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.