In case you haven’t heard, the Mets have traded former first-round pick Eddie Kunz to the Padres for another former first-rounder, Allan Dykstra. This news is over a day old, but I’ve been trying to develop a reaction to it.
First of all, no, Allan Dykstra is not related to former Met Lenny Dykstra — which could be good news or bad news depending on your perspective (FYI, Lenny’s son Cutter was traded by the Brewers to the Nationals a few days ago for Nyjer Morgan).
Dykstra, like Kunz, was a disappointment for the organization that originally drafted him. A strapping, 6’5″, 250-lb. first baseman who averaged a homerun every dozen at-bats at Wake Forest, Dykstra was expected to rise quickly through the ranks as a power hitter and eventually replace Adrian Gonzalez. However, he has struggled to make contact with the ball (one strikeout per every 4.5 plate appearances) and has yet to rise above AA. He’s a dead pull hitter with holes in his swing, and doesn’t offer much in terms of defense, speed, or athleticism. Additionally, he has a degenerative hip condition that began in high school and may or may not have an affect on his playing. He soon turns 24, so although that seems young it’s not for someone still stuck in A-ball. The one positive he has — other than homerun potential — is plate discipline; he has a .388 OBP in 2+ years in the minors. So he will take pitches and can get on base, but he will need three singles behind him to score.
As for Kunz, the sidearming righty was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets bullpen by now. Perhaps influenced by Joe Smith’s quick rise to the Majors in 2007, the Mets thought they could catch lightning in a bottle again by drafting the supposedly polished Oregon State reliever in June 2007. But Kunz could not replicate Smith’s career path — though the Mets tried as hard as they could to push the issue. Kunz did get to the big leagues quickly — he appeared in four games in 2008 — but was clearly overmatched and ineffective. He was similarly unimpressive in his first full year of AAA in 2009, posting a 5.02 ERA and walking 31 in 61 innings. The Mets sent him back down to AA last year, using him both as a starter and reliever with disastrous results — 42 games (including 12 starts), 111 IP, 116 H, 68 BB, 63 K, 1.65 WHIP, 5.34 ERA. Kunz turns 25 on April 8th, and, like Dykstra, is old for his level.
So what to make of this deal? Who knows? It’s one of those “maybe he’ll do better in a new environment” deals for both players. High hopes were bestowed on both young men by their previous organizations (Dykstra was a San Diego native, adding to the pressure), so going to a new place, with low expectations, could be exactly what these players need to flourish. From the Mets’ standpoint, it may also be part of the cleansing process — i.e., moving out the glaring, unfortunate remnants and symbols of the old regime.
By the way, if you are interested, below is a video of Allan Dykstra during batting practice in 2009 — hat tip to 7 Train to Shea.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.