Reese Kaplan -- The Slow Descent to the 2nd Division


Baseball fans are more opinionated than a certain orange haired presidential candidate.  Quite often we’re wrong but sometimes things are obvious to anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of the game yet due to misplaced loyalty the lineup construction and decisions are dictated by past accomplishments, salary and/or veteran status when none of the above are guarantees of success in the present nor in the future.

Right now the club is still operating under the delusion that the post-season is a virtual certainty when they can barely keep their collective heads above .500.  Now no one can put the onus of the collapse on any one thing – not even injuries.  There are a multitude of factors that have gone wrong but the manager has managed to wrest the least of the available resources.  Am I being unfair?  Who has flourished offensively under this regime?  I’ll give you Yoenis Cespedes who appears to be the latter day answer to Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink.  However, he had a solid reputation before arriving here.  Neil Walker is another one.  He’s likely going to eclipse his season-best mark for the long ball.  After that it gets pretty dismal very quickly.

If you buy into the belief that “You Don’t Gotta Believe” in 2016, then the club should be thinking ahead to 2017 to prepare for some tough personnel decisions ahead of them.  Towards that end a number of changes need to be made in order to ascertain who’s going to be part of the cure and who’s already demonstrated they’re symptomatic of what’s gone wrong.

1st Base
Play Wilmer Flores there day in and day out.  He’s shown solid offensive ability for a few months now, albeit primarily against lefties.  Challenge him to learn to hit righties as well.  He’s not going to learn if he doesn’t have the chance.  On the upside he will provide more power than will James Loney who’s been an adequate warm body in Lucas Duda’s stead, but he’s not part of the solution. 

2nd Base
Start thinking long and hard about whether or not you want to extend Neil Walker.  Arguments can be made either way, but the fact is with Dilson Herrera no longer in the picture, Mr. Walker’s negotiating leverage just skyrocketed.  That development will likely have him eclipsing the contract of potential MVP Daniel Murphy and will draw scorn and ridicule from the media for the Mets’ financial malfeasance. 

Now here’s an interesting dilemma.  You have incumbent Asdrubal Cabrera under contract for a very reasonable $8.5 million salary for 2017.  You have a minimum wage option on Jose Reyes who could provide leadoff capabilities.  You have 1st round draft pick Gavin Cecchini tearing it up offensively in AAA while showing a huge improvement of late with the glove.  What to do, what to do…I predict Cabrera will be on the trading block with the money saved put towards other needs.   For now, keep playing Cabrera but get a peek at Cecchini after September 1st

3rd Base
With David Wright still an unknown commodity the position has belonged to Jose Reyes.  He’s been more good than bad and with the proper amount of time to get back into prime playing condition he’s likely still got something left in the tank.  However, it might behoove the club to see what they really have in TJ Rivera.  He’s hit at every level and is not just a PCL phenomenon a’la Eric Campbell, Josh Satin and others who couldn’t hack it in the big leagues.  Keep Reyes fresh by resting him and also increase his versatility by occasionally spelling Cabrera and Walker. 

Left Field
Leave Yoenis Cespedes in LF.  Yes, he really should play RF given his arm, but in the pecking order of decision making a superstar player outranks the manager (or so sayeth the sage words of Jim Bouton in Ball Four).
Center Field
Promote Michael Conforto on September 1st and thank Curtis Granderson for a job…done.  I’m sorry, but the man is simply not helping the club and despite being saddled with his contract for 2017 there’s no reason to use the September expanded roster period to have future starters sit on the bench.  A solid month of Conforto in CF every day should give you an idea of how he handles the role defensively while simultaneously letting you see if his AAA gaudy numbers are smoke and mirrors or the real thing.  Sorry, Curtis, but you are the weakest link.

Right Field
Jay Bruce may have gone into a hitting coma, but he’s got a relatively inexpensive option for 2017 for a guy close to the top of the league in RBIs.  The Reds let him go for relatively little return, so it’s not likely you could sign and trade him.  He is what he is – Lucas Duda, outfield version (no bad flashbacks intended by that analogy).  I meant with what he can provide with the bat. 

Yes, I want to see Travis d’Arnaud build on what he’s finally started doing of late, but Kevin Plawecki has rebounded very nicely and should usurp the Rene Rivera ABs to see if he can indeed hit at the major league level.  If so, he opens up trade possibilities of either he or d’Arnaud.  Right now he’s a great unknown.

Starting Pitching
After the healthy one-two punch of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob de Grom it gets pretty murky with the recent DL stints by Steven Matz and Jon Niese.  Seth Lugo is a nice story so far but his minor league pedigree isn’t exactly the stuff of Westminster level.  Gabriel Ynoa was somewhat better throughout his journey to the big leagues and at times Robert Gsellman has been downright dominant.  I think it’s time once they acknowledge reality to transition big Bart to the pen and see what they have in these rookie pitchers.  Granted, exposing them could diminish their trade value if they falter but it’s a small sample size either way even if they dominate.  You might even reach down to AA and give Rafael Montero another shot given his spectacular time in Binghamton.  Everyone wants the five potential aces to pitch in the same rotation, but injuries have derailed that plan once again, so it behooves the club to see what they really have in other resources. 

