The evolution of the New York Mets: Bargain basement edition

My first post on Terry Collins was fun. It generated a bunch of intelligent comments and, if one chooses to read them in the order they were written, we created a wonderful read on both the Mets and TC.

My past administrator blog role prevented me from developing relationships with readers that commented and being freed from that here is a Godsend. I was never a great blog administrator. But I am a decent Mets writer and I can now concentrate 100% on that here and the other sites I write for.

Also, don’t be afraid to email me suggestions for topics here. My email address remains: macksmets@gmail.com.

We’re going to get back to writing about the organizational flaws of this team later in September, but for now, I want to take a look at the current team being put on the team by the Mets front office.

We’re limited here. We’re building a team without any future free agency signings or trades. There will be additional names here someday, though I don’t expect anyone in the Adrian Gonzalez range.

The point of this exercise is to show you where the organization stands now, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not you are going to put $500+ in the pockets of the Wilpons every time you decide to go to the unpaid stadium and root for this team. (hint – don’t).

1B – I’m going to go out on a limb here (sic). My guess is Ike Davis will be the New York Mets first baseman for years to come. Let’s face it, 24/70 isn’t chopped liver in a bad season that started with an exotic fever that could kill you. There is excellent emergency and secondary depth here. First base is Lucas Duda’s natural position and ex-first round draft pick Alan Dykstra will settle into AAA next season awaiting that ominous 911 call. In addition, look for Eric Campbell to possibly come out of ST as one the 25-man utility players. Campbell plays first, third base, and both corner positions.

2B – Why do we spend so much time beating up a .280+ hitter? Couldn’t the New York Mets do a lot worse than, on a bad day, the 50th top hitter in the league? Daniel Murphy is actually capable of doing much better than this and, since we’re talking bargain basement here, he’ll be back in 2013. I guess Reese Havens will be promoted to Buffalo if for no other reason than he has to make room for the emerging Danny Muno. That’s about it for second base in the organization and this continues to be a weak point since Fonzie took off his Mets uniform for the last time.

SS – Ruben Tejada would get my vote this year for team MVP. This kid has single handed created an entire season of not one single ‘bring back Jose’ story from the beat dudes. Actually, there is also some depth here. Defensive specialist Wilfredo Tovar is doing pretty damn good with a bat in his hand, and prospects Phillip Evans and Gavin Cecchini offer help come 2015 if Tejada was to stumble (I still can’t get  myself around drafting Gavin in the first round). Like first base, there is no problem here.

3B – When it comes to David Wright, all I can do at this point is assume. I know he will be back in 2013, but, in my gut, I know it will be his last year as a Met (future column). For now, he’s penciled in here, and will be replaced in 2014 by a 21-year old with a 305/.353/.481/.833, 17-HR, 72-RBI stat line. Wilmer Flores may not make Mets fans forget about Wright, but we said the same thing about Tejada and Jose Reyes. And then there is Aderlin Rodriguez, who will always stumble in the infield while, at the same time, be one of the top home run hitters at whatever level he plays. I need help here. I simply have no idea what to do with this guy.

C – For now, Kelly Thole looks to be the 2013 catcher, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Shoppach takes over the lion share of the assignments. Everybody should give Josh a gold star for reaching a level he was never projected to make, but he simply doesn’t have the superior skills (both offensively and defensively) to command a starting job in major league baseball. Sorry Josh. You know I was your biggest fan.

OF – A few general observations first. I’m going to assume that Scott Hairston, Ronny Cedeno, and Andres Torres will not be back in 2013, but Mike Baxter will.

The system doesn’t offer any help for a while. Matt Den Dekker might be ready by September 2013, Cory Vaughn, Alonzo Harris, and Cesar Puello should offer some relief in 2014, and Darrell Cecilliani, Gilbert Gomez and Eudy Pena could mature in 2015. None will someday go to the HOF unless they buy a ticket.

