So, you might ask yourself, how could the general manager who traded away Jarred Kelenic along with three other prospects who have hit top 100 prospect lists to finish double digits out of first place possibly get worse?
Well, he hired a manager in Carlos Beltran and fired him before Beltran even managed one game. Van Wagenen would claim he had no idea the Astros were doing anything despite teams making complaints, Van Wagenen being a player agent, and his being good friends with now former Astros manager AJ Hinch.
While claiming his learning what happened was the reason for the decision, he would still trade two prospects to obtain Jake Marisnick AFTER Mike Fiers went public. Somehow, Van Wagenen has an issue with the Astros did, but not when it came to parting with more prospects to make this a bottom six farm system.
It should be noted that in addition to parting with prospects, the Mets are paying Marisnick more than what players like Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares, and Kevin Pillar will make in 2020. Of course, anyone who read the market of an over abundance of glove first center fielders should’ve anticipated that.
Of course, part of being able to gauge the market is to actively be part of the market.
Zack Wheeler told @GJoyce9 of The Post he’s not surprised he never heard back from the Mets last December before signing his new contract. Why wasn’t he surprised? “Because it’s them,” he said. “It’s how they roll.”
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 13, 2020
This isn’t new. This is how the Mets do business. We all know this, and time and again, we’ve seen this coupled with a slight at the player. We’ve already seen that with Van Wagenen making overtures the Mets didn’t value him as high as the Phillies did.
Now, in his own small and petty way, he made things worse saying, “We helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into $118 million.”
Petty, ironic, and wrong.
The problem with @GMBVW is he even gets the easy stuff hopelessly wrong. He could’ve said:
It’s unfortunate Zack has some hard feelings about leaving the Mets. We were obviously disappointed we were not able to keep him a Met for life, but that’s the downside of free agency.
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) February 14, 2020
Putting all the stupidity and falsehoods in Van Wagenen’s statements, lets just look at what he did.
He took the $23.6 million per year Wheeler is making, and he gave it to Rick Porcello (worst AL ERA), Michael Wacha (bum shoulder), and Dellin Betances (one appearance). Their combined 1.3 WAR was dwarfed by Wheeler’s 4.1.
That’s besides the fact Wheeler was very well worth the money, had other offers for higher, and those teams believed the Mets weren’t getting the most out of their great pitchers partially due to their poor analytical approach.
As an aside, the texting, chair throwing, no ifs, come get us GM, has been trying to oversell the Mets big second half, and now, he’s maligning someone for having big second halves. Even better, Van Wagenen is able to sell that second half because of Wheeler.
In the end, Van Wagenen just continues to make everything worse. Fortunately, Sandy Alderson left him with so much talent, not even Van Wagenen can stand in the way of this team winning no matter how much he tries.
Well, that’s when he actually tries. As Wheeler will tell you, he doesn’t. That’s unless you’re a former client like Jed Lowrie, who no one knows if he’ll play again.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.
Just when you thought the New York Knicks were maybe starting to get it, they go out and hire Leon Rose to be their new team president. While there are some who believe this could be a boon for the Knicks much in the same vein Bob Myers with the Warriors or Rob Pelinka with the Lakers, we remember everyone thought it was a good idea to get Rose in the past.
That was the trade with the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose. That ended with Rose disappearing and having one of, if not the, worst season of his career.
Looking forward, we see with the Mets hiring a CAA agent is not exactly the best route to success. In fact, aside from not selling the team to Steve Cohen, hiring Brodie Van Wagenen to become the Mets GM has been one of the worst decisions the Wilpons have made over the past two years.
In very short order, Van Wagenen ruined the Mets prospect depth and payroll flexibility. Part of that was his fulfilling Robinson Cano‘s request to come back to New York, and his signing Jed Lowrie, who was physically unable to play last year. Notably, both players were his former clients.
Van Wagenen has also fired Carlos Beltran for being part of the Astros sign stealing scandal despite trading for two former Astros, J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, who had also taken part in that scandal. While Van Wagenen denied any knowledge of the scandal, he notably traded for Marisnick after the news broke.
