Reese Kaplan -- Go Big or Go Home


One of the key frustrations Mets fans felt during the Sandy Alderson era was the passive approach to reshaping the roster.  The free agents were always the 2nd or 3rd tier in quality.  Trades were seldom executed.  The primary source of new players seemed to be the DFA scrap heap. 

When Brodie Van Wagenen was surprisingly selected to assume the helm, many were not sure what to make of the agent-turned-GM.  He certainly did not waste any time trying to make an impression and during his first off-season made some splashy moves.  The blockbuster one, of course, was the trade of Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and prospects Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gershon Bautista to Seattle for AL Saves leader Edwin Diaz and perennial All-Star Robinson Cano.  In addition to getting out from under the salaries of Bruce and Swarzak, Seattle kicked in some money to help offset the Cano contract.  Right now is not the time to debate the merits of the trade, but it did show creativity and an unabashed flair for thinking outside the box. 

In addition to this move, he also went on a free agent shopping spree, adding Jeurys Familia to set up for Diaz, All Star Jed Lowrie, pitcher Justin Wison and catcher Wilson Ramos.  He also inked a number of major leaguers to minor league deals, including Luis Avilan, Adeiny Hechavarria and others.  He was brash and told the rest of the league to watch out for the Mets.  He traded for J.D. Davis and Keon Broxton.  (You win some, you lose some). 

Now the results obviously haven’t been there, and for awhile I thought it was Sandy Alderson back in the front office as the in-season acquisitions were the DFA duds like Aaron Altherr, Wilmer Font and Brooks Pounders.  Although the club has played somewhat better of late they are still more than one or two players away from true contention.  Therefore, the question is how bold and dramatic should the moves be as the team approaches the July 31st trading deadline?

The Conservative Approach

We’ve all seen this movie before.  Sell off expiring contracts basically for salary relief and B to D level prospects in the hopes that someone outperforms their draft pedigree.  It hasn’t worked out too well except to provide the Wilpons with some extra coinage to spend on whatever when payroll isn’t a priority.  There’s nothing new here that hasn’t been bandied about before – Todd Frazier, Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, etc.

The Middle of the Road Approach

Look to move some of the folks who carry some financial obligation or control beyond this year but whose impact on the roster could likely be sustained.  Wilson Ramos and Jason Vargas would be examples of folks in this realm.

The “Build a Dynasty” Approach

This is not exactly a blow it up and start over.  Trading Noah Syndergaard, for example, would not happen for some A-ball prospects.  The Mets would be looking for multiple AAA and maybe AA players who are ready to contribute a lot sooner than later.  Edwin Diaz would fall into this category as well.  Ditto Michael Conforto or Dominic Smith.  Assume that the walking wounded trio of Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo are off the table.  Trading away some of these folks won’t result in major financial savings right now, but Conforto and Syndergaard are reaching the stages of their careers where they are going to get increasingly costly.  If you could get multiple MLB-ready folks you’d have to at least think about it.  Then the money saved could go to patching holes on the free agent front. 

Frankly, I’m tired of the half measures done by BVW’s predecessors.  As Branch Rickey once famously told Ralph Kiner, we can finish in last place with you or without you.  While the Marlins certainly seem to have a long-term lease on the cellar, the fact is the Mets aren’t all that much better with the constant band-aid approaches.  Finishing 4th instead of 5th with a Jose Reyes instead of testing out a younger player long term only sabotages your draft position.  I’m all for being bold and trying to form a sustainable winner, rather than banking on a lot of elder statesmen to help tide you over and sell season tickets based upon what they once did when they were younger and healthier.  Look at the young nucleus of the Astros or Yankees or Braves and tell me you don’t envy what they have at many positions right now. 


Mack Ade said...

Reese -


I believe every player's whose contract runs out at the end of the 2021 season should be traded now for maxmum return.

I want a killer team of team controlled players beginning OD 2022 and am ready to bite the bullet until then.

Question to you.

In your opinion would the young base of Mets fans support this approach?

bill metsiac said...

I know I am in the minority here, but I still feel that a prospect is just that - - - a "maybe", no matter how attractive.

I remember Alex Ochoa, F-Mart, Alex Escobar, Lastings Milledge, and many others in the "can't miss" category.

I look for young but PROVEN talent who have shown the ability to perform on the big stage.

Tom Brennan said...

