Reese Kaplan -- Planning Instead of Settling


While no one should be pushing the panic button simply because there have been some early Spring injuries in Port St. Lucie, the fact remains that these minor aches and pains point out two things about the New York Mets as they prepare for the 2018 season.  First, they are painfully thin in the outfield department right now.  Second, they are prepared to punt the first several weeks of the season rather than address the issue.

 What do I mean by that assertion?  Well, when healthy, the starting trio of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce is as offensively productive as any outfield in the majors.  Defensively, well, they’re better than Lucas Duda or Roger Cedeno out there, but that’s not saying much. 

 The problem is that with Conforto already on the shelf, you’re behind the eight ball offensively with one of the power and RBI threats not in the lineup.  The plantar fasciitis diagnosis for Jay Bruce points out just how fragile this outfield’s success really is.  Add to that the revelation that Yo has a sore shoulder and your outfield is Brandon Nimmo and anyone’s guess.

 There is not much help below the major league level.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are plenty of bodies in AAA.  The question is how much of a drop off do they represent?  

 Phil Evans is kind of a T.J. Rivera lite in that he’s a high contact hitter without much power.  He’s been pushed into the outfield out of the need to demonstrate versatility that will hopefully result in an ascent to the majors.  However, after spending 7 seasons in the minors he’s a .260 career hitter.

 After that you have the oft-injured Jayce Boyd.  He’s another high contact, low power hitter but he’s fared better than Evans for his career.  He’s a .290 hitter and last season playing about half of the time, he did manage to bang 11 HRs and drive in 46.  Extrapolated over a full season that looks pretty good, but remember it was in Las Vegas where even Eric Campbell was a force to be reckoned with.  Boyd’s turning 27 this year so it may be now or never.

 Zach Borenstein is probably a left handed version of the man he replaced in Las Vegas – Travis Taijeron.  He doesn’t whiff quite as much and last year turned in a respectable .279/24/93 for Reno, but take the numbers with the usual PCL grain of salt.  He’s also turning 27 and has yet to hit the majors.  

Wuilmer Becerra went unclaimed after being dropped from the 40-man roster, so the throw-in as part of that R.A. Dickey trade that also netted Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud has pretty much lived up to the low billing.  His minor league stats are OK when it comes to batting average, but power has never materialized.  He’s a .283 career hitter and at age 22 it’s possible he still has room to improve.  He’s being jumped from A+ to AAA this year off of a .267/4/44 season.  Meh. 

 Matt den Dekker is, like many other Mets, hoping it’s better the second time around.  His minor league career has had its ups and downs.  He’s a .270 career hitter with his best season being 2012 when he combined between AA/AAA to hit 17 HRs and drive in 76.  Unfortunately that appears to be something of an outlier, and his major league career across several teams has yielded a .234/7/29 in 350 ABs.  He’s not the answer either and at age 30 what you see is likely what you get.

 24 year old John Mora is slated to make the jump to AAA this year as well.  A career .265 hitter, he has good but not outstanding speed and strikes out way too much for someone with no power.    

 On my second point, the Tampa Bay Rays inexplicably DFA’d All Star outfielder Corey Dickerson last week.  He has since been picked up by the Pirates who apparently do want to win ballgames.  Dickerson’s average season would include .280/26/76 – not too shabby and for a team willing to absorb his extremely reasonable $5.95 million salary. (For frame of reference, Juan Lagares will earn more than that!)  

When I floated this idea by some people, many have been so browbeaten by the Mets’ inane front office over the past several years that they immediately said, “Where would he play when Conforto comes back?”  My reply to that question was, “Isn’t that a nice problem to have?”  

Once again the Mets are doing as little as possible to prepare for injuries (or poor performances) with no one truly knocking on the door from AAA and bypassing the plethora of unsigned free agents who might even be willing to come to camp on a minor league deal with no guarantees.  This list would include Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Andre Ethier, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jay, Ben Revere, Seth Smith, Ichiro Suzuki and Jayson Werth.  There are others, but they’re more of the fringe, reserve quality ilk. 

Now that Dickerson is off the table, why not approach a Carlos Gomez, for example, and see what he’d take?  Banking on the health of Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto is foolish considering how much time each has missed with injuries.  This year it’s Jay Bruce added to the list.  How about planning instead of settling?


Tom Brennan said...

Dickerson would have been a valuable addition - $$ well spent had they signed him? Perhaps. Why they aren't looking at others is puzzling....maybe they are. Hopefully they are always looking, and willing to act to improve.

Viper said...

Carlos Gomes singed with the Astros right?


But yes, there are pretty decent players the Mets should try to sign.

Viper said...

Make that the Rays

Mack Ade said...

Morning guys.

Reese is right. The projected five outfielders of Cespees, Conforto, Bruce, Lagares, and Nimmo look great on paper. The problem is the paper is already starting to curl up.

There is other outfield talent in the pipeline, but... IMO... none is ready expect for Ty Kelly and Matt den Dekker. Neither will become big time starters some day but they can fill in as, well, fill-ins.

I to was surprised at the non-effort regarding Dickerson. I also would have considered Napoli but he's signed now.

Looking ahead, we keep signing pitchers (Gagnon, Purke, Griffin) when it seems we have super depth there.

Why not bring in a new quality outfielder?

Reese Kaplan said...

Indeed, Viper... Gomez was merely an example of a quality player not yet signed at the time of writing.

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, agreed. And can Jose get into the outfield already?

Mack's Mets © 2012