FanPost

AAOP: Rethinking Moneyball

Overview (Diatribe): My approach to the AAOP is to apply an outside the box strategy to fielding the best possible Met team. I don’t see the Mets actually going in the direction I lay out below. That said, I have tried to structure the trades and signings I suggest through a realistic valuation.

I like Sandy Alderson. He is a smart guy, and I highly respect him as negotiator. He assigns a value to a player and does not budge from that evaluation. This has resulted in many favorable trades and some quality signing (not to mention avoiding some overpriced players). I would rate him among the best GMs in the league in this area. That said, I have become more and more concerned about Sandy’s philosophy in building a team. I’ve come to the conclusion that Alderson is an ideologue. Fundamentally, he has adhered to the same model as he employed back in Oakland. Power and working pitch counts is paramount, strikeouts, speed, and defense are inconsequential. This approach has been often described as Moneyball. However, Moneyball was not about a strict model for building a baseball team, but rather it was about ignoring prevalent thought and exploiting inefficiencies in the market. Moneyball requires fluid thinking and pragmatism.

Sandy’s approach made perfect sense twenty years ago, but I believe it no longer has merit in today’s game. I think we saw the result of this in 2016 Mets. The Mets had talented (not to mention well paid) hitters, but collectively the offense was 25th in baseball in runs scored. Today’s dominant pitchers exploit passive hitters that swing for the fences. Due to this reality, the Mets were a team full of guys that hit 25 homers, but drove in merely 55 runs. I am very disappointed that Sandy has been so rigid in his dogma. This era belongs to unorthodox and balanced team’s like Kansas City, San Francisco, and Cleveland. While power is important, we need a balanced offense that can score runs in a variety of ways.

So, with this in mind, this is how I correct our course:

Personnel Changes:

Fire Ray Ramirez and Training Staff: I have no clue if Ray is responsible for the constant slew of injuries or not, but sometimes you have to evaluate employees based upon results. The injury record year in and year out has been horrendous. Let’s give somebody else a try.

Fire Kevin Long: It generally is not fair to blame a hitting coach for the results of the hitters, but in this case I make an exception. As mentioned above, the approach to hitting on the 2016 team was terrible. To be frank, it lacked intelligence. The game situation seemed to have no influence on the approach. I’d look at Edgardo Alfonzo for the job. No clue how he is as a coach, but he always struck me as an intelligent hitter.

Tender Contracts

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

Non-Tender

Rene Rivera

Josh Edgin

Free Agency

Sign Greg Holland to 2 year deal worth $20MM

There certainly is risk here. Holland is coming off Tommy John. However, his workout went well and the upside is tremendous. I think it will take two guaranteed years to get him.

Sign Jerry Blevins to 2 year deal worth $9MM

Jerry has earned his keep. He is a dependable LOOGY with a track record.

Sign Alex Avila to 1 year deal worth $3MM

Avila is years away from the fantastic start to his career. However, he is still good defensively, has some pop, and can take a walk. Hopefully, he can push d’Arnaud to rebound from a terrible 2016.

Sign Kelly Johnson to 1 Year $2MM

Signing him saves the B level prospects we would inevitably trade for him in July.

Sign Clayton Richards to 1 Year $750k minor league contract

Always need depth.

Trades

Trade Matt Harvey, Brandon Nimmo, Hansel Robles, and Wuilmer Becerra to the Arizona Diamondbacks for AJ Pollack

Despite the additions of Greinke and Shelby Miller, Arizona’s pitching was atrocious last year. This deal has a fair amount of risk as both Harvey and Pollock are coming back from serious injuries. Pollock was a star player in 2015, so I’m not sure if the Diamondbacks do this deal. However, two years of Harvey, two top ten prospects, and a good, cost controlled, reliever represents good value.

Trade Michael Conforto and Jeurys Familia to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gregory Polanco

Polanco started the year very strong, but an injury to the shoulder tanked his second half. With Melancon gone, Pittsburgh needs a closer. Although he is likely facing suspension, Familia is still a top closer. Conforto is still talented and a good candidate to bounce back. You broke my heart Jeurys. You broke my heart.

Trade Jay Bruce to the Baltimore Orioles for Mychel Givens

Baltimore needs to replace Chris Davis’s power bat and have depth in the bullpen. Givens has emerged as a very good young reliever.

Trade Lucas Duda to the Houston Astros for Michael Feliz

After flopping in his first cup of coffee in the Majors, AJ Reed might not be ready for prime time. Lucas Duda provides the Astros with insurance. A former starter, Michael Feliz did well as a reliever. He racks up the strikeouts and can eat multiple innings.

Lineup:

CF AJ Pollock ($6.76MM)

SS Asdrubal Cabrera ($8.25)

RF Gregory Polanco ($1MM)

1B Neil Walker ($17.2MM)

LF Curtis Granderson ($15MM)

3B David Wright ($20MM)

C Travis d’Arnaud ($1.7MM)

2B TJ Rivera ($500K)

Bench:

SS/3B Jose Reyes ($500K)

CF Juan Lagares ($4.5MM)

3B/LF Kelly Johnson ($2MM)

1B/2B/3B Wilmer Flores ($1.9MM)

C Alex Avila ($3MM)

Commentary: Neil Walker has obviously never played first, but I’m going to ask him to try. I think TJ Rivera deserves an extended look. If that experiment does not work, you will end up with Flores starting at first with TJ on the bench. This lineup doesn’t have the power of last year’s team, but you could still end up with seven players over 20 homers. Pollock and Polanco bring much needed speed and defense.

Starters:

RHP Noah Syndergaard ($500k

RHP Jacob deGrom ($4.5MM)

LHP Steven Matz ($500K)

RHP Robert Gsellman ($500K)

RHP Zack Wheeler ($1MM)

Bullpen:

RHP Addison Reed ($10.6MM)

RHP Greg Holland ($10MM)

RHP Mychal Givens ($500K)

RHP Michael Feliz ($500K)

RHP Seth Lugo ($500k)

LHP Jerry Blevins ($4.5MM)

LHP Josh Smoker ($500k)

Commentary: While the loss of Harvey is felt, this still can be a dominant rotation. Depending upon health, I might consider having Lugo the 5th starter with Wheeler going to the pen. I wouldn’t bother naming a closer. My bullpen usage would be all about using matchups and putting in the best available reliever in the most critical spots.

Total Budget: $117.16MM

Conclusion: I ended up $23MM below budget. There is another $40MM coming off the books in 2018. Hopefully this provides some flexibility to try and extend Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matz.

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