Wilmer Flores

Making Mets Austerity Work

On MMO some of the writers did their own postseason plans.  The guidelines are that we must stick to a budget in the $30-35 million range given what we’ve heard the Mets could spend. 

For signings, MLB Trade Rumors and Jon Heyman’s free agent predictions to come up the contracts for each player.
The Mets have several holes to fill and not a ton of money to work with which had me searching for deals on the free agent market and here is what I think should be done with the limited resources.

Fixing the Bullpen

As the Mets head into the 2018 season, their main goal for the team will be to rebuild a bullpen. Despite handwrining among fans, there is some talent present. Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins address three key roles. Around them, the Mets need to find four cost effective options.

The first two parts of this bullpen need to be internal. In lieu of looking for a second left-handed reliever in free agency, the Mets need to utilize Hansel Robles in that role. For his career he has reverse splits, and he needs to be used accordingly. He also provides the benefit of giving the team multiple innings when needed.

Additionally, the Mets need to move Seth Lugo to the bullpen. In short bursts, Lugo is able to ramp up his fastball and use his curveball with more frequency. With that combination, Lugo can be a true late inning option and/or a long man. For those concerned about the loss of him as rotation depth, consider his struggles a third time through the order.

For the final two spots, the Mets should attack free agency. The first option the Mets should pursue is Seung-hwan Oh. Oh has been a dominant closer in the Korean Leagues, and he was dominant in his rookie season with the Cardinals. He had an off-year last year partially driven by an increased BABIP and HR rate as well as a drop in his strikeout rate. With a new pitching coach and a new situation, he could very well recover with the Mets giving the team an additional option at the closer spot.

When it comes to the final spot, the Mets should look to add a power arm like Juan Nicasio. After struggling in the rotation, Nicasio was transitioned to a full time reliever, and he grew into a dominant arm. With his being armed with an upper 90s fastball and good control, he’s probably just tapping the surface, and the Mets would be wise with their new pitching guru contingent to see the next wave.

Veteran Depth & Insurance Policies

Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets aren’t sure Dominic Smith is ready to be the Opening Day first baseman. Even with the best projections, they do not believe Michael Conforto will be ready by Opening Day, and after that, they don’t know what he can contribute. In addition to that, the Mets don’t have a second baseman.

The first part of that solution should be adding Howie Kendrick. The 33 year old had a bounce-back, albeit injury prone, season. Over the past season, Kendrick had a 121 wRC+, which ranks second best in his career. He also played first, second, and the corner outfield positions last year. While he was not outstanding at any of those positions, he was clearly capable of handling those positions. He’s your best bet to have a Jose Valentin type season for the team.

Another player worth taking a flyer on is Jose Bautista. In 2017, he fell apart offensively going from a .234/.366/.452 slash line to .203/.308/.366 leading the Blue Jays to utilize the buy out provision on his contract. At 37 years old, he’s not far removed from a productive season. He’s also just looking for an opportunity.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays helped him in that respect by moving him around the field last year. He played on game at first, eight at third, and 143 in RF. Based on the numbers, he’s no longer an everyday right fielder, but he is still talented enough to be a stopgap for Conforto. If he dedicated himself to getting better at first, he could serve as both competition and a platoon option for Smith.

The Trade

There is no secret some of the Mets biggest issues have been depth, versatility, and second base. While Ian Kinsler would address second base, and he is arguably the best defensive second baseman available, the Mets trade target for the position should be Jason Kipnis.

The Indians second baseman has been pushed out of a job due to injury and the emergence of younger players in his stead. Despite that, he is still a good hitter who hit .276/.349/.429 from 2013 – 2016 while averaging 36 doubles and 14 homers a season. He’s also a gamer willing to do anything to help his team win as evidenced by his playing center field at the end of the season and the postseason because that was what was best for the team. This is the type of attitude the Mets should be looking to instill in their current roster.

The center and outfield possibilities should also be intriguing to the Mets in the event of another Juan Lagares injury or the questions surrounding Conforto.

Kipnis is not going to come cheap, nor should he considering he’s an All Star player with a good contract. Earlier this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggested Robert Gsellman and Luis Guillorme as the package to get Kipnis. That may be a little light, and perhaps the inclusion of Wilmer Flores would be enticing to an Indians team heavy with left-handed hitters and could use a corner infield option, could potentially allow the Mets to complete this deal.

Filling In The Rest

In addition to the aforementioned players, the Mets would be well advised to bring in some veteran depth this Spring Training. On the starting pitching front Ubaldo Jimenez previously worked exceptionally well with current Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and Bartolo Colon left an impression with this current Mets staff. Both would make sense on a minor league deal with an invitation to

Hope

From reports, Manny Machado could well be available. However, with the state of the Mets farm system, the Mets are going to have to trade Major League players like Jacob deGrom and Amed Rosario to get him. 

