 

Ultimately, what may save Lagares in the NLDS is the fact that the Dodgers starting rotation features three lefties. Collins refuses to play Michael Conforto leaving Collins to pick between Michael Cuddyer and Lagares. Cuddyer has only played in seven complete games since returning from the DL. This means the Mets need Lagares in the NLDS. 

This means the Mets need Lagares to get back on track offensively and defensively. 

Reading Between the Lines

The New York Times has an excellent piece today on Yoenis Cespedes. There were some things we learned or were reaffirmed:

  1. Cespedes desperately wants to win;
  2. Cespedes was the only OF available for the Mets on the eve of the trade deadline; and 
  3. It’s going to be very expensive to re-sign him. 

In reading the article, there are some things I personally interpreted. 

The Tigers Were Desperate 

The Tigers used Jim Leyland to take advantage of his relationship with Terry Collins to tell him Cespedes was available. I’m not an expert, but I presume trade negotiations are not normally done between a manager and a former manager. 

This was a way to put pressure on the Mets to go get Cespedes, a player with whom the Mets had reservations. Everyone on the planet knew the Mets offense was terrible. Collins must’ve been going crazy filling out a lineup card that included John Mayberry, Jr. in the cleanup spot. I’m sure when Collins found out the Mets could get Cespedes, I’m sure he ran through the Mets offices telling anyone who would listen to get the deal done. 

Again, the Mets were split. Maybe this Leyland-Collins conversation is what finally pushed the Mets to go out and get Cespedes. 

The Mets Have Soured on Juan Lagares

One of the key aspects of the decision to get Cespedes was whether or not he could play CF. This was after the Mets failed attempts to get Carlos Gomez. Remember in that deal, the Mets were pushing to trade the Brewers Juan Lagares and his contract. It’s apparent the Mets didn’t just want a bat; they wanted a CF. 

I’m shocked as the Mets were high on him as long as a year ago when they gave him the extension. Now it seems, they want to move on. That’s a huge fall out of favor for a gold glove CF. 

The Mets Only Saw Cespedes as a Rental

As noted in the article, the Mets knew about the five day clause in Cespedes’ contract. They knew it would be difficult to bring him back to the fold in 2016 and beyond. The article further notes that Alderson doesn’t typically give out contracts to players of Cespedes’ age because Alderson likes his teams to have payroll flexibility. Cespedes will more likely recieve than David Wright‘s $138 million. That really restricts the Mets payroll flexibility when they will have to eventually pay these young pitchers. 

This May Be a Test Case for Future deGrom Negotiations

As luck would have it, Cespedes shares the same agent as Jacob deGrom. Their agent, Roc Nation, and chief negotiator, Brodie Van Wagenen, are known to be tough and to be able to get the maximum value for their clients. The Mets dipped their toes on what it will be like when Robinson Cano was a free agent. The Mets came off as looking like they weren’t serious. 

Whether the Mets eventually re-sign Cespedes or not, they need to put their best foot forward here. It’s possible the Mets will be outbid while still making a real, viable attempt to keep him. Remember there’s always a crazy team out there. Just look at contacts given to Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard

The point here is to look like a serious team that can and will spend money. 

Sandy Alderson Wants to Win Now

There was every reason not to make this trade. Cespedes was not the type of player the Mets sought out under Alderson’s regime: he swings wildly and doesn’t walk enough. The fact that Michael Fulmer could turn out to be the Mets best pitching prospect, current Mets pitchers included. There was dissension within the Mets front office whether to proceed. 

Alderson saw an opportunity, and he went for it. Sure he took advice from his advisors, but he made the final call. It was gutsy and risky. Whether or not you agree with the trade, you have to respect how Alderson made the call. 

There are some other nuances that are there, but these are the main ones in my opinion. In any event, while I disagreed with the trade, I’m loving the Cespedes ride. I’m not so excited about how the offseason will shake out. I’m putting that out of my mind right now. 

I’m just enjoying the ride for now. Lets Go Mets!

No Error, the Mets Won

If Terry Collins was the late, great Herb Brooks, he would be at Turner Field until midnight running infield drills:

However, this is the majors, and I’m sure the Wilpons aren’t paying for two different flights. 

As much as I would like to get on Jon Niese for today, it’s not his fault. I’d don’t care if Collins sat a number of starters including Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright, you’re expected to play fundamental baseball. On a side note, the Mets were only charged with two errors. The official scorer had an equally bad day. 

Lucas Duda had two miscues that helped give away the 2-0 lead the Mets earned on Michael Conforto‘s two run homer. Subsequent leads disappeared behind Daniel Murphy and Juan Uribe misplays. By the way, Duda and Murphy are everyday players, and Uribe is a good defensive player. 

By some miracle, Niese was on the long side when Tim Stauffer would make his Mets debut. It was quickly first and third with no outs, and Stauffer got a tapper right back to him. Instead of getting the lead runner, he went for the double play. The score was then tied 4-4. 

