I had a scary thought the other day, Mike. I guess I’d been reading about some potential deals that were in talks last winter, rumors that finally got reported. For example, one that was reported by Peter Gammons involved a trade of Jonathan Niese to Seattle for SS Brad Miller.
Anyway, my thought was this: If Ruben Tejada was on a different team, I wondered if Sandy Alderson would trade for him. Because I think he’s exactly the caliber of guy the Mets are looking for, and I suspect that’s the type of guy they will finally land.
No wonder he never trades! You have now made me grateful for that.
Seriously, though. Given the Mets team budget — I know, I know, it’s so defeatist to start from that point — I think any thoughts of a “big bat” are mostly fantasy, unless the Mets unload Colon and, perhaps, Murphy too. It’s just hard to see how there’s room to spend serious money.
Last winter, I believe that Sandy had his initial sights on Jhonny Peralta until the price tag scared the bejeezus out of him. I honestly think that the market caught Alderson off guard. After that, it was a mad scramble, which is not exactly a Sandy Alderson strength. He’s a slow-and-steady kind of guy, specializing in the long slog.
While I expect the Mets to be publicly “interested” in the high-profile free agent shortstops this winter, J.J. Hardy and Jed Lowrie, I don’t think they have the money. And also, I don’t think that Sandy Alderson believes in spending his resources that way. Too much money, for too many years, for an uncertain return.
I think he wants young and controllable. A guy they can afford. Because, you know, that’s the deal with the Mets these days. It’s more of a priority than ever before.
When he gets a nickel or two to spend he doesn’t hoard it. Granderson, Colon, Chris Young, etc. But you can’t spend what you don’t have. So, given that I don’t think they can afford anyone, that leaves young guys, or the bargain bin.
Let’s focus on Miller for a moment. Though, I guess, we could easily throw in Nick Franklin, who was also linked to Mets’ “interest.”
Brad Miller is 23 years old, a 2nd round pick out of HS in the 2011 draft. He is arbitration eligible in 2017, a free agent in 2020. Perfect. Here are his ML stats:
- 2013: 306 AB * .265/.318/.418 * 109 OPS+
- 2014: 310 AB * .200/.277/.329 * 73 OPS+
Obviously, Miller has had a disappointing season. He raked throughout his minor league career, however, showing a high walk-rate and low K-numbers. His defense, as far as I can tell, appears to be around average. Erratic, but a true shortstop. By most any measure, Miller is a promising prospect who has either hit a bump in the road . . . or been somewhat exposed.
Only time will tell. Travis d’Arnaud looked like he might be exposed earlier this year. Now, not so much. But absolutely, many of these guys flame out.
Nick Franklin is also 23 years old, a 1st round pick from the 2009 draft. His career path is quite similar to Miller’s, though a notch below.
- 2013: 369 AB * .225/.303/.382 * 95 OPS+
- 2014: 47 AB * .128/.192/.170 * 5 OPS+
Franklin hit pretty well in the minors, though the glove comes into question. He’s probably not a shortstop. It’s hard not to think about Wilmer Flores as a comp.
My point is, though there’s talk of matching up with the Cubs, these are the kinds of guys Sandy seems to be targeting.
I don’t see the match, unless the Mets are posturing. I just don’t get the feel that the team is willing to part with enough pitching to get anything done. Those Cubs prospects are some of the highest-rated prospects in the game. It will take a lot of young talent going back to pry any of those guys away. I’m also not so sure they are looking to trade. I know I wouldn’t be very quick to trade a hitting prospect right now. Strong young pitching is important, but you see it everywhere. Not so with hitters these days.
Mostly, I think the Mets are hoarding their young pitching because it is young and cheap and they don’t want to spend at all.
Well, yes. If they trade Bartolo, I have a hard time seeing them trading one of the young guys, too. I keep thinking that Noah Syndergaard is the guy to move, but that’s a topic for another day. A lot of this speaks to your theory that this is the land where the Mets are now living. Sandy will put together a fair team, build around affordable pitching, and then throw a few darts in the air — AKA, Chris Young — hoping he gets lucky.
Yes, I really believe that is the closest thing to a “Plan” and 2014 was the first attempt. So far, Sandy is 0-1 as an archer. I don’t think the owners are willing to spend enough to put the team in the market for safer moves. You have to pay a premium for that.
And “safer” is not always better, as we learn anew each season. There are no sure things in baseball. This brings me back to Ruben Tejada. Forget, for a moment, that he’s ever been a Met. He’s 24 years old, eligible for free agency in 2018. In his ML career, he’s slashed .253/.328/.313. Career OPS+ of 81. It’s been so long since he’s spent time in the minors, that Tejada’s minor league stats don’t mean anything. Obviously, Ruben does not have the upside of Miller or Franklin, but he’s not that far from what those guys might actually provide.
I guess my question to you, Mike, is this: What do you think Sandy is looking for in a shortstop?
I don’t know, in fact, I’m less sure than ever that he is looking at all. I would not be shocked to see Tejada at short on Opening Day 2015. In fact I can almost hear Sandy singing it:
“And the eagle flies with the dove
Sometimes you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with
You gotta love the one you’re with!”
Well, in some ways, that’s great news. We won’t have to trade for him! And by the way, the more he sits, and the more Wilmer plays, the better Ruben looks. Wait, hold on a minute. Look at this guy’s numbers (below). That’s ML experience and he won’t be a free agent for another 7 years! Terrific BB/K ratio and, at only 21, he’s bound to get better, surely! Sandy is certain to trade for this one:
- 2011: 328 AB * .284/.360/.335 * 97 OPS+
Oh, wait. My bad. That 21-year-old is Ruben Tejada, and we’d need to travel back in time in order to get him. If, you know, we wanted to use a time machine in that way.
Or maybe, like with 1B this year, we’ll open Spring Training with a Battle Royale for shortstop, involving Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores, and Matt Reynolds. May the least-worst man win! We can try the classic triple-headed approach, with Wilmer and Matt battling it out for the Josh Satin role. The best thing about it: the focus turns to LF and maybe . . . just maybe . . . that’s where the club can make a deal.
Share and Enjoy