WHAT A SUCCESSFUL 2nd HALF MIGHT LOOK LIKE: How Things Could Break Right for the New York Mets

rose-colored-glasses-dan-holmJimmy:

Rose-colored glasses?

Mike:

Check.

Kool-Aid-PitcherJimmy:

Kool-Aid?

Mike:

Check.

Jimmy:

Okay, let’s roll. We agree that even under the best circumstances — barring miracles — our biggest hope is to see an organizational shift in the second half. Some roster changes, improved play on the field, invested ownership, all vaulting the team toward a truly competitive 2014 season.

A lot has been said about the 3 Amigos’ powers of evaluation. They’ve had more than 2 1/2 seasons to witness position players like Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejeda, Justin Turner, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. It’s long since time to make some decisions on these guys and push the eject button. Any candidates, Mike?

Mike:

I would honestly like to see Duda at first when he comes back. I still can’t see this team tendering Davis a contract. Maybe we can get by for a year or two with a Duda/Satin platoon, or at least know it is some kind of Plan B.

Jimmy:

I like that. Trading Byrd is obvious to me. I look at the Pirates reliever, Mark Melancon, acquired in a multi-player deal with Boston last season. Now he’s a key piece in arguably the best bullpen in baseball. I look at outfielder Eric Young, acquired for Collin McHugh, and the impact he’s made. Small deals can have real value.

Milk was a bad choiceMike:

Yes, I mentioned this the other day on Brian Joura’s roundtable over at Mets360, I’m in total agreement. Byrd is like an expiring milk carton.

Jimmy:

Less obvious is this: I would let it be known that we are willing to trade Bobby Parnell and that we are seeking a young outfield prospect who is ready to step into a full-time outfield job. Like the Bradley kid in Boston, for example.

Mike:

We plug a hole and create a hole. This does not excite me as much.

Jimmy:

Understood, I value Parnell too. My thinking is this: The Mets have a wealth of young arms in the system, a veritable pipeline. I believe two things: 1) The best way to build a pen is from within the system (the Atlanta model), versus paying for free agents; 2) “Proven closers” like Parnell tend to be over-valued on the marketplace. The history of baseball is littered with trades where teams overpaid wildly for immediate bullpen help. Steve Phillips used to make that kind of deal every year. We don’t have to trade Parnell, but I’d shake the trees for sure.

Mike:

Phillips famously overpaid for Billy Taylor. And yes, a lot of teams have paid a high price over the years for volatile veteran relief pitchers. I don’t include Parnell in that group. Parnell is still young and just hitting his stride.

I also differ greatly from the modern thought that closers are overrated. Bullpens are huge in today’s game, and it all starts at the end. Our bullpen would become a total mess without Parnell. I’m still trying to get over 2008, and that was all about Wagner getting injured. And you know what, K-Rod might have been a thrill ride on and off the field but our record in 2010 the day we traded him was 46-45.

Created by Gavin Preller.

Created by Gavin Preller.

And how do we replace Parnell? Most everyone else in our pen is a retread. Going into the market for the next Frank Francisco type scares me straight. If Familia were healthy and progressing, this would be more intriguing to me, but that is not how that went. We can shake the trees but a lot better fall out.

Jimmy:

I agree with that. Does the club have to wait until September to get a look at Cesar Puello?

Mike:

That might be a Bud Selig decision.

Jimmy:

What I’m hearing is that the PED hearings will drag out for a while. Lawyers, big bucks. Okay, let’s say that Jeremy Hefner is real. And Dillon Gee continues to pitch well. A key here becomes the health of Jonathan Niese, the forgotten man. Montero seems ready for next season, with Syndergaard most likely on the “Super 2″ plan as a late June call-up. In an ideal world — I know, I know — how would you like to see this shake out? Or at least, what’s the strategy?

Mike:

Differently than most, I suspect. The guys I want to keep are Gee and Hefner. Sure, it’s getting to the point where you could get something for them but here is the thing that people keep forgetting; we play at Citi Field. If we get some offense and defense, go get speed, speed, speed, we won’t need dominant pitching. We can create it, at least at home.

So I would swallow hard and look to deal either Wheeler or Syndergaard as a major piece for a big time outfielder. Not because I don’t value them, but because they can bring back more.

We have to start exploring ways to build our team to fit where we play. I don’t think we need a rotation of dominant fireballers. Now hey, if we can keep all of those guys and get offense too, great. But something is going to have to give.

