Goners: Ike, Murphy and…Lagares?

Joe’s recent post asking what three moves each of us would make if we were Mets GM got me to thinking. Given the current state of the Mets franchise, I don’t think that there are three moves that would make much a difference. Because of the Wilpons, I stand by an earlier post that even 2015 might be too optimistic of a projection for the Mets to become relevant again.

But, I will predict three moves. Two of them are fairly obvious: both Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy will be traded this offseason. Each is less of a baseball move and more likely an effort to preserve the Wilpon’s diminished fortunes. Too bad for us fans, but this preservation is the Prime Directive for GM Sandy Alderson and for anyone unfortunate enough to succeed him after next year.

Like any rapacious business owner, the Wilpons will always look to replace one worker with a cheaper worker. In this case the Mets have Wilmer Flores to replace Murphy and the Lucas Duda/Josh Satin duo to do Ike’s job at a fraction of the cost (there is also no guarantee that Ike isn’t non-tendered this weekend).

If there is a glimmer of hope from this situation, it is the fact that Alderson has so far been able to turn expiring contracts into some good prospects. I think that the best we can expect to get back for both Ike and Murphy is a deal similar to the one Alderson made with the Bucs last summer, when he sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Steel City for Vic Black and Dilson Hererra. I would be happily surprised if any of the Ike for another major leaguer rumors actually came true. I am a little more optimistic on the return for Murphy, as I think he may have better value to a contender than Ike. In both cases, a deal made a year or two earlier for one of them probably would have netted a better return.

Which brings me to the last member of the trio: Juan Lagares. He certainly turned more than a few heads with his Centerfield play last year. I was surprised that it took the whole year for the word to get out about not running on his arm. Remember however, that Lagares was not even on the major league roster at the start of the season. Matt den Dekker was The Spring Training Phenom in center until he broke his wrist. Then, the job went to “Dykstra-Lite,” a.k.a. Collin Cowgill. After Collin proved his unworthiness, the Mets actually gave Rick Ankiel a tryout for a while. Lagares took over the job in late April and defensively at least, made a statement. At times, he looked like an in-his-prime Ken Griffey Jr. out there. Some of his acrobatics nearly covered the fact that he failed to hit. His slash line of 242/281/252 in 421 plate appearances makes him one of the worst hitters in an already offensively deficient lineup. However, he might hit. Witness his 2012 Double-A line of 283/334/389. That potential, plus the facts that the Mets still have den Dekker and that they just spent $7M on Chris B. Young, whose primary position is, you guessed it, center, might get Lagares traded.

Rumor had the Mets being offered Sterling Marte for Davis and Andy Dirks for Murphy. In retrospect they should have made both deals, if those possibilities existed. Perhaps Alderson has this in mind if he hears Lagares’ name in his conversations with other GMs. Pure speculation here, but maybe Lagares is the piece the Cubs want in return for one of their shortstops or the player the Dodgers demand if they have to swallow a large chunk of Andre Either’s or Matt Kemp’s salaries in a swap with the Mets. I guess we will learn more in the next two weeks.

A much safer prediction is more angst among the Mets fan base. I lived through the lean stretch between the Seaver trade and the first Gooden year and I vividly remember the 1991-96 wasteland and the decline and fall after the 2000 Subway Series. In terms of awfulness, I think this period tops them all. With the exception of 1978-79, when M.Donald Grant purposely demolished a solid roster and a brief mid 1990‘s selloff of some ill-conceived free agents, the team was always trying to bring in talent. That hasn’t been the case since at least 2010. As the story has been told ad nausea elsewhere about Alderson, Jeff and Fred, there is no need to cover it again. My concern is that this dark age could go on for years, if not decades. Unlike the 70‘s when Grant was already 73 years old or the 90’s when terms like “market efficiencies” meant little to most teams, the guy in the middle of Mets is Jeff Wilpon, who is relatively young and based purely on quotes and actions, appears to have zero competency in running a ball club. And make no mistake, Wilpon and not Alderson, is calling the shots here.

The Wilpons and their front office mouthpieces all have to go. The latter will happen before the former. A fan revolt lasting several more seasons is probably the force needed to get the new commissioner’s attention and push Jughead out. Picture Jeff’s smiling face every time you buy Mets tickets or merchandise.

On a much more important topic, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and as always, a big thank you to all of the brave men and women serving our country who observe this holiday so far from their homes and families.

