Asdrubal Cabrera Off the Table
According to reports, free-agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has agreed to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Per Buster Olney of ESPN, Cabrera gets one year, $8M.
Still on the board is Stephen Drew and … hmm … who else? Alexi Casilla? Rumor has it that Drew is being courted by the Blue Jays, Athletics, Cubs, White Sox and Angels to play second base; I’d think that the Yankees may also be interested in bringing back the veteran infielder as a utility man and backup plan to Didi Gregorius.
The Mets may have kicked the tires on Cabrera, but ultimately decided that Wilmer Flores was a better (read: less expensive) option for 2015. We’ll see.
With Cabrera in the fold, Tampa Bay now has a surplus in the middle infield, and could look to trade Ben Zobrist and/or Yunel Escobar. Would the Mets be interested? I’m not sure, since there’s no guarantee that either of those players will be better than Flores, and both will make at least fifteen times more in salary than Flores.
In other news, former Met Josh Stinson has signed a contact to play with the KIA Tigers in Korea. He will earn $500,000 for one year.
“KIA Tigers”, formerly “Haitai Tigers”: In some foreign countries, sponsorship contracts grant rights for attaching corporate names to professional baseball teams. One better known example is “Nippon Ham Fighters”, which carries the name of the company “Nippon Ham” (some people erroneously refer to the players as “Ham Fighters” instead of “Fighters”, apparently not understanding that “Ham” is part of the sponsored name, in the same way that it would be erroneous to refer to “Rays” players as “Bay Rays”). So, should we anticipate this type of sponsorship arrangement to be implemented in the United States? Would a team be within their rights to pursue this now? Or would MLB rules have to be created/modified? Perhaps we could have “Oscar Mayer Bologna Mets”.
Heck, we already have corporate sponsorships on MLB uniforms. Or was that patch on the Mets unis REALLY supposed to honor their home park, rather than the bank sponsoring the park’s name?
I think the people at Oscar Mayer would take offense to your suggestion.
I think the makers of Barbie would be a perfect fit — a once-lovable brand brought low by old fashioned and unsavory management.
So, in my sea of confusion, I like to pretend there are Ham Fighters out there. 🙂
Okay, just looked it up: all the Japanese team names I could find included the company name, and only a few included the place name. Orix, Yomiuri, Hanshin — these are all companies. No references to Kobe, Osaka, and Nishinomiya in the titles.
The Yokohama Bay Stars (who are the Bay Stars of Yokohama city, not the Stars of Yokohama Bay) added a company name when they were bought in 2011.
The Rays don’t seem to be giving a huge vote of confidence to Nick Franklin. Maybe it’d be cheaper for the Mets to acquire him now than it was last year from the Mariners?
Yes, there’s no guarantee that Zobrist will be better than Flores, nor Tulo, etc. — this is the mindset of Sandy Alderson, is it not?
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Zobrist doesn’t seem to be viewed as an everyday SS by the Mets.
Miller or Taylor of the Mariners may be available.
If I were the Mets and I couldn’t get Tulo at a reasonable price, I suppose I’d just go into the season with Flores at SS and if he flops I’d be hoping Reynolds can answer the challenge.
I guess what I’m saying is that I think most of the remaining guys are retreads or not much better than what they have (Miller or Taylor much better than Flores?).
I would only trade the pitching depth for a substantial upgrade, not just waste it on a guy who might be better / might be worse than Flores or Reynolds.
On another note, did anyone notice that Byrd was just acquired from the Phillies for Blake Lively, who was ranked by one minor league commentator as the Reds 8th best prospect PLUS the Phillies kicked in money? Makes me wonder if the Mets couldn’t have just acquired Byrd (only one year remaining on his contract) for something like Cory Mazzoni and not given Cuddyer a two year deal that also cost a first round draft pick. Yes, inter-division trade, but do the Phillies really care when Byrd is likely on a competitor for only one year and they are going nowhere in 2015?
