Jim Fregosi, Lucas Duda and the Coming Offseason
It’s a trade that has haunted the Mets for decades: looking for solution to their third base woes, they drew from their surplus of starting pitching and traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Ryan went on to a Hall of Fame career, while Fregosi didn’t even last two seasons with the Mets. Although the trade was made in 1971, it took until 1984 and the arrival of Doc Gooden for the wound to stop bleeding. Time has dimmed the memory of it somewhat, with flare-ups in 1999 and 2004, along with the Mets (not surprisingly) picking at the scab themselves with a Ryan bobble head giveaway recently.
Fast forward to the present. As they did in the early 1970’s, the Mets once again have a seeming surplus of prospects. They also have several holes. Alderson has frustrated Met fans with long stretches of inactivity, especially during the offseason, when fans are desperate for any type of news. Imagine for a moment however, if Alderson had succumbed and made a trade like Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay for Matt Joyce. A move that would have been hailed as a triumph in March would have resulted in Alderson’s resignation, rather than his contract extension, in September. What’s that old saying about listening to the fans and eventually sitting with them?
This concept was already covered here, but where past Met GMs like Steve Phillips or Frank Cashen were bold, occasionally getting burned but also with spectacular successes, Alderson makes his moves from a defensive position. Credit where it is due, he made the right decision with Duda. The Mets have to hope that this season was the start of something big for Lucas and that they aren’t being fooled the way Ike Davis fooled them in 2012.
This also means that Alderson is likely to give Wilmer Flores and Matt den Dekker the starting shortstop and right field jobs, respectively next year. Not that either is underserving of the opportunity, as both showed flashes in their extended 2014 trials. This is a high-risk/high-reward proposition for the Mets. If both players (and Duda) are successful in 2015 and enough pitchers stay healthy, it isn’t too hard to picture the Mets as contenders. If however, they falter, the rebuilding is dealt a serious setback and yet another year of David Wright’s prime and cheap young pitching has been wasted.
One name that will no doubt come up frequently in the off season (at least until he is traded) is Yoenis Cespedes. Two things to remember: we’re in a post-PED world and power hitters are the new young pitchers, that most coveted of resources. Second, Boston traded Jon Lester to get Cespedes, so it is very unlikely they are going to accept a package of Daniel Murphy or Dillon Gee and a few “B” prospects for him. This all means that Boston is going to want at least one of the Mets late inning bullpen power arms, plus Kevin Plawecki and at least Steven Matz. Just because Ben Cherington wants to remind us how smart he is, he’s also going to demand a lesser-heralded, but intriguing arm like Matt Bowman. Would you make that trade for one year of Cespedes? More importantly, would Alderson?
Instead, the narrative will be something like this: “We’re getting a returning Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell and David Wright. We’ll also have a full year of Travis d’Arnaud, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. We played at partial strength last year and still won 79 games. We waited on players like Duda and Familia and they have delivered, we expect the same from Flores and den Dekker. Moving the fences in will increase our team power. We’re at least ten games better than that to start the season and we can always add players if we (wink, wink) want to.”
We covered this also last year, but all of these Five-Moves-the-Mets-Should-Do-This-Offseason-themed posts aren’t even worth clicking on. So, take my advice and lower your expectations this winter. You’ll feel better and hey, you never know…