This past season was a roller coaster ride for the New York Mets, that much is for sure. We had a great month of April, followed by two bad months in May and June, after which we put up a .500 record in July and a slightly above .500 record in August. We then managed to sneak into the Wild Card Game after establishing a torrid September pace, only to lose a generally competitive game by a 3-run homer in the top of the ninth inning off of our All Star closer.
There were many reasons that our season was so inconsistent, so up-and-down. Our team underwent countless drastic injuries, something that was mostly bad luck, but also an issue that I’m going to try my best to solve in this AAOP. We had very little depth to fill the voids left by all of our injured players, and thus replenishing our bench is another goal of mine. Additionally, our bullpen—aside from Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins—was very inconsistent and lost us quite a few games down the stretch. Finally, probably the biggest problem with the 2016 Mets was the fact that a majority of our batters were all-or-nothing – you’d either see them strikeout or hit a home run. While home runs are exciting, a team that solely relies on the long ball to score is destined to run into quite a few slumps and issues over the course of a season.
Note: I’m writing this AAOP just days after Big Sexy has bolted for the Atlanta Braves (pour some out for our fallen homie) and just minutes after news broke that Neil Walker would accept his Qualifying Offer. Originally, I was planning on re-signing Bartolo Colon and letting Walker walk (no pun intended), but that is obviously no longer the case. I was also originally planning on incentivizing retirement for David Wright (with a F.O. job, retirement of his number, and paying off his contract over a span of 15 years) to add flexibility, but I ultimately decided against it.
Arbitration and Non-Tenders
- Lucas Duda- $6.725MM
- Addison Reed- $10.6MM
- Matt Harvey- $5.2MM
- Jeurys Familia- $8.7MM
- Zack Wheeler- $1.0MM
- Travis d'Arnaud- $1.7MM
- Wilmer Flores- $1.9MM
- Jacob deGrom- $4.5MM
Rene Rivera was a massive defensive upgrade over the struggling Travis d’Arnaud last season and filled an important role but, truth be told, he’s little more than an average defensive catcher. Add in the fact that he’s a bad hitter and would be owed $2.2MM, and there’s just no reason to carry him on the roster. I’ll look to solve the dilemma behind the plate elsewhere.
Josh Edgin, while he was a great lefty specialist before undergoing Tommy John Surgery, struggled mightily after returning midway through the 2016 season. He saw his velocity dip, and he was no longer an effective or consistent option out of the pen. While I do believe that there’s a chance Edgin rights the ship, he simply doesn’t have a role on this team, as I plan to bolster the sh*t out of our bullpen.
Fire Ray Ramirez and the rest of the training staff
Ray Ramirez has been the head trainer for the Mets since 2004 and in seemingly every year since then, our roster has been ravaged by injuries. Sure, bad luck plays a significant role in all of these injuries, but Ramirez and his staff have done nothing to help fix this. The amount of mistakes he has made over the years, from sending Ryan Church on a plane with a concussion in 2009 to responding poorly to injuries to Matt Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes in 2016.
Replace Ramirez and his staff with a forward thinking group of trainers who use the most modern medical advancements
Unfortunately, I’m not well versed on all of the different trainers in the MLB, so I have absolutely no idea who fits this description. However, I do know (as a result of my basketball fandom) that a modern training staff can play a significant role in reducing injury risk. Over the years, the only training staff I’ve ever heard be continually praised in just about any sport is that of the Phoenix Suns. Led by head trainer Aaron Nelson, who has been in Phoenix since 2000, the Suns have been among the least injured teams in the NBA for years. Nelson’s use of data, constant surveillance, and the most modern medical research has revolutionized his team’s approach to training, medicine and rehabilitation. Under Nelson, Phoenix has been hailed as the "Fountain of Youth," seeing late career resurgences from Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal, among many others. While basketball is an absolutely different sport, the principles of a good training staff are consistent across sports – which is why the Mets new training staff should be modeled after that of the Phoenix Suns.
Bye, Bye Brucey!!!
There are three facts about Jay Bruce:
- He sucked during his tenure with the Mets
- We need to dump his contract to have more flexibility to improve this offseason
- Contrary to Fact #1, he is NOT a bad baseball player
The first two facts help explain why the Mets MUST trade Bruce this offseason, while the third one shows why he still has some considerable trade value.
I believe the White Sox will absolutely be interested in Jay Bruce. While Adam Eaton is a superior right fielder to Bruce, the Sox benefit most from putting Eaton in center field. In that case, they currently have Avisail Garcia as their right fielder and Matt Davidson as their Designated Hitter. Garcia has struggled mightily over the past few seasons and is a legitimate non-tender candidate, and Matt Davidson does not fit the bill as a good (or even average) DH. Having Bruce—who new manager Rick Renteria can put at either of those positions and get plus-offense—on a one-year, relatively inexpensive deal would jump start the White Sox offense. Not to mention, the left-handed Bruce can help even out the very righty-heavy Chicago lineup.
