Evaluating Sandy's Off-Season OF Choices

These are trying times in Metsville.

A club that had played .500 ball over a 138 game stretch has suddenly slid into a 3-8 funk featuring a punchless offense and shoddy defense that's thwarted some solid starting pitching.

While it probably isn't - it feels like a season on the brink. And GM Sandy Alderson is sending clear signals he's not going to sit idly by as Rome burns. First, he jettisoned Ike Davis, then promoted Wilmer Flores, chopped Kyle Farnsworth, demoted Josh Satin, moved Jenrry Mejia to the pen and today fired a hitting coach and no one's favorite reliever du jour.

All these moves make sense to me but are they just tinkering at the margins? Did Sandy blow it in the off-season? He failed at two of his stated objectives: upgrading short stop and clarifying first base. I largely give him a pass on both.

Spring injuries made it impossible to showcase the 1Bers for a trade and the start of the regular season forced him into choosing to showcase or try to win . . . though which option fit which player was never entirely clear.

There also weren't a lot of great SS options. Peralta's contract terms include big risk down the road and Drew was clearly asking for more than anyone would give him. His settling for a pro-rated $14m/1 year deal shows how badly he and his agent misread his value in the current marketplace.

But Sandy did make two big moves intended to add punch and shore up the outfield. How'd he do?

At first blush it looks like a clear 1-1 count. But the true measure doesn't look at the performance of his choices in a vacuum but compares them to other options he could have pursued. So let's have a look.

There were fifteen players that were signed as free agents in the off-season that have played in the outfield this season. Two of them, David DeJesus and Raul Ibanez have served primarily as DH's and have only logged 85 and 69 outfield innings respectively so we'll take them out of the mix leaving us with thirteen guys that have spent most of their time in the outfield.

Two of them were signed for seven year mega-deals that I believe it's fair to say virtually all regulars in these parts thought were too big a risk for the Mets to chase. But here's how they've peformed so far:

Player Team Qual Offer Yrs Amount wRC+ fWAR Def 14-13 wRC+ OF Innings
Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees Rejected 7 $153.000MM 93 0.4 -3.2 -20 386.2
Shin-Soo Choo Rangers Rejected 7 $130.000MM 158 1.4 -6.7 7 273.1

There's a lot of season left to play and a lot of years left on those contracts but right now one is looking great while the other is a big disappointment. So if you'd decided to play in the elite category you had as good a chance of going bust as hitting blackjack.

The next tier also features two players both of which New Yorkers of either allegiance have now had a chance to see up close. These players are clustered because they got deals longer than 2 years.

Player Team Qual Offer Yrs Amount wRC+ fWAR Def 14-13 wRC+ OF Innings
Curtis Granderson Mets Rejected 4 $60.000MM 103 0.8 0.9 6 397.2 LF / RF / CF
Carlos Beltran Yankees Rejected 3 $45.000MM 90 -0.1 -5 -42 197.2 RF / DH

And here we have our first way to evaluate Sandy. If you accept he simply didn't have the opportunity to offer a mega-deal the choice he made is holding up pretty well. Despite a putrid April Curtis Granderson has thus far been a much better contributor and value than Carlos Beltran. With just shy of 1/3 of the Mets season in the books (50 games in/54 is 1/3) Granderson is an above league average hitter that is on pace for a 2.4+ fWAR season which at a $7m/fWAR valuation would create surplus value for the 2014 campaign. So given the shopping aisle he was in, score one for the Sandster.

His other choice of course was Chris Young. Does that mean anyone demanding 2 years was automatically off the table per an ownership dictum or was it Sandy's choice because he didn't value any of the 2 year guys? We'll never know so let's look at all of them. But as we do remember that Sandy would have had to outbid the deal they took - so add some dough to the deals they eventually got if you wanted them on the Mets.

Player Team Qual Offer Yrs Amount wRC+ fWAR Def 14-13 wRC+ OF Innings
Marlon Byrd Phillies No 2 $16.000MM 126 0.6 -2.8 -10 408.2
David Murphy Indians 2 $12.000MM 119 0.6 -1.6 46 387
Nate McLouth Nationals No 2 $10.750MM 48 -0.3 -0.1 -52 204.1
Rajai Davis Tigers No 2 $10.000MM 106 0.5 -4 18 325.2
Nelson Cruz Orioles Rejected 1 $8.000MM 162 1.4 -7.9 40 229
Chris Young Mets No 1 $7.250MM 85 -0.2 -3.6 3 257
Mike Morse Giants No 1 $6.000MM 145 0.5 -6.5 67 254.1
Ryan Sweeney Cubs 2 $3.500MM 36 -0.5 -2.1 -74 125.2
Grady Sizemore Red Sox No 1 $0.750MM 73 -0.2 -1.4 -21 311.2

This table features nine players including Chris Young. And a higher per cent of this group, 5 of 9, has managed to wRC+ above league average than the top four guys as valued by the off-season market. Unfortunately Chris Young is not one of those five.

Interestingly, only one of these nine, despite some having gaudy offensive output, is on pace to exceed 1.8 fWAR for the whole season. Three of the best performers, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz & Michael Morse are boasting wRC+ measures respectively 46, 40 & 67 points higher than last season. In other words it would have been very difficult to expect the offense they posted so far and it wouldn't be surprising to see them regress closer to last season's numbers as the summer passes.

Despite atrocious defensive numbers Cruz is still on pace for 4.2+ fWAR. Of course, that number would be lower if he were in the NL playing the outfield every day. He's got 40% more PA's than Chris Young while having logged fewer outfield innings. Add another 170 outfield innings to Cruz' stats and his defense would go from looking bad to hideous.

Still, his bat has been monstrous thus far. Sandy seemed to be in the market for players that could help patrol Citi Fields vast expanse as well as hopefully help with the bat. Given that, it's hard to imagine Nellie or Morse was ever on his radar.

Four of the nine have bombed so far - Grady Sizemeore, Ryan Sweeney, Nate McLouth and of course Chris Young.

The other positive contributors are the previously mentioned David Murphy, Marlon Byrd, Rajai Davis and another scary-bad defender Michael Morse. Murphy and Morse are hitting way above their 2013 levels, Byrd is 10 points lower, while Davis is sporting a sustainable 18 point jump from his 2013 wRC+.

So while Young has been a disappointment, signing one of the other options would have been equally filled with risk. The guys that look good are largely hitting better than they can be expected to maintain and two of them have been huge defensive liabilities despite having skipped about 1/3 of their clubs OF innings.

To those that peg the club's fortunes to the Wilpon's lack thereof it's worth noting that when you look at outrfielders there were only five that signed elsewhere for more money than Young got. Ellsbury & Beltran cost a lot more and both have been equally bad or worse. Choo got a lot more and lived up to his long deal so far. Cruz & Byrd were basically the same price as Young. So if you're playing the "too cheap to win" card I'm assuming you wouldn't have been pleased with either Cruz or Byrd. So throwing a lot more money at the OF problem would only have given us a 1 in 3 shot of doing better than we did.

So while Sandy may have missed on Chris Young there weren't many other clearly better options.

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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