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Mack’s Morning Report – Off Season, Part Two – Infield


Good morning.

My infield has 8 ball players.

2 catchers, 4 starting infielders, and 2 utility players that can play multiple infield positions.

I can fill a few of these in quickly –

-         SS Astrubel Cabrera -I don’t think there is a Mets fan on this planet that isn’t happy with this guy and what he did this past season. He’s worth every penny of the $8.25mil he will be paid in 2017 and, if he repeats in 2017 what he did in 2016, I’ll gladly pick up his option.

Frankly, I next have to move to a couple of veterans that are both under contract and just not reasonable trade bait anymore because of the money and/or length of what’s left of their contract –

-         3B David Wright – Look, I have to respect both the amount of years and dollars committed over the length of Wright’s contract. I greatly question whether or not he will ever play at 100% again. I then will light a candle and hope he can produce like he has done in the past. And lastly, if everything goes south, I hope that David (I can call him by his first name because I know him) would have the decency to work out an exit package both he and the team could benefit from.

-         UT Jose Reyes – I’m thrilled to see that the Mets have picked up the option on this guy. I’m basically putting off any youth movement for my 2017 infield and paying Jose (I can call him by his first name because I know him) the approximate $600K minimum makes much sense when you also have so much invested in Wright ($20mil in 2017). I have him as the backup for Wright on third, Cabrera on short, an occasional gave at second, and late inning pinch hitting. You can’t find a more talented player in the league at this cost for this role.

-         1B Wilmer Flores – Frankly, I’m done with Lucas Duda and I would not pay him the projected $6.7mil it would take for him to return. I know we are still one year away from the Dominic Smith Experiment (spoiler alert: two years away from the Peter Alonso Project) so I’m going to try and limp through this season with a full time Flores and a part time returnee that I hope will sign up.

-         C-Reserve Rene Rivera -   Many of you know that I want two basic things from my backup catcher. First, I want his to catch a great defensive game which includes the ability to throw out runners on a consistent basic trying to steal second base. Secondly, I want my pitching staff to be happy when this guy is chosen to catch them as well as be encouraged by this catcher when my pitchers are getting things done right. Do these things and hit. 200 and I’m thrilled, but do these things and hit .222 and you’re the guy for me. He’ll cost around $2mil which is a steal.

And then there are the new guys that I would do what it takes to add to my roster -

-         C – Wilson Ramos – yeah, I know there’s a health problem (ACL and meniscus tear in right knee… second tear), but he’ll be back and, since he only cost $5.35mil last year for the Nats, I probably could easily (especially after the injury) get this guy in the $10-mil range for 2017. He hit 22 HRs/80 RBIs last year in 482 at bats and will play 2017 as a 29 year old. He easily could not be ready for the beginning of the season and his rehab literally could last until the all-star break, but I’ll still sign him through 2018. Big risk (two rebuilt knee operations for a catcher) but big rewards to. I’ll fill in with Travis d’Arnaud until the transition and then deal off ‘ d’ in some future trade. This is basically my wild card move this upcoming season.

-         2B – ??? – Yeah, this is where you come in. Do you send a QO to bad backed Neil Walker? Or do you promote rookies Gavin Cecchini or T.J. Murphy? I’m not going to allow you to use Flores here because I am going to play him at first for one year with the next guy as his back-up. Your call here.

-         UT – Kelly Johnson – I didn’t want this guy to go away the first time and I sure as hell don’t want to lose him again. Johnson knows his role. He can play at least three infield positions and there isn’t a better clutch late inning pinch hitter in the league. He also was only paid $2mil last season. I would easily double his salary to get him back.


Reese Kaplan -- WAY Outside The Box Thinking


Back when the Mets executed the trade that rescued Mike Piazza from his banishment to south Florida people were ecstatic to have someone of his offensive prowess available to help the club win.  However, that adulation quickly turned negative because he was not particularly adept at throwing baserunners out trying to steal. 

