Mets Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Author’s note: most of this post was written before Monday’s game. Kudos to Murph and Gee on their heroics. But it was only one game…

1984 will probably always be my favorite non-playoff Mets season. After seven years of failure, the team was very much fun to watch again and many now-legends in Met lore made their full-season debuts. Lost somewhat in obscurity however, is the re-tooling the Mets did in-season in 1984, cutting ties quickly with veteran players such as Dick Tidrow and Mike Torrez, as well as long-time Met Craig Swan well before the All-Star game. The team also relegated veterans Ron Hodges and Jerry Martin to the end of the bench, more content to give newer, fresher, faces a turn. I see a lot of 1984 on this year’s edition, including the fact that these Mets roster a few players whose time in New York has passed.

Exhibit #1 is Daniel Murphy. From 2009 until now, Murph was the quintessential good player on a bad team, kinda this era’s version of John Stearns. Both are the hard-nosed gung-ho types that kept horrific teams from losing 110 games. Stearns was “The Dude” of those early 1980’s teams; he broke Dave Parker’s cheekbone, tackled the Atlanta Braves’ outrageously un-PC mascot and set an NL record for stolen bases by a catcher. But he never hit enough (career 259/341/375 slash line) or fielded well enough to become a true star. His All-Star nominations, like Murphy’s last year, were mainly due to the fact that the Mets had to have some representation at the Midsummer Classic. Injuries ended John’s career and he is mainly forgotten as a Met, which is a real shame.

Murphy, while lacking Stearns’ combustibility, is a better hitter, but doesn’t hit enough to overcome the other holes in his game. This was OK for a team treading water (or sinking), but for a team poised to take the next step, Murphy is eminently replaceable. And the Mets have just the replacement on hand: second baseman Dilson Herrera is tearing up the PCL, a year after he tore up the Eastern League. Herrera has out-slashed Murphy the past two seasons and is a better fielder and a faster runner. I also think Murphy is nursing an injured hammy, which the team is trying to keep quiet. If they are unwilling to cut Murphy loose entirely, or trade him for some Low-A types, perhaps the Mets could DL Murph for 15 days and give Herrera a chance to Wally Pipp him.

Second on the list is Dillon Gee. The Mets looked smart at the beginning of the year for keeping Gee after Zack Wheeler went down. Despite the reprieve, Dillon has looked much like the guy he has always been: a cheap fill in on a bad team, but not a rotation arm on a team that expects to contend. Could you see Gee starting a playoff game? Me neither. Like Herrera, the Mets have such a much better option in lefty Steven Matz. You thought I was going to say Noah Syndergaard, no? Matz seems far more polished than “Thor” and looks ready to contribute now. I am starting to have my doubts about Syndergaard, on both sides of his right shoulder.

This next one pains me because we grew up in the same town, but Anthony Recker has become another relic and is most likely the first one on this list to go; which should be about the same time that Travis d’Arnaud returns from the DL. Unless the Mets feel that Kevin Plawecki is better served by getting more playing time in Vegas, I think the former Rough Rider is headed for the waiver wire. I have to give kudos to little ol’ Catasauqua for a moment: two major leaguers (Pat Kelly is the other one) in the last 30 years. Much more expansive programs in this region are still waiting for their first one.

Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell are two other Mets who should be renting, not buying, but they are more likely to stick through the season than the other three. The bad news for them, but good news for the Mets (and all of us) is that finally there are upgrades, instead of stopgaps available.

So what do you think? Time for Herrera and Matz? Keep or dump Murphy? Remember Dick Tidrow as a Met? Sound off below.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. dansj April 28, 2015 at 9:18 am
    Couldn’t agree more. Murph has been a good player (a little better than good in spurts), but never really has been the same since his 2011 knee injury. He was hitting .320 at the time he got tangled with Jose Costanza at second base, and hasn’t approached that kind of hitting since.

    The others you mention: Gee, Recker, Parnell … all very replacable, and the starting staff could use another lefty in Matz.

  2. Steve S. April 28, 2015 at 10:07 am
    How about Syndergaard AND Matz in the rotation, along with either Gee or Niese, de Grom, and Harvey? That’s what we’ll be seeing later this year, I believe.

    Probably Herrera will be called up in a month or so (giving the Mets another year for him) to play both at 2B and SS, as a part-timer. Next year, he’ll be the regular 2Bman.

