With yesterday being Black Friday, people ran out to stores and websites looking for deals, and today, they’re assessing what they got and still need to get. Being Mets fans, we expect the team to spend most of the offseason diving through the discount bins.
To a certain extent, every team needs to do that. The player signed to a minor league deal or on the cheap emerges to be much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Many times, when that happens, your team takes it to the next level. In honor of Black Friday, here are some of the best bargain signings the Mets have made in their history.
For this list, we are only looking at players signed to minor league deals, and as this is the Mets we are talking about, it’s being run on Small Business Saturday.
C Todd Pratt – he went from delivering Dominos to being signed to a minor league deal with the Mets. Three years later, Pratt would hit a walk-off homer off of Matt Mantei clinching the first NLDS in team history.
1B James Loney – in 2016, the Mets were left without a first baseman due to Lucas Duda‘s back injury as well as a host of other injuries on the team. Loney would step in and help the team hitting .305/.367/.463 over his first 22 games to help keep that team afloat and make that push for the Wild Card.
2B Jose Valentin – the Mets signed Valentin to be veteran depth only for him to fill the vacuum left at second base by Anderson Hernandez‘s offensive struggles and Kazuo Matsui‘s injuries. In addition to his 3.6 WAR in 2006, he would hit two homers in the NL East clincher.
3B Matt Franco – signed a minor league deal with the Mets entering the 1996 season. He’d emerge as a good pinch hitter who hit a game winning single off Mariano Rivera clinching the Mets first series win in the Subway Series.
SS Omar Quintanilla – the Mets let Jose Reyes go due to a mixture of the Madoff scandal and the belief Ruben Tejada was ready to be the every day shortstop. When Tejada wasn’t Quintanilla was a pleasant surprise with a career year before being traded for cash considerations.
LF Melvin Mora – Mora signed a minor league deal coming out of Japan. In the 162nd game of the 1999 season, he scored on a wild pitch enduring the playoff game. In the Grand Slam Single game, he hit the cut off man leading to Keith Lockhart getting cut down at the plate. In that postseason, he hit .400/.500/.600.
CF Endy Chavez – signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, a season where he’d have the greatest catch in NLCS history. He’d also have other defensive gems and game winning bunts in his Mets career.
RF Marlon Byrd – back in the cavernous Citi Field days, Byrd came to the Mets on a minor league deal in 2013 and hit 21 homers before getting traded to the Pirates in a deal which netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
RP Pedro Feliciano – soon dubbed Perpetual Pedro due to his rubber arm, he’d be a key piece of a great 2006 bullpen, and he’d emerge as the best LOOGY in franchise history.
SP R.A. Dickey – this is the gold standard. Dickey was signed to a minor league deal in 2009, and a few short seasons later, he would become the biggest surprise Cy Young winner in Major League history. The Mets then selling high on him and getting Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him makes signing Dickey all the more legendary.
Heading into the trade deadline, there were rumors the Mets were willing to eat salary in order to maximize the return for a player. There were also the rumors the Mets would be willing to trade with the Yankees.
Ultimately, both rumors proved to be false.
When it came to Lucas Duda, the return from the Tampa Bay Rays was arguably weak. In exchange for a top 10 first baseman, the Mets got a relief prospect. Sure, Drew Smith could ultimately be a good reliever, but he’s still a reliever in the Vic Black/Bobby Parnell mold – big arm, hard time putting batters away.
The argument in response will be there was a weak market for 1B/DH players, and Duda had an e luring deal. Lost in the argument was the Mets failed to create a real bidding war.
As Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported, the Mets didn’t make Duda available to the Yankees. As an unnamed Yankees official stated, “he Mets just wouldn’t trade him to us.”
To those who were skeptical of the report, please turn your attention to the Jay Bruce trade.
In exchange for a player on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season, the Mets received Ryder Ryan from the Cleveland Indians. Ryan is a former 30th round pick who is a converted reliever. In the deal, the Indians took on all of Bruce’s salary.
For those Mets fans thinking Bruce should’ve netted more, you might be right.
According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Yankees were interested in Bruce, and according to his sources, the Yankees were offering two prospects many teams inquired about at the trade deadline. According to Carig, “Yankees would have covered only a portion of salary, but Yankees offered better players it seems.”
If true, this is complete and utter nonsense. The Yankees possess a deep farm system with players who could have helped the Mets in the long run.
