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.
During Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, he did quite well in the first round. Those first round picks included Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Gavin Cecchini, Kevin Plawecki, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, and Jarred Kelenic.
All of the players drafted prior to 2015 have played at the Major League level. They are only one of eight franchises who can say all of their first round picks in that time span reached the Major League level. Of those six players drafted prior to 2015, five of them have established themselves as bona fide Major League players with the jury still being out on Cecchini, who is still just 25 years old.
Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year. Conforto and Plawecki were a part of a pennant winner with Conforto hitting two homers in a World Series game. Conforto and Fulmer have already been named All Stars. So far, this group has a Rookie of the Year and two All-Star appearances.
Fulmer, Dunn, and Kelenic were moved for pieces which were traded to help improve the Major League club. While people have disagreements with the respective trades, the deals brought back Yoenis Cespedes, Robinson Cano, and Edwin Diaz, each of whom are established All-Star caliber players.
Looking at the 10 first round draft picks, all but one of them have made some form of a top 100 prospect list since being drafted by the team. It may come as some surprise that includes Cecchini, who was named a KATOH Top 100 pick by Fangraphs, and Peterson, who was named a top 100 prospect by ESPN‘s Keith Law. In fact, the one who hasn’t is Kay, who right now appears on the cusp of getting named to a list on a midseason update or sometime next year.
Overall, the Mets have drafted talented players they have used to both build a strong core to the current Mets roster and to acquire players in the hopes of winning a World Series. With Kay and Peterson in Double-A, they can soon be part of the current core’s push to win the Mets first World Series since 1986.
That’s the legacy in front of Van Wagenen and Baty. For Van Wagenen, he has to show he has the ability to add talent to the organization the way Alderson did during his tenure as the General Manager. For Baty, he has to prove he can be every bit as talented as the players who came before him.
After the Mets home opener, Nelson Figueroa discussed how Noah Syndergaard has too much talent and ability than to need 11 pitches to strike out Yan Gomes. If you have watched the post-game over the past few years, this has been a common refrain with Figueroa, and it is something which has been espoused elsewhere.
Essentially, the gist is Syndergaard is not getting the most out of his talent, and as a result, he is not the dominant ace many expected him to be when he first burst onto the scene in 2015. By and large, this is an unfair characterization.
Just focusing on Thursday’s start, Syndergaard threw 98 pitches over six innings. He allowed just one hit with two walks while striking out six. If that were any other pitcher, even Mets ace Jacob deGrom, we would consider that to be a very good start, and there would not be any ensuing criticism.
If you dig deeper, you realize Syndergaard was even better than the numbers suggest. For those watching, it was obvious Syndergaard was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Pat Hodberg. He’s a notoriously bad home plate umpire.
In 2015, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said of him, “He’s a young umpire, and he needs to figure out a better strike zone.” (Jennifer Lagosch, MLB.com). Apparently, things haven’t improved with Michael Fulmer said of Hodberg last year, “I made my fair share of mistakes, but there’s 10 calls about pitches inside the zone that he called balls. I let him know he missed 10.” (ESPN).
Going back and examining that second inning, Hodberg missed a number of calls
Noah Syndergaard's called balls and strikes through two at Citi Field pic.twitter.com/A7okNhm7hJ
— David Adler (@_dadler) April 4, 2019
Going deeper, Juan Soto led off the inning with a walk, but according to Gamecast, at least two of the called balls were strikes. Those types of umpire errors contribute to Syndergaard’s difficult inning and perceived under-performance.
All of that aside, Syndergaard was very good on Thursday as he has been throughout his Major League career.
Since his Major League debut in 2015, he leads all starters in average velocity. He has a 2.69 FIP, which is second in the Majors to just Clayton Kershaw. His HR/9 is second to just Lance McCullers. His 2.97 ERA is fifth behind Kershaw, deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Madison Bumgarner. His K/BB ratio is sixth putting him behind Kershaw, Chris Sale, Josh Tomlin, Scherzer, and Corey Kluber.
Looking at his stats, the biggest knock you have against him is his fWAR since he was called up to the majors ranks just 15th. Considering there are 30 teams in baseball, this definitively shows Syndergaard pitches like an ace. Overall, when you break down his stats his name comes up among pitchers who have won Cy Young awards and who are widely regarded as aces.
As deGrom has shown since the beginning of the 2018 season, any pitcher has room for improvement, and that would certainly apply to Syndergaard. That said, by any measure Syndergaard is a great pitcher who should be celebrated instead of nitpicked after his starts.
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.
As we head into the 2018 season, we have seen some of these Mets prospects for a few years now, and we have made some assumptions about these players. Some of those assumptions are right on the money, and some of them, not so much. There may be some facts when brought to life which may surprise many of us. With that in mind, here are some facts about the Mets minor leagues which are sure to surprise you.
