News & Views: Standing Pat, Early Roster Projections, Aging Relievers, Gil Hodges, and More

wishful_thinking180Mike:

The Nationals made a trade with Tampa last week, moving pitching prospect Nate Karns for catcher Jose Lobaton and two younger minor league prospects. Yet another example of two teams utilizing the trade market to balance their rosters and improve their organizations. It is very difficult to improve without a huge budget through nothing but free agency.

Jimmy:

In keeping with the photo above, the Mets are mainly trying to improve through the farm system — which comes at a glacial pace. But yes, I noted that deal, too. It is strange for the Mets to have been so bad, for so long, and for the GM to be this inactive, particularly on a team that is imbalanced with a surplus of pitching and a dearth of hitting. There’s been a lot of standing pat and wishful thinking.

Mike:

Sandy Alderson went on record that offense will dictate who plays in the outfield.

Jimmy:

I know, and it feels like the same old merry-go-round. Does this give the edge to Duda over Young, to offense over defense? You have to look at the contributions of the whole player. This ┬ásounds like the repeat of, “We need more power” mantra.

Mike:

We know the words “outfield” and “Lucas Duda” have started reappearing in sentences from both Sandy and Terry Collins. But I am remaining calm on that, I think it’s a bluff. I think the real message to us is Juan Lagares is not going to start.

Jimmy:

Adam Rubin recently put out his “first stab” for the Mets Opening Day roster, based on Terry Collins’ initial press conference and logic, and I thought it was a pretty accurate take given the date. I mean to say: The roster was sad and pathetic, but this does seem to reflect the club’s current thinking. Essentially, young and talented does not cut it for the Mets in April.

Rubin’s roster:

Starting Rotation:

  1. Neise
  2. Colon
  3. Gee
  4. Wheeler
  5. Matsuzaka

Lineup:

  1. E. Young, LF
  2. Murphy, 2B
  3. Wright, 3B
  4. Granderson, RF
  5. C. Young, CF
  6. Davis, 1B
  7. D’Arnaud, C
  8. Tejeda, SS

Bench:

  • Recker, C
  • Satin, 1B/3B
  • Seratelli, Utility
  • Lagares, OF
  • Duda, 1B/OF

Bullpen:

  • Parnell
  • Valverde
  • Farnsworth
  • Black
  • Rice
  • Familia
  • Torres

I mean, sure, there’s a lot of time left and all of this talk is premature. Duda could go down to Triple-A, and Familia is no sure thing. I have this crazy hope that Flores becomes the new

Can this man throw a pie?

Can this man throw a pie?

Justin Turner instead of Seratelli. All the guys I’m most interested in seeing — Lagares, Mejia, Montero, Flores — could well be on the outside looking in. Of course, in June things will be different, but I can’t say that this is an exciting message to the fans, who are ready to embrace a youth movement.

Mike:

As you said, it’s early, we will see eventually who makes the 25 man roster. I can’t speak for other fans, but for this fan that needs to be whoever can best help this team win in 2014. I’m not saying that should be old players, in many cases younger guys with real upside can help propel a team. But the only thing that will truly excite me right now is good baseball. Winning needs to drive decisions. This team has not even played .500 ball under Alderson and Collins. I’m sick and tired of hearing about how much better next year will be. It’s next year now.

Jimmy:

Yes, but. I’m all for the existentialist “here and now,” but if you are driving to Buffalo, you’ve still got to gas-up the car. Meaning that it could be short-sighted for thoughts to stop at 2014, such as a one-year deal for Stephen Drew or, yes, the signing of Chris Young.

When I look at Farnsworth and Valverde and Dice-K, I see hairballs clogging the drain. What’s the point of a talent pipeline if you are going to clog it with washed-up veterans? That space on the roster, and on the field, are investments. It’s like stocking a supermarket with different cereals. There’s limited profit in what we’ll ever get out of aging, stopgap relievers. Whereas if a Mazzoni or Walters throws decently, those are guys who could help us in the long run.

