DAVID RUBIN: "D" is The Letter We NEED!!!


No, this is NOT a political post- unless you count the art of defense in baseball something of a political battle between GM's and Managers, between Coaches and players, between pitchers and position players, and between what the Mets have on the field vs. what their pitching staff NEEDS to have playing behind them.

Let's face it- more than half of the players manning positions are barely more than swinging gates, opening far too often when balls are hit to them, or near them. 

From Lucas Duda's botched play at first in the '15 World Series to Reyes having lost all range in the field (at 3B but also at SS, too), the great Mets pitching staff, when not injured, should be suing their position players for lack of support!!!

While the team definitely has embraced the whole "defensive shift" trend that has been prominent in MLB for a few years now, it's not like they are facing Ted Williams every time at-bat. And even HE didn't have a problem getting hits while the opponent deployed extreme shifts against him!

I think, at this point, members of the Mets rotation like Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Tyler Pill, etc, who rely on getting ground ball outs, must have as much faith as the guys playing behind them as I do in the North Korean Missile strikes being able to hit the broad side of a barn from 4 feet away!!

So let's fast forward for a moment - the year is 2018, and we are assembling the Mets position players. We start with Dom Smith at first and Amed Rosario at first and shortstop, respectively. They are amazing at their positions and hopefully will anchor the infield for the next 6+ years to come!

In the outfield, Yoenis Cespedes is locked into Leftfield and Michael Conforto is either going to be our Rightfielder or our Centerfielder, depending upon whether or not the Wilponzi's open up their checkbook (and actually SIGN the check!!)

With tens of millions coming off of the payroll, you'd like to THINK they will, but we all know too well that it's never a guarantee with them at the helm.

Now, if the team DOES re-sign Jay Bruce, and I pray that they do, I can be very happy with an outfield of Cespedes --- Conforto --- Bruce, with Nimmo & Lagares on the bench!

Whether you like it or not, Travis d'Arnaud is the catcher of record for 2018, as long as he's healthy enough to make it onto the dirt (never a guarantee, either!) Behind him sits an incredible #2 in Renee Rivera, and let's hope that they remember to commit to signing him to a long-term contract one day in the not too distant future. The defense behind the plate has been much improved, owing largely to Travis' gains in throwing and blocking the plate, as Rivera's strong-suit has long been his defense.

That leaves us with 2 positions to be concerned about - at least DEFENSIVELY - Second Base and Third Base!!!

Long-time fans know that, until David Wright, the only real "regular" we've really seen at the position in the entire history of the franchise was Howard Johnson, and we're not talking a tenure of 10+ years like the Captain. The current candidates include Gavin Cecchin, TJ Rivera, Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera. There's no way, at this point, that the team is going to pony up anywhere close to the $15 mil per season they were once supposedly offering Walker in a multi-year deal, and there's also no way that they'd be willing to pay Reyes any substantial money, so unless he agreed to pennies on the dollar versus what he was receiving from the Jays', there's no way he's coming back and there's NO WAY the fans could embrace him as a regular at any position at this point in his career. Finally, Cabrera has an option remaining in his contract which, at the beginning of the season seemed like a no-brainer, but now, due to injuries and declining performance there's no guarantee that the de facto leader of the clubhouse is going to return.

Free agent-wise, after the 2017 season, Walker looks to be the only free agent of note at second; at third, the White Sox Todd Frazier and the Royals Mike Moustakas are the top of the free agent class but both have major issues to deal with. Frazier, a NY-area native, has seen a huge drop in his power this season so far, and his fielding has never been much to write home about. Moustakas is a native of Southern California and, while he will be looking to make the most money he can, especially with Boras as his agent, I have it on good authority that he's looking to play closer to home AND there are a few West Coast teams already lining up for his services.

That leaves trades, and thankfully Sandy DOES have a number of great, young, controllable minor league pitching prospects at the ready and we've already seen what he can do with young arms on the trade market!

One can only hope that Sandy will do a few key things this off-season:

1. Sign some of our rotation to long-term deals.
2. Bolster our bullpen.
3. Find major-league-ready replacements for Las Vegas in case a similar injury bug plaques the big league team again.
4. Bolster the team both offensively AND defensively at Second and Third base.

IF Sandy can do these things, and our younger players continue to progress, 2018 can be the year we'd all hoped that 2017 could have been...

PS- Sandy isn't a native New Yorker, so he's probably not familiar with the NY-fan's predilection towards great defense in all sports. The Garden ROCKED with cries of "De-FENSE" during Knicks games; the Giants Super Bowl teams were built around great "D"; both the Islanders and Rangers always made having great back-lines a priority; and, as a pitching-based team for the majority of the Mets' lifespan, we've been hit or miss in that department. It sure would be nice to take pride in it again, in Queens, in 2018!!!!


