Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart. When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history. He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.
Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field. In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI. The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.
To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.
Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS). What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching. Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.
Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix. He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.
Realistically speaking, that will never happen. The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench. The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes. So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.
However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.
The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games. With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.
With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago. With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.
If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base. If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base. When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker. He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.
With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering. Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.
Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post
Considering how the offseason has moved at a glacial pace, the Mets remain uncertain about what they are going to do at both second and third base. Largely, that decision rests on exactly what the Mets elect to do with Asdrubal Cabrera.
Given his injuries and his age, both the Mets and Cabrera know he is no longer suited for shortstop. Even if he were, Amed Rosario is going to be the Mets shortstop for the next decade. That leaves either second or third for Cabrera.
Based upon the numbers last season, Cabrera belongs at third. In 350.1 innings at third last year, Cabrera had a 1 DRS. Conversely, in 274.1 innings at second, Cabrera had a -6 DRS. Based upon this information, this would lead you to believe the Mets should leave him at third, and the team should pursue a second baseman.
The problem there is the top talent remaining on the free agent market are third baseman: Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, and Eduardo Nunez. With his history of back injuries and his -5 DRS in 796.2 innings at second last year, former Met Neil Walker also belongs at third base.
Ideally, you don’t want Cabrera to play second, but you don’t want to enter the season with Jose Reyes as the team’s top second base option. Sooner or later push is going to have to come to shove. With that being the case, why not at least investigate a less than desirable option?
After being traded to the Miami Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Starlin Castro has voiced his displeasure, and he has requested a trade. Certainly, those calls will only be heightened after the Marlins recently traded away Christian Yelich. While you understand the demand, there does not appear to be a real market for him.
There are a few reasons for that with the main one being Castro has not yet developed into the player many believed he would one day be.
The main issue is he has not proven to be a good second baseman. Over the past two years, he has posted a -6 and a -8 DRS in successive seasons. Typically speaking teams would accept a lesser fielder at a position if they were a good hitter. The jury still remains out on Castro.
For his career, he is a below average hitter with a 97 wRC+ and a 98 OPS+. While these stats are league and park adjusted, people will still likely lament his putting up those stats in hitter’s parks like Wrigley and Yankee Stadium. If you dig deeper, you see Castro profiles similar to Wilmer Flores offensively in that he beats up on left-handed pitching, and he struggles against right-handed pitching.
Considering the Mets already have Flores for much cheaper, it does make you question why you would even consider targeting Castro. The answer to that question could be because it would help the Mets improve their 2018 ballclub at little cost to them.
While Castro has struggled defensively at second, he still promises to be much better than Flores, Reyes, or Cabrera at second. While he has proven to be a platoon bat, so has the Mets internal trio.
However, unlike the Mets trio, Castro was an All Star next year, and unlike Reyes and Cabrera, at 27, he’s entering his prime. And remember, Castro hit .323/.363/.516 in the first half last year. Much of that fall off could be attributed to a leg injury that plagued him throughout the second half of the season.
Point is, there’s reason to believe there is room for improvement for Cabrera. With him only making $2.4 million than Cabrera next season, it is worth investigating a trade that is centered around Cabrera for Castro. Considering the relatively meager returns the Marlins have accepted for their big time outfielders, it may not be as ridiculous as it may seem. That goes double when you consider Castro is due $11.8 million next year with a $1 million buy out if his team does not pick up his $16 million 2020 option.
Overall, for just $2.4 million next year, the Mets could really improve their second base situation, and they could still have room to add a Frazier in free agency. More than that, with his working with Pat Roessler, they may obtain something reasonably close to the 2017 first half Castro. Considering the position the Mets are in at the moment, it is certainly worth a risk.
Despite Daniel Murphy winning the 2015 NLCS MVP, the Mets seemed all too happy to let him depart via free agency. Instead of Murphy, the Mets first sought after Ben Zobrist, who spurned them for the Cubs, before trading Jon Niese for Neil Walker.
Walker was supposed to stabilize the position, and there was hopes he would be a Met for the long haul with the team offering him the qualifying offer. Instead, Walker had two injury riddled years before he was traded to the Brewers for minor league right-hand relief prospect Eric Hanhold.
Now, the Mets are once again in the position of finding out who their next second baseman will be. That task becomes all the more difficult when Ian Kinsler rejected a trade to the Mets, upper management rejected a trade for Jason Kipnis, and the Mets are reportedly not entertaining trading Brandon Nimmo for Josh Harrison.
The end result likely is the second base quagmire will continue. That quagmire has seen the Mets play 12 different players at second base over the past two seasons. Can you name them all? Good luck!
If you look around the free agent landscape, you will see that most Major League teams have yet to make any significant moves. Even those who have, like the Cardinals, who have obtained Marcell Ozuna, or the Yankees, who obtained Giancarlo Stanton, are still looking to make additional moves to complete their 2018 rosters.
