Sportswriters around the interwebz have been having plenty of fun poking at the Mets for no other reason besides the fact that they can. Every negative molehill is a mountain and any positive aspect of the team is almost immediately dismissed. For this reason, many "respected" publications have the Mets finishing in last or something of that effect in the National League. Why the Mets are often ranked below a Marlins team that is filled with sloppy defenders and iffy starters, as well as the Nationals, a squad of free swingers and contact pitchers is beyond me, but that's a whole different story. Most believe that Sandy Alderson will be forced to move into a rebuilding phase, and they believe that phase essentially starts and ends with trading Jose Reyes. They look at Alderson's propensity to trade away big name players such as Rickey Henderson (twice, no less), his indifference toward the stolen base, his previous history of not dishing out big contracts, and the Giants', Reds' and Angels' big needs at shortstop as they all attempt to contend for their respective divison titles. In essence, they have put 2 and 2 together and got "trade Reyes" as the answer.
I say horseshit. Reyes is a great ballplayer, and in all odds Alderson sees him for the Top SS that he is, despite the fact that he doesn't love Stolen Bases and Reyes doesn't have a .400 OBP every year. At shortstop, Reyes is still consistently among the best with the bat and is always among the middle of the pack (or better) overall with his glove. There are very few players that could even come close to replacing him, considering Reyes at his worst is still a 3 WAR player, while most prospects will probably fail to perform that well in the best of their seasons. Alderson most certainly knows this, and Alderson won't take dreck in return for Reyes just because he traded Henderson, or because Sports Illustrated has a vendetta against in-depth analysis. No, he didn't dish out big contracts in Oakland, nor did he keep Henderson...but that's because he was in Oakland! His payroll was likely around $20 million, if that, and trading Henderson was the only effective way of accruing any meaningful talent for a team on a shoestring budget. Even Alderson acknowledged that Henderson was one of the best players of all time and if the A's had the means they would've simply kept him.
Recently, Joel Sherman made a bold prediction that the Mets would deal Jose Reyes at the deadline for RHP Homer Bailey and SS Zack Cozart. While I do believe both Bailey and Cozart could be useful pieces (for the Reds), the trade is ridiculously lopsided. Homer Bailey, an ex-top prospect, has come around nicely from busthood by recovering from failed prospect status. He has an upper-80s, lower 90s fastball and a few solid breaking pitches and a changeup to back it up. His command is far from pinpoint and none of his pitches flash any real potential, but on the Mets he'd serve to be a decent 4 starter while Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia breathe down his neck. Cozart has pop and speed but strikes enough to make Austin Jackson blush, and is no cherub-faced youngster as he's turning 26 this year without a lick of MLB experience. Sherman also pushed the notion that the Mets want a "power arm." Why? Is Cap'n Fastball not enough for us? What about Harvey and Mejia? Or even Pelfrey? Furthermore, if we want a power arm, what the hell would we do with Homer Bailey? The Mets could get significantly better talent by simply letting Reyes go to free agency and collecting the 2 first round draft picks he'll almost certainly net. The same policy applies to any trade involving the Mets. The team is already set at catcher, first, and third for years to come, and have plenty of OF talent in the minor and major leagues. Even with pitching, the Mets have a pretty decent crop of "power arms" to complement their solid big league pitching staff. Teams like the Giants will most likely need to part with studs like Madison Bumgarner or Brandon Belt (who would move to corner outfield) in order to get Reyes, and it's pretty counterproductive if you're trading away key MLB pieces in the midst of a playoff run. The Mets won't see any worthy offers for Reyes in the middle of the season unless the Angels cough up Mike Trout and another piece or two. Even then, it's still a tough call.
ON THE OTHER HAND, the Mets do have a trade piece set and ready to go, and it's Big Pelf. Pelf has had a solid tenure with the Mets. Over the past 3 seasons he's been a rock of consistency, repetitively inducing grounders and strutting his stuff as a solid workhorse, with xFIPs usually hovering around 4.40, and a relatively injury-free career so far. However, with new talent coming up in Harvey and Mejia, the possibility of a returning Johan, and potential stopgap talent in Dillon Gee and Mark Cohoon, it makes sense to dangle Pelfrey to the public to see what we could get. Not to mention, Pelfrey has a couple season before free agency, and while his rising cost may be pesky to us it gives us more leverage in a trade. Many mid-season contenders with downed pitchers or a lack of back-end talent in the rotation could seek out Pelfrey and could possibly offer up pretty large returns in exchange for the young, controllable, consistent Mike Pelfrey. Some teams that come to mind...
- The Yankees - Sure, we may have "abused Pedro Feliciano," but when they're in mid-season still starting Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, they're going to be looking for help wherever they can get it. In a perfect world, the Mets could somehow leverage Gary Sanchez into the deal, but realistically getting an Andrew Brackman or Hector Noesi plus Slade Heathcott and Eduardo Nunez would be a very good return for Pelfrey, and even if Cash turns it down the Steinbrenners could accept it.
- The Angels - We all know Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana are machines that pump out results year in and year out without trouble, but let's just SAY that one--or both--of them struggle this season. Pelfrey may be the team's saving grace, but what would the exchange rate be? The Angels have little of interest at the MLB level and their prospects aren't top notch outside of Trout, Segura and Conger, but between Tyler Chatwood, Garrett Richards, Fabio Martinez and Cam Bedrosian, they have plenty of pitchers to include in a deal for Pelf. Brandon Wood and Alex Amarista could also be very nice throw ins. Any of those pitchers plus Wood and Amarista and I'm sold. If we get Jean Segura, though, I'd be ecstatic.
- The Blue Jays - The Jays have a rotation of question marks. Ricky Romero is a great Opening Day starter, and Drabek and Cecil make interesting supporting pieces, but Litsch and Jo-Jo are more likely to fail than not. If they find themselves in the Wild Card fight, they might enjoy a nice ground ball pitcher in the hitter-oriented AL East. Hopefully the Mets could coax Dickie Thon (TEAM DICKEY) and another piece such as Moises Sierra or optimistically Aaron Sanchez out of the Jays.
Anyway, thoughts on trading Pelfrey? It hasn't been too talked about around here, so I'm curious to see the AA opinion.