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.
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.
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.
Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin. In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.
As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants. This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown. Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.
Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team. Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team. He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets. Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets. In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.
With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances. There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.
The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery. It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided. For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.
Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon. The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them. As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”
Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted. Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:
At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.
When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.
After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field. However, that was about it from the team.
Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, and Matt Reynolds. This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41. In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number. That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.
It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:
Beltran Announcement: 11:32
Congratulatory responses as follows
Yankees – 11:50
Royals – 12:13
Astros – 12:17
Rangers – 12:25
Cardinals – 1:00
Mets – 3:08
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) November 14, 2017
In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion. The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.
It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece. Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals. He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees. He spoke about the championship run with the Astros. As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011. Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.
There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.
Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran. It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets. For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history. Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.
Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony. Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.
The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame. It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation. This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.
If you are a Citi Cardmember, you have the exclusive chance to go out and purchase Mets tickets before they go on sale to the general public on November 17th. Essentially, the Mets are really encouraging fans to go out there and start spending their hard earned money at a time when they are cutting payroll.
No, payroll doesn’t win championships; players do. But look at the current state of the Mets roster and ask yourself whether the requisite talent is present. Look at it this way. If the Mets do not make another move, here is Opening Day defensive alignment:
It’s not exactly a group the Mets are excited about themselves. In 2016, they explored trading d’Arnaud, and when they couldn’t move him, they got him a catching guru. Sure, d’Arnaud was better, but he wasn’t exactly the All Star we all hoped he could be.
The reports are also that the Mets have soured on Smith, and they are not only looking to have him start the year in Triple-A, but they may actually pursue a first baseman in free agency.
With respect to Flores and Lagares, the Mets have long since determined each are platoon players. That could be where Brandon Nimmo finds a role as a platoon partner. However, that’s only if he’s not the starting right fielder, which is dependent on when Conforto will be ready to play again. That will also depend on whether Cespedes has a healthy season.
And by the way, the Mets have a massive hole in their pitching staff. The team does not believe enough in AJ Ramos to be the primary set-up guy leaving them looking for another reliever. Truth is, they probably need two or three.
In the rotation, the Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. After that, there are a number of question marks. This means the Mets could use another starter. If the Mets truly want to contend, they would get a top tier pitcher like Yu Darvish, but more likely, the team will be looking at fifth starters.
When you look at all these holes, the $30 million the Mets have to spend is nowhere near enough. And by the way, this also doesn’t address what promises to be a weak bench. Based upon past history, that bench will be weak with Sandy Alderson only being interested in building depth if the Mets promise to be good.
So, with the Mets having all these problems and them not looking to spend the money that is required to fix the roster, the question to Mets fans is this: Why are you in a rush to give them money they won’t fully invest in becoming the postseason contender this team was just a year ago?
With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency. In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher. In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.
During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades. That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster. To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.
One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited. That’s not limited by recent standards. Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.
Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million. That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:
Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe. Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.
For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe. It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster. From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs. It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:
- Mike Moustakas 5 years, $85 million ($17 million AAV)
- Lorenzo Cain 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Wade Davis 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Lance Lynn 4 years, $56 million ($14 million AAV)
- Greg Holland 4 years, $50 million ($12.5 million AAV)
- Addison Reed 4 years, $36 million ($9 million AAV)
- Todd Frazier 3 years, $33 million ($11 million AAV)
- CC Sabathia 2 years, $24 million ($12 million AAV)
- Neil Walker 2 years, $20 million ($10 million)
- Eduardo Nunez 2 years, $14 million ($7 million AAV)
There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.
Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player. This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second. Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.
Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.
In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons. Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.
Mets Hitting Coach Kevin Long
Current Position: Mets Hitting Coach (2015 – present)
Age: 12/30/66 (50)
Managerial Experience: 1998 Wilmington Blue Rocks (A) 6-1; Spokane Indians (A) 44-32 (League Champs)
After a dismal 2014 season, the Mets fired Dave Hudgens and brought Long aboard to serve as the team’s new hitting coach. Certainly, Long’s previous working experience with Curtis Granderson, and the Mets wanting to get the biggest free agent acquisition in the Sandy Alderson Era going didn’t hurt. In his time with the Mets, Long has certainly distinguished himself to the point where he’s actually been referred to as a “rock star.” (MLB.com).