Who cares if Duda or Bruce helped the Yankees win a World Series? They weren’t helping the Mets win one this year. In fact, the only way these players would’ve helped the Mets win a World Series was to get an important piece in return who could have been a significant part of a winner. At the moment, it’s hard to make that argument for Smith or Ryan.
In reality, a Mets team who has been unwilling to spend commensurate with their market size and window of contention, once again took the cheap route. They dumped two players on smaller market teams and got underwhelming returns.
Their actions proved they were unwilling to ear salary for a better return, and they were unwilling to help the Yankees win. It was petty, small-minded, and it was bad business.
It doesn’t matter if this came from Sandy Alderson or Jeff Wilpon. What matters is it happened, and the Mets are arguably worse off for it. In the end, I really hope Smith and Ryan was worth it. Chances are they won’t be.
UPDATE: It gets better. Not only did the Mets care more about money than the prospect return, but they also cared about those four meaningless games against the Yankees
#Mets preferred savings to prospects NYY offered. Also were not eager to finance trade for NYY, whom they face four times from Aug. 14-17.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 10, 2017
Entering the trade deadline, the Mets had eight players who were impending free agents and another two who could be free agents if the Mets declined their 2018 options. Despite the Mets looking to get something in return for each of these prospects, they walked away from the trade deadline having made just two deals:
If you are going to question why the Mets didn’t do more look no further than their 48-55 record. Simply put, the teams in contention didn’t have much interest in the players who have led the Mets from potential World Series contenders to also-rans.
Sure, there will be people who point out it was not a robust market for position players. That’s true, but it did not prevent the White Sox from moving Melky Cabrera, the Athletics from moving Adam Rosales, or for that matter, the Mets from moving Duda. This brings about the question over why teams weren’t interested in the Mets pieces. For each player, there is a different answer:
RF/1B Jay Bruce
2017 Stats: .263/.326/.523, 19 2B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.3 WAR
When assessing why teams aren’t interested in Bruce, one thing to keep in mind is team’s don’t covet home runs much in the same fashion they once did. Remember, Chris Carter went from winning the National League home run title last year to being a non-tendered free agent with little interest on the free agent market. So, yes, the 27 homers are good, but they do not completely define a player’s value.
Keep in mind, Bruce is no longer considered a good defensive player. While, it should be noted his 8 DRS and 2.6 UZR are good defensive numbers, it is coming off a season where he posted a -11 DRS and a -8.9 UZR. To the eyes, Bruce does look a step slower in right.
As for the rest of the value, Bruce has shown himself to be a first half player who tapers off in the second half. To that end, he hit .250/.281/.500 in July. Potentially, this could be the beginning of a prolonged slump like we saw Bruce have with the Mets last year. Certainly, other teams noticed that as well, and they might be scared off by how poorly he performed when asked to change teams mid-season.
INF Asdrubal Cabrera
2017 Stats: .260/.339/.404, 15 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, SB, -0.4 WAR
In 2017, Cabrera got hurt, and when he was asked to move off shortstop, a position where he has posted a -9 DRS and -4.7 UZR, he balked. First, he demanded his option be picked-up, then he demanded a trade. Things like that don’t go over well when you have shown yourself to have a lack of range at three infield positions, and you are not hitting well at the plate.
2017 Stats: .224/.330/.446, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB
To a certain extent, the relative lack of interest in Granderson is surprising. After a slow and painful start, he has been a much better player since June 1st hitting .258/.404/.558. He’s also accepted a role on the bench without being an issue in the clubhouse. As a pinch hitter this year, he is hitting .267/.421/.533. If your team has an injury, you know he can capably fill in at three outfield positions. He’s also a tremendous clubhouse presence. Ultimately, this tells us teams were scared off by his age and his $15 million contract.
INF Jose Reyes
2017 Stats: .226/.289/.387, 17 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB, -1.0 WAR
Let’s start with the obvious. Adding Reyes to your team is a potential PR nightmare. The Cubs thought it worthwhile for Aroldis Chapman, but it is likely no one is going down that road with a below replacement level player. As noted, the main issue is Reyes has been bad this year. Even with the recent surge, he still hasn’t been great this year, and there was zero interest even before he was hit on the hand.
