Mark Vientos

Kyle Seager Interesting Stop Gap Third Base Option

The New York Mets desperately need a third baseman. This has basically been the case since David Wright initially went down in 2015, and it’s the case now.

There’s two issues with filling that vacancy. First and foremost, the third base free agent pool is not great. Case-in-point, Kris Bryant is far and away the best option, and he may not be a third baseman anymore.

The Mets could try to sign a shortstop like or Corey Seager to move them to third, but that’s easier said than done. If you can sign any one of them, you do it.

Yes, that’s the case when the Mets have Mark Vientos and Brett Baty. Neither are guaranteed to succeed in the majors or stick at third. Notably, for a Mets system bereft of outfield talent, both players have played some left field.

This leaves the Mets with a conundrum. They can’t hand the position to a prospect. For some reason, they don’t trust Jeff McNeil. It’ll be difficult to get a shortstop and move him to third.

Well, that leaves them looking for a stopgap. It’s not the solution anyone wants, but it’s the situation they find themselves. Glossing over the free agent list, Kyle Seager jumps off the page.

Seager, 34, is very clearly past his prime. He’s not the 5+ WAR player he was five years ago. The Mets don’t need him to be that. Really, they just need him to be Seager.

In 159 games last year, Seager hit a woeful .212/.285/.438 with good power numbers. Seager had 29 doubles, a triple, 35 homers, and 101 RBI. Ultimately, he had a 100 OPS+ making him the epitome of a league average hitter.

Behind those numbers was a dip in his walk rate, an uptick in his strikeout rate, and a shockingly low .226 BABIP. While he’s traditionally been a lower BABIP guy, he’s never really been that low.

Judging from Baseball Savant, Seager is still able to square up a ball and drive it. After all, you don’t play in Safeco and hit 35 homers without that ability. Still, his exit velocity dipped in three straight years.

With better plate discipline, and his working with a hitting coach (whoever that will be), Seager could be better than he was in 2021. At the very least, he could be back around league average even if the numbers look different.

If that’s the case, that would be great news for a team like the Mets. While Seager is known for his power, the real value lies in his glove. While he’s not the Gold Glover he once was, he’s still very good at the position.

In 2021, Seager had a 4 OAA. That’s a slight uptick from the 3 OAA he had in 2019 and 2020. That 4 OAA ranked tied for eighth in the majors. His 13 OAA since 2019 also ranks eighth.

Seager is a very good glove, and that’s of increased importance with the Mets. While the pitching staff will be rebuilt, they still have ground ball pitchers in Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker as locks for the rotation.

Adding Seager at third would improve the Mets. His glove would make the pitching better, and there’s still something in that bat. In the event the Mets can’t convince a Correa to move to third, Seager is definitely the stopgap option which would help improve this team.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Couldn’t Take Full Advantage Of Phillies Bullpen

For once, it was nice watching another team struggle through a bad bullpen, but you still would’ve hoped the New York Mets made more of their opportunity against that dreadful Philadelphia Phillies bullpen:

1. Deepest condolences go out to Marcus Stroman who lost his grandmother.

2. The fact Stroman pitched through the pain of losing a loved one is another in a long series of how no one should ever question his heart or dedication. Again, this is the type of player and person the Mets want to keep around past this season.

3. Corey Oswalt has been really good and looks well poised to take over the role Robert Gsellman once had. That’s good because it doesn’t look like Gsellman is coming back anytime soon.

4. That spark Michael Conforto provided the Mets offense sure seemed short lived.

5. On that note, the Mets offense is aware they don’t have to wait for the ninth for a rally, right?

6. It’s really difficult to pinpoint what’s wrong with Jeff McNeil other than bad luck. His batted ball numbers are extremely similar to previous seasons. With that being the case, they just need to stick with him.

7. The Mets really need to switch McNeil with Luis Guillorme defensively. Aside from struggles in a COVID impacted season, McNeil is a good third baseman. Guillorme is other worldly at second and not so great at third. It’s time to fix this.