Machado is well worth that return, and knowing the Orioles, they’ll want more – much more.  Again, Machado is worth it, but he’s also an impending free agent. Furthermore, the Mets don’t have the means to replace deGrom with a Yu Darvish or sign Machado to a contract extension. 

The other long shot is Marcell Ozuna.  The Marlins are dangling him, and he’s exactly the type of player that fits the Mets mold – underpaid and under team control for two years. Presuming you take back Starlin Castro and his contract in a deal, you’d probably be able to swing a more palatable deal. 

However, there does not seem to be any traction between the Mets and the Marlins on anything. Even if they were, teams like the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants are interested. They seem more willing to go that extra mile than the Mets. Considering the Stanton deals that fell apart, there is less leg work for the Cardinals and Giants to do. 

Key Acquisitions: Seung-hwan Oh (1 year, $4 million), Howie Kendrick (2 years, $16 million), Jose Bautista (1 year $5 million), Jason Kipnis (2 years, $28.3 million), Juan Nicasio (2 years, $14M), Ubaldo Jimenez (minor league deal), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal)

Key Departures: Robert Gsellman, Luis Guillorme, Wilmer Flores

Total Cost: $33.9 million

Non-Tendered Free Agents Mets Could Pursue

With the non-tender deadline having passed, the MLB free agent pool has been expanded. These non-tendered players are free agents for a multitude of reasons, but that does not mean they can’t help anyone. In fact, here are six players who could help the Mets in 2018:

1B Matt Adams

2017 Stats: 131 G, 367 PA, 339 AB, 46 R, 93 H, 22 2B, 3B, 20 HR, 65 RBI, .274/.319/.522

After struggling to start the year in St. Louis, the Braves took a flyer on him after the Freddie Freeman injury. He played well enough that the Braves dabbled with Freeman at third base. 

Adams is a good defensive first baseman, and he appeared in 19 games in left playing poorly.  

If the Mets want a cheap insurance option for Dominic Smith, Adams would be a good choice as with his splits against left and right handed pitchers, he’d be an excellent platoon partner with Wilmer Flores

LHP Xavier Cedeno

2017 Stats 1-1, 12.00 ERA, 9 G, 3.0 IP, 3.667 WHIP, 12.0 BB/9, 0.0 K/9

While it was a poor injury plagued year for Cedeno, the left-handed reliever has limited left-handed batters to a .226/.286/.299 batting line in his career. If he’s healthy, he could be the second lefty in the pen, which would allow the Mets to ease Jerry Blevins workload. 

RHP Mike Fiers

2017 Stats: 8-10, 5.22 ERA, 29 G, 28 GS, 153.1 IP, 1.428 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 8.6 K/9

Fiers was not the same pitcher in Houston he was in Milwaukee, which is interesting because he has not lost his stuff. There may still be hope for him to be the middle to back end of the rotation starter he was in Milwaukee. In an 11 start stretch this season, he was 6-3 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.108 WHIP. If he can find a way to get back to that, he will be a real find for his new team. 

RHP Jared Hughes 

2017 Stats: 5-3, 3.02 ERA, 67 G, SV, 59.2 IP, 1.223 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 7.2 K/9

Hughes is a bit of a surprise non-tender as he’s coming off a career best year, which was largely driven by an increase in his fastball velocity. The caution with him is he’s a ROOGY as left-handed batters hit .282/.363/.549 off him this year. 

RHP Bruce Rondon

2017 Stats: 1-3, 10.91 ERA, 21 G, SV, 15.2 IP, 1.979 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, 12.6 K/9

The Tigers finally gave up on a pitcher who had tons of potential but questionable work ethic. If a team can reach through to him, like a Mets team who have a couple of pitching gurus, they may find themselves with a shut down reliever.

RHP Hector Rondon

2017 Stats: 4-1, 4.24 ERA, 61 G, 57.1 IP, 1.221 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 10.8 K/9

Rondon has a big arm, and he’s posted big strikeout numbers in his career. He’s coming off a down year which was largely fueled by a big jump in his walk rate. Likely, his being non-tendered had as much to do with his down year as the Cubs not wanting to pay over $6 million for a set-up guy. The Cubs loss is going to be another team’s gain. 


Mets Souring On Dominic Smith Begs For A Review of Sandy Alderson’s First Round DraftPicks

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 HoltEven 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 DudaJeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Matt HarveyJuan 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.

