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.
I still remember where I was (northbound on Route 287 just past Somerville, NJ) when I heard on WFAN that the Mets had acquired Mike Piazza. Three days later, I was at Shea Stadium for his Mets debut. The moment he stepped on the field wearing a Mets uniform, the team was transformed into a contender. It was the start of a rare period of sustained success for our otherwise mainly downtrodden heroes.
The Mets moved boldly when Piazza became available, acquiring him despite the presence of Todd Hundley, who had been one of the few bright spots on the team in the mid-1990s. Hundley after all, had broken the record for most home runs hit by a catcher and was both a homegrown hero and a very quotable media darling.
For Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons, this is their Piazza moment. Joe Maddon is available. Maddon is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the game and in every aspect, except one, is the perfect fit for the team. Unfortunately for the penny pinching Mets, his rumored contractural demands will put him beyond their reach. Rather than admit that, they will hide behind the “we are very satisfied with Terry Collins” line. Now, I get the fact that Terry, like Hundley before him, did a lot for the team under trying circumstances. But had the Mets stuck with Hundley over Piazza, there is no back to back playoff appearances, no walk off series clincher against the D-backs, no Grand Slam Single and no 2000 NLCS win.
If the 2015 Mets stumble out of the gate the Collins watch will be on anyway. A Maddon hiring avoids that for them. Like they did in 1998, they need to thank Terry for his contributions and move him aside for one of the premier talents at the position. But apparently, it isn’t about winning.
If you, like me, are watching the World Series wondering how far away the Mets are from this stage, you might be getting your answer.
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.
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*
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.
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…
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?
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: