The Mets: Wait Until Next Year?

In case you missed it, FOX and MLB Network contributor Ken Rosenthal said last week that the Mets won’t contend until 2015, at the earliest. I am not a big fan of Rosenthal but I agree whole-heartedly with him. Yes, it’s nice to think that things are about to turn around, but that notion is more rooted in feelings and not on facts.

Just pause for a moment and reflect on what has been revealed so far this season about the Mets. They have no discernible strengths. They don’t hit well or consistently. They have no speed. They field poorly. They lack versatility. Three of their five starters can’t get out of the 5th inning. They have no proven LOOGY, set-up man or closer. Their manager is a lame duck and the coaching staff is a collection of empty uniforms. Their owners are among the worst in baseball and the front office is over-rated. All of this adds up to bad, boring and uninspired baseball. It is hard to get excited about a cast of characters that with few exceptions, we have no future with. A recent comparison of this season to the 1983 season makes me laugh. For those of you who don’t remember, 1983 was the last losing year before the run to the 1986 championship began.

I was there in 1983. That team had Darryl Strawberry breaking in to the majors, Keith Hernandez getting dropped onto their laps and Doc Gooden striking out 300 in the Carolina League. Right now, most of the Mets top prospects are either injured or struggling (putting an AAA team in Las Vegas is an unfolding disaster). Even if another Hernandez or Mike Piazza, aka a star player in his prime becomes available, what from the current front office’s track record indicates that they will do anything besides snooze through the opportunity?

Matt Harvey, Jon Niese and David Wright are the only current Mets that could crack any starting lineup. Harvey clearly would be a star anywhere he goes. The other two, while solid, are also being pressed as they need to pick up the slack for drop off behind them. Just look at Wright’s face after he makes an out. Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy and Jordany Valdespin might be able to find supporting roles on some contenders. The first four are on the verge of diminishing returns however, as they enter their arbitration eligible years. The rest of the team probably won’t be in the majors by 2015.

What we are seeing, in my opinion, is the last year of the deconstruction period. The rebuilding starts next year, when the team should have some more financial leeway and if all goes well, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud are added to the Harvey, Niese and Wright core. Five decent players is a start, especially if three of them are starting pitchers, but where can they find the other twenty? That’s what makes me think the next winning season is still a long ways off.

There are a finite number of ways to acquire ball players. And right now, none of these avenues look to promising as ways for the Mets to get much better quickly.

The Farm System: Unless they really fall apart, we should see Wheeler and d’Arnaud playing prominent roles by at least by this time next year, if not sooner. How soon they can be counted on is another question entirely. Plus do you think d’Arnaud could perform any better than John Buck is right now? And who else is out there? Wilmer Flores has been underwhelming so far and he lacks a true defensive position. Josh Satin has certainly hit well enough to warrant some consideration, but we have seen that movie before. I get the feeling that Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson and Josh Edgin have already flamed out. Looking deeper into the system, Rafael Montero probably needs another pitch and there is no one else in Binghamton worth a second thought, which is disturbing. Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo are still in A-Ball and at least two more years away.

Free Agents: The 2014 Free Agent class is probably the worst one in several years. It is deep in back of the rotation starters, which the Mets have plenty of. It is almost bereft of any outfielders capable of being the long-term solution, unless Jacoby Ellsbury or Nate McClouth gets you excited. I really don’t see much value here, except in a few one year deals for cheap replacements for some of the arbitration-eligible current Mets. Would that be progress?

The Trade Market: And so we come to the area that has created the most angst among the remaining faithful. Buck aside, GM Sandy Alderson has shown an inability to creatively acquire any useful major league parts to date. This is the biggest disappointment of the Alderson era, at least for me. I had high hopes for several canny Moneyball type moves. Instead, it has been a string of failures, most noticeably in the bullpen and the outfield, but everywhere else as well. The inactivity during last year’s trade deadline was dumbfounding and he no longer has an RA Dickey or Carlos Beltran to dangle for prospects. This is the probably the year he gets forced to move some of the aforementioned gang of four. Based a previous soft market on these guys, the returns are likely to be minor leaguers, so he should try to grab a few speedy, good glove types that the home ballpark screams for.

