FanPost

AAOP: No more half measures, Sandy

Rebuilding an organization from the ground up isn't exactly an easy process and Sandy Alderson deserves some credit for not making any especially terrible moves in the three years since he's been here (except for maybe Reyes).

However, the big league team has been left to rot for the most part and while building for the future is important, having a team that isn't totally inconsequential in mid-August also has it's importance. 2014 needs to be a year where a significant amount of money is spent and the team shows improvement on the field. Sandy should've taken a full measure in 2013, but instead he went with a half measure. No more half measures.

Half_measures_medium

Current Payroll Commitments for 2014:

David Wright: $20,000,000

Jonathon Niese: $5,050,000

Johan Santana buyout: $5,500,000

Jason Bay dead money: $3,000,000

Vic Black: $500,000

Travis d'Arnaud: $500,000

Zack Wheeler: $500,000

Anthony Recker: $500,000

Josh Satin: $500,000

Carlos Torres: $500,000

Scott Rice: $500,000

Andrew Brown: $500,000

Matt Harvey: $500,000

Juan Lagares: $500,000

Total: $44,000,000

Tender Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Eric Young Jr., Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Justin Turner.

While I don't plan to keep all of these players, it would be stupid to non tender them. Gee, Murphy, Duda, and Parnell are all average to above average at their positions, whereas EY Jr. and Justin Turner are solid bench pieces. Davis and Tejada are strictly trade chips.

Justin Turner: $800,000

Ruben Tejada: $1,000,000

Lucas Duda: $1,800,000

Eric Young Jr: $1,900,000

Bobby Parnell: $3,200,000

Dillon Gee: $3,400,000

Ike Davis: $3,500,000

Daniel Murphy: $5,800,000

Total: $65,450,000

Non-tender Scott Atchison and Omar Quintanilla

These are both fairly obvious moves. Both were awful in 2013 and have no place on a 2014 Mets roster that aspires to be

-----------

Now, $65 million our of a possible $82 million payroll doesn't leave the team with all that much room to spend. That means...trading time!

1) Trade first baseman Ike Davis to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever Brandon Kintzler

Kintzler_davis_medium

The Brewers got absolutely horrid production out of first base in 2013. Collectively, Brewers first basemen hit .206/.259/.370, good for a .629 OPS which was the lowest in baseball in 2013.

Ike Davis had another awful first half in 2013, hitting just .165/.255/.250 with 25 walks and 73 strikeouts. In the second half, things turned around as he hit .286/.449/.505 with 32 walks compared to 28 strikeouts. He only had 105 AB after the break as he missed the final month of the season with an oblique injury.

Kintzler was an excellent bullpen piece for the Brewers in 2013, posting 77.1 innings of 2.69 ERA/2.54 FIP/2.93 xFIP baseball while striking out 58, walking 16, and posting a 57.4% groundball rate.

For the Brewers, it would be a chance to sell high on a reliever who is almost 30 years old and get a first baseman who had hit 32 homers in 2012. For the Mets, it's a chance to get any kind of value for a player they have no interest in keeping, and it gives them a good bullpen piece for 2014.

2) Trade second baseman Daniel Murphy and pitching prospect Rafael Montero to the Seattle Mariners for shortstop Brad Miller

Brad_miller_medium

Brad Miller is a 23-year-old shortstop who hit .334/.409/.516 in the minors and was called up by Seattle at the end of June. He hit .256/.318/.418 and put 1.7 fWAR in 335 PA. He's not as heralded of a prospect as fellow infielder Nick Franklin and his numbers are probably PCL inflated, but he does have potential.

So why does this make sense for Seattle?

A) Mariners second baseman as a whole, hit .229/.299/.340 this season, a slash line which included Franklin.

B) Nick Franklin did not perform well defensively at second (-9.6 UZR/150 if that floats your boat).

C) Jack Zdurencik is a terrible GM and desperate to keep his job.

The last part is key. Seattle went 71-91 in 2013 after an offseason in which he went dingers crazy yet Jack Z received a one year "extension." Extension is in quotes because a one year extension for a GM essentially cements lame duck status for them. The GM who traded John Jaso for a DH will likely be willing to do whatever it takes to keep his job.

