Reese Kaplan -- The Offense is Clicking NOW...


Lately the Mets are looking kind of like the team people expected, with some awesome pitching performances and beating up on the lesser teams like Philadelphia, Atlanta and Cincinnati.  Some people are obviously playing over their heads, but what’s encouraging is the fact that three of the regular starters are hovering at .230 or less while the only player off the bench over the Mendoza line is Juan Lagares.

A couple of nagging injuries are forcing the Mets to play shorthanded and with a suboptimal lineup. First it was Yoenis Cespedes unable to play but apparently not sufficiently injured to put him on the DL.  That makes a thin bench even thinner.  Tuesday word came down for Travis "DL" d'Arnaud's first such trip to the sidelines for 2016.  Taking his place on the roster is the Hispanic version of Anthony Recker, Rene Rivera.  Granted, Johnny Monell was off to a slow start in Las Vegas, but in half a season last year he hit .324 with 7 HRs and 51 RBIs.  I'd take that (plus the option of a left handed bat to insert against the Jose Fernandez/Jake Arrieta types.  Kevin Plawecki (and his .188 average) is left to man the plate.  To be fair, he had some serious breathing issues last year that came to light after the season ended, so perhaps since his surgery and with steady play he can improve upon his thus far dismal numbers.

The bullpen continues to be much more good than bad.  It was a curious decision on the part of the manager to use his so-called long man – Logan Verrett – in a must win type of situation on Monday night.  Verrett delivered (and in fact earned the win, courtesy of Neil Walker’s 8th HR in the bottom half of the inning).  Perhaps the manager is evaluating whether or not to keep Verrett around once Josh Edgin is ready for promotion.

I had an interesting exchange with a semi-faithful reader who floated the idea that Jerry Blevins could be the odd man out.  I hesitated to point out to him that salary often dictates playing time, as does track record.  Consequently, despite Verrett’s stellar April he’s the odds-on favorite to head to Las Vegas to start regularly as I opined on Saturday.

Jim Henderson is pitching to a 1.35 ERA.  Hansel Robles is 2.00.  Addison Reed is 2.70.  Antonio Bastardo (prior to Monday’s meltdown charged to Noah Syndergaard) is nonetheless at 2.89.   Jeurys Familia is 3.00.  Jerry Blevins is 3.18.  Sending down the 0.64 ERA Verrett in order to keep Blevins around isn’t an earth shattering move.  It’s the reality of baseball economics.  Ask Sean Gilmartin, “What have you done for me lately?”  All he did last season in his Rule V rookie year was go 3-2, 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP and 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.  His reward was a trip to Las Vegas where he’s picked up where he left off with a 1-1 record and a 1.62 ERA in “Hitter’s Hell”.  Soon he’ll be joined by Logan Verrett whose pedigree includes being bounced from two teams last year in a Rule V selection gone bad.  I’m not demeaning what he’s accomplished, but Sandy Alderson is not likely going to dispatch pitchers earning $2.4 to $4.9 million based upon a hot month by someone earning major league minimum.  Oh, and Erik Goeddel, Josh Smoker and Dario Alvarez are all AAA bullpen possibilities as well. The latter two have fugly ERAs, but are striking out people with alacrity.

Where it becomes even more interesting is when Zack Wheeler returns.  Assuming he slots right into the rotation, that means Bartolo Colon gets bumped to the bullpen as he did in the 2015 post-season rendering another successful pitcher out there superfluous.

What got me thinking about this issue is the so-called dream rotation which indeed looks pretty dreamy even without Zack Wheeler in it.  Consequently I wonder if the team would consider trading the Dark Knight in order to stock up on position players given Curtis Granderson’s age, David Wright’s health and performance, Lucas Duda’s impending free agency and, thus far at least, the poor contributions from the catchers.

I know, I know – heresy.  But consider for a moment that Bartolo Colon could stay in the rotation with Wheeler, with both Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin as backups in AAA.  The next level of depth isn’t quite as appealing – Rafael Montero, Gabriel Ynoa and Duane Below.