But, Marlon Byrd isn’t childhood buddies with David Wright.
As for the shortstops available now, it just occurred to me that the Padres have a gaping hole at the position. Considering their activity this winter, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them sign Drew AND trade for someone like Miller or Taylor.
And yeah, if we keep listening to the spin doctors from the Citi Field offices, there has not been anyone available who is “substantially better” than Wilmer Flores. But then, how is that truly determined, other than offensive projections based on minor league stats and defensive projections based on 50 MLB games?
Gee whiz … get with the program. NOBODY in MLB is guaranteed to be appreciably better than Wilmer Flores in 2015. Keep repeating that to yourself, in between sips. If that fails to convince you, maybe you can sign up for Metlectroshock therapy.
I think Flores will hit, so if he can field the SS position reasonably well I think the Mets will be okay at SS. But this is still a huge “if” in my mind; I have said many times that Flores and Murphy up the middle has to strike fear in the hearts of…Mets pitchers.
But I guess as stated above Flores + Reynolds is better than (for example) adding Stephen Drew or Everth Cabrera, neither of whom excite me, to the mix.
Essentially this all goes back to the fact that the Mets should be using some of all of these supposedly stellar minor leaguers to improve the major league club by means of a 4 for 1 or 5 for 1 trade for a standout SS (Tulo?), LF (Alex Gordon?), or a significant upgrade at some other position.
I think the Mets will be decent or slightly better in 2015, but if they completely piss the bed than Alderson will deservedly getting a ton of criticism for effectively standing pat this winter (when your whole offseason consists of adding Cuddyer, Mayberry Jr., and Gilmartin, that is pretty close to standing pat).
The Flores bandwagon has been riding along ad nauseam since middle September, from both the Flushing hype machine and every Mets-flavored media outlet. It seems that every time someone points out something negative about Flores, there are two dozen bloggers coming up with “solid” information supporting the idea that Flores can be the answer; in most cases, the info is delivered with the meme, “why is everyone picking on Wilmer Flores?”
Here’s what we know, for sure: Flores didn’t look like he’d be a shortstop as early as A-ball. He still didn’t look like a shortstop in AA. Even after working out with Mike Barwis, he still didn’t look like a shortstop in AAA. Dozens of scouts, both inside and outside the Mets organization, came to that conclusion. All of the decision makers inside the Mets organization came to the same conclusion. Then, all of a sudden, Flores embarrasses himself less than a half-dozen times in a 50-game MLB stint, so that makes him a shortstop? And a MLB shortstop? This is why I’m not buying into it — not because I’m a hater or bitter or a pessimist — but because so many professional baseball evaluators came to the same, consistent conclusion. Many had similar reservations about Daniel Murphy, but the Mets forced that square peg into a round hole and lived with the consequences. Now they may do the same thing with Flores — pretend that the defense won’t matter that much, mainly because it’s nearly impossible to truly show defensive value through a stat sheet, and hope like heck that Flores hits the crap out of the ball.
Flores probably won’t be as good an average shortstop; he’ll probably be somewhere among the worst — both according to the stats and the eyes. So, to be worth the defensive deficiency, he’ll have to be at least as good or better than an offensive-minded shortstop like, say, Jhonny Peralta or Starlin Castro to justify an everyday role — in other words, an OPS in the .800 range. Further, don’t discount Flores’ below-average baserunning speed, which is another small and immeasurable facet that factors into winning and losing ballgames. Can Flores post an .800 OPS and be at least as ineffectual on defense as a 40-year-old Derek Jeter? Well, maybe that’s OK. But I’m not so sure, and I don’t know how you can build a club based on pitching and not put the most defensively capable person you can find at shortstop and second base — it completely defies all logic. That may be the next great Mets experiment: disprove the old-school notion that being strong up the middle is nonsense. Hey, they’re already in the midst of trying to prove that a New York team can win with a small payroll.
