Zack Wheeler

Mets Shouldn’t Matz with the Rotation

The Mets have a real problem with their rotation right now . . . and I don’t just mean Bartolo Colon.  No, I’m referring to the innings limit problem

I was naively hoping the Mets were going to ignore the limitations while being smart about how they use their pitchers. For example, if any of the stud muffins are having a rough start, they would pull them a little early. If there is a large run differential, the pitcher could sit down earlier. 

I was wrong. It appears the Mets still intend to manage the innings of the stud muffins by having spot starters during the rest of the season. In fact, Terry Collins stated the Mets will soon use a spot starter

However, the Mets still ultimately want to go with a six man rotation. The most likely candidate is Steven Matz, who was reported to have begun throwing yesterday.  If all goes according to plan, Matz will rejoin the rotation for the September stretch run. While we all enjoyed his first two starts, I’m not anxious for his return. 

It is too late in the season to mess around with the pitching rotation, which has carried the team thus far. Furthermore, the statistics are not kind to six man rotations. In fact, pitchers’ ERA increases with the extra day of rest. 

This begs the question: why would you mess with your biggest strength?  We all know it’s pitching that will carry the Mets into the playoffs. The new offense is performing well, but it’s pitching that will help the Mets win now, and we know pitching wins in October. 

I already know your answer: we want to protect the young arms. Mets fans have scars from Generation K.  Younger fans may remember Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. I think everyone knows the story of Stephen Strasburg sitting out the 2012 postseason

The end result?  The Nationals lost in the NLDS to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals three games to two. Strasburg’s replacement in the rotation was the immortal Edwin Jackson.  Now Strasburg is injured again (not the elbow) and many question his mental makeup, fairly or unfairly.  Thankfully, Terry Collins has assured us we will not see a repeat of the Strasburg incident  as the stud muffins will pitch in the playoffs

However, I’m still troubled by the innings limits. The main reason is because it is based upon the disproven “Verducci Effect.”  I’m not willing to risk a whole season on faulty logic.  Furthermore, I think the six man rotation overtures are disingenuous. 

If the Mets were truly serious about the six man rotation, Dillon Gee would be in the rotation now. Over his last five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and two consecutive complete games. He’s doing this in an extreme hitter’s league. I know he was not good this year while he was being jerked around regarding his role with the team and the organization. However, I must ask, if the Mets are truly concerned with results, why is Colon in the rotation?

I’m not going to belabor the point, but he’s been awful this year. I’m not going to turn in the blinders because he had a good start against the worst offensive team in baseball, who is without Giancarlo Stanton. Overall, Colon has the fifth worst ERA in the NL. Even with a revived offense, is this the guy you want to run out there every fifth day?  If you tell me you want to replace Colon with Matz, I’d say it would be a great move. 

Furthermore, if you want to protect the arms, it’s simple. The Mets need to fire Dan Warthen.  First, in 2013, Harvey was permitted to make multiple starts with forearm tightness. Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Second, Zack Wheeler pitched with ligament damage last season. Zack Wheeler had Tommy John surgery. Finally, Warthen, himself, declared Steven Matz fit to pitch. Matz then went on the DL. 

If it’s not Warthen’s fault, fine. Who is it?  The Mets need to root out the cause for the ignored aches and pains of their prime young pitchers. These problems became major injuries. If the Mets are really concerned with their young pitchers, they should start looking there instead of instituting another version of the six man rotation. 

Trades Mets Failed to Brew Up

As we sit here right now, we know the Mets have no chance to obtain Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez.  We know what the Gomez trade would have looked like, and I think the world has written enough about this trade.  I know I have.  What is interesting is that the Gomez deal is not the only deal the Mets failed to consummate with the Brewers.  Apparently, the Mets were also very close to obtaining Parra.  When the deal fell through, the Mets called-up Michael Conforto.

I do think Gerardo Parra would have been a nice fit on this Mets team, but since we have no information on what the deal looked like, it is hard to say if it would have been a good deal for the Mets.  What we do know is that Parra was sent to the Orioles for Zach Davies, who is the Orioles’ sixth best prospect according to Baseball America.  Baseball America did rank the Orioles as having the second worst farm system.  For his part, Keith Law did not have Davies in his Top 100 prospect list.

However, I will say that anytime you get a team’s top 10 prospect for a rental player, you’ve done a fine job.  Look, when the Mets were on the precipice of obtaining Gomez, they were giving up a future potential ace with a promising young bat.  I think the prices for the Brewers’ outfielders were understandably high.  Between the Parra deal falling apart and the Gomez deal being aborted at the last minute, the tension between the teams is so bad MLB feels the need to mediate.