And there are still plenty of real difference makers on the free agent market. That goes for all positions. Really, you could build an All Star roster over the players still available:
- P Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta
- C Jonathan Lucroy
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- 2B Neil Walker
- 3B Todd Frazier
- SS J.J. Hardy
- LF J.D. Martinez
- CF Lorenzo Cain
- RF Jay Bruce
- Closer Greg Holland
With all of these players still available, we have begun to hear from different sources how Sandy Alderson has made yet another master stroke. He is successfully waiting out the market, and as a result, the Mets are bound to get a bargain in free agency. For proof, we need not look any further than how Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason after the 2015 pennant.
For those that remember, early in that offseason, the Mets had moved on from Cespedes instead signing Alejandro De Aza to take part in a center field platoon with Juan Lagares. The plan was to go with Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and Michael Conforto in the outfield. From there, things changed rather dramatically.
First, Cuddyer unexpectedly retired. Perhaps more unexpected than that was no one wanting to give Cespedes a big contract after his terrific run after his getting traded to the Mets. Part of that was some questions marks that began with his time in Boston. Another issue was Cespedes being just one huge free agent in a loaded free agent class that included Chris Davis, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and many more. The other Major League teams chose the other players.
This had left Cespedes as the last major free agent on the board. While many credited the Mets with sticking it out and getting Cespedes on what was effectively a one year deal, the truth of the matter the team was lucky. If the Nationals had not deferred much of the money in the 5 year roughly $100 million contract offer they made to Cespedes, it is likely Cespedes would have joined Daniel Murphy on the Nationals.
However, credit is due to the Alderson taking advantage of the situation and getting his man.
If we are being honest with ourselves, that was a bit of a miracle. It was not a plan that can be emulated. That goes double for this offseason with so many teams left looking to make moves this offseason. There are many teams with more money who are looking to fill the same exact holes the Mets are. The difference between those teams and the Mets is money.
By many accounts, the Mets only have roughly $10 million to spend this offseason. That is unless they are able to move a contract like Lagares’. For what it’s worth, if you are a Major League team looking for a center fielder, Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson, Carlos Gomez, and Jon Jay are still available. Why would you take on Lagares, when you can just sign one of these free agents?
So no, the Mets are not going to free up payroll. Ultimately, this does not mean the Mets have been patient this offseason. Instead, the team is being idle. The key difference between the two is that when you’re patient you’re waiting for something to happen whereas an idle team moves along the offseason hoping for something to happen.
When you have $10 million to spend, are desperately attempting to attach yourselves to a number of rumors to keep the fans happy, and need to add at least five more key players this offseason to be relevant in 2018, you are idle.
Like many Mets fans, I was irritated about how last offseason was handled.
They brought back a team who was not good enough to win the Wild Card Game expecting them to both stay healthy and win a World Series.
The Mets postseason chances ended in injuries culminating in a 70-92 record.
Even better, Sandy Alderson completely botched the fire sale. The Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker for a group of Minor League right-handed relieves. Oh, and sweet, sweet salary relief.
The plan of action would’ve been acceptable had the team opted to reinvest that money in the team. Well, not only did the Mets opt not to reinvest that money, they decided to hold onto more of it.
How do I respond to this?
I know why. It’s because if the shared experiences. I want to be able to enjoy the rare times the Mets are relevant with my sons.
Hell, I’d love to do that with my Dad as well. However, with the way this team is being operated from a financial and personnel standpoint, it seems like that’s becoming less and less of a possibility.
Sadly, the Wilpons don’t care about my story or other fans stories. They don’t have to because they’re making money anyway. They don’t have to because fans like me keep coming back for more, and even worse, we begin the process of indoctrinating our children at a young age.
So yes, I’m to blame why the Wilpons get away with operating the Mets this way. However, only the Wilpons themselves are to blame for choosing to operate the team this way.
If you’ve been paying attention, the Mets seem to be interested in everyone this offseason. If you take those players they’re interested in, you’d have an amazing roster:
1B Todd Frazier
2B Neil Walker
SS Amed Rosario
CF Lorenzo Cain
Wait, you don’t believe any of this is going to happen?
For me, I’m a Mets, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fans. As you can tell, 2017 was not the best of years for me.
The season unofficially ended when Noah Syndergaard refused to get an MRI. Along with Thor, we saw Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler go on extended disabled list stints. It came to a point where Rafael Montero was a feasible rotation option. By the way, that speaks more about the rotation than Montero.
On the offensive side, we saw Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson go for pennies on the dollar. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker missed a ton of time, which meant Walker joined the aforementioned players and Addison Reed in fetching a group of minor league right-handed relievers that didn’t bowl anyone over.
Worst of all, Michael Conforto suffered a season ending and possibly career altering shoulder injury. He suffered that injury on a swing and a miss. If that isn’t the perfect euphemism for the Mets season, I don’t know what is.
But don’t worry. The Mets are cutting payroll, so we wont have to face the Mets failing to meet expectations again.
The year started with the wide receiving core not showing up after they all made sure to attend a boat party. The end result was the Giants missing a big opportunity to make a deep postseason run.
Expectations were high after that with the Giants being labeled Super Bowl contenders. As it turns out, you can’t be that without an offensive line and an over-matched head coach. The season slowly became a 2-13 embarasment that saw McAdoo sit Eli so he could find out if Geno Smith was his starter for next season, and the Giants to fire McAdoo for mishandling that and everything else.