That’s my not so humble opinion on what the club should be doing between now and the end of the year.  What’s your take?


Coney Island Eric said...

Anyone have thoughts on why Brandon Nimmo isn't generating more excitement? Here he is at 23 leading the PCL in Batting Average and OBP, 3rd in OBP/SLG, 4th in Triples and 9th in Slugging. I get that it's Las Vegas, but he's still doing more than mostly older players in the same circumstances. He seems to have the makings of a solid leadoff or #2 hitter.


Reese Kaplan said...

I'll give you a first hand scouting report on Nimmo and others next week, Eric. The 51s come to my home town of El Paso to play the Chihuahuas and I'll be there on Tuesday.

Thomas Brennan said...

Probably the single digit Nimmo homers.

3rd career Flores slam - THAT cannot be taken for granted.

bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...

Flores has always hit right and left handers. Through minor leagues and during previous major league seasons.

The biggest reason he is not hitting righties at a better avg currently is because his butt is stuck to the bench most of the time.

Mack Ade said...

I still haven't figured out what to with Wilmer.

bob gregory said...

I still want to know what Flores ever did to Collins that brought about Collins terrible treatment of him as a ball player

Dallas said...

Everyone wants Flores to play everyday. Honestly every time he gets to bat vs RHP he seems to ground into a double play. He has simply been attrocious against RHP (.606OPS!! in 170ABs) and ridiculous against LHP (1.089OPS!! in 93 ABs). BTW, 2015 was pretty similar .636OPS vs RHP and .955 vs LHP. If he can figure out how to hit RHP you could have a MVP candidate. However they are trying to win games and there are simply better options vs RHP at the moment.

I can't get excited about Plawecki hitting .310 in Vegas. Thats like what .220 anywhere else? If he was hitting closer to .330-.350 I would feel better about him but still have no idea with those Vegas stats.

Its nice to see that we have some new hitters that are getting close to the bigs with Rosario, Smith, Evans in AA.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say that the biggest enigma is Flores. I mean it is easy to squint and see a ballplayer with 20 - 25 hrs and 80 rbi playing decent at 2b, 3b or 1b. Yet I dont like him as a hitter and I think it is mostly his OBP that bothers me. The guy cant walk for boo. If he could exercise some plate discipline, I think he can have a reasonable OBP of .330 -.340 which would make him a lock for almost any teams infield at any position short of full time 1b sacker.

Reese Kaplan said...

What would Wilmer Flores net you on the open market?

Jonathan Babkow said...

He has way more at bats against righties and has been awful
His defense can only be described as horrific
Can mash lefties...credit Collins for finding a role he can excel in.
Next stop ALas a platoon DH

bob gregory said...
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bob gregory said...

Alright I can't leave this go on regarding Flores splits vs right and left handed pitching.

According to Fangraphs:

Vs right handers: .251 avg
Vs left handers. .310 avg

Vs right handers. .290 Avg!!
Vs left handers. .119 Avg

Vs right handers. .222
Vs left handers. .188 avg

Major league career
Vs left handers. .268
Vs right handers. .251

I can not find the minor league splits but with over all avg of:
2008. .307
2009. .264
2010. .289
2011. .269
2012. .300
2013. .321

Considering he was playing every day in the minors, many of those at bats contributing to those avg were against righties.

This vs right/ left handers should be a non-issue

Dallas said...

Bob, in 2015/2016 he has been abysmal vs RHP. He has more AB's even against RHP. Why has he been so dominant against LHP in the last 2 years and so horrid against RHP? Who knows but to blame TC or anyone to take notice of this and play the numbers to get an advantage when we are trying to win a post season shot I dont blame them at all. Its great that he hit .251 but his OPS was .637 in 2015, sorry but thats pretty abysmal. No power and no ability to get on base. If we can find the 2014 version of Flores vs RHP then I'm all for playing him everyday.

bob gregory said...

2015..... .251 is not abysmal.

bob gregory said...

2015..... .251 is not abysmal.

Dallas said...

2015 .636 OPS with bad defense = abysmal. A .251 average with no power or walks is not good.

Dallas said...

2015 .636 OPS with bad defense = abysmal. A .251 average with no power or walks is not good.

Stubby said...

This is why I don't come here anymore. We've won 6 of the last 7 and, regardless, we're just 2 and a half games away from the wildcard and you want to chuck the season with over a month to go. Please, please, please go root for somebody else.

Thomas Brennan said...

Imagine if Bruce starts really hitting, we'd have the late season 2015 Mets hitting rolling again. The return of Cespedes, Reyes, Cabrera has been a turboboost to the team's offense

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