I don’t know…if I get a guy who hits well enough to make the Hall of Fame, I was willing to overlook his defensive shortcomings.  The Mets even dabbled with trying him at 1st base to relieve the strain of catching every day and to bring in a backstop with a better arm.  That experiment was about as successful as was the Todd Hundley to the outfield decision. 

Anyway, fast forward several years and there was a promising young catcher who racked up multiple 20 HR seasons for the Colorado Rockies before the age of 25.  His name is Wilin Rosario.  While no one is suggesting Rosario will ever be mistaken for Mike Piazza, the fact remains he was an offense-first catcher who was pushed off the position and had to endure the constant catcalls about his defensive game. 

His career in Colorado came to a rather quick end and by age 26 he was cut loose by the Rockies who didn’t think what the arbiters wanted to pay him was good value.  He wound up signing with a Korean team and in his 2016 season there all he did was hit .321 with 33 HRs and 120 RBIs.  Granted, Korean baseball is not the major leagues but as many transplanted players have shown us it’s probably somewhere between AAA and the majors in terms of relative talent. 

So here’s a WAY outside-the-box idea to consider…should the Mets inquire about bringing Rosario back to the majors?  He earned just $1.3 million last year in Korea.  He can play catcher or 1st base.  He’s a right handed hitter who could help balance out a lefty-heavy lineup.  He could also be an insurance policy should Travis d’Arnaud once again falter or make his annual trip to the DL.  He could form part of a lefty/righty platoon at 1st base with Lucas Duda (or Jay Bruce or even Michael Conforto).  He could also provide right handed power off the bench which the Mets currently don’t have unless Wilmer Flores returns to that role. 
I think for less than you’ll likely pay bench pieces like Alejandro De Aza or Kelly Johnson or even Justin Ruggiano, it’s an option worth considering.  


Reese Kaplan -- Don't Let the Door Hit You...


Mets fans are by and large a loyal lot.  Every time they lose a player they bemoan that fact with tearful, “Oh, the humanity” type tirades and then welcome reunions with open arms.  However, there are certain players who get on the wrong side of the fans, drawing their wrath and ire to the point of no return.  The earliest one who comes to mind was Doug Sisk who, despite pitching to a career 3.10 ERA as a Met, was vilified and booed mercilessly.

Then came Bobby Bonilla, the player the fans loved to hate.  He was almost universally loathed for taking the money and not delivering what was expected of him.  He also produced an average of 32 HRs and 97 RBIs during his three years playing for the Mets in 1992 to 1994, but the fans were ready with pitchforks and torches.

Mel Rojas and Armando Benitez earned their wrath by usually pitching well, but blowing games when it counted most.  Oliver Perez was universally despised for his contract size and poor performance – a barely-above .500 record, a 4.58 ERA and an unsightly 1.54 WHIP. 

Next came the standard bearer for bad contracts, Jason Bay.  Now the fans never really seemed to have it in for him on a personal level the way they did for some of the others.  He was dealing with concussion after-effects and other maladies that contributed to his lackluster performance.  The fans’ wrath in this case was more about the Wilpons who chose to go for him rather than Matt Holliday when they had the choice. 

And then came Jay Bruce.  Acquired in late 2016 for proclaimed 2nd baseman of the future Dilson Herrera, the fans were already irritated with his arrival.  Nevermind that he was leading the National League in RBIs and already had 25 HRs under his belt. 

His immediate output as a Met made people wish for the offensive prowess of John Mayberry, Jr. or Rick Ankiel.  Yes, it was that bad.  In fact, it wasn’t until the final week of the season when he turned in a .458 player-of-the-week type of output that the heretofore locked doors to the fans’ collective hearts edged open perhaps enough to deliver a piece of paper authorizing his 2017 option to kick in. 