It doesn’t matter anymore.  What matters is that there is two and a half hours before the trade deadline, and the Mets still need a SS, outfielder, and a LOOGY.  At the moment, it seems the Mets are just focused on one or two outfielders.  We now hear they are out on Jay Bruce and have moved on to Yoenis Cespedes and perhaps Rajai Davis.  I’m sure the cost will be too high for them, and I think if it is, the Mets will have to walk.  Remember this has become a mid-market team.  If you lose these prospects now, you don’t have reinforcements down the line.  They’re not adding payroll in the offseason.  I don’t know about you, but I think things look bleak right now, and it may look bleaker if a trade gets done (even if I am in the minority on that one).

 

Gomez is ASTROnomical Risk

As I wrote earlier, I don’t know who to believe in the Carlos Gomez trade fallout. After reflection and news of the trade to Houston, I’m surprisingly finding myself believing the Mets. 

I know I’m shocked too. If you’ve read my prior thoughts on the Mets ability to add payroll, you know I’m firmly in the Jerry Crasnick Camp that the Mets can’t do it. However, in my opinion, Carlos Gomez wasn’t adding salary to this team because of Bartolo Colon expiring contract. 

One reason I believe the Mets here is their team doctor is David W. Altchek, MD. He is the preeminent Sports Medicne doctor in the country. If he truly said there was a hip issue, there was a hip issue. If you don’t agree with me or believe the Mets (which I understand on both counts), keep in mind:

  1. Gomez had an MRI on his hip earlier this year, 
  2. Gomez said he’s afraid to run because of his hip, and 
  3. Gomez is having a down year

In the prior two seasons, Gomez was named to the All Star Game. He averaged a .284 average and 24 homeruns. This year?  He’s afraid to run and his triple slash line is .262/.328/.423. His OPS+ the previous two years was 128 and 129. This year it’s 105. This is a precipitous drop. He went from an All Star caliber player to an average player who complains of hip issues. Normally, I would say you could have a down year, but there are too many red flags to believe that. 

I presume the Mets saw the medical reports from the doctors and were left with two options: 1) call it off, or 2) try to salvage it. It’s possible they believed asking the Astros for money in the deal was a way of insulating themselves from risk. They might’ve thought if Gomez is healthy, great. If not, we have the money to get someone else. It’s also possible the financial rumors were made up to salvage Gomez’s value so the Brewers could trade him to someone else. 

We know the Astros had no problem with Gomez’s medicals. As Sandy Alderson correctly said, “[i]t’s simple, our doctors thought the health risk was too great; Houston’s doctors apparently felt otherwise.”  It could be that simple. Doctors disagree all the time. That’s why we get second opinions

Therefore, I don’t think the Mets necessarily owe everyone an explanation. There shouldn’t be any beat writers taking a victory lap as if they were a member of the Brewers’ front office (especially when he reported Gomez’s hip issues). The Mets gave us an explanation, and they might’ve avoided a huge mistake.

I wish Carlos Gomez the best of luck. He may be hurt; he may not be. All I know is Zack Wheeler is too high a price to risk. 

Did the Wheels Really Fall Off?

Over the course of their history, the Mets have made some really bad trades that were indefensible at the time they were made. While this isn’t a complete list, here are some of my “favorites”:

  1. The Midnight Massacre
  2. Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel, and 
  3. Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. 

Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Also, these were traded roundly criticized at the time, not ones that eventually turned out badly. 
It’s funny. Late last night into early this morning many people were joking about how people who went to bed early last night would react when they discovered the trade unraveled. It immediately made me think of the aforementioned Midnight Massacre. 

I thought about how people felt when they read the newspaper the next morning. We all know everyone hated the trade and vilified the Mets to the point that Shea was once known as Grant’s Tomb. The trade worked out as bad as everyone thought it would. I began to wonder if the Carlos Gomez trade would’ve joined the list of worst Mets’ trades ever. 

As I noted last night, Carlos Gomez was having a down year. Admittedly, I was unaware there were possible injury concerns. Reportedly, the Mets nixed the deal over Gomez’s hip issues. Gomez was reported that have said he’s stopped running due to his hip issues. 

The arguments started over whether there was a hip issue or not. Many pointed out that he was playing everyday.  Despite these opinions, the Mets believed Gomez had a degenerative hip issue. For what it’s worth, Gomez had trouble staying healthy this year. Regardless, the Mets seemed disappointed because they really wanted Gomez. 

