Reese Kaplan -- Building a Winner Vs. Building a Loser


There are many ways to build a team to compete for the World Series.  The most recent example, the Houston Astros, is a good combination of terrific drafting, judicious trading, smart free agent signings and shrewd waiver wire watching.  Let’s take a look at how their 2017 World Series team was assembled and compare that to the current Mets roster construction.

Perhaps the greatest difference between the two organizations is in how they go about drafting their players.  Now some will quickly point out that the Astros suffered some 100 loss seasons which resulted in high draft picks, but you have to remember that gems can be found at any spot in the draft order (as can duds).

The Astros’ homegrown talent includes All Stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel, plus Lance McCullers and Derek Fisher.

Now the Mets’ in-house talents include some good ones like Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Michael Conforto.  Some are showing signs of solid performance like Brandon Nimmo, Wilmer Flores, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and so far Tim Peterson.  Then there are the works in progress like Steven Matz, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Luis Guillorme and Kevin Plawecki.

Then we have the trades that have been executed by the Astros.  Incoming players from that route include Justin Verlander, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Devinski, Ken Giles, Joe Musgrove and Brad Peacock.  Notice that real live major leaguers populate this list.

By contrast the Mets’ trade acquisitions tend to be the minor league prospect types who may or may not ever develop.  They would include just Zack Wheeler and newcomer Drew Smith.  There is one major league trade acquisition in a barter of bad contracts and underperformers – Devin Mesoraco – who the Reds paid down to match what the Mets were paying Matt Harvey.  That’s not exactly a game changing move like Verlander, McCann, Gonzalez, Gattis, et all. 

Then there is free agency.  Houston has used this tool as well.  The Astros acquired some top tier talent in Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick, a reliever with a strong track record in Luke Gregerson, a Cuban free agent in Yuri Gurriel and a key pitcher in Charlie Morton.

The Mets have embraced the free agent route but not with nearly as much foresight and success.  They have inked Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak, Jason Vargas and Jerry Blevins.  Though mired in a horrific slump, only Cabrera has been a net positive of that bunch. 

Finally there’s the scrap heap picking of other teams’ castoffs.  The Astros unearthed former Met and Rockie Collin McHugh, reliever Will Harris and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Sandy Alderson picked up career 5.94 ERA pitcher Chris Beck and 37 year old Jose Bautista.  How much are they contributing to the problem?

So what have we learned here?  Well, for starters, the Mets have very little clue about identifying young talent.  When they got lucky, it was converted infielder Jacob deGrom, failed starter Jeurys Familia, and injury desperation promotion Michael Conforto. 

We also see that the Mets are seemingly too cowardly to make trades for major league players (or even close to major league ready prospects). 

On the free agent front the Mets tend to avoid the top tier players (yes, I know they spent foolishly on Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce who are both currently on the shelf).  They take on pitchers like Swarzak with no track record rather than proven ones like Gregerson.  I can’t fault them on Jerry Blevins who had been very good here in the past.  Asdrubal Cabrera was decent value.  Todd Frazier has yet to earn his keep.  However, the Jason Vargas signing after his horrific 2nd half and Jose Reyes made no sense whatsoever.

On the scrap heap picking, we saw and dispatched with Adrian Gonzalez and Buddy Baumann already, but still hang onto unproductive players that shouldn’t have been signed in the first place.  Is Sandy Alderson hoping to prove he was smart in making these deals and too proud to admit when he is wrong (which he apparently is nearly all of the time)?

One thing’s for sure, there are no Jose Altuves or Carlos Correas or George Springers or Alex Bregmans coming up through the Mets farm system.  How can one club be so consistently bad in drafting?


Mack Ade said...

Reese -

My fractured childhood made me live a life of 'don't look back while not looking too far forward'. I have always lived with the results of my actions and tried to make better decisions in the future.

I am no longer going to pick Sandy and Company apart player by player.
A general statement applies here. They haven't done their job well.

Even a pile of 'pick up sticks' can be released and a few are easily scooped up. Conforto is a perfect example of this.

There are enough decent players here to start anew.

SP: deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, Lugo, Wheeler, Crismatt

RP: Gsellman, Bashlor, Bautista, Peterson, Sewald, Drew Smith, Oswalt, Flexen, Ryan, Roseboom, Blackham

C: No one

IF: Flores, Guillorme, Alonso, McNeil, Rosario

OF: Conforto, Cespedes, Nimmo, Dom Smith, Kacz

Here's 27 players that will be ready next year. Not a world championship team but a young team in the making.

The difference between us and Houston, their brass could fill in the holes with quality players obtained with the Mets players I left out of my chart, or free agents that weren't already drawing social security benefits.

Rustyjr said...

Does it even matter anymore ? Mack was right with his assessment the other day that this most likely that Ricco under the guiding hand of Jeff Wilpon is making these moves . Sorry I’m just finding myself apathetic to the entire situation

Thomas Brennan said...

I love when the Mets sign old guys. I don't feel so old then.

They have drafted weakly forever and like you said, were remarkably fortunate that no one picked deGrom before they did in Round 9, or the last 10 years' drafts would have been woefully weak.

Very little from the international prospect world, either, of real impact.

It just compounds the other player assemblage blemishes.

That said, like Mack shows, there is fairly decent young talent left. But big free agents likely will be loathe to sign with a loser franchise that is hitter-unfriendly.

TexasGusCC said...

Mack, I agree with you in not starting over, but I disagree on what they have left. I like Mesoraco as a catcher because he’s smart; a smart hitter and a smart pitch caller. Two things the Mets lack. If you want to bring in a complimentary catcher like an Avila, it can work.

I also like Smith in the outfield. He seems to move ok, and I hope to see more of the line-to-line hitting.

The infield is terrible. I love Flores, and maybe he can be a good piece. McNeil hasn’t playing but a few innings at AAA, let’s not get carried away. Rosario still needs to grow. How do you find two quality corners in a penny pinching ownership? The problem with Frazier, is they bat him fourth. He should be a six or seven hitter. I would keep him and get an upgrade. How about Murphy to play first and add average?

Your bullpen is too raw and too far away in some cases to already be in the depth stage. I would have added Callahan. And starting pitching, I’d like to put Oswalt over Crismatt because I just don’t see Crismatt lasting in the majors.

TexasGusCC said...

Or better, put Murphy at third base and put Smith at first while using Flores at second. That would give a good lineup and decent defense.

Reese Kaplan said...

Alonso can only play 1B

Mack's Mets © 2012