Would Wood Help?

This slow offseason has made the Baseball Network virtually unwatchable, but I was channel surfing the other day and stumbled on and then stuck with their Top Games of 2016 segment.

#9 on the list was a midsummer clash between the Cubs and Mariners that included an awkward-looking catch in leftfield by a Cubs reliever, whom manager Joe Maddon inserted there when the game seemed like a blowout loss. That “blowout loss” was later transformed into a Cubs win, which is  the real reason the game was featured on the show.

The less than nimble relief pitcher turned outfielder was one Travis Wood, who is currently (a) left handed and (b) an unsigned free agent. While statistically current/former Met Jerry Blevins is a better performer, I believe that Wood fits the profile of the kind of player that GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins like to target.

From the GM perspective, Wood can fill more than one role. He has 133 career starts, although none since the nine he started in 2015. His transformation to the bullpen began that year, as Maddon inserted him into 46 other games as a reliever. The results were mixed: his K/9 rate rose and his WHIP declined, but his BB/9 jumped by nearly a full walk per nine innings. In 2016 he appeared in a whopping 77 games (Terry’s kinda guy), his K/9 and WHIP ratios stayed the same, however so did his BB/9. He was a better “late and close” pitcher in 2016 than in less high-leverage situations, which is a good sign.

The Mets have claimed to have faith in the Joshes (Smoker and Edgin) to fill the lefty roles in the pen. They are penciling in another lefty, Steven Matz into their rotation. Edgin and Matz are definite injury concerns and Smoker, although showing flashes of brilliance at times down the stretch in 2016, is untested and had a earlier promising career derailed by injuries. Wood might be able to start the season in the pen, perhaps co-handling the 8th inning with someone like Hansel Robles until the expected suspension of Jeurys Familia ends. From there he could be available to “swing,” moving into the rotation if perhaps Matz can’t go, or sticking to the pen if the rotation stays healthy the whole year (yeah, right). He doesn’t really block Edgin or Smoker if either proves to be effective beyond a cameo role or two.

Former Met GM Steve Phillips once coined the phrase “payroll flexibility.” Alderson and Collins seem somewhat hooked on a lineup flexibility and the 2017 Mets appear to be  constructed around players that can handle multiple roles, especially off the bench. Travis Wood represents another example of that type of player, should the Mets be interested.

Plus, they could probably get him cheap.







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. DaveSchneck January 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm
    I certainly would welcome him to the Met MLB staff of 12, but I don’t think he would be on the cheap, and certainly not Wilpon cheap. He will likely cost more than Blevins, given his ability to start, and he would probably prefer a situation that gives him a better chance to start at least as a spot starter. He would likely be the #8 or #9 option on the Mets. Gritty guy, with some pop at the plate as well, would give Collins additional flexibility as well. Ah, probably just makes too much sense…something a true World Series contender in a big market would pursue.
    • Iz January 29, 2017 at 8:04 pm
      Well, tell us them which WS contenders are pursuing him? Looks like none is the right answer.
    • Iz January 29, 2017 at 8:09 pm
      And please tell us what exactly is Wilpon chep. Giving all those bucks to Cespedes when they could have just as easily said Conforto will be just as good was that Wilpon cheap. Well, how about giving Walker, coming off back surgery 17 plus mil for one little high risk year when they had Wilmer ready to hit just as many dingers at one tenth the cost. Was Grandy’s contract Wilpon cheap? Well maybe Wright should have bee n given 200 mil. Was that Wilpon cheap? Or is Wilpon cheap not paying asinine money for a mediocre Loogy??????
      • DaveSchneck January 29, 2017 at 11:32 pm
        Well, Iz, I will explain my perception of Wilpon cheap. In 2014, the Mets, performing in the largest market in the country, and owners of 70% of their own TV network, had the 21st ranked payroll in MLB. In 2015, a season that saw their home attendance grow from 2.1 to 2.6 million, they had the 19th ranked payroll. Coming off a World Series appearance, 2016 saw attendance increase to 2.8 million. Payroll surged to the 15th highest in MLB, still trailing numerous mid-market teams. As a comparison, the World Champion Royals, with slightly more 2015 attendance (albeit at much lower ticket prices) , and a much smaller TV market, found a way to spend $20 million more on its 40 man roster.

        Regarding spending on Cespedes, Walker, David Wright, and free agent signings etc., the individual deals don’t matter to me. Even the total payroll dollars don’t matter much. What matters is the quality and depth of the roster relative to the spend. If they can assemble a top roster for $80 million, so be it. But when they are sitting with at least two bullpen spots with weak/unproven players, and upgrades available, I am not satisfied as a fan and paying customer.

        I will withhold final judgment on this winter until opening day, but I don’t think
        any Met fan can be blamed for being skeptical of the Wilpon’s willingness to match the spending with the needs with the expectations. This does not mean throwing away money, and there is nothing wrong with shrewd business and waiting out the market. Every signing involves some risk and some will be failures. It happens to every team. My expectation is that a team driving for a championship this season will do what it has to so its 25 man roster has no weak links on the pitching staff, and its 40 man roster has enough depth to protect against injuries and poor performances. If and when the Wilpons meet that expectation, I will be amongst the first to acknowledge it.

        • DanB February 1, 2017 at 10:13 am
          It’s as if the Wilpons are willing to spend enough for meaningful games in September but not enough for a championship. But then again, we all remember when they wouldn’t pay for meaningful games in August so that is an improvement.
  2. argonbunnies January 29, 2017 at 9:55 pm
    As a combo multi-inning reliever, situational lefty, injury replacement starter and pitcher you don’t have to pinch-hit for, I think Wood is a great use of a 40-man roster spot. If the Mets’ 25-man roster has needs for those and no better way to fill them, then he’s a great fit there too; I’m not sure, as it depends on other moves yet to be made.

    Price tag? I have no idea. I imagine a yearly salary that isn’t too high would require a multi-year deal. Seems risky for a guy with only one full season of relief under his belt. Will he be one of the ones who holds up long term or not?

  3. Dan Capwell January 30, 2017 at 7:21 am
    At some point, the behind the scenes story of the 2016-2017 baseball offseason is going to make for some very interesting reading. Not since the dawn of the Internet age can I remember this many apparently useful players still unsigned. I think you have to go all the way back to the collusion days of the late 1980’s (BTW, I was present at the game that Tim Raines returned and hit the Grand Slam off Darling) to find a similar winter.

    As far as the Mets go, I am very puzzled as to why they haven’t yet shored up the bullpen, which from this standpoint, seems like an obvious need. But, give the names still out there (Blevins, Wood, Romo, etc.) its not like they HAVE to act yet. But one would think as the calendar flips to February this week, that those guys are not long unemployed. I think it was Rosenthal who has reported that the Mets are willing to give Blevins two years.

    I can remember Jonesing for the Mets to sign Michael Bourn a few years back and being very upset when he went elsewhere. In retrospect, it looked like Alderson knew exactly what he was doing. The Mets were in a different spot back then. The window of contention is wide open. That they aren’t acting with any apparent urgency is what is driving me, and I suspect many other observers crazy.

    There is still time to get something done, at least there is until there isn’t.

  4. DanS January 31, 2017 at 4:55 pm
    I was there too. I think the GS was off Orosco.

    Anyone out there think Matt Wieters would be a good fit? Just can’t see another season of Travis/Rivera.

  5. Dan Capwell February 3, 2017 at 10:25 pm
    Gorzelanny, Salas and Blevins. Mets have a day. No Wood however