In Carpio, the White Sox are getting our 10th best prospect, a shortstop with good speed and defense to go with a bat that many think and hope will ultimately develop. The White Sox don’t have a single middle infielder in their top-15 prospects, so Carpio would definitely be an intriguing option for them. Corey Taylor is a powerful relief pitcher who we took in the seventh round of the 2015 Amateur Draft. With the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2015 and the St. Lucie Mets in 2016, Taylor looked extremely impressive, putting up a sub-2.00 ERA and more than 7.5 SO/9 in each season. His impressive stuff in the Arizona Fall League this year is only adding to Taylor’s value, and another reason why the White Sox should be interested in acquiring him.
It certainly makes sense for the White Sox to trade Nate Jones now, as his value is at an all-time high and they already have multiple young, intriguing pieces out of the pen. The right-handed reliever is only 30 years old, comes at a dirt-cheap cost, and likely won’t hit free agency until 2021. While he has shown great stuff since his MLB debut in 2012, Jones is coming off his best season, a season in which he put up a 2.29 ERA and was equally effective against lefties as he was against righties. Adding Jones to the Mets would give us a GREAT seventh inning guy – further bolstering the back end of our bullpen—and would serve as an insurance plan in case Jeurys Familia is suspended, forcing Addison Reed to close out games.
A Three-Team Extravaganza
While the A’s aren’t currently contending and thus don’t have much use for an expiring, expensive bat, Granderson would still provide a draw for fans to come to A’s games (attendance has long been a concern in Oakland) and provides versatility, as he can play either center or right field. Getting Adrian Morejon also sweetens the pot, incentivizing them to take on Granderson. Morejon is the Padres’ sixth best prospect, a talented, young Cuban southpaw who has been compared to a "young Jon Lester." Morejon, who pundits believe can be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the MLB, would also help solve the dearth of left-handed pitchers in the A’s farm system.
The Padres do this deal because they get two intriguing prospects out of one prospect who is far away from the MLB and an expendable relief pitcher. Gavin Cecchini is still the Mets’ No. 3 prospect and had a great season in Las Vegas in 2016. Cecchini, a current shortstop who may end up being a second baseman, would fix a significant problem for the Padres – neither of their current middle infielders (Luis Sardinas and Ryan Schimpf) should be considered long term fixes, and they don’t have any truly exceptional middle infield prospects, either. Casey Meisner (the former Mets prospect) is the A’s 24th ranked prospect, a guy who was taken in the third round of the draft just two years ago. Despite taking a step back in his development in 2016, Meisner still has quite a bit of potential, and can be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter as soon as 2018.
For the Mets, this deal is a no-brainer in my eyes. Sure, trading Cecchini stings a bit, but he doesn’t have much of a role on the Mets in the foreseeable future, what with Walker, Cabrera, Flores and Reyes currently ahead of him, and Amed Rosario being the team’s consensus shortstop of the future. Curtis Granderson has been a great leader for the Mets over the past few seasons, a guy who has tons of power and draws a lot of walks, but his fielding has diminished immensely, and his contract—while there’s only one year left—is still very expensive. In return, you get Stephen Vogt – who is a major upgrade as both a hitter and fielder over Travis d’Arnaud—and Brad Hand – a reliable left-handed reliever who can even start from time to time if the need presents itself.
Sign Yoenis Cespedes to a Five-Year, $125 million deal (20, 23, 26, 28, 28).
Cespedes Good. Cespedes Exciting. Cespedes Like Mets. Mets Like Cespedes. Mets Need Cespedes.
Add Another Stud Outfielder
Sign Dexter Fowler to a Four-Year, $60 million deal (13, 15, 15, 17).
Fowler is still just 30 years old and is coming off of an All-Star campaign in which he played a major role in bringing the Cubs their first World Series title in 108 years. He is a solid power hitter and will hit for a very good average. Fowler doesn’t strike out much and walks far more than the league average. Additionally, he is a TRUE center fielder who would drastically improve our defense and brings very good speed and baserunning. To me, signing Fowler is a no-brainer as it helps the Mets on both sides of the ball.
Fill Out Depth Roles
Sign Jerry Blevins to a Two-Year, $9 million deal.
Jerry Blevins has been great in each of his two seasons with the Mets. We need to keep him in our bullpen as he is not only a very good overall reliever, but could also serve as a top of the line lefty-specialist if needed.
Sign Coco Crisp to a One-Year, $2.5 million deal.
Crisp can play either left or center field effectively, so he’s a versatile option off the bench. He also provides good speed, power hitting, and contact hitting out of a reserve. Not to mention, Crisp has played in two World Series’ (one as recently as this season with the Indians) and has been hailed as a great clubhouse presence – this veteran leadership is necessary after trading Curtis Granderson.
So now, let’s check out what we have in store…
This team has accomplished all of my pre-established goals for the offseason. I drastically improved our bullpen, kept our excellent starting pitching intact, and added position players who serve as both offensive and defensive upgrades. I managed to do all of this while staying in range of my budget of $140 million. After adding up all of the salaries on the 25-man, I've come to a total payroll of $140.6 million.
In my eyes, this team is a sure upgrade over the team we put together last season – and that team still managed to win a Wild Card spot. Now, with an improved lineup, a super-bullpen, and (hopefully) having all of our starters nursed back to full health, we should be competing for not just a Wild Card spot, but the NL East Division Title.
This is the team that will take us back to the World Series. THIS is the team that can get it done.