Still, it seems everywhere you turn there are articles proclaiming that the Mets should decline his option or exercise simply to trade him.  While the former is flat out foolish, the latter could be as well depending on what the return is.  After all, getting merely the proverbial bag-of-balls for a three-time All Star would add gasoline to the fire of the fans’ hostility.  Let’s see what this guy is capable of doing. 

On a 162 game average, Jay Bruce will deliver 31 HRs, 94 RBIs, a .248 batting average and 158 strikeouts.  He’ll remind many of Lucas Duda as an outfielder and is a tick better as a hitter.  He ought to be since he’ll be earning more than double what Duda is paid. 

Delve a little deeper and there are somewhat troubling numbers.  Remember, he became an All Star with half of his games in arguably one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball.  There is a significant split on power.  In 2283 home ABs he hit 138 HRs but in slightly more away ABs – 2367 – he hit only 103 HRs.  That’s a 25% reduction in home runs as a result of being away from the cozy confines of The Great American Ballpark where he’s spent his entire career. 

Therefore, if you extrapolate his career numbers and factor in a 25% reduction (perhaps more given Citifield’s reputation as a pitcher’s park), he’s likely to deliver a .240/22/70 line playing a full season with half his games in Queens.  In today’s baseball economics, that may be worth $13 million.  After all, that’s not far off from Curtis Granderson’s season which actually cost more money. 

Yesterday one of our loyal readers suggested that the Mets actually try to trade away both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce.  At first I thought the notion was too drastic, but do you really think that Michael Conforto playing every day couldn’t approach .240/22/70?  I think he can.  I also think that if by some miracle they retain Yoenis Cespedes, then the $27 million in salary savings for those two lefty sluggers gone in trade can help provide other solutions.  Put a Jay Bruce in another hitter’s park like Colorado and he’ll flourish.  Put him in Queens for a year and, well, people would probably rather see Cousin Brucie out in RF. 

Sign him, but trade him.  I’m most definitely on board with that approach.  


Reese Kaplan -- Trade 'Em a Year Too Soon


Branch Rickey once famously said it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. One thing we have noticed about GM Sandy Alderson is his predilection for maintaining payroll flexibility, so towards that end, let’s have a look at who is scheduled to be a free agent in the 2018 season.  Perhaps some of the other GMs have some Branch Rickey in them and these players could possibly be on the move as a team could get something valuable in return rather than losing them for nothing or a Qualifying Offer draft pick.  Assuming that the club is set (pending health) in the starting pitching arena, let’s instead look at relievers and position players:

  • Fernando Abad – He’s been a solid middle reliever and last year combined to play for both the Twins and Red Sox.  He’s arbitration eligible this year and a pending FA in 2018.  His career record is a 3.23 ERA in the minors and he’s pretty much mirrored that in the majors. 
  • Steve Cishek – The former Marlins closer was serving a setup role for the Mariners before a hip labrum tear ended his season prematurely.  He’s going to require 4-6 months of rehab which means he won’t be ready for the start of 2017.  The Mariners may want to non-tender him or consider moving him since he won’t be helpful to the club until probably June. 
  • Tyler Clippard – Yup, remember him?  He was too rich for the Mets blood yet people think nothing of paying nearly double Clippard’s salary to retain Addison Reed. 
  • Jeanmar Gomez  -- The Phillies’ closer by default did turn in 37 saves this year but his ERA spiked considerably into the high 4 area.  He still might be a good setup guy in the future. 
  • Luke Gregerson – Once offered up in even exchange for Daniel Murphy, Gregerson year in and year out provides a sub 3.00 ERA as one of the most dependable middle relievers in the game.
  • Craig Kimbrel – The seemingly untouchable reliever from Atlanta was somewhat more human in Boston this past year.  He earns big bucks and it will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do when he’s eligible to be a free agent.
  • Jake McGee – Flying somewhat under the radar, the former Tampa Bay Ray has a 3.07 ERA for his career and would be a nice acquisition to try to make if Jerry Blevins does not return. 
  • Seung-Hwan Oh – The Korean closer for the St. Louis Cardinals was virtually unhittable.  He’s already 34 years old and may transition to a stellar 8th inning role rather than take on the stress of being the closer as he gets older.
  • Huston Street – He had a rough go this past season, but has been a very good closer during his caerer.  He’s currently earning $9 million with  a $10 million option in 2018 (or a $1 million buyout)
  • Tony Watson – Here’s a name many many not know, but he’s provided a 2.56 ERA over the past six seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It kind of makes you wonder why they wanted Antonio Bastardo when Watson was pitching at an elite level as a lefty?

