Reese Kaplan -- The Future May Be Sooner Than You Think

Mets fans are being conditioned to embrace visions of a future with Michael Conforto manning one of the outfield positions, Dominic Smith covering 1st base and Amed Rosario anchoring the left side of the infield at shortstop.  Paralleling the infusion of youth would be the disappearance of some older and questionably productive players like Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and David Wright.

Reality sometimes has a way of inserting itself into the best laid plans and this year is no exception.  No one expected Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda to start off with the flourish they’ve demonstrated, so that makes their 2018 exits not as set in stone as they once were.  David Wright is still getting the kid gloves treatment as I’m sure he’s anxious not to walk away from $67 million.  Curtis Granderson is probably the surest best not to be a starting Met after this season concludes.  Neil Walker is kind of in a no-win situation.  The Mets gambled and lost when they went fishing for a compensatory draft pick.  To put it in perspective, Walker earns more money than the guys on either side of him (Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda) COMBINED.  (And just to make Tom Brennan wince, he earns about $5.2 million more than Daniel Murphy, too.)

The injuries to Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo forced the Mets to alter their plans to have Michael Conforto stay in Las Vegas until June to preserve another year of financial control.  While he hasn’t played much in the first two weeks of the season, he has done well with his bat.  For now they're keeping him around with Juan Lagares back among the living.  Paul Sewald was sacrificed to make room and the normal bullpen got taxed to the max on Thursday.  Friday they brought in the reinforcement of Sean Gilmartin at the expense of T.J. Rivera.  So they're back to the short bench once again.  

The other issue is the horrific start by Jose Reyes.  No matter how much people have a soft spot for him for the excitement he used to bring to games, the truth is he was merely a league average player last year and this year would have to take several steps forward to achieve that same level of mediocrity.  The club has still not figured out what to do with Wilmer Flores and apparently doesn't hold T.J. Rivera in high esteem either.  If they are really all-in this year to win it, another possibility not heretofore in the cards could happen.

Amed Rosario made the most of his spring training with the Mets, demonstrating his glove and his speed.  The bat was a work-in-progress for the 21 year old, finishing with a .267 batting average.  He was assigned to play SS every day for Las Vegas and is actually hitting 3rd in Pedro Lopez’ order.  Apparently he likes being asked to provide run production as he’s off to a fast start with a .423 AVG, a matching .423 OBP and 2 SBs. 

While the timetable had Rosario arriving to man SS in 2018, if Reyes’ struggles continue into May, might it be worth considering a promotion of Rosario to the big club to play SS with one of Cabrera or Walker shifting to play 3B?  In a way, it could be better to ease him into the club now rather than potentially facing 3 rookie types in the starting lineup next year. 

Similarly, everyone wants to see Lucas Duda succeed but opinions on what to do with him after this season are varied and the topic of a recent poll of our staff writers.  I’m firmly in the “Trade him mid-season” camp as you’re going to lose him at year’s end anyway unless you use this exclusive negotiating period to ink him to a long term deal.  Given his streakiness and fragility, that’s unlikely to happen.  The Neil Walker situation hopefully taught the Mets not to gamble on qualifying offers, so any way you slice it 2017 should be the end of the Mets road for the big guy.  Wouldn’t it be better to get SOMETHING for him midway through the year than nothing at year’s end?

Towards that end you could insert Wilmer Flores at 1B where he is probably less of a liability than anywhere else on the diamond.  Yes, he has poor numbers against righties and off-the-chart numbers against lefties.  The fact is that he’s still just 25 and could improve against righties if given the chance. His chance though may have to wait until Neil Walker departs.

However, you do have another interesting possibility and that would be the earlier-than-planned promotion of Dom Smith.  Now unlike Rosario, Smith truly underwhelmed during his first big league camp.  Despite the poor showing, he’s batting cleanup for the 51s and posting some eye popping numbers – a .440 AVG, a .680 SLG and an OPS of 1.142.  Now that level of production is not likely sustainable nor does it take into account the high altitudes and dry air of both Las Vegas and El Paso where he’s thus far had the benefit of hitting.  Still, a strong showing by Smith as the year progresses could have a deciding impact of the future of Lucas Duda.