Stauffer would come out again in the eighth. He leave the game after allowing an “infield single.”  Dario Alvarez would not continue his recent good play allowing the inherited runner to score. He allowed a runner to score, and he left some ducks on the pond. Bobby Parnell came into the game. To be fair, Parnell (who earned the win) was not bad today as the inherited runners would score off a Curtis Granderson misplay in right. After eight innings, it would be 7-4 Braves. 

However, these Mets are hard to kill. Even with two outs in the ninth, they would come back to tie the game. Juan Lagares hit a double just out of the reach of the diving Nick Markakis. Granderson would walk, and Murphy would hit an improbable three run homer. 

In the tenth, the Braves imploded.  With a chance to get out of the inning with runners on first and third unscathed. Sure enough, with two outs, they threw the ball away allowing Kirk Nieuwenhuis to score the go-ahead run. The Braves would then walk the ballpark to load the bases AND walk home two runs. 

Addison Reed would get the save. He had to work around an error by Ruben Tejada because, why not?  It was a fitting end to an absolutely ugly game. They had no business winning the game, but they did because the Braves are terrible and the Mets are resilient.
Good job by Collins allowing his guys in the field and pen to fully rest. The Mets won’t need to win another game until October, and he managed accordingly. As I noted, his managing is really getting better lately. 

In any event, the Mets won a game they shouldn’t have. They won’t get away with this in October, but they showed the will to win that’s important in October. In any event, it’s always a good day when the Mets win. Today is a good day. 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

After last night’s big homerun, I wanted to write a post about Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ chances of making the postseason roster. I then realized such conversation is premature without first discussing who is definitely going to be on the roster, and what the roster needs will be. 

Please note this list assumes all injured players will be healed and ready for the playoffs. And yes, I’m taking Matt Harvey at his word. So without further ado, here’s my best approximation:

Position Players

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Wilmer Flores
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. Ruben Tejada
  7. Juan Uribe
  8. David Wright
  9. Kelly Johnson
  10. Yoenis Cespedes
  11. Michael Cuddyer
  12. Curtis Granderson
  13. Juan Lagares
  14. Michael Conforto

Pitchers

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Hansel Robles

While typically an MLB team carries 12 pitchers, that number is usually reduced to 11 relievers. That means there’s three spots open for pitchers like Sean GilmartinDario AlvarezCarlos Torres (if healthy), Erik GoeddelLogan VerrettJon Niese, and of course Steven Matz. Notice, I did not put Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty on the list. If all the position players make the list, there’s only room for 11 pitchers anyway. 

With an injury, like Cuddyer’s, the decision will come down between Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young, Jr., and yes, Eric Campbell

The Mets have tough decisions to make. They have about a month of tryouts. So far, Gilmartin, Alvarez, and Nieuwenhuis have made their cases. Other players have their opportunities as well. It’s nice having this conversation instead of talking about next year. 

Mets Still Aren’t Signing Ce$pede$

Roc Nation initiated talks with the Mets to eliminate the five day window for the Mets to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes after the World Series. I think it’s important to note that it was Roc Nation and not the Mets who initiated these discussions because it further signals that he’s not returning to Flushing. 

The Contract

We have heard that Cespedes wanted a $120 – 150 million contract when he came to the Mets. His play with the Mets and his popularity with the fans is only going to drive that price tag higher. 

Furthermore, Sandy Alderson already had an aversion to second generation contracts like the one Cespedes is going to receive. I imagine his position has only stiffened with David Wright and his spinal stenosis

Outfield Depth

I think we can all agree that Michael Conforto needs to play everyday next year. That locks down LF. Curtis Granderson still had two years and $31 million remaining on his contract. Between that and his good year this year, it means he’s playing RF next year. That locks up the corner OF without even considering Michael Cuddyer and the $12.5 million he’s due next year. 

That leaves CF. The Mets have presumably the best defensive CF in the game in Juan Lagares. He has three years and $20 million left on his contract. I can’t imagine the Mets are going to make him a bench player after one poor, injury plagued year. 

Additionally, it should be added Cespedes has not been a good CF in his career. In fact, he’s been quite bad. True, it appears he’s playing a capable CF with the Mets. However, I’d like to put my faith in two and a half years worth of data over a little more than one month. 

I will acknowledge that the Mets will play him in the unlikely event he re-signs. However, I doubt that will happen as the Mets already have a full OF and needs at SS, the bullpen, the bench, and potentially second base. 

The Warts

Look, I love Cespedes as much as the next Mets fan, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook some of his issues. 

First, he doesn’t get on base. His career .OBP is a paltry .320. Second, he’s not always engaged defensively, and he has some bad habits. This is something you overlook for a two month rental that’s mashing the ball. For a guy with a massive contract, the fans will eviscerate him.  I’d rather not see it get to that point. I’d rather Mets fans enjoy the ride. 

Conclusion

There are many reasons not to sign Cespedes. For $150 million, I’m sure the Mets agree. So, let’s enjoy what has been an amazing year. Let’s continue witnessing this Cespedes Miracle and enjoy it for as long as it goes.