It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom will not just take any job. At 35 years old, he can be selective, and he has. In the past, Bloom has outright refused to even interview for the Diamondbacks position. However, he not only has decided to interview for the Mets job, but he is also a finalist for the General Manager position.
Bloom’s interesting in the position should have Mets fans excited about the future of this team regardless of who the team hires to be the General Manager.
There is a lot to like with this Mets team. Just like 2015, it all starts with the rotation. Jacob deGrom has emerged this season as the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler looked like an ace himself posting the second best ERA in the second half. Noah Syndergaard had 13 wins in a down year, and he had a strong finish to the season. Finally, somehow Steven Matz actually made 30 starts last year. Now that Matz is able to navigate a full season, he can take the next step much like how Wheeler did this year.
There are also the y0ung left-handed bats on this roster. Using wRC+ as a barometer, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year and in the top 10 of all of baseball. After dealing with the shoulder issues, Michael Conforto hit .273/.356/.539 in the second half. Jeff McNeil emerged from out of nowhere to not just make to the majors but to also claim the second base job for 2019 by posting a 2.4 WAR and 137 wRC+ in just 63 Major League games.
The Mets also have a vastly improving farm system. Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Jarred Kelenic are viewed by nearly every outlet as Top 100 prospects. After a breakout season, Justin Dunn is on the cusp of cracking those lists as well. David Peterson and Anthony Kay are both left-handers who took steps forward and are not far from the majors.
There are also young players who people have lost enthusiasm but still have talent. Dominic Smith will not turn 24 until August, and there are still many who believe in his talent. For example, Keith Law of ESPN believes Smith could hit better than .262/.346/.459 if given the first base job next year. Before his season ending injury last year, Gavin Cecchini returned to the form he was when he was seen as a future middle infielder for the Mets.
This is before we even consider players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and even Desmond Lindsay with his retooled swing. The overriding point is the Mets farm system has plenty of talent, and Bloom, a Rays executive with a strong player development background knows this.
Ultimately, this is why Bloom is interested in the Mets General Manager job. This is also why Mets fans should be excited about the future of this team even if Bloom does not get the job because whether or not he gets the job, the talent is already here. It’s now just a matter of that talent continuing their development and winning the World Series.
As a second straight Mets season has completely fallen apart, there has been discussions about whether the Mets should blow the whole thing up. Those discussions have been ramped up with Yoenis Cespedes being out for at least 10 months with his having double heel surgery.
There’s talent present which could make the Mets winners in 2020 or even 2019. However, for that to happen, the Mets will need to add some pieces.
Fortunately for the Mets, this could go down as one of the most consequential free agent classes in Major League history. Teams will be lining up to throw money to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, and A.J. Pollock.
Given all that has happened, the Mets will have the money to be competitors on the free agent market. In fact, they are going to be quite flush with cash.
Even if the Mets do not trade anyone who is due money past this season, the Mets will have money freed up because there are a number of contracts expiring after this season:
- AJ Ramos – $9.225 million
- Asdrubal Cabrera – $8.25 million
- Jerry Blevins – $7 million
- Devin Mesoraco* – $5.625 million
- Jose Reyes – $2 million
With respect to Mesoraco, there was an undisclosed amount of cash provided by the Reds when they obtained Harvey in exchange for Mesoraco. While Mesoraco is due $13.12 million this year, it was Harvey’s $5.625 million salary that was part of the Opening Day roster. Therefore, for the sake of calcualting how much money will be available, Harvey’s salary is used as the placeholder.
With the Harvey/Mesoraco caveat, the Mets will have $32.1 million coming off the books just from contracts currently on the books expiring after the season.
Subtotal $32.1 million
With the Mets trading Jeurys Familia, the team not only was able to acquire two prospects in Bobby Wahl and William Toffey, both of whom will be earning de minimis minor league salaries, but the team was also able to remove Familia’s $7.925 million from the books with the team getting some cash savings this season with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia’s 2018 salary.
David Wright has not played a Major League game since May 27, 2016. With each passing day and each additional set-back, it becomes increasingly unlikely we will ever see Wright play in another game for the Mets. Now when it comes to Wright, there are two factors at play which would give the team an avenue to spend more money this offseason.