The wild card is Brandon Nimmo, who is showing the poise, character, and talent to get on the Mike Trout-Bryce Harper fast track team. The Mets desperately need a star, every day outfielder and Brandon May be the only name I listed in this paragraph that could achieve that.

LF – Folks, he’s back. I don’t care if you come up with a hundred reasons not to play Jason Bay in 2013, the Mets can come up with 18,125,000 reasons that have to. It will be our luck that he has a great spring, but don’t expect much here. He will represent one of the last members of a past administration that had trouble making decent deals past the Johan Santana gem.

CF – Base on the premise of this post, I’m giving CF back to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in 2013. Den dekker actually plays a better field, but Kirk’s bat could earn him a long stay in Queens. Now, all that has to happen is one of them stay healthy.

RF – Also based on the same CF post, Lucas Duda gets his last shot here. I still think he’s Dave Kingman revisited, but we’ll see.

Utility – For now, that will be Mike Baxter. Sandy Alderson will sign a couple of $1mil per year free agents to hopefully strike more than the fool’s gold he bought for the 2012 bullpen.

Summation – This is not a great 8-man field team. It barely is  good one. It’s another .500 team fighting it out to be .525. All it needs is a star catcher, second baseman, and two OFs and we’re holding at least three World Series games. But, it’s simply not going to happen under the fiscal woes of the ownership.

One ray of sunshine. Everything would change if these guys were attached to a great pitching staff, but that’s a future column.

15 comments for “The evolution of the New York Mets: Bargain basement edition

  1. Mack Ade
    August 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    (I loved the way the site automatically took the phrase ‘Brandon may’ and turned it into Brandon May, the player)

  2. 7train
    August 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is where we are come mid season 2014 IMO without making any trades:

    C-Pena/Forsyth
    1B-Davis/Campbell
    2B-Tejada/ Murphy
    SS-Tovar/Tejada
    3B-Flores/Murphy
    LF-Kirk (or Duda)/Lagares
    CF-Harris/MDD
    RF-Baxter/Vaughn

    That is one too many and the last spot would be determined between Lagares and Campbell. If Ike hits LHP it would be Lagares for sure. If Kirk (or Duda) hit LHP and Ike doesn’t then Campbell gets the upper hand. Murphy could also take AB’s at 1B against LHP which would give Lagares a better chance. Lagares is also defensively superior, a better base runner and younger. If MDD doesn’t make it then Lagares and Campbell both could. Harris I believe will be our starter and leadoff hitter for a good number of years in CF. LF if MDD comes through.

    SP Niese, Harvey, Wheeler, Gee, Dickey (I think he gets a deal with us controlling him through 2016. 2 guaranteed, 2 option)

    Bullpen and AAA depth Familia, Mejia, McHugh, Carson, Fraser, Kaplan, deGrom, Fulmer, Kolerak, Edgin, German, Ramirez, Gorski, Mazzoni, Rosario, Rodriguez, Montero, Tapia.

    Some of the pitching will bust, some will be traded but hopefully none of Fulmer, Montero, Tapia, deGrom.

    Most likely position players traded. Wright, Kirk, Spin, Cecilianni, Puello, Marte, Duda.

    Best trade target: AJ Jimenez C, Toronto (AA) Gary Sanchez C, NYY (A+) Chris Denorfia RF, SD (MLB)

    Best FA signing: Reed Johnson.

    Best case for trading Wright. Seattle traded Griffey Jr. and won 12 more games. Next year lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency and won 25 more.

    I simply don’t see how we improve without hurting ourselves later with a budget staying the same while players on it will cost 13 M more between contract increases and arbitration even after subtracting Pelfrey and Torres out and still needing to sign or replace Rauch, Ramirez, Hairston and Cedeno. This is why I see Wright being traded right before opening day.

    I look for more low budget signings this year and next with mid season 2014 looking pretty similar to what we are on track for at this moment.

    Heaven help us if Kirk, Duda, MDD, Harris, Lagares, Vaughn and Cecilianni bust and we don’t get a real long term starting catcher this off season.

