Reese Kaplan -- The Offensive Offense

With all the well-deserved doom and gloom about the Mets offense, there have been some highlights worth noting.  Some good has come of this season's hitting (believe it or not).  There are a few highlights from this season of players producing (when they can stay on the field).  Being without David Wright, Travis d'Arnaud and Daniel Murphy for much of the season has not helped in the least.  Then again, there are some people who are making a bad situation worse by continuing to produce at unacceptable levels which either represent their career norms or fall far below them.   

The challenge to Sandy Alderson is figuring out how to bolster the anemic offense without jeopardizing the quartet of young, cost-controlled starting pitchers who represent the future of the franchise.  Granted, no one is giving up All-Star talent without something viable in return, but there are peripheral pieces and secondary prospects who might fill the bill.

Let’s take a look at the batters and appreciate the good, then examine the bad, then finally figure out the solution.

The Good

Curtis Granderson Now Approaching His Bloated Paycheck

While the Mets seemed to have made yet another over-the-hill free agent blunder with the preemptive strike in December of 2013 to ink Curtis Granderson to a 4 year lucrative contract, he’s actually now providing close to his value.  According a great, comprehensive article in FanGraphs in 2013 each win provided by a player was worth in the magnitude of $6 million in salary.  Consequently a 3-WAR player should fairly be paid $18 million.  Granderson is making $16 million this year and would need to provide about a 2.6 WAR rating to justify his salary.  Right now he’s at 2.2 but is trending upwards. 

Travis d’Arnaud is For Real

After all of the accolades he received and then the false start he had in 2014, it was easy to question whether or not he was capable of becoming an offensive presence for the club.  It now appears that if he can stay healthy (and that’s a HUGE if) then he may be the Mets’ answer to Jonathan Lucroy – someone who hits for both power and average.  Like Lucroy, however, d’Arnaud may want to consider a position switch in order to keep his bat in the lineup more often.  (Lucroy has missed quite a bit of time in 2015 due to injury as well). 

Daniel Murphy is Daniel Murphy

Another guy who has trouble staying on the field, Daniel Murphy is back now and hopefully picks up where he left off, with his usual .290 hitting with a passel of doubles to complement his occasional long ball.  As a guy worth about 1.7 WAR per year, he will command a $10 million salary on the open market.  That’s likely too rich for the Mets in the future but with David Wright on the shelf now they’re far less likely to try to peddle him at the trade deadline with free agency looming.  Instead they will get nothing in return as a QO at around $16 million is highly unlikely to happen.  They could still surprise people by working on a contract extension (particularly since Dilson Herrera has looked overmatched in his two trials at the big league level) but he may still be extraneous if David Wright comes back and Wilmer Flores remains at 2B.

Wilmer Flores (by Mets Standards) Can Hit

When was the last time the Mets had a middle infielder capable of 20 HRs and 70 RBIs?  Edgardo Alfonzo?  Yes, he’s hardly ideal no matter where you play him in the field and he clogs the base paths when he gets on base, but it’s offensive production that they’re not getting from Dilson Herrera, Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell and others.  Hopefully as he matures the OBP and AVG will increase just as they did throughout his minor league career after a period of adjustment.

Addition by Subtraction

It’s refreshing this year to see that incompetence at the big league level won’t be tolerated from bench players. Both Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Anthony Recker are mercifully gone from the dugout.  Occasional power traded for 35% strikeout rates simply wasn’t cutting it.  Unfortunately the replacements haven’t been a whole lot better save for Darrell Ceciliani.  Mayberry is probably only still here due to his salary. 


Michael Cuddyer, Batting Chump

When Sandy Alderson signed Michael Cuddyer, people questioned the wisdom in giving up a draft pick and the inclusion of a second year for a 36 year old player.  Moreover, they wondered whether or not the oft-injured Rockie was worth the investment if he couldn’t stay on the field.  No one questioned his ability to hit.  Imagine our collective surprise, therefore, to find him out there every single day, healthy but unproductive.  Right now he’s delivering a negative WAR of -0.5.  For that he’s being paid $8.5 million.  He’s the very definition of a sunk cost. 