Mets fans wanted him too. Would they have been as enthusiastic if Gomez landed on the DL with a hip issue?  Would they have booed him if he was ineffective due to his degenerative hip?  Would they be screaming same old Mets?  Yes to all the above, and part of the reason is they would’ve given up Zack Wheeler to get him. 

I’ve detailed before how the Mets could afford to part with Wheeler for a non-rental player.  However, it is dumb to trade him for a player that’s an injury risk even if he never gets injured and/or he would be a huge upgrade. 

As I’ve noted, Wheeler has been a league average pitcher with the Mets with a lot of potential. However, he seemed to turn a corner in the second half last year. He went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He dropped his WHIP from 1.357 to 1.286. 

He was making real progress in his first full professional season. He’s under team control until 2020. This is a valuable asset and trade chip. You don’t give that up for a hope and a prayer especially when the Mets don’t have the best history dealing with injuries

While Sandy Alderson and the Mets may invite criticism from time to time, this should not be one of those instances. Initially, he made a good trade to improve the team. He made a better decision walking away from the deal. 

Stop Beating Up the Reporters

Times sure are different. I realized this when my Dad texted me that Jose Reyes was traded. He read about it in the paper. I knew about it much earlier because I checked Twitter for updates on trade rumors. My Dad is 68. He goes a twitter over using the Internet; not on the Internet. 

However, for the rest of us diehard Mets’ fans, you follow all of the best writers on Twitter. You do that because they get information and tweet it right out. They immediately give you the information you can not wait to get. 

Sometimes, things get a little out of whack. I’ve heard the criticisms about how everyone wants/needs to be first. Many believe this makes some people skip all the steps necessary to confirm a story. If you’re saying this occurred with the Carlos Gomez trade, I think you’re crazy. 

I can’t believe every reporter got the story wrong. The Brewers players were saying goodbye to their teammate. The Mets’ owned SNY reported the deal. MLB reported it on their website (article now changed after the deal fell through). 

We now know the Mets backed out of the deal because of Gomez’s hip issues. Surprisingly, Zack Wheeler’s medicals weren’t the issue. In any event, the deal was done until it wasn’t. This wasn’t a reporters fault. In fact, I’d argue they all did an amazing job on the story considering how static it was. I think you should also appreciate not only the work they did today, but the work they do everyday. 

Reunited and it Feels so Good

Since, I’ve started this blog, I’ve written a lot about trade rumors. I’ve written how trading Wheeler for an OF who’ll be with the Mets is s good idea. I’ve written how the Mets should pursue Carlos Gomez over Justin Upton. Finally, I’ve written about how the Mets were done making impact trades. 

So, here we are with Carlos Gomez, who is the perfect fit on this team. The Mets obtained him for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flored. 

First and foremost, with Juan Lagares’ suspect health and offense this year, he can play CF (he won a Gold Glove two years ago). He’s got a triple slash line of .266/.332/.409 and an OPS+ of 108. This all means he’s been very average at the plate this year. 

However, he’s coming off two fantastic seasons that has been him with a .284 average and 24 homers. As you can see, Gomez’s main problem this year has been the power. It’s a gamble, but I’ll take the gamble. 

Speaking of gambles, Carlos Gomez was previously traded away from the Mets. At the time, Omar Minaya “gambled” that Lastings Milledge was the better player.  As a result, the Mets traded Gomez instead of Milledge for Johan Santana. 

It’s funny, the Mets traded away Gomez to try to win the World Series. In 2015, they trade for him to try to win the World Series. I pray for better results. Unlike 2008, there may be some asking if the Mets gave up too much. I’ll admit the trade hurts, but you have to give away value to get value. 

Before Zack Wheeler was injured, he seemed to turn the corner in the second half of 2014. Other than that, he was just an average pitcher with real promise. It’s a shame he needed Tommy John surgery. Now, he won’t be available to pitch until around the All Star Break next season.  Judging by Matt Harvey’s season, Wheeler won’t be right until 2017, which is the season he’s arbitration eligible. He’s under team control until 2020. 

There’s a lot to say about Wilmer Flores. Unfortunately, most of those things are about how he hasn’t been very good with the Mets this year offensively or defensively. However, he’s only 23, and he’s shown promise. He deserved his standing ovation. 

I will write more about Wheeler and Flores later. I think they each need and deserve their own separate deeper analysis. Also, it’s fair to say they will be missed. 

However, this deal is about Gomez and Sandy Alderson going for it responsibly. Gomez is under contract next season for $9 million. I’m not going to get snarky and say they still haven’t really took on money because that $9 million will be offset by Bartolo Colon’s $11 million coming off the books. 

