Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Mets Mediocre Moves

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The Mets have had a ‘big’ offseason that has resulted in almost a complete turnover from last year’s club. But are the Mets any better? 

The Mets got off to a loud start to this offseason by electing to bring in former agent, Brodie Van Wagenen to be the new general manager. The move came with a lot of questions, the biggest one being, how could a guy who has never worked in an MLB front office be qualified for the most important job in a MLB front office? But the Wilpons, who like defy conventional thinking (and sometimes, logically thinking) decided to go with a wildcard in the hopes of adding a few additions to go a long with their aces. Which Brodie already has a connection with. Van Wagenen, whose clients were Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard

The New Look Mets

  1. Brandon Nimmo-RF
  2. Jed Lowrie- 3B
  3. Michael Conforto-LF
  4. Robinson Cano- 2B
  5. Wilson Ramos- C
  6. Todd Frazier/Peter Alonso- 1B
  7. Amed Rosario-SS
  8. Keon Broxton-CF

SP- Jacob deGrom
SP- Noah Syndergaard
SP- Zach Wheeler
SP- Stephen Matz
SP- Jason Vargas 

RP- Seth Lugo
RP- Luis Avilan
RP- Paul Sewald  
RP- Hector Santiago 
RP- Robert Gsellman 
SP- Jeurys Familia 
CP- Edwin Diaz 

B- J.D. Davis
B- Juan Lagaras 
B- Travis d’Arnaud 
B- Jeff McNeil 

What’s better?

After years or attempting to make it better, the Mets have finally upgraded their bullpen in a massive way. Edwin Diaz is not one of the best closers in baseball, but with all apologizes to Aroldis Chapman, he is the best closer in baseball (at least in the regular season he is). Even more impressively is that Diaz is cheap and controllable. He’s a big splash, without have to make a big withdrawal, and for a stingy ownership group trying desperately to appear that they are trying to win, its the best deal they have made in a decade. Now while the Mets did have to take on Cano’s hefty contract, if they are able to squeeze a year or two of above average play out of their above aged second baseman, than Brodie’s first trade will be a memorable one. 

The Mets also brought back Jeurys Familia to a more comfortable role as either a 7th or 8th inning role to go along with Lugo and Gsellman. These three, with Diaz, give the Mets a deep bullpen that can shorten games, a luxury the hope not to need, but glad to have. While the Mets have boasted having the best starting pitching in baseball, they may be able to argue they have the best all around pitching in baseball. 

What’s not better? 

Aside from adding Diaz, the Mets have been very busy trying to upgrade the offense. Robinson Cano moves over to second, and then the Mets signed Jed Lowrie to more than likely start, primarily at third base (which moves Todd Frazier over to first until Peter Alonso is deemed ready to play) and Wilson Ramos, formally of the Phillies, to start at catcher.  Both Cano and Lowrie will be over the age of 35 on opening day. The Mets also made two trades, one for Keon Broxton a talented but odd-man out of the Brewers outfield a year ago, and J.D. Davis a talented but odd-man out of the Astros infield. Both players have showed promise either in the minors (Davis) or in the majors (Broxton) and if they are able to sustain their success in the majors, they could prove to be big additions. But that is a massive if. 

Just as questionable is the ability for the Mets elderly infield to remain healthy. Lowrie is coming off of back to back 150 game campaigns, but his career has be littered with injuries. Ramos, 31, has only played 100 or more games, twice in a season. With Frazier (32 years old) coming off his first injury-ridden season, the Mets will have to hope that their seasoned infielders defy their ages. 

But a team that has suffered year after year with crushing injuries to big, aging stars (David Wright and Yeonis Cespedes) its hard to expect Met fans to be optimistic. 

What else can they do? 

Based on recent interviews with Brodie it appears the Mets are pretty content with the moves they have made. They could add a piece or two more to the bullpen, perhaps bring in a veteran starter like Gio Gonzalez to round out the rotation, but there is still a chance the Mets could make one more bold move. With big names like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still available, Met fans could ream that the Mets swing a deal for one of these franchise altering stars who would be immediate upgrades at whatever position they play. With their price tags appearing to drop, due to lack of interest, a player of that caliber has never been more affordable to the Mets. 

There were also rumors, earlier in the offseason, to trade Noah Syndergaard to fill some holes that the Mets ultimately through trades and free agency, which would then spur a run at Indians ace Corey Kluber. With all of those rumors subsiding, people still wondered why the Mets, who are selling that their team aims to compete in 2019, would trade one of the best young starters in the game for an aging one? While Kluber is more accomplished, when you factor in their ages, it seems like a no brainer that no club would ever consider doing that swap...

...unless the return for Syndergaard was substantial. 

Perhaps it is because Syndergaard is not apart of the longterm plans for the Mets. The Mets are hoping to extend deGrom to a longterm contract later on this year, and even though Syndergaard is under control until 2021, the writing appears to be on the wall, despite Brodie making it public that they do not intend to trade Syndergaard. 

But the Mets are still lacking some serious power in their order, and with reports saying that Yeonis Cespedes could be out for a majority of the 2019 campaign, the Mets need a major upgrade to the heart of their order if they intend to compete. 

So what should they do? 

There is no way around it. If the Mets plan to make the playoffs, their offense needs a bigger upgrade. Lowrie, Ramos and Cano are all nice upgrades, but its not 2015, so they really are no more than small upgrades. After having two straight losing seasons, the Mets need more than small upgrades. The Mets are now priding themselves about the depth they have acquired, but if just one of those aging, injury-ridden stars, the depth has vanished. Behind Ramos, for example, is still Travis d’arnaud, an already injury-ridden player. It’s not unfeasible to imagine that the Mets could be out of catchers by the All-Star break. 

But with the additions they have made, they can’t add any more to the infield, and expect to play everyone. So there is only one position left that could be upgraded. Centerfield. 

Now AJ Pollock is still out there. But he too still has his injury concerns, which is why the Mets have been passing. Which leaves the Mets only one choice. Make a trade. 

The Upgrade

Mets trade: Noah Syndergaard
to Astros for: George Springer

Its so simple, it works. From the Mets perspective, this trade would be a massive upgrade that would provide adequate depth to the order:

1) Nimmo-RF
2) Springer-CF
3) Conforto-LF
4) Lowrie- 3B
5) Cano- 2B
6) Ramos- C
7) Frazier/Alonso-1B
8) Rosario-SS

It would stay in line with the theme of, making the Mets a younger, more athletic club, Springer would also be a right-handed power bat to fill the void of Cespedes, and it allows everyone to move down in the order. Springer is a free agent after this year, and with Syndergaard no longer in the equation, the Mets could choose to lock him and deGrom this offseason. 

From the Astros perspective, Syndergaard would complete the deadliest trio of starters with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Aside from just looking at the 2019 season, the Astros are faced with the reality that their young core will one day have to break up once they hit free agency. Dealing Springer in favor of Syndergaard, who is controllable until 2022, allows the Astros more time to decide who they want to lock up. Now it becomes more feasible to sign Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. 

If the rumors are true about Syndergaard, and his position in the franchise, this would be the best way to maximize a return on a Noah trade. The Mets could then try to explore a Corey Kluber trade one more time, or sign a veteran starter or two at a bargain rate (Gio Gonzalez, James Shields). 

If the Mets are trying to change their fortunes that have relied heavily on their starting pitching and avoiding injuries, it’s hard to argue, despite their creative additions that Brodie Van Wagenen has made, that the theme of this team has changed. 

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