Reese Kaplan -- Did the Mets Spend Wisely?

There is a palpable anger in the Mets fan community right now as word filters down that they are completely out on Yoenis Cespedes. While he's a streaky hitter, vanished for the final two weeks of the season and the post-season, and put together a career-stretch that is not sustainable, the fact remains that the Mets would not have sniffed the post-season had he not been acquired in the first place. Hope was razor thin at best that Cespedes was coming back, but in this case it's not the player but the concept of a middle-of-the-order bat that has the fans in an uproar.

Justin Upton, for example, is still out there for the taking and a strong case can be made that he's a better player than Yoenis Cespedes is anyway. Jason Heyward was available, and although entering his prime years as he bolted from the Cardinals, his offensive numbers have been in decline since his first couple of seasons in Atlanta. Alex Gordon is another solid piece – better than an Alejandro De Aza, but not in the same league as the All-Star sluggers the team's fans crave.

Let's take a look at what the Mets have spent thus far in the off-season:

  • Asdrubal Cabrera – $9.25 million per year for two years
  • Bartolo Colon – $7.25 million
  • Jerry Blevins – $4 million
  • Alejandro De Aza – $5.75 million
  • Neil Walker – $2 million incremental cost over Jon Niese estimated as an arbitration settlement

That's a total expenditure of $28.25 milion.

Let's play a game for a moment and try an alternate approach with some different cast members for the 2016 roster:

  • Wilmer Flores at SS – $600K
  • Logan Verrett/Sean Gilmartin/Rafael Montero at 5th Starter – $600K
  • Josh Smoker/Dario Alvarez – $500K
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Darrell Ceciliani/Brandon Nimmo – $600K
  • Dilson Herrera – $500K
So far that adds up to a paltry $2.8 million.

Now subtract that total from the already spent $28.25 million and you have $25.45 million leftover. However, that's not all you have to spend. There's the departures of Daniel Murphy, the bigger Bartolo Colon contract and Michael Cuddyer among others that throw another $30 million into the payroll coffers. Obviously some money has to be budgeted for increases via arbitration to players like Matt Harvey and Lucas Duda, but the point is that easily $45 million was available to address payroll decisions.

Now, as the team showed last year fortunes changed when some veterans were added in the form of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. They improved further when Cespedes arrived. Then there were the bullpen arms of Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed.

The question I'm raising is not how little the Mets have spent, but whether or not they've chosen to spend wisely. Wilmer Flores was consistently praised by the announcers in the post-season for his defense and his offense was in the upper half of all shortstops in baseball, yet they've rendered him into a bench player. Everyone assumes the twice broken leg of Ruben Tejada is coming back as well. Nevermind that they have Matt Reynolds available and Gavin Cecchini barking at his heels in AAA. They're banking on a comeback from two breaks to the same arm on Jerry Blevins. Alejandro De Aza was so lightly regarded that he was released by the Orioles during the season last year. Bartolo Colon is a solid pitcher but you could make a case that a 4.00 ERA could be provided for significantly less money by one of the triumvirate of other younger starters who could muddle through until Zack Wheeler returns.

While I'm not advocating they went with all rookies and unproven players, it seems they have put a lot of what are apparently very limited payroll resources into some questionable decisions. First of all, the manager doesn't seem to know what to do with rookies. Second, as Johnson and Uribe showed, there is a role for professional role players. I'm just not sure the De Azas of this world qualify.   

Should the Mets have gone in another direction for their roster investments?


Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Your manager got his 2 year contract and I am sure if he had anything say in the team building process he would go with veterans.

I like everything that has been done so far minus a big bat.

Sorry folks... that's how I feel

Anonymous said...

I'd just focus in on the spending on Colon and De Aza as being questionable. That's $13M... tack on another $8-$9MM annually and that gets you in the game for Cespedes. To me, Cespedes on a 5 year deal makes all the sense in the world. The need for a big RH bat in the middle of the order supporting our pitching for the next 5 years is clear, and the productivity Yo will bring is not going to be getting cheaper year over year. He's a physical specimen - he's good for another 5 years.

We have 2 more years of Grandy in RF at ~$16MM per, after which that $$ frees up toward the OF too. That's the main conversation I would have with Cespedes - would he be willing to play RF? He belongs there with that arm. I'd like to play him there now, and use Grandy in CF along with Lagares. Grandy can use the days off against RHPs.

Herb G said...


I would be very hesitant to second guess Sandy Alderson. When he spends, he almost always spends very wisely. (Although we mostly thought he was crazy when he gave Chris Young - the OF, not the pitcher - $7 million, just look how he came around the minute he left Flushing. Was it something in the water?)

Signing Cabrera, rendering Wilmer a utility super-sub: brilliant. Most analysts say he upgraded the SS position and strengthened the bench. Now he has his SS until Rosario is ready to step in for the ling term.

Trading Niese for Walker: Replaced Murphy with a switch hitting, good offensive 2B, with better glove, range and base-running smarts, and did Niese the favor of giving him an opportunity to pitch in a MLB rotation, which he would have lost at mid-season with the Mets. Good moves all around.

Signing Colon & Blevins: I love it. Colon will be a great #5, entertaining on the field and valuable in the clubhouse. And how could I not like resigning Blevins. I had suggested trading for Blevins 2 weeks before the trade with the Nats, when there wasn't even a scant rumor of anything in the works.