  • Michael Brantley – He’s recovering from surgery and may or may not be ready to compete when Spring Training rolls around.  With Cleveland advancing in the post season without him, perhaps they might consider him superfluous if the right package can be cobbled together
  • Melky Cabrera – He’s a slightly less powerful version of what most expect from Michael Conforto (plus he has some PED baggage)
  • Todd Frazier – Local boy makes good to the tune of 47 HRs.  He put up nice numbers in Cincinnati before his batting average took a severe hit last year at just .217.  He’s worth a long look
  • Carlos Gonzalez –The “away” numbers are not nearly as impressive for CarGo as his Coors Field inflated stats, but he’s a quality hitter and his $22 million per season contract is ending after the 2017 season.  Although the Mets are already too lefty-heavy, he could be a good Cespedes replacement in terms of power if the need arises
  • Hyun Soo Kim – The Mets typically don’t take flyers on foreign players but Kim’s career .318 batting average in Korea is hard to ignore, particularly when you factor in that he rarely strikes out.  Last year as a part timer for Baltimore he hit  == career .318 with 20 HR power, doesn’t strike out.  He hit .302 over 300 ABs, so you might not be able to pry him loose even with a crowbar (especially since he’s slated to earn just $4.2 million in 2017)
  • JD Martinez – Another one recovering from injury, Martinez is doing to Houston what Daniel Murphy did to the Mets – making them regret a decision to let him leave.  He’s the kind of right handed power bat the team could use.
  • Cameron Maybin – Health has always been Maybin’s problem.  He never seems to be able to put together a full season.  However, when he does play, he’s shown stellar fielding and good speed.  He gets probably a little more attention that he deserves due to his high draft pick status
  • Mike Moustakas – Mets fans remember well how he helped kill any chance the club had of winning the 2015 World Series.  If David Wright is forced into early retirement, you could do far worse at 3B
  • Ben Revere – He lost his job last year to Trea Turner.  It may be that Washington returns Turner to the infield and Revere to the outfield, but if he’s a bench player again, then they may consider moving him.  He’s good for about a .290 average and 30+ steals
  • Justin Upton – He has an opt-out after the 2017 season if he thinks he can get more than the $22 million per year he would get if he stayed in Detroit. 
  • Danny Valencia – The clubhouse-questionable Valencia had a very nice part time gig in Oakland last year with both power and batting average.  There were rumblings that the Mets might have been interested but nothing materialized
Anyone look interesting to you?  Also, consider the shoe on the other foot...do the Mets try to move players in the final year of their contracts such as Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed (assuming all are tendered contracts and/or have their options picked up)?






Should we extend a QO to Neil Walker that could cost us a painful $17.2 MM?

Those sorts of tough decisions make me reflect back...

What about the 2 second basemen we let get away?


In 3 years for LAD, during which he earned a total of $8.6 million (exactly half of that one year QO # for Walker):

.296/.364/.492 in 1383 regular season plate appearances.

15 career playoff games, .391/.500/.696.


142 games in 2016 for the Nemesis Nats: .347/.390/.595.

19 career playoff games, .351/.430/.662.

First year of a 3 year, $12.5MM average per year contract.

#'s our beloved Yoenis Cespedes would not sneeze at.

Oh, well.  Can't win 'em all.  Keep fishing.

