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.
In assessing how the Mets fared in the Addison Reed trade, let’s start with the obvious. The fact Sandy Alderson was able to turn Miller Diaz and Matt Koch into a great run with Reed plus Red Sox prospects Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista was absolutely phenomenal. No, it doesn’t rank up there with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, but nevertheless, it was a coup.
Still, the question remains whether Sandy got a good return for the 2017 version of Reed.
Let’s start with this. Since joining the Mets, Reed has been one of the best and more versatile relievers in baseball. He has deftly handed the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning. His 142.0 innings pitched since joining the Mets is fifth in baseball, and his 2.09 ERA over that stretch is great. Intuitively, you may not believe Reed is a top reliever in baseball, but he was. From 2016 to the present, Reed posted the sixth best fWAR in the majors (3.5). Aside from Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller, who we all know are otherworldly right now, Reed is as good, if not better than any reliever in baseball.
Looking over the list of potential free agents, Reed could have arguably been considered one of if not the best reliever on the free agent market. With that being the case, it was likely worth gambling and giving him the qualifying offer putting his value at a second round pick or the equivalent.
Looking at the Mets haul, they most likely received that. The trio of arms all throw in the upper 90s. With respect to Nogosek and Bautista, they both have a good but inconsistent slider, and there are some control issues. If they figure it out, and realistically speaking, they are in the right organization to do so, the Mets have two potential late inning relievers. With Callahan, they have a near MLB ready reliever who can generate a high number of strikeouts and could be ready to help the Mets as soon as next year. To that end, the Mets certainly did receive a second round equivalent.
Where the debate becomes dicey is when you ask the question whether the Mets could have done better.
For starters, there is no real way of knowing that. We are not privy to the general back-and-forth between general mangers. We also don’t know if there was a theoretical better offer the Mets rejected because they liked the players the Red Sox offered more.
We should also consider, last year, the Yankees seemingly built an entire farm system (hyperbole) by trading Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Each trade fetched the Yankees two of their trade partners’ top five prospects. In terms of Gleyber Torres, it got them one of the best prospects in baseball.
With Reed arguably being the top reliever on the market with at least eight teams interested, it makes you question how the Mets walk out of a deal without an organization’s top five prospect. The counter-argument is the prices this year are not the same as they were last year. In the end, we have no idea if this was the proverbial best trade, and the reviews on the trade have been all over the place.
Ultimately, I find the trade underwhelming, and I do question the Mets motives a bit. If you look at their recent moves, they have all been bullpen driven. Lucas Duda was moved for Drew Smith. The team went out and obtained AJ Ramos. Now, the Mets got an arguably low return for a trio of fireball throwing relievers. I’m not so sure the Mets approached this trade deadline with the intent on rebuilding the minor league system as much as they were intent on rebuilding their bullpen.
In the end, if the Mets goal was really to build the bullpen in the trade market, they have to back that up by spending real money in the free agent market to back up their decisions. If they don’t do this, they may not have only lost out on the possibility on maximizing their returns for the pieces they did move, they may also miss out on the 2018 postseason.
It is interesting to hear the Mets are selling because the news came just one day after the Mets said they were going to move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base to allow Jose Reyes to stay at shortstop when Cabrera comes off the disabled list. Naturally, this move blocks both Gavin Cecchini, who has played fairly well over the past four games earning him a longer look at the the position, and Amed Rosario, who is considered an Über prospect.
If you are team looking to sell, you have really announced you want to clear your veterans out of the way to both get some prospects in return and to give your young players some time at the major league level. However, it could behoove the Mets to play their veterans as much as possible now to increase their trade value.
For example, in the outfield, the Mets have four caliber starting outfielders. There is no way the team is going to bench Yoenis Cespedes under any circumstances, nor should they. This means the team has two spots for three left-handed hitting outfielders. The Mets have control over only one of them after this season.
For the long term, the Mets need to get Michael Conforto as many at-bats as possible. With that said, would it harm his development to be a part-time player for the next month? He has suffered a back injury to some unspecified severity. He has slumped in June albeit while keeping a more than respectable OBP. If sitting him potentially leads to a better return for Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, shouldn’t the Mets at least try to get the most value from those players?