With this in mind, it's a deal that makes sense for Seattle. Murphy would provide a sizable upgrade over Franklin at 2B and Franklin could be moved to shortstop where his bat would play better.

3) Sign outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a 5 year, $85 million deal

Choo_medium

Yes, Choo is going to turn 32 next season, and yes, he's a poor defender in right. However, he's also a career .288/.389/.465 (135 wRC+) and put up a .285/.423/.462 line for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.

One of the concerns about Choo is his lack of production against lefties. Choo put up an 81 wRC+ against southpaws in 2013 as compared to a 183 wRC+ against righties. That would be a little concerning except he still had a .347 OBP against lefties, and is a career .243/.340/.340 (92 wRC+) hitter against them. When you get on base 34% of the time against your weaker side, you are not a platoon player.

His defense is definitely not an asset, but it will benefit from moving to left field.

Choo may not be a 5 WAR player his entire tenure, but given his excellent eye at the plate and the fact that he'll be playing the least difficult of the three outfield positions, there's a good chance he maintain a 3 WAR player right up until the end of his contract.

The long-term risks have to be considered, but given the lack of MLB ready outfielders in the system and the fact that David Wright isn't going to be elite forever, risks have to be taken and signing someone like Choo is definitely a risk worth taking. The more important thing to consider is that the "ideal" players some would rather spend this money on don't exist, don't make it to free agency, and when they do, they get monstrous contracts.

The contract would be structured as such:

2014: $12 million

2015: $18.25 million

2016: $18.25 million

2017: $18.25 million

2018: $18.25 million

4) Sign second baseman Mark Ellis to a one year, $2.5 million contract

Mark_ellis_medium

After the trade of Murphy, the Mets will need a second baseman. The trade market for second basemen is pretty bare, and players like Omar Infante will get paid an amount of money that isn't payroll friendly for my team. With that said, I target Mark Ellis as a solid, one year stop gap.

Ellis has a club option with the Dodgers for $5.75 million for next year, but after the Dodgers signed Alexander Guerrero, that option seems likely to be declined.

Second baseman as a whole hit .257/.316/.376 for a 91 wRC+ in 2013. Ellis has been about league average with the bat the last two seasons, hitting .258/.333/.364 in 2012 and .270/.323/.351. That's an offensive downgrade from Murphy, but he isn't a blackhole offensively. Unlike Murphy, Ellis (still) plays above average defense, and that makes him more than a solid contributor at second.

5) Sign starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to a one year, $7 million deal

Colon_medium

One of the more underrated contributors to the Oakland Athletics during the last two seasons, Bartolo Colon has thrown 342.2 innings of 2.99 ERA while striking out 208 batters and walking just 53. His success is somewhat hard to explain as his K% is one of the lowest in baseball, his main pitch is a 90 mph fastball, and his groundball rate is slightly below league average. His home park, while spacious, is not the sole factor for his success as his road ERA over the past two seasons is barely higher (3.13) than his home ERA (3.04).

Colon is an excellent fit for the Mets because his age will prevent him from getting more than a one year deal, and his previous PED use will depress his market value enough where signing him becomes viable for the Mets. Colon probably wouldn't put up a 2.65 ERA for the Mets but he would provide above-average value, and unlike someone like Josh Johnson, can be reasonably relied upon to throw 170 innings or so.

6) Trade outfielder Juan Lagares to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Matt Joyce

Matt_joyce_medium

I take that step. I TRADE THE UZR SUPERSTAR.

My reasoning follows as such. Juan Lagares, for all his defensive prowess, didn't hit a lick in 2013. A .632 OPS and 75 wRC+ is unacceptable, even from center field. As a whole, center fielders had a 99 wRC+.

UZR, for one year or any number of years, isn't very reliable. While Lagares did post a 2.9 fWAR, that was almost entirely from his defense. Lagares' bat should improve in 2014 but probably not to a great extent and it won't overcome the likely drop in his defense. He'll have value, just not as much. This is the time to maximize his value.

