Reese Kaplan -- A July 31st Do-Over for 2018


We all saw what happened after the great free agent purge of 2017.  This piece is not to discuss the, ahem, returns the Mets got from dispatching Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Jay Bruce and Addison Reed.  Enough has been said about the Mets’ miserly ways, refusing to pay down sunk cost contracts to up the quality of the prospects received in return.  No, we’re going to look at how a similar sell-off could result in a much more interesting team for the balance of the 2018 season.

Last year the incompetent manager took the opportunity not to play youngsters like Gavin Cecchini to see what they could do with an extended look, but instead to let free agent to be Jose Reyes go on to lead the team in ABs and give a steady starting role to 35 year old Nori Aoki.  Wouldn’t the smarter play have been to see who could be a part of the future instead of squandering ABs on people who theoretically should not? 

Now, love him or hate him, I’m willing to give Mickey Callaway some benefit of doubt that he doesn’t suffer peach fuzz phobia like his predecessor (though the recent decision to play the same Jose Reyes instead of Luis Guillorme when he felt Amed Rosario needed a break has me questioning my giving him benefit of doubt).  The Mets are a mess.  There’s no question about it but things are not going to improve until you see what you’ve got and how things can shape up in the future. 

I’m going to assume that when the “Open for Business” sign goes up in Queens, the people front and center in the showroom window will include Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco, Jeurys Familia and Todd Frazier.  I’m not including Yoenis Cespedes in this mix since he’s not likely to be healthy enough to trade even if you could find a taker.  I’m not even going to get into the sell them or sign them debates about the two aces.  The focus here is on what the lineup would look like (regardless of trade returns) for the remainder of the season.

Towards that end the lineup I propose would be far more interesting to watch than the morass we’re enduring on a nightly basis:

Brandon Nimmo
Amed Rosario
Michael Conforto
Peter Alonso
Dominic Smith
Wilmer Flores
Jeff McNeill
Kevin Plawecki

Nimmo leading off is a no-brainer. 

Rosario batting second will likely raise some eyebrows.  After all, he’s undisciplined and the role of the 2nd place hitter is to advance the leadoff guy and get on base for the run producers.  Providing him with little to no protection batting 8th only exacerbates his weaknesses.  Changing his role and forcing him to concentrate on advancing the runner while simultaneously protecting him with an All Star bat behind could pay huge dividends.   

The next slots in the lineup are going lefty/righty – Conforto, Alonso, Smith, Flores and McNeil.  I see Smith playing LF every day, Conforto in RF and Nimmo in CF.  While Nimmo is no Juan Lagares he is a better fielder than Conforto.  Smith has to play the OF in order to make room for Alonso.  The only debate is whether you’re better with McNeil at 2B and Flores at 3B or vice versa.  I don’t want to hear about Flores’ lack of range.  He’s already demonstrated that he can hit.  The team can’t score.  Let the man play and see if the offense (a’la Mets version of Daniel Murphy) justifies the lack of defense (a’la Mets version of Daniel Murphy). 

While I appreciate the professionalism that Mesoraco has brought to the catching position, he’s on a $13 million contract.  Yes, he may drop off a bit next year but to what level?  Would you think you could snag him for $7 million?  Even if you can, do you want another .220 hitter in that all-or-nothing mold that’s failed miserably?  Let’s see what Plawecki can do now that he’s healthy.  While Travis d’Arnaud may be a non-tender candidate due to his increasing cost and traditional home on the DL, the Mets need to know can Plawecki be a catcher going forward or is that one of the many areas they need to strengthen?

Wouldn’t this lineup on a nightly basis at least be more interesting to watch?


Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

Thomas Brennan said...

I do like that proposed line up.

My only qualifier is I would have Plawecki and Mesoraco split the plenteous playing time left in 2018. Enough time to get a good look at both.

Mazeika and Nido have regressed offensively. I have no confidence that they can be suitable catcher candidates for the 2019 25 man roster. Guys who cannot hit do not deserve major league roster time, except for brief emergencies. We settle for too much offensive ineptitude in Queens. If they greatly improve hitting, I have an open mind.

Reese Kaplan said...

I would look to trade Mesoraco. If you really want him back next year, he'll be a FA. However, you don't know what a healthy Plawecki can do on a full time basis. Mesoraco is going to be very expensive for what he provides offensively. Defensively he's an improvement, for sure, but if you're going for glove only then you can likely pick up a latter day Charlie O'Brien type for a lot less money.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, very good point on Mesoraco. Play him enough now, in hopes he gets hot for a few weeks and boosts his value, or play him little, to avoid getting hurt and killing ability to trade him? That is the question.

Hobie said...

I understand the sentiment, but there isn't a chance in the world for that lineup to see the clubhouse bulletin board, but I marvel at how fleeting a flash-in-the-pan really is.

The complaint is initially the neglecting of Cecchini & Guillorme who get cast aside in favor of Alonso & McNeil as quickly as you can double-space between paragraphs. Kacz doesn't even get a mention; his ship as already sailed evidently.