Agreed on your suggestion to blockbuster deal — and I do believe one can still happen in the next few weeks. The main problem is finding the standout player who doesn’t cost much, because the Mets can’t afford a Tulowitzki; they can’t even afford Starlin Castro. It would have to be someone like Jurickson Profar or Javier Baez, and even with those studs, there is uncertainty that they’ll fulfill their promise.
BTW, why doesn’t Alderson get criticism for 2014? Is it because the Mets were lucky enough to finish in a tie for second place in what turned out to be the worst division in MLB?
1. Marlon Byrd vs. Cuddyer – time will judge the Cuddyer move just like it judges all others. However, I don’t necessarily like the comp just because they are both RH OF bats. Timing of deals also matters, and when a team has multiple needs it must act on something up front otherwise risk being left at the altar so to speak. To me, the Cuddyer deal makes sense only if the Mets add more talent for 2015-2016. If they stand pat or only add a plug in roster player, then they aren’t serious enough about 2015 and would have been better off preserving the #15 pick.
2. Ability to Afford Tulo – the Mets most certainly can afford Tulo’s contract, even if Colorado doesn’t kick in a penny. The payroll limit is an elected choice of ownership. They will deal Gee, Niese, or Colon, and free up that money, meaning Tulo pushes the payroll to $110-$115 million, and figure that they clearly can be profitable at even if they don’t make the playoffs. The TV money is just too high to lose money.
3. Wilmer as MLB SS – Alderson is certainly smart enough, despite his poker face and public statements hinting otherwise, to know that Flores/Murphy up the middle is a pitcher’s nightmare. Even if he goes with that combo it won’t be for long. Wilmer by all measures appears to be a good kid and hard worker, and he has busted it and improved himself physically, but most likely will still be a weak fielder by MLB SS standards. However, his bat is intriguing, either to the Mets or to another team. I would like to see how he produces given the chance to regularly face MLB pitching. Should Alderson be unable or unwilling to find a more certain SS than Flores for 2015, he has to hedge his bet somewhat, and Tejada is not an adequate hedge. Reynolds is not either, given that he has never had a big league AB. If it is Flores job to lose, fine, but they need a Drew or a Miller to at least have another viable option should Wilmer flop offensively, defensively, or both. No excuses there.
2. Agreed, Tulo will not hurt the Wilpons’ wallet. The real question, for both the Mets and Rockies, is how much talent is fair value for an MVP-caliber player who’s always hurt.
3. Why does everyone assume Flores will hit? All the discussions of his sub-par D talk about whether it’ll be just bad enough that his bat makes up for it, or whether it’ll be even worse than that. In reality, Flores’ bat is a huge question mark too.
Like d’Arnaud, Wilmer seems able to murder a mistake, and 10 years ago this Mets lineup might have been cranking out extra-base hits galore. But the poor pitching in MLB has largely gone away; it’s now rare that you can just wait for a hanger or an 89 mph meatball. I assume those are what Flores was hammering into the thin air of Vegas, based on his 274 MLB trips to the plate (both via Pitch F/X and the eye test). The quick wrists and strong follow-through are great, but his swing is slow to start, and frequently off-balance.
Swings at everything, can’t catch up to a good fastball? MLB pitchers are salivating.
Perhaps I’ve been overly harsh in calling him a non-prospect, but Flores should probably be a part-time second or third baseman on a young team building for the future and assessing their assets. The Mets should probably trade him to such a team for a piece that fits them better. Unless we’re still the middle of an 8-year rebuild, that is…
You bring up a good point on Wilmer. As with any prospect, it is unwise to assume they will hit MLB pitching. His bat is intriguing as his hit tool is by far his best asset, but an extended run in the bigs is necessary to make a proper evaluation. That is basically the case with every bat and every arm that comes up. Yes, there is chance he will be a .640 OPS mistake hitter with bad D, but there is also a chance he can be an .820 OPS run producer whose D will find a home and be tolerated.
