Mike Freire - A Question of Depth


The title of this article may cause you to think of a variety of topics that have very little to do with baseball.  Perhaps your current spouse may have indicated that you lack emotional depth during a dispute?  

Or, maybe you were actively engaged in an outdoor project only to dig a little too deep and puncture a water line, making a horrible mess and possibly destroying your significant others' favorite plants?  Heck, maybe the latter occurred shortly before the former?  I am only speculating of course about something that happened to "a friend".

Getting back on track, the point of this article is specific to the Mets' roster and what some would perceive as a lack of depth at certain positions.  One of those positions would be a player (or two) who can fill in at different positions around the infield.

What gave me the basic idea was an article that I read recently that mentioned the Mets as a possible suitor for the services of utility player Jason Kipnis from the Cleveland Indians.  In addition to pretty much every player on the Indians' roster suddenly on the Mets' radar (the MIckey Callahan connection, I am sure), the Kipnis addition to the rumor mill was interesting.

I like the idea of a player like that in a Mets' uniform, but that is before you investigate the cost and roster ramifications of such a move.  

For example, Jason Kipnis will play the 2019 season as a 32 year old who is in the last year of his current contract (not counting a team option).  He is a solid veteran, but he is also scheduled to make 16.5 million dollars (which includes a 2.5 million dollar buy out of the listed option) which is likely why he is available in a potential trade in the first place.

Furthermore, that is the type of compensation you would expect from a star level player who is a viewed as a "starter".  Kipnis has made close to 1000 appearances over his career, but when you subtract pinch hitting and/or designated hitter appearances, he has 958 games played in the field.  Of that number, 933 of the listed appearances were at SECOND BASE, with 25 additional opportunities in CENTER FIELD.  

In other words, he has played over 97% of his games at one position so is he really a utility player?  Oh and in my estimation, I think we already have our starting second baseman in Jeff McNeil, right?

Adding Kipnis would likely come fairly cheap due to his contract, but is that a wise use of available resources?  Especially a position that we already have covered with a young player (i.e. cost controlled) who does not need to be blocked, per se.  

I am a fan of adding quality depth to our roster, but I don't feel that Kipnis is the answer to this question.  So, if he is not an option, then who is left on the current roster?

TJ Rivera
Gavin Cecchini
Luis Gulllorme
Wilmer Flores

***This is off the most current 40 man roster, which may or may not be accurate.

Rivera is likely out for a bit longer from his surgical recovery, Flores has knee issues and may get non-tendered, Cecchini is a huge question mark, as is Guillorme at this stage. Unless we schedule a reunion with Jose Reyes, things are looking a bit light in the middle of the diamond (I know, be careful what you wish for).

While this isn't on the same level as the needs in the bullpen, it should be on the list of "to do's" in my humble opinion. 

So, who would you choose?

Marwin Gonzalez, anyone?


bgreg98180 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bgreg98180 said...

Kipnis is an add-on player at this point in his career.

The Mets need to establish a core that includes 4 or 5 young position players with at least 1 or 2 of them being All-star caliber players before worrying about add-on players

Tom Brennan said...

I honestly think TJ Rivera will be ready the first day of spring training, unless someone has heard otherwise. He had post-surgical discomfort last season and was shut down, but that was in mid-July. More than half a year between then and the START of spring training.

He was on a tear in July 2017 just before he got hurt (18 July games, .306/.348/.500, with just 5 Ks in 66 plate appearances). If he returns at that level, he and McNeil could really be troublesome for other teams to handle.

Wilmer Flores being here, or not being here, will be a big issue as to who plays where and when utility-wise. He could be insurance as a righty at 1B if Alonso struggles at all in 2019. I don't know whether Wilmer has plateaued as a modest player asset, or if he is ready to take it to another level. His stats the past 4 seasons show remarkable non-variability and we likely would get about .265/.315/.450 from him.

I go back to Todd Frazier - he was injured and only had 136 ABs in May/June/July, but he hit .191 in 136 at bats in that stretch and .150 in 99 ABs after August. Sorry, I do NOT pencil him in at 3B - I hope TJ is healthy and fully back, as I would rather have his .300 bat there. Non-hitting is how Jake won 10 games in arguably one of the 3 best-pitched seasons any Mets pitcher has ever had.

bgreg98180 said...

TJ Rivera was a very nice feel good story when he came up. It was nice to see a hitter actually making contact and getting hits.

