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.
Browsing All Posts By Dan Capwell

Craig on Mets’ List?

Normally, I am the first to denigrate any trade proposals and I fully expect the Mets to do nothing of the sort, but given the dearth of news about the Mets these days, there really isn’t much else to write about and I need to scratch this itch. So here goes.

The Mets should trade LHP Jon Niese to the Boston Red Sox for LF/1B Allen Craig.

Boston added Craig at last year’s trade deadline, in exchange for John Lackey, a move that you may have missed due to some of the more dramatic trades made that week. A listfranc injury limited Craig to just 29 games for Boston in 2014. He batted a measly 128/234/191 for the Sawk, likely attributable to the injury. But in the previous five years with the Cardinals he hit 291/343/460 with OPS of 803. More on him in a minute.

In what most Met fans would consider as a disappointing year, Niese’s 1.28 WHIP was a career best and he logged 187 innings last year, three off his career high in 2012. With the exception of the now-departed Jon Lester, Niese statistically out-pitched every 2014 Boston starter and came close to matching Lester in several (good) categories. While not an ace, Jon represents the next tier of pitchers and is a solid, less costly left-handed alternative to Lester. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders, first basemen and designated hitters, so the opportunity convert some of that into a pitcher such as Niese may prove hard for them to resist.

As for the Mets, they get a man who has been called one of the best pure hitters in the major leagues. A right handed hitter, he can provide relief for Lucas Duda or Matt den Dekker against tough lefties. He could hit anywhere from second to fifth in the lineup, extending both it and the bench. He has even played a little second base. It is worth repeating that the Mets don’t necessarily need to add a slugger as much as they need to add a slasher like Craig, who consistently puts the ball in play. And, he is not bereft of power— just ask the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, any Met trade discussion has to include salaries. Here’s the beauty of it, the Niese and Craig contracts are nearly identical for their duration:
Year          Craig           Niese
2015             $5.5M         $7.0M
2016             $9.0M        $9.0M
2017             $11.0M       $10.0M*
2018             $13M*        $11.0M*

*Team Option
On the flip side, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been characterized as wanting to win every deal and this one carries some danger. The major risk for the Mets is Niese is two years younger than Craig and could be entering some of his prime years locked into a team-friendly contract. Craig’s foot injury is the type that might never heal and if so, his best years are behind him.   That’s why you have team doctors check him out first. The betting here is that the Mets have enough pitching to cover Niese’s departure (even if this deal is made and then goes south). I also think that they actually run a greater risk with an ill-advised free agent signing or  dealing away multiple prospects for a power hitter.
I am starting to talk myself into believing this could actually happen. What do you think? Sound off below.

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Jim Fregosi, Lucas Duda and the Coming Offseason

ryan-fregosi

It’s a trade that has haunted the Mets for decades: looking for solution to their third base woes, they drew from their surplus of starting pitching and traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Ryan went on to a Hall of Fame career, while Fregosi didn’t even last two seasons with the Mets. Although the trade was made in 1971, it took until 1984 and the arrival of Doc Gooden for the wound to stop bleeding. Time has dimmed the memory of it somewhat, with flare-ups in 1999 and 2004, along with the Mets (not surprisingly) picking at the scab themselves with a Ryan bobble head giveaway recently.

Fast forward to the present. As they did in the early 1970’s, the Mets once again have a seeming surplus of prospects. They also have several holes. Alderson has frustrated Met fans with long stretches of inactivity, especially during the offseason, when fans are desperate for any type of news. Imagine for a moment however, if Alderson had succumbed and made a trade like Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay for Matt Joyce. A move that would have been hailed as a triumph in March would have resulted in Alderson’s resignation, rather than his contract extension, in September. What’s that old saying about listening to the fans and eventually sitting with them?

This concept was already covered here, but where past Met GMs like Steve Phillips or Frank Cashen were bold, occasionally getting burned but also with spectacular successes, Alderson makes his moves from a defensive position. Credit where it is due, he made the right decision with Duda. The Mets have to hope that this season was the start of something big for Lucas and that they aren’t being fooled the way Ike Davis fooled them in 2012.

