Michael Cuddyer

Rosario Won’t Come Up Until June At The Earliest

With no one realistically knowing when David Wright can play again or what he could contribute and Jose Reyes struggling mightily, the question becomes when you dip into the minor leagues to bring up reinforcements. 

The answer is likely Friday, June 9th. 

Why that date?  Well, it is likely the Mets will try to avoid risking taking one of their big prospects and allow them to reach Super Two status. For those that qualify for Super Two status, they get an extra year or arbitration. That means a young player gets four years of arbitration instead of three. That means for one year instead of making near the league minimum, they’re making real major league money. They also have a higher base for future arbitration years. 

While the date changes each year, and while it is an over generalization, Fangraphs notes teams are usually safe waiting 65 service days, i.e. days on the roster. With Opening Day having been Monday, April 3rd, 65 days later is June 8th. With that being an off-day, the hypothetical player would be activated on June 9th. 

Now, let’s be more specific. We all know the player most fans want to see called-up is Amed Rosario. Not only is Rosario the top prospect in the Mets farm system, but according to ESPN Insider Keith Law, Rosario is the top prospect in the game. 

But Rosario is more than that. He represents hope. He represents the future. He represents what could be the spark this team in a way Michael Conforto was for a 2015 Mets team that went all the way to the World Series. 

However, it is still way too early to pull that trigger. For starters, Conforto was not called up to the majors until July 24th, and that was only because others failed, and Michael Cuddyer went on the disabled list. 

Right now, Reyes is struggling, but we can’t say he’s failed nine games into the season. Even if you did, both T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores have done enough to at least earn an opportunity to fail should the Mets finally decide Reyes isn’t the answer. 

You’re going to need time to parse through Reyes, Rivera, and Flores. More importantly, Rosario is going to need time as well. Overall, Rosario has only played 61 games above Single-A. 

The other issue is where does Rosario play. It’s easy to say he’ll play short and Asdrubal Cabrera will move to third, but the Mets appear to like Cabrera at short. Therefore, Rosario may need to play third. The plan is to get him in a game at third base once every 10+ games. 

For the Mets to even contemplate Rosario at third, they have to be comfortable he can play the position. At this time, there’s no guarantee he can.  You can really only gauge when he plays the position. That’s going to take some time. 

As of the moment, the first place Mets have time to let the situation sort itself out. They can wait for both Reyes and Rosario to figure out what they need to figure out in order to succeed against major league pitching. They can wait until the Super Two timeline has passed. 

And who knows when Wright comes back?  If he does, this conversation about Rosario is moot. If he doesn’t come back in time, we all sit and wait for someone to establish themselves. 

If someone doesn’t do it by mid-June, the Mets may very well call-up Rosario. However, in all likelihood, the Mets wait just a little longer. 

The Non-Cespedes Mets Outfield Options

With reports that the Mets do not expect they will be able to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, and that was before Neil Walker accepted the $17.2 million qualifying offer, the question is how do you replace the irreplaceable?  Here are some options:

FREE AGENTS

Carlos Gomez

As explained in an earlier MMO article, a rejuvenated Gomez could help the Mets by continuing to play a good center field and by providing another right-handed bat in what protects to be a heavy left-handed Mets lineup.

Ian Desmond

After not getting a significant contract offer with a qualifying offer attached to him, he bet on himself taking a one year $8 million deal from the Texas Rangers.

Desmond was an All Star who hit .285/.335/.446 with 29 doubles, 22 homers, and 85 RBI.   However, Desmond does have some red flags:

  1. He rated below average defensively in center field (-4.5 UZR);
  2. He hit only .269/.324/.429 off right-handed pitching; H
  3. He fell apart in the second half hitting .237/.283/.347; H
  4. He hit .330/.368/.497 at hitter friendly Ballpark at Arlington and .241/.305/.398 in the road; and
  5. He may get a qualifying offer.

Matt Holliday

Infamously, the Mets chose Jason Bay over him heading in the 2009 offseason. Bay would struggle immensely at Citi Field while Holliday would win a World Series with the Cardinals.

While Holliday has been injury prone the past few years, he has still hit. He has always been an average to below average left fielder, and the 37 year old is coming off his worst year out there. It is part of the reason he began transitioning to first base with the Cardinals. If the Mets were to sign him, he could fulfill the role the Mets envisioned Michael Cuddyer would have.

