A lot of keyboards have been taking a pounding with thoughts regarding the future of the Mets roster changes coming via trade or free agency. With apologies to The Lovin' Spoonful, this is not a day for a daydream. Instead, it’s a dose of cold, hard probability (if not outright reality) concerning who will be playing for the club in 2015.
First, let’s consider the modus operandi of one Mr. Sandy Alderson. His greatest skill is also his Achilles heal. When it works it’s called patience. When it doesn’t, it’s called inertia. The result is the same, however. He excels at doing nothing. Whether you call it, “Waiting for the market to come to him” or “Waiting for the other team to blink” the fact remains that he’s misread and mistimed the market on a great many occasions.
Let’s get the successes out of the way first. He did well with the Carlos Beltran rental in San Francisco. He got a good haul for R.A. Dickey who was fresh off a Cy Young season. He fleeced the Pirates for rentals of Marlon Byrd and John Buck. Bravo! When you have something other teams want and payroll to dump, you’re a champion…
Or is he? How many callers did he get for Jose Reyes? Scott Hairston? Bartolo Colon? Reyes was in the midst of a batting championship season and he did nothing but let him walk away. Hairston was forced into regular outfield duty and responded with over 20 HRs yet he again did nothing with free agency pending. Colon was having a solid season, leading the team in victories yet once again after clearing waivers he’s still on the roster.
Then let’s look at the major-league-talent for major-league –talent trades…well, maybe not. There was Angel Pagan off to San Francisco for injured Ramon Ramirez and Andres “Why Didn’t We Cut Him to Save Salary” Torres.
The jury is still out on Ike Davis to the Pirates for Blake Taylor and Zack Thornton. While we all know how well Lucas Duda did at 1B for the Mets and how little Davis did for the Bucs, the fact remains that neither 18 year old Taylor’s 1.10 Strikeout-to-Walk ratio nor 26 year old Thornton’s 1-5/4.22 pitching for Wally Backman scream future star to anyone.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot one…we can see now why he’s loathe to trade young pitching when he flipped Colin McHugh who was arguably the ace of the Astros staff this year for a guy likely to be non-tendered whose only skill is that of a pinch runner.
Surely he has it within himself to step out of his comfort zone to act decisively and swiftly when the situation warrants it, right? Does the name Chris Young ring a bell?
So what do we see here? He’s a guy who, when he’s holding the proven cards, can win a poker hand. Unfortunately the closest the Mets have this year to someone fitting that definition is Daniel Murphy who, as you recall, only was valued at a Luke Gregerson (middle reliever) level a year or so ago in trade talks. He’s not offering up a borderline Hall of Famer.
Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee all make more money than the Wilpons would like to spend given the relative wealth of pitching in the system, but again it doesn’t appear to be a case of dealing a reigning Cy Young winner that other teams will fight to obtain.
If you’re looking for a connective thread, he’s fared poorly in the evaluation of major league talent, but gotten lucky or had good scouting on some valuable prospects he’s gotten in return in trades. Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s he who has the good prospects that other teams may salivate should they be offered up in trade.
My conclusion, however, is that he will continue to play to his strength of doing nothing…and the 2015 roster is going to look very similar to the 2014 roster with a few subtractions due to their only being 25 spots available.
1B Lucas Duda
2B Daniel Murphy
SS Wilmer Flores
3B David Wright
LF Matt den Dekker
CF Juan Lagares
RF Curtis Granderson
C Travis d’Arnaud
C Anthony Recker
IF Wilfredo Tovar
IF Eric Campbell
OF Kirk Niewenhuis
OF Cesar Puello
SP Matt Harvey
SP Jacob de Grom
SP Zack Wheeler
SP Jon Niese
SP Bartolo Colon
RP Jenrry Mejia
RP Jeurys Familia
RP Vic Black
RP Rafael Montero
RP Josh Edgin
RP Dana Eveland
RP Carlos Torres
Gone Ruben Tejada (too expensive)
Gone Eric Young (too expensive)
Gone Dillon Gee (too right handed in the rotation, hence Niese stays)
Gone Buddy Carlyle (too much of a fluke to repeat)
Gone Dario Alvarez (old for AAA but never played there)
Gone Scott Rice
Do you see a trend here? There’s not a single new face except for Cesar Puello getting an undeserved promotion due to his minor league free agency pending status. Of course, they could throw in Josh Satin or Andrew Brown as the righty, but I was banking on him being the minimum wage pinch runner replacing Eric Young.
It would not surprise me in the least to see the in-house options being the only options considered until/unless other clubs overwhelm Alderson with offers as the Jays did for Dickey or the Giants did for Beltran. The problem is that you’re not dealing from strength here at the major league level. Your crown jewels are young pitchers and that’s one commodity Alderson has never put on the trading block.
Your 2015 Mets are your 2014 Mets plus Harvey and with a full year of Wilmer Flores at SS. Will it be enough to reach .500? Probably. Will it be enough to contend? Probably not.