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.
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Fanboy or Old Cynic?

This is my first post since Spring Training began. It’s been that kind of year. The 2018 Mets started off red-hot and then went oh-for-June, which effectively ended their season. The fans grumbled, the press made fun, and the team essentially put a “For Sale” sign on the few productive veteran players that could still suit up.

But a funny thing happened after the calendar flipped to July. The Mets started to play better. Slowly, almost imperceptively at first, several players began to turn it around. There were steps back to be sure, like that nightmare in DC, but they started to gain a bit of traction. Fast forward to this past week, when the suddenly dangerous Mets knocked the Dodgers out of first place, probably spoiled the Phillies’ chances of reaching the post season, and are creeping up on the equally disappointing Nationals for third place in the NL East. Not exactly baseball like it oughta be, but certainly an intriguing development.

I’m starting to push 60, but I still have quite a bit of “Fan Boy” in me about the Mets. On the flip side, I have been rooting for them since 1971, leaving me little more than just a little cynical about their future. So, what kind of dialog ensues when Dan the Fan Boy and Dan the Old Cynic join the same Mets chat room in some corner of my brain?

Fanboy: The Mets will let David Wright and Jose Reyes man the left side of the infield one more game together before the end of the season, and then hold a very nice retirement press conference for them early in the offseason.

Old Cynic: No chance. David Wright will continue to attempt his “one last try.” Jose will further tarnish his legacy by telling his agents he’s open to a minor league deal. Don’t count out the Mets taking him up on that offer.

Fanboy: Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil will combine to be the best 1-2 top of the batting order since the days of Dykstra and Backman. Defensively, they are the best keystone combo since Rey-O and Fonzie.

Old Cynic: It been a nice half a year for both players, but I need to see a few more good months of out McNeil in 2019 before I anoint him as the starting second baseman. Rosario alternated between looking really good and making some fundamentally unsound plays. Is that his youth, or the poor Mets player development system showing? The “best keystone combo since Rey-O and Fonzie” is more of an indictment against the Mets than an endorsement of Rosario and McNeil.

Fanboy: Zack Wheeler finally realized his potential. Between he, Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard, this is the best 1-2-3 rotation in baseball. And, if manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland can complete Steven Matz’ turnaround, we’ll have four aces.

Old Cynic: One (painful) word: Injuries.

Fanboy: Peter Alonso will supply the Mets with the kind of power they haven’t seen since Cespedes was in his prime. His righty bat will be bracketed by lefties Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto to form a left-right-left homegrown power trio in the middle of the order for the next few years. Put Todd Frazier in the 6-hole and they have a good lineup, one through six.

Old Cynic: It would have been nice to have seen Alonso get some at-bats in September. Plus, he hit about half of all those homeruns in the PCL, which is a notorious hitter’s league. Your 3-4-5-6 of the order will cool off the fans on humid nights with all that fanning. And, they’re just going to give up on Dom Smith? What happens to the beloved Wilmer? I can’t wait to hear about your plans for Jay Bruce.

Fanboy: The San Francisco Giants have Mark Melancon, an overpriced former closer that they don’t need. The Mets need a closer. The Giants have already cut bait with Andrew McCutchen and are losing Hunter Pence to Free Agency. They need outfield help. The Mets have Jay Bruce, who is making nearly as much as Melancon. The Mets don’t need Bruce anymore. The two teams should work out a trade for these contracts. We don’t need Melancon to close, except in emergencies.

Old Cynic: Yes, the Giants will need outfield help, but Bruce is absolute toast. They finally got rid of Pence, so now they’re going to sign up for two more years of poor production? They can just stash MM in the bullpen the way you want to, and go with Will Smith to close. By the way, who closes for the Mets in this scenario? Anthony Swarzak?

