Two Guys Talking Trade Rumors: Upton, Kubel

Jimmy:

This morning my daughter was watching that show, “Dual Survival.” And it got me thinking about us, good buddy.

You know the show? There’s one guy who walks around barefoot and is really into nature, while the other guy basically just wants to stab something and eat it. They get along great!

If you and me were those guys, which one would I be?

Mike:

The guy who would be worried that if things got really tough he was going to get stabbed.

Jimmy:

Yeah, I was afraid of that. So. As we all know, the internet is fueled by a never-ending supply of four things: pornography, cat videos, free music downloads, and trade rumors that never go away. Rumors have heated up about the Mets kicking the tires on two Arizona outfielders, Jason Kubel and Justin Upton. On the surface, this makes sense to me, since my perception is that 1) there’s money; and 2) Alderson is mostly interested in obtaining an impact guy, one who’d make a difference moving forward, which is why he’s passed on the filler. We can debate that another time. However, it comes down to specifics and cost.┬áLet’s deal with Kubel first. Thoughts?

Mike:

When I deck up our needs I always start with speed. We have none. Kubel is very slow. Next, we are too unbalanced, with too many left handed hitters. Kubel is left handed. Our defense is bad. Kubel is an atrocious fielder.

I mean, Kubel makes Lucas Duda totally useless. How could those two guys coexist on a 25 man roster?

Jimmy:

What if the Mets included Duda in the deal? Would you throw in a strong pitching prospect to make that deal?

Mike:

Are we paying him? If so, I wouldn’t give up more than we got for Billy Wagner. Look, Kubel is a professional hitter, but he is no savior. He cannot hit left handed pitchers. He has no range and he has no arm. Every time I see his name associated with us, I think it’s nonsense. There is no fit. The only way it could be worse is if he were a third baseman.

Now Upton fits. Speed, check. Right handed, check. Power and youth too, and under contract for a few years. When his name first came up in the off season, I couldn’t see how we could afford him, both in prospects and short term salary commitments. Now, the money has been cleared, and we added some prospects through the Dickey deal. Also, by signing Wright, Flores became someone whose greatest value would be to be dealt.

I would love to get Upton. I think this is the type of move a big market team is supposed to make. The question is do we have what it takes to get it done? We can’t afford to give up Harvey, Wheeler, or d’Arnaud. Other than Flores, anyone else who isn’t filler is still very young and further away. That does not mean, however, they wouldn’t be valuable to Arizona. It would depend on what the Diamondbacks think of their own system and what they need.

Jimmy:

Wow, Mike, you surprise me. I thought you were down on Upton. And when I talked about trading Flores right after we signed Wright, you didn’t like that either. Not killing you, situations change. You really feel an urgency for the team to Do Something.

Mike:

My preference on Flores would still be to find out if he can play second base. So I’m not dying to move him. But untouchable? Of course not, I didn’t have him at that level before Wright was signed, and now Wright is safely under contract.

The big change to me is the Dickey trade. I advocated trading Dickey and agreed with the trade but the lack of any follow up moves has been maddening.

To put it in business terms, all Sandy ever seems to want to do is divestitures. Would it kill him to mix in an acquisition this off season?

As far as Upton himself, there is big upside and I would understand the gamble. We already have to have faith that the current regime are correct in their assessments of Wheeler and d’Arnaud. If they think the still young Upton can continue to improve I sure would understand the move.

Jimmy:

I like Upton, and not only do I see him as a perfect fit for this team, and the right statement to make at this time, but I feel like this is the move that Alderson has been angling for all off-season. That said, there’s 3 problems to overcome:

  1. Arizona is selling Upton as a superstar, and he’s not that;
  2. Seattle offered a solid, four-player package for Upton. That offer is off the table, of course, but it’s going to take a significant return for Arizona to sign off on a deal;
  3. Most significantly, I’m not sure the Mets are in a great position — right now, as opposed to a year from now — to trade many prospects, most of whom are still young and under-valued (we’d be selling low, buying high).

For starters, we don’t include Wheeler, Harvey, or d’Arnaud. Period. I think a deal for Upton starts with Flores and Syndergaard, two guys who are (to me) expendable. But I don’t think that’s enough to get it done. Do you add Jenrry Meija to that list? Jeurys Familia? Domingo Tapia? Michael Fulmer? (Danny Abriano over at Rising Apple had a strong piece on this, btw, and he even mentioned Tejeda as a possible chip.)