Also, stating that “Byrd cost the Reds’ version of Matz” is wholly inaccurate. The Reds farm system is much weaker than the Mets, so the Reds 8th best prospect of Lively is nowhere near as good as the Mets consensus 2nd best prospect, who is Matz according to John Sickels, Baseball America, Metsminorleagueblog.com, and most other commentators. To the contrary, the Reds 8th best prospect is properly roughly equivalent to something like the Mets 12th to 15th best prospect, which is something like Mazzoni (as I mentioned above), or Michael Fulmer, or Akeel Morris.
So the real question is: if the Phillies were willing to make a trade interdivision, would you rather have (1) Cuddyer for two guaranteed years at $22 million and lose your first round draft pick OR (2) have Byrd signed for $8 million in 2015 with a possible vesting option in 2016 and lose Mazzoni, Fulmer, or Morris?
I would take (2) every time.
I think it’s very possible the Mets pay Cuddyer money to sit on the DL in 2016, and I think the first round draft pick is more valuable than Mazzoni, Fulmer or Morris, all of whom have pretty big questions as prospects (Mazzoni – stuff; Fulmer – injuries; and Morris – control).
You raise a fair point in stating that the Phillies were perhaps not ready to deal Byrd earlier, and might have postponed rebuilding for yet another year, and the Mets might have been left at the altar with nothing. But the past couple years it seems that Alderson may have acted perhaps too quickly, when waiting later in the offseason might have yielded an equivalent or better player (last year’s example: signing Chris Young very early in the offseason for $7 million per year, when Nelson Cruz signed much later for $7 million and produced a 40 home run season for the Orioles).
Argonbunnies, I’m in agreement with you: why does everyone assume Flores will hit? People have been comparing him to Miguel Cabrera for five years, and I don’t get it. The 28 HR in his last 162 AAA games IS impressive, even if it happened in the PCL, but I didn’t see a slugger in his 105 MLB games.
And that’s the thing that bugs me: why are people so quick to accept his adequate 50-game audition at shortstop as evidence he can play the position, yet simultaneously dismiss the fact he hasn’t shown to be a big-league hitter in 375 PAs? Fifty games is not too small a sample size, yet 105 is? Color me confused, especially when his bat is supposed to be his strength, and, presumably, ahead of his glove.
I think giving up a #15 pick is not the end of the world. Cuddyer will make the Mets slightly better in 2015, which might have useful auxiliary effects if the team makes a serious run in 2016 (free agents more likely to join a team whose victory total is on the rise?). I don’t care about the different between 79 and 82 wins, but I do care about the perception that the Mets are a team heading in the right direction. The bigger that perception, the lower the odds of players invoking no trade clauses to avoid New York, etc. Would I give up a #8 pick for that? No. #25? Yes. #15? Ehhh, I dunno, could go either way, so I’m not gonna gripe.
If you worry about our current guys’ questions as prospects, I can guarantee you, there will be just as valid concerns over whoever is drafted 15th. Look at the past few years’ drafts to see how many stinkers fill up the top 15.
I also note that your favorite person / player / manager, Wally Backman, has lauded Flores as “the best RBI man I’ve ever seen” in several interviews. Backman is Flores’ AAA manager, and seems to think Flores’ future is very, very bright. I would think that would count for something with you, given how highly you regard Backman.
One of many reasons I do not highly regard TC is his handling of Flores. First, he gave him infrequent playing time and then he stuck him in the 8 hold in the lineup, and I think this is part of the reason the initial part of the 375 plate appearances were not great. I think Flores will hit if given consistent plate appearances in a reasonable spot in the order. Given his ability to put the bat on the ball – few strikeouts and strong ability to make contact – I think batting him 2nd at the start of the season and seeing what happens is a good idea, but it will never happen and he’ll be back in the eight hole. But I still think he’ll hit reasonably well and the defense is the main issue.