This is where the Rays come in. No team in the league emphasizes defense as much as the Rays do, and in 2013, their center field defense took a big hit when they went from B.J.Upton to Desmond Jennings.

For the Rays, there is incentive for them to trade Matt Joyce. He starts getting expensive this year, as he projects to make $3.7 million in arbitration and is scheduled to become a free agent after 2015.

From 2010 to 2012, Joyce was a solid contributor to the Rays, posting a 131, 126, and 116 wRC+. In 2013, Joyce still posted a 112 wRC+, but his season was maddeningly inconsistent to say the least. In May, he posted a 174 wRC+ and in August, it was 189. However, the four other months were 107, 92, 78, and in September, 17. Oddly enough, Joyce posted a BB% of over 14 percent in his worst two months (July, September). For his career, he's walked in 11.6% of his plate appearances.

Joyce's bugaboo is that he's a platoon player. He's destroyed right-handers to the tune of a 130 wRC+ in his career, but against lefties, it's just 67.

With a Joyce trade, the Rays could move Jennings back to left field, place Lagares in center, and exercise their option on David DeJesus and play him in right. The Rays would likely relish having a cost-controlled, defensive asset.

A Lagares trade would hurt the Mets defense but it gives them a significantly better bat against right-handed pitching. Joyce and Andrew Brown could combine to form a very effective outfield platoon.

7) Trade pitching prospect Jacob DeGrom to the Miami Marlins for outfielder Justin Ruggiano

Exploiting another cheap (yet infinitely dumber) Florida franchise, this is where we target the short-term replacement for Lagares. Justin Ruggiano hit just .228/.296/.396 in 2013, which equated to a 92 wRC+. He is arbitration eligible and scheduled to make $1.8 million, and the Marlins are probably not too keen on keeping him with Jake Marisnick, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton in the fold. Ruggiano was an excellent hitter (146 wRC+) in 2012 which likely had a lot to do with his .401 BABIP. However, his BABIP this year was just .260, lower than his career number of .289. Other things to like about Ruggiano in 2013 were his ISO of .175, only slightly behind that of Shin Soo Choo. There's also the fact that Ruggiano was a significantly better hitter away from Marlins Park (.738 OPS) than he was hitting there (.629 OPS).

Ruggiano isn't spectacular, but unlike Lagares, he should provide league average offense at worst, and be adequate in center-field.

8) Trade outfielder Eric Young Jr. to the Detroit Tigers for left-handed reliever Darin Downs

No team in the big leagues ran the bases worse than the Detroit Tigers according to Fangraphs. Anecdotal evidence would seem to support the notion too when you consider that they employ Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, and Torii Hunter, none of whom are fleet of foot. An American League team like the Tigers could make great use of Eric Young Jr. as they would be able to utilize his one positive skillset, his speed, without having to expose his bat or defense all that often.

In exchange, the Mets would receive 28-year-old lefty Darin Downs. Downs had a 4.84 ERA in 2013, but struck out 37 and walked only 11 in 35.1 innings. He also held left-hander batters to a .629 OPS. His bugaboo is that he only throws about 90 mph, and that right-handed batters had an .892 OPS against him.

9) Move Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen

Given what Jenrry Mejia showed as a starter last season, this could be viewed as an odd move. However, Mejia made just four starts before getting injured. Given that he's thrown over 100 minor/major league innings in a season just once, it would probably be unwise to expect him to make even 25 starts this year. Moving Mejia to the bullpen allows the Mets to limit his innings over the course of an entire season, and it gives them an option in case if (when) one of the starters get injured. It also gives them a potentially dynamic bullpen arm (for real this time).

10) Sign starting pitcher Colby Lewis to a one year, $3 million deal

To fill Mejia's role in the rotation, former Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis is signed. Lewis, 34, was a rotation stalwart for the Rangers from 2010 until July of 2012 before he tore the flexor tendon in his elbow. Lewis was supposed to come back in the middle 2013 but he missed the entire season due to bone spurs in his hip.

It's unclear what the state of Lewis's arm is after a year and a half off, but given the excellent peripherals he put up during his time with Texas (8.14 K/9, 2.40 BB/9 over 506.1 innings), it's worth a shot.