But yes, DFA Reyes & Btista ASAP and put Bruce, Frazier. Cabrera & Familia on the block. The good news there is that the most tradable (Cabrera/Familia) are also the most valuable in terms of potential return (and a salary contribution by the Mets is only a 1/2 yr obligation). Bruce & Frazier will be harder to give away, much less get anything in return. (Do you play them in July in the hopes they generate a glimmer of productivity? It's not the same thing as playing Jose in Sept 2017).

So me? I alternate Bruce & Frazier at 1B until the the deadline, then wave them to the bench on Aug 1. Wilmer, Cecchini, Rosario & Guillorme play 3 of 4G in some rotation until they settle in (maybe the Guillorme exposure is done, in which case substitute McNeil in that rotation). When Cespedes returns, he's got to play 8/10 as do Nimmo & Conforto. That leaves 3 of 10G for Kacz & Dominic (hopefully at least one of Bruce/Frazier gets moved before Aug 1 opening mare opportunities for both and in any event, Dom betcomes the FT 1B in Aug). Unless both Frazier & Bruce are gone, Alonso is a sept, call-up.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hobie, I will of course let Reese answer, but to weigh in, Cecchini was unnimpressive last year and so-so this year pre-injury...I just don't have a feeling he will be any more than the next Matt Reynolds.

I think the whole package for Luis G (defense and offense) remains less, perhaps far less, than Ruben Tejada's average performance. Not clear the offense is major league caliber.

Maybe there is trade value in Joey Bats - he has done a lot better than I thought he would and has playoff experience - a team could acquire him cheap and discard him whenever they want.

If I were the Mets, I would not play Cespedes or Bruce again in 2018 unless I was fully confident in their health - the team can lose with them or without them, and without them, they ought to end up losing enough to get a great pick in 2019 - assuming their contracts are unmovable, we need them at 100% in 2019. Maybe we can trade them, if desired, next year in mid-season. I do not want what they have to become debilitating for the rest of the contract by returning too soon.

I like Kaczmarski - but the lack of power is a real concern, objectively.

If Pete does get called up Sept 1, then play him everyday to get him over the MLB adjustment hump and ready to man 1B full time in 2018.

Erica Lay said...

Love this post.

I like Wilmer at 2B. He hasn't been terrible there. We do need to see what Plawecki can do when healthy, but I'd love to see them bring back Mesoraco for 2019 (even if they trade him at the deadline).

Whether they decide TDA or KP (or someone else) is their C of the future, Mesoraco can help bring them along on the defensive side and show them what's needed to prepare on an everyday basis. As an organization, we don't seem to do a good job getting our catchers ready to handle both sides of the ball. I think Mesoraco can help in this regard. And if the chosen starter goes down with an injury or goes into a prolonged slump, Mesoraco would be great option to fall back on.

Reese Kaplan said...

Cecchini is hurt, hence he cannot play in the majors or the minors. He is hitting .294 though, and even though it's the PCL, that's at least a positive.

Kaczmarski should get a look as a 4th outfielder but as Tom mentioned his lack of power and modest speed suggest his potential for full time major league success is likely minor.

Frazier should not be a particularly hard sell. He earns only $8 million and still has power. His deal is for $9 million for next year. For frame of reference, that's less than Juan Lagares will earn. He's not the right fit for THIS team but could be for another.

As I said in the post, both Bruce and Cespedes, even healthy, are close to untradeable based upon what they earn vs. what they provide.

Obviously if Bruce and Cespedes are here they will be inserted into the lineup. However, both are not and there's no telling when they will be.

I was never on the Guillorme bandwagon as I gave the Tejada comparison (and not in a good way) early on when I looked at his numbers. Perhaps another comp would be Wilfredo Tovar.

Robb said...

I would start the lineup with that top 3, tonight. I hate this batting rosario 8th and 9th crap. Just roll with the future. Cant be any worse then the present.

Met Monkey said...

This article was delicious pabulum. Eek-eek! Putting Rosario second will expose just how hard we'll want to push Gimenez down the road. And yes, Wilmer is fine at 2B already! I'd watch, with renewed interest, this telling audition.

Anthony Carnacchio said...

Wilmer is a bench piece

Anonymous said...

Issues and Posts

Here's a "fantasy lineup" maybe for 2019 that I have quickly comwe up with...1B Alonso, 2B McNeil, SS Machado (I did just say fantasy lineup, right?), 3B Thompson or Flores, LF Cespedes, CF Conforto, RF Nimmo, C Realmuto (and not the fake muto)

Still dreaming...

SP: deGrom, Syndergaard, new lefty in the third spot, Wheeler, and maybe Matz in the five slot depending on how he shows rest of the way.

RP: Middle Relief: Drew Smith (if not starting in a sixth potential rotation slot like I have been suggesting lately), Dirty Harry Callahan, Tim Peterson, Tyler Bashlor or Gerson Bautista, Dave Roseboom, Robert Gsellman, and the Closer: Seth Lugo

(I am still working on it)

Also...Ryder Ryan (aka "The Ryan Express 2") is in AA Binghamton now, record currently there is 1-0, 3.72 ERA, 9 strikeouts in 9 innings of work, and a 1.24 WHIP.

Mack's Mets © 2012