Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
We are less then three weeks away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie. The season will soon be upon us. And while the roster may see a few more shifts, especially if taking into account any possibilities of minor league invites wowing the powers that be into a 25 man spot, we are pretty much looking at your New York Mets right now. But after the Cespedes signing, another 40 man roster move was made, and perhaps there may not be too many more moves made to it going into April. So I wanted to take a quick look at some of the guys who are on the 40 man, and project to start the year back in the minors once again.
Going strictly by the numbers, there are perhaps moves to be made eventually to add to the catcher position, where currently there are only 2 catchers listed on the 40 man roster. I guess we can randomly point towards recent argument that Campbell coulda should woulda been DFA'd to make room for Cespedes instead of Ceciliani but what's done is done. And I guess, technically, the Mets can still possibly view Campbell as an emergency catcher, but he simply never got any reps at the position last year, and with the Mets once again in line to compete for a playoff spot, you just can't risk having him be the option going into the season. So I think we should still be on the lookout for a move to be made, unless the Mets simply go through the waiver wire if/when needed to snatch up a veteran and throw him onto the 25 man to backup either TDA or Plawecki.
In the outfield, in general I find it interesting that as of Thursday afternoon as I write this, the only non 25 man guy listed as an outfielder on the roster is Brandon Nimmo. Again, Campbell can fill in as a corner outfielder, but Nimmo is the only true outfielder at this time, and I simply don't envision him taking the field as a major leaguer anytime soon, regardless of injuries. The good news is that the Mets have adequate and legit depth on the 25 man with Lagares and De Aza both being capable of playing all 3 positions in the outfield. But again, as is case with the catching position, Its my personal opinion will look towards the waiver wire for veterans rather than promote a possibly perceived AAAA level prospect currently within the organization.
As far as the current players on the 40 man, the biggest numbers, as they should be, lie with the arms. However, unlike in years past, I see the current crop of 40 man arms being younger and less experienced then I remember. I don't see as many 'veteran' arms, coming off down years, injuries etc etc passing through forms of waivers and catching on the team to play AAA ball right now. What I see are arms the Mets have believed in, and they are all rising towards the top of the farm system now with nowhere else to go.
One inexperienced yet not so young-ish arm is Dario Alvarez. He will play out the season as a 27 year old. He has thrown almost 370 innings as professional pitcher, but only 5 have come at the major league level. His meteoric rise from A ball to the majors in 2014 was followed by a 2015 season of mostly minors again. Being a lefty always helps in these situations. And, speaking of situations, it appears that Alvarez one and only way to get back to the majors is if he the 'situational lefty' for the organization. However, with Mets having again signed veterans such as Bastardo and Blevins to deals this year, plus the pending return of Josh Edgin, it looks at the very least that Alvarez will play out the entire season as a minor leaguer who will be manning the phones and awaiting any possibly word from his AAA manager about an emergency call up due to injury.
Speaking of 'situational lefties', another arm on the 40 man belongs to lefty reliever and apparent wildcard Mr. Josh Smoker. Smoker is a former first round pick of the Nationals back in 2007. The 27 year old has NEVER pitched a major league inning. In fact, if I'm reading Baseball Reference correctly, Josh has never even pitched above the AA level in his professional baseball career. Yet, there he is on the 40 man roster of major league baseball team that is coming off a world series appearance. And, same as stated with Alvarez, Josh has seen multiple lefty arms signed to the Mets, along with Sean Gilmartin now being under full team control and thus becoming even more valuable to them going forward in regards to use of him. He's pretty known to strike out a batter an inning, on average, for his entire professional career. However his WHIP is at 1.525 and so regardless of whether he seen as just a one batter at a time guy or not, I see tons of question marks with this young man. It will be interesting to see what the Mets do with Josh Smoker, especially if Blevins holds up and Edgin can be healthy and contribute positively in 2016.
