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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Joe Maddon and Mike Piazza

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.

 

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