Are We Even Worse Off Than We Thought?

Last summer, while Jose Reyes was running away with the NL batting crown, I envisioned a fierce bidding war for his services developing over the winter. The way I figured it, there had to be at least a dozen teams lining up to throw money and years at him. After all, he is the total package, right? He has the speed, the energy, plays a premium position, has some pop in his bat and is on the right side of age 30. What team wouldn’t want him?

Well, we found out: there were 28 teams not interested enough to make contact with his agent and only one that made an offer. Reyes ended up signing with his only suitor, the Miami Marlins. And they got him for a contract that only two years ago would have seemed like a bargain.

There is an old saying about familiarity breeding contempt. After watching Jose’s entire career with the Mets, I was hesitant about seeing him get a long-term deal. Too many injuries! And for a team like the Mets with a long history of regrettable contracts, I felt that a multi-year deal was another ticking time bomb. FWIW, I think the Marlins will regret three, possibly four years of the deal. I favored dealing Reyes last July, but that’s another topic.

So, I watched and waited in hopeful anticipation during last week’s winter meetings. I was cheered by Sandy Alderson’s comments about listening to offers on everyone on the roster. That’s good. After three consecutive sub-.500 seasons, no one should be untouchable. A nice prospect or two, like what they got from the Giants for Carlos Beltran last July would certainly jump start the rebuilding process. What isn’t so good is the types of offers they reportedly received for what should be their prime trading chips, a.k.a the contract-friendly, major league ready starters currently wearing a Met uniform.

For example:

Daniel Murphy: Hit .320 last year and was 5th in the NL when he sustained a season-ending injury. Alderson praised his leadership ability. So here come the LA Dodgers with an offer of Tony Gywnn Jr. Tony Gwynn Jr.? He of the .660 OPS? On his third team in the past three years? Two years older than Murphy and nearly twice as expensive? WTF?

Ike Davis: Accordingly the Pirates, yes the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that hasn’t won anything in 20 years, came calling, offering AA outfielder Sterling Marte and AAA pitcher Brad Lincoln. The latter is not a prospect: he projects at best as a 4/5 starter. Marte has some appeal, but he is at least two years away. Isn’t Davis supposed to carry a gold glove and have the potential to hit 30 homers?

• Jon Niese: I thought that left handed starting pitchers under team control for the next several years are just about the most prized commodity in baseball. So we hear the Mets are “listening” to offers on Jon. One would expect a long line of suitors. Nope. In fact one of those interested teams was the San Diego Padres. Then they hire Omar Minaya and they suddenly aren’t interested any more. Coincidence? Didn’t Minaya draft this guy? (Rhetorical question).

Bobby Parnell: Like Niese, Bobby is young and under team control for the next several years. Although not a southpaw, he does have that triple-digit speed fastball. He is also available. There aren’t even any good rumors out there about a deal for him.

So adding it all up leads to an unpleasant conclusion: the Mets are what their record says they are, which is a bad team with a roster full of players that most teams don’t have more than a passing interest in. The slow market for Reyes and the lack of interest in players from last year’s roster certainly indicates that. Perhaps the next coming weeks will reveal better news, but given the circumstances right now we are getting a good indication of what the market thinks about current Mets. Between this and the latest revelation on the Wilponzi’s finances, we may be on the precipice of a long dark age.

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 Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.
  1. Jason Hammel December 14, 2011 at 11:49 am
    What, not even a mention for me?

    This is b.s.

  2. Joe December 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm
    “precipice of a long dark age”

    Since I don’t know what will happen, particularly when Bay and Santana are off the books, my approach is to worry about ’12 and not assume that all is gone until ’15 or something. I’ll leave that to the seers among us.

    I also think one or more of those people might be traded in time, perhaps during Spring Training, especially those who teams would like to see play again first.

  3. Rob L December 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm
    I don’t think we are necessarily worse off, but the mets are definitely in a strange position. Daniel Murphy is a perfect case. Good hitter, poor fielder, so wouldn’t there be some kind of interest from any AL team needing a designated hitter? He is a good hitter, but he lacks the power that many seem to rely on in a DH. And his bat is just good enough that he needs to be out there even with his poor defense. Then I think about where I place him in the field and it gets even more complicated.

    I’m intrigued that the Pirates wouldn’t give more for Ike, but I’m not surprised. Hopefully the Mets see him as a future core player with potential to be a great hitting and fielding first basemen. I think at this point the only thing holding him back is experience. We saw brilliance last year but I think one more year of that kind of performance and he will really gain a reputation around the league. Personally, I think he’ll perform. The whole ankle injury doesn’t help either.

    Bobby Parnell is someone I really want to do well, but it always seems like he takes one step forward, and two back. He’s a flamethrower, but lacks that edge and control. Not to mention he’s gone back and forth as a starter and reliever, and I’m not sure, but maybe being in the spotlight had some sort of psychological affect.

    Then we have the likes of Jason Bay. Who could predict that power outage? And his contract almost makes him unmovable, while we gather any hope he will rebound to what he once was. Ironically, the positive has been his defense, when everyone worried how he would handle citifield compared to fenway.

    So we have a good hitter who will probably end up play second but should be fielding somewhere else, Davis who I think may be on the fringe of becoming a great player, a fireball pitcher who loses it, and a mind-boggling left fielder who is suffering from the curse of citifield.