8. Zack Wheeler dominating the Mets is just another example of just how impossibly bad Brodie Van Wagenen was as a GM.

9. Just imagine if the Mets had Wheeler behind Jacob deGrom. They’d be absolutely impossible to beat in a postseason series. It would really be on the level of 2001 Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

10. deGrom is so amazing two earned over six innings is considered a bad start. When your worst is better than 99% of the league’s best, you know deGrom’s season is beyond hyperbole.

11. The Mets have a bit of a Pete Alonso problem. He’s just nowhere near his 2019 form, and he just seems to be getting further away. More troubling is the struggles hitting at home.

12. That’s not exclusive to Alonso. The Mets also have a Dominic Smith problem, and basically [INSERT PLAYER] problem. McNeil was noted above, and Conforto’s power had seemingly disappeared.

13. Brandon Nimmo appears nearing his return, and the Mets offense seems to need him. That’s problematic considering there are more than enough bats already in this lineup.

14. When Nimmo does return, Billy McKinney needs to stay on the roster. He’s earned his spot and has significantly outperformed Albert Almora.

15. Mark Vientos and Carlos Cortes are flat out raking in Double-A and need to be moved to Syracuse ASAP. They need to be ready to help this roster if needed come August and September.

16. David Peterson had a strong start. He needs to start stringing them together.

17. Francisco Lindor had a huge game winning hit, and he increasingly looks like the player he was in Cleveland.

18. There’s been focus on Guillorme’s batting average, but he’s got a terrific .403 OBP. Considering he’s an eighth place hitter, you can’t ask for more than that. That goes double when he just finds a way on base in the late innings.

19. It’s funny. The Mets have gone 6-6 in a 12 game stretch against the NL East, and their 4.5 game lead is now 4.0 games. The only real change now is the order of the trans behind them.

20. At some point, the Mets need to go on a run. To that, Noah Syndergaard does say the Mets are a second half team . . . .

Mets Should Promote Mark Vientos To Triple-A

Jonathan Villar is doing a fine job as a stopgap at third base for the New York Mets. He has made the flashy defensive plays, and he has had a number of key hits. However, when you boil it down, Villar is still below average at the plate an in the field. As such, the Mets need to look elsewhere for an everyday third baseman.

That was supposed to be J.D. Davis. While Davis has his own issues at the plate and in the field, the biggest issue with him right now is health. He landed on the IL with a hand injury, and his rehab stint was paused due to a neck issue. Davis has undergone another MRI, and they have found joint inflammation in his left hand.

At the moment, the Mets seem to be optimistic Davis can return to the field again for another rehab stint. That said, they were previously optimistic about him as well as Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, etc. Put another way, don’t read too much into their optimism. Even if Davis were to be ready to return, at that point, we would again need to revisit the issue of his being incapable of being an everyday third baseman.

All told between Villar’s play and the injuries to Davis and Luis Guillorme, the Mets don’t have a plan for third base. Considering that is the case, the Mets need to start making that plan. While you can be assured they’re investigating options like Kris Bryant and Kyle Seager, they need to plan for the event neither are available.

Enter Mark Vientos.

Vientos was the Mets 2017 second round pick. At the time, Vientos was seen as the best prep bat in the draft, and he has justified that reputation with his play since being drafted. As noted by MLB Pipeline, Vientos’ “power remains the standout tool and is evident in the right-handed slugger’s impressive exit velocities.”

Looking at Vientos at the plate, there are a few key points. First and foremost, he is always punching above his weight. Case-in-point, he is in Double-A where the 21 year old is 3.1 years younger than league average. Another important consideration is Vientos typically struggles initially at each new level, but he eventually learns and makes adjustments to have strong finishes to the season.

In some ways, this is reminiscent of Dominic Smith. When Smith was a minor leaguer, he would typically struggle in the beginning of the year or a call-up. He’d put in the work, make adjustment, and he would end the year with good numbers. Smith and Vientos should be a reminder prospect development is as much about learning and adapting as it is about having success.

We are seeing some of this with Vientos right now. He had a poor start to the season for Binghamton going 5-for-38 to start the season. However, as he always does, Vientos is adapting and hitting much butter. We are seeing Vientos having a quicker turnaround than usual.