He has portrayed Hector Santiago as a bit of a savior while also allowing Zack Wheeler to go to a division rival (partially due to budgetary restraints). He also proved to not be true to his word forcing Devin Mesoraco into retirement, cutting Adeiny Hechavarria before he accrued a bonus, and never calling up Dilson Herrera.
As bad as the Wilpons are and continue to be, Van Wagenen has made everything worse.
While Rose may be different than Van Wagenen, the Wilpons are not discernibly different from James Dolan in terms of running a professional sports franchise. Ultimately, while it may not be fair to look at Rose like the next Van Wagenen, you do have to fairly question whether Dolan is more Wilpon or whether he is more like the Warriors or Lakers.
Seeing how Rose’s representation of Carmelo Anthony helped foster the relationship with Dolan much like how Van Wagenen’s representation of Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier fostered the relationship with the Wilpons, you shudder as a Knicks and Mets fan.
Hopefully, Rose is different than Van Wagenen, and he proves to actually know what he is doing. After all, you can cross your fingers Dolan has some clue with how he operates the Rangers. You don’t have the same faith with the Wilpons with their inability to even earn a profit of over a billion.
In the end, the Rose hire may be very different than the Van Wagenen one. No one should have that faith just yet.
Look, when bad news comes down the pike, you can fall to pieces, or you can opt to try to have some fun and make the best of it. In light of that, instead of making the soul crushing realization we’re never getting rid of Jeff Wilpon, let’s pretend we’re Mel Gibson and start trying to find the one Conspiracy Theory which fits.
Cohen Would Never Be Approved
As previously noted, Steve Cohen has paid the largest ever fine for insider trading, and his business was sued for gender discrimination. Maybe MLB owners took a straw poll, and with it being known Cohen wouldn’t be approved as a majority owner, this was Cohen’s way of saving face.
MLB Wants The Wilpons In Power
With the Wilpons operating the Mets, MLB doesn’t have to worry about a second New York team escalating player salaries. With the debt of gratitude owed to MLB for not removing them from power the way it did with the McCourts and the Dodgers, they gained an ally who will forever do their bidding.
As an example, the Mets went from standing by Carlos Beltran because what he did with the Astros don’t impact his role as the Mets manager to firing him after meeting with the Commissioner’s Office.
Having that level of control over an owner is valuable for a commissioner. It’s more valuable when it comes from the largest market in the world.
Wilpons Were Orchestrating A Scam
Lost in Cohen buying the Mets we’re reports the Wilpons couldn’t obtain their share of the financing for the Islanders new arena. Before the sale to Cohen was announced, the Mets saw a diminution in value, there were fewer assets as collateral to obtain loans.
That goes double with the Mets carrying hundreds of millions in debt.
Cohen’s purported purchase price valued the Mets at over a billion more than where the Mets had it, which could give the Mets more equity to loan against.
Wilpons Can’t Actually Sell
We don’t know what the structure of the loan agreements the Mets have. We don’t know when certain payments need to be made, and/or what a sale of the Mets would trigger. More than that, we don’t know how much the Wilpons use the Mets to keep them and their business solvent. Maybe as the Wilpons looked at a post-Mets life, they realized they needed the Mets more than the money they could receive for selling the team.
Cohen Saw the Books and Walked Away
There are various rumors surrounding the Wilpons and the Mets dire financial state which they haven’t been able to get under control post-Madoff.
Maybe Cohen saw things were far worse than the $350 million in loans and losses of $120 million over the last two years. Seeing things were much worse than we all knew them to be, he might’ve realized this was actually a terrible investment and walked away.
Cohen Is Negotiating
Cohen isn’t an idiot. As much as he wants the Mets and the tax shelter, he’s not going to let the Wilpons push him around in these negotiations and keep control of a team he’s running.
Rather than cave, he’s walking away from the table leaving the Wilpons, desperate for the money to finally give them solvency, coming back to him and negotiating from a position of weakness instead of strength.
There’s Another Buyer
Cohen purchased the Mets without it really being public knowledge the Wilpons were open to selling the team. Perhaps after seeing the deal, some deeper pockets approached the Wilpons and told them if they could get out of the deal, they’d offer s better deal.
