Reese Kaplan -- Truffles Among the Cow Patties


When the history books are written about the 2017 Mets season there will be sections about injuries, poor planning for injuries, poor training methods leading to injuries, poor handling of injuries and…do you sense a theme here?  In addition, there will be analysis of the curious off-season decision to add no major league players to the roster.  There will be sections on the curious roster construction, the lineup decisions, the bullpen mismanagement and the players apparently dictating terms to the manager. 

So what went right in 2017 (other than Tim Tebow, of course)?  Let’s leave out the currently long-term disabled players otherwise this piece will rival the length of War & Peace:

The Future is Now – Sort Of

Well past the cries from the fans the team finally did promote their top two healthy prospects in Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.  Results thus far have been mixed, but there have definitely been positive signs in terms of power and defense from both of them.

When He Gets to Play…

Wilmer Flores was in the midst of his most productive season with highs in batting average and home runs despite not knowing from day to day whether or not he was going to be in the lineup or where he would be playing if his name was actually there.  He’s currently sitting at 52 RBIs and until word filtered down today they're giving him early parole for the 2017 season, he probably would have bested his career mark of 59.  This production was done in just over a half season’s worth  of ABs – 18 HRs and 52 RBIs.  Methinks the man’s bat needs to be in the lineup and his glove wherever he’ll do the least damage. 

Flashes of Occasional Brilliance

For the past month plus people have seen the Rafael Montero that dominated at all levels of the minors, though he still inexplicably is having control issues despite having shown excellent command in the lower levels.  He’s pitched out of necessity, but whenever that switch in his brain clicked on, he is putting himself once again in the conversation for a role in 2018.

Less Frequent Flashes

Chris Flexen, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have had some starts this year where you understood that the talent is there.  None have fortunately been able to string together enough consistency that you feel confident in what they will deliver from start to start.  Flexen had a four run stretch of short outings in which he gave up 3, 2, 3 and 2 runs.  Then the roof caved in.  Gsellman had a similar 4-start string of 3,1,  2, and 0 runs before two consecutive stinkers.  Then it was 3, 3, 1, 6 and 3 over the next five.  There’s something there.  Lugo had two seven inning starts giving up just a single run in each, but other times he was far more hittable.  With some more work, experience (and health) these three could be on the fringes. 

Bullpen Bright Spots

A tip of the cap to Sandy Alderson for acquiring A.J. Ramos to fill the now vacant Addison Reed role.  He had a rocky start but has been pretty solid since then (which is a good thing because the rushed-back Jeurys Familia has been anything but).  Jerry Blevins has been solid.  Paul Sewald has been more good than bad though still seems to be one of the relievers of last resort for the manager.  Chasen Bradford has also been a somewhat pleasant surprise, pitching better in the majors than he did in the minors. 

Playing Time for the Forgotten Outfielders

While neither Juan Lagares nor Brandon Nimmo will be batting cleanup anytime soon, they’ve held their own when pressed into long term duty as a result of the sell-off and the injuries.  Even pint-sized newcomer Nori Aoki has shown he has some definite on-base skills since arriving south of the border. 

The Catching Tandem Might Actually Work

Kevin Plawecki looks like a totally different player than the last time he was in New York while Travis d’Arnaud’s new opposite field hitting approach seems to be working for him over the past week or so.  Perhaps money theoretically spent on Jonathan Lucroy might be better allocated to other positions of greater need.

Rumors Abound About a Change in Management

While I steadfastly believe that Sandy Alderson will be back as long as he cares to return, I’m hearing increasing noise that Terry Collins may be on his farewell tour.  I won’t belabor the point here but simply say a new approach certainly can’t hurt. 

What other positives (if any) can you take from this beyond-a-dumpster-fire of a season?


Thomas Brennan said...

I think Brandon Nimmo might just sneak into that star prospect role to join Smith and Rosario. He has a .414 on base % in what is about 20% of a full season's plate appearances. And relatively injury free in 2016, he won the AAA batting title at .353...until Rivera snatched it from him on the final day. Maybe he is a modest power, .380 OB% guy. I seem to remember that also described Keith Hernandez, another guy with a great eye at the plate.

Jose Reyes sure could have helped some playoff bound team...hitting .300 in July, Aug, Sept. Maybe he still has got it, after his awful 2017 start.

Travis Taijeron started 1-18 with 12 Ks. As even I was writing him off, he hit a single, double, and HR in his last 5 at bats. Not so fast....put that write off pen away.

Binghamton got no hit in the playoffs by Tanks team last night....now down 2 games to 1 in the best of 5.

In fairness, Montero never found AAA to his liking.

Thomas Brennan said...

Amazing that with Lagares resurgence, he has just 14 RBIs, while in 100 at bats Rhys Hoskins has 30. Fourteen ribbies in 200 plate appearances is insufficient, even for a great defender.

Hobie said...

"Tyrone" has power, we all know that. He simply cannot play in the field. DH fodder.

On the other hand, last night was my first glimpse of Evans--he must have played some ST innings but I don't remember actually seeing him play.. One AB, but I liked his approach and a LD DP is just the luck of the draw. Don't know exactly why, maybe body type, put remind me of (old folks alert) Rich Rollins.

Robb said...

Nimmo, kinda is what they thought he was, but thats better then we think. He's kind of unspectacular but with just enough, speed, power and defense to make the obp really worthwhile.

He's pretty much a lesser Nick Markakis clone (albeit with less power currently). 275-290, 12-20 hrs, and a 390+ obs.

I really think if he and lagares are the 3rd/4th outfielder they between cespedes and conforto they have a pretty good outfield. someone has to get on base in front of the guys who hit homeruns or you end up hitting home runs but not scoring enough to win.

Adam Smith said...

I think the Nimmo/Lagares combo is fine in CF. They each bring one all-star level skill to the table, and some overall game. Flores' bat has to be in the lineup. Problem is that he's probably best at 2B, and 3B is a much harder position to fill from the outside, particularly in a weak free agent class, and I'm afraid that if they put him at second, there will be temptation to bring back Cabrera to play third, and I'm done with him. As an aside, I'd be very happy to see Guillorme as next year's utility guy. I'm higher in Plawecki than some folks, and he seems to be showing that he's figuring it out at the plate, finally. Rosario and Smith will be given next season, obviously, and hopefully, they are what we think they are, and can grow and develop into impact players long-term. On the mound, I don't trust Lugo's elbow, and not sold on Gsellman. Also, I'd be thrilled if even one of Harvey, Wheeler, or Matz ends up as a decent #3 going forward. Overall, some bright spots, but i have little to no hope that this will be an elite team next season. Oh, and Collins has to go (and I wouldn't mind if Sandy went with him.)

Thomas Brennan said...

Adam, Oswalt has been so good this year that I wonder if he could be in the rotation next year. Carig of Newsday said Reyes may not be back so that would increase chances Cabrera is.

Mack's Mets © 2012