2017 Stats: .232/.277/.374, 4 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI
Rivera’s reputation as a defensive catcher and pitching whisperer has taken a bit of a hit this year. Whatever the reason, he did not have the same touch with pitchers like Robert Gsellman like he did last year. Also, while he is throwing out more base runners, he has taken a significant step back as a pitch framer. Overall, he still has a good defensive reputation and is a good backup catcher, but he hasn’t excelled in the areas where he excelled in year’s past.
2B Neil Walker
2017 Stats: .266/.347/.455, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0.9 WAR
If Walker stayed healthy, there may have been some semblance of a trade market for him. When he has played he has hit, but he has only played in 63 games as a result of a partially torn left hamstring. This was a year after he had season ending back surgery. Between the injury history and his $17.2 million salary, the lack of trade interest in him is certainly understandable.
Looking at the above, it is understandable why there was at best tepid interest in the Mets trade pieces. That is why they are still on the Mets roster. However, this does not preclude an August trade. To that end, Mets fans were all disappointed the Mets weren’t able to moved Marlon Byrd at the 2013 non-waiver deadline. Twenty-seven days later, Byrd was traded with John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
Now, one thing I have been upfront about is that I am partial to Lucas Duda. For me, seeing Duda go from the Mets organization was more than just seeing a good player leave, it does close a small chapter of my life. Unlike most writers, I want to be upfront about my biases because everyone writes with some bias. If you understand that, you’re better able to assess the evaluation.
Now before addressing this specific trade, Duda was arguably worth a second round pick or the equivalent due to the changes in the qualifying offer system. Ultimately, when assessing the Mets trade of Duda for Drew Smith, the question is whether the Mets accomplished that in this deal.
The answer? Maybe.
On the one hand, only earlier this year his trade value was just a fourth outfielder in Mikie Mahtook. However, judging his value on that alone is silly. It’s very possible the Tigers made a bad trade. It’s also possible Smith got better as the year progressed. With Smith, it seems both might be true.
Based on various scouting reports, Smith is a reliever who throws it in the high 90s and he can reach 99 MPH. He combines that with a good but inconsistent curveball. Both pitches have been dominant for him this year with him going 1-2 with a 1.60 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, and an 8.0 K/9 across three levels of the minors and in two different organizations. Smith certainly gets the most out of these pitches because he locates both of these pitches well.
Looking at the stats and his stuff, there is a lot to like. He has been getting good results. One thing that stands out with him is he has allowed just five extra base hits in 45.0 innings pitched. Four of those extra base hits were doubles, and the lone home run he has allowed was to now fellow Mets prospect Peter Alonso. Remarkably, that homer is the only one he has allowed in his career.
On the downside is there’s not a lot of strikeouts. For someone with his stuff, you’d expect a lot more. More troubling is the fact he has yet to strike anyone above Single-A. It should be noted he’s pitched 4.2 innings above Single-A. One of the reasons why his strikeouts are low could be his fastball is a straight fastball.
Ultimately, Smith is an interesting relief prospect, but in some ways, he’s also a project. Given Duda’s production, the Mets probably should have done better than this. Arguably, they should have also received another lower level prospect in return to mitigate some of the boom/bust potential in Smith.
However, this analysis does ignore the down market for sluggers like Duda, and the fact Sandy Alderson probably waited too long to trade him. It also ignores this is a pitcher with high upside. If he hits his ceiling, and he’s in an organization where he very well could, you’re probably calling this trade a win for the Mets.
Another factor is this trade does make room for Dominic Smith to play sooner rather than later. This will allow Smith to get his feet wet this year and make the necessary adjustments heading into the 2018 season to help him be a much better player.
Overall, the Mets likely sold low on Duda. In the end, we’re probably not going to care much if Smith becomes the 10 time All Star Duda said he wants him to become. We’ll care even less if Smith becomes a dominant late inning reliever. As of today, anything is possible
Ten years ago, Omar Minaya had his second draft as the manager of the New York Mets. With the team having signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in the offseason, they would not have a first round draft pick. In total, the Mets would draft 49 players, and they would be able to sign 35 of them. Of the 49 players drafted, six of the players would play in the major leagues. Here is review of those players that were drafted and played in the major leagues:
Kevin Mulvey, LHP (2nd Round, 62nd Overall)
Mulvey was a fairly well-regarded fastball-changeup pitcher out of Villanova, who shot through the Mets minor league system. In his first full professional season, he started in AA, and he finished the year with one start in New Orleans, which was then the Mets AAA affiliate.