Wilpons and Katz Resolved Their Differences
One of the rumored reasons why the Mets were selling the team was the split between Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon over the running of the team. Specifically, the main issue for Katz and the rest of the Katz and Wilpon family was how Jeff Wilpon is running the team.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t the first time Katz wanted to sell. Perhaps, the Wilpons are finding a way to hold onto the majority control of the team while permitting Katz to sell his shares. Maybe, there was a reconciliation between the two which could be the Wilpons buying him out or some other action.
Whatever the case, the Wilpon/Katz dynamic is the driving force of the sale to Cohen, and if the Mets are not sold, it is all because of this dynamic.
Cohen Was Disgusted By The Offseason
So far this offseason, the Mets botched hiring a manager, saw Zack Wheeler go to a division rival, and as a whole, he saw the Mets projected 2020 roster as worse than the 2019 roster which finished the season. Seeing this, he pushed for immediate control or an out.
Jeff Was Never Relinquishing Control
Time-in and time-out, Jeff Wilpon referred to the Mets as business as usual. Case-in-point was when Beltran was fired, Jeff said he spoke with Fred Wilpon, not Steve Cohen. When you look at this offseason, the Mets were operated no differently than in previous seasons. This could be a strong indication Jeff Wilpon is not going to permit anyone to take control of the Mets away from him.
That could include his doing everything in his power along the line to sabotage the deal. His efforts might’ve accelerated when he saw Cohen’s plans to celebrate his taking over the team.
Wilpons Want All The Credit
Around the time of the announced sale, the Mets have announced the building of the Tom Seaver statue fans had begged them to build for years. Jerry Koosman‘s number 36 is being retired. There is a new address honoring Seaver at Citi Field and Mike Piazza in Port St. Lucie. Beloved Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo and Ron Darling are getting inducted into the team Hall of Fame.
It’s very clear the Wilpons want to change the story, and they want the Mets fans to look warmly upon them. There’s also no mistaking their wanting five years of control to get that one World Series title they still don’t have (in 1986, Nelson Doubleday was the majority owner).
In the end, the Wilpons saw the fan reaction to their selling the team, fan overtures about how Steven Cohen was going to get them players like Mookie Betts, and generally how their going away makes everything better. Seeing that, they let their egos get in the way and decided if they’re not getting the credit they think they’re owed, the fans aren’t getting the ownership they deserve.
Fred Worries About Jeff
Since the announced sale to Cohen, Jeff Wilpon has announced his new business venture of stadium consulting at a time when Sterling cannot get financing for the Islanders arena. Jeff’s big financial investment, the NYXL, participates in a league which isn’t producing anywhere near the revenues the owners hoped it would generate.
Overall, Jeff Wilpon continues to show he has little to no business sense, and short of the Mets giving him a guaranteed job, you wonder what happens five years from now. As a worrying dad, Fred might just be willing to forego financial security and a billion in profit just to take care of his son.
There’s Something Horrible Coming
The Wilpons have been caught up in a Ponzi scheme. Jeff Wilpon has fired an unwed pregnant woman, and former Mets players have spoken out about his interference with medical issues. Steve Cohen has his own checkered past including his run-ins with the law.
Everyone involved in this transaction is dirty, and sooner or later, their own personal conduct could lead to a deal completely falling apart. Given their respective histories, there isn’t much you can rule out whether it has legal implications or otherwise.
Frankly, pondering what that could be is much easier to stomach than to accept the cold, hard reality. That reality is the Wilpons have a choke hold on the Mets, they’re incompetent owners, and we are not getting rid of them anytime soon.
The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.
Like it has been for most of their history, the Mets are currently build on starting pitching. That presents a problem for this organization because they will soon be in the unenviable position of having to rebuild their rotation over the ensuing few offseasons.
The Mets will have to face the same exact situation the ensuing offseason as both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will be free agents after the 2021 season. That means over the course two years, the Mets are going to have to address how they want to handle 80% of their starting rotation.