Jose Bautista

Of all the available free agents, Bautista is the one who is best suited to replicate the offensive production Cespedes provided the Mets.  Over the past three seasons, Bautista has hit .259/.383/.508 while averaging 32 homers and 95 RBI.  If you are looking for a difference maker in the lineup, Bautista fits the bill.

However, there are some reason to be hesitant to sign Bautista.  First, he is a 36 year old coming off his worst season since 2009 (as per OPS+).  Second, he has been in decline as an outfielder over the past three seasons.  Third and most importantly, he is going to be expensive.  It is anticipated Bautista will received a qualifying offer, and he reportedly wants 5 years $150 million in free agency.

Mark Trumbo

Trumbo certainly enjoyed hitting at Camden Yards for a full season.  Trumbo went from a career .251/.301/.460 hitter who averaged 26 homers to a .256/.316/.533 hitter who led the majors with 47 homers.  Naturally, when there is a jump like that with a player, there are a number of reasons why a team like the Mets should shy away.

Throughout his career, Trumbo has struggled against left-handed pitching.  This isn’t exactly appealing when you consider he would be joining an outfield with three other left-handed hitters.  Furthermore, he did most of his damage this past season at Camden Yards showing much of his career year was generated by his home ballpark.  Lastly, Trumbo is really a 1B/DH masquerading as an outfielder.

Carlos Beltran

Reuniting with Beltran certainly seems like it would be a stretch considering he has already stated his intentions that he wants to DH next year, and he wants to return to the Texas Rangers.  It is certainly understandable considering he will be 40 next season, and he has been a below average right fielder the past three years.

Still, Beltran can his positive attributes.  Over the past three years, Beltran has hit .271/.327/.468 while averaging 21 homers and 70 RBI.  We know from his time with the Mets, he is great in the clubhouse, and he helps younger players with the preparation and conditioning aspect of the game.  It is something Beltran did with both David Wright and Jose Reyes immediately upon joining the Mets.  Finally, Beltran is one of the greatest postseason hitters of all time.  For a team with World Series aspirations, Beltran could help on that front.

THE TIGERS

Justin Upton

As luck would have it, the Padres rejected the Mets offer of Michael Fulmer for Upton leading the Mets to offer him in exchange for Cespedes.  Once again, the Tigers are looking to trade an outfielder, and the Mets may have interest in a player like Upton.

Upton has always been a good hitter in his major league career.  In his nine years as a starter, he is a .270/.349/.476 hitter who averages 24 homers and 77 RBI in his nine years as a starter.  Generally speaking, he has never been a guy that will hurt you in the outfield even if he is coming off a poor year offensively.  Between his offense, his defense, and his friendship with Wright, you could make a very good case why the Mets should purse Upton.

There is also over $110 million reasons why you would want to avoid Upton.  If Upton were not to exercise he opt out clause, which he would use after the 2017 season, the Mets would be on the hook for the full amount of the remaining $110.625 million remaining on his contract.  Typically speaking, the Mets have not shown the interest in adding contract like that to the payroll.

Now, Upton could also opt out of his contract, which would put the Mets in the same position as they are this offseason.  They will likely be unable to re-sign him, and in return, all they can recoup for him is a compensatory first round draft pick.  Compensatory draft picks are great when they become players like Fulmer who are real assets that can help the major league team.  They are also suspect when they become players like Anthony Kay, who failed a physical and needs Tommy John surgery before ever throwing a professional pitch.

J.D. Martinez

Over the last three seasons, Martinez has blossomed into a terrific hitter.  In Detroit, he has hit .299/.357/.540 while averaging 28 homers and 82 RBI.  Up until this year, he has also been a solid outfielder.  You can do a lot worse than Martinez in trying to replace Cespedes.

That’s part of the reason why he will be difficult to obtain.  Next year is the final year of his contract that pays him $11.75 million.  While the Tigers are looking to shed payroll, they will likely seek a king’s ransom in exchange for a player that has a very favorable contract for next season.  With the Mets having traded away some many big pieces over the past two seasons, and with them being reluctant to trade players like Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, it is hard to see them pulling off a trade for a cheap outfielder who has terrific production.

