Tag Archives: David Wright

The Second Half

A sense of optimism

Let’s get this out of the way to start. No, I don’t expect the Mets to be in the playoff hunt. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see them fall apart like they’ve done the last few seasons. Yet I’m still excited for what’s in store. I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mind you this light isn’t piercing. It’s simply the first time I’ve seen any in a while.

Even with mild expectations (and that was probably optimistic), the season started out disappointing. Once again Ike Davis had a slow start. The only hitter outside of David Wright with true star potential on the roster, and he put up some of the worst numbers in all of the majors. Ruben Tejada went from a possible starter to a minor leaguer, and Jon Niese has suffered through some poor starts and an extended stint on the DL that almost saw his season come to a close. Not to mention an injury to top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the main impact player in the Dickey trade that was supposed to premier with the big league club.

So why am I optimistic for the second half? It’s Matt Harvey looking like a Cy Young candidate in his first full season. It’s Zach Wheeler flashing the promise of a staff ace in his first few starts. It’s Niese avoiding season ending surgery. It’s Jeremy Hefner turning from a stop-gap to a potential piece of the puzzle. It’s Bobby Parnell turning into a big trade chip, and a stud young closer. It’s wanting to see if there is any way in hell Josh Satin and Eric Young Jr. can keep it up. And it’s hoping to see d’Arnaud in the majors sooner than later. Basically, it’s a lot.

I want to see the progression of these players because honestly the Mets could be a competitive team as early as next season (competitive as in second wild card contender…which is a lot when you consider the last several seasons).

And it’s almost entirely because of the pitching depth in the system. Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Hefner, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero. That’s seven strong starting pitchers in the majors or the high minors. Pick any five and you have yourself a strong rotation to build around, and that leaves you two strong trading chips (If I had to guess I’d say Niese and Montero are most likely to be traded).

Ok, hitting might leave more to be desired. But Wright has become the leader of this team. He has been the best third baseman in the National League, and one of the most productive players in the majors despite having very little around him (outside of Marlon “Are you absolutely sure PEDs are not involved in any way?” Byrd).

There is still the chance d’Arnaud can establish himself as a solid hitter before the season ends. And let’s not forget all the money coming off the books at the end of the season. If the Mets can use the payroll flexibility to add a bat and trade for another (entirely possible) the Mets lineup could be respectable by next season (and with the rotation that’s good enough).

All Things Come to an End

Today was the final day of the 2012 regular season. Once again the Mets finished below .500 and are hoping some offseason magic can make them relevant sooner rather than later. Because it is no fun to reflect on a season in which the team hasn’t been competitive or in the playoff race for months, we will instead look to next season.

So, should Mets fans be optimistic going into next year?

To be honest I’m not entirely sure. I know this is a bit of a cop out, but with Sandy Alderson claiming to be very active in the trade market, this team might be entirely different by the time the 2013 season gets underway.

But let’s pretend the Mets will largely keep the same team intact going into next season.

The biggest weakness of this club is the outfield. Who on the Mets makes you feel confident going into next season? Jason Bay? Lucas Duda? Matt Den Dekker?

There is a chance one of the young players on the Mets could blossom into an everyday starter, but we have yet to see it, and everything said by scouts says we will never see it. So unless Alderson makes some moves, the outfield situation should not be much better next year. There may be small individual improvements among the players, but nothing drastic.

The infield is less of a question mark. Daniel Murphy has proven to be a steady hitter, and (this may be generous) serviceable second baseman. Best part? He is probably the weak link. David Wright is a perennial All-Star, Ruben Tejada had a remarkable year, and Ike Davis rebounded in the second half to belt 31 hrs. Even catcher has been decently reliable for the Mets ever since the trade for Kelly Shoppach.

So how about the rotation?

Going into next season the rotation looks to be a strength. R.A. (Cy?) Dickey will be returning. As will Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. Top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler will be up sooner than later, and the Mets will potentially have Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey, and/or Chris Young to choose from as the fifth starter. Not to mention a spot starter and long reliever in Jeremy Hefner.

The bullpen may still be a weakness, but with the improvement of Bobby Parnell, and the expected additions of Jenry Mejia and Jeurys Familia the bullpen should be at least serviceable moving forward.

So outside of the outfield things seem good. Does that mean the Mets could be in the playoff race?

They could. Stranger things have happened, but if I had to bet I would say no. Why? Well there are just too many questions that face the Mets.

First, can RA Dickey have a similar season? How will Matt Harvey look during his first full season? How will Zach Wheeler perform in the majors? Will Santana be a solid starter? Are they even bringing Pelfrey or Young back? How will Gee recover from surgery? Those are just the questions for the rotation.