Same goes for the infield. The Mets are going to have to clear some room for their presumed infield of the future including Dominic Smith, Rosario, and possibly Cecchini to take form. If playing Reyes for the next month gets some major league team interested in him as a late inning pinch runner or utility player, shouldn’t the Met do that? Maybe that seemingly low rated prospect becomes something. Remember, Wuilmer Becerra was seen as a throw-in to the R.A. Dickey trade, and he has become a real prospect over the past few years.
The same thing goes for Cabrera. The Mets need to get him going to get teams interested in him. Presumably, moving him to second has more to do with showing teams he can be the answer at second as well than making a spot for Reyes.
Overall, the Mets need to maximize the returns for everyone to build up the team not just for 2018, but for the oncoming seasons. Up until the trade deadline, getting the most in return for the veterans has to be the Mets singular focus. Conforto can sit for a while or go to Triple-A. Rosario and Smith can wait an extra month. However, the veterans cannot wait. The Mets need to get them going to try to maximize the return on them. To do that, they need to be in the lineup everyday.
However, once August 1st rolls around, those veterans not shipped out needs to be put on the bench. At that point, it is l about playing Conforto, Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, Rosario, and Smith.
On any given day, any of the following would have been the worst thing to happen to the Mets. First, there was the announcement Noah Syndergaard needed to have his start skipped with bicep issues that radiate up to his pitching shoulder. Then Matt Harvey goes out in his place, doesn’t have his typical velocity, and he can’t get out of the fifth inning. Just when you thought things couldn’t go any worse, Yoenis Cespedes had to be helped off the field in the fourth inning after hitting a lead-off double.
Anything else that happened today didn’t matter because the Mets just might’ve seen their season flash before their eyes.
It doesn’t matter that a poor decision not to throw home in the second inning seemed to finally wake up Jose Reyes who would subsequently nail two runners at home and hit a home run. It doesn’t matter Neil Walker seemed to wake up offensively. It doesn’t even matter that Jay Bruce continues to hit well.
What matters is the Mets are faced with the very real prospect of losing Syndergaard and Cespedes for a long time. It also matters that Harvey took a big step back from the pitcher who was gradually getting stronger to start the year. Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with him. The way things are going with the Mets right now, you shouldn’t have much hope.
Overall, the offense isn’t hitting, and the pitching is getting further compromised.
With all the talk about how the Mets fleeced the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey must’ve smiled with this win. Not only was he able to pitch on a game Syndergaard wasn’t, but Travis d’Arnaud was also 0-2 with a strikeout against him. By the way, Wuilmer Becerra is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to play the field this year.
Yes, you do that trade 279,684,800,441,574,796 times out of 100, but at least in this game Dickey felt vindicated. He must have felt further vindicated with the Braves leaping the Mets in the standings leaving the Mets in last place. Unless things start to change, it’s hard to argue the Mets won’t stay there for a while.
Game Notes: Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a hit to the Mets since his first disastrous outing. The Mets have not had a lead in over 56 innings. They have no lost 10 of their last 11.
When Tim Tebow took the batter’s box against reigning American League Cy Young Award Winner Rick Porcello, we could all guess what was going to happen. Tebow struck out, and he didn’t look particularly good doing it. In fact, Tebow didn’t look particularly good in any aspect of the game on Wednesday. Overall, Tebow was 0-3 with a hit by pitch, two strikeouts, and a GIDP. The only time he got on base via the hit by pitch, he was doubled off of first.
Simply put, Tebow did not look like he belonged out there.
Most Single A players don’t look like they belong out there either. That is traditionally why most players in the lower levels of the minor leagues do not play until towards the end of the Spring Training games. If you put a lower level minors player out there against the Porcellos of the world, they are most likely going to look bad up there. Heck, major leaguers look bad at the plate against Porcello. That’s partially why Porcello won the Cy Young Award.
However, with Tebow it’s different. It’s different because of the attention. Seriously, who gets a round of applause after they hit into a double play? It’s different because Tebow has always been a lightning rod. It’s different because Tebow decided to play baseball after not having played the sport in over a decade and after it was made clear his football career was over. As Terry Collins said, “What he’s attempting to do, not a lot of guys would even try.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
It’s different because some people believe Tebow is taking someone else’s spot.