Complicating matters is Michael Conforto hitting free agency the same time as Syndergaard and Matz as well as the shallow upper parts of the Mets farm system. How the Mets choose to address their rotation will be vitally important as Jacob deGrom has an opt out after the 2022 season.
After that 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo will be a free agent, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil will be first time arbitration eligible, and Amed Rosario will be heading into his last season under team control. This means the Mets core is going to be quite expensive and on their way out to parts unknown over the next few seasons.
At this point, we should all be wondering what exactly is the plan here.
At times, the Mets seem all-in. We saw that not just with trading away prospects to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, but we also saw that with the Mets trading away prospects like Blake Taylor, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Adam Hill for what amounted to be nothing more than complementary pieces.
On the other hand, the Mets don’t see remotely all-in when they fail to address the back-up catching situation and let Zack Wheeler, their second best pitcher over the past two years, leave the Mets to go to the Philadelphia Phillies. Couple that with the Mets not making a push for players like Gerrit Cole, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado, or being active on the trade market for players like Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, or Francisco Lindor, this seems more and more like a team without a clear direction.
Now, part of that can just be a result of how ineptly the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen have run this organization. Another aspect can be this team being in a relative holding pattern until Steve Cohen’s purchase of the club is finalized and approved. There may be other factors at play, and really, at this point, we are all just guessing.
What we do know is based on the control over the current core, the Mets window to compete for a World Series is right now, and the team has done little to push the team over the top. We also know that until this core is extended, the Mets window is going to be limited to just these two years.
When you look at things through this prism, you see the need to give extensions to at least some of your core. Certainly, that is the case when the goal is sustained winning and not just short windows. In theory, there is still 10 months to do that, but at the moment, the Mets have missed their biggest and perhaps best opportunity to do it once again leaving the impression this is an organization without a clear direction.
While Brodie Van Wagenen was touting Dellin Betances‘ ability to “blow the cover off their ceiling,” the fact of the matter is the Mets offseason has been tremendously underwhelming thus far. Really, when you break it down, it’s difficult to ascertain how this team can make up 11 games on the Atlanta Braves.
With Zack Wheeler departing for the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s 4.1 WAR going to a division rival. While they haven’t yet signed with another team, it is expected Todd Frazier (2.2 WAR) and Juan Lagares (-0.7) will sign with other teams.
Combined, that’s a 5.6 WAR.
As a result, the Mets have yet to replace the production they’ve lost. What makes this problematic is their offseason appears fairly set.
Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are taking up two roster spots, and with their salaries, the Mets are not going to just cut bait. Instead, the Mets are going to hope Cespedes can do what Troy Tulowitzki couldn’t do – return from double heel surgery.
When they finally discover what was wrong with Lowrie that limited him to eight pinch hitting attempts last year, we can then have a conversation about what, if anything, he can contribute.
Remember, this a Mets team which finished 11 games behind the Braves. They also finished behind the World Series Champion Washington Nationals too. The Mets needed to gain ground, not lose it.
Keep in mind, they’re not just losing grounds to the teams ahead of them, they are also losing it to the Philadelphia Phillies. That 4.1 WAR the Mets lost in Wheeler went to the Phillies. Joining him there is Didi Gregorius, who had a 0.6 WAR in limited duty. When you add a healthy Andrew McCutchen, they have not only offset the 1.7 WAR they lost with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, but they have improved upon it.
Now, this is where someone may want to point out how the Braves and Nationals are both searching for a new third baseman, and that the third basemen they had last year were their best players. That is true. The Braves losing Josh Donaldson (6.1), and the Nationals losing Anthony Rendon (6.3) were significant losses.
With respect to Donaldson, it should be noted both teams are still in on him and trying to do all they can to sign him. If either team signs him, that narrative is no longer in place as it comes to that team.
Going beyond that, both the Braves and Nationals have made moves to bolster their teams in the event they cannot land Donaldson.
The Nationals have been aggressive this offseason re-signing mid-season acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson. They have also added Starlin Castro (0.8), Eric Thames (1.6), and Will Harris (2.1). Combine that with the anticipation Carter Kieboom may be ready next year, and the Nationals have at least braced themselves for losing Rendon and missing out on Donaldson.