Over his past three games, Vientos is 5-for-11 at the plate with a homer and three RBI. Stretching it out a bit, Vientos is hitting .324/.350/.514 over his last 10 games with four doubles, a homer, and eight RBI. He is not just getting hits over this stretch, but he is also getting big hits:

As noted by Fangraphs, he is really making the adjustments to be a real power hitter. Notably, Vientos has ” a wider stance and toned-down leg kick.” Even with the change, Vientos is still posting big time exit velocities, and he continues to exhibit the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Long story short, he continues to show he has the potential to be a real threat as a Major League hitter.

Even with the progress, it is too much to ask Vientos to pull off what Michael Conforto and Miguel Cabrera once did. In all honesty, while Vientos has been making strides, he is still a bit too raw as a hitter and player to make the Double-A to majors jump. Even with the Mets injuries, so long as Villar is faking it well, there’s no need to make that push.

There’s also the matter of his defense. Between his struggles at third coupled with his frame and the long term prospects of Brett Baty, the Mets have at least begun taking a look at Vientos at first. Of course, when you have Pete Alonso and Smith, you do realize there is no path for Vientos to the majors as the Mets future first baseman.

However, for right now, the question is what to do with third base for the Mets in 2021. The longer Vientos stays in Double-A, the more he is taken out of the equation. With his recent success at the plate, now would be as good a time as ever to look to promote him to Triple-A. With all the recent promotions, there really isn’t anyone in Syracuse blocking a Vientos call-up there.

In Syracuse, Vientos can continue working on his swing, and he could work with Luis Rivera to improve defensively. Based on his recent history, Vientos could use the help.

If nothing else, Vientos in Triple-A does push him closer to the majors. In the long run, that is the point. The Mets need to be putting their best prospects in a position where they can be called-up to the majors. They also need to put players like Vientos in a position where they can work on the specific areas of their game they need to address. For Vientos, all of that should mean moving to Triple-A sooner rather than later.

If the Mets do this, they will be helping Vientos in the long run, and they could help position themselves to call up Vientos to be their third baseman should they strike out on the trade market.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Successfully Transverse Rocky Path

The New York Mets kept getting injured, but they keep winning games, especially at home. They just won three out of four from the Colorado Rockies, and they remain in first place:

1. The Mets are so injured right now their injured players are getting injured.

2. Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco each having difficulty with their rehab assignments and with their probably not being back until August if at all, it’s a reminder you should never part with pitching. Pitching is fragile, and you never have enough of it during the course of a season.

3. The more fans inanely boo Francisco Lindor the more great plays he makes in the field.

4. At some point, we may move past discussing how Tomas Nido claimed the starting job over James McCann to talking about how Nido should be an All-Star.

5. McCann is taking a bad situation, and he is making the most of it by stepping up and playing a pretty good first base. We are also hopefully seeing some signs of life at the plate with his having a a double and homer in this series. At least that’s the hope.

6. Cameron Maybin setting a Mets record for hitless plate appearances to start his Mets career shows you just can’t but a hit for $1.

7. Billy McKinney had quite the Mets debut with some very good defense in the field and doing well at the plate. It was just one game, but it at least appears like McKinney could be part of the equation even with everyone is healthy.

8. While you hope moves like McKinney work, we are getting increasingly to the point where the Mets may have to do something drastic. In the short-term, taking a look at Carlos Cortes makes a lot of sense. If the injuries to J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil are that bad, it may be time to consider calling up Mark Vientos who is scorching hot in Binghamton.

9. We are not talking enough about the job Jose Peraza is doing for the Mets. Yes, he’s below average at the plate and at second, but he is at least a credible presence on what is moving towards a Double-A roster. It also helps that when he gets his hits it seems to be big like his game winning homer in the first end of the doubleheader.

10. Marcus Stroman is defensively what Jacob deGrom is as a pitcher. Stroman is also a very good pitcher in his own right.

11. This is just a different team with deGrom. Yes, we know the frustration with the lack of run support. That said, he gives this team a swagger, and he eats up a lot of innings allowing the bullpen to rest and be great when needed.

12 People can complain all they want about replay, but when deGrom and Jonathan Villar were called out the primary objective of replay was achieved – it got the call right. Now, there is an easy fix where fielders should not be rewarded for pushing runners off the base. Hopefully, that is something which will be taken up this offseason.