In the offseason, Mulvey was a significant piece in the trade that brought Johan Santana to the Mets. Notably, he was the only player drafted by Minaya to be included in the deal.
Mulvey would not last long with the Twins. He spent a year and half with the team, and he made a very brief major league appearance with them in 2009. He would become the player to be named later in a trade in which the Twins acquired Jon Rauch to help them not only win the AL Central, but also to help them in the postseason.
Mulvey would not pitch well for the Diamondbacks. In 2009 and 2010, he would only make four starts and four relief appearances. He would go 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP. In 2011, the Diamondbacks would designate him for assignment to remove him from the 40 man roster. A year later, he would be outright released.
Mulvey caught back on with the Mets in 2012, and he was assigned to AA Binghamton. After 13 relief appearances that saw him go 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.707 WHIP, Mulvey retired from the game of baseball, and he returned to Villanova to be an assistant coach. On July 14, 2016, he was named the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats.
In total, Mulvey only started four games and made six relief appearances over three major league seasons. He finished with an 0-3 record, a 7.90 ERA, and a 1.756 WHIP.
Joe Smith, RHP (3rd Round, 94th Overall)
After losing Chad Bradford to free agency, the Mets decided the side winding Smith was ready to take over Bradford’s role in the bullpen.
Smith would pitch two seasons with the Mets making 136 appearances. In those games, he would go 9-5 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.402 WHIP. While he could never match what Bradford did for the 2006 Mets, Smith was still a reliable bullpen arm so long as he was called to pitch to right-handed batters.
With the Mets bullpen falling to pieces during the 2008 season, the Mets sought a dominant reliever who could pitch in the eighth inning and who could be a reliable closing option in the event the Mets closer once again succumbed to injury. With that in mind, Smith was included as a part of a three-team deal that netted the Mets J.J. Putz. Ironically, it was Smith who would have the best career out of all the relievers in the deal.
During Smith’s five year tenure with the Indians, he got better and better each season as he got better and better pitching to left-handed batters. He went from being a reliever who got just righties out to an eighth inning set-up guy. Because of that, he got a big three year $15.75 million contract from the Angels when he hit free agency for the first time.
While Smith regressed a bit during his time with the Angels, he was still a very effective reliever. Because he is still a very useful reliever, the Chicago Cubs obtained him after the non-waiver trade deadline. Despite pitching well with a 2.51 ERA in 16 appearances for the Cubs, he was left off the postseason roster. Smith is due to be a free agent after the season.
So far in Smith’s 10 year career, he has averaged 64 appearances and 57 innings per season. He is 41-28 with 29 saves, a 2.93 ERA, and a 1.199 WHIP.
John Holdzkom, RHP (4th Round, 124th Overall)
Holdzkom was a high school pitcher with a big arm whose fastball could reach triple digits. Initially, he posted big strike out numbers in the minors before needing season ending Tommy John surgery in 2008. The surgery caused him to miss the entire 2009 season, and when he returned, he was never the same pitcher.
After six games in the rookie leagues in 2010, the Mets released him. Holdzkom would take a year off from baseball before signing a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He would struggle for two years in the Reds farm system before being released in June 2012.
From there, Holdzkom went to the Independent Leagues in the hopes of rekindling his hopes of becoming a major league pitcher. With his fastball returning, he was dominant with high strikeout numbers once again, and he caught the attention of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who offered him a minor league deal. In 2014, Holdzkom would actually appear in nine games for the Pirates pitching very well. In those games, he was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA and a 0.667 WHIP.
Holdzkom would lose his fastball again, and he would never again be able to crack the Pirates major league roster. On the eve of Opening Day, he was released by the Pirates, and he was eventually signed to a minor league contract by the Chicago White Sox. While never appearing on an injury report anywhere, Holdzkom only made one appearance in 2016 for the White Sox rookie league affiliate in July. In two-third of an inning, he allowed four runs on three hits and two walks.
As for this moment, it is unknown what lies in the future of this 28 year old pitcher who is still looking to reclaim his fastball.
