Michael S. - 2013 - If I Had My Way

Spring Training is almost here.  The off-season is almost over and I'm satisfied with what the Mets FO has accomplished given the team's payroll restrictions, commitment to long-term success, and relatively low trade depth in the organization.  It's not to say that the team hasn't added a decent amount of talent in recent years, just that they don't have the depth to make a splashy trade just yet.  A big time deal would reset the farm to where it was not too long ago, addressing a need in one area and creating needs in others.

There are still rumblings that the Mets want to add Michael Bourn, another relief pitcher, and possibly another starter.  Given that, this is how I would approach the next 6 months.

I think signing Bourn could be beneficial to the team, but only if the Mets don't have to forfeit their top pick and associated draft budget.  I also don't think the team should commit to him for more than a year or 2.  If Bourn is looking to re-establish his value before hitting the market again next year, he and the Mets have a mutually-beneficial opportunity.  His signing can address an area of need and prove to the fans that the team might actually be competitive in 2013.  However, a longer contract takes up too much payroll for a lead-off hitter when the savings that the Mets' penny-pinching should be allocated more towards run-producing.  Bourn also provides a potential trade chip at the deadline; if he's signed long-term he'll be here long-term and I don't see him as part of the big picture for the team.  This same rationale can be applied to any additional starter the Mets add as well as any potential relief additions the team makes.  For the sake of argument, let's say the Mets sign Bourn, Jair Jurrjens, and Brian Wilson before the season gets underway.  The lineup would likely shape up as:

CF Bourn
2B Murphy
3B Wright
1B Davis
LF Duda
Ca Buck(d'Arnaud)
RF Nieuwenhuis
SS Tejada

SP1 Santana
SP2 Marcum
SP3 Niese
SP4 Harvey
SP5 Jurrjens

The bullpen will feature Gee, Francisco, Parnell, Edgin, and Wilson.  Jurrjens' signing could bump Gee to the spot starter/bullpen temporarily which could be beneficial for him as he eases back in after last year's injury.  This team top to bottom could be very competitive based on the strength of its pitching.  However, there are enough questions about some of the pitchers (prior injury, age, etc.) and the potency of the offense that the team could also be out of the playoff picture come the trade deadline.

In keeping with 2014 as the reboot for the franchise, I'd begin making moves with that in mind.  The first move I'd like to see made is a deal for Seattle's Nick Franklin.  I've already written about how I think he could be available and could be a great fit for the future of this franchise (http://tinyurl.com/aslz45l).  Since the Mariners don't have a future 3B, I think this could be an opportunity to flip Wilmer Flores for a useful part.  Franklin should be ready for MLB at some point in the first half of the season, making Daniel Murphy expendable.

As much as I like Murphy (Top 10 2B in MLB though?), I think he's a defensive liability and his offense doesn't make up for it.  Franklin will be the superior player both offensively and defensively and I think he'll pass him before long.  Toronto is obviously 'all in' for this year and will likely look to upgrade any areas they can as they push towards the playoffs.  Although they acquired Emilio Bonifacio in the offseason, I think Murphy provides a stronger solution for them.  As they have expressed interest in Murphy before and the two teams obviously have had a decent working relationship with each other, I would target the Blue Jays as a destination for him.  The return?  Anthony Gose.  The Mets had interest in Gose as part of the Dickey trade, although I think they received two superior players in d'Arnaud and Syndergaard.  He brings elite speed and potential gold glove defense and could be another foundational player for many years at a reasonable and team-controlled cost.  A good scouting report on Gose's upside can be found here at Jays Journal - http://tinyurl.com/b7pxyla.   Going into 2014, I'd much rather take the chance on Gose as part of the Next Mets than overpay long-term for Michael Bourn.  Murphy probably wouldn't return Gose by himself, but I could see one of the team's upside arms (Tapia, Verrett, etc.) added to make a deal work.

Assuming the team is out of it when the mid-summer comes around, the Mets could have a lot of assets to sell for prospects.  Bourn, Santana, Marcum, Jurrjens, Francisco, and Wilson could all be put on the market as all (if healthy) could be valuable to teams pushing towards the playoffs.  None of them would be signed for 2014 and are not likely long-term players here.  Of course, if they're all attractive to playoff teams it follows that the Mets might be in the thick of things, I'm just expecting the offense to come up short as the younger players are experiencing their growing pains.  That's as many as 6 deals for prospects that the Mets could potentially make.  Franklin would replace Murphy, Gose replaces Bourn, and Wheeler's eventual promotion fills one rotation spot while Gee and Mejia could fill the other two.  The bullpen would suffer (maybe) but this is all to help build for the future, but it's not as far off as it has been.  The Mets would go into next offseason with their foundation looking like:

2B Franklin 

OF ---
3B Wright 
OF ---
1B Davis
Ca d'Arnaud 
CF Gose 
SS Tejada 

SP1 ---

SP2 Harvey 
SP3 Niese 
SP4 Wheeler 
SP5 Gee/Mejia (Syndergaard) 

This Next Mets lineup would cost about $33.5M for 2014.  I'm assuming Davis will earn about $5M 2014 and while I think Syndergaard will eventually be in the rotation (likely 2015), whoever is the #5 starter in 2014 won't likely make more than the league minimum.  This team would be strong up the middle defensively and potentially offensively as well with d'Arnaud, Tejada, Franklin, and Gose.  Wright and Davis provide strong offense and defense on the corners as well.  The future of the rotation  would obviously be sitting pretty if Harvey and Niese pick up where they left off and Wheeler arrives as expected.  A year from now, every player in the lineup would already have some major league experience so the added veterans would be able to help bring everything together and hit the ground running.  It would finally be time to add this generation's Keith and Gary to the mix.

