Reese Kaplan -- Three Quick Hits About the Mets


Oh, Mickey, You’re So Fine...or Are You?

Mickey Callaway apparently lit up the room, hopefully in a better way than Jeff Torborg once did.  His resume spoke volumes about his ability to wrest the most from a pitching staff, and though early in the year many were already questioning if what he’d done in Cleveland was merely smoke and mirrors, the fact is that he’s got quite a few pitchers operating on all cylinders like never before.  Jacob deGrom is off to his best start ever, Steven Matz appears to have found himself after a very rough start, Zack Wheeler’s reeled off a few good ones now, Seth Lugo has been awesome, even Jason Vargas has seemingly rediscovered some of his former glory, and Robert Gsellman has been fantastic.  That much you have to give him.  He was a pitching-first manager who, together with Dave Eiland, are delivering on that front.

The second thing we heard in the beginning was what a strong communicator he is and how that was a stark contrast to his predecessor.  In the press conferences and in the meetings with the daily press throughout spring training he seemed to have that down pat as well, but once the adversity hit in terms of injuries and poor hitting, he all of the sudden seemed a lot less forthcoming and forthright with the beat reporters. 

What we haven’t heard is how well he’s communicating with his players, but as evidenced by some of the walking wounded, it appears that no one is staying closely abreast of what’s going on when the players are outside the clubhouse.  David Wright and T.J. Rivera were fighting for the “Where’s Waldo?” mantle and until recently Yoenis Cespedes threw his hat into the ring for this game as well.  We’ve heard nary a peep about Wilmer Flores and Anthony Swarzak only recently returned from his stint in the NY Mets own witness protection program. 

There was also much ado made about changing the culture…did that mean no longer burning out relievers?  Nope, Gsellman is on pace for well over 100 IP.  Does that mean kids getting to play when veterans aren’t getting it done?  Well, do the names Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes mean anything when the likes of Dom Smith, Luis Guillorme and others sit?  Even Brandon Nimmo couldn’t get steady ABs until injuries to Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes left the manager with no other choice.  Is it no longer all about the long ball, and have both speed and defense become a part of the arsenal?  No, the more things change…

Dom Smith vs. Peter Alonso

It hurts sometimes when you have to go through the mental contortions necessary to understand the rationale behind a seemingly illogical position.   Why would you promote the man with the pedestrian stats from AAA when there’s someone crushing the ball so prodigiously at AA that pitchers have simply stopped trying to give him anything at all to hit? 

Well, if you’re watching the success of former first round pick Brandon Nimmo this year, there were plenty who wrote him off as a bust or a failure before he ever got the opportunity to play regularly.  Consequently the same naysayers who are ready to kick Dom Smith to the curb in favor of the flavor of the week, Peter Alonso, may not understand the method behind the madness.

First, if Smith succeeds this year, what a lovely problem to have – two slugging first basemen to contend for a role in 2019.  Suppose he succeeds but only against right handed pitching…that’s still a grand problem with either Wilmer Flores or Peter Alonso (or even Todd Frazier) ready to step in to face the lefties.   

On the other hand, suppose Smith shows he is again overmatched in the big leagues…then you still have Plan B in Peter Alonso waiting in the wings and likely getting to pad his already enviable stats in the hitting friendly PCL when he gets promoted to fill Smith’s former slot there.  If you instead force fed Alonso into the big leagues prematurely, it could play a number on his head and you have remember he’s not had all that many pro ABs due to a myriad of injuries. 

Lastly, the all-important service time clock will start up this season if they promote Alonso.  We all know how the decisions on the Mets are made more often about money than about a desire to win.  Delaying him means additional cheap years of control before the arbitration and free agency periods arrive.   This week a “high level official within the Mets organization” said there’s no way, no how Alonso plays in New York during 2018.  Methinks I know the reason why.

Reshaping the Roster

As of June 11th the Mets 40-man roster stands at 39 which includes the recent expulsion of Adrian Gonzalez and the swapping of AAAA players Jose Lobaton and Ty Kelly.  Now the Mets have a chance to do something to help their roster but it would be at the expense of some financial flexibility, so it won’t happen.  If a minor league ballplayer is on the 40-man roster and must hit the equivalent of the 60-day DL, the player still occupies a spot on the 40-man roster.  However, if they promote a player to the majors, then send him to the 60-day DL then that spot is freed up for someone else.  Reliever Jamie Callahan sidelined since April 22nd is going to undergo shoulder surgery and is likely done for the season.  If the Mets allow him to do so as a Las Vegas 51, then he occupies one of those spots.  If they promote him and then disable him, he would not.  Of course, that would burn an option for 2018 and thus is likely not going to happen even if they could sneak it past the MLBPA. 

Anyway, with at least one spot open on the 40-man roster and a few other folks with tenuous grips at best (I'm looking at you, Marcos Molina and you, Hansel Robles), there is room to add Jeff McNeill to help with the current need with an ailing Asdrubal Cabrera and a possible future need with Todd Frazier theoretically getting some time across the diamond at 1B.  


Jack Flynn said...

The Smith promotion over Alonso makes all the sense in the world, for the reasons you've stated and because Alonso has come back to earth since May 1. Don't get me wrong - Alonso has all the makings of a big leaguer, but there is nothing wrong with letting him own Double-A for the rest of the summer and then reward him with a late-season visit to Vegas.

Bob Gregory said...

There is something wrong with it if the major league team does not have any better options.

Is Dom Smith a better option?
I guess that would be better answered by scouts observing from outside the organization.

Mike Freire said...

To be fair, we don't know how much impact Sandy (or I guess I should say Jeff Wilpon) have had on the information coming out of the clubhouse and the manager.

I agree that Dom should get first crack based on their positions within the organization, but I wouldn't hesitate to move Pete along if Dom struggles (which is likely).

I am floored that Jose Reyes still occupies a spot on our roster......I would cut him tomorrow and give Jeff McNeill a shot. He can't do worse then Jose, at this point and it's not like we are in contention.

Adam Smith said...

I’m pretty sure that Alderson’s comments about Reyes were made in the spirit of not humiliating him while they try to talk him into retirement. McNeil is clearly the better option at this point.

Thomas Brennan said...

Jose just visited Ponce de Leon. No fountain of youth

Reese Kaplan said...

He'd be better off visiting Leon Spinks to find someone punch-drunk enough to think he still belongs on a major league roster.

Eddie Corona said...

21 year old Albies (Atlanta), 20 year old Acuna (Atlanta), juan Soto 19 years (nationals)

and we are worried about our 23 year college 1st basemen being able to handle the Majors...

there is zero excuse not to promote Alonzo... He is the best option and his time is now to sink or swim...

Met Monkey said...

A Corona for Corona. That is the correct sensibility. Please no overthinking this relatively simple game. It's best to play your org's best for best chance to be best. If he fails, well, ok.

Thomas Brennan said...

Eddie, I want ALONSO in Queens by the end of July, sooner if the wheels come off. McNeil too.

Thomas Brennan said...

Dom is a better fielder who has hit much less than Alonso this year. They have to ve hoping to jolt Smith back to life. He hit much better in AAA last year.

Reese Kaplan said...

McNeil is only 26. Can't be rushing these things, ya know. When je gets his AARP card then he can sit on a major league bench and watch graybearded Jose Reyes get the starting assignment.

Mack's Mets © 2012