Gary Seagren said...

After last night's debacle you would think anything and everything's on the table. I can't wait to see Rosario and Smith improve the defense and infuse some life into this club and I wonder if they would give Guillorme and real shot at 2nd. I also wonder if knuckleballer Jannis from Bingo might be worth a try....hell at this point try anything.

Adam Smith said...

I actually think that the TdA ship has sailed. I think that Catcher is a position they should upgrade, with TdA and his still cheap contract kept around as a backup.

Mack Ade said...

David -


Another ++ Rubin piece.

The Mets MUST find a ++ defensive second baseman that can hit over.250. He doesn't have to hit any higher if he just can play flawless defense.

I keep looking at the Mets minor league rosters and the only option I can come up with is Luis Guillorme, who really needs another year.

Thomas Brennan said...

David, great article - you HAD to go and remind me of Duda's 2015 throw in the World Series. I understand that US missile defense shot it down after it sailed out of the stadium LOL.

Time to disassemble and reassemble.

Jonathan Babkow said...

Pretty sure Gsellman would lose that lawsuit unless he could argue we should have one of our outfielders playing in the bleachers..,,this is mostly a cop out for the under achieving pitching staff which has totally sucked this year. On pace to give up 250 hone runs
At least you get that players like Flores and Rivera have no business being starting infielders despite the pleas of many on Mets twitter.
At this point the only infielder you can trust to even make a play is Reyes at short albeit it needs to be hit in his general vicinity.
E can only hope Rosario is even half as good as Reyes was when he first got here

David Rubin said...

There are some hard realities that we need to face because as fans we will always over-inflate the value of our guys and underestimate what a team will take in return for their players that we want. Orioles, even with a pair of good backstops have turn down a number of offers already on Chance Sisco, and failing to acquire someone like that there is no way that Sandy can allocate additional funds to the catching position with Travis as cheap as he is currently. Luis G is the guy that I would love to see at second base for us in the future with Cecchini and Reynolds as our back up infielders. Mack well tell you that for years I have been a huge supporter of Wilmer's and all he ever did was knock in runs at every level. Sadly he really needs to be a designated hitter at this point because he is a liability at every position including second and first. He can probably play pay nearly adequate role at first base but that is not good enough because we have already seen with Duda that being less than adequate at that position can prove to be costly. I am somebody who loves both the players and the laundry but after the trade of Tom Seaver I realized that anyone and everyone is fair game and if we inevitably lose players like Flores whom we love but it better is the team then we have no choice. The problem is there aren't many teams that would be willing to give up enough for him to get us to bring him to the table for a deal. Sandy not only has a rough winter ahead, but we don't even know for sure that he will still be at the helm next year with everything he needs to take into consideration. If the team keeps Terry as manager for the rest of the season you can pretty much guarantee that the young players will not get the time may need to mature so bringing up Smith and Rosario without a guarantee of playing time would be an absolute waste. I would guess that if Terry were ordered by management to play them he might simply resign which would of course be the best for all parties involved. Unfortunately the way the season is going it doesn't seem like the proverbial " Best things for all parties involved" Will be happening anytime soon.
I never give up on the season even with all of the circumstances we are going through right now, but we also need to be realistic and hope that the planning has begun in earnest for a better 2018. With DePo onboard I always believed in the short and long-term plan. Now, I am no longer so sure…

David Rubin said...

Jonathan- pitchers are responsible for everything they throw and I am not excusing the massive amount of homeruns that they are giving up. And it's happening all throughout the game and sadly is a hard reality right now, but our team is certainly guilty of giving up way too many. However I can also tell you from speaking with many of them over the years that they can often alter their game plan based on the feeling that they have to strike everyone out and are scared to just let hitters put the ball into play. Just as we have given up too many homers, we have also had too many infielders misplay balls, have severely decreased range, make terrible throws and turn sure things like double plays and ground outs into runners on base. It is incredibly discouraging to a pitcher and especially to younger guys. We ARE talking about guys who apparently have friendship stuff, sadly including Gsellman of whom it seems like the league has caught up to and surpassed, but imagine if our infield defense have been strong all year and I also imagine if we did not have a manager whose handling of the bullpen and of the team strategy in general wasn't so bad. Hmmmm... maybe we have five or six more wins and would still be thinking about or dreaming about a wild card…

Mack Ade said...

take the Dodgers and Nationals game out of the w-l totals and it's an entire different picture.

We don't have the pitching this year to play against great teams

Mack's Mets © 2012