Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
While most of us are wringing our hands in angst of the Mets’ cumulative lack of offense and the snake bitten characterization of their overall team health, I thought it was time to throw a few kudos in the direction of General Manager Sandy Alderson. He made a major change up the middle during the off season necessitated by the departure of Daniel Murphy and the apparently unacceptable defense of Wilmer Flores.
Trading multiple years of Jon Niese for one year of Neil Walker was good business as it allowed Dilson Herrera another year to develop in the minors, will net the Mets another supplemental draft pick should Walker depart at year’s end, and cost only about $1.5 million in salary differential between he and Niese. With Daniel Murphy’s departure, there’s another $8 million in salary relief plus the supplemental pick they received when he turned down the QO and signed elsewhere. Look at what he’s provided -- .266/14/30. Compare that to the man he replaced last year. Through 66 games in a Mets uniform last year Daniel Murphy provided .277/5/30. That’s pretty much a push. What Murphy has done for the Nationals is not necessarily what he would have done here – whether it’s a new hitting coach or a desire to prove he’s worth what he’s being paid, he never performed at this level for the Mets. Get that out of your heads.
The more head scratching move was inking Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year $16.5 million contract. He has an optional third year at a slight bump in pay to $8.5 million or a $2 million buyout. With the 16 HRs/59 RBIs Flores provided in a part-time role last year, it appeared that the offensive side of Cabrera’s game made him an expensive addition to replicate the same numbers. Aside from his outlier year of 2011 during which he nailed 25 HRs and drove in 92, he’s provided around 16/60 each season as a full time player. Furthermore, his defensive numbers were in such decline that they were actually inferior to those of Flores.
However, call it work ethic or whatever, Cabrera has been rock solid at shortstop with the glove, the arm and in positioning himself for double plays and stolen bases. Offensively he’s on track for his second best year ever, with his current numbers extrapolating out to an annual aggregate of 18 HRs and 54 RBI. The 18 HRs would represent the most he’s hit since 2011 and would approach the Mets club record of 19 set by former (and perhaps future) Met Jose Reyes in 2008.
Had David Wright and Lucas Duda stayed healthy, then these offensive exploits would have been a step forward from what the team had a year ago and the defense up the middle would have improved as well. It further would have strengthened the bench with Wilmer Flores providing his supersub role. However, as they say, man plans and God laughs. So the team is once again struggling to find offense.
At the time most were very happy with the Walker deal. The Cabrera signing was a little more puzzling. Now, however, I think everyone should tip their chapeau in the direction of Sandy Alderson for having made some good deals that may reap benefits in the future whether Walker stays or if he nets the team another supplemental pick.