First off, this should be a FanShot.
Now seems the perfect time for Sandy to trade Duda. Well, not right now, because he's injured, but at the 2013 trade deadline. Some of you may want to give him more time, and many of you will not like what I propose getting for him, but here's the arguments:
- by fWAR, Duda (-0.3) has been less valuable to the Mets this year than Ankiel, Quintanilla, Turner, Recker, Buck, and 8 pitchers as hitters.
- Duda is currently playing far above his major league career norms in both offense (123 wRC+ vs. 115) and defense (-12 vs -49). Read the first bullet again. SSS, I know, but do you really believe he is consistently capable of topping a 123 wRC+?
- Duda had a monster year in 2011 playing OF half of the time and 1B the other half, putting up a 136 wRC+. He was worth less than a win (0.8) over half a season's PAs.
Conclusion: Duda will never contribute to a winning Mets team if he's playing OF.
The Mets basically have three options: give Duda the 1B job and deal/demote Ike, stash Duda at AAA for 1B depth, or TRAID. I advocate the latter. Here's my argument:
- Since his breakout year in 2011, Duda has racked up negative WAR in more than 700 PAs. If you prefer to exclude defense, thinking of 1B, he put up a 101 wRC+ last year in 450 PAs.
- I do not like his defense at 1B--doesn't pass the Eye Test. UZR is split on him at 1B, giving him about scratch in 2011 in 323 innings. Since then, in an admittedly small sample, he has put up a -60 UZR/150. Small sample, but damning. 1B is not the most important defensive position, but the Mets are building around pitching, and defense should be more critical than to most teams.
- Duda cannot play anywhere but first and DH.
- Ike Davis has a higher ceiling. Good Ike is a 3 WAR player (has already done it). His defense isn't what it was before the ankle injury, but he is still a good defensive player. He has better minor league and major league offensive numbers.
- Duda at first is one more block to finding a position for Wilmer Flores.
- The Mets need depth at Shortstop, badly. Yes, they need legit outfielders, but they have plenty of depth there now. SS is Q + injured ineffective Tejada + unready Torvar + Anderson Hernandez.
Conclusion: Trade Duda to an AL team for SS depth. The Mets are literally better off releasing him than playing him in LF, and he's not a long-term solution at 1B, but he does have some trade value.
Emotional Appeal to Good Feelings Caused by Recent Winning: Think about how much better it has been watching an OF of Lagares, EY2, and Byrd. How must the pitchers feel? When it comes to marginal players, Sandy should take the Hippocratic market inefficiency: First do no harm.
So, who needs a young cost-controlled DH who can hit above major league average, take a walk, and slug some long HRs? Searching team stats for the DH position by WAR gives you the following teams in need: Tigers, White Sox, Yankees, Rays.
I didn't do an exhaustive search for possible candidates, but for an example, I want someone like Sean Rodriguez from the Rays.
He's had a career 84 wRC+ or so with the bat. He is listed as a 2B, but the Rays played him at SS primarily in 2011 and 2012, and his UZR/150 there seems to be around a -5. You know, not great. But he's put up 5 fWAR in his career, which is 6 fWAR more than Duda.
Would the Rays make that trade? Rodriguez is 27 and making $1M. Fangraphs had this to say about him:
Sean Rodriguez has been supposed to provide power and solid offensive value for the last few years, but he disappointed greatly in 2012, and may not be much more than a punchy left-hander killer with lots of position eligibility, and hardly worth rostering.
He's pretty far down on their depth chart and making more than league minimum. Duda would help them (Rays DHs have a 97 wRC+). If we have to throw in an org arm I'm fine with that too. Don't care too much about nailing down the specifics. The basic idea is that Lucas Duda, likable as he is, has proven that he would be more valuable to the Mets if he were a competent backup Shortstop.