The Braves have also left third base open while addressing other areas. On the bullpen front, they have brought in Will Smith (2.2) while bringing back Chris Martin and Darren O’Day. They have also added Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. They also potentially upgraded their rotation signing Cole Hamels to replace Dallas Keuchel.
When talking about the Braves, they also have a wealth of young talent in Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, and others to close the gap on the potential loss of Donaldson. The same can be said with the Nationals with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
As for the Mets, they could also seek to get some help internally with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario taking the next step. However, the issue with that is whether it is enough to overcome not just the diminution in the talent the team had last year, but also whether it is enough to overcome the significant gap which already existed between them and the rest of the teams in the division.
While it is certainly possible the Mets can win the division in 2020, it is also fair to say they certainly have not done nearly enough this offseason to do that. Really, when you boil it down, the Mets are relying more on luck than anything else. Considering what is ahead and behind them in the division, that is not the best plan, and when you boil it down, they really needed more than just Marisnick.
Looking at the Mets offseason thus far, they didn’t do much of anything to address the needs they have. The lineup is effectively the same. That means a team who had a National League worst -93 DRS will have to hope the defense improves and improves drastically with the talent already on the roster getting significantly better.
That puts the focus directly on Amed Rosario.
Right before he was called up to the Majors, John Sickels, then of Minor League Ball, noted Rosario was a gifted defender noting he is a “superior defender with plus arm strength, range, instincts.” The anticipation was while he may struggle a bit offensively, he was going to be a plus defender who could one day win a Gold Glove.
So far, that has not happened. In each of his two full Major League seasons, he has posted a -16 DRS. Since his Major League debut on August 1, 2017, he has a career -31 DRS. That makes him the second worst defensive shortstop in the majors, and he is also just the third worst defender in all of basball.
It is of no small coincidence that over that time frame Mets pitchers have yielded the ninth highest BABIP in the majors despite their inducing the softest contact. It is one of the reasons why the Mets have a 4.13 FIP (ninth best) while having a 4.32 ERA (16th best) over that stretch.
This is an issue which appears like it is poised to be exacerbated. In 2020, the Mets will have a full season of Marcus Stroman who has a career 2.61 GB/FB. Replacing Zack Wheeler in the rotation will be sinkerball pitcher Rick Porcello with his 1.48 GB/FB. This is going to put a premium on infield defense, which is problematic given Rosario’s early career defensive struggles.
The good news is Rosario took a significant step forward in 2019. The -16 DRS he amassed last year was all from the first half of the season. After the All-Star Break, the eye test said Rosario was much better than that, and the numbers bore that out with his having a 0 DRS.
While not entirely Rosario dependent and the issues with small sample sizes at play, we saw a real impact on the pitching staff. In the first half, Mets pitchers had a .311 BABIP, which was the third worst in the Majors. In the second half, the BABIP dropped to .296, which was the 13th best in the Majors. That had a significant impact the pitching staff which went from a 4.88 ERA to a 3.48.
That’s part of the reason the Mets went from 10 games under .500 to a 46-26 (.639) record in the second half. Another reason was Rosario’s breakout offensively. After an 88 wRC+ in the first half, which was on par with his then career 84 wRC+, he had a 114 wRC+ in the second half.
Again, while many factors were at play, Rosario’s emergence on both side of the ball played a key role in the Mets resurgence. With his hitting, the Mets had more than just Pete Alonso to provide balance to a lineup who counts on production from mostly left-handed hitters. And again, the defense really helped turn hits into outs.
For the Mets to once again be the team they were in the second half, they will need Rosario to be that player. Considering the team not adding a center fielder, and their new focus on ground ball pitching, this makes Rosario the key to the season. Fortunately, we have seen Rosario is capable of being that type of player, and more than that, with his being just 24, we know he is capable of doing more.
If you look at the Mets bullpen, the theme appears to be “If.” If this bullpen is healthy, and if this bullpen performs to its full potential, it is going to be one of the best in the game.
