Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

We’re waiting…

A Mr. Met toy waves his hand
The eternally cheerful Mr. Met is far more optimistic than most Mets fans. 

The New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are reported to be close to a deal that would send Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and three prospects west for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. They’ve been close to completing the trade for a day or two now, and it could drag out until Monday if MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t want to spend his weekend reviewing it and giving it his blessing.

Predictably, most Mets fans hate the idea of the deal. We’ve been conditioned to distrust the Wilpon family’s motivations and the people that they hire to run the team. And to be fair, Sandy Alderson, Omar Minaya, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips had a mixed track record in making trades and signing free agents.

But we also hated the idea that’s been floated for weeks that they want to trade Noah Syndergaard. And well, you can’t have it both ways. The Mets have been a fourth-place team with an under .500 record for the past two years and they’ve been a losing team for eight of the past ten seasons.

This can’t be another winter where the team tinkers a little bit and hopes for the best. You either do a complete tear-down and rebuild, or you trade players that won’t help you in 2019 for ones who will.

The 2019 Mets will win more games because of Cano and Diaz than they will because of Bruce, Swarzak, Justin Dunn, Jared Kalenic and Gerson Bautista.

Cano is still a good player — even at age 36 — and should be able to help the Mets score runs while not hurting them too badly in the field… at least for the next year or two. Diaz was the best reliever in the American League this year and gives the Mets the lockdown closer they’ve wanted for years.

Meanwhile, Bruce has had exactly one good season in the past five. Swarzak was a complete bust in his first year in New York. Dunn is the best pitching prospect in the Mets’ farm system, but he hasn’t thrown an inning above Double-A. Kalenic will be 19 next season and has all of 52 games of professional experience. Bautista is a project.

You could argue that the Mets should be able to get more for their prospects than Diaz and Cano, but I’d point out that Dunn is the only one who could charitably be considered close to being a contributor at the major league level.

If Brodie Van Wagenen’s first trade as Mets’ general manager turns out to be the centerpiece of the offseason, I’ll join the crowd of disappointed Mets fans. If they complete this deal and still go on to trade Syndergaard, I’ll be wondering if Van Wagenen even has a plan.

But I’d like to think this is just step one of a roster reshaping that will give the Mets a true chance to compete with the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies.

Wait and hope.

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Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

January thaw

Like the temperatures in the Northeast, Major League Baseball’s frozen hot stove season experienced a brief thaw late last week.

The New York Mets got things started by signing Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million contract Wednesday, and added Adrian Gonzalez over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Pirates shipped former Cy Young Award contender Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros for a package of four middling prospects. We finally have some actual news to discuss instead of just rumors.

The Mets’ moves are not exciting, but they should help the team.

Bruce is a consistently productive hitter with inconsistent defensive ratings, though the eyeball test is going to tell you that you’re in trouble if you ever consider him one of the best defensive players on your team. He can help provide power in the middle of the batting order and buy time for Michael Conforto to fully recover from last year’s shoulder injury, even though Conforto will likely be forced to play center field when he does return. And Bruce proved versatile enough to play first base, if there is a need.

Gonzalez is a low-risk, moderate reward signing. With the Atlanta Braves on the hook for all but $545,000 of his $21.5 million contract, Gonzalez can provide spring training competition for Dominic Smith. He can be a veteran bat off the bench if Smith wins the first base job, and Gonzalez can be released if he shows he can’t play at a high enough level to help the Mets.

After all, neither Smith nor Gonzalez had good seasons at the Major League level last year. Gonzalez hit .231 / .287 / .355 with three home runs in 231 at bats in an injury shortened season that saw him lose his job to rookie Cody Bellinger. As a late-season call-up, Smith hit .192 / .262 / .395 with nine home runs in 167 at bats.

For a rebuilding team, it would be an easy call to see if Smith could grow into a starting role. A team that sees itself as a contender needs a fallback plan. fans can’t be criticized for hoping that plan would be more ambitious than Gonzalez. But Gonzalez makes the Mets a better team and shouldn’t preclude them from continuing to shore up their infield by adding a second baseman or third baseman join Asdrubal Cabrera and Amed Rosario and the winner of the first base competition.

Here’s hoping that infielder is coming…and I wouldn’t mind another starting pitcher. Even Bartolo Colon on a minor league deal wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The Cole trade is more of a head-scratcher. Sure, it’s a easy win for the Astros — the defending World Series champs add to an already-good starting rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton.

Even if pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, infielder Colin Moran, who was Houston’s No. 5 prospect and outfielder Jason Martin, who was Houston’s No. 15 prospect, pan out for the Pirates, the Astros made a move that helps them defend their title with minimal impact on their 2018 roster.

The Pirates are getting young, Major League-ready talent… but no one who projects with enough upside to be a star. Their fans are still left wondering if Cole was the first step of a full rebuild or an attempt to reload for another run with Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison. And they’ve got to be coming to the realization that if the return for Cole – a 27-year-old with two years of team control – was disappointing, McCutchen – a 31-year-old in the final year of a seven-year contract – may not bring back anyone of note at all.

With less than a month to go before players start reporting to spring training, hopefully we’ll get some more actual baseball news to talk about instead of rumors created for the sake of page clicks.

