Even the most optimist Met fan would admit this season is over after falling 8.5 games back of first place. Waving goodbye to the 2020 season, means Sandy better unbutton his fancy cufflinks from his Harvard JD days, roll up his sleeves, and read this dossier on how to get the team back on track.
1) Bye bye J.D Davis, Brandon Nimmo (from CF), Michael Conforto, James McCann (I wish, but I think we’re stuck), Jose Peraza, Brandon Drury, Dominic Smith *** (depends on DH ruling), Jeff McNeil (honorable mention)
See a pattern here. I’ll help you out. None of these players are any good (Yes, even Conforto and McNeil. Inconsistent and extremely streaky outfielders with power are as easy to find as stashed Pop Tarts in your pantry. More on McNeil).
Attention to Sandy, players who suck at playing multiple positions do not make them versatile. Brandon Nimmo is not a center fielder. J.D. Davis is not a 3B. Dominic Smith is not an outfielder. Stop trying to skimp on the James McCanns, Jose Perazas and Brandon Drurys of the world. Paying a 30 year old catcher with one career year of 18 home runs and 60 RBI’s while Tampa Bay paying $38 million dollars less for Mike Zunino (who also was a FA last year), a Gold Glove catcher hitting 27 home runs and posting an OPS north of .850, makes your analytics department look like they never passed 5th grade Math. I never even heard of Jose Peraza before and Brandon Drury was let go by the Yankees way back when. Dominic Smith’s whole career can be summed up by one great 1/3 of a season, and 1/3 is a fraction that I expect a Dartmouth Grad, Harvard Law graduate (Yes, talking to you Sandy) to be able to understand. It does not mean he is anything but a given in a full 162 season. Maybe if there was a DH, Smith’s terrific defense and modest production could MAYBE justify permanently relocating Pete Alonso. Jeff McNeil deserves a special honorable mention and not in your proverbial good sense/definition of the word. Yes, during 248 games in over the last 3 seasons, he has averaged an all star caliber .319 BA, OPS of .884 over 248 games/3 seasons. But this production is largely from his 2018 all star campaign where he played 133 games. Take that out and you are left with a very small sample size of 63 games in his rookie season and a 2020 COVID shortened, 52 games. He also is 29 years old and even if you want to say he is a late bloomer, there is not enough to warrant that he could consistently match the production or come close to his all star season.
2) Cut and Bulk
This has been the same team for more 2 years running now and the team failed to make the playoffs last year in the expanded format when the Marlins and everyone, including our Grandmothers qualified. Clearly, this is not working. Do you know what works?
Cutting the aforementioned players and then bulking up by the following:
Sign Nick Castellanos: He is surely going to opt out of his below market value option of $16 million. Yes it is going to cost George Springer money, but last year’s SNAFU could be salvaged by locking up an offensive force who in 2019, swatted 88 XBH and this year, is raking a robust .319 BA, .949 OPS, 24 home runs and 72 RBIs. RF/Michael Conforto replacement? Check.
Sign Starling Marte: Normally, I am completely against signing aging center fielders, but DeGrom’s injury and the contracts and age of the Mets’ positional players clearly put pressure on the team to win now. A former Gold Glove winner, has swiped 42 steals this year, proving he has still held onto to his athleticism, something the team sorely lacks. He has posted nearly an .800 OPS every year during his 10 year career, highlighted by a resurgent all star worthy 2021 campaign of a .319 BA, .855 OPS. Elite two way CF’s are almost as rare as an Ohtani, so one can do a lot worse than Marte.
Trade (maybe sign long term) for Jose Ramirez:
I’ll be the first one to admit that no one thought we got a lesser player in last’s year Lindor blockbuster acquisition, but it is beginning to look like we should have traded and signed his sidekick instead. He has a ridiculously friendly team option deal for the next two years of $11 and $13 million respectively. More importantly, this is a guy who has finished in the top 3 of the MVP voting 3 out of 4 years and this year, he continues to prove his worth with 30 HRs, 82 RBI’s, 19 SB’s, and an unheard of 52 Ks to 68 BBs ratio. The Mets have also proven to be loose and careless with their prospects (Pete Crow Armstrong anyone?) and their touted prospects rarely pan out as it is (From Kelenic to Rosario to Lastings Milledge for Pete’s sake!) Francisco Alvarez is blocked by the idiotic signing of McCann for the next 3 years and Baty would be blocked by the incoming Ramirez. It would pain Baseball America pundits, but no pain, no gain.
With these three surgical moves, your 2022 Mets opening day lineup would be.
1) Lindor SS
2) Marte CF
3) Ramirez 3B
4) Alonso 1B
5) Castellanos RF
6) Nimmo LF
7) Villar/Guillorme 2B
8) McCann C
Notes: (aren’t you feeling less naseous already?)
1) Get Lindor back comfortable in his Cleveland days atop the lineup (2019 Batting 1st – 32 HRs, 40 2Bs, 22 SB, .857 OPS)
2) Power and Speed: 1-3 hitters have had multiple 20 HR/20 SB’s seasons.
3) Super balanced lineup – three switch hitters, only non RH/LH is Alonso and Castellanos.
Part 2: You gotta meet me at 60 feet and 6 inches too right?
Yes, there is a pitching component to the game of baseball as well. To be honest, the disastrous 2021 season really falls on the offense (I mean it’s pretty hard to win averaging 3 runs a game), but we here are in the business of leaving no stone unturned.
So in the spirit of avoiding another failure of a season…
Resign, sign, and dump
Resign: Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman
"Thor" as he likes to be called, will probably never reach his pinnacle of 2015 and 2016 status or at least not in a Mets uniform (Hello Zach Wheeler!) as it usually takes at least a season for pitchers to regain feel and command of their secondary pitches. But that does not mean, Syndergaard won’t take a reasonable one year prove it deal to establish his market and hit FA in the following year. The Mets should take advantage of the situation and at the very worst, he could be a No.3/No.4 starter with the upside of backing up the best pitcher on the planet.
Stroman has pitched admirably in everyone’s absence, leading the staff in innings pitched, games started, and all the while posting a league top 10 ERA of 2.85. Still in his prime, he probably will cost less than previously mentioned Zach Wheeler money and for a dependable No.3 starter and someone who has proven he can do it in New York, this is a no-brainer.
Sign: Robbie Ray
For all the balance in the lineup, the pitching staff is almost all right handed and a southpaw fresh off a brilliant maybe even CY Young caliber year can certainly add another dimension to the starting staff. Pitching to a 2.72 ERA with almost 200k’s to date in the cutthroat AL East division should be more than enough to prepare this punchout artist for the move to the Senior Circuit.
Again, in the same fashion as the offense, with merely three shrewd moves, the Mets pitching rotation would line up as follows.
SP1 – Jacob DeGrom
SP2 – Robbie Ray
SP3- Marcus Stroman
SP4 – Noah Syndergaard
SP5- Walker/Carlos Carrasco/Tyler Megill/David Peterson
It’s not Max Scherzer/Walker Buehler, but that is a hell of a 1-4 starting rotation. There is always an injury and the depth of Walker/Carrasco/Megill/David Peterson is pretty phenomenal. If all things turn out as they should and the Mets play in October, the top 4 should be able to compete with anyone, even the vaunted Dodgers.
Stay tuned for a bullpen addendum as this team would be dramatically improved for next season if one us could whisper these sweet nothings into Uncle Stevie’s and Sandy’s ear.