Fanboy: Drew Smith, Daniel Zamora, Gerson Bautista, Bobby Wahl, Tim Peterson, Eric Hanhold, Jamie Callahan, Tyler Bashlor, and Jacob Rhame can’t all be flops. Most of them had great minor league stats, and for the most part, they showed flashes in the bigs. They throw gas. If just two of ‘em come through…

Old Cynic: All of those names, except Wahl, are Sandy Alderson acquisitions. If we learned anything from his seven years as GM, it’s that he can’t build a bullpen to save his life. I’ll give you Jerry Blevins, but remember Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, DJ Carrasco, Victor Black, and Jose Valverde? Don’t forget Swarzak. Plus, we got most of those guys in trades when we dumped veteran salaries. How much value did these pitchers really have to their former teams?

Fanboy: Juan Lagares really looked sharp in the 30 games he played. He’s in the last year of his contract, so he will be very motivated to stay on the field, bringing a gold glove and some speed to the everyday lineup.

Old Cynic: You’ve heard of the definition of insanity, right?

Fanboy: Callaway has already stated that he wants Seth Lugo in the rotation. With the other four spots taken, it’s between Lugo and Jason Vargas. The Mets will just have to swallow hard and release Vargas, giving his spot to Lugo.

Old Cynic: The Mets will never cut bait with Vargas, a signing they never should have made in the first place. Plus, doesn’t Lugo have a tear in a ligament on his pitching arm somewhere?

Fanboy: The Mets should sign Yasmani Grandal to a three-year deal. They can front-load it and offer him opt outs after the first two years.

Old Cynic: Yeah, a $50 million-dollar deal with $45M “frontloaded” in 2019. Seriously though, Grandal is just about the only full-time and effective catcher on the market. A lot of better-run and more willing to spend teams will be in on him. Unless we are willing to way overpay, I can’t see any reason why he would want to come here. Plus, if they’re giving Juan Lagares another go, why wouldn’t they give Travis d’Arnaud another chance as well?

Fanboy: The Phillies faded down the stretch, Washington is a mess, and Atlanta had a bunch of players have career years. The NL East can be wide open next year.

Old Cynic: Atlanta is going to be a dynasty; the Phillies have plenty of young, talented players and the Nats are going to full reload mode for Life After Harper. Get used to 4th place.

So, that’s what’s going on inside the Met portion of my brain these days. How about you, are you a fan boy (or girl) or an old(ish) cynic about the Mets next year?

 

 

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The Mets: Will This Re-boot Work?

Well, we’ve survived another winter—pitchers and catchers have reported. And what a winter it proved to be: Mets fans were treated with a flurry of transactions that were almost universally hailed by the media as shrewd, pumping a little air into hopes that had been largely deflated after the 2017 season,  as well as some early winter rumblings of continued parsimony on the part of the hated Wilpons.

So, after a slow start to the offseason, the Mets took advantage of an extremely sluggish free agent market and landed several new players. They also brought back some familiar faces. This makeover has no doubt helped ticket sales a bit and at least temporarily, restored a little faith in the franchise’s ability to get itself back into the winner’s circle.

I sure hope so (more on that later), but the Mets attempt to return to glory via an infusion of new talent hasn’t worked out so well in the past. Here are three examples. For the sake of clarity the seasons before and immediately after the busy offseason will serve as the timeline:

1974-1975:

Transactions: Traded pitcher Ray Sadecki for Joe Torre, purchased the contract of Dave Kingman, swapped back-up catcher Duffy Dyer for outfielder Gene Clines; and most significantly, moved 1973’s folk hero Tug McGraw to Philadelphia for Centerfielder Del Unser.

Background and Results: The Mets 1974 season was everything their stunning run to the 1973 World Series was not. Most telling was their ineffective offense, as the team collectively slashed 235/311/329, good for 11th, 11th and 12th respectively, in the then 12-team National League. A mysterious shoulder injury threatened McGraw’s career (or so the Mets thought), and they viewed getting Unser from Philly in return as a great coup. McGraw would pitch for ten seasons as a Phillie, and was a key part in their late-70’s revival and eventual 1980 championship. Meantime, Unser was gone by the middle of the 1976 season. The Mets got even less mileage out of Clines, who lasted only a year, while Dyer played for five years in Pittsburgh. Torre was far past his prime by 1975. Kingman hit some of the longest home runs ever hit by a Mets player, but he was plagued by a low OBP and he couldn’t field worth a lick. He also had a rep as a bad guy.

