Reese Kaplan -- NL Central Trade Targets (Part 2 of 6)


St. Louis Cardinals

The high quality Redbirds are once again atop their division.  They’re doing it with a combination of almost no power and almost no speed (this latter result very surprising considering teams of the past).  Jedd Gyorko is the leading run producer with 7 HRs, 18 RBIs to go along with a .333 AVG.  After that the numbers get pretty average.  So what’s the secret to their success?  Well, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha have been terrific all year.  Carlos Martinez has been solid.  Surprisingly the weak link in the rotation is Adam Wainwright who has been pitching only a tick better than Matt Harvey.  Ouch!  In the bullpen closer Seung Hwan Oh is picking right up where he left off last year and is close to automatic in save situations.  He’s buttressed by former closer Trevor Rosenthal (1.88 ERA), Sandy Alderson Rule V mistake Matt Bowman, Sam Tuivailala, and Tyler Lyons.  Any of those four would be worth trying to pry away from the Cardinals.  They need offense in a big way and could probably benefit from a Neil Walker or a Lucas Duda on their roster.  Rosenthal had one bad year to accompany 5 very good ones.  He has closing experience and would probably slot in nicely in that role for the Mets with Addison Reed bumped back to his familiar 8th inning position.  

Milwaukee Brewers

This team is another offensive surprise with contributions from some non-household names.  Third baseman Travis Shaw is in the top five in RBIs this season.  Import Eric Thames is doing so well that some people are questioning if his production isn’t coming from more than just natural abilities.  The catching duo of Manny Piña and Jett Bandy are providing solid overall numbers.  2nd baseman Jonathan Villar is having a subpar season with a .222 average but he has driven in 21.  Then, of course, you have Ryan Braun and his usual outstanding play.   Starting pitching remains something of an Achilles heel, with only Chase Anderson and desperation ploy Matt Garza providing good innings.  Netafali Feliz has been a bust as closer.  They are getting very good results from Corey Knebel, Jared Hughes and Rob Scahill.  Of that trio, the one I’d covet is Hughes who has a career 2.81 ERA, so he’s not doing it with mirrors.  I’d also be interested in seeing what Jett Bandy could do on a regular basis.  He has 5 HRs and 11 RBIs in just 74 ABs.  His HR numbers are way up from the 8/25 in 209 ABs for the Angels last year.  He’s on a pace for 25-30 HRs.  I don’t know how he is defensively, but if he’s healthy then he might be worth consideration in place of d’Arnaud.  

Cincinnati Reds

They find themselves surprisingly a game over .500 and perhaps would be interested in Neil Walker as a major upgrade to play 2B for the remainder of the season.  The rest of the offense is pretty solid.  After Scott Feldman, their starting pitching is a total mess.  Their bullpen is very solid with four pitchers used regularly with ERAs under 2.00.  The remainder is at 2.16, 2.70 and 3.12.  I think there’s a surplus there that could come back in return for Neil Walker (assuming the Mets kick in a lot of his salary).  Main targets would include veteran Drew Storen or Michael Lorenzen.  With currently injured Tony Cingrani due back soon, they might part with an arm.  I would also inquire about center fielder Billy Hamilton to give the Mets the dimension of speed they're so sorely lacking.  

Chicago Cubs

Surprisingly they are struggling a bit offensively this year.  Kyle Schwarber, for example, is hitting just .179 but unlike Mets underachievers he has 5 HRs and 14 RBIs to accompany that poor batting average.  Anthony Rizzo is at just .213.  Addison Russell is at .226.Willson Contreras is at .226 as well.  Javier Baez is at .236.  Starting pitching has been adequate from their top 3 but Jason Arrietta and Brett Anderson were just awful so far.  Wade Davis has been virtually unhittable as their closer.  They currently sit under .500 and in 5th place in the NL Central.  Since they are defending World Champions, they probably expect their lineup to self-correct.  They might be looking for a 5th starter, but that’s not an area where the Mets can help.  Player to target – Koji Uehara.  

Pittsburgh Pirates

Having lost All Star center fielder Starling Marte to a PED violation, the Pirates have been reeling and currently sit at the bottom of the NL Central.  1st baseman Josh Bell has upped his power output considerably in his sophomore season, but Andrew McCutcheon is only hitting .212.  Josh Harrison is solid at 2nd base but everyone else is having a subpar season.  The top three starters – Gerritt Cole, Ivan Nova and Jameson Taillon are doing great work for the Bucs, but the other two starters have not.  In the bullpen they have had terrific production from Felipe Rivera, Wade Leblanc, Juan Nicasio and closer Tony Watson (who is rumored to be on the trading block).  Any of them would look good in a Mets uniform and with so many holes on the offensive side of the team there might be some traction.  Would Neil Walker be good returning to play 3B for the rest of the year with the Mets picking up most of his salary (that they are going to have to pay anyway) and get back Tony Watson?


Thomas Brennan said...

Good food for thought, Reese. My brain has not gone there, focusing on the returning cavalry of Mets injured, but you really analyze it well.

Reese Kaplan said...

As I'd said before, the period between now and mid July are critical to determine if they are buyers, standing pat or sellers.

Thomas Brennan said...

Will the Mets stand idly by while the B=Nats bolster their bullpen? The Nats' bullpen is a weakness right now.

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