11) Sign outfielder Andres Torres to a one year, $900,000 deal

The bench needs someone who can play center field and not be a total blackhole offensively. Torres, even at this stage of his career, fills that role.

12) Sign Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Tyler Colvin, Grady Sizemore, Jamey Wright, Shawn Camp, Brent Lillibridge and Jamey Carroll to minor league deals

Ted Lilly hasn't been healthy in two years, but he should provide decent depth at Triple-A, along with Aaron Harang. Jamey Wright, the solid veteran doomed to forever receive minor league deals, posted a 3.48 xFIP and will be the first guy on call in Triple-A. Tyler Colvin and Grady Sizemore are options in case any of the outfielders get hurt, and the same applies for Carroll/Lillibridge and the infielders. Camp, at this point in his career, is filler.

13) Send Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores to AAA

There were teams in need of a shortstop, yet Ruben Tejada's value was so low that it made zero sense to just trade him for a Double-A arm. Wilmer Flores goes down too because the bench is full and he needs to play every day.

25 Man Roster (plus others)

POSITION

PLAYER

SALARY

ROLE

Catcher

Travis d’Arnaud

$500,000

Starter

Catcher

Anthony Recker

$500,000

Backup

First base

Lucas Duda

$1,800,000

Left-handed platoon

First base

Josh Satin

$500,000

Right-handed platoon

Second base

Mark Ellis

$2,500,000

Starter

Third base

David Wright

$20,000,000

Starter

Third base

Justin Turner

$800,000

Backup

Shortstop

Brad Miller

$500,000

Starter

Left fielder

Shin Soo Choo

$12,000,000

Starter

Center fielder

Justin Ruggiano

$1,800,000

Starter

Center fielder

Andres Torres

$900,000

Backup

Right fielder

Matt Joyce

$3,700,000

Left-handed platoon

Right fielder

Andrew Brown

$500,000

Right-handed platoon

Right-handed pitcher

Zack Wheeler

$500,000

Starting pitcher

Left-handed pitcher

Jonathon Niese

$5,050,000

Starting pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Dillon Gee

$3,400,000

Starting pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Bartolo Colon

$7,000,000

Starting pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Colby Lewis

$3,000,000

Starting pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Bobby Parnell

$3,200,000

Relief pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Vic Black

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Left-handed pitcher

Scott Rice

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Brandon Kintzler

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Carlos Torres

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Left-handed pitcher

Darin Downs

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Right-handed pitcher

Jenrry Mejia

$500,000

Relief pitcher

Shortstop

Ruben Tejada

$1,000,000

AAA depth

Outfielder

Jason Bay

$3,000,000

None (released)

Right-handed pitcher

Matt Harvey

$500,000

None (injured)

Left-handed pitcher

Johan Santana

$5,500,000

None (buyout)

Total

31

$81,150,000

Wins

Conclusion

My plan at first seems a little odd, but I have some reasoning for what I did. For years, people have talked about "pitching and defense", while ignoring the fact that the Mets have been deficient on so many areas of offense. It was impossible to add well great bats at every position, so what I tried to do was make sure every position had a league average bat, with a few positions being above average. Over the course of an entire season, league average vs below replacement level proves to be a huge difference.

The rotation lost a huge piece in Matt Harvey but with Wheeler, Niese, Gee, and Colon, you have four guys who all have a good a chance of providing an ERA under 4 and 2 WAR a piece. Colby Lewis, if he proves himself to be healthy, will add some nice depth at the end of the rotation. The bullpen itself isn't exactly flashy, but it's one that could be sneaky good.

The biggest question about this AAOP will probably be the trade of Lagares. Yes, Lagares is 24 and cost-controlled, but someone with his bat only has so much upside and it would be very unwise to act like his 2013 defensive numbers are representative of his real defensive talent level or that it's something that will carry on long-term. Selling high in this case is the best way to go because his value will never be higher.

I can't say exactly where this team will end up in 2014, but it should be much, much better than the 2013 incarnation and it's still well set for the long run.

Aaop_end_medium

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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