Reese Kaplan -- Only $1 Million Improves 2 Positions


With the team rapidly heading downhill and picking up steam, it’s time for the front office to make some hard decisions.  Obviously with the big money invested in Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and, to a lesser extent, Todd Frazier, they are not going to take any actions because they all have a track record that suggests what they are experiencing is merely a slump 

However, there are other players whose performance bear greater scrutiny and that’s where the guys paid the big bucks in the front office have to decide if they are committed to winning or merely resting on their laurels.  (The last time I checked their laurels included the humiliation of 2017, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t want to change that outcome). 

Two easy changes to make will cost in aggregate about $1,000,000 in total.  While that’s hardly pocket change to you or me, the fact is that a baseball team with revenues in the hundreds of millions should not be penny wise and pound foolish.  You are either in this game to win or you are in it to fleece the public.  Hint:  the public is easy to convince to part with their money if you put a good product on the field.

So what two changes are easy and cheap to make?  I’m glad you asked.

Jose Reyes' awful start last year was legendary.  Proving the old adage about even a broken clock being right twice a day (analog ones, anyway), his manager’s refrain about “having to get him going” actually paid off in August and September though most of the season he was hurting the team badly. 

He was brought back here this year partially for that late season rebound and partially to act as a mentor to young Amed Rosario with the thought being that similar upbringings, a common language and the fact that way back when Reyes was a highly regarded star player would help propel Rosario into that same level of performance in the big leagues. Oh yeah, he was also brought back because the Rockies are paying him $4 million in salary, too.  

Thus far it’s been a colossal failure.  Rosario got a free pass last year due to teammate Dom Smith’s .198 batting average, but he’s doing no better this year and you could actually make a case he’s regressed.  There’s no power there and almost no effort being made to utilize his speed. 

Now take a look at the rather offensive offensive numbers put up by Mr. Reyes and you see he’s not helping in that regard either.  He’s batting just .139 with 1 HR which accounts for his only RBI.  He’s stolen 2 bases.  That’s it.  To me, that’s a bad investment of $2 million. 

So if Reyes is neither helping Rosario nor helping the team, say adios and bring up the red hot Gavin Cecchini.  Granted, Cecchini is not in the same defensive class as Rosario, but perhaps the specter of competition for playing time will be a better motivator than the smiling and ineffective Reyes.  He  would cost about $500,000.  

(This part was written before yesterday's surprising decision by Sandy Alderson.  Feel free to skip the third part below the asterisks since Harvey's already gone, but my recommendation may or may not be what they inevitably do.  Right now with Harvey DFA'd they need to fill his roster spot temporarily with someone on the 40-man roster).

Right now Matt Harvey’s pitching is abominable, but it’s not for that reason that a change is long overdue.  If all of the talk about improving the culture of the ballclub is for real, then you send a major signal to the rest of the team by cutting him loose right now.  Any player who puts his own self interests ahead of playing to win should not be tolerated.  Remember the Dom Smith incident in Spring Training?  That was a good example of holding people accountable for their actions.  It’s time to do the same with Matt Harvey.  Now factor in that he is going to depart as a free agent anyway and that each time you use him he actually is hurting the team and it’s the ultimate no-brainer decision to make.  You’ve already budgeted and spent his salary.  It’s a sunk cost.  If you could replace him with a minimum waged player then your incremental cost is just $500,000. 

With his role in now in the bullpen, releasing him opens up a spot on the 40-man roster and thus clears the way for Tim Peterson to get his rightful promotion to the big leagues.  All the 27 year old right hander has done over 12 games is pitch to a 1.26 ERA with batters hitting a miniscule .122 against him.  He is not doing it with mirrors, either, as last year he was 4-3 with a 1.14 ERA over the entire season with batters faring only slightly better at .176.  Now who more likely give you a chance to win when summoned from the bullpen, Matt Harvey or Tim Peterson?