The flip side of that is if it isn’t, we’re going to see more of the same.
That’s the way it is with bullpens. You just try to acquire as many quality guys as you can, and you hope it works. Perhaps with Jeremy Hefner, this is more primed to work.
One thing we do know is starting pitching can help a bullpen. The deeper starters can go, the less you need to go to the well. This keeps your relievers healthier and fresher which hopefully leads to better productivity.
That brings us back to what the Mets have opted to do with their pitching this offseason.
In signing Betances, Wacha, and Rick Porcello, the Mets have spent $23.5 million guaranteed. That number rises to $30.5 million if Wacha hits all of his incentives.
That $23.5 million figure is important because that’s just a hair off of what the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler per year.
Essentially, the Mets believed Porcello plus a reclamation project in Wacha and Betances. With Betances, remember prior to the Achillies, he had dealt with a shoulder impingement and lat issue all through the 2019 season.
Even when Betances did return, he admitted to his stuff and velocity not being there. That was before he partially tore his Achilles.
Yes, Betances is an arm well worth the gamble. Not only has he shown the ability to flat out dominate, but he’s also shown the ability to do it in New York. That’s important.
Still, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of rolling the dice on three relievers when you’re already rolling the dice on two relievers who were supposed to be your top two relievers. Add to that the significant downgrade from Porcello, who you’re also rolling the dice on, from Wheeler, and you’re left wondering if this was the best allocation of resources.
That does double when you consider Wheeler stays in the division making the Phillies significantly better.
Ultimately, the 2020 bullpen and pitching staff as a whole may be better. Then again, the bullpen could be more of the same with the pitching staff as a whole far worse.
Of course, the Mets bullpen could’ve remained the same and been far better as a result of Diaz adapting better to New York, and the elimination of the super ball helping him, Familia, and the rest of the bullpen.
That’s the gamble the Mets took. They decided on adding a group of lesser pitchers being better than the known quantity in Wheeler.
It’s not a smart bet, but it’s still possible the Mets bet pays off. No matter what, the Mets better be right here.
For a moment, let’s assume the 2019 season was similar to the 1998 or 2005 season in that it was a stepping stone to real World Series contention.
While we can and should dicker about whether the 2020 team will be better than the 2019 team, there is hope for optimism as Carlos Beltran begins his second act in a New York Mets uniform.
Behind that optimism is a cold dose of reality.
We didn’t know it in 1998, but that Mike Piazza led team had two seasons as a contender. That was basically the same case with the David Wright and Jose Reyes led 2005 team we all thought would be good forever. This will likely be the same fate this core faces.
After the 2020 season, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents leaving the team to try to scramble to either re-sign them or attempt to sign a starter from a free agent class nowhere as good as the one which saw the Mets lose Zack Wheeler.
After 2021, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That leaves the Mets looking to invest in four spots in the rotation over the next two years as the farm system is not prepared to provide that help in a way it could’ve if Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson were still with the organization.
Yes, we should see David Peterson grab one of those rotation spots, and a Stephen Gonsalves or Franklyn Kilome may emerge. However, they likely don’t have the same ceiling the 2015 – 2019 rotations had thereby eliminating the key competitive advantage the Mets had.
If you really want a heavy dose of reality look a year past that, and you’ll see Nimmo and Lugo will be a free agents, and deGrom can opt out of his deal. That’s going to happen as Alonso, McNeil, and Rosario are likely getting big arbitration salaries.
This means by 2022 this entire core could be completely gone with Alonso being the player designated to build around much in the same way the Mets opted Wright for that honor.
Overall, this means unless things change dramatically, the Mets have a two year window. That could be opened longer if Steve Cohen flexes some financial muscle, and/or he opts to bring in an actually qualified and competent GM to replace Brodie Van Wagenen.
To that end, there’s hope even if Jeff Wilpon will be running the show. On that point, we can all hope it’s just a title with no real opportunity to drag the organization down.
No matter what the case, it’s imperative the Mets realize this is their shot, and they need to start acting like it instead of making a series of half measures hoping it adds up to a whole competing roster.