13. It seems the adjustments Joey Lucchesi has made are working. That said, this is a pitcher who should not be relied upon for more than three innings. If utilized properly, that means Lucchesi could have an immense amount of value to this team.

14. At some point, you have to wonder if this is doing more harm than good to David Peterson‘s development. In all honesty, it’s difficult to see in which area of his game he is progressing.

15. The Mets are messing with Thomas Szapucki like they once did with Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt. They need to let him pitch, especially when they are just going to wind up going with bullpen games anyway. His not stepping on the mound harms his development and may set him up for injury. Next thing you know, you hear the he can’t be good nonsense.

16. The Mets scored a total of 10 runs in a four game series and still managed to win three out of four. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, the Rockies are bad. The second and perhaps more important reason is teams win games with good pitching and defense. Despite the injuries, the Mets still have that.

17. Even with all the injuries and people wondering why things aren’t as good as we thought they might be, the Mets are still on an 88 win pace. Just imagine where they will be when everyone is heatlhy and performing.

18. Brodie Van Wagenen has a lot of gall showing up at Citi Field for a game even with Edwin Diaz having a great year and finally fulfilling his promise.

19. It is good Luis Rojas is finally being recognized for the job he is doing. It should be noted he is essentially doing all the same things he was doing when he wasn’t popular. It’s just that people now recognize how the other things he does so well are so important when you have no one to play.

20. The Mets are getting back Taijuan Walker just in time. This is yet another big early series against the Braves, and the Mets really need to create more separation between the two teams as the Mets continue to navigate their injuries and head towards June, which is always a nightmare.

Game Recaps

At Least James McCann Was Good

Mets Get a Nido Win

Marcus Stroman Out-Pitches and Fields German Marquez

The Billy McKinney Game on Jose Peraza Day

How DH Hurts Mets

Since Brodie Van Wagenen began assembling his team, the overture was this was a team well built for the DH. In 2020, because of a pandemic, the Mets actually did get that DH. After all that hypothesizing about how much it would help the Mets, the end result was a last place finish.

There are many reasons why, and assuredly many would point to the pitching. However, it went much deeper than that. One of the big issues was team defense.

Again, the Mets team defense was atrocious with a -22 DRS. That was good for fifth worst in the majors. Over the past three seasons, the Mets -171 DRS is the worst in the National League and second worst in all of the majors.

This is in large part to an organizational philosophy which pre-dated Van Wagenen. The thought was to acquire as many bats as possible and to find a position for them. The Mets have been all too happy to get players and just stick them somewhere on the diamond.

This has led to J.D. Davis at third and left. Dominic Smith in left field. Brandon Nimmo in center. Michael Conforto playing all three outfield positions. Jeff McNeil playing four different positions. This goes on and on, and in some ways you can trace this tomfoolery all the way back to Lucas Duda playing the outfield.

Perhaps part of this has been the result of Jeff Wilpon running the baseball operations. That said, there has been a prevailing thought process with the Mets to not make the difficult decisions and to hold onto all of their good players. They have found it more prudent to play players out of position resulting in horrible defense, and as a result, the team failing to live up to their sometimes lofty expectations.

Now, taking a look at the Mets current roster, you can say Smith at first base and Pete Alonso at DH is an embarrassment of riches. In Alonso and Smith, the Mets have two cornerstone cost controlled players. As an organization, this is quite an enviable position. When you have those two spots with such high caliber and ceiling players, you don’t want to move on from them. That goes double when you can play them each everyday at first base and DH.

However, that is part of the problem.

While the Mets are set at first and DH, they are a disaster at other important positions. They don’t have a starting catcher, and really, their depth at the position is a question mark. They have no one really capable of playing third base on an everyday basis. They lack anyone in the organization truly capable of playing center everyday. The Mets desperately need at least 2/5 of a starting rotation filled, and they also need to build a bullpen.

Beyond that, the Mets have zero depth at Triple-A, and their Double-A depth is questionable. Put another way, the Mets are a mess, and even with Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, not every one of these areas can be addressed in free agency. It just can’t.