Are you with me?  So for an investment of $1 million you rid the team of two unproductive players (for different reasons) and you open up two 40-man roster spots.  Since Cecchini is already on it, that gives you flexibility going forward.  What a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by actually demonstrating that character and winning are more important than payroll dollars...


A bonus third minimum wage addition solution is afoot as well.  Jason Vargas has ignominious distinction of pitching 4.2 innings, giving up 11 hits, 6 earned runs (including three home runs), walking two and seeing his ERA drop by 6 runs.  That's how bad his 2018 season has gone.

On March 20th Vargas had surgery on his broken hamate bone and 5 weeks later was pressed into duty in the starting rotation mostly due to the ineffectiveness of Mr. Harvey.  It turns out Mr. Vargas is rustier than a '63 Karmann Ghia.

While some have advocated cutting him after two horrific starts (not happening), and others have advocated sending him to the minors a'la Steve Trachsel and Hunter Pence, I have a third option.  All we need is for Sandy to dictate to the medical staff words to the effect that he has had a setback in his non-pitching hand and needs to go on the DL.  Then, using the rules of MLB, assign him to the minors rehab..

Here's the rule that allows you to do it.  A player, "may be assigned to a Minor League Club for the purpose of injury rehabilitation for a maximum of 20 days in the case of non-pitchers and 30 days in the case of pitchers."

As to the ethics of the phantom injury, well, Sandy is in good company.  If you follow the news lately, if you're the one in charge it's apparently now perfectly acceptable to dictate your own medical reports.  :)

While Jason Vargas is on his month-long hiatus (preferably not in Las Vegas which could screw with anyone's head), you get the opportunity for an extended look at the man who held down the fort recently, Corey Oswalt.  You've burned his 2018 option already so, other than airfare, there's nothing lost in bringing him up again.  He's pitching to a 3.60 ERA in the PCL, so that's pretty good.  He's struck out 19 in 14 IP and has nearly a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.  I'd take him with his rookie lumps right now while Vargas rights his ship out of public scrutiny.

The best thing about this approach is it doesn't require you to expose Vargas to waivers (assuming his three options have already been used), it doesn't require you to ask his permission (though he may need to be complicit in Sandy's script), and it allows both of them to save face rather than officially being demoted or admitting that the signing was a mistake.  

What do you think of this modest proposal?


Mike Freire said...

Agreed.......despite the start to his career, Harvey will not be missed (maybe the surrounding night club scene in NY feels differently).

Jose's time has passed and he needs to move on.........if he is such good influence, keep him around as an ambassador or an unofficial coach, etc. But, he is simply taking up a bench spot that should go to a more productive player.

The Vargas idea is clever and it may work.....at least I hope he is salvageable, at this point.

Oh and why stop there? Adrian Gonzalez should be thanked for his brief service and shown the door and I have seen enough of Zack Wheeler in the rotation. He can have Harvey's vacated "mop up" role in the bullpen, if he wants.

What a mess!

Thomas Brennan said...

The funny thing is despite last night's latest grueling disaster, they could win 4 of the next 5 against Rocks and Reds. So I can see them not rushing...yet.

But if they collapse over the next 5 days, I would make many changes. Cecchini...or Guillorme, who has 8 hits in his last 4 games (.275) and (note to Amed) draws walks.

Conforto temporarily to Vegas, call up hot-again Ty Kelly?

Alonso in 2 weeks to replace Gonzalez? Probably too quick, but maybe not.

Oswalt/Vargas? Sure.

Mack Ade said...

Good morning.

A few things re: this post

1. I have no regrets over the Harvey move. Remember... the Mets did not cut Harvey. They asked him to go to Vegas and work on his pitching problems. He said no. You would think he would love to party down in that town.

2. I do not consider this a bold move. Asking a veteran to accept an assignment to the minors is something done every day. The bold move was done by Harvey.