First and foremost, Wright’s salary goes from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million in 2019. Right off the bat, that gives the Mets an additional $5 million to spend this offseason.
Additionally, Wright’s contract is fully insured with insurance paying 75% of Wright’s salary. As a result, the Mets will have an additional $11.25 million available to spend due to Wright’s inability to play.
But Wright is not the only injured player insured. In addition to Wright, Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is also insured. That’s important in light of the announcement Cespedes will have double heel surgery and will be out at least 10 months. For what it’s worth, the Mets suggested he may be out longer than that.
Remember, Cespedes is out from 10 months from whenever he has the surgery. Not from the date of the press conference. With that in mind and for the sake of being conservative in the estimates, lets assume Cespedes is out for half the season.
With the Mets saying there is insurance that picks up over 50% of the salary owed to Cespedes, that means, the Mets will be able to recoup roughly 50% of a half’s seasons salary. With Cespedes due $29 million next year, insurance will pay at least $7.25 million. With each passing day that number will grow.
When combining the monies covered by insurance for Wright and Cespedes, the team will have an additional $18.5 million available to spend. When you include the $5 million drop in Wright’s salary, that number is $23.5 million.
As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, ownership says it considers Wright’s contract part of the payroll, and the team does not reinvest the money saved into baseball operations. Putting aside what that means in terms of money available for a second, what this does mean is the team has saved and socked away $15 million of the $20 million due and owing to Wright this season.
The same likely applies to whatever the team can and will recover from insurance from Cespedes’ $29 million contract this season.
Additionally, the team saw savings of roughly $3 million for trading Familia, and they will likely see the same savings when other players are traded for the roster. Presumably, since that money is not being invested into baseball operations this season that would make that money available for 2019 and beyond.
For a moment, we can presume for a moment the $3 million saved on Familia can offset the $3 million pay increase due to Jay Bruce next season. Of course, the pay raises due in arbitration and the like will very easily be offset by the money saved on the Wright and Cespedes insurance policies. Really, there should be money to spare.
What This All Means
Looking at the Mets as currently constituted, they have tw0-third of their outfield set with Conforto and Nimmo. On the infield, they have Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario. They will also have Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera, and Jeff McNeil, who could become part of a time sharing at either first or second. If he can get healthy, the team could have Bruce at first or right depending on the development of Alonso, or yes, even Dominic Smith.
All told, this means the Mets have the payroll room and the spots on the roster to add at least one player of significance. Perhaps even two.
With that in mind, with the Mets having $63.525 million to spend this offseason, there is no excuse why this team shouldn’t aggressively pursue Machado and Harper. They should come away with one of them plus an additional piece to help take them over the top like a Kimbrel, Pollock, or yes, even a Daniel Murphy (first base only).
If the Mets do that, this is a potential World Series contender, especially with this starting pitching. If the team goes out and does this, the fans will pack Citi Field to the gills.
The time for excuses is over. It’s time to act like a big market club with a chance to win a World Series.
When it comes to Jeff Wilpon, you keep wondering how one person could be just so despicable. Over the past few years, he fired an unwed pregnant woman leading the team to have to settle a lawsuit.
In 2015, when former co-owner Nelson Doubleday died, the Mets held a moment of silence, but they refused a uniform patch or even a black armband for the man who rescued the Mets in 1980.
As reported by the New York Time this past December, Jeff Wilpon holds a grudge against Ed Kranepool stemming from an incident from about five years ago when Kranepool said rather than buying shares available for sale, he wanted to buy the team from the Wilpons because he could run the team better.
In response to this, with Kranepool suffering through real health issues causing him to sell off some of his personal memorabilia, Kranepool said, “Not that I need them to do anything for me, but Fred or somebody could have called to say, ‘How you feeling?’”
In and of themselves, each of them are despicable acts, but in true Jeff Wilpon fashion, he seemed to raise the bar yesterday.