No, the Mets need to be put in a difficult position to have to make hard decisions. Frankly, the trade market sets up extraordinarily well for that right now. At the moment, we know Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, and Blake Snell on the trade bloc. There are very likely other high profile players there for the taking as well.

Given how Van Wagenen ravaged the Mets farm system, there really isn’t the prospect capital to make those trades. Sure, you can trade a Brett Baty or a Mark Vientos, but if you do that, you take the paper thin depth you have and tear through it leaving you with next to no hope for the future. No, if the Mets are going to take that next step, they are going to have to take the surplus they have at positions like first, and they are going to have to make hard choices and make shrewd trades for top end talent at areas they have significant deficiencies.

If there is no DH, the Mets would almost be forced to move at least one of Alonso or Smith to get that top end player. However, with the DH, the impetus is not there. In fact, you could argue it irresponsible to not go into next season with both Alonso and Smith if there was a DH. As noted, therein lies the problem.

The Mets aren’t really in a position to trade top end talent for top end talent in a world where there is a DH. But, if they want real baseball in the National League in 2021, the Mets would be in prime position to do it, and teams would likely line up to grab one of Alonso or Smith thereby driving up the return the Mets could receive.

So yes, given the roster construct, you could argue the Mets are better with the DH. However, in terms of building the roster, the DH stagnates growth and creativity. The impetus to make a trade is gone, and with that, you likely lose out on the ability to make the Mets the best possible team they could be in 2021.

And besides all of that, the DH is bad for the Mets because it is bad for baseball. The short-sighted hope for 2021 needs to be counter-balanced against the next 10-100 years. When you look at it that way, pushing for a completely ineffective gimmick is just plain bad for baseball, and as a result, bad for the Mets.

Brodie Van Wagenen Can And Likely Will Trade Prospects Not Currently In Mets Player Pool

With Marcus Stroman opting out, Michael Wacha having yet another shoulder injury, and Noah Syndergaard undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Mets need a fifth starter. Based on what we’ve seen from Brodie Van Wagenen, we should not rule out his emptying the farm for that fifth starter.

After all, this was the same GM who has already traded Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Ross Adolph, Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson, Blake Taylor, and many more prospects to receive nowhere near value in return. Looking at the cumulative, it’s embarrassing how poorly the Mets have done in these trades.

As we saw last year at the trade deadline, the Mets postseason odds don’t matter. He overpaid for Stroman at the trade deadline last year despite the team being six games under .500 and 12.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the division.

Yes, the Mets went on a run, but in the end, it was Van Wagenen’s half measures which kept the Mets out of the postseason. He moved arguably two of his top prospects remaining in the farm system for another starter, but he didn’t back it up by getting a reliever or another outfielder that the team so desperately needed. That was a major reason the Mets fell short.

Based on his track record, we can assume he’ll ignore reason to make a trade for another player. It’ll be a half-measure, and it will further deplete the farm.

Now, this is where some will say teams are not permitted to trade players not in the player pool. This analysis and hope is very short-sighted.

Technically, that is correct. In 2020, teams cannot trade players unless they are part of their designated 2020 player pool. That should give some relief prospects like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Francisco Alvarez, and Ronny Mauricio won’t be traded.

That is until they’re added to the Mets player pool. As per the rules, the Mets can add players to the player pool as needed. As a result, if a team wants a Mets prospect in exchange for a starting pitcher, all the Mets need to do is add that player to their pool.

It’s only a transaction. There is no requirement the player actually be present at the virtual training site. Much like Jose Bautista two years ago, the Mets can literally pluck a player off their couch and put them on a plane.

So, right now, no prospect is safe. Seeing how the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen don’t remotely care about the future of the franchise as they push to win a World Series before they’re all gone, that goes double.

They’ll grossly overpay for anyone if they think that player gives them even a 1% chance greater of winning the World Series. It’s of no matter to them because they won’t be around while these prospects shine at the Major League level.

In the end, no Mets prospect is safe right now, and the situation grows more dire the longer this team has no fifth starter and languishes in last place in the NL East.

Appalachian League Collateral Damage Bad For Baseball

According to Baseball America, Major League Baseball is considering eliminating 25 percent of Minor League baseball for a number of reasons including the need to pay players a living wage. Part of that is the elimination of stateside short season minor league baseball.

