Should the Mets Deal Before the Deadline?

No doubt you’ve seen the rumors of the Mets’ interest in people such as Ramon Hernandez, Huston Street, Grant Balfour, etc. Acquiring a few pieces before the July 31 trade deadline would certainly be exciting, but would it really be helpful toward the Mets’ pursuit of a postseason appearance? And could deals hurt more than they help?

First off, there is the notion that by doing something — i.e., making a trade — the front office is showing the Mets players that they “have their back,” that they’re sending the message that they believe in the team and doing what they can to help support them. But is that true?

Surely, someone like David Wright or R.A. Dickey will be quick to agree with that notion. But I’m not sure it would be the opinion of every player on the 25-man roster. For example, what if the Mets are able to acquire the aforementioned Hernandez or Miguel Olivo — either of whom would push Mike Nickeas back to AAA and could possibly take over Josh Thole‘s starting catcher role? It’s a case of “be careful what you wish for,” isn’t it?

You can extend that to the fans as well. Fans always want to see trades and free-agent signings, because everyone likes to get something “new” — whether it’s a tie, a toaster, or an addition to one’s favorite baseball team. But again, what if the new player pushes out a “homegrown” favorite like Thole, Daniel Murphy, or Lucas Duda? Or, what if the trade sends away someone like Duda or, say, Jordany Valdespin? Again, be careful what you wish for.

Wait, Valdespin? Why would the Mets ever trade Valdespin? He’s already shown to be a versatile, athletic, dynamic player with some pop and a flair for the dramatic. Surely they wouldn’t trade him away now. But those of a certain age may remember the summer of 2000, when Rey Ordonez broke his arm and the Mets made a trade for Mike Bordick. Among the players who were sent away in the package included a young, versatile, athletic, and dynamic player who had shown some pop and a flair for the dramatic at the MLB level — Melvin Mora.

We can argue whether the Bordick trade was a good one; the Mets did make the World Series that year, after all. But that’s not the point. The point is that you never know who is going to be moved, and it could be someone you enjoy watching, and/or someone you believe could fill a current hole. At the time, I thought the Mets were crazy to trade away Mora; he wasn’t a great shortstop but he was good enough to play there a few times a week, and his bat would make up for his defensive shortcomings. But Steve Phillips felt differently and brought in the steady yet unspectacular Bordick, who wound up providing OK defense and a .685 OPS in 56 games. His contribution was so inconsequential that Kurt Abbott played started at shortstop in Game 5 of the World Series that October, and wound up with the same number of at-bats as Bordick in the Fall Classic. Kurt Abbott!

Which brings me to another point: just because a player is new, doesn’t necessarily make him better. Sure, everyone is calling for Jason Bay to be replaced; names like Carlos Quentin and Justin Upton are being buzzed about. But there’s no guarantee either will be an upgrade over Bay’s current replacement, Scott Hairston. Sure, Hairston can move over to RF vs. lefties, but then that pushes out Duda. Yes, Duda is struggling against LHPs, but isn’t this supposed to be a rebuilding year? Doesn’t it make sense to expose Duda to lefthanders, to see if he can eventually figure them out? Or do the Mets want to breed and develop platoon players?

The same questions can be asked if Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, or another righthanded-hitting catcher is brought on board — what does that say about the organization’s opinion of Josh Thole? If the everyday lineup suddenly includes Hernandez, Hairston, and Quentin, aren’t the Mets getting away from that “homegrown” concept they’ve been selling all year? The same concept that has put the team six games over .500 at the All-Star break?

Naturally, the situation is different if the Mets can pick up a reliever or two, since the bullpen has been ineffective and there are always innings to go around. Though, there’s a part of me that wonders if there’s an obtainable veteran reliever who will definitely outperform Pedro Beato, Josh Edgin, and/or Elvin Ramirez. Hard to say, since Beato showed to be fairly effective before injuring his shoulder last year, and we have no idea, yet, what Edgin and Ramirez can do at the MLB level. Again, isn’t this supposed to be a rebuilding year — a year when you find out who among the youngsters can cut the mustard in the big leagues?