3. I would not panic yet, but I would continue a steady stream of selective moves to re-energize this team.

4. You can not win unless you set the table. You must have five pitchers that can give you a minimum of six decent innings per game. We currently have two of these with one of them on the mend. We have two more (Lugo, Gsellman) currently in the pen). We may have a major problem with Vargas but I would first deal with Wheeler. Offer him the same deal that you offered to Harvey. Send him down (or release him). You now have a rotation of Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, Vargas, and either Lugo, Gsellman, Oswalt, or Flexen.

5. Lastly... for now... call in Reyes and ask him what he wants to do. He's a future Mets Hall Of Fame player. You do not want to humiliate him. I am sure he does not want to go to Vegas and would accept a pay out and release. Fill his slot with Cecchini to back up both Rosario and the rest of the infield. He can play 3B as well as 2B and SS.

alizarine said...

@Thomas Brennan I was thinking the same thing about Alonso but I figure they'll probably give A-Gon until the end of May. But maybe not if they keep losing? Would they jump Dom for Alonso?

Was anyone else thinking they should've PH for Conforto in that last AB last night? Was anyone left on the bench at that point?

What do you think of Conforto, long term? He's absolutely incredible when he's on but his slumps are epic, prolonged affairs where he seems genuinely lost. Will he ever find the consistency needed to be a legitimate star?

I know it's a lot of questions but man, there's a lot going on right now.

alizarine said...

As far as Harvey - Matt was great and brought a winning attitude to this team at time when we had next to nothing. He was a beast on the mound. The way he stared down Utley after he hit him is one of my favorite Matt moments. The bloody nose, the All-Star game. There were some great times. That said...

Let's not forget that in 2015 the organization and TC tried to limit Matt's innings coming back from TJ. They floated a 6 man rotation, they wanted him to skip starts, etc. He was his own worst enemy that season. That was the first time I feel like he truly became a distraction. I have no idea if pitching so many innings after TJ is what led the TOS and current issues but, either way, Matt Harvey brought this on himself.

Sad to see such a promising career go up in flames the way it has.

Hobie said...

I agree that Reese's pieces (of the puzzle) make a good fit, though not sure whether a Cecchini/Cabrera duo should be SS/2B or vice-versa--don't mess with a productive Asdrubal I suppose.

BTW, while true they've "burned an option" on Oswalt, the implication (because they already brought him up once) is backwards. The fact that he's on the MLB roster (40-man) and playing in the MINORS is what burned the year (ditto Cecchini, D.Smith, Evans, etc. etc,). Peterson and Alonso have not yet been torched--a consideration.

Adam Smith said...

Flores’ bat needs to be in the lineup 3-4 x per week. I’d actually take him as my full time starter at 1B right now, though that would mean benching Bruce, since Nimmo absolutely must be in the lineup most days as well.

Mack Ade said...

Adam -

The funny thing about Nimmo is that most of us... especially ME... said that Nimmo was a bad draft pick and would never be a starter at the major league level.

We not only were wrong, but our current manager is doing the same thing that TC use to do... keep one our best OBP players on the bench while guys like Conforto strike out.

I love Conforto, but there may be more of a problem here. I was told when he had this injury that injuries like this could be career threatening. Look at Conforto's swing closely when he plays. It does not have the power it use to have. He is not swinging 100% through the ball. Instead he is aiming the bat at the ball in hopes of contacting with it.

Brandon Nimmo has taken all the shit we handed him.

Give him the job he has earned.

Hobie said...

Yep. Nimmo should be FT. Lagares & Conforto can share for a while & spell Ces occasionally..
Ditto Bruce & Wilmer.
Cecch a round-robin with Rosario & occ Asdrubal & Frazier. %th man on the bench... Evans?

Reese Kaplan said...

It is obvious that Conforto was rushed back per the Mets usual MO. Send him to the minors to rest and rehab.

Met Monkey said...

All these ideas are, indeed, quite evolved. Try out Alonso at first to jumpstart the team. Why not? He's a gorilla! And get Oswalt up here!

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