The Verdict:  of all the re-boots, this was the most successful, although “success” is a relative term. The 1975 Mets went 82-80, well out of contention for the NL East title. They actually did slightly better in 1976, winning 86 games. The Mets then hit the wall in 1977 and wouldn’t be heard from again for seven years.

1991-1992:

Transactions: Traded three players, including former minor league wunderkind Gregg Jefferies to Kansas City for ace Bret Saberhagen. Signed FA’s Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Willie Randolph. They also traded useful PH Mark Carreon to Detroit for lefty Paul Gibson.

Background and Results: The 1991 season had been disastrous for the Mets, as it was the franchise’s first losing year in nearly a decade. So, they headed towards 1992 with a new manager, Jeff Torborg, a new GM named Al Harazin and new slogan, “Hard Ball is Back.” Instead, they played hardly ball. Saberhagen was shelved for most of ’92 with a finger injury. Randolph was totally washed up. Murray, who came with a rep for sullenness, was exactly that. Bonilla was a train wreck, both on and off the field. The 72-90 1992 season was an embarrassment for the franchise, followed the next year by a 100+ loss season and several humiliating off-the-field incidents that held the team up to national ridicule.  Harazin and Torborg didn’t complete the 1993 season and everybody from this do-over was gone by July of 1995, as they took warm bodies in exchange for Sabes and Bonilla. A re-boot of the re-boot, if you will.

The Verdict: Epic Fail. Another stretch in the wilderness ensued. Fortunately this one was shorter the  post-77 exile, and by 1997 the team was rising from the ashes and pointing in the right direction again. Until…

2001-2002:

Transactions: Steve Phillips traded failed outfield prospect Alex Escobar and others to Cleveland for Roberto Alomar. Super Steve also engineered a three-team swap with Milwaukee and Colorado that netted the Mets Jeromy Burnitz and Jeff D’Amico. He traded free agent flop Kevin Appier to the then-Anahiem Angels for Mo Vaughn. He traded for LHSP Shawn Estes. He signed Free Agents David Weathers and Roger Cedeno, and picked up Endy Chavez about a half dozen times, only to move him out each time (Endy began the year in the Expos system). He also acquired a then little known rookie outfielder named Jason Bay, who would be shipped to San Diego that summer.

Background and Results: After a nice run from 1997 to 2000, the Mets fortunes faded quickly after clinching the 2000 National League pennant. They lost the World Series in five games to the Yankees and then missed out on both Ichiro and A-Rod during the winter. Next, they failed to reach the playoffs in 2001. So Phillips got busy. I need to remember 2002 anytime I get nostalgic for the gun-slinging Phillips.  Cedeno, Vaughn, Alomar and Burnitz were complete flops. D’Amico, despite his impressive size, couldn’t find the plate and had zero stuff. Estes is most famous for missing Roger Clemens when he intentionally tried to hit him during an interleague game at Shea.  Weathers became an unnecessary piece.  The two best players Phillips laid his hands on that offseason were Bay and Chavez, and he moved both of them, essentially for nothing.

The Verdict: Another fail. Phillips was shown the door before the 2003 season ended. His successor, the hapless Jim Duquette, moved a few of Phillips’ acquisitions for warm bodies. Unfortunately Duquette would soon make his own blunders, paving the way for Omar Minaya’s star-crossed tenure as Mets GM.

The Present:

The Mets moved Josh Smoker to Pittsburgh for a minor league LHRP. They resigned Jose Reyes. They signed Jay Bruce, who they had traded last August. They grabbed veteran 1B Adrian Gonzalez (whom they could have had for Armando Benitez back during Duquette’s great sell-off of Phillips’ assets) while having Atlanta pick up almost his entire salary. They signed 3B Todd Frazier, LHSP Jason Vargas and RHRP Anthony Swarzak.