That last one simply isn’t true. Minor league systems are full of “organizational guys” who are signed so each team can have enough guys to fill out a roster. In terms of this Spring, Tebow wasn’t even the first prospect to get into a game. David Thompson, Blake Tiberi, Luis Carpio, Kevin Kaczmarski, Luis Guillorme, Patrick Biondi, Wuilmer Becerra, Peter Alonso, Arnaldo Berrios, Gene Cone, John Mora, Colby Woodmansee, and Ricardo Cespedes are all Single A players who got into Spring Training games this year before Tebow. Overall, Tebow’s presence has not prevented anyone from getting into a game that the Mets deem worthy of getting into a game. Guess what? There is no way the Mets are going to let Tebow get in the way of another more deserving prospect. The Mets aren’t dumb.
For one day, Tebow went out there, and he didn’t look good. He looked all the bit of the 29 year old player who hasn’t played a full season of baseball in over 10 years. He looked outmatched, and he looked like he lacked the requisite instincts to play the game. That’s a good thing. Baseball is hard. As the late great Jimmy Dugan once said, “The hard… is what makes it great.”
In reality, the only way Tebow could have made a mockery of baseball was if he went out there and went 3-3 with a couple of extra base hits. Instead, the man struggled like he was supposed to struggle. Now, like many who have struggled, it is incumbent upon him to dust him off and get better. Tebow knows this better than anyone saying, “”There are a lot of things I have to play catch-up on. It’s just, how fast can I catch up?”
If Tebow is willing to put in the work, he just might be able to catch up. If he does catch up, he moves away from being a sideshow the Mets are profiting from to being a minor leaguer who is looking for his next call-up.
After protecting Amed Rosario, Tomas Nido, Chris Flexen, Marcos Molina, and Wuilmer Becerra from the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets 40 man roster now stands at precisely 40 players. This means that now when the Mets look to add a player in free agency, they will have to cut one of the players off of their 40 man roster. And yes, the Mets will have to remove some players off of the 40 man roster.
From all indications, even if the Mets do no re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, they are pursuing other outfielders to replace him. With the possible suspension of Jeurys Familia looming, it is likely, the Mets will have to add one, if not two, late inning relievers. The team may be interested in bringing back Jerry Blevins or finding another LOOGY. In addition to those moves, there are some other moves or upgrades the Mets may make this offseason. With that in mind, here are some players whose spot on the 40 man roster is tenuous:
Heading into the 2015 season, Edgin was supposed to be the Mets LOOGY for years to come. Those plans changed when he needed Tommy John surgery causing him to miss the entire 2015 season.
He returned in 2016, and he was not the same pitcher having lost velocity off of all of his pitches. He went from having a mid-90s fastball to having a low 90s fastball. As a result, Edgin got hit around. In AAA, he had a 3.51 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. In his limited stints in the majors, he had a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. Another complication for Edgin is he is arbitration eligible meaning the Mets are presumably going to have to pay him a lot more to keep him on the roster.
On a positive note, Edgin still did get left-handed batters out at the major league level. In a very small sample size (20 plate appearances), lefties only hit .235 off of him with no extra base hits. It is a big reason why he was on the Wild Card Game roster when the Mets faced a San Francisco Giants team stacked with lefties. Between his ability to get lefties out, the hope his arm could improve a second year removed from surgery, and his still having options available, there is still some hope for Edgin.
Gilmartin has gone from an important bullpen arm the Mets acquired in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft to a player who is seemingly lost his ability to get batters out.
Despite Gilmartin being a valuable long man in the pen, the Mets had him start the year in AAA to become starting pitching depth. In 18 starts and one relief appearance, he was 9-7 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP. On a couple of occasions, he was recalled, and he pitched exclusively in relief for the Mets. Things did not go well for him in those 14 relief appearances as Gilmartin had a 7.13 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP. Between his performance and his having to go on the minor league disabled list with shoulder soreness, it was a lost year for Gilmartin.
Some of the struggles of Gilmartin were the result of his uneven usage between AAA and the majors. The other issue was his shoulder soreness, which for now, appears to no longer be an issue. Another strong factor in his favor is the fact that he is not yet arbitration eligible meaning the Mets do not have to pay him much to see if he returns to form. His having options available is also a positive. The Mets could still keep him on the roster with the idea of returning him to the role he was most successful.
There is perhaps no Mets pitcher that evokes such split opinions than Goeddel. For years, there were people who saw a pitcher that was able to go out there and get outs. There were others who saw a guy who had fringy stuff that was more the beneficiary of good luck than good pitching. After the 2016 season, most people agree that Goeddel was a liability for the Mets.
