Reese Kaplan -- Let the Excuses Begin!

In each year of the Sandy Alderson era the team’s fans have waited with bated breath for the mid-season trading deadline to spur improvements to the roster.  Surely there were players no longer needed who could be peddled to improve the team down the road or players who could be acquired to help the team advance in the playoff hunt now.  Granted, during the rebuilding phase that was never clearly termed as such they were always way more than a player or two away from unseating the teams at the top of the division, yet the inertia year after year was particularly galling.  Now that the team finished at the All Star break on a high note, just 2 games out of first, let’s take a look at the various well-polished lines we’ve been fed in the past and see whether or not they’ll hold up under scrutiny this year.

There were no ‘difference makers’ available.

This one may or may not pass the steer-droppings test.  From all reports, players in the last year of their contracts are likely on the move such as Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Yoenis Cespedes.  They would certainly qualify as players who could make the difference between treading water and advancing in the standings. 

The return of our injured players will be just like new player acquisitions.”

While the most optimistic of fans viewing life through blue and orange lenses might swallow this line, the fact remains that had the team had David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud for the entire season it would not necessarily have improved upon the seasons suffered by Ruben Tejada, Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares and the bench. 

No one would meet our demands.”

Now this one may indeed have some merit if your demands are reasonable.  Obviously everyone wants to come in on the winning side of a trade, but it’s not always player personnel that constitute a victory.  Ike Davis was dumped not because the team coveted Zack Thornton and Blake Taylor as much as they needed to break up the logjam at first and obtain over $3 million in salary relief.  Consequently, even if Alderson is only willing to deal away scraps there are other teams likely willing to take them if it means getting out from under a player deemed undesirable for reasons of salary, personality or fit. Now if the team is unwilling to take on salary, that's another matter entirely.

Everyone wanted one of our young starting pitchers and that was simply not going to happen under any circumstances.”

While having 5 starters all making close to the league minimum delivering sub 3.50 ERA performances and striking out opposing batters seemingly at will is a GM’s wet dream, the fact remains that the team’s offense is putrid.  Consequently if another GM called an offered up either their top young cost-controlled hitter or a young veteran hitter and demanded one of your pitchers in exchange, you’d be foolish to hang up the phone.  After all, a hitter has the potential to help you every day whereas a pitcher can help you just once every five days (or six if health and lunacy in Queens allowed).  There was always the conventional baseball wisdom you don’t trade a good hitter for a good pitcher for just this reason.  In an era of depressed offense, this philosophy would be reinforced.  Consequently if someone lusts after one of your pitcher (Matt Harvey, for example) you need to consider it. 

We will have more payroll flexibility at the end of the year when some contracts come off our books.”

So what you’re saying is that when Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy leave for nothing in exchange you will have $17 million or so to pay for…what exactly?  And how does that help now?  And whatever happened to the “We have the money to spend to obtain a player who would improve the club”?  By the way, don’t be surprised to see Bobby Parnell waving bye-bye, too, as his $4 million (+) price will become undesirable for a guy in a set-up role. 

All teams go through slumps but you see how we finished before the break and it’s clear we have what it takes to win.  We just had to get some people going again.”

I won’t even dignify that one with a retort.

"With the injury to Steve Matz we couldn't afford to trade away a starting pitcher."

I call BS.  Logan Verrett is in the minors.  Pitcher-of-the-Week Darin Gorski is in the minors.  Even "We did everything we could to ruin him" Dillon Gee is in the minors.  Carlos Torres is in your bullpen.  So is former starter Sean Gilmartin.  If (and it's a huge if) the medical staff is to be believed, Matz is out for 3-4 weeks.  You can surely muddle through with some combination of these people once every 5 days.  If a team offered you a piece that could help, say Andy Van Slyke for Jon Niese, then this excuse doesn't hold water. Besides, there are many other positions besides starting pitcher at the major league level that can be traded.  No one will tolerate that lie.  


Thomas Brennan said...

David Wright most likely will not return soon enough to make an impact, and Plawecki and Monell are both hitting, so even a solid d'Arnaud return might have no more than a negligible effect. So we need a real bat. Don't waste the brilliance of Jake. Call up Conforto (harder to do after Kirk's freak game) or do a deal or two.

Reese Kaplan said...

For a perspective, Kirk Nieuwenhuis WITH that awesome game is hitting a robust .146 on the year. Sorry, not sold on him as more than a bench piece (if that).

Mack Ade said...

Call up Conforto but leave the starters alone.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

I can’t see trading a pretty decent, proven lefty starter like Neise for a bench piece like Van Slyke. Muddling through with a couple of arms that will probably be exposed big time does not strike me as a good option either unless, I’d claim, you’re really scoring big on the trade side. Say, Braun or someone of that caliber.

I agree with many here, bring up Comforto, roll the dice.

Reese Kaplan said...

Oh, I'm in favor of a Conforto promotion particularly if they disable Cuddyer. He can't possibly be any worse even if he is overmatched. However, this club has three of the worst offensive outfielders in the league (Granderson is still a shell of his former self). They get nothing out of SS and very little out of catcher. Even steady Daniel Murphy is providing very little and Lucas Duda's slump is well documented.

Promoting Conforto can be PART of the plan to upgrade and improve. It can't be the whole plan.

Stubby said...

I know I'm persona non grata around here, but I think your closing paragraph is evidence why I'll trust Alderson over Kaplan.

"If a team offered you a piece that could help, say Andy Van Slyke for Jon Niese, then this excuse doesn't hold water."

Andy Van Slyke is 54 years old and hasn't been active in 20 years. If someone offers you Andy Van Slyke for Jon Niese, I would hope you would laugh at them and hang up the phone. Sure, I know you meant Scott Van Slyke. But a slip like that is just sloppy. Alderson is not sloppy.

Even Scott Van Slyke would be a bad move. He's a platoon player at best and, if you even out the at bats, has been roughly the same offensive player that Cuddyer has been this year. You so dislike Mets .250 hitters, yet you're willing to overpay for other teams' .250 hitters. I don't get that.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Stubby -- good catch on the Andy/Scott Van Slyke mistake. I did that once in the past referring to Mike as Steve Trout...shows the era in which I grew up watching the game :)

As to Van Slyke's capabilities (Scott, not Andy)...last year he hit 11 HRs and drove in 29 while batting .292 in 212 ABs. That extrapolates out to close to 33/87 over the course of a full season.

This year he has been injured for much of the season and consequently not posting great numbers. For his career he has 24/73 in 586 ABs at minimum wage. I'd take that over Cadaver and make HIM the 4th outfielder until Conforto and Nimmo are deemed ready. Throw in the $12 million of salary relief for the remainder of this year and next if Niese went over to LA and yes, I'd make that deal. He can play all three OF positions and 1B while swinging from the right side.

Is it the best you can get for Niese? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know since I'm not sitting in on Alderson's conference calls, but LA is a team with too many outfielders and we're a team with too many pitchers. You may be content to trot Cuddyer out there hoping he'll rediscover his Rockies or Twins mojo, but he appears to be shot. When something doesn't work, try something else. Don't keep doing the same activity over and over again, expecting results to change.

Mack Ade said...

Stubby -

welcome back - my apologies

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