That’s just as much a question as the concern of “mortgaging the future” — i.e., trading away a prospect — for rentals / short-term results. My guess is that most of you agree it makes no sense to trade away Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey, as those young pitchers are key to the Mets’ future. But similarly, it may not make sense to take away at-bats from Duda, or innings from Beato. Of course, much depends on which players you believe will be part of the Mets future, as well as whether you truly believe the 2012 Mets have a valid shot at a World Championship.

What’s your thought? Should the Mets deal for a few veterans? Are there pieces the Mets can pick up that will “put them over the top,” and get them to a World Series? Is the gamble of acquiring them worth the possibility of retarding the development of current players and prospects? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike B July 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm
    It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, that doesnt mean it has to be. The Mets are in striking distance. Would I trade Harvey or Wheeler? No.. But if the Mets sign Wright and have Davis and Tejada do they need Murphy, Valdespin,Turner Havens and Flores? Could you combine one of those with a lower piching prospect and get a good return?

    I also am not a believer of holding on to Duda and Tole either and would certainly trade to get help at thier positions. When do you see either of those two being all stars at thier positions. I think they are very replaceable.

  2. gary s. July 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    Thole could not make an all star team in a one team league.Any of the above catchers would be an upgrade.I don’t think the Wilponzis want to spend money
    • Mike B July 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm
      Wilpons are def not going to spend any money. But the Mets prob wont have the most 2 outs Rbi’s in the second half. We will be lucky to finish 500
  3. chris o July 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm
    Mets have to take a look not only at this year, but the next 2 years…assess what is in the minors and at the big league level already. I would not go out and grab a rental for this year. Priority #1 is signing David Wright to a long term deal.
  4. Walnutz15 July 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm
    RE: Olivo

    Awful, awful defensive catcher, which is what I don’t like to see – at any rate.

    Big-time PB guy, in addition to questions of whether or not he prepares enough for his in-game competition. To me, that translates to “whatever offensive production he might bring to the table will be given right back in terms of lack of defense/smarts behind the dish”.


    The guy I’ve loved for awhile is Ryan Doumit; and was hoping they’d pursue him in a deal w/Pittsburgh – around the time they signed Paulino 2 winters ago.

    Thing that sucks there is that Minnesota just signed him to a 2-year extension not even 2 weeks ago, so I doubt you’ll see any movement that way.

    As far as RH Bats:

    – Willingham
    – Ross
    – Quentin
    – Upton
    – Guerrero
    – Manny

    I know that the last 2 options are old and very likely incapable of playing adequate defense. However, they’d essentially be free for half a season to roll the dice on (presuming you were okay with the chemistry-factor as well – which I doubt Alderson does).

    Not gonna happen, but you do have options that are about as banged-up as Jason Bay will be —- who are already better all-around hitters.

    Again, chances of happening are virtually nill.

    Sign me up for Huston Street (another guy I’ve always loved, and would have gladly given up Pelfrey for over the winter, even prior to injuring himself) – could have potentially saved us from wasting so much money on Rauch/Francisco this winter.

    I’m very interested in seeing what does or doesn’t occur by the deadline. The 1st 2 series’ post-ASB will say a lot.

  5. Joe Gomes July 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm
    Nice reading and I agree with you. Quentin gives you less right now than Hairston and I would try our other internal BP options before making a trade.

    Bring up Edgin to see if the BP stabilizes with him and Beato.

    Need a platoon partner for Duda? how is half a year worth of Vlad Guerrero?. You only give up money.

    And Hernandez this year gives you as much as Johnson who is currently at AAA.

  6. Andy July 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm
    I’ve been enjoying this Mets team, but I don’t think it is worth doubling down on at this point. The Mets should enjoy this ride as far as it goes and keep their powder dry for next year.

    If they do deal, I’d be more inclined to trade Murphy or Duda for a prospect with more upside, rather than give up prospects (or even money) for an unlikely shot at this year’s playoffs.

    • jerseymet July 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm
      Keep the powder dry…agreed. Who knew that the NL would be so weak this year. Sandy was targeting 2014, so stay the coarse. We have at least 10 free agent eligible players on our roster. Time to sell.
      • jerseymet July 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm
        Moving players not likely to be tendered this winter would cut payroll and keep the Buffalo express moving.
  7. DaveSchneck July 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm
    Good piece. I love that they are in the mix, but I think the longer term is more important. That said, I still think they can make upgrades, be it small or big. This winter, the 40 man roster may be crowded, so I do think they could move a mid-level player now for some help. I do think that taking on money vs. trading chips is the better way and what they will do. Like Walnutz, I think Street could help beyond this year. My basic plan would be to keep the blue chippers, and only move a good prospect or two for a player that will be part of the 2013 or beyond team.
  8. Crozier July 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm
    Middle inning relief will always be a crapshoot for the Mets, because past performance is no indicator of how a reliever will perform for a New York team. Granted, I have no data backing up my opinion, but so what.

    Hmmm…but wait: I think that’s also true of position players. Oh well.

    The key ingredient isn’t obtainable, far as I can tell, since what is needed is an impact player who’s also a catcher. No championship Mets team has been without one.

    • jerseymet July 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm
      Joe Mauer comes to mind. Mighty big contract for the Twins. Joe would be a game changer.
      • Andy July 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm
        Even if the Twins need to dump salary, there is no way Mauer ends up with the Mets. Some other team will offer a package of prospects that our Metsies could never match.
        • Crozier July 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm
          The Twins do need starting pitching…
        • Joe Janish July 11, 2012 at 8:38 am
          Yeah, that’s as crazy as thinking the Mets could put together a better deal for Johan Santana than the Yankees and Red Sox.

          Oh, wait …

        • Andy July 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm
          I am still shocked that this happened, yeah. I wouldn’t count on lightning striking twice. 🙂
  9. Joe July 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    Yes, they should get rid of Bay. 🙂

    I’m sorta serious there. No, they shouldn’t make any big changes but if something interesting comes up, they can tweak things.

  10. Joe July 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm
    Valdespin? (vs. Mora)

    That was a situation where a key part of the infield was deemed necessary to be replaced when there was a good chance to get to the post season and Mora seemed too green at the time. What like situation would occur now?

    • Joe Janish July 11, 2012 at 8:47 am
      You’re not remembering the situation as I did — or maybe you didn’t see it the way I did at the time. What I saw from Mora in 2000 was a young, versatile, athletic player who struck out a lot, didn’t walk very often, and didn’t hit for a high average, but who was showing intriguing power and could field adequately enough to fill in for two months and maybe turn into something beyond that year. Yeah, Ordonez was a key part of the infield but he was hitting about .150, so when he got hurt, I actually saw it as something that could be a positive thing, because it got an automatic out out of the lineup and gave Mora a chance to show what he could do. If you remember, that Mets team was offensively challenged, and any opportunity to get a little extra pop into the lineup seemed to me to be something worth trying. So, to me, Valdespin appears to be in a somewhat similar situation — there just isn’t necessarily a specific player injured to create the opportunity.
      • Chris July 11, 2012 at 11:43 am
        At the time, I like the Melvin Mora trade. Time proved me wrong on that count.

        But… Mora was 28 at the time of the trade. I think his offense looked better than it really was because he replaced the light-hitting Ordonez.. He was underwhelming as a player in Baltimore for a couple of years after that trade, IIRC. Then he just kind of exploded offensively, I remember he had a really great year and then a few good ones…. and then was gone.

        Jordany is 24, seems to be versatile in the field and could be the super-sub the Mets need, as well as injected speed into the lineup. Too bad he’s a lefty.

        • Joe Janish July 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm
          Huh, 28 … older than I remembered. But then, Barry Bonds and Steve Finley were 35 that year, and some others who were 32-34 were playing like they were 22-24 (it was prior to PEDs testing, of course) so maybe 28 seemed “young” to me at the time.