The point is, I think we easily have enough talent to get a deal done without giving up our Big Three. Flores, who seems like a very promising hitter, simply doesn’t fit on the Mets; and Syndergaard is a nice chip — but only that. I don’t see Justin Upton as a savior, by any means, but he’s the type of young, athletic, RH outfielder this club desperately needs. A solid piece of the puzzle. I think Alderson should go after this pretty hard. Sure, we are talking about consciously overpaying for Justin Upton, question marks included. But isn’t that how the world works? If you want to dance, you pay the fiddler.

On the other hand, won’t most of these young Mets prospects be much more valuable commodities as they collectively (it’s hoped) move a year closer to making an impact on the major league level? Is it wiser to wait, to do nothing, and bid our time for the fruits of the system to ripen? Patience, patience, patience? After all, we did trade away the 2012 Cy Young winner this off-season. It’s never been about 2013. Should we hang one more year before flipping some of these prospects?

Mike:

Nobody has been more consistent than me on saying we are dead in the water for 2013. That does not mean that the GM should just put up a “Gone Fishing” sign.

As for the prospects, sorry, but I’m not buying what you are selling. There are countless prospects who peak in value at every level and then start to dim in everyone’s eyes. At one time a Met fan would have howled at the idea of trading the package of Fernando Martinez, Brad Holt, and Reese Havens, for just about anyone. I’m not saying empty the farm, not at all. But when to sell or buy on prospects? Sorry, I do not think there is a formula. I think that is much more art than science. I’m hoping Sandy is Monet, but fear sometimes he wants to be Einstein.


 

 

 

 

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7 comments

  1. Don P says:

    The Upton brothers are talented players who are head cases. NY could very well cook this guy. They have a little too much Gary Sheffield in them for my taste. For a blog trying to rate the toughest guys in Met history I would think that character would mean more to you guys.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Interesting point, that is another risk associated with Upton.

    • Speaking only as “1 Guy”:

      * Don’t be misled by our appreciation of “tough guys.” We know that teams are made up of wide variety of individuals: superstars and scrubs, born agains and partiers, smooth athletes and guys who have to grind it out. Funny guys, quiet ones, headcases, milk shake drinkers, egotists, assholes, saints, etc. I actually think a team’s strength is in its diversity. So, yeah, the young, gifted, immature athlete who has a world of talent — I’ll add that to the mix any day of the week. Strawberry was a headcase, too. A lot of guys are.

      * That said, Arizona is looking to flip Upton for a reason. They became unhappy with him there — which is why a player of his ability is available. He has struggled at times. So yeah, that’s a valid question: If the fans in Arizona are on your back, what happens in NYC? But he still possesses a world of ability, witness his age 23 season with 31 HRs and strong showing in MVP voting (4th). Personally I don’t have a clear take on Justin Upton’s “character,” so I’m very willing to roll the dice on this guy. Maybe I’m wrong about that. I think Mets fans are hungry for a player with his talent.

      Yes, character counts, but you cannot box yourself into the tradition of the Wilpons where character becomes everything. One of the side observations about our “2 Guys” team is that Fred couldn’t wait to get rid of most of those guys. Backman, Mitchell, Dykstra, Cone: gone, gone, gone. Minor note: I like the Upton connection with David Wright, and see that as a small plus.

  2. DD says:

    Justin Upton’s career stats in away games: .250/.325/.406. That’s real; those number were created over six seasons, in over 1500 plate appearances. Assuming he moves out of that bandbox, unless he greatly improves those numbers his new team will be paying a lot of money for very little production.

    I spent a few years wishing my team would somehow finesse BJ Upton away from the Rays. Today, I’m over it. Justin is still young, he could improve I suppose. But the comparison to Gary Sheffield might be unfair to Sheffield, who after some awful incidents did develop, keeping himself in shape into his later years, et al. The Upton brothers don’t seem to have that sort of dedication in them, and neither of them has ever had a Gary Sheffield season. (Sorry, Mike)

    • Those are sobering numbers, Dan. Excellent find. It’s important to understand that Upton is a good player, entering his prime, with talents that fit the Mets needs, but he’s nobody’s idea of a superstar. I don’t mind the salary he’d earn. The question is how much do you surrender for him.

  3. Michael Geus says:

    Ha, DD, I cannot dispute Gary’s production. One of the strangest nights of my Met rooting life was being at CF for his 500th HR. As a Met! Root for teams long enough, all kinds of emotional conflicts occur.

  4. […] we both wanted him this off-season and said so. I think perhaps even Sandy wanted him, too, but he got outmaneuvered or maybe didn’t have a […]

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