Mangan writes a compelling argument, but not enough to convince me about Flores, mainly because I rely on my eyes as much as the stats, and my eyes haven’t yet witnessed anything special about Flores. In fact, my eyes — which can’t always be trusted — saw a slow bat and a swing with a cut-off follow-through, which leads me to wonder if he’ll ever hit for power in MLB.
Further, I don’t really care whether Flores’ stats in the PCL are historic, which is the main basis of Mangan’s argument in that particular article. Comparing the stats of players from different eras at the MLB level is often an ambiguous exercise, and doing it at the minor league levels is, to me, mostly useless in terms of trying to figure out what a player will do in the future at the MLB level.
Anyway, it’s nice that Flores doesn’t choke with men on base, but his Vegas RBI totals should be taken with a Coors Field-sized grain of salt (kind of like how everyone tells us Thor didn’t have a bad year with his 4.60 ERA). Wilmer avoids Ks in the same way Juan Pierre and Pudge Rodriguez did, by swinging early and often. This leads to very few walks, and lots of outs. If you stay healthy and never walk, your counting stats will go up, especially hits and RBIs, but a guy with a .300 OBP is hurting his team more than helping. Flores’ future with the bat depends largely on two things:
1) His youth, and the fact that most players his age have several years of improvement ahead of them. Remember, though, that if Flores peaks at age 26, that’s in 2018 — how good should you expect him to be before then? The answer is, somewhere in between his projected peak and what we saw in 2014. I don’t think that’s a playoff team caliber player.
2) Consistent hard contact. Virtually every hitter in pro ball can crush a pitch OCCASIONALLY, and the usual balance for imperfect hitters is “swing hard and K more but nail it when you hit it” vs “swing under control but hit more balls weakly”. VERY few guys can mix both — we’re talking Vlad Guerrero freaks here. Maybe a possible Hall of Famer is a bad standard, but seriously, I can’t think of a single young player who’s come up in the last 5 years who fits the “tons of contact, most of it hard” profile. The last guy was probably Pedroia in 2007. Does anyone think Wilmer is THAT talented?
(And even if he is, just how great is a Pedroia clone with no walks, poor D, and no stat-padding Fenway home games?)
On top of all that, I have yet to hear a response to Wilmer’s trouble with the fastball last year. The inability to catch up to 91 above the belt has to severely limit a hitter’s potential. Great minor league stats only matter if they come from skills that translate. Until I see a player, I’m inclined, like Mangan, to believe his minors stat lines. But I HAVE seen Wilmer, and to me, he looks like a guy who’s feasted on mistakes, the likes of which he won’t see often enough in MLB.
So Backman is the guy you hold in such high esteem…except where his opinion of Flores is concerned??
My inclination is to view Wally’s praise as a good sign, but not a very important good sign. How well a guy performs in the clutch only matters if he has a solid baseline.
Wally is a FANTASTIC manager. Part of what makes him so successful is that he instills confidence in, and 100% completely supports his players. Effusive praise is one of the ways he does this.
Wally is also a “company man” / “good soldier” / “team player” / etc. As such, he’ll say things publicly that are in line with the company’s messaging (especially after the Ike Davis radio conversation that put him in hot water). So it wasn’t surprising to me that Wally had such high remarks for Wilmer Flores, and I bet that Wally believes that Flores is the best RBI man he ever managed. But that in of itself is not enough to convince me that Flores is going to be the next Jhonny Peralta or Troy Tulowitzki.
Wally also once told me that Jeremy Reed was a future all-star.
Wally sincerely loves his players. Sometimes that leads to exaggeration.
Now all of the sudden everything Backman says is an exaggeration because he is “a company man” and further you once personally heard him give an exceptionally rosy projection for Jeremy Reed’s career.
Yes, I realized after I posted that Wally had said “best RBI man I’ve ever managed” not “best RBI man I’ve seen” and I was intending to post again and correct myself – that’s a fair point.