Daniel Murphy 3B (13th Round, 394th Overall)
Murphy is the best known player from the Mets 2006 draft. He got his start with the Mets in left field for a 2008 Mets team desperate for offense. Murphy hit well enough that he was named the Opening Day left fielder in 2009. That year it was apparent he was not an outfielder, and he began his transition to second base.
While there were some rough spots along the way, everything finally clicked for Murphy last postseason with him hitting home runs in six consecutive postseason games. These home runs were all the more notable when you consider Murphy hit them off Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks. His key steal and home run in Game 5 helped propel the Mets to the NLCS, and in the NLCS he was the obvious choice for MVP.
He signed with the Nationals, and he went out and proved his postseason run was no fluke. Murphy hit .347/.390/.595 with 47 doubles, 25 homers, and 104 RBI. All these numbers were career bests. He led the National League in doubles, slugging, and OPS.
In his Mets career, Murphy hit .288/.331/.424 while averaging 33 doubles, nine homers, and 57 RBI per season. Among Mets second baseman, Murphy is the all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, and batting average. He is also ranked third overall for the most doubles by a player in a Mets uniform, and he is ranked eighth in batting average.
Tobi Stoner, RHP (16th Round, 484th Overall)
The German born Stoner was used as a starting pitching in the Mets minor league system. However, in his brief time with the major league club, he was used exclusively out of the bullpen. Between 2009 and 2010, Stoner made five appearances going 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP.
After his big league call-ups, Stoner actually regressed. That could be in part due to bone spurs in his elbow he had to have removed prior to the 2011 season. Even with the removed bone spurs, Stoner could never get back to being the pitcher he was or who the Mets thought he could be, and he was released on the eve of the 2012 season. Stoner would pitch the 2012 season in the Independent Leagues. In 12 starts, he would have an 8.11 ERA, and his professional career was over after that season.
Josh Stinson, RHP (37th Round, 1,114th Overall)
Stinson was a high school pitcher with a mid 90’s fastball. As he did not truly develop his secondary pitches, he became a bullpen arm. With a his live arm, he got called-up in 2011, at the age of 23, and pitched in 14 games with the Mets recording a 6.92 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
The Mets relased him before the 2012 season, and he was claimed by the Brewers. He pitched mostly in the minors for the Brewers. Stinson did get a brief call-up where he actually pitched well. Despite his success in a small sample size, he was released before the 2013 season, and he was eventually picked up by the Orioles. He made 19 appearances with the Orioles, pitching to a 4.50 ERA, before he was granted free agency. Stinson signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he would not make it to the majors in the 2014 season. The Pirates released him at the end of the year.
In the 2015 season, Stinson pitched for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Leauges. In 30 starts and two relief appearances, Stinson was 11-10 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.521 WHIP. No one signed him to a professional contract to pitch in 2016. According to Stinson’s Twitter account, the 28 year old still considers himself a free agent pitcher.
Vic Black, RHP (41st Round, 1,234th Overall)
The Mets drafted Black out of high school, but he would not sign a deal with the Mets. Rather, he attended Dallas Baptist University, and he re-entered the draft in 2009 where the Pittsburgh Pirates would draft him in the first round (49th overall). The Mets would acquire Black in 2013 as part of the trade that sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Black and Dilson Herrera.
In 2014, Black seemed to have a breakout season for the Mets. He began to harness his high 90s fastball, and as a result, he was becoming a reliable bullpen arm. Unfortunately, Black would land on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck. When he tried to pitch through it, he eventually developed a shoulder strain. He was first shut down, and then designated for assignment in the offseason.
While Black elected free agency, he hoped that he could re-sign with the Mets. Neither the Mets nor any other major league team were interested in his services. Black has not pitched in professional baseball in two years. At the moment, it is unknown if he will be able to ever pitch again.
Johnny Monell, C (49th Round, 1,463rd Overall)
Like Black, Monell did not sign a contract with the Mets instead choosing to re-enter the draft at a later date. He would be drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 30th round in the following draft.
From there, Monell has bounced around from organization to organization. Finally, in 2014, he returned to the same Mets organization that had drafted him eight years prior. Due to injuries to Travis d’Arnaud and the ineffectiveness of both Kevin Plawecki and Anthony Recker, Monell would be called-up to the Mets in 2015, and he would play in 27 games hitting .167/.231/.208 with two doubles and four RBI. Monell would be sent back down to AAA where he would remain for the 2015 season.