INTERNAL OPTIONS

As it stands right now, the Mets have two corner outfielders in Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson who are coming off 30 home run seasons.  With them at the corners, it is possible the Mets feel as if they are already set in left and right field even with one of them having to change positions.

The Mets may even have more faith in their outfield as is with Michael Conforto.  In his young career, he has shown the Mets glimpses of his being a brilliant hitter.  He was undaunted as a rookie in 2015.  He was perhaps the best hitter in baseball in April 2016.  He responded to a demotion after a wrist injury and his slumping by hitting .493/.541/.821 with six homers and 13 RBI in 17 August games in AAA.  With Conforto having shown glimpses of what his true talent level is, and with him showing the willingness to put in the work, the Mets may very well gamble on Conforto in 2017.

The fact that Granderson and Conforto can also play center field gives the Mets options on a game to game basis.  It allows them to put all three out there, and it allows them to sit one for rest or to avoid a tough left-handed pitcher to get Lagares’ glove in the outfield.  Overall, the Mets may very well stay internal to replace Cespedes’ production.  It is a gamble, and that gamble may be the difference between going to the postseason or staying home in 2017.

Editor’s Note: a version of this article was first published on Mets Merized Online

The Mets Coaching Staff Believed in Daniel Murphy

Despite slugging .533 over the last two months of the season, and homering in seven consecutive postseason games, including home runs off Clayton KershawZack GreinkeJon LesterJake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks, the Mets only made the perfunctory qualifying offer to NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy.  At the time, the qualifying offer was made no player had ever accepted the qualifying offer. 

The Mets thought process was grounded in several factors. First, they believed they could get Ben Zobrist, who they viewed as a superior player. Second, the Mets could recoup the first round draft pick they lost by signing Michael Cuddyer in the previous offseason. Third, and most importantly, the Mets didn’t foresee Murphy carrying that level of production for a full season in 2016 and beyond. 

That last point became all the more apparent when, after the Mets lost out in Zobrist, they traded Jon Niese (who was later re-acquired in exchange for Antonio Bastardo) for Neil Walker.  The Mets made this move despite never inquiring what it would take to re-sign Murphy. 

The logic of the Walker trade was the Mets were getting an All Star second baseman in his walk year. Should he perform, the Mets could either re-sign him, or they could make the qualifying offer and recoup another draft pick. Should he falter or leave in free agency, the Mets could turn the position over to second baseman of the future Dilson Herrera

Walker would have a career year for the Mets both at the plate and in the field. Overall, he would hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 homers and 55 RBI. Those numbers are even better when you consider that the switch hitting Walker was no longer a liability from the right side of the plate. Rather, he was a dominant force. 

Unfortunately, Walker would go through part of the summer unable to feel his feet due to a herniated disc. Despite his being in the best stretch of the season and the Mets fighting for the Wild Card, he would have to undergo season ending lumbar microdiscetomy surgery. 

While the Mets remain hopeful Walker will recover fully, and that the two sides can agree to a deal, nothing is guaranteed.  The Mets need Walker to recover with no issues because Herrera was moved in the trade to acquire Jay Bruce

Now, many will say this has all been a debacle as Murphy had an MVP caliber season for the rival Washington Nationals. This year, Murphy hit .347/.390/.595 with 47 doubles, five triples, 25 homers, and 104 RBI. He led the league in doubles, slugging, and OPS. Worse yet, he killed the Mets getting a hit in all 19 games against them while hitting .413/.444/.773 with six doubles, seven homers, and 25 RBI. 

In response to that, many will say judging the Mets decision on Murphy is unfair as: (1) no one saw this coming; and (2) you are using hindsight to criticize the Mets. 

That argument is unfounded. First and foremost, the General Manager is supposed to have foresight. He is paid to make sure what happened with Murphy never happens. Second, and most importantly, the argument is patently false. 

As Mets hitting coach Kevin Long told MLB Network Radio, “Daniel Murphy became a monster overnight, once he got it, you knew he wasn’t going to lose it.”  

Murphy certainly hasn’t lost it. In fact, he was even better leading the Nationals to an NL East title over the Mets. Tonight, he looks to recreate his incredible Game Five performance against the Dodgers so he can once again torture the Cubs in the NLCS. 