In what was a surprise press conference, where Sandy Alderson was announcing he was stepping aside so he could continue his battle with cancer, Jeff Wilpon led things off by saying this:
This is a results business and we’re well below our expectations, from ownership on down. Talk to the baseball department, the scouting department, the development department, the coaches, the players. Nobody expected to be in this position.
You have a range of emotion just like our fans that include incredibly frustrated, disappointed, angry about our season at this point, certainly. We’re in a results business and at this point, we’re well below our expectations.
From there, he went into saying how Sandy Alderson was basically stepping aside, and how there was going to be the triumvirate of J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco, who would bring the decisions to Jeff much in the same way they were handled by Alderson.
Put another way, before giving Alderson the floor, Wilpon trashed the job Alderson did this year, essentially said he could do Alderson’s job better, and then he sat there stone faced, disinterested, and playing with the paper in his hands as Alderson, a man fighting for his life, fought through tears to get through everything.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson announces that he will take a leave of absence as he battles cancer. pic.twitter.com/jAXPkRUTzJ
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 26, 2018
Jeff Wilpon just sat there as Alderson took responsibility for this season and in his saying his performance does not merit him returning to the Mets after he hopefully wins this battle with cancer. Mets fans can all agree Alderson made some mistakes over the years, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single one who believes everything was completely his fault.
To that end, this smelled more like a “dignified” firing with cancer as an excuse that allowing a good man to focus all of his energies fighting cancer and then being given an opportunity resume his duties as the Mets General Manager. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon had plenty of opportunities to say Sandy was welcome to return to the Mets, but he always made sure to steer clear of that.
Perhaps most disgusting of all was there was not one thank you uttered from the lips of Jeff Wilpon. Not one.
This is a man whose hiring probably helped the Wilpons retain control of the team post-Madoff. This was a man who did the rebuild which led to the Mets making it all the way to the 2015 World Series. He is just one of two Mets General Managers to make consecutive postseasons.
Last year, after the season fell apart, he focused on saving the Wilpons money than maximizing the return for each and every single of those the players traded.
Mostly, this was a good man who fought for his country, and who did all he could do for the Mets. In all the years after 1986, Sandy Alderson was quite possibly the closest to winning that third World Series.
When he leaves, he leaves behind players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario. He also leaves behind a farm system with Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Peter Alonso, and so much more. Long story short, he did an admirable job in difficult circumstances.
At the very least, even as Jeff Wilpon was trashing him and allowing Alderson to take the heat all upon himself, you would think at some point Wilpon would offer a simple, “Thank you.”
Thank you for serving the Mets for the past eight years. Thank you for 2015. Thank you for allowing us to retain control of the team.
That “Thank you” never did come, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it never comes. After all, Jeff Wilpon has shown himself to be a despicable person who can’t help one gravely ill person in Kranpeool, who fires pregnant women and jokes about it, and lastly, allows Alderson to take the heat for all that has gone wrong.
The point cannot be driven home enough. Jeff Wilpon is a petty and despicable man, and what he did to Alderson yesterday was inexcusable.
For about the millionth time, shame on him.
With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline. The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.
Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom. If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects. The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals. With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.
Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline. He’s much better working deals in the offseason.
So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals. Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:
Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9. Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.
Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.
Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries. Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).
Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer. The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.
Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup. The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.
AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery. That would take him off the table. The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.
Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.
Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals. Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:
Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career. The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base. Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.
Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.
Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups. He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.
So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler. Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild. To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.
And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.
Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history. Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.
Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.
Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.
If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure. Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.
Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn. If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.
Due to a family event, I was unable to use the Mets tickets I had originally purchased for the game. Considering it was me who scheduled the family event, it was REALLY poor planning on my part, except for one thing . . . .
With the exception of one of my uncles, an uncle who harbors no ill-will towards the National League team, we are all Mets fans.
We are all split on football and hockey. Generally speaking, we all prefer NCAA basketball to the NBA, with us each having our own colleges we support.
Despite the many differences we have as a family, it is our being Mets fans that bind us. Perhaps more than the blood itself.
So, when you have a group of us together, if there is a television around, any and all family occasions will eventually turn into us sitting there watching and rooting for the Mets. Yesterday was no exception.