So, will any of these moves help? I think Frazier and Bruce, given their recent history in New York, will. Reyes too. For different reasons, both Vargas and Swarzak are question marks. Gonzo reminds me of Torre, circa 1975.

The 1975-76 Mets played as well as they did because of the team’s cadre of starting pitchers. Kingman aside, the rest of the team’s acquisitions played relatively minor roles. In 2018, Frazier and Bruce are definitely being counted on, but like their 1974 antecedents, the 2018 Mets fortunes will rise or fall on the ability of their pitching staff. This means Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard reaching at least 175 effective innings. Oh, and Yoenis Cespedes needs to be able to play in at least 135 games, if not more.

Should that happen, the rest of the pieces should fall into place and they could be on pace for an 86-76 season, with a chance to add a few players in July and push towards 90 wins. Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board–or whatever electronic marvel has made that old standby obsolete.

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The 2018 Mets: What Would Steve Phillips Do?

And for the record, it’s “what” and not “who.”

Well, so much for sustainable success. The Mets followed up their one-game wildcard appearance season that followed up their pennant-winning season with a 90+ loss season. What exactly went wrong has been well-documented elsewhere.  You can read any number of poorly-written posts on some other insipid website for that. What we’re interested in here at Mets Today is just how the team plans to return to contention. (It’s amazing how a single 90-game losing season can make “meaningful games in September” attractive again).

Based on his lackluster returns from the Great Trade Off of 2017, current Mets GM Sandy Alderson probably isn’t the man to steer the Mets back into contention. Sandy is old and sick, and the organization has grown soft.  They’re still blinking from their exposure to the bright lights of the 2015 World Series, and are imagining that they can see a fully-healed pitching staff, and a sudden quantum leap from a passel of mediocre Mets farm hands drafted and developed during the Alderson era.

Instead the Mets need an unsentimental, not worried about your opinion, pushy, get-er-done GM type. Since Donald Trump already has a job, instead the Mets should look under enough rocks until they find and convince Steve Phillips to return, letting  him apply his turn of the millennia philosophy to building the 2018 Mets. For all this talk about back-to-back playoff appearances, Phillips’ teams actually won playoff games in their return engagement, something this current era’s Mets squad couldn’t.

Imagine a tanned, rested and ready Steve Phillips back in the GM saddle in Queens. So, WWSPD–What Would Steve Phillips Do?