This is a major move involving a very good player. The Mets still need a SS and a LOOGY. They kept pieces to go get them. They’re a better team now with Gomez. It’s a good day to be a Mets fan. 

Should Mets Go Down Thunder Road?

Despite my assertions to the contrary, the Mets did make a trade, which is significant in more ways than one.  After missing out on Parra, the Mets moved onto Michael Conforto. Now, supposedly the Mets are in on Jay Bruce

Before discussing the cost, we should first consider if the Mets should trade for him. This year in a hitter’s park, Bruce is hitting .258/.341/.484 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. He is a career .252/.325/.468 hitter. In limited playoff action, he’s hit .258/.361./.516. He 28 years old and is signed through next season with a $13 million team option ($1 million buy out). Translation: he’s a good baseball player on a reasonable contract. He helps this team immensely. 

Yes, he is better than Michael Conforto right now. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Conforto has been terrific since his call-up, but he’s not the player of the caliber of Bruce right now. You can send down Conforto to AAA, and he will have been better for the experience. Plus, Conforto can come up in September and a possibility as a bench bat in the playoffs (God willing). 

Now, is he worth the cost of Zack Wheeler?  Honestly, I don’t know. For his career, he has an ERA+ of 100, meaning he’s an average pitcher, with a FIP of 3.77, which again suggests he’s an average pitcher. However, Tommy John surgery or not, he’s a 24 year old power pitcher who is not arbitration eligible until 2017 and cannot become a free agent until 2020. 

Is two years of Jay Bruce worth five years of Zack Wheeler?  I’m not sure, but I lean towards yes because flags fly forever. There is an open window here and a real chance to win the World Series within the next three years (at least). Now, if the Reds want another substantial piece from the Mets, I walk. Flags may fly forever, but you want to be competitive for a long time. 

Let’s hope this deal gets done because we need the return of this song to be heard in New York again. I think it’ll sound good for a Bruce Blast, don’t you?  

Can We Trust Sandy?

Last month, The Sporting News ranked Sandy Alderson right in the middle of all GMs in Major League Baseball (15/30). That sounds about right, although I could quibble with the order. To me, when you give Sandy a rating of 15/30, you’re really giving that rating to the entire front office, which includes Paul DePodesta, JP Riccardi, and John Ricco.

Since Sandy Alderson has been the GM for the Mets, he has really been tasked with getting rid of salaries and selling at the trade deadline. To that end, he and his front office have done an admirable job. In my opinion (and most people’s really), his three best trades were to sell and not to buy:

  1. RA Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas for Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck, and Wullmer Becerra;
  2. Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler; and
  3. Marlon Byrd, John Buck & cash for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

Looking over the rest of the trades, there really is not much to get worked up about, except the two trades Sandy Alderson made to help the team on the field (and not the team down the road):

  1. Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon S. Ramirez; and
  2. Collin McHugh for Eric Young, Jr.

There has been so much written about the first trade. Rather than regurgitate all that has been written, I’m going to make a couple of quick points. First, this was part of a quick hitting series of moves to try to rebuild the bullpen and TRY to take attention away from Jose Reyes leaving. Second, it seems like every year this team is trying to build a bullpen because the prior season’s acquisitions  were terrible or everyone got hurt again. Lastly, this trade violated the old adage of “the team that gets the best player wins the trade.”  We knew then Pagan was the best player in that deal.

I want to focus on the EY deal because with the Mets rotation, it has largely been ignored. In full disclosure, I didn’t see it with McHugh. I thought he was an AAAA starter or a 12th man in the pen. I didn’t see him finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting last year or having another solid year for the Astros, especially when he pitches half his games is Minute Maid Park.

Just because I didn’t see it, it doesn’t excuse the current front office for this mistake. EY was acquired because Paul DePodesta loves him. In EY’s two seasons with the Mets, he was a 0.9 WAR player, who won a stolen base crown. The Mets were under .500 and had no shot at the postseason.

In the same time, McHugh has combined for accumulated WAR of 5.2, i.e. he has been the best player in the deal. I shutter to think what the careers Cory Mazzoni or Brad Wieck will be.

Now after all of this, how can I be expected to trust Sandy’s regime to properly rate their own prospects?  Sure when he has someone of value, he does a good job maximizing the return. However, when he is making a deal to improve his club, he has been shown to undervalue his assets.

This brings me to an extremely important point: Sandy effectively traded a first round pick for Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer hasn’t been himself at the plate or the field (even preinjury), which further exacerbated this “trade.”  All in all, I’m not sure we can trust this front office to go out and get a player. With that said, I’m sure I’m just wasting my breath because there is no way the Mets would take on money to improve this team.