In 36 appearances for the Mets, Goeddel had a 4.54 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. It should be noted this was a big departure from how he had previously pitched with the Mets. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had a combined 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. His prior success, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, gives him a chance to remain on the 40 man roster.
How he is still on the 40 man roster is anyone’s guess. Entering the 2016 season, the Mets had it with him, and they sent him a message by making him one of the first people sent down to minor league Spring Training. Montero responded by pitching so poorly in Las Vegas that he was demoted to Binghamton. It was only due a rash of pitching injuries that he got a shot at pitching in the majors again, and like his other opportunities, he squandered that. Still, despite all that, the Mets cut Eric Campbell and Jim Henderson, AND exposed Paul Sewald to the Rule 5 Draft all for the sake of holding onto Montero that much longer. Eventually, you have to assume Montero is going to get cut from the roster. It is only a matter of when.
Strangely enough, the Mets had to make a decision on whether to expose Verrett to the Rule 5 Draft or to remove a player from the 40 man roster to protect him. The Mets chose the former, and lost him for a period of time. After Verrett struggled with the Rangers, the Mets took him back where Verrett pitched well out of the bullpen and the rotation for the Mets.
The Mets envisioned Verrett succeeding in that role in 2016, but it wasn’t to be. He wasn’t as effective replacing Matt Harvey in the rotation as he was in 2015. He went from a 3.63 ERA as a starter to a 6.45 ERA. He performed so poorly out of the rotation that the Mets gave Montero a chance to start over him down the stretch of the season.
Still, there was a silver lining to Verrett’s 2016 season. In his 23 relief appearances, he had a 2.84 ERA. When you consider his reliever ERA, how well he performed in 2015, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, there is still a chance for Verrett to remain on the 40 man roster.
Thinking of Plawecki being on the bubble is a bit odd especially when he is only 25 years old, has shown himself to be a terrific pitch framer, and he has only had 409 plate appearances at the major league level.
The problem there is Plawecki hasn’t hit at all in those 409 plate appearances. In his brief major league career, Plawecki is a .211/.287/.285 hitter. That’s worse than what Rene Rivera could give you, and Rivera has firmly established himself as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher. Worse yet, Plawecki is not the defensive catcher Rivera is.
When you also consider Tomas Nido‘s breakout season in St. Lucie possibly forcing the Mets to protect him a year earlier than anticipated, the Mets are going to be faced with the dilemma of carrying four catchers on their 40 man roster. With Nido perhaps passing him as the catcher of the future, and Travis d’Arnaud having shown he has more offensive ability than Plawecki, it is quite possible, Plawecki could find himself having run out of chances with the Mets organization.
With all that said, it is hard to believe the Mets moving on from Plawecki this soon is his career.
This is an interesting situation for Kelly to be in considering he was signed to be minor league depth last season. With a rash of injuries and some hot hitting in AAA, Kelly finally reached the majors after his long seven year odyssey in the minor leagues.
After some time, the Mets actually discovered who Kelly was. Despite his switch hitting skills, he really could only hit from the right-hand side against major league pitching. He was versatile, but his best position was left field. Overall, his main asset down the stretch in September was as a pinch runner. He was mostly used as a pinch runner because of the dearth of team speed on the Mets roster. With all the said, he did make the Wild Card Game roster, and he got a pinch hit single off Madison Bumgarner.
Basically, all the reasons you can make for him being kept on the roster or being cut from the roster are the same exact things you could have said about Campbell, and he just signed a deal to play in Japan.
Overall, it is hard to guesstimate how many of these players are going to remain on the roster because we are not sure how many moves the Mets are going to make this offseason. Normally, you would say Montero was sure to be cut, but he is more and more looking like the pitching version of Campbell . . . there is just no getting rid of the guy. Still, as we learned from Campbell, there is going to become a breaking point, and that point may well be when the Mets sign enough players this offseason to take them from the Wild Card back to being World Series contenders.
Editor’s Note: a version of this story was originally run on Mets Merized Online
With the Mets adding Gavin Cecchini to the 40 man roster to sit on the bench as the Mets are chasing down a Wild Card spot, the team had one less decision to make on who should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Even if the Mets didn’t add Cecchini now, he was going to be added in the offseason. Cecchini is too valuable a prospect, and he would be snatched up immediately in the Rule 5 Draft.
