Winter Meetings Tidbits: Sandy, Zobrist and When Prospects Miss
Before anything else, a tip of the Mets Today cap to Sandy Alderson. Having watched several acquaintances and one very important friend bravely fight and finally succumb to this horrible disease, I can only wish the best for him and his loved ones as he traverses this uncertain path.
On to baseball:
I think my streak of accurate prognostications is about to be shattered as the Mets appear poised to sign Ben Zobrist. I am actually very excited about this possibility as Zobrist fits the Mets on several levels.
For openers, he will improve their middle infield defense. While his stated preference is to play second base, his versatility, including his ability to switch hit, lengthens the Mets lineup and serves as an important insurance policy against injuries (David Wright) and/or inconsistent play from untested youngsters (Dilson Herrera and Michael Conforto). His Marcel Projection of 268/345/413 is acceptable for what is a “win now” move.
His signing would signal that the Mets clearly understand that their window of contention is wide open and that they are willing to invest what is needed to capitalize on this opportunity. But, this isn’t all just about next year. Because he was traded during the season last July, his signing won’t cost The Mets a draft pick. On the other hand, the Mets stand a very good chance of gaining an extra draft pick for losing Daniel Murphy to free agency, thanks the Qualifying Offer they made him last month.
Yes, extra first round picks doesn’t always equate to major league success–Google the 2008 Mets draft if you dare. Those failiures, along with the loss of 1st round picks in 2006 and 2009, certainly helped speed the end of the Omar Minaya era. If nothing else, keeping their top pick, while adding both a top-notch major leaguer and a compensatory draft pick is a neat little trick. I will miss Murph, but a trade of Murphy for Zobrist and what should be a valued prospect is one I think most of us would make. The Mets should be poised to add at least one more high-profile arm to their depleted conveyor belt of roster candidates/trade bait, a tactic consistent with Alderson’s proclaimed goal of sustained success.
Speaking of young arms…two former top prospects Jacob Turner and Drew Pomeranz were on the move again this week. At one time, both where considered top among the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. The latter began his pro career in the Cleveland system after being drafted 5th overall. He has since been traded three times, the first as part of a deal for a rental ace (Ubaldo Jimenez), but most recently in a rummage sale-type swap between two underachieving teams. At age 27, with a 14-24 W/L record, it’s now or never for him. Turner is an even stranger case: he was also a high level prospect in a deadline deal. Unfortunately for him, it was to Miami, where careers seemingly go to die. He was traded to the Cubs and later selected off waivers by the White Sox, who immediately cut him and then turned around and resigned him. At 24, he probably has more time left than Pomeranz, but his vagabond ways are certainly a contrast to projections as a Top Of the Rotation arm just a few years ago.
Their sagas are a sobering reminder of how frequently can’t miss prospects do miss and just how fortunate the Mets are to have “hit” on Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard all at the same time. That doesn’t even count what they might very well get from Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler,. Here’s stunning thought: barring a record setting raise in arbitration for Harvey, next year the Detroit Tigers probably will pay more for one season from Mike Pelfrey than the Mets will for all five of those young starters!
While many of us, including me, did lose faith in Alderson during the past 12-18 months, they are in this position in part due to his ability to leverage the hand he was dealt and his ability to stay the course. Oorah, Marine! Let’s Go Mets!