Meanwhile, the Mets are looking at their second base options, which assuredly are no better than Murphy, in what is an extremely weak free agent class, after being shutout in the Wild Card Game. It didn’t have to be this way as the Mets coaching staff saw Murphy putting together a season like this.

By the way, Anthony Kay, the pick the Mets received for Murphy becoming a National, had to have Tommy John surgery before he ever threw a pitch as a professional. 

Jonathan Lucroy & Jay Bruce Trades Won’t Fix the Mets

Last year, the Mets were coming off an absolutely brutal loss to the San Diego Padres on the eve of the trade deadline. As the team blew a 7-1 lead, it seemed like all hope was lost. 

However, the Mets front office didn’t share the same sense of diapair. They were active on the phones trying to improve a team that was three games behind the Nationals. They were a team who had an extremely weak August schedule. They were a team in the mend with Travis d’ArnaudMichael Cuddyer, and David Wright expected to return from the disabled list. 

It was a good team getting healthy facing a favorable schedule ready for a three game set at home against the first place Nationals. It was behind this backdrop that the Yoenis Cespedes trade happened. 

Seeing Cespedes hobbled out there is a stark reminder that this year is not last year. This is a Mets team that isn’t getting healthy. In fact, they’re falling like flies. Here is a list of the players currently on the disabled list:

  1. David Wright
  2. Lucas Duda
  3. Matt Harvey
  4. Juan Lagares
  5. Jose Reyes
  6. Jim Henderson

This does not include Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz who both have bone spurs in their pitching elbows that will need to be surgically removed in the offseason. 

This list also does not even include Asdrubal Cabrera who left yesterday’s game with what is initially being described as a strained patellar tendon. He seems as if he’s bound for the disabled list. With Cabrera going down, it will create another hole in not just the lineup, but with the defense. 

With Cespedes’ injury and Lagares’ surgery, the Mets are left scrambling to find a center fielder. They have tried Curtis Granderson out there, and after one game, the Mets saw enough. Against righties, the Mets have tried Michael Conforto in center, and he has held his own. Just recently, the Mets signed Justin Ruggiano, who was playing in AAA before being released by the Rangers.

With Cabrera injured and seemingly bound for the disabled list, it leaves the Mets scrambling to find adequate defenders at the two most important defensive positions. It will also mean Neil Walker, who has hit .234/.316/.343 since May 1st, will be the only starting infielder remaining from the Opening Day Lineup. 

By no means is Walker the only one struggling:

Curtis Granderson

  • 2015 – .259/.364/.457 with 33 doubles, two triples, 26 homers, and 70 RBI
  • 2016 – .234/.326/.431 with 16 doubles, four triples, 16 homers, and 29 RBI

Michael Conforto

  • 2015 – .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI
  • 2016 – .225/.303/.419 with 14 doubles, or triple, 10 homers, homers, and 30 RBI

Travis d’Arnaud

  • 2015 – .268/.340/.485 with 14 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, and 42 RBI
  • 2016 – .249/.290/.321 with five doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI

All across the diamond, the Mets are dealing with injuries, under performance, or both. According to Baseball Reference, the Mets have the lowest team WAR at shortstop, third base, and right field among National League teams in the playoff hunt. 

Further exacerbating the Mets struggles is their August schedule. There are the four emotionally charged Subway Series games along with series against the Tigers, Giants, Cardinals, and Marlins. There is s short West Coast trip. The combined record of their opponents is 416-369, which is good for a .530 winning percentage. With this schedule and the state of the Mets roster, things can fall apart quickly. 

In reality, neither Jonathan Lucroy nor Jay Bruce help these problems. They do not solve the defensive gap at short or center. They cannot heal the players on the disabled list. They cannot make the schedule any easier. No, the only thing they can do is to join the Mets and play well. 

However, if the Mets don’t get healthy or start playing better, there’s no point in adding Lucroy or Bruce. They don’t solve the Mets real problems, and they likely don’t put the Mets over the top. 

With that in mind, there’s no sense on buying at the deadline. You’re just purging prospects to help acquire players who will most likely not be difference makers. There’s also no sense to selling because this is a talented team that needs to find that next gear. 