Cecchini was not the only player the Mets were going to have to make a decision on this offseason. In fact, the Mets have to make a decision on 66 different prospects about whether or not they should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Here is a review of some of the more notable Mets prospects that need to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:
SS Amed Rosario (Advanced A & AA) .324/.374/.459, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB
Yes, if it hasn’t been apparent this entire year, Rosario is in a class all by himself. If he’s not added to the 40 man roster someone is getting fired.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
1B/3B Matt Oberste (AA) .283/340/.409, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB
One issue that has plagued Oberste his entire minor league career is he has to fight for at bats as he is usually behind a bigger Mets prospect. That has been literally and figuratively Dominic Smith (who is not yet Rule 5 eligible). Oberste was an Eastern League All Star; however, the issue that is always going to hold him back is the fact that he is a corner infielder that does not hit for much power. Most likely, Oberste will not be added to the 40 man roster.
CF Champ Stuart (Advanced A & AA) .240/.314/.349, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB
Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 bases this season. The issue with Stuart is he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton. While he certainly has the tools to possibly be a big leauger one day, he’s too far away at this point. Also, with teams putting more of a premium on offense than defense, it’s likely he will not be protected, and he will go undrafted.
C Tomas Nido ( Advanced A) .320/.357/.459, 23 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB
This year was a breakout season defensively and offensively for the Florida State League batting champion. Normally, with Nido never having played a game in AA, the Mets would be able to leave him unprotected and be assured he wouldn’t be drafted. However, with catcher being such a difficult position to fill, it’s possible a bad team like the Braves takes a flyer on him and keeps him as the second or third stringer catcher all year. It’s exactly how the Mets lost Jesus Flores to the Nationals many years ago.
SP Marcos Molina 2015 Stats (Rookie & Advanced A) 9 G, 8 GS, 1-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
Molina did not pitch for the Mets organization for the entire 2016 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Arizona Fall League will be his first time facing batters in a game since his eight starts for St. Lucie in 2015. It’s likely he will go unprotected and undrafted.
ARMS THAT COULD HELP IN 2017
RHP Paul Sewald (AAA) 56 G, 5-3, 19 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.0 K/o
In many ways, it is surprising that a Mets bullpen that was looking for an extra arm never turned to Sewald. While he struggled to start the season like most pitchers transitioning to the Pacific Coast League do, Sewald figured it out and had a terrific second half with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP. Sewald should be protected. In the event he isn’t, he should be as good as gone.
RHP Beck Wheeler (AA & AAA) 47 G, 0-3, 6 saves, 5.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.1 K/9
Wheeler went unprotected and undrafted last year, and based upon the numbers he put up in his time split between Binghamton and Las Vegas, it appears the same thing will happen this year. The one reservation is like with the Braves interest in Akeel Morris, teams will always take fliers on guys with mid 90s fastballs who can generate a lot of strikeouts. It just takes one team to think they can help him reduce his walk rate for him to go in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Chasen Bradford (5 saves, 4.80 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) – Bradford regressed statistically from last year in large part because he is a sinker/slider pitcher that pitches to contact. On the bright side, he walks very few batters meaning if you have good infield defense, he will be a successful pitcher for your team. His numbers should scare off a number of teams in the Rule 5 draft just like it did last year.
RHP Ricky Knapp (Advanced A & AA) 25 G, 24 GS, 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K/9
Knapp started the year in St. Lucie, and he finished it with a spot start in Las Vegas. Knapp doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he gets the most out of all of his pitches because he is excellent at hitting his spots. He is a very polished product that is best suited to being a starting pitcher. Since he doesn’t strike out many batters, teams will most likely pass on him in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Luis Mateo (AA & AAA) 51 G, 4-4, 1 save, 2.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9
He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with a low 90s fastball that generates a fair share of groundball outs while keeping the ball in the ballpark. While his ERA should entice teams, his WHIP and strikeout rate may keep them away just like it did last year when the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft. He will most likely begin next year in AAA.
2B/3B/SS Phillip Evans (Advanced A & AA) .321/.366/.460, 30 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB
The Eastern League Batting Champion certainly raised his profile with a much improved offensive season. He’s starting to become more selective at the plate and learn how to be less of a pull hitter. The main issue for Evans is he may not have a position. While he can make all the plays at the infield positions, he lacks range to be a solid middle infielder. He also lacks the arm strength and power numbers you would want at third base.