    • Joe Janish April 28, 2015 at 5:53 pm
      Syndergaard needs to show consistency first — and also prove that he’s healthy. Also, two straight years of forearm/elbow issues combined with dangerously flawed mechanics suggests he’ll be in a surgery room before a MLB clubhouse. Matz might be better than Niese at this point, but he also has a scary delivery. Though, going by Sandy Alderson’s theory that injuries are inevitable, it makes sense to bring them both up now and have them pitch as much as possible for the big club before their elbows blow out. Why waste those pre-TJ pitches in the minors?
  3. Surly Duff April 28, 2015 at 11:58 am
    Kinda funny to read this Tuesday morning. Gee and Murph looked like All-Stars last night….
  4. danny1986 April 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm
    Odd how Dillon Gee routinely gets the first tap on the shoulder in these scenarios while John Niese gets by with a fraction of the scrutiny. From what I see, this is most in part b/c he’s a lefty. I’m far more concerned with Neise’s effectiveness and sustainability than Gee’s. If Matz is the next guy up, as he should be, than his replacing Neise instead of Gee a justifiable argument. Plus Niese on the market as a lefty will attract more attention. But fact is, Gee just pitches is a gamer (make that….a 50 gamer). You want that bulldog at the back end of the rotation. And Niese is and pretty much always has been hit or miss.
    • argonbunnies April 29, 2015 at 7:48 am
      Agreed 100%. Niese has his good days, but isn’t really trustworthy. Hasn’t been repeating his delivery well. At least Gee will get you twice through the order every single time.
  5. winelawyer April 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm
    Why is it that Mets fan think that Gee is a gamer and no one else seems to want him. Same goes for Murphy, who I assume, was offered in trades all winter. Sandy needs to make some deals for these guys and get onto the Dilson and Matz era.
    • danny1986 April 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm
      If both Gee and Murphy are offered for next to nothing, you will surely would have takers. But ‘wanting’ is usually at odds with ‘what you are willing to give up’. Sandy obviously tried to make deals but wanted more than what teams were willing to give. That’s not going to change b/c these guys are not stars nor, and more importantly, are they young. They are what they are. Murphy is a reliable bat and a clubhouse leader, and Gee is a back end rotation inning hound who throws strikes (yes…he’s a gamer). Those attributes are not easy to use in a trade for upgrades or prospects. But nor are they easy to replace. You can’t just have a winning team composed of stars (Hernandez, Carter, Gooden, Straw) and young prospects (Jeffries, Elster, West). You need the reliability of the Ray Knights, Bobby Ojedas, and Wally Backman’s in the middle. No one is saying Gee and Murphy are awesome. But to deem them worthless is really missing the mark on their value as well. Last night proved that rather well.
      • winelawyer April 29, 2015 at 7:16 pm
        never meant to imply that they are worthless…Murphy was clearly the best player on the team last year. However, I am saying that they have hit ceilings and there are presumably better prospects that need to be moved up. Colon, Granderson, Wright and Cuddyer are this teams aging veterans. Lagares, Harvey, and Duda are its stars. Darnaud, Degram and Flores are the young stars. Matz and Syndergard should both be up soon, leaving no room in the rotation for Gee. Gee and Murphy should be worth more than a relief or backup role until their contracts expire. Frankly, Murphy can’t play the back up role, as he can’t play short.
  6. Winkster April 28, 2015 at 4:34 pm
    Great article.

    Sadly I agree with your assessment on Murph. He has been one of our best and smartest hitters since 2008, often snatching that prize from DW. Despite how likable he is, he just hasn’t been “all that” enough to warrant the Mets resigning him as a free agent. He’s making $8M now; I think there’s a team out there with a 2B hole to plug that might give him 3 yrs @ $35M. Do you see the cheapskate Wilpons flipping that kind of dough for him? I sure don’t. Not with guys like Herrera, Muno and Reynolds waiting in the wings.

    As for Gee, I was over him a couple years ago, but sadly he would likely command more $$$ than Murph as a free agent. Frankly Niese hasn’t exactly wowed me either, but as our only lefty SP he’s staying put at least until if/when Matz establishes himself.

    Recker’s so gone you can smell it. As soon as Td’A heals he’s outta here. We’ve loved watching some of your big flies big guy, but we actually have a glut of catching prospects now and I don’t see you becoming the Ron Hodges of the 21st century (RH logged 12 years with us, can you believe it?).

    • Joe Janish April 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm
      Ironically, before the bone spur in his elbow, Recker may have been the best all-around catcher the Mets had in their organization. If he can’t throw like he did last year, then I definitely see him being cast off. This organization values hitting over all other attributes, perhaps because of advanced statistics’ inability to effectively and decisively measure defensive performance. It seems the goal in Flushing is find bats to fill positions, and hope the rest of their game either doesn’t matter or will eventually catch up enough to be adequate.
      • argonbunnies April 29, 2015 at 7:53 am
        Recker seems like a much better leader and game-caller than d’Arnaud. I’ve also liked Plawecki’s receiving better than Travis’s in this tiny sample.