To make matters worse, Eli Apple has gone from being a guy who was supposed to take the next leap to being benched to being called a cancer to announcing to reporters he had to go to the bathroom. Much like the Apple, the Giants season went from promising and quickly down the drain.
The Rangers were lucky and got to face the Atlantic side of the draw for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers beat the Canadiens, and then they blew a golden opportunity against the Ottawa Senators.
Due to salary cup constraints, the Rangers then traded away Stepan and Raanta for what was perceived to be an underwhelming return. The team overdrafted Anderson, and they got lucky with Chytil. They were also able to nab a promising young defenseman in Antony DeAngelo.
Well, Vingeault has once again done his best Terry Collins impersonation by benching the younger players, not letting them play, and giving the veterans enough rope to hang the entire Rangers season. The Rangers are currently in playoff contention, but they would likely be in better position if their head coach showed a modicum of interest in developing younger players.
Well, last season was a disaster leading to the team trading Melo for much less than they ever thought he could fetch in a trade. Still, the return has been palatable because Enes Kanter is a leader who gives the Knicks toughness. This would all be better except for the fact that KP still has issues staying on the floor, the Hardaway signing ate up a ton of cap space, and a favorable early schedule will likely lead to the Knicks falling apart in January.
So yeah, hopefully, 2018 will go much better because how could it not with Mickey Callaway and a new Giants head coach in place. Hopefully, the Rangers will as well. There’s also the hope Seton Hall rebounds from a March exit last year on an egregious intentional fall call. Hopefully, their making a deep run will be the start of a great 2018.
If the Mets continue to refuse to spend, maybe it will be the sole highlight of the year.
Let’s all gather round and see what Santa left under the Mets Christmas tree:
Jake Arrieta – Mets have enough SP, don’t they?
Jay Bruce – His heart is in San Francisco
Yu Darvish – Not in this lifetime
Lorenzo Cain – Nope
Bartolo Colon – Rejected
Howie Kendrick – Nowhere to be seen or heard from
Todd Frazier – In Toms River
Curtis Granderson – Can’t be naughty and expect to get someone so nice
Jason Kipnis – Hot In Cleveland
J.D. Martinez – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Mike Napoli – Somewhere over Minneapolis
Eduardo Nunez – Probably too broken . . . even for the Mets
Addison Reed – Not home for the holidays
Neil Walker – Doesn’t want to come back
Really, there’s nothing there except for what I really hope is a piece of coal.
When individual game tickets were made available to the general public, the Mets began a real push towards hyping up the fan base. There were any number of rumors linking the Mets to trade targets Mets fans have coveted like Jason Kipnis and Dee Gordon. But it was more than that.
The Mets were also indicating they were not settling. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo may very well be a terrific platoon in center field next season, but the team was at least going to inquire on Lorenzo Cain. Not only were the Mets interested in Shohei Otani, they were also interested in signing Jacob deGrom to a contract extension.
There were even reports Dominic Smith, who struggled during his brief stint in the majors, was not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. The big name mentioned there was Carlos Santana who the Mets labelled as a difference maker.
Many Mets fans, like myself, were skeptical, especially given the timing.
Well, when it comes to the New York Mets, the skeptics were once again prove to be correct.
As shoppers looked for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, the Mets themselves began to look for deals themselves on the free agent market. Put another way, the Mets rumors have begun to shift away from Ian Kinsler and Eric Hosmer type of free agent acquisitions and now we are really at the point where many believed the Mets would be all along.
When it comes to Walker, the reunion makes sense even if it is not exactly awe inspiring. He was one of the rare players who was able to elevate his game in a Mets uniform. Walker was not only able to handle the pressures of playing in the New York market, but he was also able to thrive in it. Even with his injury history, you can justify this move with his solid clubhouse presence and the Mets depth at the middle infield position with Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera.
And yes, you can more than justify Lind. This was a guy who hit .303/.362/.513 for the Nationals last year in part-time duty. The left-handed hitter abuses right-handed pitching making him a natural platoon partner with Flores at first base. He’s not a great defender at first base or left field, but he is arguably capable making him good depth in the event Smith actually does win the job in Spring Training. Even if Smith doesn’t win the job, Lind would not stand in his way in the event the former first round draft pick figures things out.
So yes, Walker and Lind are justifiable moves that will make the Mets better in 2018. However, they are not the big ticket items the Mets were hyping when tickets first went on sale.
Most fans anticipated this being a Walker and Lind type of offseason. If the Mets really addressed their bullpen where they had shut down relievers from the sixth or seventh inning on, Mets fans would have bought in. There would have been some excitement for the 2018 season especially with a healthy deGrom and Noah Syndergaard all season.
Instead, the Mets sold us a false bill of goods to artificially try to get a push for people to purchase individual game tickets when it went on sale.
If you are inclined to disagree with this premise and don’t find the timing suspicious at all, ask yourself if you truly believe the Mets are bringing in one or two big names this offseason. If the answer is no or the Mets do indeed fail to bring in the big names, can we then agree to stop giving this organization any benefit of the doubt?
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.