Synposis

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.

Mets Big Name Rumors Are Now Neil Walker And Adam Lind

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.

Recent rumors have the Mets interested in Neil Walker to play second base and signing Adam Lind to play first base.

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?

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs 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 CallahanOne 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 CecchiniHe 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 CespedesWith 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 deGromWith 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.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter 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 FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith 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 GoeddelNo 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 GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween 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 LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith 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 McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe 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 NidoEven 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 NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn 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 RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe 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 RhameHe’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 RiveraAfter 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.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe 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 SalasDespite 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 SewaldAs 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 SmithHe 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 SmokerAfter 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 SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

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 WilkBecause 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 WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt 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 WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins 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 FansWell, 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.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets

Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.

Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman.  There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:

Dee Gordon

2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)

For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills.  He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation.  The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season.  Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order.  Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.

Josh Harrison

2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)

Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility.  He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions.  He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years.  There are two caveats with Harrison.  First, Harrison does not draw many walks.  More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.

Ian Kinsler

2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million

With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old.  Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate.  Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed.  It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him.  Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.

Jason Kipnis

2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)

After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year.  Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field.  With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.

It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag.  Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.  Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.

Ben Zobrist

2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million

After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency.  The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP.  For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.

Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been.  While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player.  Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo.  This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides.  Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want.  This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.

Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources.  Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target.  If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

Free Agency Won’t Be The Easy Way To Build The 2018 Mets

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:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Wilmer Flores
3B: Asdrubal Cabrera
SS: Amed Rosario
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Brandon Nimmo
RF: Michael Conforto

Bench: Kevin Plawecki, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
RP: Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins

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:

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.

 

Thanks For The Memories Terry Collins

Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting.  He will not be returning as Mets manager.  While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring.  The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.

In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started.  The Mets were bad and injured.  It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag.  What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.

Part of being human is being emotional.  We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences.  And yes, we’ve seen him cry.  Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality.  In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory.  In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.

He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title.  He left Santana in for that no-hitter.  He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult.  Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.

Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players.  It would be the source of much consternation among fans.  This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto.  What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.

In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed.  You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.

But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers.  It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players.  Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner.  It wasn’t just those players.  Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.

With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets.  Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets.  Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.

Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see.  A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young.  A Mets player won a batting title.  There was actually a Mets no-hitter.  Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.

Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that.  Collins got the best out of his players.  It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.

And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans.  More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect.  He returned their affection.  That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:

It was more than the celebrating.  Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants.  At his core, Collins is a good and decent man.  It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.

Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake.  Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers.  This was just one aspect of his poor managing.  There were many times where he left you scratching your head.  It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.

However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins.  To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season.  We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.

He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history.  When he was hired no one expected him to last that long.  Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure.  In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.

I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him.  My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man.  Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled.  Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

One Positive Aspect Of The Mets Season

The one thing we never got to see with Generation K was Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson in the same rotation.  In fact, we have never seen them all in the same pitching staff.  That never happened because of all the injuries they suffered.  Then we saw Isringhausen and Wilson traded in successive years to help the Mets chances of winning a World Series instead of them pitching the Mets to the World Series.

Whatever you want to call the group of Mets young starters (most seemed to like the Five Aces), they never appeared in the same rotation.  The closest we got was seeing Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz in the same rotation in 2015.  Coincidentally, that was also the year the Mets went to the World Series on the strength of their pitching.

The reason Zack Wheeler was not a part of that group that went to the postseason was because he suffered an injury in Spring Training.  In fact, Wheeler would be gone for two years rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.  For a moment, it seemed as fait accompli the group would never pitch in the same rotation because Wheeler was almost traded to the Brewers with Wilmer Flores for Carlos Gomez.  In fact, if not for Gomez’s hip, the dream would have died there.

Still to this day, we have never seen the five in the same rotation.  However, we have seen them all pitch in the same season in the rotation.  It may not seem like much, but it’s something.  It’s also a step closer to seeing them all in the same rotation.  It may finally happen next year.

Matz should be ready for Opening Day after the surgery to repair his ulnar nerve.  This was the same surgery deGrom had last season, and he was able to last the entire season injury free.  Both Harvey and Syndergaard were able to return and pitch before the season was over.  Like in 2015 and 2016, the only question is Wheeler.

In the end, the Mets are a step closer to having all five of their proverbial aces in the rotation.  At a minimum, they are a step closer to seeing them all on the same pitching staff.  If it does happen, one of the open wounds Mets fans have suffered will close a bit.  Howeve,r that wound will not fully heal until we see this group pitch the Mets to a World Series title.