The Mets would remove him from the 40 man roster after the 2015 season, and Monell would agree to return to the Mets. Monell spent the entire 2016 season playing for the Las Vegas 51s. He hit .276/.336/.470 with 22 doubles, one triple, 19 homers, and 75 RBI. With Plawecki being sent down in favor of Rene Rivera, Monell became the backup catcher. In order to get him into the lineup more, Monell saw some additional time at first base. Monell finished the year tied for the team lead in homers and third in RBI.
At this point, it is not known if the Mets intend to bring back the 30 year old catcher to play for the 51s again in the 2017 season.
If there’s anything that has been a hallmark of these recent Mets teams it’s that these players get it. Win or lose they acknowledged the fans. They even did it in a moment of heartbreak after losing the World Series. I was again reminded of this when I saw Vic Black‘s recent Tweet:
Thank You New York
— Victor Black (@Vic_Black_2) February 2, 2016
In the TwitLonger link, Vic Black acknowledged his New York Mets career was over even if he hasn’t signed with anyone else. He then went on to thank Mets fans for cheering him during his all too short stay with the Mets:
You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I’ll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I’ll cherish forever. I’m counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity that may be. I love you New York!
At first glance, this made me smile. Black was something of a fan favorite. Poor Adam Rubin was inundated with requests for updates on his status. It’s great Mets fans had an impact upon him. It’s even better that he acknowledged our love and returned the love.
It’s funny that it didn’t always start out that way. Black was acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade. At that time, Byrd was something of a fan favorite himself, and he was being traded for a second base prospect, Dilson Herrera, and a live bullpen arm in Black. A lot of the qualms with that trade went away when Black began pitching with the Mets.
In his two years with the Mets, Black was a good and improving reliever. In his 56 appearances, he had a 2.83 ERA, 125 ERA+, 3.65 FIP, 1.259 WHIP, and an 8.3 K/9. He had a blazing 97 MPH fastball. Unfortunately, he would have a neck injury in 2015, suffer a setback in April, and he would never be recalled to the majors. He was unceremoniously removed from the 40 man roster and made a minor league free agent. It didn’t matter that Black regained his fastball. It didn’t matter that he has been a good reliever who is still just 27.
Apparently, Black wants to be back, and Mets fans want him back. Personally, I want him to return, even if it appears he won’t. Whenever he lands, that team is getting a good reliever and an even better person. When he comes back to New York and he comes running out of the bullpen, I’ll be cheering for him.
Good luck Vic Black.
Believe it or not, the Mets have actually made two moves this offseason. Both were minor league deals. The first was to utility man Ty Kelly. The second was to Stolmy Pimentel. How will they fare? Who knows?
That’s the thing. You never quite know what to expect when you bring a player in on a minor league deal. Sometimes it’s a veteran just looking for one last shot. It can be a young player just looking to get an opportunity in another organization. Ultimately, these are players that just want a job, and they’re going to give it everything they have because if they don’t, their career might be over.
Mets fans and the organization need not look any further than R.A. Dickey. When Dickey signed the deal he was coming off a then career year that him have a 4.62 ERA and 1.617 WHIP in 35 games (only one start). There was no reason to believe the signing would amount to anything more than minor league depth even if knuckleballers tend to figure things out later than more “conventional” starting pitchers. He came to it even later as an adjustment because he was born without a UCL.
Well, you know the rest. He went 39-28 as a Met with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.150 WHIP. In 2012, he was an All Star and won the Cy Young Award going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP. Because of that year, and the fact the Mets still had him under contract for another year, the Mets made perhaps the best trade in franchise history acquiring Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard along with Wuilmer Becerra and John Buck.
Speaking of John Buck, he would be traded by the Mets the following year along with Marlon Byrd. Byrd was also signed to a minor league deal. When these two were traded together, the Mets acquired Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Black was effective did the Mets out of the bullpen for a year and a half before he was injured. Herrera is the second baseman of the future.
Now, there are a million minor league deals that don’t amount to anything. However, those players are released in Spring Training or spend the year in the minors. You don’t spend much money to acquire them, so it’s not a big deal. This happens in the vast majority of signings.
Still, there are always needles like Dickey and Byrd in the free agent haystack. If you’re able to find them you can turn your franchise around. Now, it’s not likely that either Kelly or Pimentel will make that type of contribution. If they make any positive contribution, the signing is a homerun because nothing is really expected from them. The bar for success is very low, but the sky’s the limit.