2 game hitting streak, on base 4 of 22 times, only 7 K.  Considering the stiff competition, I think he is more than holding his own.  And all the critics of him playing in the AFL after he has had 10 at bats may yet look awful stupid. Let's see what Tebow does in the minors in 2017.

Mack’s Morning Report – Off Season, Part One – Pitching


Good morning.

I’ll try and write 2-3 times a month in the off season. I’m sorry but I can’t write more.

The site is down to three writers and, for some reason, the site will not allow new writers to join. I have had five people email me in the past month and ask to join, and I added their email address to a special place in the Blogger site that send an email to the person you invite into the site. The person than clicks on that and I assume Blogger walks them through the joining process.

That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Something must be broken and I have no knowledge or no one to help me fix it.

That being said, I’ll jot down a few of my thoughts now that the off-season has started and where I think this team to do.

   1.     I have followed this sport for over 35 years and the one thing I consistently walk away with every year is that there are too many damn injuries in this business. I always ask ‘what the hell is going on here… these wussies aren’t playing pro football or pro rugby’. Successful baseball teams have Plan B’s as well as Plan C’s and have huge depth in their system. We learned the hard way this year that having 6 great starters simply wasn’t good enough. First, one of them (Zack Wheeler) never made it back and then, 2 nobodies (Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo) almost pulled this team out of the fire. They say that every team averages 9 starters a year. I agree on that number, but, for sure, you better come to camp with at least 8 guys that have the talent to fight for the 5 rotational slots you are going to hand out on opening day. One of the other three could open as your long man while the other two could open at the AAA level and also be used for trade bait.

   2.     I no longer believe we will ever see a fully healthy ‘Generation K version 2.0’. Most of them just have had too many issues. Evan Noah Syndergaard, who chose not to have off-season surgery, has bone spurs to deal with in the future. I’m almost happy we didn’t go deeper in the playoffs. We never had enough healthy pitching to win it all this season and we need as much time as we can get to let all these walking wounded heal. I assume Alderson and Company will do everything they can to resign Bartolo Colon for one more season. He easily was one of the top five Mets in 2016. As for the 2017 rotation, I would send to camp the five guys I mentioned above, plus Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. I then would tell all of them they will determine their rotation fate in spring training; however, I would give the edge to Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Colon, and Matz and tell them it’s their job to lose their rotation slot in spring, not win one. The other three would be told they go into this competition behind the eight-ball, but they still could be part of the 5-man rotation come opening day

   3.     Relief wise, I’ve always wanted four great 95-mph heaters I can come out of the pen with. Nothing fancy… just 4 guys that can throw up to 25 pitches each as hard as they can. I can rotate these guys throughout the season and I have the 6th through 9th inning covered. Who do we have that fits this mold? Well, Jeurys Familia is definitely one and, in my opinion, 2017 will be the year of Hansel Robles. Past that, I’d take a hard look at resigning Addison Reed and Fernando Sales, but I also would look outside the system like LAD’s Kenley Jansen. Imagine these 5 guys with the 8 above? Is that enough talent for one team?


Reese Kaplan -- No Yo, Part II


Continuing the line of thought that Yoenis Cespedes may indeed opt out of his contract, let’s try (hard though it may be) to see it as an opportunity to address other needs with the $25 million available to spend.  Towards that end, let’s see what right handed bats are worth considering in the free agent marketplace:

  • Edwin Encarnacion – As steady as they come, you can pencil him in for .265/33/100 before the season starts and pretty much win your bet.  The right handed slugger has been primarily a DH for Toronto but during his Cincinnati days he played both corner infield positions.  With the ailing backs the Mets currently have penciled in at 1st and 3rd, he might be someone worth considering.  Furthermore, although he’s earning $10 million right now, his market is likely going to be depressed somewhat on a character issue.  He is currently charged with knowingly giving a woman STDs during a romantic weekend in the Dominican Republic and is being sued for $11.5 million.  Many clubs will run scared, but considering the Mets embraced known adulterers, PED users and spousal abusers, their bargain hunting may outweigh their righteous indignation.  Besides, a civil suit won’t mean games missed.  I’m not advocating the man’s lifestyle, just his bat.  A two year deal with an option for a third for around $25 million total might do it.