The Roads Less Traveled:The International Market is also dry this offseason and considering the team’s lack of success in this venue, that is probably a good thing. Counting on the Rule V draft or the non-tender market for serviceable additions is the equivalent of buying a single lottery ticket in the hopes of winning millions. Like the trade market, the team has an extended track record of ignoring the non-tender market anyway. I guess the June Amateur Draft is another option, but I seriously doubt anyone drafted next month is playing for the Big Club next year (nor should they be).

1983 Again? Sometimes I think we are looking at another 1980. If I can end on a high note, they did crawl out the woodwork in 1997 based mainly on some heads-up managing by new manager Bobby Valentine. Rosenthal also reports that the Angels are considering a parting ways with Mike Scioscia. In my estimation, bringing in a proven winner like that might be a good place for the Mets to start with some course adjustments.

What do you think? Sound off below.

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. Dave May 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm
    You’re trolling with that Flores comment, right? He’s batting .270+ in Triple-A, never strikes out and he’s not 22 yet. What’s underwhelming about that? Most kids his age are in the low minors.
  2. May 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm
    I thought I was down on the current team, Joe. Maybe this is the 1982 team, which had a second half that even the Mets of recent years haven’t endured. But even then the team had Mookie, Hubie, Heep, and, ahem, Foster. Cashen got Keith Hernandez in ’83 because he knew Neil Allen had value for a contending team and he was willing to trade Rick Ownbey, a hot prospect. Cashen knew everyone couldn’t–and wouldn’t make it–and he knew which ones to shuffle out. The Mets were Oganization of the Year for two straight years–don’t think they need to make room on the trophy shelf just yet.
  3. Paul May 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm
    If anything, I think you’re being optimistic – this looks like a lost year for Travis d’Arnaud, so I will be surprised if he’s ready to really contribute much at the major league level next year.

    If Sandy Alderson suddenly shows a new willingness and ability to acquire useful players via trade, maybe the future could be brighter. If things keep going as they have been, David Wright will never appear in another playoff game.

  4. Lisa May 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm
    “What from the current front office’s track record indicates that they will do anything besides snooze through the opportunity?”

    1. Getting Zack Wheeler, a top 10 prospect and power arm, for Beltran who was older and not returning.

    2. Getting D’Arnaud, another top 10 prospect at a tough position to fill along with Syndergaard who is another power arm for a 38 year old Dickey who is getting bombed this year.

    There are no guarantees, but every expert projects these guys as top prospects. If you look at top 10 lists over the past decade most players make it.

    Harvey, Niese, Wheeler is enough along with a decent 4 and 5 to carry a team. Look at the 2 time champion Giants. Where is the talent besides Posey on that team on offense.

    • tlagee May 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      This is just a very flawed team right now.

      Sandy has had three off seasons and where are we at right now?

      No Bullpen.

      No outfield.

      Two quality starters – one of whom couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning today.

      And, what about the minors?

      We got Wheeler for a 30 homer guy.

      We got an oft injured catching prospect and an A pitcher for a 20 game/Cy Young winner.

      What did we get for a home grown all star batting champion short stop?

      What did we get for Angel Pagan?

      We got nothing else to give and a hole in the minors where there should be up and coming position players.

      This team was gutted for money with very little thought about the future.

      Let’s not kid ourselves.

      • Larry May 6, 2013 at 12:40 am
        Seriously, tlagee? You still wishing that a 36 y.o. Beltran and his balky knee was here to save the day? Please! There is no way Reyes was worth over $100 million and besides the Marlins, there was no market for him. He took the money and ran. And Dickey? He’s been horrendous and is about to join Reyes on the Blue Jays DL. Face it–this was a losing club with those guys here and it was time to look ahead to the future. Sandy made the right moves. If you don’t have the patience or the stomach to let this play out, then you will be the next biggest loser.
        • tlagee May 7, 2013 at 12:18 am
          Yes Larry – seriously.

          No Bullpen

          Two starters

          No position players on their way up from the minors.