Jimmy:

You seem to be placing more value on Parnell than Wheeler or Syndergaard, and I’m not with you on that. Of course, it all depends on the return for those guys. But I’d give up our closer before one of those starters, who both project to be 2-3 types with (maybe) ace potential. Anyway, I think Parnell is more relevant to this discussion, because Parnell could help a team get to the World Series this year. If a pitching prospect is going to be dealt, it’s more likely an off-season move.

Mike:

They have different markets, generate different trades. If it was still 2011, I would be advocating trading the more established Parnell, who should bring back prospects from a contending team. But it is time to start going for it already. Wheeler or Syndergaard could be major pieces in a trade for an established position player from a team looking to rebuild. And sure, I agree, that might not be a trade that gets done now. For now, it’s more about holding on to Gee and Hefner.

In many ways this is related to our park for me. Do we really need a rotation of strikeout pitchers in Citi Field? The management team can’t keep ignoring the park factor, we have to use it to our advantage. Trading a Wheeler would be a lot riskier but has much more upside too.

Jimmy:

Well, you’re a smart guy, Mike, and the park effect stuff is true — to an extent. But I think guys like Gee and Hefner are easily replaceable, you trade for a Ricky Nolasco type, you sign a Torres, or give some other AAA pitcher a shot. The trick is finding and keeping those frontline starters. As far as playing to the park, obviously it was dumb putting together a roster of slow guys who couldn’t field. The Mets must get faster and more athletic. Which brings us back to Murphy, the guy we respect and admire who just doesn’t quite fit the concept of the type of player this club needs. Any thoughts?

eric-young-jr-new-york-metsMike:

Young is an intriguing guy at second for us. I know I’m harping on parks again, but Young went from just about the worst park for him to one of the best. In Colorado building a team for three run home runs is the way to go. That does not work at Citi Field.

I like Murphy, but in general we need to add a lot more speed and defense to our roster. Murphy is an awkward fit. As a fan it would pain me to see him go, but logically….

Jimmy:

I’ll tell you, I’d sure like to get a good look at Wilmer Flores at second base this year. I don’t know how that happens without an injury to Murphy, or a trade, and yet it’s hard to trade Murphy before we get a handle on Flores. This will be a huge decision for Sandy to make, second base moving forward.

Mike:

Well now first is a big question mark too. Flores could end up helping there. I don’t think we will see him at all this year, I think the service-time stall will be in effect for Wilmer in 2013.

I guess I lost the glasses.

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5 comments

  1. Eric says:

    The balance of this season can feature a good competitive and entertaining team…AND a team with eyes on 2014. We can disagree on specific players (Parnell, Murphy), but this team needs to be in a “Futures Gather” mode to make this season successful and meaningful.

    Here’s how I define a Successful 2nd Half:

    1. You Reach CONCLUSIONS on Tejada, Davis, Duda…right or wrong, Pick and Move on.

    2. You get a sustained look at some young Players: Lagares must see time versus RH Pitching. D’arnaud will get some time. Puello should IMMEDIATELY play every day in RF AFTER you trade Byrd….or LF AFTER you’ve traded Murphy AND moved EY to 2b.

    included in the above?…. Valdy, the Final Countdown…. Mejia, Return of the Prodigal Son.

    3. An indication that the FO is ON THE CLOCK—an acknowledgement with action—a TRADE?

  2. Alan K. says:

    Gee and Hefner are pitching well but I see them as chips to sell high on rather than integral building blocks. I also think that Davis will be here in 2014; I think the Mets don’t want to take the risk that he turns into Chris Davis with another organization. I think Duda and possibly Tejada will be traded. I don’t think that Byrd will be moved, and since Duda needs to play to establish his value I don’t see where Puello will get his shot anytime soon.

    • The real question is: Will Sandy do anything? And my guess is . . . probably not. He keeps saying that when it comes to selling players, the return is not there, but when it comes to trading for players, the market is too high.

      It’s confusing. Where is the market?

  3. Alan K. says:

    This might be the perfect time to move Gee. His stock may never be this high and he could be attractive to a contender. One can argue that Parnell may be hard to replace (though I’d still trade him for Bradley or Castellanos) but replacing Gee should not be an insurmountable task.

  4. Eric says:

    “Parnell” is Australian for SELL HIGH

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