Did you realize though, that TJ has recently turned 30 years old?
At best he is a temporary fit.

bill metsiac said...

Gonzalez would be good, but very costly and in demand. I don't want Jose back, unless he'd take a MnL dealand play upstate until/unless needed.

If we're talking reunions, either Cabby or Walker would fit the bill. I lean to Cabby because of his SS ability, though of course he should not be a starter there. Both are SHers, especially useful as PHers because of that.

Reese Kaplan said...

If they're looking to add a veteran "utility" type then they might want to look at the previously considered Josh Harrison. The Pirates bought out his option for $1 million and he's a FA. He has logged 397 games at 2B, 266 at 3B, 110 in the OF and even 37 at SS. Unlike Flores or Rivera or Cecchini, he's also actually stolen as many as 19 bases in a season.

Mack Ade said...

Morning all -

Depth is very important, especially to a team with a history of in-season injuries.

I have no problem with Guillorme and Rivera being my UT infielders. Both can play multiple positions and are defensive first.

I don't expect Flores to be tendered, leaving Bruce as our back-up first baseman.

Reese Kaplan said...

I understand the thinking on Wilmer, but he has the Justin Turner II vibe going for him...

Tom Brennan said...

Bob, I agree on TJ Rivera as a feel good story - to a point.

He hit everywhere in the minors, then added some power by bulking up.

He hit when called up in 2016, in a pressure cooker situation.

He hit until his elbow hurt in 2017.

He simply has always hit - and should continue to do so.

Even at hitting age 30, he is 3 years the junior of Todd Frazier, who has been in (serious?) decline for 2 years.

If I ran the team, I'd silently be thinking of TJ and not Frazier as my starting 3B, but waiting to see how the spring goes.

Do we really want to see Frazier start and hit like Reyes, which might very well happen in 2019? Frazier could hit .195 - which is the type of gaping hole that destroys a team's offense.

I am unwilling to have this team be in the bottom 10 teams in hitting again. Enough of that! This team's goal should be modest and simple, in terms of offense: somewhere in the top half in runs and batting average. Is that too much to ask?

Put McNeil and TJR in the daily line up, and the team's average being in the top half becomes very likely. Probably the runs part too. Because hitting (or not hitting) is contagious.

bgreg98180 said...

I agree whole heartedly in the expulsion of all players that maintain a below .270 avg.

I am not willing to accept that the Mets are unable to bring in better talent to meet this goal.

Ideally Rivera would be a bench player.
Frazier would never have been picked up.

Mike Freire said...

I like Josh Harrison, Reese.......I wanted him last year as our primary player at second base. I don't think he is better then Jeff McNeil at this point, but he can play all over the diamond and he possesses speed and contact hitting ability, which is valuable off the bench.

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon Mack:

Depth is a good reason why you don't want to trade it for a single player.
Money allows you to build up depth.
Gives your prospects time to mature.
Is also the reason why I don't want BVW to trade for Realmuto
Sign Ramos catching is somewhat settled for atleast 2 seasons.
Bullpen needs 3 pieces. Believing Gsellman and Lugo are staying ,id prefer 2 leftys and 1 righty. Leftys Miller and Britton and the righty Kelvin Herrera.
There is a decent amount of depth in the infield and outfield,
With Cespedes and eventually Gimenez coming late 2019.
However id like the team to sign 1 FA infielder Neil Walker a professional hitter and a switch hitter


Dave Schulps said...

I love his bat, but Rivera is not a "defensive first" player. In fact, using Rtot/year stats, (basically, defensive runs saved projected over a 135 game season) he was sub-Wilmer at virtually every position he played in 2016 and 2017 (the only exception was first base in 2017, where he was +6 over league average and Wilmer was +5). Granted, for TJ all of this is based on very, very small sample sizes, but all his stats confirm what I saw, which is that he's not a regular third baseman and would be a big step down defensively from Frazier. Like Wilmer, you can hide him at first, but Wilmer has fared far better that TJ at second base (+5 in 2016 and -7 in 2017, compared to TJ's -15 in 2016 and -24 in 2017). Again, maybe the stats are flawed, maybe his sample size is just too small (and I'll be the first to admit, they may be), but this conforms to exactly what I see when I watch him in the field. The conundrum with Rivera is if you keep him on the bench to have his bat ready for the late innings in close games, that's precisely when you don't want him in the field after he pinch hits.

Mack's Mets © 2012