But Wally also said that Flores reminds him of Keith Hernandez due to his ability to perform in the clutch – this is worthless?
You clearly imply that Wally Backman has the Sparky Anderson disease of overzealous comparison of players he’s managing to major league stars, but what is your other evidence of this in addition to one endorsement of Jeremy Reed supposedly spoken to you?
I note here that Jeremy Reed hasn’t played on the Mets since 2009, so I assume this comparison made by Backman was…six years ago, and no other evidence of excessive praise since then to my knowledge.
Indeed, it’s not as if Backman is running around comparing Matt Reynolds to Alan Trammell or some other stellar major leaguer. Or Syndergaard to someone with a long track record of success (I actually heard Backman criticize Syndergaard on several occasions saying he needed more development time and wasn’t ready for the majors despite Syndergaard’s Twitter post indicating he didn’t know why he wasn’t recalled). And no other similar endorsements of Plawecki, Niewenhuis, Mazzoni, Allan Dykstra, MDD, TDA, or anyone else come to mind.
So your entire evidence that Backman is a “company man” who frequently exaggerates his players’ skills is one endorsement of Jeremy Reed supposedly spoken to you probably six years ago when Reed was a Met?
I too have my doubts that Flores will be a solid major league hitter, but you don’t have to always act as if someone pissed in your morning coffee and everything is negative. You discount Flores’ minor league stats, you discount Backman’s endorsement, and everything else in the guy’s favor, and then act as if everything against him – whether relatively significant or insignificant – is surefire evidence that the dude will suck.
How do you know someone doesn’t ruin my morning coffee?
When did I EVER say that Flores would “suck”? I have stated on multiple occasions that I’m reserving judgement and that I’m not as convinced as the rest of the Mets blogosphere that he’ll be the next Jhonny Peralta (at worst) or Miguel Cabrera (at best).
And why do you care what I think? Why can’t we agree to disagree? I think Flores is not a shortstop, and he’ll have to hit like Babe Ruth to make up for it, and I don’t see him hitting like Babe Ruth — no amount of stats or lavish praise will convince me of that today. That doesn’t mean he’ll “suck,” it just means I don’t see him as a MLB shortstop on a championship team. Maybe he’ll be another Daniel Murphy, who, similarly, is a second baseman who needs to hit like Babe Ruth to make up for his other inadequacies.
(BTW I’m using Babe Ruth as an exaggeration. It’s part of my routine. I’m pointing this out because you sometimes take me too literally.)
And why are you so fixated on my dismissing Backman’s comments on Flores? Yeah, I think Backman is a LOT like Sparky Anderson in that regard, and it’s not a coincidence. In fact, I’ve been guilty myself of being overzealous of some of my own players. When a coach / manager works with a player over a period of time, objectivity can disappear. Or did Chris Pittaro and Torey Lovullo make it to the Hall of Fame?
As for Jeremy Reed, he played for Wally in AA in 2003, and hit .409 while playing stellar center field defense. Wally (among others) believed Reed was a sure-fire future star — he loved Reed’s attitude, hard work ethic, baseball intelligence, and all-around game. I brought up Reed as an example of players who appear to be destined for greatness based on what they did in the minors, yet for whatever reason, don’t pan out — even despite their numbers and being lauded by their managers. It’s a pretty long list of never-wases.
So there is no way the Mets will claim him.
What is possible is that the Dodgers dislike him so much that they pay another team 75% percent of his remaining contract, and then the other team is responsible for the balance.
Just me, but I think Arruebarrena is basically a more costly Wilfredo Tovar. Given how cheap the Mets are nowadays, I’d prefer to spend that money elsewhere.
The most likely scenario is that – since no one is likely to claim this guy given his performance and attitude issues last year – the Dodgers will just outright him to AAA and have a very, very expensive AAA player (not on the 40 man roster) in case Rollins gets hurt and Seager is not ready to jump in for Rollins.