This also means that Alderson is likely to give Wilmer Flores and Matt den Dekker the starting shortstop and right field jobs, respectively next year. Not that either is underserving of the opportunity, as both showed flashes in their extended 2014 trials. This is a high-risk/high-reward proposition for the Mets. If both players (and Duda) are successful in 2015 and enough pitchers stay healthy, it isn’t too hard to picture the Mets as contenders. If however, they falter, the rebuilding is dealt a serious setback and yet another year of David Wright’s prime and cheap young pitching has been wasted.

One name that will no doubt come up frequently in the off season (at least until he is traded) is Yoenis Cespedes. Two things to remember: we’re in a post-PED world and power hitters are the new young pitchers, that most coveted of resources. Second, Boston traded Jon Lester to get Cespedes, so it is very unlikely they are going to accept a package of Daniel Murphy or Dillon Gee and a few “B” prospects for him. This all means that Boston is going to want at least one of the Mets late inning bullpen power arms, plus Kevin Plawecki and at least Steven Matz. Just because Ben Cherington wants to remind us how smart he is, he’s also going to demand a lesser-heralded, but intriguing arm like Matt Bowman. Would you make that trade for one year of Cespedes? More importantly, would Alderson?

Instead, the narrative will be something like this: “We’re getting a returning Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell and David Wright. We’ll also have a full year of Travis d’Arnaud, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. We played at partial strength last year and still won 79 games. We waited on players like Duda and Familia and they have delivered, we expect the same from Flores and den Dekker. Moving the fences in will increase our team power. We’re at least ten games better than that to start the season and we can always add players if we (wink, wink) want to.”

We covered this also last year, but all of these Five-Moves-the-Mets-Should-Do-This-Offseason-themed posts aren’t even worth clicking on. So, take my advice and lower your expectations this winter. You’ll feel better and hey, you never know…

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Coupon-Clipping Mets Soon at It Again

Mets prospect Dilson Herrera

Ryan Doumit‘s 9th inning homerun Thursday off of Daisuke Matsuzaka was the equivalent of pulling the sheet over the corpse that is the Mets 2014 season. With it went the team’s last vestige of relevancy: that of spoiler to the formerly-hated Braves’ playoff chances.

Two stories broke soon after Doumit’s homer landed beyond the right field wall: the first was that the Mets had placed Daniel Murphy on the DL with a strained calf and had called up uber-prospect Dilson Hererra. The second was the revelation that the team has considered moving Travis d’Arnaud to left field. More on the first story in a moment, but let’s look at the d’Arnaud situation for a moment first.

Manager Terry Collins broached the subject with reporters, stating that the team is concerned that d’Arnaud’s history of concussions could lead to permanent injury. That sounds very admirable, as the long-term danger from concussions is becoming more and more recognized. But Terry also inserted catching prospect Kevin Plawecki into the conversation, which raises suspicions of another motive besides concerns over d’Arnaud’s health being in play.

Both Plawecki and d’Arnaud will make the major league minimum next year. Add either Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the left field platoon with d’Arnaud and the Mets have themselves a tidy little troika of players making the major league equivalent of peanuts. Nope, no need to make a deal or sign a free agent, we’ve got left field covered, they’ll be telling us all offseason.

I had the opportunity to observe Hererra in a game this summer (and I even took his picture). He hit a long homerun and looked great in the field. Giving credit where due, GM Sandy Alderson has made a potentially great trade in landing Dilson and Vic Black from Pittsburgh. If Hererra has even a modicum of success in the remaining games, Murphy’s exit from the team this offseason is a fait accompli. Oh, and he was due for such a nice raise next season too.

The great Elvis Costello had a line about being disgusted once but now being only amused. The Wilpons (through their mouthpieces Alderson and Collins) have elevated “slippery” into an artform. On some levels, the d’Arnaud move and the Herrera call-up make sense, especially the latter. Just how convenient is it though, that these “solutions” represent the industry minimum in salary? But, we’re not supposed to look at it that way; instead we are urged to focus on the potential for d’Arnaud, Plawecki, den Dekker and Hererra. Add in those young guns and things could get might interestin’ next summer ‘round Citi Field pardner. Buy those tickets now, ya hear?

One more thought on moving d’Arnaud—didn’t the Mets recently have a very expensive left fielder who suffered a major concussion while playing that position?

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Think Unsexy Thoughts: The Mets Search For A Shortstop

starlin-castro-640

Terry Collins reads Mets Today! Or at least he must have read this article about the batting order as he has fulfilled almost all of my requests. Sorry about that.