With that in mind, as frustrating as it might be, the Mets best option might be to stand pat. 

Terry Collins Repeating his Michael Conforto Mistakes with Brandon Nimmo

With the Nationals starting a left-handed pitcher in Gio Gonzalez, Terry Collins was going to start Juan Lagares no matter what.  On the one hand, Collins will tell you he wants Lagares’ bat in the lineup against lefties.  In reality, Collins just doesn’t trust young left-handed hitters against left-handed pitching.

With that in mind, when Collins filled out the lineup card yesterday, he had Lagares in center, Curtis Granderson in right, and Alejandro De Aza in left.  Collins started De Aza despite the fact that De Aza entered the game hitting .181/.252/.276.  He started De Aza despite the fact that De Aza is a career .235/.299/.350 hitter against lefties.  Looking at these numbers and just how poorly De Aza has played this entire year, Collins decided to start De Aza.  In a shock to no one, De Aza was 0-3 on the day in a game that the Mets lost 3-2.  There is really no justification for this decision other than the unsupported notion that Nimmo can not hit lefties.

Before his call-up, Nimmo was hitting .338/.338/.500 in 74 at bats against lefties.  Given these stats, it’s fair to assume that Nimmo would be a better bet to hit a lefty than De Aza would.  However, Collins isn’t willing to give him the chance.  He would rather hamper a player’s development and stick with a veteran who has already proved he cannot do the job.  It’s the same thing Collins did last year with Michael Cuddyer and Michael Conforto.

Last year, Cuddyer was just a shell of himself.  He needed core muscle surgery.  He had a knee injury that plagued him all year.  Through all of it, Cuddyer hit just .259/.309/.391.  It was a far cry from the career .277/.344/.461 career hitter he was.  Despite Cuddyer showing he no longer could play up to the level he once could, Collins decided it was better to play him against lefties than it was to play the rookie Conforto who was hitting well in the majors.  Collins made this decision despite the fact that Conforto was hitting .333/.414/.490 against lefties in AA.  Still, for whatever reason Collins could conjure, he determined that Conforto was not able to hit lefties at the major league level.  The idea got so stuck in his head that Collins followed the same plan coming into this season.

Then suddenly it happened.  Conforto was no longer able to hit left-handed pitching he had not seen in quite a while.  In 2016, Conforto hit .091/.128/.091 in his 44 at bats against lefties this season.  This would then become part of a greater overall issue where Conforto stopped hitting all together.  The seminal moment was the time Collins actually let Conforto hit against a lefty.  In true Collins’ fashion, the lefty he chose was Madison Bumgarner.  Conforto would go 0-5 on the day.  He then went into a prolonged slump that saw him hit .148/.217/.303 over his next 44 games.  In that span, Conforto went from hitting .365/.442/.676 on the season to hitting .222/.296/.431.  The Mets were all but forced to send him down to the minors and call-up the left-hand hitting Nimmo.

Sure enough, Collins is repeating the same mistakes with Nimmo as he did with Conforto.  Last year, it was to get Cuddyer at bats.  This year, it is to get De Aza at bats.  It didn’t make sense then, and it makes less sense now.

Trivia Friday

Yesterday, the Mets drafted a player in the first round after forfeiting their 2015 pick to sign Michael Cuddyer. The Mets did get a second first round pick because Daniel Murphy signed with the Nationals. Accordingly, the Sandy Alderson regime has now drafted six players in the first round. Can you name all of them?  Good luck! 


Mets Depth Already Getting Tested

Last year, the Mets saw lengthy absences from David Wright and Travis d’ArnaudDaniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer were nicked up most of the year. Other Mets players got bumps and bruises along the way. The Mets depth got tested early and often in 2015, and it was ugly. 

Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki showed they weren’t ready to hit major league pitching. For his part, Plawecki had to stay in the lineup because Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell weren’t either. Eric Campbell and John Mayberry, Jr. showed why they weren’t everyday players, let alone middle of the order bats. There were other forgettable debuts from players like Darrell Ceciliani and Danny Muno. In 2015, the Mets bet against their farm system, and it nearly cost them the season. 