I recognize that there’s player options involved here. Dice K, for example, has an opt-out at the end of May. So it makes sense to give him the edge over, say, Montero (who you can stash at Triple-A). I get that, I do, but I ultimately believe that too much of this type of thinking has poisoned the Mets system. It’s a losing mentality. Let’s put the guy out there who is going to help us today . . . and tomorrow. If Mejia succeeds as a starter in NY, he’d become a wildly appreciating asset. And, yes, it would be a lot more fun.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s about 2014. It would have been nice, but I’m not feeling it. I want to invest in the guys who might possibly become assets in 2015.

Mike:

Before I forget, I noticed our friends at Mets 360 had another roundtable that you participated in, asking what people thought was the biggest surprise of the offseason. Good answers all around, in particular I like yours, of course, and also Mack’s. For me, though, the biggest surprise so far is that we have not yet resigned Francisco. I mean Ike and Ruben are back, and now the words Duda and outfield keep being uttered. If the goal of the offseason is to turn off the fan base, why not go all the way?

Jimmy:

Shhhh, he’s still out there, looking for meal money. I love Mack’s point about Stephen Drew. It’s insane to consider giving up a 3rd Round Draft Pick to sign a player for only one year. Especially if that year is 2014 and we are talking about the Mets. By the way, I realize that Mack has been doing this forever, but his site has really been fantastic of late. There’s a schedule now, a tighter focus on their strengths, and Mack and his team of writers are banging out great material on a daily basis. I’m a big fan.

Hey, I ran into an old friend the other day, a really big Red Sox fan, and he raved to me about this book. Said he did not realize what an honorable, respected guy that Gil Hodges was. Anyway, just another title to add to this list:

Hodges-book-cover-250x377

 

Mike:

I still remember reading a biography of Gil when I was a boy, I assume it was the one done by Milton Shapiro. All these years later what sticks is how much he embraced the borough of Brooklyn when he played, and vice versa. For younger fans, I heartily recommend reading up on Hodges, who was a huge New York baseball figure for more than 20 years. The number 14 that is retired at Citi Field is well deserved.

Jimmy:

He should be in the Hall. Screw the numbers, behold the whole man.

 

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17 comments

  1. First off, I am getting such cabin fever I’d knock a couple of blocks off and invite those Polar bears right on in.

    Wife in Vegas, kid with mild concussion, dog that won’t touch the ground outside without being air lifted. I need some spring training games, the horrible dull episodes of watching number 76 bat in the 4th inning!

    Regarding Drew and the loss of a 3rd round pick, I think one thing that we fail to look at in that big picture is the success rate of draft picks and the odds of a 3rd round pick out performing Drew, even if only for one year.

    Looking at the 3rd round from 2007 thru 2010 (this is the year you would expect more 2011 to be cast judgement upon) around 2 of 30 picks give or take per draft see the light of day in a meaningful way. (not including those are picked and go to college ala Matt Harvey with the Angels in 2007)

    Yes there has been Joe Smith, Jonathan Lucroy and Craig Kimbrel. The latter is the extreme outlier (and I might add now has a scary contract to the Fire Hat). Lucroy took a good five years before he was making a meaningful contribution.

    I am not investing in Drew rookie cards, but I also have lost all faith in Ruben Tejada.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I feel your pain on the cabin fever. It’s so bad for me right now I watched Collins press conference Friday live. Planned my lunch around it. Consider this a cry for help.

      I’m not a Drew guy, but I agree a third round pick is nothing to fret about. If I could actually envision Drew as a viable lead off hitter maybe I could warm up to the idea.

      I keep looking at Owings from Arizona. A top prospect, ready for the majors. They love Gregorious, and can’t play both. If only we had some high level pitching prospects there could be a match there.

      • That would require Sandy to make a trade in which gasp, he might not be perceived the winner.

        • Reese Kaplan says:

          I guess you forgot about the Angel Pagan debacle to San Francisco.

          • Trading of disgruntled veterans for disgruntled veterans notwithstanding, I am talking about dealing from strength in prospects to fill in weaknesses. It is a risky proposition, because say he dealt Montero and he actually does better than all the other pitchers? That is Sandy’s reluctance.

      • I absolutely do not include Syndergaard in this deal, but anybody below him, certainly.

        Unfortunately — and this is partly what I was trying to get at in the original post — the organization continues to devalue guys like Montero, Mejia, Flores, etc.

