The Mets: What Will “All In” Look Like?

On paper, the Mets are a very deep team. They have an excess number of starting pitchers, multiple relief options and a bench so strong that several guys that could start for other teams might begin this season in the minors. They are also a battle-tested bunch, with everyone on the roster having been either through a playoff push or having gone deep into the post season. Their principal owner is now an elderly man who wants to win now and their GM (who is no spring chicken himself) has recently declared that the team is “all in” for the 2017 season.

That juicy remark has stirred the long-time cynical Mets fan within me. How well have other front office pronouncements such as “Meaningful Games In September,” “Payroll Flexibility,” and “90-win Season” played out? Hint: none of them bore much fruit.

So, how might “all in” look like this year? I normally hate answering a question with more questions, but here goes:

How Much Rope?  

What happens if/when David Wright proves he isn’t an everyday player anymore? Do the Mets attempt to maximize their investment in David, trotting him out day after day, even if he OPSes below .700, or do they relegate him to the bench in favor of a more productive options? It doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence that David’s top replacement is the equally brittle Jose Reyes. If both veterans struggle, do the Mets finally give Wilmer Flores a full-time job or T.J. Rivera an extended look? A long shot, but maybe they gamble that Gavin Cecchini can handle the position? Third base is one spot the Mets have plenty of in-house options for, should Plan A prove to be unworkable.

Let’s take the opposite track with Jay Bruce, whom I  believe the Mets really, really, really want to trade. I also fully expect the Mets to stash Michael Conforto  in Las Vegas, as all this talk about getting him reps in outfield during the regular season is transparently disingenuous. So, what happens if Bruce gets off to a fast start? What if by July he is hitting the way Xavier Nady did for them back in 2006? Do they trade Bruce while his value is high and bring up Conforto? Or do they ride Bruce out to the bitter end and let him walk as a Free Agent after the season? While Conforto could make the decision easier by hitting well in Vegas, the Mets might not have the stomach to trade a productive Jay Bruce in the middle of a pennant chase.

Next to Bruce, the most maligned Met these days in Travis d’Arnaud. Once considered the crown jewel of the R.A. Dickey trade, Travis’ inability to stay healthy, coupled with his poor production when on the field last year and the whispers of some poor pitch calling, made him persona non grata among the Mets faithful. The Mets went so far as to hire Glen Sherlock this offseason to provide some additional coaching for Travis. If he struggles again this year with poor play and nagging injuries, we will finally get the answer to how much time former top prospect pedigree buys you.


The Future is Now (Or Is It?)

So let’s say that as expected, the Mets and Washington are locked in mortal combat for NL East supremacy. Will the Mets mortgage a part of their future to avoid the risk of another do-or-die tussle against an all-world pitcher like the one they ran into in last year’s elimination game? Here in late February, it’s easy to say yes. But let’s fast forward a bit to the trade deadline. Several second division teams are contacting Alderson offering names like Pollack, Abreu, McCutchen or Dozier. Each of them have their eyes not on one of the Mets current crop of pitchers (I think the word is out on their untouchable status), but on the up and comers in the farm system. And for the sake of the discussion, both the veterans being offered and the prospects discussed are all healthy and productive. How far would Alderson go? I don’t think Amed Rosario is going anywhere unless its to shake Mike Trout lose from the Angels. But would he sacrifice say Dom Smith or Des Lindsay along with Thomas Szapucki to bring in that last big piece? Dream for a moment: what if the Angels do make Trout available? Does Alderson jump in?

A little more likely scenario is that a known-quantity, late-inning relief arm goes on the block in late July. Like most teams, the Mets will almost definitely need help in the ‘pen down the stretch. How much do they give up to get this as-of-yet undefined figure? Stay tuned.


Innings Limits Be Damned? 

Now it gets really dicey: how far do the Mets let Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom go this year? In pursuit of a divisional crown, do they let all of them exceed career highs for innings pitched? Many have blamed the extra work they took on in 2015 as the reason for their injuries the following year. But does “all in” mean they go for it this year, with the knowledge that some of these guys could be back on the shelf in 2018? What about Robert Gsellman? His max number of innings pitched in any season major or minors is 143. If as expected he is the 5th starter this year, he will likely exceed that number. And after two years of inactivity, do the Mets dare push Zack Wheeler past 125 innings, provided he is healthy and effective?


Funny what kind of firestorm a simple remark can start! I think this can be a fascinating and fun year. Let’s Go Mets!


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 February 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm
    I must say that we Met fans have waited a long time for this kind of depth and these types of problems. I think by far this most iffy situation is with DW, with the worst case scenario being that he is “healthy” but performing at a replacement player level. I am always one that opts for performance dictating, but I fully understand how difficult that can be with s DW (as it was with a Derek Jeter and others). I just hope if things don’t go well that it doesn’t get ugly for either DW or the team.

    TDA is clearly the guy with the shortest leash, but I have a feeling he will hold his own. From there, I think an “all in” team with this depth keeps everyone active and lets performance dictate who gets the most playing time. If Bruce is performing I would be eluctant to deal him unless there is a quality return. If he doesn’t perform and Conforto does, then Conforto deserves to play.

    From an acquisition standpoint, there is no reason why they can;t keep all options on the table. To me, aside from Syndergaard and Rosario, anyone should be on the table if there is a deal that can improve their chances in 2017 without hampering their chances in 2019 and beyond. Barring a terrible run of injuries or significant dropoffs in performance, this depth (not thinned during the winter) puts Alderson in a terrific position to deal from strength. There is plenty of competition in the NL this season, but it should be fun and interesting for followers of the Mets.

