I have heard it many times from fans and other thoughtful folk: “I am very reluctant to trade young pitching.”
However, the Mets need to upgrade the offense in order to raise the overall talent level. Sure, 15-11 is nice, and numbers-oriented Mark Simon at ESPN will tell us that the Mets are on pace for 93 wins. That’s terrific. This brief season has given us a reminder that starting pitching is the best, fastest, surest way to achieve competitive baseball on a daily basis.
But the game involves offense, too. We all watched Matt Harvey give the Mets a Cy Young- caliber season last year; he came away with 9 wins.
Given the owner’s financial constraints, it is pretty clear the Mets aren’t going to buy the next hitter. Casting a look at the farm system for impact players, there’s no short-term hope in sight. Once Syndergaard and Montero are called up to where they already belong, the entire system falls back into the middle of the pack, no longer artificially inflated by outside prospects drafted by other organizations.
So how do the Mets get better? How do you make a difference now?
Trade appears to be the only option. Even Sandy Alderson admits it. And pitching is our only valuable commodity.
Without going down the list, I’ll cut to the chase: The guy I’d flip is Jenrry Mejia.
The big assumption (and hope) here is that Mejia would have value on the marketplace. I can’t know that for sure, but my guess is that if he continues to dazzle on the mound, another team with pitching troubles might view him as an attractive, young solution.
A few reasons:
- Mejia’s arbitration clock started in 2010, a definite factor for a small-market team like the Mets;
- The Mets have the depth to absorb the loss of Mejia. Montero and Syndergaard are both ready to step into the rotation right now. Dice-K is floating around; Jake deGrom has opened eyes. And a guy named Matt will need a spot next season.
- Jenrry has a history of injuries. This could detract from his trade value, but at the same time it’s one of the reasons why I’d be wiling to part with him, despite his clear and obvious talent.
Any thoughts, Mike?
I don’t care about the who. When it comes to trades it’s all about the deal itself. I loved R.A. Dickey but understood the logic of trading him. I thought Hubie Brooks was a very fine player, still do, so much so that I did not think the trade for Gary Carter belonged on our list of Top Ten Trades. But I do think that trade was smart for those Mets. So for me who do we trade is whomever it takes to make a deal that can improve the team. For instance, I hear people talk all the time that we cannot think about trading Noah Syndergaard. That’s crazy talk to me. You can trade anyone, as long as the return makes sense, especially a player who has never played in the major leagues.
It’s hard to have too much pitching, and I wouldn’t say we have too much. Compared to our offense, yes, we tilt toward pitchers on both the major league and minor league level. Because of the fragility of pitchers it is still painful to consider moving any, but one big hitter could change the dynamic of this team a great deal. The thought is fascinating. I believe the key to winning is accumulating talent at the major league level at the same time, so I would be building around this current pitching staff.
More and more though, I don’t think this is an avenue that is being seriously explored. One thing to remember is that the front office has a different, mysterious, value system when it comes to hitting. When Jose Abreu (10 HRs, 32 RBIs) and Nelson Cruz (7 HRs, 25 RBIs) were sitting there to be had for the middle of our order we had no interest. Like most sluggers, they swing hard, and often. I think Sandy only wants a slugger if he also works counts, but mostly, I don’t know what he really likes. It seems very specific. That limits the market. Also, we obviously don’t have a major league shortstop anywhere in sight, Sandy all but shouted it himself, but acquiring one seems unimportant to him.
I also suspect that our “excess” pitching is even less than it appears to be on the surface. The Jon Niese contract jumps to $7 million next year, and $9 million in 2016. Dillon Gee, if he continues to pitch like this, will be due a huge raise in arbitration this offseason. Everything we see regarding Matt Harvey indicates the clock is ticking loudly on his days as a Met. My prediction is that all of these players are gone in one way or another by 2016, and that we do not acquire any players back for any of them that play in the major leagues this decade. Hopefully, the Montero’s and Syndergaard’s of the world can make that transition fairly smooth.
The overall goal of the Mets is now constant expense management. We have made one real trade since 2013 ended, and it was done to shed Ike Davis $3 million-plus salary. The PTBNL is most likely too young to drink yet, and will have a potential major league target date of 2023. These are the only moves we now make. The player I expect to see traded soon is Daniel Murphy. His salary is very fair for his level of play, but it keeps rising. Murphy is exactly the type of player a team on the brink of contention looks to add, a gritty solid baseball player. But contention is not the number one objective. That doesn’t mean we can’t win, we are doing so right now, just that it won’t come easy. And again, that it is not a high priority for these owners. So they can send out as many e-mails as they want pleading their case, I know what is really going on.
I will be happy, of course, to be proven wrong.
Wow, damn, that’s dark. You seriously need some kind of counseling — and I say that as your friend. I am worried.
I’m a Mets fan and a Knicks fan. I always have the specter of Jeff Wilpon and James Dolan looming over my teams. Maybe I can start a group of us for counseling. That would be a way to fill Citi Field.
I will save the discussion of Murphy for another time. But each day I’m more surprised that he’s still a Met.
While I understand your overall pessimism, I don’t agree. Or, at least, I can’t quite shake that snaggle-toothed cur, hope, nipping at my legs. A trade by early June just makes too much sense, even for slow-moving Sandy.
Here’s a different perspective: Let’s face it, when the Mets went with Mejia after Spring Training it surprised many of us. Dice-K had pitched well, so they weren’t forced into doing the right thing. What was going on here?
I have long advocated the position that except for the brightest prospects, players need to succeed in the majors in order to accrue trade value. That’s what Jenrry Mejia has been accomplishing. He’s going out and winning games. He pitches well in Colorado, for example, that opens eyes. So you could view his time with the Mets in 2014 as a showcase. This is the guy.
To which I give the official “2 Guys” motto: Hey, you never know.
So I like Mejia as a centerpiece for a trade. But at the same time, I like your take even better, “I don’t care about the who.”
Expectations, hopes have been raised. It could all be dashed in the course of long, sad road trip. But until then, I’ll be looking for some kind of upgrade to the current roster. Anything less will feel like disappointment.