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. Rev.Al November 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm
    They said the team will be better ,but! for who? the Wilpons or the fans? I just see the team getting cheaper.
  2. jeff November 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm
    How about Lagares, Montero, and Murphy to the A’s for Lowrie, Cespedes, and Anderson? It’s rumored that all 3 are on the market and the Mets trio offer what Oakland covets even more than the Mets, cost control. It’s sad that the Wilpons can’t wear the big boy pants required to be NYC owners but the reality is to get better without constantly moving the timetable out the Mets will have to trade assets. I would hate to lose all 3 but the chance to satisfy 3 needs at once while still being able to cover CF and 2B might be enticing. Not sure if the A’s would even consider it.
    • Joe Janish November 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm
      Why shoot so low? How about trading that trio to the Rockies for Tulowitzki, CarGo, and Tyler Chatwood?

      I think the Mets MIGHT be able to trade Murphy, Lagares, and Montero for ONE of those A’s — most likely Anderson, since he’s coming off injury and his stock is low. But all three? Pipe dream. Two-way shortstops, homerun power, and lefthanded starters are at a premium, and the A’s aren’t going to give away all three for the Mets’ garbage. Murphy is a DH without power, Lagares can’t hit, and Montero is an unknown entity — you’re not getting three proven MLBers, and borderline All-Stars at that — for those three players. Add Zack Wheeler to the deal and Billy Beane might pick up the phone.

      • Andrew Lloyd December 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm
        Re: Joe Janish’s comment – as in, trading those 3 players and hoping they might net one of the A’s – that comment demonstrates zero knowledge of the game and, typically, undervalues Mets players.

        Whatever anyone wants to say, Murphy is an absolutely bona fide major league, everyday player. He is one of the best-hitting 2Bs in the game, and his defense is adequate to get it done. I’m sorry, but if you think Murphy is “garbage,” you have no business writing a blog about baseball.

        Not to mention that Lagares has, after an adjustment period, hit for a high average at every stop in the minors before now, and hit quite well in June/July of this year. If Montero had a different body type, everyone would be screaming about how he’s the next coming of Roger Clemens.

        Let’s judge the Mets based on the team they field on April 1, and how they play, versus what’s happening in December.

  3. micalpalin November 29, 2013 at 1:09 am
    ‘In terms of awfulness, I think this period tops them all’

    THIS is the bottom line in your post, which is a really fine piece. certainly worthy of a bigger audience. The fact David Wright is on this team is a falsehood…an all-star among a group of fledglings. why are you insistent on paying him a 3rd of your team payroll? The fact that 20 people a day line up with implausible trade suggestions …is a statement that hope still exists in the fan base, but is it not better to just light the fuse and let ‘hope’ be on the shoulders of Noah, Jenry, Wheeler, Black, Flores, Puello, Lagares, Brown and Den-Dekker?
    Why spend 7.3M on Chris Young?

    Alderson has not made a worthwhile trade since he’s been here? CB for Wheeler ..hardly a master stroke, passing on Mike Wacha…not looking good there…trading for TDA and Noah…if TDA does pan out maybe..two more years of Terry Collins…..nuff said there.

  4. Dan B November 29, 2013 at 9:10 am
    I am glad you pointed out Lagares. The current infatuation of Lagares reminds me of Reuben Tejada circa last offseason. Both players are assumed to be starters but both players lack the pedigree to justify the trust. If Lagares develops a bat (a big if), he will have a long career. But right now he projects more like a defensively replacement /number 8 hitter. I wish I had more confidence in the Met’s ability to develop players.
  5. argonbunnies November 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm
    As a hitter, Lagares doesn’t look hopeless to me — much better tools than Tejada, at least — but it is depressing that he’s not more advanced after 7 years in the Mets system. Last year, with pitches near the edges of the strike zone, he seemed unable to identify which would be hittable strikes and which would be unhittable balls. I’d give him a bit longer to see if he just needs to adjust to MLB breaking stuff — after all, he’s had times at other levels where he’s raked — but I’d say the odds aren’t great.

    His defense is so good, though, that he’s likely to be a better value (in wins / dollars) than anyone we might replace him with. On a limited budget, he’s probably the least of our problems.

    • micalpalin December 1, 2013 at 3:36 am
      Argon: several good thoughts in your post. If I may add;
      -Lagares: I concur. Not everybody is Matt Harvey and ascends to the majors like a meteor. I see Lagares as a high ceiling guy. His speed and defense will carry him. Not comparing him but one Carlos Gomez is now an all-star. He was verbally assaulted in these blogs as a second coming of Lastings Milledge. This team is CRAP. At least Lagares is one reason to hope. With a good hitting coach he will develop. Either he can adjust his swing to a slap and run, or be a gap hitter. But one way or another he CAN be a contributor.
  6. argonbunnies November 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm
    “And make no mistake, Wilpon and not Alderson, is calling the shots here.”

    I suspect this might be true, but “make no mistake” sounds like you have proof, Dan. If so, please share.