          Beltran’s balky knees hit over 30 homers last year. Reyes is an All Star – you really think Tejada is the future ss for the Mets?

          Let’s not kid ourselves.

      • Tommy2cat May 6, 2013 at 12:46 am
        The main article is flawed & I disagree with a number of your points.

        Bullpen: Parnell, Familia, Atchison & Rice are performing well.

        Outfield: Outperforming last year’s crew, but not where we need to be. Duda’s on pace for 25 home runs. Definitely under construction. Let’s see what Valdespin & Brown bring this year. Byrd is not terrible.

        Infield: Wright, Murphy & Tejada are fine. Ike better get going or get to AAA.

        Catching: Buck & Recker are fine & light years ahead of last year’s hapless crew. With d’Arnaud, Maron & Plaweki in the fold we are DEEP in catching. d’Arnaud will be returning in June. I don’t know how that qualifies as a “lost season” as per the author.

        Rotation: Harvey & Niese are fine (despite today’s poor showing, Niese needs to trim down his pitch selection & should be fine). Hefner’s last 2 outings have been strong. Gee & Marcum are mysteries to me. Wheeler & Montero will join this rotation this year.

        Would you really want Dickey, Thole & Nickeas rather than Buck, d’Arnaud & Syndergaard? Really?!!!

        Knowing that we couldn’t afford Beltran, whose health had been on ongoing uncertainty, are you really questioning the acquisition of Zach Wheeler? Really?

        For Reyes, we received 2 supplemental picks & drafted catcher Kevin Plawecki & short stop Matt Reynolds. Plawecki is destroying SAL league pitching & Reynolds is doing very well. Reyes is, uh, injured…again…

        Yeah, I’d rather have Reyes & Pagan at the top of the order & we currently have little to show for it, but Plawecki & Reynolds are not chump change. Never wanted to get rid of Pagan, though, who found himself in TC’s doghouse.

        By July 31st, our rotation could easily be: Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Montero & Hefner.

        Bullpen: Parnell, Familia, Atchison, Rice, Mejia or Mazzoni, Hawkins & Carson or Feliciano

        Catchers: Buck & d’Arnaud

        Point is – this team is not quite as flawed as detractors think, and there is a ground swell of talent on the rise.

        • Kanehl May 7, 2013 at 12:20 am
          I agree with much of what you say, though I think next year is a bridge to contending in 2015. If Wheeler’s showings in his sat 2 starts continue, he’ll come up sometime in June and have the rest of ths year to get the feel of pitching to MLB hitters. My guess is that Montero will get to the bigs in 2015. That could give us a verybstrongvraotation. Parnell has tipped up as closer, Famila’s showing potential as a set up guy, and there’s another LH reliever dominating in AA. Wright, Tejada and Murphy are fine in their respective roles. If D’Arnaud stays healthy, a big IF, he’ll be fine. If Ike can’t do it, move Duda to first. But, and here’s where Sandy has to show us something, he needs to find a lead off man for CF and a #4 or 5 hitter for one of the corner OFs. That means trading some pitching talent, like Syndergaard and finding something in the winter 2015 FA market. These last 2 pieces would give us a credible lineup… Not the 27 Yankees, but decent support for a strong rotation. Lots of ifs, but a logical plan.
        • tlagee May 7, 2013 at 12:27 am
          Hey 2cat – thanks for reminding me-

          No Bullpen (no they are not performing well. Parnell has two blown saves in five opportunities with a career of 17 saves and 19 blowns saves. The rest of the bullpen was picked up at the two dollar shop)

          No outfield (see – that’s what you reminded me of)..

          No stud postiion players coming up in the high minors.

          Right now, we have so many holes the team uniform should be made of swiss cheese.

          This is Sandy’s team – and it’s extremely flawed.

          Depp down you know that – I’ve taught you well.

        • Eric May 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm
          Parnell has pitched lights out this year. Both blown saves have been due to poor defense. Don’t just quote the stat lines.
        • tlagee May 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm
          Hey Eric-

          It’s pretty hard to ignore 19 blowns saves in 36 save opportunities regardless how you dress it up.

