Mets Get More Cow Bell

No, Cow Bell Man has not recently married (as far as we know).

The Mets traded former hot prospect Jefry Marte to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Collin Cowgill. If you remember, Marte was a 17-year-old wunderkind, displaying enormous potential in his first season of pro ball in 2008. Here is a piece of the Baseball America scouting report from that time:

International scouting director Ismael Cruz labeled Marte’s bat the quickest in the 2007 international class. He ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut.

Strengths: An outstanding young hitter, Marte uses the whole field when he’s at his best. Mets officials are confident he’ll hit for average and draw his share of walks while developing solid-average power. The ball jumps off his bat differently than with most players, and he has good pitch-recognition skills for his age. He’s a deceptively good runner, with baserunning knowledge and aggressiveness enhancing his average speed. He’s also advanced in terms of maturity. His arm is solid average.

Now of legal drinking age, Marte is washed up.

Actually, that’s not fair — he simply hasn’t made any progress since his 17-year-old season, when he posted a .930 OPS. His numbers took a big drop after being promoted to the Sally League (A), and have only improved slightly with each stop since. I haven’t had a chance to see him live so can’t comment on whether his physical skills have improved or not — part of the evaluation requires a scout’s eye.

In return, the Mets get Collin Cowgill, a spunky, scrappy, AAAA outfielder who turns 27 in May. He’s never had a real opportunity to make it in MLB, but he’ll get it in 2013 with the Mets. He’s a little guy who hustles and does everything right — all the makings of a fan favorite. If I had to make a comparison, I’d say he’s a Chad Curtis, sans steroids. Or maybe a Joe McEwing, but with more power and without the ability to play the infield.

Good deal for the Mets? Hard to say — we’ll need to see this one play out. It’s surprising to see the Mets part with Marte’s raw skills in return for a fourth outfielder, but they must believe that Marte has hit his ceiling, and is at his peak value.

My bet is we won’t miss Marte, and Mets fans will love Cowgill in a similar way they loved to root for McEwing, Endy Chavez, Chris Carter, etc. And right now, it’s all about finding alternative ways to put fannies in the seats.

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. DaveSchneck December 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm
    It’s also about getting any RH OF bats in the organization, as well as freeing up 3B for Wilmer Flores to play. Word is that Wilmer is no 2B and too slow for the OF. While it’s not earth shattering, the trade makes sense…they certainly can use more scrappiness.
  2. Dan B December 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm
    Alderson wouldn’t trade Scott Hairston because he would only get a low level prospect. Well, if he had more low level prospects, he could make more trades like this one.
    • Izzy December 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm
      don’t try to use logic Dan. Don’t you know Alderson is without fault, without blame, without mistakes.
  3. Mike B December 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm
    So what your saying in 2016 we will be in postion to trade Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra for a AAAA prospect? Cant wait, Does anyone know when they are accepting deposits for the 2016 ticket plan?

    Syndergaard probally deserves better then that, by 2016 he should be a Aaron Hielman, MIke Pelfry, Bobby Parnell enigma. Cant wait to come on here and talk about if he can ever put it all together.

  4. Joe December 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm
    Dan B., the Mets have low level prospects to make trades like this. If they traded Hairston, there would have been less fannies in the seats. Fannies in the seats ultimately pay for players. Also, as some keep on saying, this is NYC. There is an expectation that there will be SOMEONE to add excitement, including hitting home runs. He did.

    But, skip my comment, if you think Alderson can do nothing right, everything he does is bad etc.

    So, the Mets — beyond other things — now have a useful spare part that might be one of those fan favorites that help you root for the team. I’m sure the Mets will do a few more little things this off season too. But, the team is in the toilet for the next three years, so who cares? 🙂

    • Mike B December 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm
      Joe do you really believe that someone made thier final decision on wether to buy Met tickets or not if Scott Harriston was on the the team? I would estimate ticket sales went up by 2 depending on if both of his parents were ablt to make it.

      Teams that miss the playoffs buy 1 or 2 games make “little changes” but the mets need major changes and they have flexabilty RIGHT NOW.

      There payroll is under 100 million, they could reasonably spend 40-45 million and have what I would excpect the payroll to be at for a MLB team. On top of that they have no one signed besides niese and wright after this year so they could decided the future right here right now, by adding the Uptons, Bourne, a closer in Soriano a SP, BP help a 2b whoever but instead we will be sold on 2016.

  5. Dan B December 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm
    Joe, I stated long time ago that Hairston was not traded for fear of falling revenue. I was tweaking him on the logic stated at the time. I am not the Alderson hater some are. I blame ownership more. I actually liked the last two trades and wish Alderson were do more like it. By the way, I don’t think putting fannies in the seats translate into better players. I think it translate into better terms for the loans that need refinancing.
    • Joe Janish December 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm
      I agree with Dan – putting fannies in the seats equals more money to put toward debt.

      How much more must the payroll drop before some people believe that all of this cheapskating is less about trying to be fiscally responsible / rebuilding / follow the Rays and A’s and more about debt reduction and keeping the lights on at Citi Field? Facts are facts, and the Wilpons’ Mets business is broke, in severe debt, and are operating like the KC Royals because the only other option is to sell the team — which they won’t do.