Murphy is still a reliability at second, Davis hasn’t put together an All-Star season yet. Tejada is good, but isn’t a star yet. And with no outfield, and maybe one star in the infield, the offense will struggle. On top of that, we still aren’t sure how much better the bullpen can be expected to be next season.

I guess in short: the Mets have talent. In my opinion I think they are doing a nice job of building within, especially considering where they were. But they aren’t there yet. Perhaps Alderson can do something in the offseason to change this, but as of now the Mets look at least a season away from being real playoff contenders.

Deadline Decisions

Will they or won’t they? That is the question on every Mets mind for the next few weeks. Sure the All-Star game is tonight, and that will be exciting, but when the guys playing the game don’t care to show up, I doubt it’s that prevalent in many fans minds. (Don’t get me wrong I love the All-Star game. I mean I already have my Mets jersey and hat on to cheer on our lone representative, Carlos Beltran. Ironic since it seems like he is one of the leading candidates to get traded in the next couple of weeks)

No, what’s on most fans minds is what management plans on doing during the trade deadline.

At the start of the second half the Mets go up against the Phillies, Cardinals and Marlins before anyone (Reyes, Ike, Wright) comes off the DL. Those teams include a team with the best record in baseball, two division leaders, and combine for a record of 149-125 (.544%). At the end of the week they could easily find themselves below .500 and essentially out of the wild card chase.

That gives Alderson a week to decide if he is going to trade Beltran, K-Rod, Isringhausen or Byrdak. (I didn’t mention Reyes because I can’t envision a scenario where they trade him)

So let’s play GM and try to answer this question.

K-Rod is the most likely to go because he has value and because the Mets don’t want to pay him $17.5 million next season. The interesting thing with K-Rod is, even though he is an extremely talented closer, the Mets probably won’t get much in return for him. Instead, the big reward will be the money the Mets save next season. I would say K-Rod goes regardless of the Mets position in the Wild Card race, and unless the trading team also wants Isringhausen or Byrdak back, I can’t see the Mets getting anything significant back.

The two relievers by themselves would probably bring back minimal returns as well.

This leaves us with the most interesting case of all: Carlos Beltran. Beltran cannot be given arbitration and so the Mets will get no compensation if he leaves as a free agent. He is due around 6-7 million for the rest of the season and has a no trade clause. Both of those things make it tough for the Mets to move him. Right now the talk is the Mets would receive a low-level prospect for Beltran.

What to do, what to do…

Don’t trade him. I understand saving the money could help with next season’s payroll. I don’t see it helping that much. As of now reports claim the payroll won’t be more than $120 million. Is it going to be less if they don’t trade Beltran? Furthermore I can’t stomach another salary dump. Two seasons ago, the Mets traded Billy Wagner when he returned from the disabled list to the Red Sox for essentially nothing. The move saved the team about $3 million. That offseason Wagner was a type A free agent, the Red Sox offered him arbitration and the Braves signed him.

A lot of the trade talk surrounding Beltran has the Mets eating a significant amount of his salary. If that is the case I obviously can’t call it a salary dump. What I don’t understand is how the Mets wouldn’t receive adequate compensation for trading away a player that is STARTING in the All-Star game, AND due only a small portion of his salary.

Yes, he would be a rental player, but so is almost every other player traded at the deadline. How many teams trade a player that is locked up at a reasonable price for several years? The Cardinals traded a ransom for Matt Holliday in his last year, and that was during a dreadful season from the All-Star. Yes, they were able to re-sign him in the offseason, but there was no guarantee of that.

What I’m trying to say is, Beltran could significantly help a contender’s chances. If the Mets can’t get proper compensation for him, they should keep him. (I just don’t understand how Beltran would land nothing, when the Mets were asked for prospects Ike Davis and Jon Niese for players like Xavier Nady, and Damaso Marte at trade deadlines in the past)

While it remains unlikely the Mets will make the postseason, it is still fun to watch this team. Beltran has been one of my favorite players since the team signed him, and I’d love the chance to watch him for a few more months.

More importantly, with the size of Beltran’s contract, the Mets could always trade him after the deadline as he is sure to make it through waivers. That way they can see if maybe they have a run in them, or wait out a desperate team. Perhaps a contender has a big injury and needs to replace the bat in the lineup. Beltran would be, by far, the best option out there. Hopefully that would lead to a better deal for the Mets.

