Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Today I’m going to offer a qualified and rare defense of the Mets front office for how they’re handling the current spate of injuries. A lot of people have besieged the Mets to sign Doug Fister for the rotation after losing Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard to injuries. We’ve all seen the ugly starts from Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk and the credible one from Tommy Milone. Could they use another quality starter? Absolutely! However, does it make good business sense to do so?
According to most reports with Seth Lugo and Steven Matz pitching in rehab already it is a matter of weeks until they’re available. Let’s be conservative and call in June 15th. At that point your starting rotation would consist of Jacob de Grom, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler for sure. Robert Gsellman is on thin ice but has won his last two starts. While I don’t expect any great breakthroughs from Tommy Millone, throw both Lugo and Matz into the mix and all of the sudden there’s no room at the inn.
Consequently, what purpose would be served by signing Doug Fister or (as many have also suggested) trading for Bartolo Colon when there will seemingly be an excess of starting pitching long before the All Star break? If the coffers contain too little money to have signed anyone in the off-season, what makes you think that the bank account has grown substantially during the lackluster start to this season?
Granted, a team that did place winning above budget would do what was necessary to minimize the appearances of the likes of Montero and Wilk types, then sort out the excess if and when it became available. However, we’ve all seen the club does not act like a large market team or one truly committed to winning. Consequently I can understand the approach being taken, hoping they can tread water until getting back the injured starting pitchers.
That being said, there are other areas which are seemingly more pressing to address. Jose Reyes is down to .183 and still looking shaky in the field. His best attribute, speed, is not really helping much either with just 4 SBs to lead the team. By comparison Billy Hamilton has 19 and three AL baserunners are tied with 9.
I bring up Jose Reyes’ performance because soon Lucas Duda will return from the DL. Lately T.J. Rivera has been the primary 1st baseman and is hitting .300 in that role. Wilmer Flores back from his knee infection recently had a 3-hit night and is up to .254. Obviously Duda will take over 1st base duties and Flores will likely play against left handers. That leaves the question of what happens with T.J. Rivera?
Anyone who’s watched this club during the current era knows that veterans get seemingly innumerable opportunities to “get themselves going” whereas younger ballplayers often get benched after a good night at the plate. Wouldn’t the team be better served playing Rivera every day at 3B (or Flores for that matter) rather than continuing to trot out the seemingly lost Jose Reyes? It won’t happen, of course, but a thinking man e.g. someone not named Collins would want to put the most productive players on the field to help win games.
A parallel situation is going to evolve when Yoenis Cespedes returns. He will slot into his customary position in LF. Jay Bruce (and his surprising bat) will continue to play RF. That brings up the question of who plays CF? If you polled 100 Mets fans I’d be willing to bet the answer would be a unanimous Michael Conforto who is hitting .340 as a leadoff hitter and providing power to rival Yoenis Cespedes. By contrast Curtis Granderson is hitting .139 with just 2 HRs on the season. What to do, what to do…
So my defense of the Mets front office comes with a caveat. I’ll accept your conservative approach on pitching because there is light at the end of the tunnel within the next 4 weeks. However, to allow salary (in the case of Granderson) or previous reputation (in the case of Reyes) to force productive hitters like Rivera and Conforto to the bench would signify that the whole LOL Mets moniker is not only deserved, but also self-inflicted.
Prove me wrong.