If you are unfamiliar with the term "TINSTAAPP," it means "There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect." That means that you are to always be wary of pitching prospects due to the high volatility of their health. See: (cringe) Matt Harvey. While it’s nice to have such a surplus of pitching prospects that the New York Mets organization hasn’t seen for quite a while, relying on them to hit the majors like Dwight Gooden and Matt Harvey have is, well, dumb. That doesn’t happen a lot. Like, ever. Even expecting them to move up and perform like Zack Wheeler isn’t smart, which is why the Mets need to realize what their strengths are and move some pieces to acquire real major league talent. Sitting on pitching prospects with little impact talent waiting for them in the majors won’t make you a contender.
Daniel Murphy: $5.8M
Ike Davis: $3.5M
Dillon Gee: $3.4M
Bobby Parnell: $3.2M
Eric Young Jr.: $1.9M
Lucas Duda: $1.8M
Ruben Tejada: $1M
These all seem obvious to me. The only one I question is Turner, and he’s a pinch hitter miscast as a utility player. Ike is a gamble, but every other player should be worth their keep in performance or upside.
Rangers Receive: Carlos Gonzalez and Lucas Duda
This one may be a tough sell all around. Profar was a consensus top ten prospect heading into this past season and was rated as the number one prospect by both Baseball America and John Sickels. The Rockies get not only the top prospect from a year ago, but a shortstop at that. Sprinkle two young and successful ML starters and another top 100 pitching prospect, it seems this could get it done.
The Rangers’ perfectly average offense (14th by wRC+ and 16th by fWAR) gets a huge boost from Gonzalez. While losing Profar hurts their team’s depth, they still have all infield positions that Profar would play locked down for a few more years. I went with Duda in the trade over Ike Davis because Mitch Moreland has been a good defender at first for them and they don’t need another lefty platoon man at first. Well, that’s what Duda is, but he’s best served as a DH. His performance this year was superior to Lance Berkman’s and is desirable for the Rangers moving forward.
Troy Tulowitzki is the best shortstop in baseball. He’s an elite hitter and an elite defender. He’s not likely to move off the position any time soon and his low strikeout rate will easily transfer teams, so don’t worry about the un-identifiable "Coors Field Effect." Now, a lot of AA readers are (very) wary of Tulowitzki’s injuries. It isn’t pretty, but it’s similar to David Wright’s injury history. Over half of his injuries have been of the freak variety. This year, Tulo broke a rib making a diving play at short. In 2011, Wright broke his back making a diving tag. Tulo missed time after getting hit by a pitch on his wrist. Wright suffered his concussion after being hit by Matt Cain. Tulo also missed time after lacerating his hand from a broken bat after breaking it in the dugout. (This could be conceived as grissiony if he had played through the injury. He cares!)
Even if he is prone to injury, his performance on the field will make up for the missed time like it always has. He’d likely become the best shortstop in franchise history by the time his contract is up and, with David Wright, be the best left side of the infield in baseball. Bold statements, but it’s easy to forget how good this guy is between playing in Colorado and his injuries.
I know I talked about prospects. Technically Wheeler isn’t one anymore, but I went with him over Noah Syndergaard because he’s already performed at the major league level, and also because I like Thor better moving forward.
Now, I tried to keep the moving parts to a minimum for the AAOP exercise, but it’s likely more minor leaguers would need to be included in this deal. I didn’t want speculate much on the secondary pieces of the trade. I also don’t know the Rangers farm system well enough to make any calls there. It may not be enough for the Rockies at face value but Profar’s value far exceeds any piece the Mets can give the Rockies. We would need another team to make this deal happen.
Grace yourself with Tulowitzki's offensive and defensive prowess. Ignore the song.
Mets Receive: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Red Sox Receive: Daniel Murphy
It may be a stretch to assume Murphy can play a solid third base immediately, but we're going to go ahead and do just that. Originally, I traded Flores, but if our payroll is set at 80 million, that wouldn’t work out. I'd like to think the Wilpons have the flexibility for a few more million, but not for the AAOP. Bradley fills center field for us and will live up to his billing as a future solid all-around player. He will!
Jackie Bradley will be doing this a lot more with the Mets.
Free Agent Signings
Marlon Byrd: 1/6M
LaTroy Hawkins: 1/2M
Two old friends come back. They’re both gambles because of age, but ones that will only reflect on the 2014 season.
Well, it’s time for desperation and this is it. It’s likely one of these guys shows enough in spring training to get Zack Wheeler’s spot in the rotation and for the purposes of this AAOP, it’s going to be Lannan. The other two head to Vegas. Lannan gets up to 2M in incentives he likely won’t reach and McDonald and Matsuzaka will get a similar deal with some sort of option to opt out. The deal will go as 1/2M on the payroll.
Why the hell not? Without it, we’ll be hearing chants of "Bring back Dad!" in the stands this year. Sandy can’t have that.
Roster and Budget
|1B||Ike Davis||$3.5 Million|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki||$16 Million|
|3B||David Wright||$20 Million|
|RF||Marlon Byrd||$6 Million|
|CF||Jackie Bradley Jr.||$490K|
|LF||Eric Young Jr.||$1.9 Million|
|INF||Ruben Tejada||$1 Million|
|SP||Jon Niese||$5.05 Million|
|SP||Dillon Gee||$3.4 Million|
|SP||John Lannan||$2 Million|
|RP||Bobby Parnell||$3.2 Million|
|RP||LaTroy Hawkins||$2 Million|
|Johan Santana||$5.5 Million|
|Jason Bay||$3 Million|
(A quick WAR estimate puts this team at 85 wins with everyone performing well.)
Some won’t like that I’ve left Eric Young, Jr. in the lineup. Really, playing time will be split close to even with Lagares. I had to pick one, though. Lagares can back up in center and right, something Young can’t really do. And Young wasn’t as bad as a lot of people think he was. He was a positive defender in left field by both UZR and DRS and was worth nearly 2 fWAR in a Met uniform.
Our rotation takes a huge hit with the loss of Matt Harvey and subsequent trade of Zack Wheeler, but I believe it’s a good enough bandage before Noah Syndergaard comes along in 2014. (But, as they say, TINSTAAPP!) Torres will move back to the bullpen before Lannan, Matsuzaka, or McDonald. Hopefully Pomeranz shows enough to get a serious look. The final piece of the rotation is easily the weakest part of the team. The bullpen should be better than last year’s with the addition of Black and Familia.
The bottom line is this: you can’t sit on your pitching prospects. You have to turn them into something greater, especially with the Mets lacking solid position players. Tulowitzki, injury history and all, is the best shortstop in baseball. This trade, however feasible, moves our youngest and best ML-ready arm for one of the better players in baseball. I like Thor better, so I also believe we keep our best young arm.
This won’t win us a World Series in 2014, but it sets us up with two of the best players in baseball moving forward. In this AAOP’s universe Harvey comes back as one of the better pitchers in baseball and Syndergaard emerges as one himself. If not, we’ll have to go fishing for something better than John Lannan on the free agent market. Without Tulowitzki we’d have to find that star position player on the market as well. Unfortunately, that player doesn’t exist. So, TRAID TEH CORE! (Of pitching prospects.)
Thanks for reading. Thoughts on how the Tulowitzki trade is dumb are welcome.