Lucas Duda Probably Wishes He’d Signed a Contract Extension

While the big man at first base has definitely got impressive power, a June swoon has him down to .259 with 10 HRs and 33 RBIs.  While the average is consistent with what he produced last year, the power is way down and when it comes time to negotiate in the off-season the Mets have to consider whether or not he was a one-year fluke in the mold of Ike Davis. 

The “Meh” Group

Ruben Tejada and Juan Lagares are having what for them are career average years with the bat.  For Tejada it’s a step up from his past few seasons of frustration but for Lagares he’s not nearly as valuable as he once was due to the obvious injury to his arm that the team is failing to address.  Without the highlight reel catches and throws he’s part of the problem, not the solution. 

The Solution

There appear to be only two obvious routes to improve the offense.  You can look for a new shortstop or a new outfielder.  Shortstop is a no brainer as Ruben Tejada is essentially a replacement level player.  

What is a harder decision is what to do between LF and CF should a new slugging outfielder be acquired.  You could make Cuddyer into a supersub, playing some time at 1B, 3B and OF, or you could disable Lagares (preferable) and let him address his ailing arm.  That would likely necessitate putting Granderson in CF, but an outfield alignment of new guy in LF, Granderson in CF and Cuddyer in RF probably is more palatable to them than paying $8.5 million for a guy to sit on the bench.   


Mack Ade said...

The Cuddyer injury is going to determine a change in the Mets outfield. I guess it's going to be Ceciliani, which just isn't enough in my book, but my hands are just about ready to be thrown up.

Reese Kaplan said...

So's my breakfast!

Anonymous said...

Ceciliani should play LF. In fact, the way that Cudaver has hit or in fact hasn't hit, there should be a platoon at this point.

Call up Boyd and release Campbell so that he can platoon with Duda until Duda learns to stop chasing the change-up in the dirt. Only the Mets have players who strike out on the same pitch game in and game out on a daily basis. Why not call up Reynolds to play shortstop now that Tejada is once again, Tejada?

Stupidity is defined as the state of being foolish or unintelligent : the condition of being stupid. : a stupid idea or action.

This is exactly the state of the Mets. Keep running the same lineup with the same players in the same order every day and expect different results.

Mack Ade said...

Anonymous -

doing the same thing over and over is the definition of insanity...

Cuddyer will come back from his MRI with some diagnosis that will place him on the DL. Mark my word.

Ceciliani will be your next starter, replacing Cuddyer.

Past that, this team is down to its short hairs. Conforto would be the only viable option but I don't expect them to pull that trigger.

Maybe Kirk comes back (sic)...

Reese Kaplan said...

Since Campbell can play OF, don't be surprised if the move is for Recker which makes both he and Monell options to pinch hit and still gives the team 5 outfielders. Don't forget he's on the 40-man roster whereas Kirk, Castellanos, Boyd and Taijeron are not.

eraff said...

Dan Murphy is a Lousy 2nd baseman... a lifetime 752 ops.... he's had 78 rbi in a season.... consistently 50 xb hits. Average speed, bad base runner.

So... Flores is an Upgrade???...a revelation?

He's a below average defender...maybe an effective swing piece--- covering all 4 IF sposts PLUS DH.

The Kid at AAA will be the 2bman

Thomas Brennan said...

It would help if Boyd played everyday. As soon as Kirk came back to Vegas, Boyd's time got cut. Play the guys everyday that can truly develop, so they're ready when needed.

I wouK'd send Ruben down and recall Tovar. Ruben's slump is unacceptable.

Thomas Brennan said...

Let me add one thing about d'Arnaud, and I'm no doctor. In Jan, I slipped on a flight of stairs, grabbed the stair rail, but the piece coming from the wall that holds the rail in place? My band's middle finger and ring finger got caught in it and hyper-extended the ring finger. Very sore and stiff for a month, still only about 80%. Let's hope d'Arnaud's hyper extension injury heals a lot more quickly.