          In any case, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that Mora went on to have a decent career while Bordick returned to the O’s as a FA that winter, that upset me. I really and truly believed at the time, for the last half of the season, Mora was a viable answer and could have injected some badly needed offense.

      • Joe July 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm
        “somewhat similar situation” can mean a lot, so not exactly sure what’s at stake here.

        But, wrong or not, the PTB did not think he was “adequate” & it wasn’t just a few months, but the post-season too. Bordick was, rightly or wrongly, seen as a safer placeholder & he was after all was selected to the 2000 All-Star Game.

        In effect, and as I recall the Mets hit more in ’00 than ’99, the PTB sacrificed long term potential for short term gains. That’s my point here — it’s harder to see that occurring since both a key position hole would need to arise PLUS the Mets would have a better shot than they do now (after they already just missed in ’99) to go far.

        If both things occurred, yes, V. might be sacrificed for a short term hope. Curious who would have to be replaced for that to occur, thus my question.

        • Joe Janish July 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm
          It would seem to me that 2B is a round hole currently plugged by a square peg, and that the outfield situation is far from stable. What is PTB?
        • DaveSchneck July 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm
          Guessing powers that be…the wonderful tag team of Phillips-Valentine, or was it Valentine;Phillips.
  11. argonbunnies July 11, 2012 at 5:40 am
    The Mets brass need to know the players throughout the organization better than other teams, and leverage that disparity to improve the organization this year AND going forward. Yes, I know that’s what every team says they’d like to do, but it’s time for our brain trust to go out and do it.

    Be creative.

    Perhaps Hairston and Parnell for some contender’s toolsy prospect… who just might be ready to help right away, a la Kazmir?

    Perhaps an over-rated prospect of our own for a hot reliever, like Cesar Puello for Tim Collins or Charlie Furbush? Then if we tank in the next 3 weeks, we turn around and trade Collins or Furbush for a better prospect.

    Who’s better over the next 3 years, Ike or Duda? Keep that guy at 1B, trade the other one for relief and OF help, thus also improving our RF defense.

    Buy low on a disappointments with upside, like Porcello, Arrieta, or Justin Upston if the reports on his availability are true.

    The Tigers are all in on this year; offer them whatever they need most, and make them pay for it.

    We’ve proven our system can fill up a 25-man roster with players who are adequate. Before we can become a top organization, we need to convert some of that depth into difference-makers. The 2012 trade deadline should be a step in that direction. Then whatever changes are made to the major league roster can simply be pitched as an attempt at improvement, and everyone’s happy expect for the second-guessers who are gonna be unhappy anyway.

    • Joe Janish July 11, 2012 at 8:55 am
      Argon, I agree with your thinking, but is that the deal the Mets are going to make? Or are their sites set on ensuring that people will believe there will be “meaningful games in September” and therefore make a deal for a known quantity / veteran?

      As for buying low on Porcello or Upton — and again, I agree I’d be into doing that — who not named Wheeler or Harvey will the Tigers or D-Backs be interested in receiving? I’m not sure there’s much demand for the likes of Duda, Thole, Murphy, and similar players who seem to have shown their ceiling.