    Imagine what would happen if everything went right for once; Bay rebounds, Ike takes that step forward and feels nothing from the injury, Parnell develops into a strong reliever, maybe closer, and Murphy’s combination of hitting, and determination to improve his defense make him tolerable in the field.

    Just my opinion, let me know what you think.

    • panc December 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm
      nice perspective. Watch in 2014 = 1984, 2015=1985 and 2016 =1986. watch.
  4. Mike B December 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    Good Post, I think the Reyes market was so small because it was just not a good year for him to be a free agent, teams were handcuffed. We now see why the Angels didnt get involved, the Brewers and Phillies had their hands full with Fielder and Rollins and the Red Sox and Yanks werent in position to make a move. I believe all these teams wish they could have got involved. Didnt really leave anyone but the Tigers and Nats. Luckily Reyes was able to get his money anyway, Right?

    As for your second point, If the NYM roster was really the Pirates roster what would you want to give up to get the players you mentioned? You brought up Ike Davis, no one is going to give you the prospects Adrian Gonzales brought back for a player that has the potential to be 2/3’s the player that he is. And Ike Davis would be really the only player that could start for a playoff team.

    Jon Niese is a 4 or 5 starter on a contending team and would prob not get a start in the playoffs.

    Murph is a utilty player.

    Parnell is a guy someone might take a chance on to see if a change a scenery will add movement to his fastball.

    People keep saying to wait til next year, we dont have a Mike Stanton who by the way doesnt have the potential to hit 30 HRS he actually hits 30 HRs. I dont know about piching but no one ever does know how pichers will pan out but I would guess it would be a miricale if one of them became a top of the rotation SP or a All Star closer.

    • Joe December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm
      If you look at the pitching on many playoff teams these days, it is quite likely that Niese would pitch, especially if they get to the second round.

      As to Murphy, he has DH potential. Teams might pick him up and give you a useful part because it’s gravy, like some team with an extra good reliever or a good utility infielder/2nd baseman type. They might toss a lower level prospect too, that might be of some use.

      Davis has potential to be a good first baseman though especially off an injury, he probably would not get much. Having both Murphy and Davis to me is a bit silly, since I still don’t see M. as a 2nd baseman, the position now open.

      Parnell is a the type player various fans bad mouth but think they will get gold back in a trade.

      Part of the deal of waiting is that 40mil in two players is coming off the books and at the trading deadline you might get something for one of them as well. The players btw were accidents waiting to happen — many was dubious about that contract for Bay & Santana’s arm was known to be somewhat iffy.

      • Mike B December 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm
        Ok so Niese might be able to be a teams last option to pitch game 4 on someones roster, but the post was about why arent we getting offered more for these guys. What do you think a team should offer the mets?

        I love Murphy besides his dopey baseball IQ but he is only a DH and American league teams are starting to leave that position open to rest star players rather then have permenant DH and again what do you want for murphy? An above average hitter with little pop and no glove, speed or heads up play.

        The problem with Bobby is simple when met fans look at him they see Heath Bell.

        I disagree with you on Davis as well, although I dont think he would get as much as met fans want I think he is our best trade piece with the most value even off a freak injury.

        Yes and last but not least the last two guys we pay, lets nurse them back and trade them so we can start more AAAA players. For the record 95% of the feedback when we signed those two was positive. No one could have though Bay was gonna be this bad and Santana well I remember that day very clearly and no one in NY was crying the blues that day.

        • Joe December 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm
          I was addressing what you said & I think Niese actually has a potential to at least be a No. 3 & especially as a swing man, I don’t think he is just a desperation move on the playoffs. As to a trade, that sure, even that won’t get you too much. And, it might be a last minute move.

          I think Murphy as I said can give you a useful reliever, a better second base option than we have now or some useful prospect, if not an elite one. Perhaps, more than one prospect, at least one that might develop. I don’t think all DH teams has the policy you suggest.

          As to Davis, I don’t necessarily disagree, except that I don’t know what “best chip” means.

          I don’t think 95% felt positive about Bay — not saying the other way, but many were worried about him especially with that salary. As to Santana, yes, it was worth it, but the risk was there & it was fingers cross to see how long he would last.

        • Mike B December 18, 2011 at 11:33 am
          Best Chip means most value to an opposing team. Months earlier when I had thought the mets had money I thought they could have signed Fielder and traded Davis.

          By the way not too many teams have an extra good reliever, and who would trade give up a better option at second for murphy? I would rather have a player that hits 15-20 points lower that can field.

  5. Dan B December 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm
    I think we have the type of players that teams trade for at the midseason point, to fill a gap in hope of making the playoffs. We don’t have game changers, players that you base your line-up around and fans get excited about. Good glove/20 hr first basemen coming off a big injury doesn’t put fans in the seats no matter how much we appreciate him. I also think other teams see the Mets as desperate and they are willing to wait us out to start giving away players just to lower payroll (like we used to do with other teams in the good ole days). It is really easy for other teams to be patient with the Mets in December, they will be more generious in July.
    • dan capwell December 17, 2011 at 11:16 am
      I think you’ve said it best–today’s Seth Smith for Niese rumor is just more of the same. I think we need to wait until the trade deadline to make a move.

      Look at what we got for Beltran–we never could have made that move in December.