Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
Nothing like talking more Mets baseball right after the World Series ends, am I right?
Well, let's start with the obvious. The New York Mets will enter 2016 with arguably the best starting rotation in the majors. They will also (in my opinion) also have one of the top three closers in the game (I enjoy being more blunt with my opinions when posting stuff in the offseason). For God sakes Familia didnt even give up a hit in two of his 'blown saves', so I would be more worried about his confidence then his actual ability. I believe he will be fine and will look to break that franchise saves record he just tied to end this season. So we will start with the areas of need that the team basically started with in the first place, which is the need for offense.
It obviously appears as if the entire offseason will be centered around a Mets world series team outfielder and infielder. That would be Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, respectively. And those two dominoes will then effect the remainder of the offseason. So for purposes of this post, let's first think about and discuss first things first.....is either one coming back?
Cespedes was amazin for this team. He showed up at the deadline and transformed this team into winners. And the team then carried that winning into the world series. He's also way too darn expensive. The numbers were fluctuating throughout the end of the season, and with each homer he appeared to hit the $150-$175 mark. However, the postseason came around and Cespedes seem to get less and less potent with the bat. Of course injuries may have been a factor, but I'm simply going by what was seen and shown and what the stats showed during this run.. I'm being harsh with this because the fact remains that we are talking about frachise crippling money if wrong here. The only guy with a long term contract is the captain and face of the franchise ,and yet still there are many people who feel that one is a mistake. So why expect the Mets to shell out 6-7 years and $20-$25mil/yr to a guy whose not even 'homegrown'.
Cespedes had a career year in just about every category in 2015. His batting average went from .240 in 2013, to .260 in 2014, to a whopping .291 in 2015. His .542 Slugging percentage shattered anything he's done up to this point as a major leaguer and his OPS was a career high, and so were the 35 total homers he had for the season.
But of course I also understand that he is/was not the normal 'prospect'. Coming from Cuba, Cespedes basically had all of his development occur at the major league level, not in the minors. So he in fact might be at his peak professionally and has it all put together. However the fact remains that the organization I'm sure is hesitant to give Franchise player money to a guy coming off career numbers whose only been with them a few months.
Speaking of career numbers, Let's talk Murph, shall we? Perhaps almost as expected, Murph went all Murph in the NLDS and NLCS, having one of his usual 2-3 week spurts occur at a perfect time. But after the miraculous run had settled down, as it usually does, he then found himself in one of his usual minor slumps, that unfortunately fell at the worst possible time. And then of course were the times where he 'pulled a Murph' and cost the team runs. So, what to do?
Hard to say how I feel about this one. He's a homegrown talent who literally hit his way onto the 25 man roster, and ultimately into a starting role. He's worked extremely hard, he plays hard, he loves the team and organization, and he wants to win. If it were up to me...............Mets would go all Qualifying Offer on the man. Maybe he takes it, maybe he doesn't. If he takes it, then what? Well, the Mets would have the NLCS MVP on their roster. If he regresses, which would seem unlikely due to him being pretty much the same consistent offensive player he has always been, it would be a one year deal and he'd be gone after next year anyway. If he doesn't take the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mets can then obtain a high draft pick. Perhaps the Mets would even then consider the gamble of losing yet another first rounder to obtain a star quality player because of having the compensitory pick.
So let's say for the sake of argument that both are gone. What's more important to replace? The outfield, as far as I know, would then go into spring training with Conforto, Lagares (well, the elbow thing), Granderson and Cuddyer. The jury is definitely out on Kirk. He went from also ran to random 3 homer night hero, to K machine, to power guy, to K machine even worse, to eventually land on the world series roster anyway. I have no idea what the Mets want to do at this point with Kirk. At the very least, I would say that Kirk again remains on the roster only until one of few different possible things happen: 1: Brandon Nimmo finally stays healthy, lights up the PCL and gets promoted to start and or share time in Center Field with Lagares. 2: A veteran outfielder is signed to a one year value contract who has some combination of speed and/or decent power with an above average glove. 3: Mets make a blockbuster trade/signing for a Cespedes type player and perhaps a healthy enough Lagares joing Cuddyer as the backups.