      • Crozier July 11, 2012 at 9:28 am
        “Shown their ceiling” — exactly. This is a team playing just a bit better than you’d expect, albeit with some (I said some) exceptional talent. Reminds me of the ’73 team that ended up playing just well enough to top a terrible division. But 1974 showed their limitations when the top talent failed to produce. Likewise, the Mets in 2013 could easily lose 85 games if Dickey and Wright come back to earth. More hitting talent is needed, and it won’t come from Murphy, Duda, Turner, etc. At least, I don’t think it will.
        • MikeT July 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm
          Why not Duda? He’s underperformed this year, and is still a better than average RF producer. I know the tendency is to doubt the Mets player development, but you would be foolish to doubt Duda, just like you would have been foolish to doubt Ike a two months ago.
        • argonbunnies July 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm
          Duda’s certainly been way worse than 2011. Looking at his minor league career, though, it’s hard to tell whether 2011 was a step forward that’ll stick, or just a career year. At this point, I think either interpretation is possible. If he were 23, everyone would assume he’ll get back to form, but at 26 and a half, it’s much more plausible that this is who he is. I mean, we know he can be better, but will he? When David Wright lost his former glory, he took 3 years to get back to being who we knew he could be…
        • Joe Janish July 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm
          I can’t figure out Duda. He’s either the next Adam Dunn or the next Gary Rajsich.
      • argonbunnies July 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm
        Unless there’s some dark secret about Upton, I would happily trade Harvey for him. I think Harvey has a great chance to be an MLB starter, maybe even an above-average one, but in my eyes he’s an extreme long shot to become a star (just like most guys in the minors). Upton was 3rd in the MVP vote last year.

        As for Porcello, I think his stock has fallen and the Tigers desperately need help ASAP. We have a lot of players who could make their team better in 2012; I don’t know whether Duda, Thole or Murphy best suits their needs, but one of those guys might, or maybe Parnell, and I bet a hot Hairston could sweeten the deal. It could be that if the Tigers make Porcello available they’ll get a better offer, but hey, ya never know; they never shopped Jurrjens before trading him for Renteria. Pick up the phone, Sandy!

        • Dan July 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm
          See below re Upton, Porcello might make sense but not if Parnell or Harvey is involved.
  12. Larry Smith July 11, 2012 at 9:19 am
    I think the Mets need to have players playing the positions where their combination of offensive and defensive skills best mesh to increase run production. To that end it serves no purpose to have Ike Davis (a 1bman only), Lucas Duda (a 1bman/DH) and Daniel Murphy (a 1bman, maybe 3bman) on the same team.
    While they shouldn’t be traded for the sake of trading I imagine that Duda or Murphy could be swapped for a RH’d outfielder that would better suit the team’s needs.
    And like everyone else (except Alderson/Collins) I think it imperative to get an automatic out like Nickeas off the team. Shoppach, Ramon Hernandez, and Olivo would all be upgrades.
    • DaveSchneck July 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm
      Excellent point regarding redundancy of those 3 players. This will most likely be fixed in the offseason. I think Hernandez makes most sense at C assuming he is healthy and can produce close to his track record. I understand the respect for Nickeas and a catcher’s ERA, as the starters have been tremendous, so I think only Hernandez has the potential to give enough of an offensive and RH boost to the O to offset Nickeas’s defensive value. That, and with the money owed Hernandez they would need to part with the least to obtain him…it shouldn’t impact the future negatively in any way.
  13. MikeT July 11, 2012 at 10:55 am
    the Mets are reported to be interested in trading for a player where the Mets taking on money is the only real pro for the other team. The team is willing to spend to improve the bullpen and get a right power hitting bat. Any players traded will be B-level prospects at least 2 years away from contributing or C-level prospects (i.e. versatile but limited) that can help a team now. A C-level player plus the Mets taking on money is definitely a possibility. Think Turner for Hernandez with the Mets taking on all of his contract.
  14. Dan July 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm
    Olivo, and Doumit (maybe to a lesser extent) lousy defense, Olvio .737 OPS vs LHP, .490 vs RHP. Upton fan problem (can’t hack hometown boos), possible shoulder problem from 2006 injury, approx 35M for the next 3 years. Wouldn’t touch any of these.
    • srozell July 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm
      Mike Nickeas against lefties: OPS = .541, and his defense is .992 with only 18% Caught Stealiing.

      Olivo has a OPS of .737 and plays in the most pitcher-friendly park in the majors (he only bats .184 at home). His defense avg is only .991, but he has 33% CS. Add to that a weak lineup and I can see a real renaissance at CitiField.

      I’d like to see them take their chances on Miguel and send Mike down. He is just not a MLB catcher, not even really AAAA.