Of course, now is not the time to trade Matt Harvey until he rights his ship.  Once he returns to form then it’s a question worth considering.  After all, you have to pay Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz in the near future, too.  I don’t think the Mets are really looking to have a billion dollar rotation.  Granderson’s salary is coming off the books after 2017.  Yoenis Cespedes may or may not be here beyond this season.  David Wright might be persuaded to follow in the footsteps of his buddy, Michael Cuddyer.  There will be some ample funds coming available, but aside from Michael Conforto the Mets don’t have any young offensive players around whom to build for the future who are guaranteed to be here after this season.  Trading Harvey could help in that regard.

Sound off.


Tom Brennan said...

I think we can't assume Wheeler's long term health. That said, a Harvey trade this off-season might make sense if we get elite talent in abundance in return.

Tom Brennan said...

I saw, off the topic, that Dillon Gee wife just had a baby and he has allowed 1 run in 9.1 IP in relief. Hopefully a good season for the ex-Met

Reese Kaplan said...

Like Mike Pelfrey before him, Dillon Gee has shown extended flashes of competency. He just doesn't do it consistently from year to year.

As far as not assuming Wheeler's long term health, why is he more of a risk than other TJS pitchers such as Harvey, Matz, Edgin, etc.?

Mack Ade said...

I've never considered Tommy John Surgery as a long term risk. Other Mets pitchers that have had this procedure have proven you can immediately come back from this.

I don't know what trading Harvey (or anyone else) would get the team right now. Are we in the market for a catcher?

And what about considering trading Verrett over Harvey?

Reese Kaplan said...

Verrett or Gilmartin are certainly viable to trade, but neither is slated to earn Max Scherzer type of money in the near future and neither would net back much of a return.

From what I've identified as needs going forward you potentially have issues with CF (Cespedes can leave as a FA), RF (Granderson coming into the final year of his contract in 2017), 3B (Wright not getting any healthier), 1B (Duda potentially leaving as a FA), 2B (Walker likely leaving as a FA though you do have Herrera behind him) and C (d'Arnaud's ongoing health issues and the poor offensive showing thus far by Kevin Plawecki). Harvey should net either studs in return or volume of potential studs.

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, my long term concern with Zack W was that it seemed his mechanics were a warning signal for TJS, and his surgery was more involved than most. If his mechanics are improved/fixed and he returns healthy, it would alleviate my concerns mostly.

That Adam Smith said...

I've always thought that this coming offseason would be the time to trade Harvey. That gives us a few months to take a look at Wheeler, and - assuming Harvey gets it back together - brings back maximum value with two years of control left for the acquiring team. I would think that you could get a young controllable ML bat (OF? 3B?) and two top prospects (someone's #1 prospect and another top 5). A lot depends upon how good that ML bat is, but given the uncertainties at the positions everyone's mentioned, the depth of our staff, and the money that will need to be invested there as those guys come up to FA, it could be a very smart move.

Mack Ade said...

Wheeler's mechanics problems were because the Giants and Mets had two different approached here.

The Giants didn't like his natural way he pitched and tried to change him. It's my opinion that his problems developed because of this.

Anonymous said...

Afternoon fella's :
What a comeback lastnight.
Just spitballing, what if DWright did retire after the Mets win the series this season? Why not resign Walker and move him to 3rd? Herrera can have 2nd, and Cabrera at short till Rosario is ready.
I think you keep the pitching depth atleast into the trade deadline cause you never know what injury will happen before now and then?
Thank god Sandy didn't listen to the millions who wanted Plawecki traded, did everyone notice he threw out a runner lastnight?
Probably not cause he severly fly's under the radar


Ernest Dove said...

I still want that grandy/duda/walker/Cabrera money coming off books to extend 2-3 aces into the next decade.....
Im also curious to see what becomes of low a prospect david thompson. Will he replace the current David? Can he even stick at 3B or have to move to 1B
Plenty of fun questions to ask in the offseason after the Mets win the..........ok i'll stop there.

Stubby said...

I love pieces like this. "Everything is coming together..... so let's fix it."