  • Justin Turner – Hubris is a terrible thing.  If Justin Turner was interested in a return to the Mets, they should swallow their pride and listen.  The numbers he’s put up since becoming a starter in LA are terrific and he’s coming off a salary of just $5.1 million.  At his age and considering he’s not yet earned big money, he’s likely going to command a 4 year deal at minimum.  I’d sooner cough up $12-$15 million per year for him than $17.2 for Neil Walker. 

  • Wilson Ramos – The standard right now for 20 HR catchers would seem to be the 5 year/$82 million deal signed by Russell Martin.  Ramos is probably a tick better offensively and defensively, but he doesn’t have Martin’s overall durability and health.  Now that he’s down and out until at least June, expect his numbers to take a hit.  It’s an adventurous ballclub that would try to lock him up before knowing how well he responds to the surgery.  It could be in Ramos’ best interest to take a one-year “prove himself” deal at a reduced rate and then go for the big bucks in 2018 when he’ll still just be 30 years old.  Consider him a July-September addition. 

  • Mike Napoli – After a somewhat lackluster but lucrative career in Boston, Mike Napoli was forced to take a $7 million one year deal to reestablish himself in 2016.   All he did for Cleveland’s investment was slug 34 HRs and drive in 101.  His catching days are behind him as he last donned the tools of ignorance in 2012, but he played a lot of 1st base and DH.  As a 1st baseman from the right side and an emergency catcher, he’s an interesting option.  At age 35 when the season begins, he’s probably good for another year or two at 1st base and will command an increase to perhaps $10 million per year which is a bargain considering what he is capable of delivering with the bat. 

  • Jose Bautista – Joey Bats had some injury issues this past season and it may be that the light is starting to go out on an otherwise notable career.  However, it was only a year ago in 2015 that he hit 40 HRs.  His ending salary is $14 million and he may want to do a 2 year/option year type of deal to take him through retirement.  Age and a poor year work somewhat against him, so $15 million per year might do it. 

  • Mark Trumbo – Remember Dave Kingman?  He was the ultimate all-or-nothing type of hitter who, like Michael Jackson, wore one glove for no apparent reason.  Mark Trumbo is this era’s Dave Kingman (though no one suspects he’ll be sending rats in the mail to any newspaper reporters).  He will hit 35-40 home runs and strike out 150-175 times while doing it.  The club doesn’t really need more free swinging players who can kill rallies with aplomb, but there’s no denying that Trumbo has more power than even Yoenis Cespedes. 

  • Ian Desmond – While many (including myself) have floated the idea of Andrew McCutchen for the outfield, acquiring him will mean giving up a major package of prospects and you’ll have to take over the remaining year and option year of his reasonable $14 million salary.  Surprisingly, Ian Desmond rebounded last year to put up McCutchen-like numbers while playing CF for the Texas Rangers.  He hit .285/22/86 with 21 SBs.  The only chink in the armor was the high 160 Ks, but he’s always been one to strike out a lot.  His deal with Texas was for $8 million.  At age 31 next year, he’s going to probably want a 4 year deal which might push him out of the Mets’ price range.  Figure he’ll get about $50 million over that period of time. 

  • Matt Weiters -- Here's another big roll of the dice.  He's had injury issues (including Tommy John surgery), but rebounded fairly well in 2016 to deliver .243/17/66 over 400+ ABs.  He's hit over 20 HRs in three consecutive seasons and could be a more consistent offensive force behind the plate than another year waiting for the real Travis d'Arnaud.  The down sides are his two lost years to health problems and the fact that he never was considered a plus defender as a catcher.  Still, he'd be likely a relative bargain on the free agent front.  His ending salary was $15.8 million but he'd be lucky to get 3/$30 million in a new contract.  Personally, I'd rather gamble on one final chance for d'Arnaud than spend that much on Weiters.  

