Reese Kaplan -- A Nice Problem to Have


Over the past few years the Mets were beset with more than their fair share of injuries.  Pitchers in particular seemed to be especially hard hit and as a result the team saw games started at times by the likes of Adam Wilk, Tyler Pill, Tommy Milone, Rafael Montero, Sean Gilmartin, Jon Niese, Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett.  While I’m sure they’re nice folks and a credit to their families and current employers, none appear to be star caliber let alone have Cy Young Award contending potential.   

The much ballyhooed Big Five Mets starting rotation – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steve Matz and Zack Wheeler – are finally going to see the light of day for at least one cycle.  The Mets have announced that Wheeler is coming up Wednesday to face the Miami Marlins partly because Seth Lugo has excelled in his role out of the pen. 

A few scenarios could play out once today’s game concludes.  Let’s take the worst case first, not because I’m being negative but it makes for the easiest action to take.  If Wheeler should have a night in which he’s a batting practice pitcher, issuing free passes like a political candidate looking to fill empty seats at a rally, well then he’s likely back on the next flight to Las Vegas. 

However, Wheeler is coming off a highly impressive start in AAA where he manhandled my hometown El Paso Chihuahuas to the tune of 5 IP with 6 Ks, a single walk, just three hits and a single run allowed via a solo home run.  Suppose he delivers a similar type of performance against Jarlin Garcia and the Marlins (yes, that is indeed the probable starter), what happens next?  After you take into account there may be AAA teams as good as the Marlins are, a cynic might say, “Get back to me when he does that well against a team like the Dodgers.” 

Well, the easy temporary solution would be to keep Wheeler right there in the starting rotation and let him pay back the Mets for their years of patience during his long recovery from arm woes.  Lugo (and Robert Gsellman) are both seemingly doing well in the bullpen, so having a couple of long men is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Of course, the $16 million wrench in the works is the currently rehabbing Jason Vargas.  The Mets are on the hook to pay him $6 million in 2018, $8 million in 2019 and hold a team option for 2020 at the same salary (or a $2 million buyout).  Once his non-pitching hand hamate bone surgery is deemed completely healed, that easy temporary solution all of the sudden gets a lot muddier.

The problem is once you do say “Viva Las Vegas” to someone (Brandon Nimmo, it turns out), he’s required to stay in AAA for a period of 10 days before he can be brought back (barring injuries creating vacancies on the big club).  That could put you in the awkward position of keeping Wheeler around regardless of whether he does well or poorly while the undeserving demotion of Nimmo results in his being unavailable.  

Now the Mets could option Wheeler again if Vargas is indeed ready, but that helps solve the rotation problem but leaves Nimmo down in AAA and I would think a reliever would have to be dropped to make space to bring him back.  A recovery by Anthony Swarzak then means  likely another reliever would likely hitting the $1.99 buffets for the long haul. 

Who’d have thought that health and good pitching could create such problems?  I’ll gladly take them!


The decision to farm out a player to make room for another relief arm makes sense and that's what they did on Tuesday when Brandon Nimmo got the axe to bring up Corey Oswalt.  Now Oswalt (without appearing in the game) is dropped to make room for Zack Wheeler.  The three relievers on the bubble apparently survived via this sleight of hand that resulted in making Nimmo disappear, but it was certainly surprising to see it be Brandon Nimmo.  Of course, if the rumors are true they're still trying to find a trade partner for Juan Lagares then it kind of makes sense.  They don't seem to trust Wilmer Flores to be a backup in the middle infield so that left them with few options.  


Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, I have a trade idea - Adam Wilk, Tyler Pill, Tommy Milone, Rafael Montero, Sean Gilmartin, Jon Niese, Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett for Max Scherzer. Nah? Just a thought.

Wheeler, if does stay, can help make his case with a dominant effort - dominating a hitting squad like Reno is probably almost as tough as facing the Marlins, frankly, so I am positive.

When Vargas needs to come back, I would farm out Rhame, who did not impress me at all last night. If Wheeler stays once Vargas returns, and then Swarzak returns, I guess Paul Sewald is the most vulnerable.

It is nice to have real surplus issues.

Sad to see Nimmo go - he totally deserves to me with the Mets. Last year he messed himself up by missing the first few months with injuries when the outfield was wide open. This year, he got burned by Conforto's early return. Hope to see him right back after his 10 day hiatus.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Good morning.

I have been offline... did Oswalt really get sent back down?

As for Wheeler, I think he gets at least two starts before any decision would be made to pull him again. Every baseball player has a fragile ego and you only can do this a couple of times without permanent damage.

Reese Kaplan said...



Mack Ade said...

I hope he at least got the chance to have a Cuban sandwich while in Miami.

Mack's Mets © 2012