  1. He would say the following: “prospects will get you fired.” Before Phillips assumed the GM mantle in 1997, former 1986 Mets co-architect Joe McIlvaine held that post. Joe inherited a real mess–the team had lost over 100 games just the season before he took over. Slowly and methodically, Joe Mac re-stocked the Mets farm system with some intriguing prospects via the draft and the superstar-for-top-prospects trades that were the de rigueur front office moves for baseball back in the 1990’s. His efforts where given about a New York Minute to bear fruit, and when this didn’t happen, McIlvaine was shown the door. Enter Phillips, who traded/released nearly everyone of them, the main exception being future all-star Edgardo Alfonzo and the oft-injured Jay Payton. The rehabilitated 2018 Steve Phillips will make everyone of the Alderson-era Met farm system grads available, with the exception being future all-star Amed Rosario and currently-injured Michael Conforto. This means Dom Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Tomas Nido, Paul Sewald, Rafael Montero, Chasen Bradford, Gavin Ceechini  and a host of others that grew up in the Mets system could find themselves unceremoniously traded away.  Considering that the Mets played around .400 ball during the quarter of the season that these guys got a lot of playing time, this isn’t exactly shocking. Apparently unimpressed by the hype, Phillips also jettisoned all of the disappointing Generation K starters at rock-bottom discounts. This time around, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler shouldn’t signing any long-time leases on Manhattan studio apartments.
  2. He would diss an injured loyalist. Todd Hundley was just about the only bright spot for the Mets in the mid 90’s, belting 71 homers in 1996-97 and earning a pair of All-Star nods. Then he hurt his elbow and was himself elbowed aside for the big Phillips acquisition (more on that later). He was also the previous regime’s guy. Phillips let Hundley embarrass himself in left field for a while and then sent him off to LA as part of a another big trade. This time around, his target is clearly David Wright. Phillips is going to want DW off the team for good, as injuries and age have caught up to David. But to successfully do this, he has to lay the groundwork…
  3. He would make a blockbuster deal for a big bat with an expiring contract. Phillips made five great trades as Mets GM, three of them with Florida. The last one landed future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. That trade did a lot of things, including making Hundley expendable. This time around, Phillips is going to trade Wilmer Flores, Matz, Rob Gsellman and Drew Smith to Toronto for Josh Donaldson and T.J. House. Donaldson is the big “get” here. He’s a third baseman, which makes Wright expendable. In what was a down year for him, he still slugged 30-plus homers. Also, if he bombs, he can walk after the ’18 season. Piazza could have walked as well, but Phillips got him signed to a big extension. With Donaldson on board, Phillips will convince the Wilpons to buy out David Wright’s remaining years,  relieving David of the agony of yet another failed comeback. Thanks for everything David, now hit the road.
  4. He would bring back a former Met.  Phillips brought back Bobby Bonilla and Jeromy Burnitz. He undid his trades for Greg McMichael and Bill Pulsipher.  Now he’s bringing Lucas Duda back into the fold. Despite a low batting average, Lucas bashed a respectable 750 OPS with Tampa, slugging 13 homers. His lower batting average will scare off potential suitors, making Lucas a relatively cheap acquisition. This isn’t 1999 after all.
  5. He would trade for a starting pitcher.  Phillips acquired Al Leiter, Mike Hampton and Hideo Nomo. He signed a past his prime but still effective Orel Hershisher. He made a very canny trade for Glendon Rusch. This time, dangling Dom Smith and Wheeler as the main bait, he’s going to deal with a division rival and land Julio Teheran. He will probably need to substitute or include other pieces such as TJ Rivera or Nimmo and perhaps one of the few remaining top farm pieces like Corey Oswalt. Teheran would fit nicely in the Met rotation as the #3 starter. For good measure, Phillips will also pluck John Lackey off the free agent pile, giving the 39-year old (on Opening Day) starter a chance to hold down one of the back spots in the rotation.
  6. He would promote an obscure minor leaguer. Until he stopped to admire Todd Ziele’s non-home run in Game One of the Subway Series. Timo Perez was a nice catalyst for the 2000 Mets down the stretch and into the playoffs. The year before, he was a Hiroshima Carp, and not a very impressive one at that. The 2018 Steve Phillips will only need to reach as far as Binghamton, where he is going to pluck Luis Guillorme out of obscurity and into the starting second base job. To paraphrase Mike Francessa: “who is Luis Guillorme?” Well, MLB Prospect Watch  claims Guillmorme has the fastest hands of anybody in the Mets system. The site gushes about him and about the prospect of Guillorme and Rosario forming a spectacular up-the-middle infield combo. His bat is barely serviceable right now, but he his glove can carry him until the hitting catches up.

 

So when the smoke clears, Super Steve will have added Donaldson and Duda to the Cespedes-Conforto tandem, giving the Mets a pair of lefties and a pair of righties in the middle of the lineup. He has strengthened the up the middle defense, as the Guillorme-Rosario keystone, backed by Juan Lagares in center gives the Mets a nearly airtight defense. Terhan  and Lackey  join Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the Met rotation. By getting Wright on the Bobby Bonilla installment plan and non-tendering Matt Harvey and Asdrubal Cabrera, he can keep the Met payroll under $150 million, while fielding a winning team that will get the turnstiles (and the advertising dollars) clicking again. Just like the good old days.

Author’s Note: Being a Mets fan requires a sense of humor. If you’ve made it this far into this post, then you probably have one. I don’t expect the Mets to add Donaldson, Teheran or Lackey, or promote a Double-A infielder. At least not in 2018. I think I share the common concern that a few cosmetic changes are coming for ’18, which will result in another lost season. THEN, the drastic changes will occur. Thanks for reading, keep the faith and have a great winter. See you next season, Let’s Go Mets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Game 125 Recap: A Glimmer of Hope?