One of the more cut and dry young arms on the roster is 22 year old Robert Gsellman. Robert has been quietly making his way through the minor system of the Mets, and should now be seen as strictly a high minors level guy, who should looking towards getting a taste of AAA ball during the 2016 season. His strikeout rate is not very high. He as a professional career ERA below 3.00 and his WHIP is in the 1.22 range. Again, as always, take what you will from a guy and his minor league stats. The bottom line is the young man appears to be well liked within the organization. He was able to throw over 140 innings last year, so there is potential to have him continue a solid path up the farm system and be ready for anything in regards to role and needed innings to pitch, and again he is only age 22. I guess we can argue a bit about the decisions to keep Gsellman while so many other arms were traded away last trade deadline. Does it mean the Mets are THAT high on him? Does it mean other teams were NOT that high on him? That's for God knows who to discuss and evaluate some other time :)
Another guy who continues to intrigue me greatly is 27 year old Erik Goeddel. The guy with the 'cloudy' elbow MRI and LIVE arm has hit the 40 inning mark of major league experience over the past two years in the organization. He was the guy, seemingly, who the Mets chose to keep over Logan Verrett to protect from rule 5 draft. And then hey, guess what, the Mets kept Mr. Verrett anyway eventually. So now what? What to do with Mr. Goeddel. He has become the lefty version of Dario Alvarez. He was needed during crisis, showed some positive major league ability, and then the Mets went ahead and not only signed solid veteran relievers to pretty sizable contracts this offseason, they've also invited other various veterans to try out and look to continue their dreams as well. As much as a like Goeddel, I still have a guy like Hansel Robles being ahead of him in the rankings of bullpen arms. I believe Gilmartin and his versatility would also make him more valuable to the team, and at this point we now can't forget that Bartolo Colon can not and hopefully should not be counted on to be in the rotation by end of year, and instead he will be in the bullpen over a guy like Goeddel. Erik doesn't appear to be eligible for arbitration until starting in 2018 so Mets can continue to have full control over him. But the question remains, will the Mets keep him on the 40 man during this time period?
Another very interesting arm on the roster is 26 year old Seth Lugo. Lugo, like many others throughout the organization, appears to be another of those LIVE arms, with a strikeout ratio of pretty much one an inning. He threw 136 innings last year. He was actually a 34th round pick.....34th.......and so obviously the Mets see something very positive in this guy. A guy like this is not protected on a playoff teams 40 man roster to simply fill space in the minors. I'm very interested to see what becomes of Mr. Lugo during the 2016 season. Barring all kinds of injuries, I fully expect him to be wearing a Las Vegas 51s Jersey the entire year, but I'm curious to see what direction the Mets want to go with him, especially if they are in another pennant race and look to acquire someone big in the trade deadline.
Then there is Akeel Morris. I find him very interesting. He has completely and utterly dominated low minors hitters over the past couple of years. He was rushed into a random 25 man call up (because he was already on the 40 man) and that didn't go well. He will now again play out another season of minor league baseball, this time hopefully with no chance of having to be put back into the spotlight on a major league mound during the upcoming season. He has not even reached 30 total innings of experience at the AA level yet, let alone be ready for the big time. It appears that the Mets do now have a role for him as a full time reliever, and possible future set up man or closer. Now time will tell as far as where this new and continued role takes him, and how long the Mets will wait, and protect him on the 40 man, while he continues to his development.
I think it would make sense to spend limited time discussing arms Rafael Montero and Logan Verrett. There are two separate talents. At this point I'm still waiting the Mets organization to decide whether or not Montero is a starter, reliever, long relief, high leverage guy, or simply waiting for him to stay healthy and be traded. Verrett, I love the guy. I also don't know what kind of actual role he can have with the Mets going forward. I'd love to see both guys start the year remaining on the 40 man roster, and see had roles are defined and they play out. But again, we are not talking about a playoff team who aspires to reach the world series again.
Another absolute wildcard on the 40 man roster is the now 28 year old Jeff Walters. Seems like we've been waiting forever for him to move past the injuries and decide what kind of role he can still have for this organization. Looking only at minor league stats, obviously, he's yet another solid LIVE arm type guy for a bullpen. He has a decent K rate. He has experience as a closer throughout the minor league levels. He's only given up 11 homers in 236 innings, and gosh darnit the Mets continue to not want to risk exposing him to any kind of waiver wire or rule 5 draft for some reason. I'm putting my faith in the organization that there keeping this guy around and protected for a good reason. I don't see how he can ever be a trade piece. So I expect the Mets to make their decisions based on knowledge and expectations that he will given shot at the major league level with them.
The last name to bring up is Gabriel Ynoa. For me, personally, he is a complete unknown. I won't even pretend I guess I know anything about him right now. What I do know is that, according to basic stats, the guy WINS professional baseball games. The dude is 47-25 as a professional pitcher. But the guy only struck out 82 batters in 150+ innings last year. Despite the pretty much low career K rate throughout the minors, his WHIP is still around 1.13 as a whole. So, either this guy is the king of BABIP luck or there is a just a situation of a guy who has a lot of tools the organization loves and have simply been quietly molding him an having him work on numerous things throughout his career where don't want him to focus on solely getting guys out via strikeout and instead concentrate on all other forms of pitching.
All in all, I can't help but review my own work, and see how interesting the arms are on this protected roster. Many guys with limited experience but a version of advanced age. Guys who have excelled in years past and have transitioned over to the bullpen. Others who are at innings levels which allow for almost unlimited and restriction-less years coming up in 2016 and others who the organization may simply be seeing if they can stay on the field.
What say you Macks Mets? Are these all solid 40 man guys? Should they all be protected throughout the season upcoming? Who is the first to be taken off if/when disaster strikes at the major league level and trades are made for veterans as needed?