Kevin S said...

How about putting Larages under the knife and trying to acquire Charlie Blackmon from the Rockies. I'm thinking Blackmon for Fulmer would make some sense for both teams. He can play CF until Lagares is ready to return. He will be arbitration eligible for the first time this coming offseason and won't be a free agent until 2019.

I'd also go out and acquire Gerardo Parra or David Murphy to serve as my 3rd/4th OF. He's a rental player so I wouldn't imagine it would take more than a lottery pick or future reliever to get him.

Chris Johnson from ATL is another interesting guy. Owed a lot of money so ATL would have to eat some/most of that if they want anything in return but he does hit lefties well. Could easily replace Campbell and play 1B/3B when a lefty is on the mound.

Anonymous said...

I get the conventional wisdom about being patient with player development for prospects like Conforto, but conventional wisdom is going to lead this team to a near last place finish. The Cubs brought Schwarber up already, even if it was for a cup of coffee, so why would it be so crazy to promote Conforto under the premise that it is short term and will be heading back down in a few weeks. If he rakes, he stays and if he struggles, they can send him back down and say it was always the plan.

This team needs offense any way it can get it; external options look weak and overpriced, but there are not a lot of internal options not named Conforto.
Anon Joe F

Mack Ade said...

Joe F -

The Mets follow the next two games with the Cubs with series against the Dodgers, the Giants, Arizona, St' Louis, Washington, the Dodgers again, the Padres, and Washington again.

Unless some moves are made during this period, and if the current team continues to hit the way they are now, this season could easily be over.

ZachBoyer said...

Adeiny Hechavarri? Anybody like this?

Dallas said...

How can anyone call for Reynolds to be called up? He can barely hack AAA Vegas where mediocre players smash the ball at .350 clips? His OPS there is less than .740! and its not like his defense is Simmons like. I just don't see how that is remotely a solution.

ZachBoyer said...

Reynolds was named a PCL all-star somehow? And Hechavarri is Simmons-like.

Reese Kaplan said...

@ZachBoyer -- Adeiny Hechavarria is showing a good glove and a reasonable bat this year. It would help the defense over Tejada but not necessarily be a quantum leap forward on offense. It depends on what would be asked in return. He's only 26 so he's coming into his prime. Of course, he's earning nearly $2 million, so salary shouldn't be an obstacle.

Anonymous said...

I just moved to SF two weeks ago and already am planning on going next week; it could be the nail in the coffin. in addition to being offensively bad, this team has been really unlucky with injuries and slumps. They really don't need a bunch of boppers, they just need to string some hits together with the awesome pitching
Anon Joe F

Stephen Guilbert said...

I don't understand why Flores continues to get a free pass by this fan base. Is it because he's hit 10 homers? Whoopie. His OBP is .267. For his career it's .272. Do you want to know how many Mets since 1990 have had a lower OBP over at least 162 games? Zero. None. No, not even Rey Ordonez was this bad offensively.

OBP has a much higher correlation to offensive production than homers and WAY more than average and infinitely more than RBI. OPS is even better. What is his career OPS over 650 at bats? .642. Ruben Tejada's is .647, for reference.

Oh and Ruben Tejada can actually play defense. There's that, too.

Seriously can anyone explain to me why Wilmer Flores isn't getting the Mets fan hate that we all come to expect when a player doesn't perform? Ruben Tejada has been an exponentially better player this year and throughout his career and yet gets shit on by fans and the organization on a daily basis.

Do people chronically really just not understand baseball? I really do not get it.

Metsiac said...

I agree with Stephen. Flores gives away many more runs than he provides. I'd hope that Cincy goes into salary dump mode soon and makes Brandon Phillips available. Martin Prado or Ben Zobrist would be upgrades as well. I only wish there were a way we could get Justin Turner back from LA, too.

For the OF, I wonder why there are no mentions of Jose Tabata, who was DFA'd for some reason while hitting .290 this year and. 275 career.

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