There are flaws with everyone on this roster that plays the outfield. Cuddyer can't............nevermind I don't feel like ranting today.........Lagares has the elbow issue. Granderson is officially a gold glove nominue caliber Right Fielder who unfortunately can't throw and everyone else on the 40 man who has played in the outfield at some point during 2015 has not proven to be consistent offensively.
Then there's the infield. Again, same as the outfield, there are flaws everywhere. David Wright will look to return and thus play an entire season with his back condition. All the hours he reportedly has to put in just to suit up, will now be for entire season, and there have already been reports and speculation that David will certainly not get anywhere near 145-150 games played regardless of how hard he works to stay in shape and stay flexible. Tejada of course will be coming off the injury with ongoing concerns for consitency offensively. Wilmer made a huge turnaround with this glove, only to still have questions about his overall range, to go along with just not being able to have his offense be consisent, while also seeing his homers drop dramatically in the second half of the year. Lucas Duda, Mr. Streak himself remains a mystery of sorts in that he sometimes looks like one of the top 5 power hitters in the game. He also looks like one of the worst hitters in the game when he's swinging wildly at breaking piches in the dirt. And then there's the young wonderkid who is incredible at every minor league level, with a very decent glove and up in the name of Dilson Herrera. In my opinion, the minor leagues is now useless and a waste of time for him, regardless of his injuries that led to lack of at bats at the major league level. He needs to either be the starting second baseman on opening day, or part of a package deal for an all star hitter. There's also Matt Reynolds, who we actually never got to see in the postseason, but from what I understand he was actually on the active roster for like a week or so ;)
Well, anyway, long story short, the priority of the Mets this offseason needs to be the outfield. The flawed infield, in all its defensive misery, still held down the fort and got this team to the world series. Those hot streaks of Duda won them games. Wilmer won them some games. Tejada showed his talent in the second half and the captain show glimpses of what he can still be. And there's been initial rumblings about the Mets making plans to resign Kelly Johnson, which is just fine by me. He did not look very spectacular as a Met overall, but he showed power, along with a decent glove (ok, except for SS I guess) and I believe that it would be better from here on out if the Mets had a veteran like Kelly on the roster as a utility guy rather than a player like Campbell, who I respect very much and enjoyed his effort and willingness to do whatever asked of him. I know that prospects don't often pan out, but the buzz surrounding Herrera is very strong, and we've seen his pop in his limited major league at bats. he also, by all accounts, would be a defensive upgrade over Murphy, and of course a whole heck of a lot cheaper.
The outfield, however ,needs another star in my opinion. I had a lot of dreams of what Lagares was going to do in 2015. I was dreaming of .280+ batting average, with 10 homers, 30 stolen bases and another gold glove. Well, that didn't happen, and who knows what will become of his elbow. He obviously hit well in the postseason, but it was in a limited role. Sometimes, when a guy succeeds in such a way, it can possible often backfire and only prove to some that he may be better suited for such a role. Michael Conforto is definitely my everyday Left Fielder and Granderson is definitely my everyday Right Fielder.
But the fact remains that the Mets will go into 2016 most likely without the guys who hit 3 and 4 in the world series lineup. That's a pretty big deal. The Mets seem to have a lot of interchangable parts throughout the infield, so I think the outfield is where they need to find their star. But again, I remain a biased Mets fan who often has his head in the clouds. I always want to hope that a guy like Duda will hit 30 homers again in 2016. I want David to hit .300 with 15+ homers and drive in runs even if he only plays 140 games. I definitely want Wilmer to hit 20 homers and be the toast of the town for the entire season. But, in the end, Maybe the Mets can and should find a stud infielder who can hit 3rd or 4th in this lineup, and focus on a speed guy or two with an above average glove in the outfield. But hey, that's just me flip flopping even in the middle/end of post like always ;)