RHP Chris Flexen (Advanced A, AA, AAA) 25 GS, 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
Flexen appears to be in the mold of a typical Mets pitching prospect in that he has a high 90’s fastball and a good slider. Despite the repertoire, he is not generating a lot of strikeouts right now. On the bright side, he does generate a number of ground balls while limiting home runs. He was rumored to be part of the initial Jay Bruce trade that fell apart due to an unnamed prospect’s physical (does not appear to be him). A second division club like the Reds could take a flyer on him and put him in the bullpen for a year to gain control over him despite him never having pitched at a level higher than Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Tyler Bashlor (Full Season & Advanced A) 54 G, 4-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.8 K/9
While the 5’11” Bashlor is short on stature, he has a big arm throwing a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider which he used to dominate in the Sally League. Bashlor used these pitches to strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Like Flexen, there is danger exposing a big arm like this even if the highest level of experience he has is four games for Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Kevin McGowan (Advanced A & AA) 42 G, 4 GS, 2 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
McGowan is a fastball/changeup pitcher that still needs to develop a breaking pitch. While that fastball/changeup combination has been good enough to get batters out at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he is going to need another pitch if he is going to progress as a pitcher.
RF Wuilmer Becerra (Advanced A) .312/.341/.393, 17 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB
Around the time of the Rule 5 Draft last year, the debate was whether a bad team like the Braves would take a flyer on Becerra just to get the promising young outfielder into their organization. Unfortunately, Becerra would have a shoulder injury that would rob him of his budding power. More importantly, that shoulder injury would require surgery ending his season after just 65 games.
1B/3B Jhoan Urena (Advanced A) .225/.301/.350, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB
With the emergence of David Thompson, Urena was pushed from third to first. However, that isn’t what was most troubling about his season. In fact, many questioned whether he could stay at third given his frame. The issue was the switch hitting Urena stopped hitting for power this season. With his not hitting for power, Rosario’s best friend in the minors should go undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft.
LHP Paul Paez (Advanced A & AA) 34 G, 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
This year Paez failed to distinguish himself by not pitching particularly well for St. Lucie and then struggling in Binghamton. He only has a high 80’s fastball and lacks a true swing and miss breaking pitch. While lefties hitting .308 off of him this year, he may not even have a future as a LOOGY in a major league bullpen.
NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP
OF Patrick Biondi (Advanced A) .271/.352/.332, 17 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 34 RBI, 26 SB
While Biondi’s stats look good on the surface, it should be noted at 25 years old, he is old for the level. On the bright side, Biondi has speed and is a good defender in CF. However, until he starts getting on base more frequently, he will not be considered for the 40 man roster.
RHP Nabil Crismatt (Short & Full Season A) 13 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 1 Save, 2.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
Crismatt is only 21, but he is mature in terms of his ability to control his changeup and curveball and throw them at any point in the count. Couple that with a low 90s fastball that could gain velocity as he ages, and you have someone who has the repertoire to be a major leaguer. However, considering he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet in his career, he is nowhere ready for the majors, at least not yet.
2B/3B/SS Jeff McNeil 2015 Season (Advanced A & AA) .308/.369/.377, 18 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 16 SB
Coming into the season, McNeil appeared to be more mature physically and at the plate. He seemed ready to begin hitting for more power while still being able to handle 2B defensively. Unfortunately, he would only play in three games this season for Binghamton before going on the disabled list needing season ending sports hernia surgery.
RHP Tim Peterson (Advanced A & AA) 48 G, 4-1, 2 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.3 K/9
At each and every level Peterson has pitched, he has shown the ability to strike people out with a fastball that touches on the mid 90s and a plus curveball. The only issue for him in his career so far was his PED suspension in 2014.
OF Travis Taijeron (AAA) .275/.372/.512, 42 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB
Taijeron continued to do what he does best, which is get on base and hit for power. Despite a strong Spring Training and another solid offensive season, the Mets really showed no interest in calling him up to the majors. He will most likely go unprotected, but maybe this year a team out there desperate for some power in the outfield or on the bench will give him a shot.
2B L.J. Mazzilli (AA & AAA) .239/.320/.348, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB
Lee Mazzilli‘s son is a grinder out there who plays a decent second base. Unfortunately, it appears his bat will prevent him from ever getting a real shot to ever play in the big league.