We talked about what a great and underrated pickup Todd Frazier was when he delivered an RBI single in the first.
This led to a discussion as to what exactly the Mets should be doing about the cdatching situation. Some wanted J.T. Realmuto. Others, myself included, wanted the Mets to go with the catcher who would get the most out of this pitching staff. Regardless, we all debated what the Marlins would want for Realmuto presuming the discussions would start with Justin Dunn and Peter Alonso.
We marveled at just how dominant Noah Syndergaard was with him finally returning to form early this season with his striking out 11. We also groaned in that sixth inning when the Brewers plated two unearned runs on an Amed Rosario throwing error.
My family had smiles bigger than the one on Brandon Nimmo‘s face when he hit a game tying homer in the bottom of that inning. All right, almost as big a smile.
We got nervous and held on for dear life as AJ Ramos had one of those heart in your throat innings, and he was not helped by Jose Lobaton. To a man, we agreed wild pitch or not, your catcher has to get that. Regardless, Ramos got out of the inning with some help from Jerry Blevins.
Surprisingly, no one seemed that nervous about Hansel Robles anymore. Sure, he may not have been everyone’s first choice, but there was a calm believing he could get the job done. For Robles, that must’ve been a different feeling from past years.
And in my family, we are smart baseball fans, so there was no waiting for Jeurys Familia to lose the game in the ninth. We’re better than that, and with his stretch, I hope all Mets fans are getting to that point as well.
Finally, like Citi Field and wherever you were, we cheered and celebrated when Wilmer Flores hit the walk off homer.
Did I get to go to the Mets game yesterday? No, I didn’t. However, one of the reasons we go to games is to sit in the stands and have a shared experience. Considering I watched yesterday with my family, and it was bitterly cold yesterday, I think watching it from an Italian restaurant a state away was probably a much better experience.
The next experience will hopefully be the group of us at Citi Field as we look to recreate one of our old traditions. Hope to see you all there.
Game Notes: Wilmer’s second career walk-off happened against the very same Brewers team he was supposed to be traded to back in 2015.
With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team. It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.
With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:
Looking at the different talent evaporators around the sport, many will peg the Mets farm system in the lower third of farm systems. There are a myriad of conflicting and reasonable opinions why this exists.
There is the fact that over the past few seasons, the Mets organization has seen top prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario graduate from prospect status. Knocking names like these off your lists is going to take a toll on how your farm system is perceived.
There are those like Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, who surmises the Mets have made a series of mistakes in the draft that include drafting Gavin Cecchini over Corey Seager and drafting L.J. Mazzilli over Cody Bellinger.
While either or both of these may be true, there may be an alternate explanation. What if, the Mets are actually drafting the right players, but they are failing their prospects by failing to do what is needed to help cultivate each prospect’s talents to get them to reach their full potential?
Consider for a moment, the difference between Keith Law’s 2017 and 2018 prospect lists. In Law’s 2017 rankings, he had listed Mets prospects Rosario (1), Dominic Smith (29), Thomas Szapucki (60), Robert Gsellman (76), and Justin Dunn(84) in his Top 100. (ESPN Insider). This year? Well, only 2017 first round pick David Peterson made the list. (ESPN Insider).
Now, it is true Rosario, Smith, and Gsellman are no longer considered prospects. It is also true Szapucki and Dunn have dropped off the list. Their dropping off the list does seem to answer the question why the Mets prospects are not developing with way many believed they would.
With respect to Dunn, Law comes close to, but does not quite say the Mets handling of him was a complete disaster. In a conference call discussing his Top 100 prospect list, Law had this to say about Dunn:
They probably pushed him too far to high A just speaking in hindsight, but also there were a lot of issues with his fields of pitch, with his fastball command, with lack of life on the fastball that you almost look — and again, this is all hindsight, but you look and say, nobody caught that? Nobody on the player development side looked and said, well, hey, wait a minute, here are two things we’re going to have to work on in instructional league last year in spring training this year, before sending you out to high A, which is normal for a typical college draftee, but maybe not for him.