Last night, the Mets showed signs that maybe, just maybe, the road back to contention isn’t going to be that long. Big hits by prized youngsters Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario and Dom Smith, a great defensive play by Juan Lagares, four grind-’em-out  ABs by Brandon Nimmo and pair of Mets rookies actually y’know pitching–as opposed to just throwing hard.  Their surprise bullpen acquisition notched another save . Meanwhile in Brooklyn, their erstwhile closer gave another indication that he is all healed up. All in all, a nice tidy 4-2 over the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team desperately in need of wins. More on them shortly.

Yes, I know what the team’s collective record and individual WARs are. But let’s dream for a moment: this new shortstop is pretty good. He took a couple of hard shots off his glove but stayed focused and made the easy plays. He also brings an energy to the team. It’s a lot to put on such a young man, I know, but he can be a real difference-maker. I was wrong about Conforto. He is making adjustments and has settled in. If nothing else, he will be Sandy Alderson’s lasting legacy to this team. With Yoenis Cespedes in left and Conforto in right, the Mets have a 60-70 homerun threat in their outfield. This, in my opinion, should allow them to carry Lagares in center. A team built around pitching needs a strong up-the-middle defense. Lagares and Rosario supply 1/2 of that need. Two things about Lagares: they will need to compensate for his bat elsewhere and he should be fined and benched the next time he dives for a ball. With Nimmo around, the Mets have their 4th outfielder. Nimmo is a real throwback type of player, he reminds me (in a good way) of Hunter Pence.

I hate to root against the guy, but I kinda hope David Wright’s latest comeback convinces him that it is time to hang ’em up. The Mets will not be able to carry a David Wright at 75% capacity. There is a perfect addition available this winter that currently toils in Kansas City. He’s under 30, has plenty of postseason experience and is definitely going to test the market. Some of the teams that may be normally eyeing him might be keeping their powder dry (and their wallets full) to take a run at Manny Machado the winter after next. The Mets may have an opportunity to add the perfect compliment to the Conforto-Cespedes tandem.   It also allows them to pick the best glove from their glut of middle infielders for second base.

Wow, a solid up the middle defense and power at the corners, are these the Mets we’d be talking about?

As far as the rotation and the bullpen go, by his absence alone Bartolo Colon has proven his value. The Mets need to get an innings-eating veteran to slide into the third slot of the rotation. They should have enough pieces to acquire one. How about a trade for Jeff Samardzija or Jordan Zimmerman? I’d hold my breath and pencil in Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation, and put this new pitcher in the three-spot. I believe that injuries and inconsistent play have damaged the trade value of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo, so while one or more may go elsewhere for this older pitcher, the rest, along with Flexen, get to complete for the final two spots in Spring Training. It would be messy, but very entertaining. A few of these guys could end up in the bullpen.

It was a long climb back from the collapses of 2007 and 2008.  Most of us waited, somewhat impatiently for the resurgence, which came suddenly and just as suddenly has seemed to disappear. There should be no more waiting, no more talk of rebuilding. Look at the Diamondbacks, who in one year have risen from a disarrayed, dysfunctional organization into a team that if the season ended today, would be in the postseason tournament. Last night showed that the Mets do have some pieces in place to make a similar move. While 45+ years of living and (mostly) dying with this team have made me cynical, I still have moments like last night, where the past may not be prolog and the Mets can be winners again. Here’s to hope.

 

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Addison Reed and the Mets’ Bumgarner Trade

You’ll see what I did there in a minute.

So, another trade deadline has come and gone, leaving most Mets fans very disappointed again. The mantra this year was sell, sell, sell and fleece, fleece, fleece desperate would-be contenders of the cream of their farm system. Kinda like what happened to Jim Duquette and the Mets back in 2004.