Getting here would only take two small trades (Franklin/Flores+ and Murphy+/Gose) and selling off whatever extra pieces possible at the deadline.  With all the money saved by building with youth and with a greatly strengthened farm system, the FO would be in prime position and have all the resources needed to be major players for just about any player on the market.  The Mets would only have 3 major needs heading into 2014 and should be able to address them, even overpaying if necessary to ensure they get what they want.


Anonymous said...

A) Why in the world would you bump Gee out of the rotation for Jair Jurrjens?

Gee was the National League's best "#5" pitcher last season before he got a scary blood clot.

Not only was Gee better than Jurrjens last year, but his Career numbers are better too with the major difference being Gee's pheriphals improving year over year and Jair's getting worse over the past 3 years.

Gee (2012)
8.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, a 1.249 WHIP

Gee (Career)
6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.312 WHIP

Jurrjens (2012)
3.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.862 WHIP

Jurrjens (Career)
6.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.321 WHIP

Mack Ade said...

I think J.J. signed with someone? The Orioles?

Anonymous said...

B) While I like the idea of Nick Franklin, your assumption that the Mariners would be willing to part with Franklin for Flores + 1 is a bit flawed.

Yes Flores had an excellent 2012 but he struggled a bit at Single A and a below average defender at 3B. At this point in time his bat cannot make up for his defensive liabilities. Its like trading an A- prospect for a B.

The only way it gets done is if Wheeler is included and you know the Mariners are going to ask for him.... everyone is.

Anonymous said...

Correct Mack,

1.5MM plus incentives.

Charles said...

Gee, to me, isn't a number 5 starter. He's better, and continues to get better every year.

Mack Ade said...

Gee's BABIP was 2011: .281, 2012: .305... FIP was 2011: 4.64... 2012: 3.74...

.300 is your average BABIP...and usually lower for non-strikout pitchers that create ground balls

you keep that FIP below your ERA and you're doing a good job

Herb G said...

There's too much in this post to comment on.

1. Glad the Jurrjens thing was corrected. If Sandy signs another starter, think Chris Young, with Tim Stauffer a possibility due to the Padres/DePodesta connection. I'm not buyin' the Oswalt rumor.

2, Bourn doesn't need to rebuild his value. He is what he is, and he remains unsigned due to the loss of a draft pick. MLBTradeRumors rated Bourn the #3 free agent on the market this year, 1 spot behind Josh Hamilton and 2 spots ahead of B.J. Upton. He's not going to sign for 1 year unless the Mets are the only team that wants him when spring training has begun. He'd be a great signing for 3 years, since I think his legs will hold up as a 32 year old, and he could be traded anytime after next June. I'd love to see him in the leadoff spot for the next 2 to 3 years, while we fill rest of the outfield with above average MLB players.

3. It is impractical to pin your hopes on trades for specific prospects like Franklin or Gose. (Besides, I'd rather get a tried and tested Emilio Bonifacio for Murphy+ rather than an offensively suspect Gose. Just my opinion, though.) I agree with you that 2B is a weak link and needs to be upgraded, whether we do it by trade, FA signing or internal development. While Murphy' defense has improved markedly, his range remains woefully inadequate. The outfield needs a similar upgrading.

4. If Wilson checks out when the FO guys go to see him throw next week, I'm all for signing him. But I don't think you'll see Gee in the pen. He's in the rotation. We actually have a lot of vull pen depth going into spring training. If we sign The Beard, I think our opening day bull pen looks like Wilson,(Cl) Parnell,(S/U) Edgin,(S/U) Francisco, Familia, Burke, and Hefner. However, Robert Carson, Elvin Ramirez, and Aaron Laffey could all challenge for a spot in spring training. To me, that looks like a pretty strong pen.

Michael S. said...

Thanks for the feedback and corrections. I included Jurrjens as placeholder name as I'm taking the FO at their word that they might sign another starter. If they do, doesn't that open competition for the #5 role? The thinking was that IF the additional starter makes the rotation he would be able to build value to be dealt. Gee would likely be the man out and the thinking was that his injury might hamper him a bit and he would ease into a role.

As far as Franklin and Gose specifically, it obviously doesn't have to be those two. I'd still like to see the team add two more foundational pieces before any major money is spent on free agents. If every team demands Zach Wheeler in trade (even for an unproven middle infielder, then the Mets won't be making any deals. Flores alone wouldn't do it, but I can't see the Mariners requiring ZW. Franklin is more like a B+ prospect (same as Flores per Sickels), not an A. I would target 2B and CF in order to save major $ for corner OF.

The idea for Bourn on a 1-year deal was floated in the media and that's where I got it. Now he wants 5? No...long-term it's a waste of resources. If no teams offer him what he wants, he might take a short deal from NYM in order to catch on with someone else later. Not to rebuild value, but find a temporary holding place. Regardless, if he's here it shouldn't be for long and I'd want him to just fill a void and then return a prospect.

As a quick note, I don't get the love for Gee. He's decent but I don't see anything in his stuff or long-term track record to think he'll ever be much. The reason I had Jurrjens over Gee is that two of his last four seasons were sub-3.00 ERA, something I don't ever see Dillon doing.

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