          It’s also funny that the good closers don’t rely on defensive excuses.

          My feeling is to let him stay in there because, quite frankly, we don’t have any options thanks to Sandy. Let’s see if defensive miscues continue to haunt him throughout the season.

    • Izzy May 6, 2013 at 7:11 am
      Lisa; I suggest you spend some time actually watching the Giants. You only know Posey because he gets the pub, but the giants have won with veterans and with kids. and their kids do something very few of these Mets do. They hit in the clutch because they aren’t sitting there begging for a walk afraid if they swing too early they’ll be on the pine, and they also play defense. You want to win with pitching fine , but then you better get guys who can play D. Up the midle the Mets have below average SS 2B and CF. It doesn’t matter how you pitch its a losing recipe. And the catching prospect…6th year in the minors, 3rd org. What’s the excitement. He an injury prone guy with a stick. He needs to be moved to first if he can really hit.. But wait the Mets have a first baseman in left and one at first already. And bullpen, the Giants have guys who are consistent, the Mets not , only names to fill a roster. Starters. Eveyone loves Niese. Guess what. He’s not that good, as he is showing over and over. You can’t win with a GM who makes one move a year for a kid and then slows his progress indefinitely to save his crroked boss some bucks. And youcan’t win by one a year additions and substractions, and you can’t win by letting decent pieces go for nothing leaving you with more holes to fill.
  5. TexasGusCC May 6, 2013 at 2:02 am
    Dan, when I saw what your article was about, I couldn’t wait to read it. Talking about the future is much more interesting than talking about the present. However, while I enjoyed following your analysis, I also disagreed with some points of the team’s buildup. To begin with, I cannot stand Collins and feel his stubbornness has cost this team at least three wins. Scioscia is not perfect but he is smart and manages a bullpen very well. [What he did to Napoli all those years, was just plain wrong. That guy never got more than 350 at bats while hitting 20+ homeruns every year.] I wouldn’t mind seeing Backman get a chance. Also, Gardenhire is supposedly on his last year and may not come back. If he’s available…just no Randolph, Manuel, Collins, please!!

    Second, Dave is right. Flores is not even 22, and he’s in AAA. He cannot be worse at 2B than Murphy was, and he is a power hitter with more walks than strikeouts.

    Third, the bullpen has some serviceable pieces in Familia, Parnell, Rice, Atchinson, and maybe Lyon, maybe. The problem is the starters going 4.2 and 5.1 every night. Also, Edgin was way overused by Collins, and that has been well documented.

    Fourth, David Wright is the goods and we are lucky to have him. If Longoria got that money and he’s always hurt, what is Wright worth? During the WBC, he was batting cleanup among all all-stars, and producing.

    Fifth: Wheeler, Montero, Fulmer, Tapia, Mateo, Mazzoni, Syndergaard, etc. Here is an article for you to check out:

    Last, the outfield is not managed correctly. To start with, teams carry five outfielders, the Mets have six. I guess if you don’t have quality have quantity. So, with Duda playing everyday, how do you evaluate the other five in just two spots?

    The answer: Davis or Duda for first; a good outfielder via trade; a couple of better relievers; a good young pitching staff (Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Montero, Syndergaard), and I think they are in position to contend. As they say, in my humble opinion.

    • Dan Capwell May 6, 2013 at 8:56 am
      Thanks for reading and caring enough to comment. I’d like to respond to few of the themes here.

      Flores is hitting .270 in a hitter’s league. We rightly give Wheeler some slack for an inflated ERA in that league. Using the same logic, shouldn’t Flores’ BA be also adjusted downward? Is Juan Lugares’ current performance perhaps indicative of what we can expect from Flores? Besides, Wilmer lacks a position. To me, he is another Daniel Murphy: a semi-decent bat that doesn’t do anything exceptional and is the proverbial square peg defensively. How has this worked out for the Mets so far?

      There are a couple of telling metrics to use when evaluating relief pitchers: Inherited runners stranded vs. scored; BB to K ratios and Batting Average Against. No current Met relief pitcher is putting up acceptable numbers in those categories, except Parnell and he has blown 40% of his save opportunities so far.

