Browsing Archive November, 2014

Motte the Met and Other Musings

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  The arrival of the holiday season also means that right on time, the hot stove is blazing away. The Mets offseason acquisitions are once again likely to be of the smaller type, as GM Sandy Alderson and his brain trust appear fully confident that last year’s 79-win team only needs some minor tweaking to blossom into a contender.

Since it is Thanksgiving, we’ll use a restaurant analogy: unlike the Boston Red Sox, we won’t be dining at Daniel this offseason. Instead,  we’ll  get to pick from one of the many options at the Bergen Mall food court.

Recent Metsblog speculation has the Mets interested in former Cardinal closer Jason Motte. This is one of Matthew’s more intriguing rumors.  After a brilliant 2012 season, including a league-leading 42 saves, Motte missed all of 2013 following TJS. His 2014 was a lost season and observers noted that his 2014 velocity was down at least 3 MPH over 2012 (a cautionary tale for Matt Harvey). However even at partial strength, he held lefty batters to a .211 BA, even lower than his career norm. Yes, I know, small sample size.

If and it’s a big if, Motte can return to the pre-surgery form, he gives the Mets a formidable late inning arm. He also has a cool beard and has done some good charity work. Any hey, he used to be a catcher, which counts for something, at least on this blog! Alderson can probably get him for cheap. He should try.

Besides Motte, here are some other names associated with our team lately:

  • Craig Breslow: On the surface, he is a better choice than Motte, as he is the epitome of the LOOGY they need. He’s a New York guy, but then so was Nelson Figueroa. He really fell off a cliff last year and will turn 35 during the season.  Just my own gut feeling, but I think Breslow is done and I would rather take a chance on Motte, who if nothing else, has a much bigger upside.
  • Jonny Gomes: For openers, he is an ex-Padre and ex-Athletic, which is the type of player that Alderson likes to acquire. He was one of the heroes of Boston’s 2013 World Championship team and does bring many intangibles with his game. Caution: his 2014 performance dipped as the year wore on and he has put up a below average slash line for two consecutive years. He might be a fun guy to have around, but either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker are likely to outhit him (albeit from the other side of the plate) at this stage of his career.
  • Ryan Ludwick: Another ex-Padre, he OPS’d .683 for the Reds last year. Hard to believe he is 36 already. He is at the top of this class of outfielders, which is somewhat akin to being the top of the Delta pledge class in Animal House.
  • Delino DeShields Jr.: Here is an excellent article on some of the players available in this year’s Rule V draft. Before parenthood and career responsibilities occupied more real estate in my brain, I spent a lot of time delving into that draft, so I appreciate that someone has picked up the banner. Experience reminds us that for every Johan Santana  left unprotected, there’s also a Brad Emaus, a Pedro Beato, a Doug Simons or a Mike Draper out there just waiting to clog up a roster spot.
  • Daniel Murphy to the Giants? I have also read and heard speculation that the San Francisco Giants’ loss of Kung Fu Panda to the Red Sox has them eyeing Murphy to play third base. In reality, I would think that Murphy is somewhat way down on the Giants list of options; plus any deal is likely predicated on the Mets first acquiring a shortstop and sliding Wilmer Flores over to second. Hard to decide which of these  scenarios is the more unlikely.

At the end of the offseason, we will probably have to be satisfied with the additions of Ludwick/Gomes/Breslow or Motte, along with Michael Cuddyer and a healthy  Harvey. Would that work for you? Or do you have a Murphy to the Giants trade proposal? How about a realistic one for a shortstop? Let’s hear it.

 

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Athletics Acquire Ike Davis

The Oakland Athletics have traded international signing money to the Pittsburgh Pirates for former Met Ike Davis.

Ironically, in a related move, the A’s DFA’d former Met Andrew Brown to make room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

In other news, the Athletics also signed former Kansas City Royal Billy Butler. Considering that Butler is a righthanded-hitting DH / first baseman who tends to hit better against lefthanded pitchers, maybe Davis will have an opportunity to platoon a bit in Oakland.

Other transactions over the past week or so:

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The Cuddyer Signing: Like It or Loathe It?

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I am somewhere in the middle on this one. ICYMI, the Mets signed Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer yesterday. Didn’t see that coming.

Interesting tidbit: then-prospect Cuddyer was one of the Twins rumored to be coming back to the Mets in the ill-fated Rick Reed for Matt Lawton trade in 2001.

What I like about this signing is that on paper at least, Cuddyer becomes the Mets jack of all trades, filling in at left, right, first and third base. The team’s bench was thinner than the meat sliced at my local deli (sorry, love) for most of last year, so this gives Terry Collins additional options. It allows Collins to pick spots for Lucas Duda and the current or future outfield prospects. By all accounts, Cuddyer is a solid citizen. He is besties with David Wright and we all know about David’s reputation. Most importantly, the Mets added a bat without sacrificing any pitching prospects.

On the downside, Cuddyer is quite long in the tooth and is coming off an injury plagued 2014 campaign. If the team’s budget is indeed that tight, they probably have squandered resources better applied elsewhere. It is interesting how back loaded his two-year deal is. I guess this means that they won’t be resigning Daniel Murphy or Bartolo Colon past 2015. He also cost them their #1 2015 draft pick, but IMO, the bellyaching about that is somewhat unfair, considering the shape of the Mets farm system and the time it takes to develop prospects. Remind me again, what round was Jacob deGrom drafted in?