In the offseason, the Mets made sure to build a deeper roster. They moved Wilmer Flores to a utility role. Alejandro De Aza is here as a fifth outfielder. Juan Lagares is a part time player who will start against lefties and come on as a late defensive replacement. Herrera is back in AAA where he belongs for now. Campbell and Plawecki are on the 25 man roster, but they are asked to do much less. Hypothetically, it’s a much deeper team. 

Well, that hypothesis is now being put to the test. 

Yoenis Cespedes has been dealing with a thigh issue due to his jumping in the stands and an awkward slide. As for now, he’s not DL bound. Yesterday, d’Arnaud left the game early with pain in his throwing shoulder. While he may not have been the best at throwing out would be base stealers, his throws were uncharacteristically poor. He will be examined today before a DL decision is made. Whether it will be one day, one week, one month, or more, the Mets will miss Cespedes and d’Arnaud. 

No matter how much time if will be, this Mets team is better built to sustain these losses. Having a De Aza/Lagares platoon is a much better option than Ceciliani.  Plawecki has another year of development under his belt. Hopefully, this translates to him having a better year at the plate. 

The Mets better hope so. The Nationals look like a different team than they were a year ago. The Mets aren’t going to be able to coast for two – three months with subpar players. This is a new year. Fortunately, this is a new Mets team that’s built for just these types of situations. 

Did Cespedes Win the NL East?

What I’ve found is most of the people that support the Yoenis Cespedes trade is he transformed the offense, and he was the reason the Mets won the NL East. Other people say while Cespedes was great with the Mets, there were other more important factors helping the Mets win the NL East. These arguments rest upon the Mets getting healthy and a weak August schedule. 

I think the best way to look at this is just to present the facts. I’m presenting them unadulterated and without comment. Before presenting them, remember that Cespedes’ first game with the Mets was 8/1. 

Pre-Cespedes Record: 53 – 51

Post-Cespedes Record: 37 – 21 

In the same time frame, here is the Nationals record:

Pre-Cespedes Record: 54-47

Post-Cespedes Record: 29-32

Mets Opponents Combined Win Percentage and Mets Record by Month:

April Opponents .458 Mets 15-8

May Opponents .510 Mets 13-15

June Opponents .483 Mets 12-15

July Opponents .537 Mets 13-12

August Opponents .480 Mets 20-8

September/October Opponents  .458 Mets 17-14

Here is the Mets and Nationals records and position in the standings at the end of every month:

April 

Mets 15-8 

Nats 10-13 (5.0 games back)

May 

Nats 28-22

Mets 28-23 (0.5 games behind)

June 

Nats 43-34

Mets 40-38 (3.5 games behind)

July

Nats 54-47

Mets 53-50 (2.0 games behind)

August 

Mets 73-58 

Nats 66-64 (6.5 games behind)

September/October

Mets 90-72

Nats 83-79 (7.0 games behind)

Overall, the Mets went from 2.0 games behind heading into August to 6.5 games up at the end of the month. As stated above the Mets record in August was 20-8 against opponents with a .480 winning percentage. The Nationals went 12-17 against opponents with a .490 winning percentage. Aside from the records, here is some additional information to consider:

Dates Key Players Came off the DL for good (by first game played after activation):

Travis d’Arnaud July 31st
Daniel Murphy June 30th
David Wright August 24th
Michael Cuddyer August 11th

Here are some other key dates from the 2015 season to consider:

July 24 – Michael Conforto called up from AA 

July 24 – Mets trade for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson

July 27th – Mets trade for Tyler Clippard

July 30 – John Mayberry, Jr. released

July 31 – Mets trade for Cespedes

August 1 – Cespedes plays first game with the Mets

Again, I’m making no comment on any of this information. It’s being presented to review it and process it. Upon reviewing the information, does your judgment on how Cespedes impacted the Mets change or remain the same?  

Keith Coming Back Isn’t a Foregone Conclusion

Perhaps, the Mets biggest free agent remains unsigned. No, not Yoenis Cespedes. I’m of course referring to Keith Hernandez. As Adam Rubin reported, Keith remains unsigned.  Most people expect him to return. I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t. 

We know this isn’t the first time it was rumored that Keith was leaving SNY. There was his infamous 2009 sign-off where he hinted he may not return.  As we know, Keith returned, and he has been a part of the Gary, Keith, and Ron (GKR) booth ever since. So, why is this time any different?  