      And finally, I can appreciate that there is some talent in the farm system. I started reading Baseball America back in the late 1980’s and got very excited when they touted Gregg Jefferies as The Next Big Thing. They also loved Generation K. These days, I have made it a rule to see the player actually succeed at the Double A level before I start to think of him as a genuine prospect.

      • TexasGusCC May 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        Your opinion is just as right as my opinion or anyone else’s. The truth is, that if in fact all these starters fizzle and Alderson cannot swing a trade for a very good outfielder, then we as fans have ZERO to look forward to. That’s what we’re buying into right now, hope. The Kool-Aid, as Joe calls it.

        Some mentioned how The Coupons have handicapped
        Alderson, and that is for sure. For example, in May of 2011, he said that the team would explore every option and trade anyone that could make the team better. We knew he meant Reyes and Beltran. However, in July he wouldn’t trade Reyes because a Met has never won the batting title. Really??? Moneyball is about batting titles?

        One year, Rick Honeycutt was traded in the middle of winning the Cy Young award in the A.L. to the Dodgers and almost won it in both leagues but was short of innings. So, teams don’t care about individual awards, but owners want to sell them. Not adding payroll is not an Alderson thing. We know who the real culprits are, Sandy is just the face and the voice.

  6. Eddie Wilkowski May 6, 2013 at 8:42 am
    You are on the money here. It’s nice to see that someone is giving an opinion of Alderson’s work based on what he hasn’t done with the Mets. In 1983 we had the first year of Strawberry,the great trade for Keith Hernandez,Ron Darling made some starts,another great Cashen trade. We had Dwight in the minors getting ready for 84 and Cashen in the offseason still traded for another big pitcher Sid Fernandez for of all people Bob Bailor. Where are the genius moves from Alderson and his other Two Not So Wise Men. As. Met fans we are looking at the very least another year of this. Thanks again for the realistic assessment of what has thusfar been an abject failure by Alderson. I just don’t see it happening with him. Remember our two true star players were here prior to his regime.
  7. gary s May 6, 2013 at 9:15 am
    I agree with the author.This team and front office is awful.Imho this team will never contend again till they have players at their real positions.Murphy is out of position, Tejada is a much better 2nd baseman than shortstop, Duda is out of position, Valdespin is a 2nd baseman playing the outfield and now Turner is getting ready to play the outfield??We are the bad news bears of MLB with the emphasis on bad.
  8. DaveSchneck May 6, 2013 at 9:42 am
    The bottom line is that this franchise is looking at its 5th straight losing season in a major market. Patience is needed for success, but the mantra “wait til next year” is for losing organizations. See – Cubs, Pirates, Royals, etc. IMHO, last winter, not this coming winter, was the test for Alderson. Just because the Toronto GM sold the ranch, (and will get fired as a result) does not mean he did well. Look at this team…he did not do well.
  9. Dan B May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am
    When Alderson got here, the farm system was ranked in bottom third. After three years of drafting in the top third, not giving up draft picks to FA signings, not trading away prospects, and trading away the top offensive player and top pitcher for prospects, the team moved up about 5 spots to 15the best farm system. This is progress? A 70 win team with a mediocre farm system is not going anywhere. Especially without owners wiliing to spend money. Hello 2016!
  10. 7up17togo May 6, 2013 at 11:20 am
    Hey Joe,

    Truer words have never been spoken. What kills me are those Metsblogs surveys that show 70% of the fan base believes the Mets are headed in a good direction. Based on what? This will be our fifth straight season of 70ish wins, and a forth place finish. What also kills me is the constant talk about our prospects. Every team overtouts their prospects, especially the Mets, and the last time I looked, all of our farm teams were hovering around .500. There is a part of me that hopes the Mets compete this year, but getting a good look at the product akes that hope unrealistic. Good job with the article.