This signing probably means either Eric Young Jr.’s or Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ days at a Met are numbered.

Met fans in the post-2006 era have been conditioned to expect the worst. For us the worst could run to either extreme, (a) being that the Cuddyer signing represents the centerpiece of their offseason remake and that he is penciled in for 600 at bats. Or (b) the early signing signals that the team is about to embark on a “damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead” philosophy and the next move is a multiple pitching prospect deal for all of Troy Tulowitzki’ s salary.

So how about you? Like this signing or hate it? Let’s hear it.

And Happy Veterans Day to all who served or who are serving.

 

 

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The Mets: Three Moves They Will Make This Offseason

I have achieved a somewhat Zen-like acceptance of the coming quiet offseason for the Mets. I believe that correctly or otherwise, the Front Office envisions the window of opportunity really opening in 2016 with a mainly home-grown 25-man roster. Maybe I spent too much time reading Baseball America during my formative fan years, but I am at peace with that decision.

Meanwhile back on earth, there have already been a plethora of articles predicting the offseason moves the Mets might/could/should make. My sense is that the promulgators of these scenarios are either bored, naïve, or are following the example of a certain Mets Blog, manufacturing rumors or regurgitating manufactured rumors to build traffic.

The Mets will make moves, at least three of them, this offseason. To spare you the suspense, they appear below. And, for the record, I did consider bringing the fences in as one of them, but that’s a little too low, even for me!

    1. They will move Jeurys Familia to the closer role. This is more of a gut feeling than actual statistical analysis, as both Familia and Jenrry Mejia performed similarly in 2014. Both were revelations last year. Mejia was certainly entertaining, but he strikes me as more of a reliever who closes than a closer. Familia exhibited some shut down stuff during 2014. Mejia gets the eighth inning, which dovetails nicely into this next move…
    2. Bobby Parnell is moved off the roster. With the closer and setup roles spoken for, that leaves the less defined roles like long man, spot starter and ROOGY. The Mets have Carlos Torres, Rafael Montero and Vic Black for these roles, all of whom are far cheaper than Bobby and shouldn’t be less than twelve full months removed from Tommy John surgery when the 2015 season starts. I envision Parnell being non-tendered, then being offered (and refusing) a minor league deal; ultimately signing an incentive laden contract with another team.
    3. Curtis Granderson is moved to leftfield. This creates a sham right field scrum between Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Brandon Nimmo during Spring Training. In actuality the job is den Dekker’s, until/unless his performance indicates that his 2014 AAA numbers were a fluke. Kirk is already slated for a pinch hitting role and Nimmo for Vegas. Long term, I believe the job is Nimmo’s as they also envision him as a Nick Markakis-type of leadoff hitter.

Honorable Mention:

Dillon Gee is moved to the bullpen. After a long winter of trade rumors for any number of obscure back-up shortstops and speedy, light-hitting outfielders, Gee opens the year as the other long/swing man. Knowing the Mets, they will then deal him in April when his trade value has sunk even lower and they rediscover their need for a second lefty out of the bullpen.

Not Going Anywhere:

  1. Daniel Murphy: He is the opening day second baseman. I don’t think they have any desire to commit to Daniel long-term, but still see him as a valuable piece for at least one more year until Dilson Herrera is fully ready.  It wouldn’t surprise me either to see Murph get a Qualifying Offer next winter, which he will turn down. I think the Mets believe the extra draft pick will garner them a higher-ceiling player than they would get in a trade for Murph.
  2. Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese : While the crown jewels of the organization will hold down the top three spots in the rotation, these two will round it out, providing a veteran presence and the ability to eat innings. Colon may be traded sometime in July, as by then the money still owed him has dwindled and Noah Syndergaard is free from Super Two eligibility.
  3. Ruben Tejada and Eric Young Jr.: Both have roles that GM Sandy Alderson would have to otherwise scramble to fill. And apparently Sandy doesn’t like to work in the winter.

Sorry folks but it is all about 2016. I will state FWIW, that I don’t necessarily think this inactivity is all bad. I still can’t stand the sight of Jeff and Fred, I find Alderson’s condescending attitude extremely annoying and I think that Terry Collins is a mediocre in-game manager. That said, I have warmed (somewhat) to the direction that the team is going. I also disagree with the common wisdom that the Mets’ farm system lacks any viable position players. For example, I was impressed by the Nimmo-Herrera top of the order combo in Binghamton last year. Barring injury, both are near locks for the 2016 team.

Speaking of which, I’ll wager that Alderson and Co. envision this team in ’16: the four aces in the rotation, the flamethrowers in the pen and a batting order of  Nimmo/Herrera/Michael Conforto/Lucas Duda /a Travis d’Arnaud-Kevin Plawecki job share/David Wright/Juan Lagares/Gavin Cecchini. Granted there are many potential potholes along the way to this lineup and I am violating Capwell’s Corollary by projecting onto two players below the Double-A level.

Conforto is the guy to watch. If he zooms through the system and reaches Binghamton next summer, he could conceivably make the squad out of  the next Spring Training. If he hits say .220 at St. Lucie in 2015,  they likely end up dipping into their prospect pile to get another bat. Meantime they hope for an adjusted outfield wall-aided resurgence from Grandy and a chance to deal him.  Wilmer Flores and den Dekker are probably viewed as little more than inexpensive placeholders for Sandy’s “guys.” If either one of them hits it big, it’s like winning the lotto: unexpected, but you’ll take the results.

Your turn…what do you think will happen this offseason?

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