For the Mets, that means no Kingsport Mets or Brooklyn Cyclones. With respect to the Cyclones, there are kinks which could be worked out allowing the Mets to keep them as an affiliate in some fashion.

But Kingsport, they’d be as good as gone.

Instead, they could be a part of a “Dream League.” That would be a league of now unaffiliated teams who catch undrafted college players. That’s a fairly steep drop in cache for affiliates like Kingsport.

For example, in 2018 Kingsport had significant prospects like Jarred Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Mark Vientos. This year, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty played for Kingsport. That’s a reason to not just go to the ballpark but to also follow the team.

Then again, just having a team in Kingsport, TN is reason to follow the team.

The Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves are nearly five hours away. The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals are over six hours away. Those are the closest options meaning if you want to see a baseball game live your best bet is the Kingsport Mets.

The question is whether Kingsport can continue operations without an affiliation with the Mets and having a roster of players like T.J. Rivera at the point in Rivera’s career where he was a complete nobody with little to no chance of making it to the majors.

Remember, Kingsport needs a new park. While the Mets would help now, that won’t happen if Kingsport is not part of their system two or three years from now.

Where does that leave Kingsport? Well, it likely leaves them on the brink. They need a new ballpark, and with them needing to help pay player salaries in the new “Dream League,” you wonder just how much longer they can continue operations.

If they’re gone, the State of Tennessee has one fewer professional baseball team. The City of Kingsport loses baseball period. That’s a missed opportunity to grow the game in what is mostly football country.

Really, when you look at things, Baseball is the only league without a Major League team in that state. To that end, you’d wonder why baseball would not want to try to find a way to keep fans engaged in that region as much as they possibly can to grow the game.

In the end, this is about punishing players for not being able to afford living off wages below the poverty line. In doing that, Major League Baseball is going to cut its nose off to spite its face.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

Biggest Reason Mets Can’t Trade Syndergaard

After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.

They shouldn’t.

One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.

Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.

Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.

Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.

Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.

Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.

Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.

By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.

Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny MauricioFrancisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.

That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.

When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.

Brodie Van Wagenen Ruined Mets Payroll Flexibility And Prospect Depth For Nothing

While Sandy Alderson had his faults as the Mets General Manager, he left the Mets in a very good position. The next General Manager would have at this disposal the assets and core necessary to build a real World Series contender sometime within the next three years. If done, properly, this could have been a stretch akin to the 1980s Mets.

First and foremost, there was a young core still under control. Michael Conforto rebounded from shoulder surgery in the second half, and he appeared ready to return to his All Star form. Brandon Nimmo had a breakout season where he was the second best hitter in the National League. Jeff McNeil emerged to hit .329/.381/.471 in 63 games showing a great contact rate while playing well at second base.

The team still had a very good starting rotation. Jacob deGrom is the reigning Cy Young winner. Zack Wheeler‘s second half was as good as deGrom’s. Steven Matz finally made 30 starts in a season. Noah Syndergaard came back from a finger issue and pitched well. Over his final eight starts of the season, he was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.

The team also did not have an onerous long term deal which would stand in the way of really improving the team. After the 2019 season, the contracts of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Anthony Swarzak, and Jason Vargas were set to come off the books. That was $32.5 million coming off the books. Combine that with Wheeler’s $5.975,  and that was $38.475 coming off the books.

With respect to Vargas and Wheeler being pending free agents, the team did have internal options. Justin Dunn had a breakout season, and he re-emerged as a Top 100 prospect with an ETA of last 2019 or early 2020. With a similar 2019 season, you could see him realistically being part of the 2020 rotation or possibly the bullpen.

Behind Dunn, Anthony Kay and David Peterson had an opportunity to make a push to put themselves in a position to have an ETA of 2020. Between the three pitchers, the Mets realistically only needed one more starter via trade or free agency.

Those three pitchers were not the only near Major League ready talent the organization had. Pete Alonso was Major League ready. If he wasn’t, the team still had Dominic Smith who would spend the offseason addressing his medical issues and continuing to get into better shape.