Reese, like you've shown, the Mets have struck out as much on deals as Keon Broxton has at the plate - can they succeed in transformative deals? Huge question.

The draft seems successful so far, even with Brett Baty struggling. So that is a positive.

Reese Kaplan said...

Young proven talent doesn't come along every day or carries a huge price tag (think Manny Machado). We know the Wilpons won't spend for the latter, so you take your chances on finding the next J.D. Davis under team control who was only a prospect, too.

Mack Ade said...

Bill -

I appreciate your consistency on this matter.

I really think you missed your calling my not joing our writer's staff here.

bill metsiac said...

Thanks, Mack, but writing long pieces, especially on a regular basis, is just not for me. I'd rather just comment, as I often do.

Eddie Corona said...

Bill I hate to disagree with a well verse knowledgeable Mets fan but outside of F-mart the others were really not thought of as Can't miss... they were just the top prospects in a poor system at the time...

Honestly we almost never had the cant miss guy... Brian Cole comes to mind as some one who was thought of that way...

we honestly dont lose enough to draft the cant miss guys.... Harper as much as he is not the player we expected still met the can't miss hype but we dont lose enough to have a shot at them...

the last time we drafted 3rd was Phil Humber, we missed on him but if we lost 2 more games it would have been verlander...

point is we never have the cant miss guys in our system

bill metsiac said...

I guess you don't remember Ochoa, who was rated as the top Orioles prospect when we got him.

How about d'Arnaud, who was supposed to be the #1 catcher prospect at the time.

As for F-Mart and Escobar, they were sought-after by multiple teams but called "untouchable" by the Mets.

And though I don't follow other teams' farms, I'm sure there have been many "can't miss" prospects who never cleared the hurdle to the "Show".

Reese Kaplan said...

There are also suspects like T.J. Rivera and Jeff McNeil who were unheralded and flourished when given the chance.

Anonymous said...

On young talent I say this: You never know until they get here from the minors, what you actually have. But do not by any means give up on any player with a decent proven MiLB skill set after too short a period of time to assess him properly.

Observations from this past weekend/Tyler Bashlor and Edwin Diaz

Watching him closely in his most recent outing, I see that Tyler has a body (up/down) movement as he is releasing the ball in his mechanics. I assume that is a motion to stay down with his pitch, but my question is simply whether or not it helps him throw strikes, or would he better off smoothing out that movement? I see a closer in Tyler and that is why I am asking this question.

In reliever Edwin Diaz the Mets have a very promising hard throwing late inning reliever with a proven track record illustrating what he has done from the 2018 season, no fluke. There is absolutely no reason to think that he cannot or will not achieve this again. Edwin is just coming into his own groove again, and I think that trading him anywhere would be a big mistake for the NY Mets especially in light of his current age, contract, and 100 mph fastball.

You won't get back a pitcher as good as he is about to be, in my opinion and finding relievers like Edwin is not such an easy task. There are other relievers here now that might more benefit by a trade. No organization wants to have the reputation of having a turnstyle mentality personnel department.

Anonymous said...

JD Davis has landed. And he is ready now. He is a player who does better as he plays more, obviously. Let him.

Anonymous said...

The NY Mets could probably stand to shore up their top two MiLB teams with some restocked talent.

In all honesty, I don't think it was obvious how much talent they gave up to acquire Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays. And I don't think that SP Justin Dunn or OF Jarred Kelenic (traded in the off season) were automatically "MLB level cannot miss players" either. We'll see. Maybe.

Right now, the Mets have AA SP Harol Gonzales and David Peterson as their top two young starter prospects in their system. However, Peterson is still out injured so that his development has been put on hold for now.

One reliever that I find interesting for the NY Mets bullpen is AA Adonis Uceta. I might bump Uceta and Gonzales up to AAA Syracuse soon to see how they do so that they are ready for a possible call up should the need arise later on for the NY Mets.

Anonymous said...

The NY Mets should go all out to make a wild card this season. 5 1/2 games behind the lead NL team is not a lot. After all, it is the 50th anniversary of the 1969 World Championship NY Mets and the magic could be back.

Anonymous said...

On Amed Rosario I say this. Contrary to many's belief, Amed Rosario will only continue to grow and become better. He has not been here long enough to reach any decisive conclusions on his talent level. Amed's ceiling is very high and I fully believe he will reach that ceiling.

Mack's Mets © 2012