The winter of 2014 seemed endless. Mets fans were forced to endure a historically frigid season with very little assistance from the Hot Stove. But time passes, and today is Opening Day at Citi Field. Sure enough it is a beautiful day, if you like damp and rainy. But hey, the game is still a few hours off, hopefully the weather clears.
With Matt Harvey out for the year and Jon Niese not yet back from his latest MRI adventure, the first pitch honors have been handed to Dillon Gee. Gee doesn’t excite anyone, but he has been quietly effective for three years now, and the start today is a nice minor reward. In three weeks today’s game will be an afterthought, but Opening Day always brings extra attention from the media and fans. And frankly, it’s hard to envision Gee getting this opportunity in the future.
For years I have looked at Dillon Gee with one thought in my heart: I hope he pitches well enough so we can trade him.
Of course, there are timing issues to these things.
Secondly, more acutely, it’s painful to trade a player who is doing well. But we’ve already seen the flip side of that. Trading Ike Davis didn’t work out so hot. A team has to want the player you’re dangling.
Branch Rickey had a famous line, “Better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.”
I came here to praise Dillon, and will in a moment. But yes, when it comes to trades, timing is everything. (And “will,” of course, is another matter.) This year would have been a perfect time to trade Niese, except for his left-handedness and the aforementioned arm’s dubious durability. To any potential trading partner, Niese must be viewed as damaged goods.
Dillon was brilliant this Spring. Four starts, 16 IP, 1.08 ERA. In the past three seasons, he’s lowered his regular season ERA from 4.43, to 4.10, to 3.62. He turns 28 this April and it feels like he’s grown up before our eyes. I’m very happy for his success. Guys with a lot more pure talent have achieved much less. I always think of an old favorite, Bobby Jones, who got by on guile, guts, and old-fashioned competitiveness. Those are admirable characteristics to have in a ballplayer.
More and more velocity rules the day for pitchers. The gun readings are everywhere, and the message is not subtle, the faster the better. Dillon is not a hard thrower, and the first response is to think a pitcher like Gee will get not be able to be consistently effective. After Gee’s rookie year, I thought he would eventually get exposed as the next Brian Bannister. But Dillon has proved me wrong. But sure, to your point above, I wonder how much longer he will be a Met. We have a number of pitching prospects close to the majors. It feels like something has to give.
If the Mets did not have gaping holes in the lineup, if they had the financial resources to acquire players in some other way, I might think differently about this.
But neither of those “ifs” cannot be answered in the positive. You project toward the 2015 season and simply from a payroll perspective, Dillon Gee is the type of arbitration-eligible, veteran player who needs to go away.
Unfortunately, the Mets have one of the least active GMs in baseball. He doesn’t aggressively do anything to help the team. This winter, Sandy signed three guys, basically, suggesting that opening a checkbook is all he knows how to do.
So I’ll admit that hoping he’ll make a trade is a long shot. Alderson has not once, to date, made a trade along the lines I’d envision — where a good player under team control gets shipped away in exchange for a different player who better fills an immediate need.
I doubt Sandy would agree with Rickey’s assessment above. It seems very important to Alderson that he be perceived as the winner of every trade. And, to be fair, the few moves Alderson has made have looked solid. But that mentality will not lead to many trades.
I’ve compared his style to the way Bill Parcells coached the New York Giants. Risk averse. There might be something to say for it.
I sometimes wonder how many things can a team do wrong — how many small mistakes can it make? — and still win a World Series. And the answer is, I think, quite a lot. Of course, you’ve got to get some big things right along the way.
By the way, I think it’s very likely that he’s got to trade Murphy, too. Small market baseball, 101.
Yes it is. Of course, that is what makes analyzing the Mets right now a hard puzzle to solve. New York is not a small market, but it appears as if our owners are going to pretend Citi Field is in Kansas City for the foreseeable future. Or, they are not, and the team is just being prudent while the overall organization reloads, which would change everything. I have my suspicions, strong ones, which of these are the case. But I don’t know for sure.
I don’t think anyone is pretending. They are broke. And they’ve been lying about it. And Sandy has been lying, too.
But we have gone far a-field. Today is Opening Day and Dillon Gee gets the ball. He deserves this honor, he’s worked hard, carried himself extremely well over the past year. Let’s go Mets.
I’m just happy today to move from the offseason to actual baseball. Gee starts that process. I’m hoping for a strong start, a win, and a first-place team at the end of the day. It’s a long season, but all the games count. The first ones don’t count for more, but they do hang much longer in our memories. Hopefully Dillon provides a positive one.