To name a few, we have seen Granderson, Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Neil Walker become better hitters under Long’s tutelage. Generally speaking, when Long’s message gets through, we see players both increase their OBP and their slugging. As noted in a New York Times article, 0ne of the reasons why Long is able to help players improve as hitters is they compile all the relevant data, they filter it down, and they convey that information to the players in the hopes they absorb it and to put it to good use.
In terms of not just the modern manager, but any manager, you are looking for an individual who not only has the ability to understand the data provided to him, but also the best way to convey that data to the players in a way that is effective. As noted with player like Murphy and Cespedes, it has worked. Conversely, we have also seen Long fail to help Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares reach their offensive ceilings. That’s certainly something that has held the Mets back and forced the team to acquire some players over the past few seasons.
Another issue with Long is his lack of managerial experience. He has not managed anywhere since 1999, and he has not managed above short season Single-A ball. Accordingly, we really have no idea how he would handle being in charge of every aspect of a clubhouse, a pitching staff, personalities, and playing time.
To that end, it should be noted Long has a good relationship with former Yankees and Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland, who is noted for helping fix pitcher’s mechanics. After all the times the past few seasons we have heard Mets pitchers point to mechanical issues, the team could certainly use a pitching coach like Eiland to replace Dan Warthen.
Still, with Long, we have seen a coach that already has the respect of the players in the Mets clubhouse, and he has a report with the front office. We see someone who is a good communicator and someone who has the ability to understand and translate data. Ultimately, we may not know what type of manager he would become, but we do know he has the tools to succeed as a manager.
What The Players Say:
Granderson: “If that were to happen, obviously he’d be up for the challenge. He’s always energetic, he communicates, which I think is the biggest thing a manager needs to have . . . So many things can be resolved if people just communicate.” (Newsday).
Alex Rodriguez: “And that’s why I think Kevin Long could be a good manager. It’s more like a CEO of a public company. You’re basically getting information from your board and ownership and you’re transferring it to your shareholder which are the players.” (WFAN)
Understandably, Mets fans probably want someone with more experience, and some want a completely new face. However, with the current front office going nowhere, you are going to need someone who you know has a good working relationship with the front office. It also helps that Long has a respect in the clubhouse, and the ability to communicate with this players.
Due to his strengths, Long would be a fine choice for manager with one caveat. With his lack of experience, Long is going to need a strong staff with an accomplished pitching coach and a veteran bench coach to help guide him. Short of that, and the Mets are really just setting up Long for failure.
By any measure, Travis d’Arnaud‘s 2017 season was truly disappointing. He landed on the disabled list once again. His batting line of .244/.293/.443 was more backup than catcher many believed would have an All Star caliber season under the tutelage of new catching coach Glenn Sherlock. His one calling card, his pitch framing, really regressed going from one of the best to being one of the worst. All in all, it was a bad season for d’Arnaud. However, the one bright side is he wasn’t Matt Wieters.
If you thought d’Arnaud had a bad season, you weren’t paying attention at all to Wieters. In 123 games this season he would hit .225/.288/.344 with 20 doubles, 10 homers, and 52 RBI. That was good for a 63 OPS+ and a 62 wRC+. If you want to gauge how bad that is, consider d’Arnaud had a better batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS+, and wRC+. He also had more triples, homers, extra base hits, and RBI despite playing in 11 fewer games and in a much less potent offense.
Behind the plate, Wieters was even worse than d’Arnaud pitch framing putting up a -15.7 RAA (Runs Above Avergae) to d’Arnaud’s -4.2. Keep in mind that while both regressed from prior seasons, Wieters has always been a poor pitch framer.
Really, the only way you could say Wieters had a better year than d’Arnaud was throwing out base runners. Wieters bested d’Arnaud by throwing out 25% of base runners to d’Arnaud’s 17%. For what it’s worth both were below league average.
In the end, even with all the struggles, d’Arnaud posted a 1.2 bWAR and a 0.8 fWAR. Wieters? Again he trailed d’Arnaud posting a -0.5 bWAR and a -0.2 fWAR.
If you’re still not convinced d’Arnaud is a better catcher than Wieters, look no further than what transpired last night when Wieters completely fell apart.