Likely: Flexen, Nido
Bubble: Bashlor, Knapp, McGowan, Sewald, Wheeler
As for the remaining players, the Mets may very well gamble exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially lose them to another team. It is also possible the Mets unexpectedly protect a player like Knapp. In any event, the Mets have a number of important decisions to make that can have far reaching implications.
In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming. Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:
- Amed Rosario
- Wuilmer Becerra
- Gavin Cecchini
- Marcos Molina
- Paul Sewald
- Travis Taijeron
- Paul Paez
- Phillip Evans
- Champ Stuart
- Chase Bradford
There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players. With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions. With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster. With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?
At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen. Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.
The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted. The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t. It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August. Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot. Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.
Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen. Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused. Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust. In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA. Montero would be demoted. It wouldn’t be his last demotion.
After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived. In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career. Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher. Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.
When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett. When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot. The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese. When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation. Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation. With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot. Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.
The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation. They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen. The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever. It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then. It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.
Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot. A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for nothing. A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team. Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors
Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:
Class A – Columbia Fireflies
- AVG: David Thompson (.294)
- OBP: Vinny Siena (.435 – League Leader)
- SLG: David Thompson (.474)
- OPS: Vinny Siena (.834)
- R: Vinny Siena (53)
- H: J.C. Rodriguez (71)
- 2B: Dash Winningham (23)
- 3B: Kevin Kaczmarski (7)
- HR: Jeffrey Diehl (9)
- RBI: David Thompson (58 – League Leader)
- SB: J.C. Rodriguez (14)
- All-Stars: Vinny Siena, David Thompson
- Promotions: Vinny Siena, David Thompson, Kevin Kaczmarski
Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets
- AVG: Wuilmer Becerra (.319 – League Leader)
- OBP: Kevin Taylor (.386)
- SLG: Tomas Nido (.471)
- OPS: Kevin Taylor (.833)
- R: Champ Stuart (49)
- H: Amed Rosario (82)
- 2B: Wuilmer Becerra (17)
- 3B: Amed Rosario (8 – League Leader)
- HR: Kevin Taylor (7)
- RBI: Amed Rosario (40)
- SB: Champ Stuart (25)
- All-Stars: Amed Rosario, Wuilmer Becerra, Tomas Nido
- Promotions: Amed Rosario, Phillip Evans, Champ Stuart
AA – Binghamton Mets
- AVG: Matt Oberste (.290)
- OBP: Derrik Gibson (.366)
- SLG: Dominic Smith (.436)
- OPS: Dominic Smith (.777)
- R: Derrik Gibson (44)
- H: Dominic Smith (85)
- 2B: Matt Oberste, Dominic Smith (17)
- 3B: L.J. Mazzilli (5)
- HR: Dominic Smith (10)
- RBI: Matt Oberste (34)
- SB: Derrik Gibson (8)
- All-Stars: Matt Oberste
- Promotions: Niuman Romero
AAA – Las Vegas 51s
- AVG: T.J. Rivera (.348 – League Leader)
- OBP: Brandon Nimmo (.409)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron (.564)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron (96)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron (35 – League Leader)
- 3B: Brandon Nimmo (7)
- HR: Johnny Monell (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron (69)
- SB: Roger Bernadina (12)
- All-Stars: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron, Wally Backman (manager)
- Promotions: Brandon Nimmo
- AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
- OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
- 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
- HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
- SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)
* stats are updated through July 13, 2016
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net
Looking at the roster, the Mets will need to obtain starters at the following positions: 1B, 2B, SS, and RF. David Wright is scheduled to make $15 million, so whether or not you believe he will be able to stay at the position, he will remain with the team in some capacity. Michael Conforto should still be with the team as the leftfielder. Finally, unless the Mets can move him, Juan Lagares and his $9 million salary will be the team’s centerfielder. The Mets organization is fairly well stocked with position players right now, and they might be able to fill out the roster with cheap, cost-controlled talent.
Accordingly to the scouting reports, Smith is a good defensive first baseman that should be able to hit. The debate really is whether he will hit for power. Whether or not he hits for power, people see him as being able to field the position and be a good major league hitter.