        I honestly don’t know the best way to maximize our catchers. Probably trade either d’Arnaud or Plawecki in a big deal for a star, and pray that whoever we keep stays healthy. Recker’s a fine back-up.

        As for Murphy’s salary, I don’t see why any team that would give him 3/$35 in 2016 wouldn’t give up a decent prospect for him in 2014 or 2015. No idea why he’s still here… unless the other 29 teams DO care about defense, and want no part of him.

  7. argonbunnies April 29, 2015 at 8:05 am
    I like this look toward a playoff roster, Cappy. IMO, current Mets who:

    Don’t belong on that roster:
    Tejada, Nieuwenhuis, Mayberry, Niese, Gee, maybe some relievers (hard to tell — Familia’s the only one who’s a lock to stay)

    Don’t belong in that starting lineup:
    Murphy, Flores, Cuddyer, Granderson, Campbell, Recker (I’d be happy to have these guys as back-ups)

    Of course, even great October teams have some weak links. I’m not claiming it’s imperative that we make every single one of these changes. But, y’know, the more upgrades the better…

    • Quinn April 29, 2015 at 9:08 am
      A playoff team doesnt have to be an all star team.
      I could see Flores contributing as a starter, not as a SS but maybe 2b or 3b.
      Also a platoon of some sort of Granderson and Cuddyer wouldnt be horrific in a starting lineup (assuming Cuddyer can rebound from his slow start).
      I also think there are Tejada types sprinkled throughout playoff rosters as back ups.
      • Extragooey April 29, 2015 at 9:42 am
        Agreed, that assessment is a bit harsh, especially on someone like Cuddyer. He’s judging him on a handful of at bats. You can also look on recent championship teams from the Giants and Cardinals and throw out a bunch of guys and label them as don’t belong in the lineup or the roster.
        • argonbunnies April 29, 2015 at 6:50 pm
          I realize that Cuddyer MUST be a a better hitter than he’s shown, but he’s not much of a fielder or baserunner. The starting 8 really ought to be evaluated overall, not just for their bats. Flores at 3B would be fine if we didn’t have Wright. A Cuddyer/Granderson platoon is also okay as long as that spot is our weak link rather than our strength.

          As for all the playoff teams carrying worse hitters, that’s true, but many of those guys were great defenders, and most of those teams excelled in other areas. If the Mets can acquire Holland-Davis-Herrera or Casilla-Romo-Affeldt-Lopez, then they can get away with some weak regulars too.

  8. Extragooey April 29, 2015 at 10:35 am
    Murphy isn’t coming back next year. So either trade him or lose him to free agency. I think we missed the timing on Murphy as we should have traded him last year. His value is at the lowest. Everyone knows what you are getting in Murphy by now, a pretty good hitter (albeit streaky and doesn’t walk much) with a lot of mental lapses (defense and baserunning). Maybe wait until he’s hitting around .300 to pull the trigger and get something back. The problem is that the Mets should be and are looking like a contending team this year. Hard to trade a main part of your offense and put a prospect with unknown production in its place. As good as Herrera looks, you just never know when you bring him up (reference d’Arnaud).

    Recker is a decent backup catcher, although I’d like to see him be more consistent at the plate and do more than run into a few pitches once in a while. The problem is Plawecki may be too good to waste as a backup. May be better served to have him put up good numbers in triple A so he’s a trade chip. I think d’Arnaud is a better overall player, although his injury history is unfortunate and may be a concern.

  9. emperorp April 29, 2015 at 4:05 pm
    Can’t see Gee starting a playoff game? Isn’t this the same franchise that started Bobby Jones in a playoff game? The Mets were lucky that Jones pitched the game of his life.
    • Extragooey April 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm
      If the Mets make the playoffs with these current starters, Gee will not start. Only 4 starters needed in the playoffs.
  10. JAK April 29, 2015 at 4:26 pm
    The ability to be patient and value depth, not offense or pitching or payroll flexibility, over everything else has put this organization in a position to be excellent for several years. Murphy, Gee, Recker, and Flores all may be eventually be replaced, but for now the Mets’ greatest asset is being able to fill holes as they arise. Trading Plawecki or TDA was heavily favored during the offseason by fans; they are a better team now because they have both players in the organization.

    Murphy will stay with this team for the rest of the year and walk after the season is over. Herrera will benefit from the every day playing time in AAA then be primed to be the second baseman for the next 5 years. They will likely make a decision at catcher this year regarding who is their starter for the next 5 years, and trade the other. Personally, I support TDA because of his offensive upside, but either would be fine.

    Depth is what will carry the Mets to the postseason. Any of these players being “gone tomorrow” would be a mistake.