Ryan Nodes - A Trade of Reckoning...


The date was August 21, 2009, which for some of you may ring a bell, as it was a very meaningful date for the NY Mets. It was one of the bigger signs that we were in for years of misery due to Wilpons/Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme which will later be considered as one of the darkest periods in Mets history . A left handed, flame throwing relief pitcher by the name of Billy "The Kid" Wagner had recently come off the DL and was pitching quite well for the Mets, so much so, that other teams were asking Omar "Lobby" Minaya what it would take to get the lefty closer, with almost 400 saves on his resume in a trade. 

It turns out the price tag for a once dominant left handed closer, (who at the time was rated as a type A free agent), would end up being a journeymen bench player with no real position in the field (Chris Carter) and a low level, non-impact prospect that retired just a few months after this trade, (Eddie Lora). I had to look up Lora's name since made such a little impact with us. Lora actually had 34 rookie ball AB's, hit a whopping .088 and then quickly retired soon after. Carter came up with a few big pinch hits, but was quickly non-tendered after the 2010 season and he's now out of MLB, playing somewhere in Japan, not exactly lighting it up there either.

Not only did we not get much in the trade, the real story is about what we gave up in that unfortunate deal. No, not Billy Wagner, he was expendable given where we were at the time, as well as K-Rod was entrenched as our closer. Wagner didnt end up helping the Red Sox win a championship in 2009 and actually didn't even pitch that well in the playoffs vs the Angels, but what he did do for the Red Sox was getting them the #20th & #39th overall draft picks in the 2010 draft. After the 2009 season, they offered him salary arbitration since he was a Type A free agent, which he declined, resulting in those compensatory draft picks. (To add even more insult to injury, they also got the #36th pick from us as a result of us signing Jason Bay from them, which turned into Bryce Brentz. In fairness, I wasn't against the Jason Bay signing at the time, but your welcome Red Sox fans).  

With those picks, the Red Sox drafted Kolbrin Vitek and Anthony Ranaudo, who some could argue haven't exactly lived up to their reputations to this point, but are still both young prospects and have plenty of time to turn things around. Both of those players would be nice additions to have in our farm system, but lets take a look at some of the other players that were drafted around these spots that we gave away to the Red Sox instead of just holding onto Wagner and the $3.5 m left on the last year of his contract.  This is the part that will sting!

Here are just few that we could have had a shot at:

(#23) Christian Yelich
(#24) Gary Brown
(#27) Jessie Biddle
(#28) Zach Lee
(#34) Aaron Sanchez
(#36) Bryce Brentz
(#38) Noah Syndergaard
(#43) Tajiuan Walker
(#44) Nick Castellanos
(#49) Mike Olt
(#59) Jedd Gyorko
(#70) Andrelton Simmons

It's not to say we would have drafted any of these guys, but its possible we could have picked up at least one of these guys at the very least would have a little bit deeper farm system with either of those picks.  The problem was, the Wilpons needed money BADLY, so they DUMPED Billy Wagner and the approx $3.5 M left on his deal, as well as DUMPED the price tags it would have costed to sign these high drafts picks, which would have been another approximately $3-$3.5 M based on estimated slot prices for those picks. 

This is the very definition of a salary dump, which has had a significant impact on the current/future state of the major league team. I agree that there's no way we would have drafted two of these big name guys I listed above, but what if we got lucky with either pick and did grab at least one of these guys? Just imagine how much deeper our farm system would be right now if we kept these picks and grab at least one of these guys. Right now, John Sickels has us rated as the #12th best farm system, add one or two of these guys would have us in the top 5, maybe #1! 

For example, if we had drafted say, Tajiuan Walker who's arguably a top 3 best starting RH prospect in all of baseball to team with Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Syndergaard, etc. for our 2014-15 rotation projection. We did pick up Syndergaard in the Dickey trade, but it wouldn't hurt if we drafted him and picked up Aaron Sanchez or Anthony Gose from Toronto instead in the Dickey deal.  How about having Bryce Brentz or Mike Olt right now to groom as our starting RF of the future that could hit for power in the middle of our lineup for years to come. Or say, Gary Brown or Christian Yelich roaming CF for us for the next 6-8 years would be nice additions right about now and wouldn't put our OF in such a dark hole that it is right now. Gyorko, Simmons, Castellanos, Lee, Biddle, ETC, ETC, ETC!! Not to mention the trade value these prospects would have for say a RH/OF with 30+ HR, 100 RBI power potential!! (and you thought I was done talking about Justin Upton, lol)

