As you all know, today Blake Taylor was named as the player to be named later in the Ike Davis deal. I am not writing this to complain about Taylor because actually I was pleasantly surprised by the acquisition: he is a 2013 second round draft pick who was ranked by Baseball America even higher than he was taken by the Pirates. Taylor was taken 52nd overall, and I think he was ranked somewhere in the low 40s by Baseball America. Further, he was ranked in the Pirates top 20 prospects by Baseball America and John Sickels of Minor League Ball this past offseason and the Pirates have a very deep system. Taylor plus the fringe reliever Zack Thornton is a good return for Ike, I think. That being said, I think we should note that in the best, most realistic scenario Taylor is pitching for the Mets in 5-6 years when he is 23 or 24 years old given that he will be assigned to the Gulf Coast League when he joins the Mets this week.
Now, let’s proceed to my real reason for writing:
Not to be negative but the irony of the Mets acting as a feeder team to the Pirates major league club (Marlon Byrd, John Buck, and Ike Davis) is almost too difficult to imagine. None of these players were that great but the irony is kind of striking that a New York team supplies a Pittsburgh team its missing major league parts in exchange for prospects. Can you imagine the Yankees supplying parts to the Twins for their playoff drives (Byrd, Buck) or to fill holes identified by Twins shortly after the start of the season (Ike)? I’m sure at some point when the Crank Yankers were rebuilding they did deal major league players to the Twins or another small market team for prospects, but when was the last time and with what frequency? It seems like the Mets are always sellers at the deadline in recent years because we are always out of the hunt.
I read stuff like (1) this webpage which seems to indicate that the Wilpons need to make two payments of nearly $43 million each in 2016 and 2017 to the Madoff trustee to settlement litigation - http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/60894/wilpons-madoff-settlement-figure-down-to-86m - and (2) transcripts of Alderson’s statements at last week’s press conference with Jeff Wilpon, Niese, Harvey, etc. say that payroll is "unlikely" to increase next year and this stuff makes me cringe.
The Mets are in the media capital of the world – Gotham, the Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps, etc. – yet the team is run like a small market franchise!
Last estimate I saw was that the Mets payroll is the 5th lowest in the National League. How can that be? Again, this is New York! You don’t want to try to buy a pennant winner? Good, don’t – that strategy rarely works and I firmly believe a good portion of the players need to be homegrown. But how can the Mets field the lineup that they’ve had last year and this year?
Let’s derogate and discuss the positives for a minute:
I think some combination of Niese, Harvey, Gee, Wheeler, Synderbloock, de Grom, and Montero could form a formidable rotation in 2015.
Bullpens are very unpredictable but I like the Mets chances in 2015 with Mejia, Parnell, Familia, Black, Edgin, Germen, and some other middle inning arms like Thornton, Mazzoni, and Leatheritsch.
But that lineup: oh, that awful, embarrassing lineup fielded by a New York baseball team with a (relatively) new stadium.
The only three guys in that lineup that I am confident can definitely play for a first division team are Wright, Murphy, and Lagares. Let’s talk about the others:
(1) The jury is still out on TDA.
(2) I’d like to see Collins stick with Flores for awhile and see what he can do although to be honest the early results look to me like he makes a ton of contact – rarely strikes out or even swings and misses – and I’m not sure that bat is major league starter caliber. But like TDA, let’s reserve judgment and let’s give Flores a shot playing every day for awhile. I think I know what Tejada is – a better version of Omar Quintanilla who is a backup SS and 2B on a good team – so let’s see what Flores can do.
(3) Duda is not a good player in my opinion. Do not think that I favored keeping Ike over him and in fact to the contrary I think both of them needed / need to go.
(5) Granderson is past his prime and I have a tough time accepting the fact that he will be on the team for the next 3.5 years. Okay, for at least the next 2.5 years because it is possible that the Mets release him before the final year of his contract begins but almost certainly the Mets will never release him before that time. Oh yeah, and by the way – if you haven’t noticed, former Met Collin freakin’ Cowgill of the Angels has the same amount of fWAR as Granderson this year in 100 or so less ABs with a contract of one year, $500,000. At this point in his career, Granderson would be a 4th OF on a team going to the playoffs and instead he is our premier offseason acquisition.