Another possibility I’ve been thinking of is re-signing Beltran. It might be a long shot, but if Beltran would sign for cheap, he could be a good piece. I wouldn’t sign him and expect him to be the full-time starter, but bringing him back as one of several outfield options would be great.

I say one of several because I am still weary of his knees. I was not a fan of relying on Delgado at such an important position in 2009, but if he stayed healthy, it would have been a brilliant move. If you re-sign Beltran, but have other options in the fold, it is a brilliant move. Having a healthy Beltran in right field would do wonders for the Mets next season, and there is less of a chance he gets re-signed if he is traded this season.

So I guess, my decision as GM would be, trade K-Rod if you can, and hold on to Beltran unless there is an offer that blows you away.

Bay is Back

I know I am a little late to post about this, but I promise I’m not just joining the bandwagon.

Anyway, since being benched for two straight days, Jason Bay has been on a tear. He is hitting .347 with four home runs and 17 rbi’s in 18 games. (thank you SNY for doing that math for me ; – ) )

I have been waiting for this day (stretch?) since the day we signed him, and, as much as I can’t prove it, I’ve continued to expect it to happen since the day we signed him. I know he has been awful for the Mets, but you don’t just forget how to play baseball. How often does a player go from career averages of 20+ home runs and a .270 average, to 6 home runs and a .210 average? Maybe, just maybe, at the twilight of your career, but not at the age of 31.

After his first dreadful season, I thought of David Wright. In his first season in Citi Field he failed to hit double digit home runs. It seemed the ballpark got in his head. The following season, David fixed the problem and returned to being the type of hitter we expect him to be. Was it that far-fetched that a guy who just signed a big contract for a team in a big market was having the same struggles? This season Bay started out poorly again, but the guy was coming off a rib injury to start the season, and after struggling early, started to come apart at the seams. He was playing poorly, and with all the attention he was getting, he was pressing to break out.

After a particularly poor stretch Collins decided to sit him down. This move received a lot of scrutiny, but I didn’t think it was a bad idea. When all you’re doing is thinking about ways to adjust your swing, sometimes just forgetting about it is the best idea. (It’s similar to those times you lose track of your conversation. When you actively try to remember what you were going to say, it never comes to you. When you finally forget about it and move on, you suddenly remember) I was hoping this could apply to Bay. So far, it looks like it is paying off.

With his recent success (I understand 20 games is a small sample size with 162 games in a season, but he has never had this kind of stretch for the Mets. Think about it: 4 home runs in 20 games, as opposed to 8 in the other 135 games he has played in) I began to think of Carlos Delgado. Remember him? After a good 2006 season, Delgado was flat out terrible. He continued this poor play and power outage until the middle of the 2008 season. At that point he went wild. In the second half of the season he hit close to .400 and hit a home run every other day. (Ok that was an exaggeration…but it felt like that. Every time we needed a big hit, he came through. Part of me wonders if he had to sell his soul for that type of production, or at least the rest of his baseball career. The following season he got hurt early and hasn’t made it back to the majors.) He almost got the Mets into the playoffs that season by himself. So if Delgado could have that type of turnaround, maybe Bay can too.  Let’s just hope his career doesn’t end next season.

If Bay can continue to produce at this level, the Mets could climb back in this race. I don’t think this is ridiculous to expect either. It might be a small sample size, but this streak isn’t all about luck. He clearly looks more confident at the plate. He isn’t rushing his swing, and is staying strong on his back leg. I feel the only reason I refuse to state he has turned it around is I’m afraid to jinx it. That and the Mets have a nasty habit of messing things up just as you start to believe in them. (maybe I should learn from this and refuse to believe in them no matter how well they do. Even if they are 7 games up with 17 left to play, I should just refuse to believe they’ll make the playoffs)

I understand the Mets are teetering around .500 and that screams mediocrity, but after that terrible 5-13 stretch to start the season, they have gone 39-29, posting a winning record in both May and June. That is with Bay doing nothing, and Wright, Davis and Santana on the DL. The Mets are in the top 3 in almost every offensive category, with the big exceptions being home runs and total runs. With the possibility of Wright and Bay adding more pop, the Mets are likely to see vast improvements in both categories. Who knows, we might get lucky for the first time since ’69 and have Davis come back this season too.

Perhaps all of this is a little too optimistic for 20 good games from one player, but the team has given me reason to hope. For the first time in a while they are playing the game the right way. They are taking the extra base, coming back late in games, getting two out hits, working the count in their favor. It pains me to know that despite all of that, they might not have the talent to make the playoffs. I’m not a real religious person, but for some reason I’m a believer in sports karma. I just feel a team that plays the game right should make the playoffs.