James Newman | Mets 360- What a first half it has been for the New York Mets, as the team stands in contention for a playoff spot entering the All-Star break. At the end of Saturday, the Mets stood 46-42 and only two games behind the Washington Nationals, and one game out of the wild card race. While the Mets have hovered around a .500 winning percentage for most of the season, there are a lot of reasons to be excited for the second half. However, there are some questions that will need to be addressed as the season progresses.
(Chris Soto: James' questions in his article are all very fair ones. Will the Mets continue holding back young talent? Will Sandy make moves to improve the ballclub? When will d'Arnaud, Wright, Matz, and Blevins return? When talking about the current state of the Mets, I think it's very important to point out the following. At the beginning of the month we said that the current stretch of games against the Giants, Dodgers, D-backs, Cardinals, Nationals and then the Dodgers is by far the most difficult stretch the Mets will face all year. So far they are 7-2 against these opponents. If the Mets can continue this momentum and take a few games from the Nationals....they can turn this whole season around very quickly.)
Ted Berg | For The Win- The U.S. team throttled the World team, 10-1, in the 2015 All-Star Futures Game at Great American Ballpark on Sunday. And though it’s impossible to conclude anything from a single exhibition game, the following prospects stood out from the rest of the pack: #5 Mets OF Michael Conforto. The Mets’ outfield hopeful showed why he was considered one of the most polished hitters in the 2014 draft with line-drive singles to center and right field in his two at-bats. Conforto also made a great throw home from left field to nail a runner trying to score from second on a single.
(Chris Soto: I watched the Futures Game pretty extensively yesterday and boy did Conforto stand out. Not only was he 2 for 2 against the top young pitchers in minor league baseball, but, he also looked....unchallenged or unphased, by the premium stuff that these guys were bringing. In addition, previous pre-draft reports citing that his defense needed significant work in the OF seem to be outdated and need to be thrown away. Not only is Conforto playing well in LF, but he is also displaying what seems to be a plus arm in LF. Conforto threw a runner out at home yesterday on a line and MLB Advanced Media clocked the throw velocity at 93mph.)
David Lennon | Newsday- To Michael Conforto, the leap from Double-A to the majors is not unreasonable. He's seen it happen this season with the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, the Rangers' Joey Gallo and a pair of Twins, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. So why not him? "Everyone's going to compare themselves to those guys," the outfielder said before Sunday's Futures Game at Great American Ball Park. "Yeah, I've pictured myself as that person. And I do think I'm ready. But it's not my call." Conforto, 22, wasn't shy about saying he could help the Mets right now. But not in a boastful way. And judging by the numbers, maybe he eventually will change the front office's mind.
(Chris Soto: After yesterday's Futures Game performance, Sandy's mind must be running around in circles about this guy. Conforto certainly "looks" ready to take on the MLB and most of the AA stats back that claim up. However, there is still 1 glaring item in his stat line, his K rate. Currently is sits at an even 20%, which is 5 basis points above in A+ numbers. However, Conforto has shown significant improvement in this department as well. During the 1st 2 weeks in AA the K rate was 28.2%, the following 2 weeks it was 21.7%, and these most recent 2 weeks it has dropped to 17.3%.)
Chris Soto | Trade Targets
Let's start taking a look at realistic trade targets that Sandy could possibly put together. We'll start in reverse standings order and climb the ladder a few teams at a time.
Colorado Rockies (39-49): "Re-tooling" mode
- I feel like we say the same thing about the Colorado Rockies every season. They have one of the top offenses in baseball, but, they can't pitch worth a damn. You can blame the Coors Field event all you want, but, when your starting rotation is anchored by Jorge De La Rosa, who is likely no better than a #4 on most teams, you have a problem. However the Rockies solid core of young offense and young incoming pitching talent will prevent any thoughts of a full re-build. Everyone has their eyes on SS Troy Tulowitzki who is showing to not only be healthy, but, productive as well. In addition, the Rockies have been developing a very capable young SS in Trevor Story who has legitimate 5 tool potential and is now in AAA. The Rockies GM is a generally an irrational individual who is loyal to his players to a fault, but, with Story's rapid development, now may be the perfect time to deal Tulowitzki and net himself a massive package.
- Trade Proposal: Mets send RHSP Noah Syndergaard for SS Troy Tulowitzki + cash
- Reason: Man...I really DO NOT want to trade Thor.....but....the helium so far created by his performances to date may be enough to pick up Tulowitzki on his own. It's the basic, trade from strength to improve weakness strategy. Tulo instantly jumps the Mets from a bottom 25% offense to above the mid way point. Meanwhile the pitching would go from Top 3 to maybe Top 5 or 6. The net gain in offense would FAR outweigh the net loss in pitching.
Cincinnati Reds (39-47): "Re-tooling" mode
- Just like the Rockies, the Reds have a solid group of young offensive talent and a young solid incoming class of pitching. Unfortunately, the Reds no longer have contract control over most of their current pitching staff so they need to re-tool the rotation in order to compete in future years. The club's biggest trade chip is of course Johnny Cueto, but, the Mets would have no interest in him with an already Top 3 SP rotation. Jay Bruce would also be another interesting name for the Mets to look at, but, with an already crowded OF and Michael Conforto potentially forcing his way to the MLB roster. I'm not sure Sandy would be interested in another piece blocking Conforto's path to the MLB LF spot.
Oakland Athletics (41-50): "Re-tooling" mode
- Let this sink in for a moment. The Oakland Athletics have only 2 players that are under guaranteed contracts past this season; Coco Crisp and Billy Butler. 5 of their top 7 contracts are coming off the books this season giving the club almost $40M to spend in Free Agency next season. Since the A's already have a strong core of SP's and GM Billy Beane always has a future vision, look for them to be really active this off-season to try an compete in 2016. Rather than letting Free Agents go for nothing, Beane is going to try and get something out of SP Scott Kazmir, UT Ben Zobrist, RP Tyler Clippard, and RP Eric O'Flaherty. Mets would certainly be interested in the versatile Zobrist as well as Clippard. Pending Jerry Blevins condition, they could also made a play for the lefty specialist Eric O'Flaherty as well.
- Trade Proposal: Mets send IF Matt Reynolds, SP Michael Fulmer for UTIL Ben Zobrist and RP Eric O'Flaherty.
- Reason: The A's farm system is completely barren after the failed Samardzija trade last season and needs significant help. Beane also loves his moneyball style utility players and Matt Reynolds certainly fits that bill. The Mets don't really need a late inning RP as much as they need a lefty specialist to replace Jerry Blevins who's fractured wrist is not healing well.