The Mets are on pace for another sub 75-win season, meaning they will begin the 2015 season just about the same way they have ended every year since 2011. Probably not a coincidence but just like the end of the 2011 season, they must begin to plan for 2015 by first looking for a shortstop.

No small amount of keyboard strokes have already covered this topic ad nausea. As always, Mets Today has our own unique and frequently irreverent POV on this subject. Here are a few thoughts on some of the potential solutions to the Mets shortstop problem:

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Stand Pat, Sandy

Here it comes: the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which has become a cottage industry of sorts for many TV networks and blogs, who serve up tasty trade news and trade rumors to a ravenous audience. Much like New Year’s Eve revelers, many baseball fans wake up on August 1 with a trade rumor hangover and a resolve not to get sucked in ever again (yeah, right).

The majority of this post was written before the “story” about the Mets’ interest in Troy Tulowitzki broke late on Thursday evening. For the record, I think that story is pure fantasy. But then again, I never thought the Mets would land Mike Piazza either.

The Mets’ record at the trade deadline has been spotty, to say the least. Near the top of the all-time list of infamy is the totally unnecessary trade of Scott Kazmir in 2004. That trade did alter the course of the franchise for a little while, as it ushered in the Omar Minaya era and the team’s last playoff appearance to date. Speaking of deadline deals with franchise altering implications, the 1977 Trade Deadline, then in mid-June, will (hopefully) forever hold the title of Worst Ever. I am referring of course, to the Mets “Midnight Massacre” giveaways of Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman that year. Along the way, the Mets, in an attempt to bolster a playoff run, have also sacrificed Jason Isringhausen and Melvin Mora in late July trades. Minaya’s inability to make any bullpen improvements at the 2007 and 2008 deadlines no doubt contributed to the late season collapses in both years. The Billy Wagner giveaway was one of the first signs of the Wilpon’s impending financial distress.

On the flip side, there have been a few deadline deals that worked in the Mets favor. Getting Keith Hernandez and an eventual World Series crown for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey in 1983 easily laps the rest of the field. The Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler trade is definitely a win for the Mets. Steve Phillips got Darryl Hamilton from Colorado on July 31, 1999. Hamilton played a decent centerfield for the team during parts of three seasons, including the playoff years of 1999-2000. The Marlon Byrd deal with Pittsburgh may end up being one of the best in Met history—if current trends continue.

But without a doubt, my all-time favorite deadline deal, even more so than the Hernandez swipe, is the 1984 trade that Frank Cashen made with Cincinnati, trading somewhat heralded prospects Jay Tibbs and Eddie Williams to the Reds for pitcher Bruce Berenyi. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t who they traded for but why. Seven years after (to the exact date) the Seaver trade, the Mets front office was sending the message that the long nuclear winter that started on that horrible night was finally over. They believed in their team enough to give up two prospects in an attempt to win now.

At least, that’s how I took it. BTW, Berenyi went 9-6 for the surprising 84 Mets, before his career was cut short by injuries the following year.

My sense is that this is the type of deadline deal that current Met GM Sandy Alderson needs to make next, if he makes any move at all before the Winter Meetings. I am not in favor of a Bartolo Colon salary-dump deal. Last week’s heroics aside, Colon is needed to save the young arms from too many September innings this year. I highly doubt the Wilpons will allow Alderson to trade Daniel Murphy in-season. There has been zero buzz about Jon Niese or Dillon Gee, which is somewhat telling, although this could change in the next few days. So unless Alderson can channel his inner Cashen and pull off a trade of say Josh Satin and Logan Verrett to the Padres for Everth Cabrera, he should just stand pat. The Mets farm system appears to be on the brink of producing a steady stream of serviceable contributors and perhaps even a star or two. A couple more weeks of evaluation, along with a few September call ups, is probably a better course of action, rather than plunging into the annual feeding frenzy in an attempt to garner some fleeting attention and a few more essentially meaningless wins.

A late (and much missed) mentor of mine was always there to remind me of how time could be an ally during any major decision making process I faced. I believe that concept applies here as well. It was easier to complain about a lack of deadline activity when the Mets had nothing to lose. They need to move prudently and gather as much data as they can on their current crop of prospects.

After all, they have all winter to engineer that Noah Syndergaard for Javier Baez trade!

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