For starters, we had the Bobby Ojeda situation last year. Every Mets fan seemed to enjoy his work. I believe that was because Ojeda didn’t mince words. He called it as he saw it. Mets fans appreciated it regardless of whether we agreed with him or not. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the issue was money. Ojeda was replaced with Nelson Figueroa, who was presumably cheaper and definitively less critical. 

We don’t currently know what the reason why Keith’s deal hasn’t been completed. We also know this isn’t the first time this offseason it was rumored the GKR booth was breaking up. There were the rumors Ron Darling may be poached by NESN to call Red Sox games. It turns out there was nothing to the rumors as Ron never had any conversations with NESN. I still question how those rumors arose. 

What we do know is the Mets have been penny pinching this offseason. Instead of $12.5 million a year for Daniel Murphy, it’s around $9 million for Neil Walker. Instead of $9 million for Jon Niese, it’s $7.25 million for Bartolo Colon. Free agent Tyler Clippard earned $8.3 million last year, but the Mets did bring back Jerry Blevins for $4 million. Then there’s every Mets fans’ favorite, Cespedes was paid $10.5 million last year, and he remains unsigned (he seems to want double that). In his stead is the $5.75 million Alejandro De Aza. The total savings of those moves is $14.3 million. 

Sure, I didn’t include the $8.25 million to Asdrubal Cabrera. That would reduce savings to $6.05 million. However, I also didn’t include the retirement of Michael Cuddyer, which took $12.5 million off the books. In total, that’s $18.55 million in savings. The Mets have increased revenues and attendance, and yet, they’re still cutting corners. Put aside your feelings on the wisdom of these moves, it’s fair to say the Mets saved money in each mechanation. 

With that in mind, why should we feel the Wilpons will act differently with SNY?  They already did it with Ojeda. Is Keith really immune to cost cutting measures?  I’d argue no, and admittedly fans are partially to blame.

Be honest with yourself. If Keith is gone, will you stop watching Mets games in 2016? Of course not. You’re watching them to see if they can go back to the World Series. As we all know, there is higher attendance figures and higher ratings when a team is good. The Mets could hire Joe Buck and Bobby Bonilla to call the games, and you’d still watch. It may be on mute, but you’d still watch. 

That’s the reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith wasn’t re-signed. The Mets are good again. SNY doesn’t need GKR to help drive ratings. They have a good team to do that.  With all that said, I still believe Keith will be back next year. 

However, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he wasn’t. 

Steve Pearce?  Sure, Why Not?

It seems like long ago the Mets decided they didn’t want the expensive top end talent for 2016. They are actively seeking a deeper 25 man roster over a more talented starting nine. To that end, the Mets have interest in Steve Pearce

Pearce is a career .246/.325/.431 right handed hitter. He has a career OPS+ of 105. He had a great 2014 hitting .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers, 49 RBI, and an OPS+ of 157 in 102 games.  Last year, he had a steep drop off. He hit .218/.289/.422 with 15 homers, 40 RBI, and a 91 OPS+ in 92 games. Overall, this tells us he’s a bench player. You really never know what you’re going to get year to year. He has the potential to be really good and really bad. The question is if he can help the Mets. 

The 2014 version can. The 2015 version was no better than Eric Campbell. On average, he’s a useful player. He’s an adequate 1B/OF. To that end, he could replace Michael Cuddyer‘s expected production, even if he won’t replace his clubhouse presence. If the Mets do obtain Pearce, it should be as an occasional started against tough lefties instead of being your prototypical National League bench player. 

For his career, Pearce hits .238/.314/.400 against righties and .262/.343/.481 against lefties. With platoon splits like these, he is a good candidate to take at bats against tough lefties in place of Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto. Just don’t ask him to pinch hit. As a pinch hitter, Pearce hits .170/.255/.284. Yes, 98 plate appearances is a small sample size, but those numbers are just bad no matter how you slice and dice it. Signing him fills out the roster almost completely. It also makes Wilmer Flores that top right handed pinch hitter. That’ll be hard with the Mets having him play everywhere next season

Overall, Pearce could help the Mets. He may not be an exciting move, but then again depth moves rarely are. To that end, signing him would be the perfect end to the offseason.