After getting outclassed by the Washington Nationals, the Mets are now six games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division. Things are bleaker in the Wild Card race. The Mets are now 12 games out of the second Wild Card spot. One of the teams they are trailing are the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. While it may be too early on July 20th to say the season is over, realistically speaking, the Mets really need to consider selling.
Aside from Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and the core group of starting pitchers, the Mets should look to sell everyone on the major league roster. The problem is why would anyone want what the Mets are selling?
Travis d’Arnaud has had another injury this year and has regressed in all aspects of his game. His backup, Rene Rivera has been hitting .162/.205/.297 over his last 10 games. With Rivera, this isn’t too far from what he’s been his entire career.
Across the infield, the situation is no better. Lucas Duda has had his typical hot and cold season with him hitting .175/.283/.375 over the past two weeks. It also doesn’t help that he struggles against left-handed pitching.
Just as Neil Walker was playing great again, he suffered a tear in his hamstring, and he will not be able to come back from the disabled list until after the All Star Break. That leaves little time for him to get back into form before the trade deadline assuming he is even able to return by then.
Asdrubal Cabrera is having a terrible season. He has twice landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury. His already poor range has been further limited. While he’s always been a second-half hitter, his stats this season lag behind last year’s first half stats.
Flat out, Jose Reyes has been the worst infielder in the major leagues. With his poor defense, he is little more than a pinch runner.
In the outfield, Curtis Granderson has shaken off his cold start, and he has been much better of late. However, he’s still hitting .212/.302/.396, and he’s still 36 years old. If a team were interested in Juan Lagares and his Gold Glove defense, that opportunity has passed with Lagares’ thumb injury.
Outside of Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, the bullpen has been mostly terrible. Josh Edgin has had a nice season there, but 30 year old LOOGYs hardly fetch a large haul at the trade deadline. And for what it’s worth, the Mets still have years of control over Edgin. He’s more valuable to the team as a pitcher than a trade asset.
Certainly, if the Mets were interested in moving Blevins, many teams would be interested in the LOOGY. With his outstanding season, he’s probably going to get a larger return than your standard LOOGY, which still won’t be a prospect who will be a major piece of the future.
No, the only two players really capable of that are Reed and Jay Bruce. With respect to Bruce, the bar has been set fairly high for his return. Last year, the Mets traded Dilson Herrera, who was seen as an important part of the Mets future, and Max Wotell, who is an interesting left-handed pitching prospect. If the Mets can match or come near that, they’ve done well. The problem is Bruce is now a pending free agent making that kind of a return all the more unlikely.
Based on last year’s trade deadline, the Mets can legitimately ask for the moon for Reed. He’s been great as a Met, and he’s been great this year. He’s a great eighth inning reliever, and this year, he is showing he can replicate that success as a closer. At the trade deadline, everyone is looking for relief help meaning everyone should be looking at Reed.
And the Mets better maximize that return because looking at the team as a whole, the Mets aren’t likely to get a whole lot back at the trade deadline. Certainly, it will be paltry compared to the Yankees haul last year. The sad part is if these players were playing better, the Mets return might’ve surpassed that. Then again, if these players were playing that well, we wouldn’t be talking about selling at the trade deadline.
In the three seasons before Yoenis Cespedes became a New York Met, he was a .263/.316/.464 hitter who averaged 24 homers and 87 RBI. Since becoming a New York Met, Cespedes has been a .282/.348/.554 hitter with 162 game averages of 41 homers and 111 RBI.
In Curtis Granderson‘s first year with the Mets, he was a .227/.326/.388 hitter with 20 homers and 66 RBI. Over the past two seasons, Granderson has been a .248/.350/.460 hitter who has averaged 28 homers and 64 RBI.
In the three years before the Mets acquired Neil Walker from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Walker was a .264/.336/.438 hitter who averaged 18 homers and 67 RBI. In his Pirates career as a right-handed batter, Walker was a career .260 hitter with just six home runs over the course of seven seasons. Last year, Walker was a .282/.347/.476 hitter with 23 homers and 55 RBI in just 113 games. From the right side of the plate, he was a .330/.391/.610 hitter with eight homers.
In the three years before Asdrubal Cabrera signed a free agent deal with the Mets, he was a .249/.307/.405 hitter who averaged 14 homers and 61 RBI. Last year, Cabrera was a .280/.336/.474 hitter with 23 homers and 62 RBI. It should also be noted he was one of if not the best hitter over the last two months of the season.
With this quartet of players, we see a definite trend of what happens when the Mets hitters being working with hitting coach Kevin Long. Whatever it is he specifically does, he has the ability to help batters not only hit for more power, but also improve their OBP. While Long’s detractors will point out there are players that haven’t performed well under his tutelage like Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto last year, there are players like the aforementioned players and Daniel Murphy who have improved. The point is overall hitters tend to improve in terms of OBP and slugging under Long.
With Long’s seeming ability to help players in these two key areas, Jay Bruce would be wise to work closely with his new hitting coach this season.
Over the course of his career, Bruce has been a .248/.318/.467 hitter who has averaged a 27 homers and 82 RBI a season with most of his damage being done at The Great American Ballpark where he is a .254/.328/.500 hitter. Basically, Bruce has basically been a slugger that not only does not know how to draw a walk, but he is also a product of his former home ballpark. At least that was the perception. That perception was not helped when Bruce hit .219/.294/.391 in 50 games with the Mets last season.
This is a large reason why he did not garner much interest on the trade market. It may very well be a reason why he will have difficulty getting a large free agent deal next offseason.
It’s odd when you think about it because Bruce has the potential to be a 30 HR/100 RBI hitter. He is your prototypical slugger who has been a three time All Star, two time Silver Slugger, and has a top 10 MVP finish in his career. There is real talent there. He just needs help to become a more well-rounded hitter. As we have seen with most of the Mets roster, Long has helped the Mets hitters on that front.
If Bruce does improve his OBP and he hits for more power, the Mets are going to have the left-handed power threat they thought they were getting when they acquired him in exchange for Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell. He is also going to help garner the interest for his services that we just not present this offseason. Overall, the working relationship between Bruce and Long can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
It’s a relationship both Bruce’s and the 2017 Mets’ future hinges upon.