With Lucas Duda being a free agent in 2018, the Mets will need Smith to be ready. If he’s not ready, the Mets will need a stopgap. In either event, by the time the Mets pitchers start to become free agents, Smith should be the first baseman earning around $500,000.
We have to assume that one of these years Dilson Herrera is going to transition from second baseman of the future to the Mets second baseman. With Neil Walker only having one year until free agency, it appears that time will be 2017.
Right now, Herrera has less than one year’s service time. For all the supposed newfound depth, it’ll probably be Matt Reynolds getting called up to the Mets. That will preserve his service time. It means that in 2019, Herrera should be the second baseman, and he will have accrued two full years service time. Unless he gets enough playing time, it appears like he will avoid Super Two status meaning he will be in the same $500 – $600 thousand range as Smith.
As far as organizational depth, the Mets seemingly have an embarassment of riches with two high end shortstop prospects with Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. They also have the aforementioned Reynolds.
Given Asdrubal Cabrera‘s contract, Cecchini and Rosario are going to have time to develop on the minors. At a minimum, Cabrera is signed to be the Mets shortstop through the 2017 season. If he produces well, or the prospects need another year, Cabrera has an option that could keep him with the Mets through the 2018 season.
As such, neither Cecchini or Rosario will be arbitration eligible at the time the Mets pitchers start to reach free agency. Accordingly, the Mets will only have to spend around $500 thousand when the pitchers begin to become free agents.
It seems Michael Conforto is the leftfielder of the past (2015), present, and future. He very well should be too. Even if Conforto doesn’t improve upon his 162 game averages he achieved as a 22 year old, who never played above AA, you’re getting a good defensive outfielder who will hit .270/.335/.506 with 26 homers and 75 RBI.
Fortunately, Conforto will not have accrued enough service time to achieve Super Two status. Unfortunately, Conforto will most likely become arbitration eligible the same time that the Mets pitchers are reaching free agency.
Looking over the past few years, there isn’t really a good comparable to Conforto. It seems that when teams have good young corner outfielders, they lock them up. With that in mind, although an admittedly imperfect comparison, J.D. Martinez is instructive.
In 2014, Martinez was 26 years old, and he hit .325/.358/.553 with 23 homers and 76 RBI in 123 games. He became arbitration eligible after this season, and he agreed to $3 million. In 2015, he had another good year hitting .282/.344/.535 with 38 homeruns and 102 RBI. He and the Tigers avoided an arbitration hearing. Martinez’s contract extension bought out the remainder of his arbitration years he’s due to make $6.75 million in 2016 and $11.75 million in 2017.
While we may or may not agree on whether Martinez is a good comparable, it would be fair to say Conforto is at least capable of hitting .272/.344/.535 by his age 25 season, if not sooner. If that’s the case, it would be fair to suggest Conforto could earn anywhere from $3 – $6 million in his first year of eligibility.
Curtis Granderson‘s contract will expire after the 2017 season. Since he will be 37 heading into the 2018 season, it’s hard to imagine he will be re-signed to be the everyday right fielder.
Now, Wuilmer Becerra projects to be an everyday player. Scouts believe he has the bat to play the corner outfield spot. The issue as far as the Mets are concerned is how quickly the 21 year old minor leaguer will need before fulfilling that promise. Last year, Becerra played his first year in full season A ball. That’s a long trek to the majors by 2019.
So unless Brandon Nimmo can handle the corner outfield offensively, which unfortunately seems unlikely, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fill that void.
If Becerra is still a well regarded prospect, the Mets are likely to bring in a player on a one to two year deal. In retrospect, depending on how he finishes out his contract, Granderson could be coaxed back on a one-year deal ata much lower contract price.
As a placeholder, let’s presume the cost of a right fielder would cost about $15 million. That’s what Granderson is slated to earn the last year of his contract.
Cost of the Projected 2019 Starting Lineup
If everything breaks right for the Mets, they will have a group of young, cost-controlled position players at the time their starting pitchers hit the free agent market. If this pans out, the Mets everyday position players would cost about $46.5 million.
That’s roughly what the Mets are paying their current starting infield. In total, the 2016 Mets starting lineup is due to be paid roughly $90 million. Essentially, the Mets will be spending half the amount of money on their starting lineup in 2019 than they will this season.
Overall, this leaves the Mets between $35.5 – $49.5 million to build a bench, a bullpen, and to pay their starting rotation if the payroll remains stagnant at the $140 million range.