And hey, if we don’t? Those “Player X is in the best shape of his life” stories might be a little more interesting if Player X is still looking for a job when they run.

Posted in Baseball

I should probably be more excited…

yoenis-cespedes-cci11302016
2016 Yoenis Cespedes Topps Bunt Card, received from A.J., The Lost Collector

Yesterday, the New York Mets made what is likely to be their biggest move of the off-season. They reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to bring him back to New York for the next four seasons that will make him the highest paid Mets player ever (at least in terms of average annual value.

 

And that’s great. No, really, it is – the 2017 Mets will be a lot more fun to watch with Cespedes in the lineup than without him.

But at least according to published reports, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson‘s next off-season priority is trading away RF Jay Bruce or CF Curtis Granderson.

The 2016 Mets were tied for 25th in the majors in runs scored despite ranking 5th in home runs. And since it seems like the offensive game plan is going to be the same in next year, don’t you want to have a deeper lineup where all three of your starting outfielders are legitimate 20+ home run threats?

But ok, Cespedes is a Gold Glove left fielder, while neither Bruce nor Granderson are considered strong defensive players. Maybe Alderson is trying to shore up the defense in a deal? Nope… at least not according to what Newsday’s Marc Carig is hearing. The Mets are hoping to unload one of their outfielders for “prospects or even a controllable bullpen piece.”

If Bruce is traded, Granderson would play center and presumably Michael Conforto would inherit right…perhaps in a platoon with Juan Lagares. If Granderson gets traded, Bruce plays right and Conforto and Lagares platoon in center.

So unless Conforto figures out how to hit curveballs this winter and starts living up to the promise we saw when he first came up in 2015, we’re probably looking at an offense that will be very similar to what we watched last year.

And I don’t think I have to remind anyone that wasn’t always a whole lot of fun.

But at least we don’t have to find out how much worse the Mets’ offense could look without Cespedes. So we’ve got that going for us, which is something.

Posted in Baseball

From tears to smiles

I thought the enduring image of the 2015 MLB non-waiver trade deadline was going to be Wilmer Flores in tears, but instead I’ll remember his smile as Steve Gelbs interviewed him moments after he hit a 12th inning walk-off home run to beat the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

This week has been unbelievable. Seriously… if the events of the last three days were written into a movie script, you’d just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Wednesday night, cameras caught Flores crying as he went out to his position at in the eighth inning after he received a larger than usual amount of applause during his seventh inning at-bat from a crowd who thought he was about to be traded to the Milwaukee Brewers as part of a deal for outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Continue reading “From tears to smiles”

Posted in Uncategorized

Baseball 101: you have to score runs if you want to win games

The Mets lost again Tuesday night, falling to the Reds 3-0 when Jay Bruce hit a walk-off home run off of Josh Edgin.  Don’t look now, but the Phillies are just one game behind the Mets for third place… I guess I shouldn’t have been so quick to write them off at the All-Star Break – while they won’t make the playoffs, it’s certainly starting to look like the Phillies could finish 2012 with a better record than the Mets.

Chris Young (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Chris Young (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

It’s tempting to point to Edgin for giving Bruce too good a pitch to hit, and Manny Acosta for failing to record an out in the ninth inning as the reasons the Mets lost the series opener, but that’s really not the whole story.

Chris Young had one of the most strangely impressive outings of his Mets’ career. He was in trouble of his own making in every inning, allowing eight hits and four walks over 5 2/3innings, but he didn’t allow a run. And until the ninth inning, the bullpen was flawless. Ramon Ramirez bailed Young out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth, while Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth.

The hitters let the team down again. The Mets’ offense left 10 batters on base and was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. No matter how good your team’s pitching is, you can’t win games if you don’t score runs.

“Obviously we’re not swinging the bats very good,” Terry Collins said after the game. “We talked all summer long that some place along the line we had to get David [Wright] some help. Right now he’s not swinging like he was in April. We’ve got to get some guys to step up and try to get some runs in.”

The Mets manager stopped short of criticizing the front office, instead directing his words to the players on the current 25-man roster. But the truth is, the Mets need to look outside the organization for some medium- and long-term help. Looking at the roster objectively, how many of the Mets’ position players would you want on your team? How many of them would be starters?

Wright told the New York Post that winning is more important to him than money when deciding where he wants to play when his current contract expires. When asked to assess the Mets’ progress towards building a winning team, Wright said “We’ve taken a baby step in the right direction and I still think there’s a long way to go…”

I guess we’ll find out soon enough if Sandy Alderson can sell Wright on his plan for rebuilding the Mets. Unless ownership is prepared to increase payroll above this year’s level, Alderson is not going to be able to make big changes in 2013. They’ll have to wait until 2014, when Johan Santana and Jason Bay come off the books. The problem is that Wright and R.A. Dickey, the Mets’ two best players, will also reach the ends of their contracts that winter.

If Alderson is not going to be able to re-sign his stars, it would be smarter to do the unthinkable and trade them this off-season. But with season tickets to sell and an All-Star Game to promote, who knows if ownership would let him make the best baseball move if that’s what it comes to?

Not a fun thing to think about… but it could be worse. Just look at the mess they have up in Boston.