And lastly, De Aza: (Firstly, I don't think he was released by the O's. They traded him, along with some cash, to the Red Sox for a minor leaguer.) Regardless, I do think this was a good and prudent move. I like Parra, but not for 4 years, or even 3. I like Span, but even with a good showcase, his hip is risky, and he would be pretty costly for 2 years or more. I don't care that much for Venable. And Fowler is off the table because I don't want to lose the draft pick. So . . to me, De Aza combines Span's speed with Parra's power at much less cost than either. Against RH pitchers, his OPS (.756) is slightly below Parra's (.767) and well above Span's. (.716) I think he makes a fine platoon partner with Lagares, and with only a 1 year commitment, so if Nimmo has a great first half in Vegas, De Aza is expendable at the deadline.

You can see from the above, although I would have loved to see Sandy bring Cespedes back, overall I think he has spent very wisely and done a good job so far this off season.

bgreg98180 said...

When he spends Alderson almost always spends wisely??????

Whoaaahh, now hold up there.
That is not how I remember things.
Your example of Chris Young is a perfect example. $7 million for what he gave the Mets? Don't justify Alderson by what Young did on the Yankees....
Whole different ballpark.

I seem to remember a lot of bullpen expenditures that were disasters.

I may be wrong....going just by my memory, but I would welcome a real look into all of Alderson's payment choices and their production.

Richard Jones said...

I would look at it as Walker saving money over Murphy and Colon saving money over Niese rather than a straight Walker to Niese comparison.

Richard Jones said...

I have no issues with the money spent. I do have issues with the money not spent. The Mets are quickly moving from a team I would have loved to play for if I were a play to one I would avoid. They're proving there is no commitment to winning.

Hobie said...

I'm somewhere between Reese & Herb--

Fine with Colon starting the 1st half & giving BP innings once Wheeler returns. It's still a very young pitching staff and every indication has been that Bart is a font of knowledge from which to draw. With Edgin returning from TJ, LOOGY Blevins makes sense too.

Cabrera & de Aza, however, make little sense to me. I'm ready to bet on Legares carrying most of the load with an occasional Ceciliani/Nimmo being as productive and infinitely more interesting than de Aza. Wilmer will be the FT SS by mid-summer anway, so Carbrera becomes another expensive sub. (see Brian Joura's Met360 column on Cabrera vs. Flores)

I wanted Cespedes back, but if he's insisting on 6-7 yrs, I understand. The $$ trade off YC vs AC+dA makes no sense otherwise.

Tom Brennan said...

Nimmo is imitating Tom Hanks, he is on a raft in the ocean far, far from Queens. Hopefully he discovers a course correction to Queens soon.

I have to go now. I'm buying season tix for the Brewers so I don't miss out on Captain Kirk.

Zozo said...

I agree with Reese that money wasn't spent wisely. The only move I like like so far are the Niese/Walker deal and Blevins deal. The other moves were money not well spent.
Our team needs a cleanup hitter first and foremost and CESPEDES was the only available free agent that could fit that spot in the order and played a position we could have used him at for at most 2 years.

Tom Brennan said...

I too like Cabrera and Walker deals. Not much else if we're not getting Cespedes.

bgreg98180 said...

If Cespedes or Cespedes type batter were acquired.....all of the other acquisitions (Walker, Cabrerra, etc..) would be wonderful.

Metsiac said...

If Winter spending were a "sure thing", the Padres would've run away with the NLW last year. Aside from the money spent, the reviews from the "experts" before OD said that the Pads were clearly the "winners of the Winter". A slight overestimate, no?

Even if the Hot Stove season were over, which it's far from, deciding now how well the Mets have done is WAAAAAYYY premature.

Unknown said...

I'm kinda leaning toward's Mack's position. Would have loved another power bat but I still think the FO is positioning for the next 3/4 years and will go with our super pitching which figures in our division to put us in first place or at least battling with the Nats all season giving us "meaningful Sept. baseball" which after all fills Freddy and Saul's pockets and that's what its really all about anyway right. From there see where we are come July and act accordingly.

bgreg98180 said...

Why can't Cespedes or a hitter like him be acquired now and contribute to those 3/4 years? ??

Anonymous said...

A good post and a good question.

I think that Cespedes raised enough red flags while he was here to make the club cautious about giving him a very large contract. I understand why they were unwilling to go that far. Once it was clear to the team the numbers he wanted, they decided to move on. I mean to say, sure, I would have been thrilled to get back Cespedes, but I do think there's a point where a wise person steps away from the table on this guy. There's something "off" about him.

I am also okay with the general idea that says there was no "big bat" available to the Mets, or at least one that was also desirable (Upton).

I went into the off-season most concerned about the bullpen, which proved wanting last season, and CF, neither of which were satisfactorily addressed, IMO.

The Walker deal was excellent. I'm okay with Cabrera in isolation; if that's where the money went, and the pen doesn't get addressed, and balls start dropping all over CF and in the gaps, then it's fair to question how it was done.

I still expect the Mets to get a RH bat in the Cuddyer role for $2 million, and maybe resign Clippard or a lesser arm for the pen. Overall, it's boring as hell, but maybe functional.

Sandy sure doesn't buy into the idea that this is an entertainment business, that's for sure.

Lastly, I don't like that Alderson under-values defense; the CF solution is the most disappointing to me. Way too much money for a guy who is a very bad fit for the Mets. If I'm giving Granderson or Conforto a day off, it's against a LHP -- and de Aza can't hit LHP. He's only useful in CF, except he can't go and get the ball. Weird decision.

James Preller

Mack's Mets © 2012