I know people are going to respond to this and say hindsight is 20-20 and obviously if we know now, what we knew then, they would do things different, but this is a different situation all together. To me, this was an obvious dump and horrendously awful moves made by Fred and Jeff Wilpon. I'm aware Omar Minaya was the GM at the time, but lets be honest, i think we all know why this move was made. This specific move is a perfect example where the Wilpons/Madoff Ponzi scheme had a specific, direct impact on the major league roster, which they came out and said it never would. No matter how many times we've heard that it wouldn't have an impact, I find it very hard to justify this move as being best for the "baseball" team, instead of being best for Wilpons. Im sure guys are going to say we probably wouldn't have drafted any of these guys and likely would have drafted some guys that would be considered busts and maybe your right, but it sure would have potentially put us in a better position to put us closer to contending and back on the winning path. 

Lets go Mets!!


Reese said...

Chris Carter was the Jordany Valdespin of his day -- productive when he played but rarely given the opportunity to do so. He may have proven to be a AAAA journeyman, but as bad as that team was, you'd think they would have at least given him a longer look. Ditto the 2012 Mets and Valdespin who never started 3 consecutive games all year long.

Ryan Nodes said...

Difference being is Valdespin doesn't look half bad in the outfield, atleast not nearly as bad as CC was in terms of covering ground.. He makes Lucas Duda look like Carlos Gomez, lol.

James Preller said...

Oh, that was such a terrible move at the time. Not 20/20 hindsight, if you were paying attention, you knew it was terribly misguided.

Nice piece, well done.

Mack Ade said...

First of all, welcome Ryan as our newest writer.

Carter was "different" and wired real tight.

Mike Jacobs came over to me one night at Duffy's and asked me what the deal was with Carter. I asked what do you mean and he told me that Carter didn't allow anyone to touch his bats. He would travel with them in the trunk of his car during ST, bring them in, carry them out to the field, etc.

Jacobs attempted to pick one up and, like, six Mets yelled out to not touch the bats.

I later on that spring got to talk to Carter a few times and I liked him.

TP said...

Yes, that move still stings. It exemplified the Wilpon dabbling in the organization...cutting off your nose to spite your face. Everyone in baseball knew the value of those two picks far exceeded the $3.5 million in salary savings.

Herb G said...

The trade of Billy Wagner was a precurser to the destructive actions of ownership necessitated by the prospect of huge losses in the wake of the Madoff debacle. You can't really blame them. Although it was as if they were bailing water with a thimble when the ship was taking on water by the bucket. They were only trying to stay afloat long enough to make port. And they finally did.

To me, the real culpret was Omar. It is hard to imagine that he could not get a better return from the Sox. (or another suitor) By making two highly effectiive appearances for the Mets, Billy the Kid demonstrated he was able to pitch, and there was every reason to think he could be valuable in a pennant push. I'd bet Sandy would have gotten quality if the Wilpons told him he had to trade Wags.

Mack Ade said...

what about signing K-Rod and losing the 1st round pick to the LAA... who picked... wait for it... Mike Trout

Ryan Nodes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Nodes said...

The other move that is on the same parallel as this move was the Francisco, Rodriguez salary dump. I know K-Rod didnt have that much race value at the time, specifically due to his huge kicker that would have vested if he closed a certain # of games, but what bothers me is that the Brewers and K-Rod renegotiated removing that vesting option in 48 hours, to where the Mets could have done that before they traded him and significantly increasing his trade value. Even at that, he became a setup man for the Brewers and all they got for him where a 5'5 soft tossing lefty that isn't really effective on lefties since his best pitch is a screwball, Daniel Herrera and a Low A ball reliever, Adrian Rosario, who has put up some solid numbers until he hit AA and his ERA took a turn for the worse. It sounds like we had a choice of 5 players and these were the best 2 we could choose from. I was way off because I really thought we would have at least had a choice of maybe one Top 10 Brewer prospect. I remember scouting Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Scooter Gennett, thinking we could possibly get one of them. (What was I thinking?) These guys are now considered some of the Brewers top prospects but 2+ years ago, they weren't quite as high, but to get what we ended up getting, to me this means this was just another salary dump. Again, this didnt seam to be the best "baseball" move, but certainly helped save some money for the organization.

Mack Ade said...

I wonder what The Closer's spin on this would be...

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