Really, it is quite an indictment on the Mets organization to say they completely missed something on a top prospect during the Instructional Leagues, and the team also failed to address the issue during a season in which Dunn would go 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA.
As we saw with Law’s rankings, seasons like this tend to cause evaluators and organizations to begin re-assessing their opinions of certain players. This is not something unique to Dunn.
Certainly, we saw something similar happen with former first round draft pick Kevin Plawecki. Entering the 2015 season, the Mets were excited about him, and when Travis d’Arnaud got hurt in April, they rushed Plawecki to the majors. Over the next few seasons, he would bounce between Triple-A and the majors. In that time, he would never quite progress. That was until last year, when he finally had a prolonged stretch in Triple-A. Judging from his performance last year, that helped him figure things out and help him enter the Mets plans for the 2018 season.
Certainly, the mismanagement of the development of prospects goes further than Dunn and Plawecki. The same could be said for someone like Cecchini, who after two very good years in 2015 and 2016, completely regressed last season, and his status on the 40 man roster is now teetering.
While the Mets handling of prospects like Dunn and Plawecki are instructive. The situation with Szapucki is equally as enlightening.
After dominating opposing batters in his first two professional seasons, Szapucki first appeared to take small step back with Low-A Columbia. Eventually, it was discovered Szapucki had a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.
With that Szapucki joined other promising Mets prospects Jordan Humphreys, who was having a break-out season on the mound, and position player Blake Tiberi in needing the surgery. If only, those were the only season ending surgeries and injuries the Mets suffered in their minor league system last year. Frankly, it has become a pattern, and it’s hindering development, and it is one that has not escaped Law’s attention:
They have had a ton of injuries on the farm, too. I’ve written the Mets’ org report already. I think it goes up on Monday. And I’m struck by how many guys were hurt, are coming back from getting hurt, guys who haven’t come all the way back. Luis Carpiois a good example of a guy who I thought was going to be a pretty good prospect at least, threw out his shoulder, had surgery, and has just not been the same player since he returned. So some of this is health, and I don’t know if that’s player development, the training staff, or just rotten luck.
Really, it goes much further than Szapucki, Humphreys, Tiberi, and Carpio.
Catcher Ali Sanchez has had hand injuries in successive seasons. Desmond Lindsay has had issues staying on the field, and he needed major surgery last year. Jhoan Urena effectively lost two seasons of development time to injuries. Even rising star Peter Alonso has suffered broken bone injuries the last two seasons, which given the Mets current track record, should give everyone pause. It should surprise no one the list goes on and on from there.
Looking at everything, maybe you still conclude the main issue is the graduation of prospects. It’s still possible many believe the real issue is the inability to select the right player. Regardless of your point of view, the one thing that cannot be discounted is this Mets organization is having difficulty keeping players healthy, keeping them on the field, and surrounding them with the things they need to succeed.
In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history. While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”
If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.
During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).
This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players. This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).
As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse. Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers. Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson. The list goes on and on..
That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built. Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months. Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.
The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.
Evaluating Own Talent
Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players. Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.
The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner. However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.
The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere. Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox. They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick. Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.
The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go. It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright. None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended. There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.
The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors. Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams. The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.
At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered. This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.
Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.
The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.
The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer. Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes. We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.
Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.
This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.
Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful. Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR. In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.
For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals. Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract. Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.
It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.
Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues. This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons. It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.
Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front. They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals. Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell.
Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey. Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps. It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.
Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.
Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent. If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.
One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system. Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.
That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley Holt. Even if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.
With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.
Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team. Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:
2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI
Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder. There was a p0int where this was expected to happen. However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.
Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity. However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.
2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)
2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9
When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher. With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS
Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season. Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.
2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB
In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career. After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively. Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.
2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI
After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A. However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.
Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal. If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.
2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)
2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB
After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be. He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster. Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.
2015 – No Pick
It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer. This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason. In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391. Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.
2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation. Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher. In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.
Ultimately, the talent is there. The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.
2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)
The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals. After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal. He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.
2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)
2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9
To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20. Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon. Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down. Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.
Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.
If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors. Of those six players, two are All Stars. Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.
On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential. For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination. However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility. In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.
Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.
Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted. For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki. If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.