In that faithful fifth inning, it was Wieters who made the key blunder. At that point, Addison Russell had already hit the go-ahead two out double to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. The rest of that inning was on Wieters.
After the intentional walk to Jason Heyward, Max Scherzer struck out Javier Baez. That should have ended the inning except Wieters couldn’t get down to block the ball. This allowed Baez to take off for first. By the time Wieters had located the ball, he had no shot at Baez. Rather than eat the ball, he threw the ball into right field allowing Russell to score from second.
Yes, the umpire blew the call not calling Baez out for hitting Wieters in the mask. However, that play did not force Wieters to not get down and block a ball he reasonably knew was going to be the dirt. It also did not force him to throw the ball away.
The inning was then extended again with a Wieters catcher’s interference loading the bases. Once Scherzer hit Jon Jay with a pitch, it was 7-4 Cubs.
Throw in his flying out to end a rally in the sixth, his stranding four runners, and his hitting .143/.333/.143 in the series with no RBI, you have a nightmare NLDS following just an awful season.
For all of that the Nationals paid Wieters $10.5 million. It gets even better with Wieters having a $10.5 million player option he’d be insane to revoke.
In the end, d’Arnaud may have had a really disappointing season, but he was not Wieters. That is the same Wieters many Mets fans were clamoring for all offseason, and frankly were irritated when Wieters went to the Nationals. This is something everyone should keep in mind this offseason with another weak catching free agent market.
When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals. With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:
East – Boston Red Sox
Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)
Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.
RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)
Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.
RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)
Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.
OF Chris Young (2014)
After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.
Central – Cleveland Indians
First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)
Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007. He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.
RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)
Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.
RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)
Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons. Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.
West – Houston Astros
DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)
Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform. Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.
C Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)
Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)
Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team. Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.
Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)
Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark. While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.
Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)
Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick. He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)
Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.
Wild Card – New York Yankees
RHP Luis Cessa
Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
Wild Card – Minnesota Twins
Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)
While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.
RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)
“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse. There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.
RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)
Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability. He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.
East – Washington Nationals
OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)
De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets. He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)
Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.
2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)
Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase. Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant. Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.
LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)
Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season. He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract. Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.
Central – Cubs
Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)
“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.
C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)
Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners. It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.
West – Dodgers
Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)
Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers. Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.
OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)
Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform. He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most. Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series. His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.
3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)
Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible. Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.
Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)
Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.
Wild Card – Diamondbacks
RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)
Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed. While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.
Wild Card – Rockies
Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League. Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.
In what is likely Terry Collins last game as the Mets manager at Citi Field, he went out the way he would’ve wanted to go out. No, not batting Jose Reyes lead-off while sitting Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto against the left-handed Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Although, we can be sure he was happy to do that. No, Collins went out a winner.
The main reason the Mets won this game was Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman would allow just one run over six innings while allowing six hits. That sole run came off an Ozzie Albies two out RBI single in the third. That wouldn’t be the Braves last threat.
In the fifth, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs with Mets killer Freddie Freeman striding to the plate. Gsellman would get out of the jam striking out Freeman: one of his four on the night.
Gsellman would depart in the sixth due to the bat of Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud would have all three Mets RBI on the night.
Gsellman led off the fifth with a walk, and Reyes followed with a single. After a Lagares strikeout, an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout moved Gsellman and Reyes to second and third for d’Arnaud, who delivered a two RBI single under the diving Swanson for a 3-1 lead.
The game would stay tight until the seventh when the Mets would blow the doors open with the help of a Freeman error.
That error proved costly as Smith would snap out of a 3-35 streak with a three run homer into the Coke Den.
.@TheRealSmith22's 3-run homer highlights the 4 run 7th. 😀
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2017
Surprisingly, the rally would continue. Matt Reynolds singled, and Nori Aoki walked chasing Johnson. The Braves substituted Ian Krol for Johnson. In what may prove to be Reyes’ last at-bat at Citi Field in a Mets uniform, he doubled home Reynolds and Aoki giving the Mets a 7-1 lead.
Jamie Callahan, Chasen Bradford, and Paul Sewald combined to pitch the final three scoreless innings preserving the 7-1 win.
This game closed a chapter in the legacy of Collins and perhaps Reyes. It’s very likely neither one of them will be Mets next year. For Collins part, he deserved to go out this way.
Through it all, he gave his all to the Mets and treated Mets fans better than any other Mets manager. Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill on that front.