Leave it be, Reese. Leave David Wright alone. Pray the Mets are smart enough to NOT trade Harvey. And give it up on Monell, already, who at age 30 has managed all of 35 major league games and a .161 major league average (he was a 30th round draft pick--after being a 49th round draft pick--whom the Giants, Orioles and Dodgers all felt expendable; do you really believe they all missed Monell's "magic"?). His minor league lifetime average is .269. Sure, he had a nice year last year...in Vegas of the PCL. Rivera, meanwhile, is one of the most underrated defensive catchers in baseball. That's what you want from your backup catcher...defense. In 2014, he was 27th in innings caught but 9th among all catchers in WAR. Yes, he had an abnormally good offensive year in 2014. But, again, while there were 25 other catchers who caught more pitches in 2014, Rivera was fifth in successfully framed pitches (according to StatCorner's Catcher Report). That means he was fifth best in baseball at getting balls called strikes. Pitchers love him. THAT'S what you want from a backup catcher. Offense from a backup catcher is a bonus, but never the priority.

Stubby said...

Got so hung up on Monell that I forgot to point out that "old" man Grandy hardly looks pasture bound. If that's what a too old ballplayer looks like, give me twenty of them.

Reese Kaplan said...

Hmmn...live for today and for tomorrow whatever happens, happens...

I repeat -- next year you are looking potentially at Cabrera, a catcher, Conforto and Granderson as locks to start. It seems to me that one of the keys to planning is looking ahead and not pretending that the sun will come out tomorrow come what may.

Stubby said...

As I understand it, Duda isn't eligible to be a free agent until after 2017 (and I'd bet he wants to stay here anyway). David Wright will be your third baseman, Herrera likely takes over second. And Wilmer's here to take over for any of them if, for one reason or another, there's a vacancy. We know he has the bat to play every day and we've had worse with the glove. I personally think Cespedes will be back next year but, if he's not, Lagares is signed through 2019. I get the feeling Nimmo isn't going to pan out, but a Bernadina could be persuaded to stay if there's a vacancy and Taijeron looks like he might be major league capable. And, let's face it, you can always find an outfielder. I also think Becerra and Rosario are going to be ready sooner rather than later; ideally, you'd want to have them in the minors again next year, but that's not carved in stone (as I've said before, my philosophy is to push hitters and baby pitchers). And, even with all of that, the front office has demonstrated, I think, that they'll go get someone to fill a legitimate hole. I think the planning for this team has been extraordinary. We've got depth, we've got spare parts, we've got prospects in the pipeline, and we've got some players we can trade without impacting the major league team negatively (less than we did last year, but plenty all the same). The Mets are built around pitching. The rest of the team doesn't have to be the '27 Yankees, they just have to be competent. And we can pay the big 4, at least, whatever we have to to keep them. They don't all become Arb Eligible at once.

It seems to me that one of the keys to planning is not inventing future problems that don't exist and don't look like they will anytime soon. That kind of thinking leads to undue panic which leads to doing stupid stuff. It's still April. Maybe you can reasonably have this discussion in August...but not in April when the team is firing on all cylinders...even with a few key injuries.

And even assuming the worst....Johnny Monell is not the answer to anything. That you keep bringing up his name astounds me.

bill metsiac said...

Stubby makes a TON of sense here. Trading Harvey only makes sense if we have a MAJOR hole to fill, which we don't. The big question re: Wright won't be answered until the end of this season, and even if he can only play half or a third of a season there's no way the Mets will sign a top talent to play the rest of that time. And that includes Walker. We might consider giving a 4-year deal to Walker if he has a fine (.290/25 HR) season, but not to play 3B.

As for the pen, having too much talent is a nice "problem" to have. Edgin and Wheeler look to push 2 guys out who deserve to stay. If Edgin has options left, and Blevins remains effective, maybe Edgin goes to Vegas. I see no need for 3 LHRPs, so if Edgin doesn't have options maybe Blevins or even Bastardo gets traded.

The biggest need I see now is the bench, more spefically the IF bench. I expect/hope that Wilmer will bounce back, but Campbell is no match for the Uribe/Johnson combo of last season's second half. I'd love to get either one back, ir another vet, preferably with a LH bat.

Oth e rwise, the team ain't broke; don't fix it.

Mack's Mets © 2012