      • Vilos December 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm
        First of all, both being “fiscally responsable” and “debt reduction and keeping the light son in Citifield” are pretty much the same thing (“rebuilding and following the Rays and A´s can lend itself to different arguments).

        In any case, I get the point.

        In my opinion, its sound business, be it baseball or anything else, to be fiscally responsable. I understand the concept as keeping your costs in line with your income.

        From what I understand, Alderson plan is to rebalance, play his hand and rebuild, while waiting for attendance to go up, due to a “better team” he expects to gradually put on the field.

        It can work out, as it can fail, but I would expect that once he has a core that succeeds, then he can go about rising his payroll. I´m no expert, but I like the Yankee team of Jeter, Williams, Posada, etc as a model.

        Joe has asked a couple of times, why can`t he rebuild and spend on talent at the same time. Its a good question and I agree with him that a team from NY should be able to do both, but let me try to answer.

        First of all, we don´t have access to the numbers, but it seems that the Mets business, along with the cable and the stadium have too much debt and are on their own. Normally sports enterprises are owned by extremely wealthy people who have unlimited access to funding. The Wilpons are apparently not plugging their personal resources and except for the small percentage that they sold recently, they´re not opening up any other options. Therefore, the business is son its own, so fiscal responsability becomes a priority for Mr Alderson.

        Second of all, both plans can fail, since both type of teams can fail, but the first approach, with a budget closely related to your attendance is more manageable.

        Patience Mr Janish (and keep up your great blog site).

      • DaveSchneck December 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm
        I share your frustration with this team, and specifically the ownership, which has been less than honest with the fan base/paying customers. However, again, it is December 19, and it is too early THIS OFFSEASON to conclude that their motive is simple to cut costs and put money towards losses and debt. We all know they were in total cost cutting mode last year, and couldn’t afford anything, but that has already happened. With the removal of the Madoff lawsuit, this ownership still owns two billion dollar assets. I wish I was 1/1000th as broke as the Wlpons. They do have too much debt but they will easily refinance and most likely at lower interest rates. Despite the losses on the baseball side (due to reduced attendance and non-productive payroll), SNY remains very profitable. Let’s see if they keep their word and invest some more money in the 2013 team before we tab them the KC Royals, or maybe I should say the “old” KC Royals. There is no reason why the can’t and won’t spend another $15 million on 2013 payroll. That won’t buy and difference makers, but it can fill the holes and give them the chance to be competitive while giving some high upside prospects a chance. 5th starter, CF/leadoff, backend bullpen arm, RH OF bat. Very doable.
  6. nwaldrop December 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm
    I disagree with your summary of the situation Vilos which is because the Wilpons have no money then it’s ok for them not to spend any money and one day we will have Derek Jeter on the field. I think it will be more like KC or Pittsburg.
    I look at the situation like this: Imagine I bought a bus line many years ago with many new buses. Over the years I lost my money due to irresponsible possibly illegal investing.
    I can no longer buy new buses or repair the old one’s. I use fiscal responsibility and buy horse buggies. But I charge the same as bus fares, and if people keep paying bus prices for horse rides eventually I can buy a bus again but that will take many years.
    • Joe Janish December 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm
      Buses and horse buggies – that’s a GREAT comparison, I love it!

      And it encapsulates exactly how I feel about Mets ownership. It is amazing (or shall I say amazin’?) to me how short people’s memories can be. Or maybe those who don’t see a problem with the Mets’ current financial straits affecting the product on the field weren’t Mets fans way back in the days before Citi Field, SNY, and the Madoff scandal.

      That’s OK, I’ll remind everyone this week in an upcoming post. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.

  7. Dan B December 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    The numbers I have been reading is that the Wilpons have about $800 million in debt that needs to be refinanced. Their debt rating was not great but recently got upgraded. If they can knock off $50 million of the debt before refinancing, it could mean saving $3.5 million in interest per year. Every time they negotiate the interest rate down a quarter point, they save over $1 million a year. Improved asset to debt ratio helps lower interest rate. How does this translate to wins and losses? Until those loans get refinanced, financially it behooves the Mets to pay down debt at the expense of the team. Why would they bother to defer Bay’s contract only a couple years? Why is Wright making only $8 million next year? Why haven’t they signed or traded for even a mid-priced player? Because they need to save money in 2013 and possibly 2014. Every baseball decission must be made under the guise of short term savings.
    • Vilos December 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm
      Agreed that they are probably trying to prepay their debt in order to bring down interest rates. But, by far the most important issue to acomplish this, is to make positive earning. How much did they lose in 2011? 25 – 50 million? I have no idea what their bottom line is going to look like this year, but attendance continued to go down and unless they do miracles, its probably going to continue its trend next year. So its sound business to first balance the budget and then get the attendance going.
      • Dan December 20, 2012 at 5:35 am
        Or more likely they continue to lose money and get booted out when Selig is gone.