It is not even Opening Day, and the New York Yankees pitching rotation is getting decimated. Luis Severino is done for the year after opting for Tommy John surgery. James Paxton had a microscoptic lumbar discectomy and is out until June. Throw in Domingo German being suspended for the first 63 games of the 2020 season.
Right there, the Yankees will enter the season missing 3/5 of their rotation. This has them relying on J.A. Happ more than they intended, and they are going to have to hope a couple of pitchers step up. That includes Jonathan Loaisiga, who struggled last year, and Jordan Montgomery, who is returning from Tommy John, and Luis Cessa, who has proved to be more reliable in the bullpen.
When you consider one of the more “reliable” arms in the Yankees rotation is Masahiro Tanaka, who has a torn UCL. Looking at that and everything going on, the Yankees need arms. To that end, there is no surprise the Yankees reportedly called the Mets to inquire on Steven Matz.
While it would make sense for the Yankees to attempt to obtain Matz from the Mets, it doesn’t make much sense for the Mets to trade Matz away.
Matz is the only left-handed option for the Mets rotation. He is under team control through the 2021 season, which is all the more important considering Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha are free agents after this season. More than that, Matz has potential for a real breakthrough season.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation in 2020 and 2021. Moreover, trading Matz runs counter to the Mets plan of building starting rotation depth over re-signing Zack Wheeler and keeping their aces together. Still, even with Matz being off the table, there is a realistic trade between the Mets and Yankees.
Walker Lockett is out of options, and realistically speaking, there is no path to him to make the Opening Day roster. This leaves the Mets in a position to lose Lockett, a player they acquired in the Kevin Plawecki trade last year, for nothing.
Instead of risking a Lockett falling to them in waivers, the Yankees could obtain Lockett now. If they did that, they get the added benefit of seeing how he works with their own coaching staff. Another added benefit to acquiring Lockett is he’s a groundball pitcher, which could be useful to a team with a good infield defense and a home run friendly ballpark.
Ideally, the Mets return could be a player similarly out-of-options. While ideal, it is not realistic as Kyle Higashioka, Michael Tauchman, and Gio Urshela will very likely make the Yankees Opening Day roster. Maybe the Yankees would be willing to part with a player like Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada, each of whom have an option remaining, but really that doesn’t seem likely for a player the Yankees could wait out to obtain on waivers.
Really, the Mets potential return for Lockett is really limited, but it is better they seek out what they can get for him now instead of risking losing him for nothing. With the Yankees, they at least have an obvious fit. The question is whether these two teams can find a middle ground, or really, if the Yankees would have any interest whatsoever in Lockett.
On July 31, the New York Mets obtained Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes would become an instant star with the Mets hitting .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 homers, and 44 RBI in just 57 games. After the Mets would win the pennant, fans clamored for his return.
Cespedes would return, and he’d be as impressive in 2016 helping the Mets grab the top Wild Card spot. He’d opt out of that contract, and he would sign a four year deal that has not gone nearly as well. Over the first two years of the deal, he’d hit an impressive .282/.343/.525, but he’d only play 119 games out of a possible 324 games.
With Cespedes having season ending heel surgery in 2018 and his falling into a hole on his ranch, he would not play at all in 2019 meaning he’s only played 119 games out of a possible 486 games over the first three years of his deal. Who knows if he will be able to play at all in 2020?
The key piece going to the Detroit Tigers was Michael Fulmer. Like Cespedes, Fulmer had two strong years after the trade before succumbing to injury. In 2016, Fulmer was the Rookie of the Year, and in 2017, Fulmer was an All-Star.
In 2018, Fulmer had a down year as he dealt with various injuries. After season ending knee surgery that year, he would be diagnosed with a torn UCL before Spring Training this year. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March, and he would miss the entire season, and like Cespedes, we cannot be sure when he can play in 2020.
That leaves the final piece of the trade – Luis Cessa.
Cessa was traded by the Tigers to the New York Yankees along with Chad Green for Justin Wilson. Green has emerged as a key piece to the Yankees bullpen, and Cessa finally carved out a real role in the Yankees bullpen for himself this year.
Cessa would make his first postseason appearance in Game 3 of the ALCS pitching two scoreless innings against the Houston Astros. That makes Cessa the lone part of that famed Cespedes trade who is not only in the postseason this year, but who actually played a game during the 2019 season.
In the end, the Mets thought they were getting a player who would lead them to their first World Series Championship since 1986. The Detroit Tigers thought they were getting a staff ace who would lead them to their first title since 1984. The Yankees were getting an arm with upside, and that arm who could contribute something in the future.
