Posted by Reese Kaplan at 10:00 AM
As the Mets pursue possible additions to their somewhat pedestrian Cespedesless lineup, one team worth investigating is the Colorado Rockies. Right now they feature an all lefthanded outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. Reports indicate that all three are available in trade. Considering that the Mets have a somewhat uncertain centerfield position with a recovering Juan Lagares penciled in as the starter, it would seem a left handed platoon partner (or full time starter) could be just what the lineup doctor ordered.
CarGo as he’s often called, was at one time one of the true five-tool players in the game. He hit for power, ran with abandon, hit for a high average, could field well enough to hold down centerfield and threw accurately (if not powerfully). That was then, this is now…today CarGo is a solid hitter but not much else. He’s been shifted to left field out of deference to declining defensive skills. He doesn’t run anymore. Even his batting average has nosedived. However, last season he put on a Cespedes-like run to catapult himself to a best-ever 40 HR season.
Are there red flags? Yes, of course there are, otherwise they wouldn’t consider putting him on the block. He’s had a lot of trouble staying healthy during his career and in his age 29 season he went from a string of 5 straight 20+ steal seasons down to a career low of just 2. The strikeouts were near a career high and his batting average was a somewhat pedestrian .271 (though a vast improvement over his 2014 campaign of just .238).
Still, with just two years remaining on his deal at a very reasonable $17 and $20 million, he could provide a lot of the offense that walked out the door when Cespedes packed his bags in October. For the Mets, a two year commitment at a reduced price tag might be far more appealing than a 5-6 year commitment to a player like Yoenis Cespedes who turned in a spectacular 6 weeks and is looking to parlay it into long term security.
While his CF days may be behind him, the Mets would have to decide who would do less damage out there – Curtis Granderson or Carlos Gonzales – assuming Michael Conforto is relegated to one of the corners.
The man with the incredible beard has been something of an unsung revelation in Colorado. He’s hit for power, stolen bases with alacrity, yet outside of his division he’s not exactly a household name. Right now he’s delivering on average over a 162 game period a slash line of 16 HRs, 59 RBIs, 29 SBs and a .288 AVG. For all the people clamoring for a Denard Span signing or a Ben Revere trade, these numbers are actually better.
The biggest red flag about Blackmon is that he doesn’t fit the patient hitting philosophy preached by the Mets. He walks very little despite being a leadoff hitter for the Rockies, and strikes out a fair amount for someone with middle-of-the-pack power. Still, already an All-Star once, Blackmon would be a nice fit to pair with Juan Lagares or to win the job outright as he doesn’t have pronounced lefty/righty splits. He’s a solid fielder and would add a dimension of speed the team sorely lacks.
His contract is also very much to the Mets’ liking. He’s arbitration eligible this year and will remain under team control through the 2019 season. That’s a cog around which you can plan for the future at reasonable cost.
Called up and given opportunities to fill in for injured players, Dickerson has taken the ball and run with it. He still hasn’t gotten the nod as the full time starter, but he averages over parts of three seasons during a 162 game period 24 HRs, 76 RBIs m 6 SBs and a .299 AVG. He’s played some centerfield, but with Blackmon the starter the past few years he’s spent more time at the corners. He is more of a righty masher and could form a very effective platoon with Juan Lagares.
Contract-wise, he’s the best fit of all. He’s still making nearly major league minimum, not arbitration eligible until 2017 and not a free agent until 2020.
The Coors Field Effect
There’s been a lot written about how the ball carries so well in Colorado and thus inflates the offensive numbers of the players who have the good fortune to call Denver their home. I wish I could say that this conventional wisdom was so much hogwash, but the fact remains that the home/road splits for all three of these players is pronounced.
Take CarGo, for example…as a Coors Field hitter he’s a .324 hitter, but on the road just .255. Dickerson delivers, coincidentally, the same home/road splits as CarGo. Blackmon is even worse at .334 at home but just .241 on the road.
While Blackmon is a pure centerfielder and CarGo has the All-Star credentials and Gold Gloves in his past, Dickerson is the one I’d target. He’s hit for more power than Blackmon and has the least amount of experience, hence there is potential for improvement beyond his already solid numbers. With the other two you know pretty much what you’re going to get. He wouldn’t require the big dollar commitment of CarGo and has an additional year of team control more so than Blackmon. Like the Marcel Ozuna though last week, he’s got the potential to be a true steal. Of course, if they wound up with either of the other two Rockies outfielders, I’d be happy, too.
What Would It Take?
Well, after you figure out your target of interest, that would dictate what you offer in return. It would seem to me that the perpetually pitching starved Rockies would like groundball specialists in particular. They also might have some interest in near-Brewer Wilmer Flores who has been relegated to a bench role here with the acquisitions of both Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Say whatever you may about his defensive shortcomings, with Jose Reyes possibly facing suspension or criminal charges the Rockies may need a temporary shortstop solution, particularly one with 20 HR power for that ballpark. Some combination of Flores plus a pitching prospect might net you Dickerson or Blackmon. CarGo would probably require Zack Wheeler.