Instead, and for the first time ever in Met history, the team both bought and sold at the deadline. In chronological order, they traded Lucas Duda to Tampa, acquired A.J. Ramos from Miami and shipped Addison Reed to Boston. Unfortunately for GM Sandy Alderson, no one wanted Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera or Neil Walker, so they remain Mets. This is a big part of the angst around here these days. The “haul” from this trio of deals, especially when compared to what happened cross-town, is the other contributing factor.

Of all the Mets on the block, I was least confident that Alderson could move Duda. Instead, he went first, for a now twice-traded Double-A relief prospect. The Ramos acquisition came totally out of the blue. I was actually impressed, as Sandy has been caricatured (and not unfairly) as a somewhat somnolent plodder, unable to multi-task. Instead, he proved his mettle to be able to both buy and sell, although Ramos is certainly a mixed bag. Ramos is also signed for next year, so there is that.

But his acquisition paved the way for the departure of Reed. Reed to Boston for three relief prospects was touted as a restock of the Mets depleted farm system, the addition of three “intriguing arms” that “could help soon” for what is essentially an expiring asset. Where oh where, I wondered, have I heard this one before? Then it hit me:

December 7, 1988: Mets trade INF Wally Backman to the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitchers Jeff Bumgarner , Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens. And that’s how the Mets got Bumgarner.

 

Backman’s time with the Mets had clearly come to an end, as the team was planning on inserting Gregg Jefferies into his spot at second base. This was the next in an ongoing series of missteps by Met management, dismantling the World Championship team without any significant return. One of the three (and I think it was Bumgarner, but my memory has faded) did actually show some promise for a while, but in typical Met fashion, he hurt his arm and his career stalled.  Gasser never made it, depriving early 1990’s Met fans of seeing a Gasser-Sasser battery.

 

Look, none of us have any way of knowing if Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan or Stephen Nogosek are the next Nasty Boys or the next Bumgarner, Gasser and Nivens. With Callahan likely to be called up in September, the Mets will at the very least reap something more for Reed than their previous generation counterparts got for Wally Backman.

 

Gotta start somewhere.

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Michael Conforto’s Next All Star Game Or Part Two Of The Case For Keeping Jay Bruce

Michael Conforto’s next All Star Game appearance will be for the Frontier League. There, I’ve said it. The crown jewel of the Alderson regime’s drafting history, the hitter of a pair of World Series homers, a part of the Legend of 2015, is looking more and more like a bust, the next John Milner, or if you prefer a somewhat more contemporary reference, the pre-steroid version of Jeromy Burnitz.

Hopefully the Mets understand this as well, because if they don’t, they are probably just days away from giving away the player they could only hope Conforto might someday become: one Jay Allen Bruce. In case you’ve forgotten I made a similar argument here.

Bruce is having a tremendous year with a slash line of 267|335|541 to go along with his 24 home runs. All this after a disastrous start to his Met career after last year’s trade deadline, a start that brought comparisons to he and the infamous Jason Bay. Bruce has proven his resilience, enduring a long winter of trade rumors, that fortunately for the Mets, bore no acceptable offers. To his credit he kept his mouth shut for the entire ordeal and has let his bat do the talking since Spring Training. He did speak up recently, countering Met manager Terry Collins’s somewhat incendiary remarks about the Mets not showing any fight, by making a somewhat understated, yet clearly understood rebuttal.

Like the rest of the Mets faithful, I held my breath last Saturday night when Yoenis Cespedes right knee created a tsunami like divot in the Citi Field outfield. The Mets’ claim that the injury is minor, and that Cespedes is due to return to the lineup tonight has about as much credibility as Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf’s press conferences back in the day. With Cespedes looking at yet another injury-riddled season, Bruce is the only reliable source of power left in the lineup. The key word here being reliable.

Which brings us to Conforto. Once again, he has failed to adjust and after a hot start to his season, he has slashed 206|383|317 since June 1. He took the Golden Sombero on Saturday against some decent left handed Colorado relief pitching and then took another collar in Sunday’s debacle. Just a reminder, he hit 220|310|414 for all of 2016. This is the guy the Mets should build their offense around?