It’s just funny how that one overlooked pitcher is the one player from a noteworthy deal who is in this postseason. We’ll see how things play out from here.
Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals. With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:
East – Boston Red Sox
Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)
Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.
RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)
Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.
RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)
Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.
OF Chris Young (2014)
After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.
Central – Cleveland Indians
First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)
Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007. He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.
RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)
Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.
RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)
Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons. Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.
West – Houston Astros
DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)
Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform. Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.
C Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)
Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)
Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team. Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.
Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)
Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark. While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.
Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)
Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick. He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)
Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.
Wild Card – New York Yankees
RHP Luis Cessa
Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
Wild Card – Minnesota Twins
Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)
While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.
RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)
“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse. There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.
RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)
Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability. He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.
East – Washington Nationals
OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)
De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets. He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)
Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.
2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)
Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase. Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant. Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.
LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)
Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season. He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract. Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.
Central – Cubs
Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)
“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.
C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)
Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners. It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.
West – Dodgers
Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)
Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers. Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.
OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)
Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform. He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most. Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series. His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.
3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)
Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible. Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.
Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)
Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.
Wild Card – Diamondbacks
RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)
Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed. While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.
Wild Card – Rockies
Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League. Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.
The Mets got to Cessa first with Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes hitting a pair of third inning homers. What was interesting with the Cespedes’ homer was his homer was against one of the two prospects the Mets traded to get him in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Mets bats went completely cold after this leaving Montero and the pen to hold a 2-0 lead. Most of that was due to Chad Green, who pitched 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings, after coming on for a hurting Cessa with one out in the fifth.
For his part, Montero cruised into the fourth. All of his pitches were working, especially his fastball which was clocked in the high 90s. However, he would walk consecutive batters helping load the bases with one out.
Montero got out of the inning without further damage, and he was back on cruise mode. That was until he left one over the plate against Aaron Judge who went opposite field to tie the game in the sixth.
That closed the door on Montero who pitched a fine game. His final line was six innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
Terry Collins went to Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Then, like Collins always does with Robles, he pushed the envelope with him. It’s all the more puzzling when you consider that not too long ago Robles couldn’t even feel his fingers.
Hicks led off the eighth, and we soon found Robles pointing to the sky.
After the homer, the Yankees had a 3-2 lead, and Collins overreacted like he always does. Collins went into super matchup mode using Jerry Blevins for a batter, and then bringing in Erik Goeddel. Goeddel was greeted with a Sanchez home run.
In fact, you question a bit where the effort level was with some of the Mets players. In the eighth, Asdrubal Cabrera walked on a 3-2 pitch that ricocheted off the umpire. Instead of busting it to first to see if he could get into scoring position with two outs, he took his time. When Cespedes struck out in the next at-bat, the ball would get away from Sanchez, but he couldn’t be bothered to try to go to first.
The Mets blew a winnable game, but there’s a silver lining. The Wilpons got their wish that they didn’t have to pay Jay Bruce to beat them. Instead, they paid Collins and a bullpen to do that.
Game Notes: Granderson’s homer was his 69th in Yankee Stadium since 2010. That trails just Mark Teixeira.
Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason. Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.
The foundation of this team is its starting pitching. Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome. There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.
Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break. Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season. While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain. He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch. At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons. Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.
There are more question marks in the rotation. Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors. Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year. Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective. Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation. Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems. The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.
The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors. Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters. That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.
As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.
As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all. The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup. Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat. Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base. In 2015, Duda had a disc issue. This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back. There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate. The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising. That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.
This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.
Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available. The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned. That’s the hope why he will stay. However, it’s more narrative than fact.
The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market. Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else. The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason. It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes. There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.
It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him. Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason. If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.
The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017. The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.
Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team. Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year. Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed. Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue. Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential. In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.
Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front. The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare. The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera. They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith. The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.
Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner. They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return. Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.
Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year. As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete. With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets. It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step. But after that?
You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee. You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410. He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015. You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year. Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year. You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties. You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season. It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.
As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.
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.
For the second straight year, the Mets entered the season with questionable depth. The result of the questionable depth last year was the Mets were forced to raid their minor league pitching depth to build a bench and a bullpen. Overall, the Mets traded away Robert Whalen, John Gant, Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, Dawrin Frias, Miller Diaz, and Matt Koch. The end result was a National League Pennant and only one player under contract beyond 2015.
The Mets had the whole offseason to make sure that didn’t happen again. They didn’t. The team decided not to re-sign Kelly Johnson, and they waived Ruben Tejada. The end result was the Mets started the year with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster. Keep in mind, the 2015 Mets which supposedly had less depth had Campbell in the minor league system.
Unfortunately, Campbell did not reward the faith the Mets placed in him. Campbell hit .159/.270/.222. The Mets were forced to move on from him. Next up was Ty Kelly, who the Mets signed to a minor league deal over the winter, and Kelly hit .111/.200/.111. Another option was Matt Reynolds, who is still up with the team, who is currently hitting .167/.231/.167. By the way, the Mets have now made it readily apparent they are not going to give T.J. Rivera a shot. Long story short there are kiddie pools with more depth than what the 2016 Mets had this season. Accordingly, the Mets were in a position where they were forced to make a move to improve their depth.
Today, the Mets traded away Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. This is the same Kelly Johnson the Mets thought Eric Campbell was better than in the offseason. This is the same Kelly Johnson who is currently hitting .215/.273/.289 this year.
Again, the Mets could have signed him in the offseason and not forfeited a prospect in return. Either the Mets thought Campbell was a better player and were wrong, or they made a money decision. There is roughly a $1.5 million difference between Campbell’s and Johnson’s salaries, and the Mets did release Tejada before the season in an effort to save money. Keep in mind, the Mets not only obtained Campbell in the deal, but as per Jon Heyman, the Mets also received some money in the deal as well. Because of the Mets penny wise pound foolish decisions, the Mets once again had to dip into their minor league system to address their poor depth.
This time the cost was Akeel Morris. Last year, Morris was terrific in his 23 appearance in AA. He went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. This year, for the first time in his major league career, he is struggling. In his 22 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP. Lost in those stats is Morris’ stuff. He can get his fastball up to 95, and he has a good changeup. With his ability to strike people out, he could have been a late inning reliever. With the development of another pitch, like the Warthen slider, he would be. If he does reach his potential, it will be with another organization as the Mets decided they desperately needed someone who is hitting worse than Kevin Plawecki this year.
Regardless of his struggles, Johnson is an upgrade over what the Mets have been playing lately. Johnson may also benefit from returning to a team where he played well last year. If Johnson does play well, it’ll be a reminder the Mets should not have let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. It will be a reminder that the mistake the Mets made a mistake in thinking Campbell was the best choice for the bench. Ultimately, the cost of that mistake is the career of Akeel Morris.
Going into last year, the Mets were well noted for their organizational pitching depth. It wasn’t just the pitchers that were in the majors, but it was also the pitchers on the way. The thought process was the Mets could select the pitchers to keep to help the rotation and trade the others for a bat.
Well, the Mets are going into the 2016 season, and their depth isn’t the same as this regime seems comfortable jettisoning this team’s pitching depth. A large part of the reason was the unwillingness and/or inability to spend in the offseason last year. Here is the list of pitchers gone from the Mets organization:
- Greg Peavey
- Randy Fontanez
- Cory Mazzoni
- Brad Wieck
- Casey Meisner
- John Gant
- Robert Whalen
- Michael Fulmer
- Luis Cessa
- Matt Koch
- Miller Diaz
- Dawrin Frias
- Jack Leathersich
- Jon Niese
- Matthew Bowman
This list doesn’t include Logan Verrett, who was selected in last year Rule 5 draft and returned. It also doesn’t include Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, and Alex Torres because, at least in theory, they all could return to the Mets next year. In any event, that’s a lot of pitchers gone and/or potentially gone from the 2014 Winter Meetings and the 2015 Winter Meetings.
After losing all these pitchers, the Mets only have two . . . TWO . . . players on their 2016 major league roster resulting from these moves: Addison Reed and Neil Walker. Also, the Mets still need a fifth starter and possibly bullpen help. You would think after losing 15 pitchers in a year, you’d be in a better position.
Now, the important caveat here is not all of these pitchers are of the same caliber. For example, Peavey and Fontanez were selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Also, I did defend the trade that brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. On the flip side, I did not like the trades which brought in Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes.
I’m not in the crowd that justifies these deals due to the Mets winning the pennant. You win the World Series, you’re untouchable because you did what was necessary. However, the Mets lost all that pitching and still fell short. Think of it another way. Do you think the Tigers would’ve traded winning the AL East for John Smoltz‘ career?
With all that said, the Mets still deserve some credit here. Even though they lost all that pitching, they still have good pitching prospects like Robert Gsellman. I just wish they spent more money last offseason and kept some of those pitchers to give them more options to make deals this winter or this upcoming summer.
Keep in mind that sooner or later losing all this pitching will eventually catch up with them. I’m not looking forward to the day that happens.