    • argonbunnies February 23, 2017 at 1:21 am
      I’ll channel Mr. Janish and note that if I were going to sell high on a pitcher, Syndergaard might actually be the one. He hasn’t had his TJ yet! For a guy throwing 100 with a late arm in his delivery and bone spurs already, it can’t be long…

      As for Wright, agreed that the worst case scenario is poor play that everyone refuses to blame on injury, telling us over and over that he’s just in a funk or something. Sadly for Wright, I don’t actually think that will be an option; his physical limitations will be too obvious to ignore.

      D’Arnaud would have a short leash if we had a viable replacement, but we don’t. So… uh…

      If Bruce is performing well, we should sell high like Cincy did last year. Bruce has a .305 OBP over his last 2500 PAs and -3.7 dWAR during that span.

      • Dan Capwell February 23, 2017 at 9:52 am
        I was actually thinking about this passage in the actual post, but thought better of it. Blockbuster trade proposal: Mets swap Syndergaard, Rosario and some lesser tier players such as Juan Lagares and TJ Rivera, along with another up-and-coming arm such as Dunn or Szapucki to the LAA for Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons.

        It’s a pure fantasy, but then again at one time so was the idea of the Dodgers ever trading Mike Piazza.

        • argonbunnies February 23, 2017 at 10:11 am
          I think the best player the Mets might have been able to get for that would be Mookie Betts, but then the Sox got Sale, so there goes their need.

          Trying to think of anyone else out there… Goldschmidt, but great as he is, I’m not sure if he’s worth THAT haul…

          I just can’t see Moreno ever trading Trout, at least not until he’s much closer to FA.

      • DaveSchneck February 23, 2017 at 7:36 pm
        Everyone is tradeable in theory, and Syndergaard will always be one pitch away fromTJS until/if it occurs. That said, I think I side with the current GM’s mindset, which is to hoard every legit arm despite the temptations to deal.
  2. argonbunnies February 23, 2017 at 1:11 am
    I think “all in” means the Wilpons have told Alderson they won’t let mere dollars stop them from plugging any black holes that emerge on the roster.

    I think the Mets are committed to filling every spot with someone who’s at least okay.

    I don’t think that’s sufficient to dethrone Washington, but you never know…

  3. david February 25, 2017 at 12:34 am
    Sandy thought last year the stars would align but injuries derailed dreams of another Championship. This year they are deeper and I think Sandy wants the team to know that it does not matter who gets hurt – they have the talent to win, if they just score enough runs. And they should IF a few break go their way such as TDA reverting to form as a hitter; Lagares staying healthy; Flores continues to hit; and Jay Bruce hits the ball out of the park from time to time as a 6 or 7 hitter in that lineup.
  4. vilos February 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    I need some help that many here could help me out.
    Since day one, I’ve been saying that the Mets could keep Conforto as fifth of, and play 3-4 times a week resting Cespedes, grandy and bruce.
    In general the response is, it can’t happen because conforto needs reps and you don’t rest your best player
    I just looked at the cubs numbers of 2016 (I m not sure if it included post season or not) and found out that heyward played 145 games and got 600 PA, fowlet played 120 and got 550 PA. The rest was split between zobrist, almorra, soler and a couple of others. Each of them getting 150-200 PA.
    In total The Cubs OF got some 2.200 PA with an ave of 730
    I understand there might be an error with the numbers, but could somebody explain why conforto can’t stay on with Bruce and be a tremendous advantage
    • vilos February 26, 2017 at 8:09 pm
      Just a small update
      I checked Phillies numbers and they got 2.000 PA for their OF so The cubs numbers probably do include post season
      Just the same though, you could give Cespedes 550PA, bruce 450, grandy 400 lagares 200 and Conforto 400.
      Again, why not?
      • Dan Capwell February 28, 2017 at 7:04 am
        It isn’t a bad idea and if Conforto keeps hitting the way he has started off, it’s probably a distinct possibility.
    • argonbunnies March 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm
      Here’s my take, Vilos:

      There is absolutely no reason why this CAN’T happen, but there are a ton of reasons why it WON’T happen.

      Your Cubs example is unhelpful. Heyward and Fowler played every day (with the occasional day off) when they were healthy, until Heyward got so bad that they were looking for excuses to sit him. Zobrist played every day too, but most of them at second base. Soler could have grabbed a full time OF job if he’d played well enough and Zobrists’ competition at 2B hadn’t played well, but Soler didn’t come through. Almora spent most of the year in the minors. So yeah, the Mets could fall into a similar allotment of PAs through injuries and poor performances, but that isn’t any sort of a plan.

      As for an actual plan to split 3 OFs’ PAs among 4 OFs, in order to give every guy enough daily PAs to stay sharp, you have to prioritize that over any sort of in-game flexibility. If you save Conforto to face that righty reliever, well, you may not end up using him. I’ve never seen a manager who can be trusted to think big picture consistently enough to make that all work out, besides maybe Bobby Valentine.

      If a hitter gets an off day when he’s red hot, he’ll be annoyed. If he gets an off day when he’s trying things to break out of a slump, he’ll be annoyed. If his playing time goes up or down depending on his performance, he might press. The only way for a manager to handle this is to have 4 robots out there whose performance isn’t impacted by any of that, or to map out some exact playing time distribution beforehand.