How on earth does a New York baseball team field this lineup? The Marlins have a lower payroll than the Mets and have done a terrific job of developing young hitters as well as young pitchers. And the Yankees were planning to get under the $189 million luxury tax level for approximately 1.5 years but then realized their cutbacks were damaging the brand and abandoned the idea. The Mets? Jeff Wilpon and Alderson say foolish things like if attendance increases they will be able to increase payroll. Um, no guys, you have that entirely backwards: in Field of Dream lingo, build it and they will come. Meaning: spend some money to put a respectable product on the field and the fans will come. To say, in effect: "We’re going to create a terrible entertainment product and if you guys spend money on it, we’ll make a better product" is downright ignorant. Can you imagine if Sony Pictures created some bad movies with the implicit or explicit caveat that they would produce better movies once we buy tickets or DVDs to the bad movies and they can afford bigger directors, better stars, etc.?
What a joke.
Invest some cash in creating a good product and, if you do, it will reap dividends. Develop, cultivate, and nurture the brand in swaddling clothes and build a winner…and the fans will come.
But the Coupons and Alderson subscribe to a different theory – likely due in large part to these two payments of $43 million owed by the Wilpons in each of 2016 and 2017, see again the above link if you didn’t click it before – so exactly where are we now on June 15?
Like any other small market team that isn’t in contention, we are preparing to divest assets at the trading deadline in the hopes of competing next year. But what are we selling?
(1) The Fat Tub of Goo AKA Bartolo Colon: He’s pitched really well lately, but he turned 41 years old three weeks ago. Will a contender acquire him for the stretch run if he pitches over the next month or so like he has over the previous three weeks? The answer is "probably yes" but the contender won’t give up much when he is due $10 million next year. Why? Because unlike a good starter a team acquires that is under contract for next year and that is seen as a plus, a team has to wonder when Colon will break down. He will be 42 years old next May and might not make it through this season let alone next. So if he’s traded, I don’t see another team is giving up much for him and actually they are saying something to the Mets like "Look, we really don’t want him for next year so if we’re on the hook for $10 million next year then you’re going to have to take a C+ prospect for him."
(2) Dice-K: He’s been good in the rotation and bullpen and can help a contender, but likely only as 9th or 10th pitcher on a good staff. So again – how much is a team really giving up for him?
(3) Bobby Abreu: If I’m going to the playoffs, I’d love to acquire Abreu as a bench player if he continues to sustain this excellence. He takes a lot of pitches and can come off the bench and get you a walk or a hit. But yet again – how much are teams giving up for this guy?
(4) Eric Young Jr. – Honestly, I think the only team that thinks he is capable of being even a part-time player is the Mets. Seems like a stand-up guy and is super fast, but not sure what else he has going for him. If he could field like Endy Chavez and pinch run with that speed? Awesome! But he can’t field very well so his utility is limited.
So what else do we have to sell? Answer: not much. You don’t want to disrupt the pitching staff, and no one wants most of the hitters the Mets have with the exception of Murphy, who the Mets will probably foolishly trade since he is in line for a big payday this coming offseason. And now of these three pieces are yielding much in the way of a return as stated above.
And how pathetic is it that we are talking about the trading deadline on June 15? Show you again where we’re at, which is waiting for the pitching to take the next step and hoping that hitting in the way of Conforto (clearly drafted in the hopes that as a college bat he can work through the minors quickly) and Nimmo and possibly Herrera and Cecchini can help in late 2015 or early 2016.
Please, please don’t delude yourself and write in the comments that the wild card race is tight and the Mets could start clicking on all cylinders and the team makes the playoffs. That isn’t happening – the pitching needs more time and again the hitting is awful. The Mets offense was terrible last year and then they played a joke on all of us and brought Granderson and Chris Young in to fix the problem.
Yeah, to answer your question - I’m pissed off that the team I love is treated so shabbily by its owners. On the remote chance Saul Katz convinced the Wilpons to sell, I would rejoice. If the Wilpons stay, as I suspect, I think the agony continues for some time longer.