The other interesting twist for the Mets to consider is Jay Bruce.  People need to remember that it’s been less than 2 weeks, but he’s turned the fans around with his strong start.  Suppose he goes onto have a 30/100/.260 type of pace for the season – would you extend him a QO?  Would you negotiate a longer term deal?  Would you try to peddle him at the All Star Break?  With his salary much closer to the QO number than Duda’s is, that conjecture is not beyond the realm of probability. 

So think for a moment about what a lineup could look like for the 2nd half of the season:

SS           Amed Rosario
2B           Asdrubal Cabrera
LF           Yoenis Cespedes
RF           Jay Bruce
CF           Curtis Granderson
3B           Neil Walker
1B           Dom Smith
C             Travis d’Arnaud

Frankly, for perhaps the first time since the 1986 championship year that’s a pretty impressive looking lineup (though frankly I’d still prefer to see Curtis Granderson despite his salary as the 4th outfielder and Michael Conforto starting).  


Thomas Brennan said...

Tough to sort through that many viable hitters.

Dude is .286/.390/.686 after 10 games. Imagine if he finally puts it all together. Smith (.417/.447/.611 in Vegas) is clearly showing interest in Queens.

Walker has to worry about not just Flores but Cecchini too. Cecchini can hit and rarely strikes out...maybe the power game advances this year.

Jose Reyes on base 4 of 5 times in the past 2 games, raising his OBP to
.163....still low but is he ready to go on a tear? He has done so before.

Grandy could easily be a platoon guy soon. Lots of competition. If no injuries, how could you not move someone from the OF by midseason.

Somewhere, David Wright is soft tossing.

Zozo said...

I would call Toronto up and Trade Granderson for Liriano right now. They need offense and we could use a pitcher, especially another lefty starter.

Steve Phillips offered a trade idea yesterday of Bruce and Gsellman for Liriano and Daulton Pompey, but I think we would be giving up way too much in that scenario.

This way it frees up Conforto to at least platoon with Lagares in Centerfield.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Even today, the insertion of Rosario into the infield over Reyes would raise the overall BA of the team

As for Duda, let him hit himself into a mid-season trade for prospects

Richard Jones said...

If the Mets have a chance at winning the World Series at mid-season and is part of that reason, I would not even think of trading him. I know we might be losing prospects but a contender can not make those types of moves.

Bringing up Rosario now to replace a struggling Reyes is another story. Move Cabrera to third and that improves our defense at third. Put Rosario at SS and that improves our defense there and our lineup. It's a win, win, win in my opinion.

Mack Ade said...

Richard -

I know people that see Rosario play every day. His 'rookie days' are over. He is ready.

Anonymous said...

poorly thought out. wait to post seaso

Adam Smith said...

If Duda is having a good enough season to be worth a return at the deadline, he won't be going anywhere. There is no way that the Mets trade a productive Duda and replace him with an untested Smith in the midst of a playoff drive. None. Zero. Zilch. This does't apply of the Mets somehow fall way out of it.

Anonymous said...

Trading Duda or Walker is directly connected to how good or bad Flores is doing. If Flores potential shows up this year, you can make a case to trade either Walker of Duda and replace either with Flores.

On the outfield, it should be Granderson on the bench most days and Conforto / Lagares platoon. If Conforto starts to give you what Bruce is giving us now, it turns interesting.

Personally I would trade one from Duda or Bruce but not both. You cannot take a chance that the replacements don't perform once given the chance to start every day.


Thomas Brennan said...

If Rosario makes this team better now, get him up here soon. Figure out a way. When Tejada was the incumbent, the choice would have been so easy

Reese Kaplan said...

@Tom -- you forget the Skipper felt guys like Omar Quintanilla and Ruben Tejada were better choices than the guy who hit 16 HRs in 300 ABs last year.

Thomas Brennan said...

So very Terry, Reese. That Robles risk with Ozuna was a jaw. dropper. He got lucky, real lucky.

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