It’s why I love minor league deals.
This is salt in the wound after watching Terry Collins throw away the last game in Baltimore. In part, that is because of the ineptitude of the Mets front office in handling the innings restrictions. If Fulmer is truly ready, he could have been used for a spot start over Logan Verrett. This way the Mets bullpen, in the middle of a pennant race, wouldn’t be understaffed for a full week.
There’s also the possibility if Fulmer stayed with the Mets organization, he wouldn’t be called up to make a spot start. Correction, there is no way they would call him up. Considering they won’t consider Steven Matz in the bullpen, they wouldn’t consider Fulmer there either; especially with the intriguing possibility of Vic Black.
Also, don’t misconstrue this as me saying I don’t want Cespedes. It was a sign to the Mets fans and players the team was all-in. The Mets took off since that time. However, this is a question of whether the Mets had to give up Fulmer. I still say they didn’t. Sandy Alderson balked and the departing GM didn’t. This trade could very well haunt them.
When the Mets assembled this front office, they were all touted as geniuses. Apparently, everyone just disregarded J.P. Riccardi’d tenure in Toronto and Paul DePodesta’s brief tenure in Los Angeles. The only known contributions from the two of them is the Colin McHugh-Eric Young, Jr. trade.
The reason I bring this up is everyone in the whole organization is acting like idiots right now. We all agree that the Mets needed to do something with Bobby Parnell. Some wanted him released. I wanted them to give him time to get himself right. Seemingly, the Mets found a terrific option: put Parnell on the DL and call-up Logan Verrett to take his place. Only that’s not what happened.
What happened is they brought him up to make a spot start for Matt Harvey on Sunday. Yup, they called up Verrett to pitch one very quick inning on this throw day, Wednesday, and then make a spot start on Sunday.
Where was the genius that said, “maybe this is a bad idea?” Who said, “let’s delay putting Parnell on the DL until Sunday so as to not short change our bullpen one arm Friday and Saturday?” How come no one thought, “is there an another option, like Vic Black, that we can call up and have available until Sunday?”
This mismanagement is unconscionable. Keep in mind you’re not just shortening your bullpen for two games, you’re also doing it in Colorado with your three worst starting pitchers. This is like going to Iceland in December and saying, “I have a heavy sweatshirt, why would I need a winter coat?” It’s not like the entire country is one massive glacier in the Artic Circle. Oh, it is. Well then I’ll bring a winter hat.
Keep mind, the Mets are also shortchanging their bullpen going to Philadelphia. It’s not like Verrett will pitch Sunday and be available on Monday. The earliest he will be available would be Wednesday. So essentially, the Mets called up Verrett to shorten the bullpen for at least five games. How does this make sense?
All of this also ignores the insanity of how this team has handled Matt Harvey this season. We all knew there was going to be an innings limit issue. Did the Mets hold him back a month to restrict his innings? No. Did they decide to sit him after two rough May outings? No. Instead, they’re choosing to sit him in the middle of a pennant race when he’s been pitching really well.
Maybe they send down Verrett after Sunday’s start and recall Black or someone else. Maybe there is a move I’m completely missing. I doubt it.
Overall, I don’t know what the Mets are doing right now. When they act like this, I’m not sure they even know what they’re doing either.
It was decided that Parnell would go on the DL with arm fatigue. This is a good move because Parnell had been effective earlier in the year, and he probably just needed some time off. It’s good the Mets didn’t DFA him because you don’t throw away a potential asset.
What this also signals to me is how the Mets have mismanaged the innings limits of their young pitchers. Look at how easy that was. Just throw a guy on the DL. No real excuse needed. If they did this at some other time, like when Matt Harvey had some rough outings, we wouldn’t be talking about reintroducing the six man rotation in September.
Instead, we would be talking about what to do with Bartolo Colon. We would be talking about whether Steven Matz should go to the bullpen. No, we are instead talking about who’s going to be the seventh inning reliever. It’s too late in the season to leave this unanswered.
Hopefully, Verrett, a player the Mets were alright subjecting to the Rule 5 draft, will be the seventh inning answer. I would like the Mets to consider Matz. I wouldn’t rule out Parnell once he decides his arm no longer hurts.