No. 1 Sandy’s First Draft Produced 11 Major Leaguers
When Sandy Alderson was entasked with rebuilding the Mets farm system, he and his staff went right to work with the 2011 draft. That draft was quite effective with the Mets producing 11 Major Leaguers from that draft.
1st Round: Brandon Nimmo & Michael Fulmer
2nd Round: Cory Mazzoni
3rd Round: Logan Verrett
4th Round: Jack Leathersich
8th Round: Daniel Muno
13th Round: Robert Gsellman
15th Round: Phillip Evans
21st Round: John Gant
34th Round: Seth Lugo
35th Round: Chasen Bradford
Almost as incredible, between trades and play on the field, nine of those players either played for a Mets team that made the postseason or were traded for a player who contributed to a Mets team that made the postseason.
No. 2 Vientos Same Age As Kranepool Was When Kranepool Debuted in the Majors
Last year, Mets second round pick Mark Vientos was the youngest player drafted at 17 years old. Amazingly, this is the same age Mets Hall of Famer Ed Kranepool was when he made his MLB debut. As a matter of fact, Kranepool was just a little more than four months older in his MLB debut than Vientos was when he made his debut in professional baseball playing in the Gulf Coast League.
No. 3 Alonso Only Player to Homer off Smith Prior to the Trade Deadline
When the New York Mets traded Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handed relief prospect Drew Smith, the one stat which immediately jumped off his Baseball Reference page was the fact he had allowed just one home run all season. The person who hit that home run was his future teammate Peter Alonso. On the home run, Smith would tell MMN’s Mathew Brownstein, Alonso “brings it up probably once a week (laughs). But that’s just part of it.”
No. 4 Nimmo Drew More Walks Than Rosario in Triple-A
Last year with all of the injuries, it seemed as if Nimmo spent most if not all of his 2017 season in the majors. To a certain extent that is true with him playing just 42 games in Triple-A. That was actually 52 fewer games than Amed Rosario had in Triple-A last year. Overall, Rosario would have 227 more plate appearances for the 51s than Nimmo would have. And yet, despite all of that, Nimmo would draw 10 more walks than Rosario did in Triple-A.
No. 5 DeFrancesco’s First MLB Win Came Against the Mets
In the offseason, the Mets hired the Houston Astros Triple-A Manager Tony DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco had been a manager in the Astros organization since 2011, and during that time, he did get a 41 game opportunity to manage the Major League club after the team fired Brad Mills. After beginning his managerial career losing five straight, his Astros came to New York to face the Mets. With the Suffern, New York native’s family in the stands, his Astros team won the game 3-1.
When Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager, one of the areas of emphasis was supposed to be building a sustainable farm system that would give the Mets continued success throughout the years. This, in turn, would prevent the Mets from having to give out those proverbial second generation contracts Alderson purportedly despises giving to players.
Now, in order for that to happen, the team was going to have to not only draft well, but they were going to have to identify international talent. If the Mets had indeed done well in those efforts, the Mets Opening Day roster would have looked something like this:
But as we know it doesn’t. One of the reasons why is the team has not developed position players as well as the organization, or really anyone would have liked. If you are not being so understanding, you would say the Mets whiffed on high draft picks by drafting players who are either backups or career minor leaguers.
Look, no one has a perfect draft record, and we should remember this regime did draft Conforto and Michael Fulmer. The problem there is they traded Fulmer away. That is something they are reportedly not willing to do with Nimmo despite the fact he is blocked by Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce for the next three years.
With respect to Cecchini and Smith, the Mets have decided at a minimum, neither are ready to start next season in the majors. This would be easier to swallow had either received a real shot of proving their abilities. Instead, the Mets will go with broken Adrian Gonzalez and who knows what at second.
Overall, the 2017 Mets are not what Sandy Alderson envisioned what they would be when these players were first drafted. That’s fair to a certain extent because no one imagined that the Mets would look this way when the team won the pennant in 2015.
In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson. In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development. While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:
1. Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised
One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system. There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.
However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there. As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant. It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.
Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal. That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.
2. Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend
When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent. He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado. He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.
Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal. However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal. It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other. If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.
3. Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System
The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing. So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario. Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.
Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level. Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith. It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.
In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned. When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up. There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.
Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons. He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent. Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant. With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.
In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history. While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”
If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.
During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).
This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players. This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).
As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse. Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers. Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson. The list goes on and on..
That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built. Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months. Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.
The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.
Evaluating Own Talent
Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players. Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.
The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner. However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.
The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere. Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox. They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick. Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.
The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go. It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright. None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended. There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.
The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors. Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams. The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.
At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered. This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.
Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.
The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.
The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer. Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes. We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.
Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.
This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.
Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful. Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR. In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.
For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals. Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract. Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.
It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.
Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues. This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons. It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.
Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front. They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals. Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell.
Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey. Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps. It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.
Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.
Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent. If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.
With the Giancarlo Stanton trade saga and Shohei Ohtani looking for a team, the hot stove has been rather lukewarm this time of the year. With that said, we have seen some movement on the reliever market both be fore and after Stanton and Ohtani selected their ultimate destinations:
- Luke Gregerson 2 years $11 million
- Brandon Morrow 2 years $21 million
- Miles Mikolas 2 years $15.5 million
- Mike Minor 3 years $28 million
Now, based upon Sandy Alderson’s previous comments and behavior, you would think this would leave the Mets GM emboldened. The only reliever that got a deal more than two years was Minor, who was actually signed to pitch in the Rangers starting rotation.
Instead, Sandy Alderson spoke with reporters and crushed what little hope Mets fans had this offseason.
On the reliever market, which has already seen quality relievers sign to reasonable deals, Alderson said, “And to the extent that the market gets overheated, I wouldn’t think that we’ll jump into the inferno.” (Newsday).
Just wait, it gets better.
Alderson also admitted what Mets fans suspected to be true – the Mets didn’t even try to acquire Stanton. Hopefully, because he thinks we’re all stupid, Alderson didn’t cite that big contract as a reason. No, Alderson actually cited the fact the team had Brandon Nimmo as the reason why.
This is the same Nimmo the team never gave a real shot to start, at least before the fire sale and injuries, and the team won’t give a starting spot in next year’s outfield. Apparently to the amazement of everyone, the Mets don’t need the reigning MVP because Nimmo has gotten dramatically better in the roughly two months since the season ended. He’s now an MVP caliber player.
That’s awesome because as we all know Alderson’s drafts have been spotty at best. His drafts have produced only two All Stars. The first, Michael Conforto, is rehabbing from a significant shoulder injury, and we don’t know if he will ever be the same (NOTE: don’t get a Mets fan started on team injuries). The second, Michael Fulmer, is a Tiger because back in 2014, the Mets thought Michael Cuddyer was the answer to their need for a productive hitter. As we know he wasn’t, and by extension, the Mets lost two first round picks.
But wait, after an offseason that began with the Mets leaking they have soured on Dominic Smith, the team is high on him again saying, “We’re still very high on Dominic — some of my comments earlier in the offseason notwithstanding.”
Apparently, the team is no longer interested in players like Carlos Santana not because of the cost, but rather, because Smith has been on the same postseason regiment as Nimmo where disappointing first round draft picks suddenly transform into MVP caliber players overnight.
Not discussed during the discussion with reporters was the Mets latest bombshell. They are now dangling Matt Harvey this offseason in exchange for a reliever.
As we have learned the past two seasons, the one thing the Mets can well afford to do is to be reckless with pitching depth. No, we can’t count on Harvey to be anything. However, the same can be said for Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.
Considering the Mets heavily invested in their pitching staff by hiring Mickey Callaway as manager and Dave Eiland as pitching coach, why not see if they can get Harvey back to being the Dark Knight, or at the very least a reliable starting pitcher?
Do you really need to trade him for a sixth inning reliever? And if that is the case, why not let Harvey move to the bullpen? With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, you already have seven starters for five spots. Someone is going to have to go to Triple-A or the bullpen. If Harvey can’t withstand the rotation, why not find out if he can the bullpen?
And there we have it. The Mets not only have no faith in their coaching staff, but they are already backing off players on the eve of the Winter Meetings.
It was almost yesterday the Mets were discussing Santana, Ohtani, Lorenzo Cain, and Jason Kipnis. Now? Well, we are talking trading Harvey to help fix the bullpen, and Nimmo and Smith as being a significant part of the future when just a month earlier they were not a legitimate starting option.
This is what happens when the Mets aren’t trying to generate hype to get fans to purchase individual game tickets. It’s what happens when the Mets are entering a Winter Meetings when their initial hype and hope are about to get exposed.
One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system. Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.
That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley Holt. Even if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.
With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.
Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team. Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:
2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI
Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder. There was a p0int where this was expected to happen. However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.
Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity. However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.
2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)
2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9
When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher. With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS
Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season. Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.
2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB
In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career. After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively. Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.
2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI
After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A. However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.
Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal. If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.
2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)
2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB
After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be. He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster. Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.
2015 – No Pick
It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer. This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason. In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391. Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.
2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)
2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation. Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher. In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.
Ultimately, the talent is there. The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.
2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)
The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals. After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal. He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.
2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)
2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9
To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20. Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon. Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down. Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.
Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.
If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors. Of those six players, two are All Stars. Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.
On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential. For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination. However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility. In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.
Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.
Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted. For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki. If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.