        I’ve always contended that a pitcher who experiences ML success is far more valuable than a prospect (except in the cases of, say, BA’s Top 20). Montero as a chip is currently a question mark. If he pitches well for a few months in the majors, and I recognize the gamble here, then his value would increase exponentially.

        Plawecki could be a valuable chip, and soon.

        Our fundamental disagreement here, though minor, is that I feel the Mets needed (and still need, to a lesser degree) time for these prospects to add luster and value. A lot of these guys still need one more solid year in the system before they’ll have much trade value, or else you are giving them away on the cheap.

        In a glass half-full take on this, it’s been more a matter of timing than of willingness. The cookies still need a couple more minutes in the oven.

        • Michael Geus says:

          Owings is ready for the majors and a top 30 prospect. I wouldn’t trade that for Montero, he could of course be a piece. But overall, it’s fairly obvious by now we don’t have the combination of organizational fortitude or prospect depth to make a deal.

          As for major league experience adding value, I’m not so sure about that. That was the case for a long time, but right now, as J.P. pointed out, the value of prospects is at an all time high.

          Everybody is doing the same math, not just the Mets, and once that service time clock starts it offsets a lot of other value. Teams do not want just good players, they want good cheap players. That is the current rage.

  2. I hear that about the third-round pick, but feel that the overall odds are better if we have it than if we don’t. So there’s value in it. I’d be willing to surrender the 3rd-rounder, no problem, but feel it’s goofy to do it in order to sign a guy for one year. Two years for Drew is what makes sense to me. A one-year deal and we lose the pick — not a huge deal, admittedly — and the club is in the same fix all over again next winter.

    BTW, from Drew’s perspective, this whole thing sucks. Staying with the Sox for a season or two as a utility player is quite a come down. Hard to see that translating into a bigger contract down the road. His best bet is a strong season full-time with the Mets — it would be the best investment in himself, in that he should go to the team that will put him on the field. From that perspective, Alderson really has him by the short hairs. So I guess I could still see a scenario where Drew signs with the Mets, bitterly and unhappily, but he does it for Stephen Drew.

  3. RAFF says:

    A one year deal for Drew really ends up costing a 3rd rounder plus an additional high pick or player in order to again fill the void next year. Makes no sense to sign him for less than 2-3 years. I think Drew is going to sit out there until some contending team becomes desperate due to injuries or other surprises.

  4. Michael Geus says:

    Maybe I misunderstand the CBA, but for me a one-year deal is great for the Mets. They give up a third round pick and have Drew for one year. If Drew does badly they are not on the hook for year two, or heaven forbid, year three. If Drew does well they make a Qualifying offer. At that point, he either accepts and you get year two or you get a pick back (which could be a first rounder.) The Mets could end up with a year of Drew and a better draft pick.

    Why is a straight up two year deal better for the Mets?

    I get where Sandy is coming from on this.

    • The draft pick is always supplemental at this point and its location will be determined by who signs the qualifying player and how many other picks they forfeit.

      The semantics notwithstanding, to me you are absolutely right, if they can get him one year with an opt out and control the QO that would be ideal.

    • James Preller says:

      I don’t see them making a $15 million QO on Drew.

      • They have to imagine the market place, something this front office has indisputably been horrible it, seeing further than a week. Next year there is at least one team that will be looking for a shortstop for certain, QOs never get in their way.

  5. RAFF says:

    The Qualifying offer you allude to was 1 year at over $14 million this offseason.. Let’s say they can pick him up for $9 mil on a one year deal, this year, will they be willing to Pony up another 14-15 million QO for next year? This doesn’t seem like their M.O. . I think they’re hoping for a trade oppty down the road which is more favorable. And after all, the position(s) they fill with the 10-12mm per year which would otherwise go to Drew might be allocated elsewhere on the field. I think that sometimes, as we get into discussion about the SS position, we tend to lose focus on the fact that the Mets have other obvious roster holes and other situations which are in “flux”.

  6. ERAFF says:

    I know this is off topic…. BUT!!!!…

    (this is for you Jimmy!)

    I just viewed a video of the Mets Pitchers going thru their warm ups today.

    A Uniform Number will simply NOT do justice to Bartolo Colon…. He needs a Zip Code!

  7. RAFF says:

    Bartolo is carrying around at least 50-60 lbs of spare PLASMA.. He looks Plasgmasmic!

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