      • Dan July 14, 2012 at 9:35 am
        Only two problems with that, Olivo should NEVER face RHP, and NEVER be behind the plate when Dickey pitches.
  15. JimmyH July 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm
    Yes, I agree with the article the Mets need a veteran player on the bench or in the field to help these younger players improve thier work ethic. If you notice, many if not all of the Mets field players are catching the ball with one hand, they only hussle when they think they have an opportinity to beat out a play–I thought Wright would help some of these players improve some of their fundamental play but even Wright does the same stuff, as far as trades I believe Duda is the biggest liabilty, he a loafer in RF and only hustles when he thinks he beat out an infield hit, I saw that the other day against the Cubs, his defense in RF is below avg and many of the plays he gives up on, an avg RF would make many of those plays. Duda could be shoopped to an American Lg team for maybe RHB or relief pitching, Torres I believe is in the same boat, I believe Nuiwenhuis and Valdespin are the OFs of future Mets, I love his speed in the field and at the plate as well as his approach to hitting and he’s got power, Newey needs a little help with his appraoch at the plate but I don’t know if Hudgens is that guy to help him as much as let’s say a Ken Hernandez. All n all Duda is eventually going to be the scapegoat because he cost the Mets more than he is helping and if nothing changes with Davis, Newey or Duda and relief pitching doesn’t improved from the first half –I say the Mets will miss the playoffs and not by much.
    • srozell July 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm
      Duda is a large man, 6’4″ and built like a defensive lineman. I don’t think he loafs” as much as he just can’t move quickly. He’s also really a Firstbaseman, so does he really loaf any more than Ike? I say no.

      I like Lucas and would rather have him at first than Ike.

  16. micalpalin July 12, 2012 at 6:40 am
    Nice work. Is yours now the premier blog in Metsworld?

    1. Matt Harvey: Is ready…POINT BLANK.
    He is more ready than Dillon Gee or Niese or Bobby P. when THEY were promoted…..AND in 2 of those cases there WAS a race. Matt has the best ‘stuff’, best form and best pedigree. PLUS he is not 19. He is 23. He has Chris Young, RA Dickey AND Johan Santana around him too. He has Wright Tejada and Ike playing defense behind him. AND he is the anti-dillon Gee….a strikeout pitcher who is currently 2nd in the IL. THE QUESTION you want to ask is who would do better…Batista, Hefner, Schwinden or Harvey.

    • srozell July 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm
      Great points! I say they drop Batista ASAP.
    • Joe Janish July 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm
      I haven’t seen enough of Harvey lately with my own eyes to know if he’s ready. The reports I’m getting from people who are seeing him regularly tell me his breaking stuff is inconsistent and he’s getting away with pure velocity against AAA / AAAA hitters.

      My main concern is that he’s rushed the way Pelfrey was and never does completely develop the off-speed pitch that turns him into a front-of-the-rotation guy.

  17. micalpalin July 12, 2012 at 6:48 am
    Second. I think the OF has been a mess. The injury to Bay hurt badly, but Collins handling of Kirk and Torres has not helped either. Collins needs to inspire more confidence in his kids and let the spirit of Jerry Manuel rest…

    – Jordy, could get more ABs in CF. He looks very natural.

    -Kirk, needs to settle in. I think he could take RF/or CF permanently. But flipping him in 3 OF spots and up and down the order has not helped. Leave him in a LF platoon with Hairston. Or rotate him in RF with Duda.

    -Torres is as he was on day1…odd man out. Jody maybe 24, but Torres is much older. I like him, but I like Kirk, Jordy, Haiston Duda, and Bay more.

  18. srozell July 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    Miguel Olivo is a must as Nickeas has done barely anything offensively and is not even a good defensive catcher. I don’t think it will affect Thole as much, but maybe it will get him going. 10 RBIs from a catcher with 178 ABs is poor. I’m not as hot on Hernandez and Stoppach.

    A left-handed reliever can wait as we see what Edgin can provide.