This was all part of a very promising farm system which could have made a charge to the top of the game. In addition to the pitching and Alonso, the team had Jarred Kelenic, who appeared to be a once in a generation talent. Behind him was an impressive collection of teenage talent which included Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and Mark Vientos.

If handled properly, the 2021 or 2022 Mets could have had a rotation with deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and at least one of Dunn, Kay, Peterson, or possibly Simeon Woods Richardson. The infield would been Alonso, McNeil, and two from the aforementioned group of teenage prospects. That’s if Amed Rosario didn’t have a breakout season or move to the outfield. Speaking of the outfield, an outfield of Nimmo-Kelenic-Conforto would have been the envy of the game.

Sure, not all of the prospects would have developed, but you also could have had someone like a Ross Adolph or another prospect emerge much like we saw with McNeil in 2018. There was also the impending 2019 draft class to consider. The overriding point here was the Mets had a deep well of prospects, and they had payroll flexibility.

Whoever was going to be the next General Manager of the Mets was going to be, they were taking over a job in an enviable position. There were difficult decisions in front of them like which players do you extend, and how hard exactly do you push to contend in 2019 or 2020 knowing what was on the horizon. Certainly, you had to do some of that because taking over the job was likely going to require you to sell a vision of contending in 2019.

While players like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would have been well worth pursuing, realistically speaking, the Wilpons were not going to green light those signings. On the trade front, the only player available worth the Mets top prospects was probably J.T. Realmuto, but the Marlins have never seemed inclined to be reasonable in a potential deal with the Mets.

With that in mind, whatever the vision for the new General Manager, there needed to be an element of restraint. No matter what the new General Manager did, they needed to maintain that level of payroll flexibility while also not damaging the farm system to pursue short term fixes and/or underselling prospects in order to find ways to circumvent not being able to spend.

Well, in one trade, just one, Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed. In trading Dunn, the Mets lost their lone near Major League ready starter. That was important in case of an injury in 2019, and it was important because with Wheeler and Vargas being free agents, the Mets needed to find at least one cheap option for the rotation.

Worse than that, the team added Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. Over the next five years, the Mets had $20 million on the books for a player who was going to have a steep decline in one of those five years. That player was coming in at a position already filled by McNeil and at a position which was going to be filled with young talent during the duration of Cano’s contract. You also weren’t moving Cano to first due to Alonso and/or Smith.

Yes, this is where many point out the Mets obtained a cost controlled closer in Edwin Diaz. That’s true. However, he came with a debilitating contract. He also came at the expense of Kelenic. Certainly, a prospect of Kelenic’s level is worth more than a closer both in terms of value in a trade and just in terms of a future impact on a team.

Brodie Van Wagenen would then worsen things. He would trade prospects in Adolph, Adam Hill, Scott Manea, Felix Valerio, and Santana with Bobby Wahl to add J.D. Davis and Keon Broxton (who didn’t last two months with the team). No matter your impression of those players, that’s a big chunk of prospect depth for two players who were really nothing more than bench players.

That’s not a good allocation of your assets, especially when your organization does not have the ability to absorb Cano’s contract in stride and spend their way around losing this prospect depth. Anyone taking over the Mets job knew this, Brodie Van Wagenen included.

However, despite that knowledge he went all-in on 2019. He did not maintain the payroll flexibility needed to address the loss of two rotation spots, a third baseman, and a center fielder in free agency. He traded away not just two top 100 prospects but also quality depth prospects thereby harming their ability to add at this year’s trade deadline (if everything worked out) or to build the 2020 team. Mostly, he lost Kelenic who was a franchise altering prospect, who aside from Darryl Strawberry, the organization has not seen.

Overall, not only did Van Wagenen fail to build the 2019 Mets into a contender, he hamstrung the team’s ability to build that contender in 2020 and beyond. The reason is the team does not have the payroll flexibility or the prospect depth truly needed to overcome the way the Wilpons choose to operate their team.

Consider for a moment if Van Wagenen did nothing, the Mets would have been a fourth place team much like they are now. However, if he did actually do nothing, the Mets would have had a deep farm system and real payroll flexibility to attack this upcoming offseason. That’s all gone now, and seeing what he did to this organization in less than a year on the job, it’s difficult to have any faith he can turn things around and get the franchise back on track.