Reese Kaplan -- Crazy Freddy: His Prices are Insane!


Well, it’s that time of year again when the Blue Light Specials start making their appearance around Queens.  This time last year you could buy fading stars for a mere pittance…wild and/or sore-armed A-Ball relievers for former All-Stars.  Yes, Sandy Alderson got Crazy Freddy out from under some payroll obligations, but did he really improve the team?

If you look at the standings, the answer to that question is a resounding no, of course.  Granted, A-Ball relievers can’t be expected to contribute that same year (or contribute successfully even the following year).  But none of the acquired firemen were considered the surrendering team’s top tier talent.  Thus far for the most part the Mets have learned why:

Gerson Bautista       5.86 ERA between AA/AAA; 12.46 in the majors
Jamie Callahan        9.72 in AAA before being shut down for the season for surgery
Eric Hanhold            4.46 between AA/AAA, though 2.84 in AA suggests he’s hit the PCL wall
Steve Nogosek          3.51 between A+/AA and at age 23 is on a slow road to the majors
Jacob Rhame            3.86 in AAA/6.75 in the majors
Ryder Ryan               2.61 between A+/AA, also aged 23
Drew Smith              2.88 between AA/AAA, 3.00 in the majors

For that the Mets gave up a trio of 30 home run hitters (Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson), plus Neil Walker and arguably the best relief pitcher available in Addison Reed.  That’s a total of six All Star Appearances and 4 Silver Sluggers for two pitchers that seem like they may have a future.

Now Mack has maintained that ever since Sandy Alderson’s cancer hiatus in 2015 that John Ricco has been calling the shots.  If that’s the case (and that he’s the defacto leader of the Three Stooges in the front office), then maybe trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard is not the way to go.  After all, we only got a bunch of magic beans and Crazy Freddy got some money to pay his country club dues, but it sure didn’t seem like fair value.

What’s different this time around is that in addition to the expiring contracts of Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins and Devin Mesoraco, the Mets actually have some players with years of control left that are performing better than average.  They’re headed, of course, by deGrom and Syndergaard, but the rumor mills are ablaze with stories of the Mets preferring to shop Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. 

To that I reply, “Huh??????????????????????????”

The team is already saddled with some contracts that are expensive and immovable such as Yoenis Cespedes ($29 million in 2019 and $29.5 in 2020), David Wright ($15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020), Jay Bruce ($13 million in 2019 and $13 million in 2020), and Juan Lagares ($9 million in 2019 and a $500K buyout or $9.5 million in 2020), Jason Vargas ($8 million in 2019 and a $2 million buyout in 2020), and Anthony Swarzak ($8 million in 2019).  They might find a taker for Todd Frazier and his $9 million obligation next year.  Or they might not.

So if the plan to improve the team is to trade away the younger pitchers earning close to major league minimum in the case of Matz or under $2 million in the case of Wheeler, how exactly is that supposed to help?  Yes, both pitchers have seemingly turned a corner this year in terms of both durability and performance, but their spotty track records suggest the returns for them will be fairly minor.  There’s also been a lot of chatter about trading Wilmer Flores who they don’t even see fit to give a starting assignment.  What exactly are you expecting in return, Manny Machado?  

More importantly, with that much dead money on the books, shouldn’t you be looking instead to parlay the guys slated to come into the bigger payday into a panoply of top shelf prospects around whom to build for the future at bargain prices?

My fear is that a trade of Matz and/or Wheeler means signing more Jason Vargas types or handing the ball to people not yet at their level of development like Corey Oswalt or Chris Flexen.  Yes, Justin Dunn, Nabill Crismat, Anthony Kay and others will get here eventually, but I’m thinking about how bad the team will be in 2019.  (I know, I know…Mack says the goal should be to become competitive in 2020).   

Now it is possible to move the immovable if you get creative.  For example, if you want Steven Matz then you must take Jay Bruce…something of that ilk.  Remember when to get Mike Hampton the Mets also had to take Derek Bell?  Creativity has not been present in the front office since long before Alderson assumed the reins, and if Ricco is “The Man” (especially without even having been handed the “interim GM” title), then I don’t expect it to start now.

It doesn’t necessarily mean all is lost for 2019 and 2020.  However, the wholesale changes we would like to see are not likely happening until a permanent GM is named.  Both deGrom and Syndergaard will be equally attractive chips in the off-season.  What I expect between now and the end of July is much more of the 2017 type of selloff.  The expiring contracts will be shed, the returns unexciting, but by golly Crazy Freddy can certainly buy that gold Apple watch he’s been eyeballing from all the payroll dollars saved.   


Bob Gregory said...

This team is just so disheartening

Gary Seagren said...

Now Reese you gotta admit watching Derek Bell hit around .500 for about a month around the turn of the century was a real blast but those darn schools in Colorado were something special I hear right? All kidding aside we did get D. Wright out of it so all was not lost! Look the best case scenario is to keep our starters and sign Machado as I posted earlier but of course with Jeffy in charge what are the odds ANYTHING will really change and that's what Mack's been screaming about for ages and he right. I guess same old same old works for ownership because why else would they keep doing the same things and it always is about saving a buck NOT about building a rock solid organization.

Mack Ade said...

Come on Reese... you have to declare that Joey Bats hitting a grand slam walk off last night is 'INSANE'

Eddie Antar ( the real Crazy Eddie) was my top client back in the late 1970s. He spent more money in NYC radio advertising than anyone and he built a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He dies penniless years later in Israel.

Look him up.

A fascinating story.

Thomas Brennan said...

Gary, it is amazing to think that with David Wright, over the course of his once-blazing career, has barely been worth the totality of what they've spent.

Next year we'll be great...Cespedes and Juan will pull Cal Ripkens and both play 162 games...or is it 162 innings each, one can never be sure.

We could always call up McNeil, Tebow and Kelenic, then we'd be fine.

Reese Kaplan said...

Of that trio, expect Tebow first because every circus needs sideshows.

Anonymous said...

Google “crazy Freddy Wilpon” and Joe Petrucchio @joeypaints Crazy Freddy drawing comes up! Was also a limited edition 7 Line t-shirt before Meenan got the MLB license and went all Wilpon shill on us.

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