  11. Mary Ellen Leonardo May 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm
    I couldn’t agree more. As yesterday’s game showed the outfield is an embarrassment. We have seen enough of the position players from the farm. They can start by dealing Ike, Murphy and move Duds to 1B
  12. Ms Met May 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm
    Outside of the Beltran, Dickey trades, Alderson has been a monumental flop. Since Freddy coupon stated that they now have money, they have not spent a dime. This ownership insults our intelligence. There is no juice at the ballpark. This is the worst Of in baseball. They could have pulled the trigger on j upton or Bourn but chose not to. The bottom line is they are not interested in anyone and don’t care about winning
  13. Dan B May 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm
    Just because they say they have money to spend doesn’t mean they do. Look at the details of the Bay buyout. It would of been cheaper to just release him but they didn’t because they wanted to defer money until their loan due next year is refinanced. If they admit they still can’t spend money nobody would buy a ticket.
  14. argonbunnies May 7, 2013 at 12:56 am
    I think the hyperbole about the current Mets sucking is overblown, but ultimately I agree that what’s in the organization is insufficient for contention. We have lots of players who most likely are not horrible, but also not good enough. Harvey and Wright are good enough to help a team to the playoffs, and everyone else is, at best, “not bad”.

    Being top 10 prospects does mean Wheeler and D’Arnaud have an excellent chance to spend significant time in the majors. Whether they can play like stars is much more of an unknown; average luck would mean one does, while the other doesn’t. So in 2014 or 2015 we can expect to have 3 championship-caliber players.

    Add in Niese making modest money, Tejada cheaply plugging a position where many teams have holes, and either Wheeler or D’Arnaud chipping in something for league minimum, and that’s a start. Now all we need are 19 more players, several of whom need to be excellent, with several more above-average. I have no idea where these players might come from. Depleting the farm system to where it’s even worse than when Alderson took over wouldn’t even get us there.

    As for Flores, who cares about a big, slow singles hitter? Being slightly young for his league doesn’t make him anything he’s not. Maybe he can hit .300 in the big leagues some day — as a back-up. Guys who don’t walk and don’t hit HRs and can’t play defense don’t start.

    • DaveSchneck May 7, 2013 at 9:13 am
      The hyperbole is in the eye of the beholder, but two things are quite clear: 1. the Mets suck based on four consecutive losing seasons and 2. this regime, lead by Alderson, has done nothing in its tenure to improve the major league team. Until proven otherwise, it is what it is.
  15. TJK May 7, 2013 at 7:30 am
    I do not believe that it will take as long as stated by Ken Rosenthal and yourself.

    If the Mets address certain areas of need (before next season), then the Mets can be competitive for the 2014 season.

    Remember that the Mets have a good deal of payroll that will come off the books in the coming offseason. Johan Santana counts for 25 mil (plus 6 mil buyout) and will be alone enough to fund two outfielders from free agency or trade. Then there is the 6 mil for John Buck and 7 mil for Frank Francisco, etc.

    I am hoping that the Mets make a play for these players. Situation will obvious change with teams locking up potential free agents and trades, but I am hoping that the Mets make a play for some of these players:

    Shin-Soo Choo (RF), Chase Utley (2nd), Hiroki Kuroda or Matt Garza

    RF – Shin-Soo Choo
    1st – Daniel Murphy
    3rd – David Wright
    2nd – Chase Utley
    C – Travis D’Arnaud
    LF – Lucas Duda
    CF – Jordany Valdespin
    SS – Ruben Tejada

    Matt Harvey
    Jon Niese
    Hiroki Kuroda or Matt Garza
    Zack Wheeler
    Collin McHugh or Jeremy Hefner or budget FA veteran

    Ike Davis might end up with stats like last year with a hot second half, but not worth the issue for a full season. Ike Davis should be dealt (not much value now) and slide over Dan Murphy to first. With enough payroll clearance, GM might be able to add another outfielder as well.

    Sandy Alderson just say NO to:
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Curtis Granderson
    Hunter Pence
    Josh Johnson
    Tim Lincecum
    Roy Halladay
    A.J. Burnett

  16. Dan B May 7, 2013 at 9:50 am
    TKJ — The Mets have had payroll coming off the books since Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez yet they haven’t sign significant Free Agents. Why will 2014 be different? The Mets won’t bring up Wheeler to save money in 2016, why would they spend money in 2013?