Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Four new faces joined the Mets on Tuesday but as usual it was not necessarily the right four new faces.
First, let’s applaud the team for doing what they almost never do – disabling an injured player – Justin Ruggiano – without first waiting around for some miracle cure to happen and then inevitably having to place him on the DL anyway. Here’s to not playing shorthanded (as they did on Monday which explained why the now departed Seth Lugo was in there for the 10th inning and beyond had the game gone deeper, but Lugo was very efficient in blowing it rather quickly (with an assist from Rene Rivera for instructing him to throw to the wrong bag).
Then there’s the disabling of Asdrubal Cabrera. His defense was better than advertised and his offensive output was steady if unspectacular. He was on a pace to exceed 20 HRs which is pretty darned good from the shortstop position. Let him heal as he’s your man in the middle next year as well.
The demotion of Brandon Nimmo had as much to do with Alejandro De Aza’s salary as it did with his lackluster performance on the field. He’s had a rollercoaster few days when he almost had a Wilmer Flores moment in the news leaking he was headed to Cincinnati prior to it really becoming official. Then he gets the reprieve when it turned out to be Dilson Herrera as the centerpiece of the deal. Then the other shoe dropped when he was informed a ticket for Las Vegas was awaiting him.
The people joining the team include newly acquired slugger Jay Bruce, the 4th corner outfielder if you include hobbling Yoenis Cespedes, struggling Michael Conforto and Mr. Un-Clutch, Curtis Granderson. It appears the latter two will share CF duties as they are both left handed. Given the strong preference for veterans over younger players, Conforto may become the new Wilmer Flores with dust and splinters from all of his time sitting on the bench.
Then there’s the curious case of Jon Niese who was pretty vocal about the Mets’ horrific defense the past few years which he partially blamed for his own lackluster performance on the mound. During the World Series Terry Collins tried Niese out of the pen and he actually seemed to do rather well in that role. The thought now is that he’s here to replace Antonio Bastardo as a lefty out of the pen but Logan Verrett has been put on notice that there is a Plan B for the 5th spot in the rotation until Zack Wheeler returns.
Next came word that Josh Edgin, formerly in the Witness Protection Program, was summoned from Las Vegas. This year he’s put together a bit of an odd record there. The ERA is quite good at 2.20 but he was walking over 5 per nine innings. That’s tap dancing on the edge of a land mine.
The one that made me want to pull my hair out (if I had any to spare) was the promotion once again of Ty Kelly, an unspectacular infielder/outfielder who is enjoying the PCL effect on his batting average. Granted, his trials here were brief but he managed to make De Aza look good by comparison with his .148 average.
Would the wheels really have come off the bus had players like Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly and others get booted from the 40-man roster in order to give a shot to T.J. Rivera who could back up at 2B and 3B? Hell, they could have just put Lucas Duda on the 60 day DL retroactively as he’s been out more than 60 days already and not lost a roster spot.
Trades are seldom won or lost in the short term, but Dilson Herrera seemed to take a step backwards this year in terms of his production in a very hitter friendly environment. At least that's the official company line. Wasn't his potential the reason given why they could afford to let Daniel Murphy walk at the end of last year?
Max Wotell is a wildcard at this stage of his young career. He looked credible but there were concerns about his unorthodox delivery making his health and control issues to think about in the future.
However, I don't think the players sacrificed were as much a part of the thinking as was Mr. Cespedes and how he might want to parlay his success in 2016 (which proved the end of 2015 was not an outlier) into longer term financial security. Should he depart, then the Mets are once again without that thumper in the middle of the lineup which struggles to score runs as it is. Jay Bruce's reasonable $13 million option for next year is a good hedge against Cespedes saying adios.
However, should Cespedes decide to stay put, now you once again have an interesting outfield dilemma with he, Bruce, Granderson, Conforto and Lagares all under contract. Since salary dictates playing time, it would appear the latter two are the odd men out. Of course, Sandy Alderson could pull another rabbit out of his hat and do a bad-deal for bad-deal trade of Curtis Granderson in his walk year to some other club who might be looking to unload a corner infielder or catcher or relief pitcher in a similar situation.
Planning has never been the team's strong suit, but it would behoove them to bench Alejandro De Aza and get Michael Conforto as many reps in centerfield as possible between now and the end of the year. It will let you see whether or not that's a viable spot for him going forward in 2017 and open up the outfield logjam next year if he can do it.
Final question -- will all of the injuries be used to justify bringing back Terry Collins? I unfortunately know the answer to that one.