Now remember the premise here – you have $25 million to address multiple areas.  Suppose you had Edwin Encarnacion playing 1st Base and Justin Turner at 3rd.  You’d still have retained all of your trade chips to improve at Catcher and the bullpen.  Would the loss of Yoenis Cespedes sting a bit less?


Reese Kaplan -- Preparing for a Post-Cespedes Team

Mets fans seem to fall into two distinct camps – those that bleed orange and blue, and those that beat themselves black and blue.  It’s rare to find someone not in one of the polar extreme camps.  The former group is 100% confident that Yoenis Cespedes will be back.  They feel David Wright will be rested and ready to go.  They have faith that Neil Walker represents a good value at 2B.  They feel Lucas Duda is the kind of power threat that scares opposing hitters.  They feel that the Fab Five will emerge from Spring Training healthy and firing fastballs past opposing hitters.

I’m sorry, but as a professional project manager my job is to plan for contingencies and to assume worst case scenarios.  The first one is that Yoenis Cespedes will indeed go for the money when offered elsewhere.  Be realistic.  Remember when Jose Reyes was in a similar situation after winning a batting title?  Fans like to think players are loyal to a club, but as Reyes demonstrated, even when you’ve been with only one club who has nurtured you throughout your career, money talks.  Why else would Alex Rodriguez, for example, have gone to the then depths of the AL West to play for Texas except that they offered the most money?  Why would Robinson Cano go to Seattle?  Why did Zach Greinke abandon the Dodgers for Arizona?  I don’t want Cespedes to leave, but for once I’d like to see the club plan for the possibility of this unwanted change happening. 

What does a Mets lineup look like without Yoenis Cespedes in it?  Frankly, it’s pretty depressing. 

“But remember, you’re getting Wright and Duda back, so there’s the power…” or so sayeth my glass half full Mets fan friends.  I remember that David Wright has been a mostly unproductive player since 2011.  He had one rebound year in 2012 but it’s going into 2017 and he’s not someone you can count on at all.  Rather than crossing fingers and hoping for the best, the team needs to have a plan.  Do you sense a theme here?

The same is true of Lucas Duda and Neil Walker.  Back injuries are very tricky and it could be foolish or expensive to put all your eggs in these fragile baskets.  In Duda’s case, it may be worth rolling the dice considering he’s still on the lower end of the salary spectrum even with arbitration eligibility.  On Walker, there’s no way a smart business person would gamble $17.2 million on Qualifying Offer which he may very well accept since his value is going to be depressed until he can prove to the baseball community he’s healthy and productive once again.  It’s possible you might want to engage him without the QO and offer a deal for a longer period of time at a lower average annual value, but if they were unwilling to do so with a healthy and productive Daniel Murphy, I can’t really see it happening.  Furthermore, you have alternatives in TJ Rivera, Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores (with Gavin Cecchini in the wings) so Mr. Walker should be headed elsewhere.

I think you have to go into the 2017 season thinking you have no Cespedes, an injured Wright, an unhealthy Duda and no Walker.  As such, what do you do about generating some offense?  After all, with these four players gone, that’s about 110 or so home runs missing from the batting totals.

Show some faith in Michael Conforto.  Yes, he did get a little homer-happy last year but he seemed to correct what ailed him in Las Vegas.  Of course, by the time he returned it was all veterans, all the time in the OF, so he pretty much rotted on the bench.  He’s probably a 25 HR threat if given regular playing time.  That’s about what you’d have gotten out of David Wright if he was healthy.  That solves problem number one. 

Re-sign Jay Bruce.  Yes, he stunk up the joint for the first part of his brief Mets career, but came alive when it counted and showed you that he, like Duda, is a streaky but productive hitter.  More importantly, he’s completely healthy.  That makes up for the loss of Duda.