No sir. The Mets need to extend Bruce,and get Cespedes to find another personal trainer in the hopes that he can stay on the field more often. Together, Cespedes and Bruce can form a dangerous right-left middle of the order for the Mets, who need to go with faster players who can pick the ball elsewhere. This will equate to a power outage of sorts, making the home run threat  from the outfield corners an even more needed resource.

And for Conforto? He needs to be packaged with one of the Mets disappointing “young guns” this winter (that’s you Steven Matz) for a fast centerfielder and/or a defensive-minded second baseman.

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Trade Target: Derek Fisher

No one inside the Mets organization will publically admit, but they have to sense what many of us have already concluded: 2017 just isn’t the Mets year. At this point, they need a GPS to find .500, let alone any of the five National League playoff spots. Readers of this blog fully understand the woes of this current team, but essentially the older Met players haven’t aged well and the injured Met players haven’t fully recovered. If they pitch well, their bats go silent, and if they score runs, their pitching staff can’t hold the lead. This is more than a 10-game cold streak, they have played nearly one-third of the season. Yes, they put together some great runs the last two seasons to make the playoffs; but in both years they started off well, tailed off in the middle and then heated up down the stretch. Now, they will have to make a concerted run at winning baseball for over 100 games. Do you see them going 65-35 or so the rest of the way? Me neither, and it’s very disappointing.

The good news is that this probably isn’t 1978, nor 1993, nor 2003 nor 2011 again. Those rock-bottom seasons (notice how they get progressively closer together) featured a roster devoid of talent, some onerous contracts and a feeble farm system. Outside architects had to be brought in to tear the entire structure down and rebuild at a very basic level, a tortuous process that took years—and didn’t always bear fruit.

Maybe wishful thinking here, but I don’t see this as the case with this current incarnation. Other than David Wright’s insurance-covered deal, they are fine in the contract department.  In Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and probably Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores, they have a decent cadre of core players. If the scouting reports are indeed true, they will be adding another solid piece whenever Amed Rosario is finally summoned from Vegas. Looking ahead to 2018, they should have two outfield and two infield spots covered, as well as a pair of top-of-the-rotation arms. The task between now and next year’s Spring Training is to supplement that core with some better players than the ones they have now. Which brings us to Mr. Fisher.

Unlike the Mets, the Houston Astros are having a phenomenal year. As of today’s writing (June 7) they are an incredible 42-16. Even if they “slow down” to a .600 pace they are on track for a triple-win digit year. Yet, they have weaknesses. Their bullpen needs another arm. Nori Aoki is slashing 258/307/315 for them in left and their DH is a 40 year-old Carlos Beltran. But if ever a team looked poised to win it all, this is it. Pardon the expression but they should be “all in.” The Mets have players to deal and would match up well with the Astros. They could offer Houston either Lucas Duda or Addison Reed for Fisher.  I wouldn’t be averse to packaging both of them together to get Fisher in return. Since Houston is looking for more production in their outfield, perhaps they would consider taking Jay Bruce in place of one or either piece. Maybe even Jerry Blevins, although that’s cutting a bit into next year’s team for the Mets, and I am not ready to punt 2018 just yet.

Currently Fisher is slashing 338/403/604 in the PCL. Yes, it’s the Pacific Coast League, but consider the fact that the highly-regarded Rosario is slashing 340/383/494 in the same league. Both players currently have 11 stolen bases. Imagine those two dynamos at the top of the Mets order.

Fisher has power from the left side, and has and has the ability to steal bases. There are concerns about his defense, which may relegate him to a corner outfield position (making Conforto a full time CF). But IMO this type of trade is a perfectly acceptable risk to take. Fisher probably isn’t ready to contribute to the Astros this year. Duda, Bruce, Reed, etc. could.  None of the Mets expiring contracts are likely to return next year. This type of return beats a draft pick or whatever the going rate is these days for losing a player to Free Agency.

They’ll still need plenty of shoring up elsewhere, especially the bullpen, but Fisher could be a useful piece to what is hopefully a quick turnaround from mediocrity.

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