Get Wilmer Flores 500+ ABs.  Did you see what he did this past season?  He had 16 HRs and 49 RBIs in just over 300 ABs.  That’s 30 HR power being squandered while the Skipper inexplicably gave ABs to James Loney, Eric Campbell and others.  That makes up for the loss of Neil Walker.

Now we come to the elephant in the room.  How do you account for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes?  My answer is that you don’t.  There are no top five bats just waiting to replace him at a comparable or lower cost.  What you need to do is explore a new direction for the club. 

One thing to consider is how left-handed heavy the lineup is already.  With Conforto, Bruce and Granderson you have about 85 HRs from that side of the plate.  If Flores plays regularly, you have 25-30 from the right side and Cabrera would add another 20.  You need a third right handed slugger to balance things out but it could be another in the 20+ HR mold if he also adds other dimensions to winning ballgames such as baserunning speed. 

One name bandied about already is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen.  He’s a right handed bat who plays centerfield (and won a Gold Glove there earlier in his career).  He averages .292/24/87 with 22 SBs.  Having him in CF would enable them to properly play Granderson in a corner outfield position and convert Bruce or Conforto to 1B. 

Getting McCutchen wouldn’t be easy considering he earns a modest $14 million with an option for $14.75 for 2018 (or a $1 million buyout).  I’m not sure what kind of package it would take, but for sure it would sting. 

At 2B I’d give the nod to Jose Reyes with TJ Rivera watching over his shoulder closely (and Gavin Cecchini from afar in Las Vegas).  At 3B it should be Wilmer Flores.  With Reyes and McCutcheon in the lineup there is a dimension of speed that was lacking in the past and that could help make up for the slight downturn in power. 

If somehow you were able to pull off the McCutchen deal then I’d almost be willing to give Travis d’Arnaud one last shot at the starting catcher job.  I’d already suggested Willson Contreras from the Cubs as the best other option who might be available as they have nowhere to play him if Kyle Schwarber  returns behind the dish.  With slim pickings on the catcher front, I don’t see they have much choice.  Wilson Ramos just went under the knife and won’t be available until probably June, though that could depress what would otherwise have been an interesting bidding war. 

So what if I’m wrong?  Suppose Wright is healthy and smacking the ball with authority.  Suppose Lucas Duda is ready to rock?  Hey, aren’t those NICE PROBLEMS to have?



I LOVE OUR STARTERS, BUT....by Tom Brennan


Met fan since 1962, which likely means I tend to over-focus on the value of our players and prospects, or I might have ditched being a Mets fan through some of the lean years (like the 1979-81 seasons, when they averaged a putrid 64 homers per year).

As a fan, I love our guys, fragile though they may be (deGrom surgery, Harvey surgery, Mats surgery, Wheeler surgery, Wright, Duda, Walker back-to-back-to-back,  you get the point).

But sometimes honesty sneaks in, and when you're looking at the best starter on the planet, you need to look past our quality injured elite arms and pay homage to:


How can one not admire, in this age of capped pitch counts and innings restrictions, an elite guy who can start a playoff game on October 7th, start again 4 days later, then come back on one day's rest to save a clinching game on the 13th, and come back just 3 days later to toss a 7 inning scoreless gem in a 1-0 win?

A guy who hurt his back this year, but still managed to go 12-4, 1.69 with 172 K's and just 11 walks in 149 innings?  How sick is that 16:1 strikeout to walk ratio?

A guy who is 126-60 in his career with nearly 2000 strikeouts at age 28?  The Sandy Koufax of our ERA.

Heck, he even got the unstoppable Daniel Murphy (remember him?) to pop up in the 9th inning of that clinching game against the Nats.  Which makes him better than Koufax, in my estimation LOL!

WRITER ALERT: Folks, I probably will write sporadically during this off-season, so I'll "see you" when I see you.  In the meantime, you have something you'd like to write about, contact Macks Mets and let us know.

Four months until pitchers and catchers. Keep Cespedes.
Mack's Mets © 2012