    • Mack Ade
      August 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      7Train –

      great hearing from you…this site isn’t complete without your educated insight

      you and I are basically on the same page solely because of the fact that most of the players in the Mets chain are, well, not future stars.

      In my world, the Mets have (other than pitching – I’m writing about that next Wednesday) “team ready” Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and David Wright… period… the rest are steak knives.

      Most teams don’t and can’t make the playoffs wthout at least 6 keepers (can I still use that word?)… Mike Baxter, Daniel Murphy, and Josh Thole may play a capable game, but they are not leading this team to the mountain top.

      You can target players via trades, but the Mets currently can not target most free agents especially the top ones. Agents pull those strings and the word is out Train… no one wants their client working for Fred.

      I do have big hope for Blake Forsythe. He has the talent to dominate in this sport. He just needs to focus like he once did as a sophomore in college (the Mets platooon catchers at every minor league level so no one ever gets enough at bats to work out thir kinks).

      However… I will put pins in my eyes if Pena makes it to Queens.

  3. NormE
    August 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Hey Mack,
    You are a great addition to one of my favorite blogs.
    I like the well-developed insights (above) by you and 7train. I would disagree on Thole being back, unless Dickey lobbies for him as being the guy he is most comfortable with catching his knuckler.. I know Josh is a cheap contract but his offense has become pitiful and his defense is very mediocre. If Shoppach resigns, the Mets should look for a back-up elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be a left-handed bat. The back-up is rarely used as a pinch-hitter and the Mets will probably have enough left- handed bats on the bench.
    Duds appears more comfortable in LF. If, as you believe, the Mets will bring Bay back as a starting OFer, either he moves to RF or there is a platoon in LF. Baxter is probably the RFer, either in a platoon or full-time (if he can handle it).

    • Mack Ade
      August 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Hey NormE:

      Thanks for your warm comments.

      Inside story about Josh… he came to Savannah in 2007 without a position. The starting catcher was Sean McCraw, but the Mets were committed to their $800,000 bonus baby, 17-year old Francisco Pena. Josh was a first baseman by trade, and a backup cather past that. Manager Tim Teufel chose to have Josh play mostly first, splitting time with D.J. Wabick. There was a particular road game (the night AFTER that minor league first base coach was killed by a lined drive foul ball) that a shot was hit in front of Josh, took a high angle bounce and hit him in the middle of his head. Josh was knocked dead cold before he hit the ground and there was a 45 minute delay on the field for an ambulance to arrive and carry him off strapped in. He remained unconcious throughout the delay and it was quite a scary event coming just one day after that death to the coach. Josh’s fellow teammate, Luis Rivera (now a Mets coach I believe in Kingsport)had his girlfriend there and she called then Josh’s girlfriend (now wife). It turned out well, he was out for, I believe 7-10 days with a concussion, but Tuff decided to start using him more behind the plate after that.

      Josh became a great singles hitter in St. Lucie when Tuff noticed that Thole choked up and opened his stance when he had two strikes on him. Tuff went to the books and found he also was hitting over .400 with two strikes on him. He convinced Josh to change his entire swing to that 3/4 “hip swing” that punches balls so well over infielders heads.

      That’s what got him to the majors. Not God given talent or tools, just hard work and a swing variation.

      It would only be a matter of time that NL pitchers would have the “book” on him and you are watching that now.

      Word I’m getting is Shoppach wants to stay a Met. There is no catcher in the system close to ready in the next two years so I would expect to see Kelly be the starter.

      Watch for Josh to be packaged in an off season deal.

      (I still say either Flores should have been converted)

      • Chris F
        August 31, 2012 at 9:36 am

        Ive been a bog supporter of Josh through this season. I appreciated his hard work, and willful decision to compete and win the job in Spring. I think he was having quite a season until the fateful concussion. After that he’s not been the same at the plate, and even behind it from my eyes. Hit BA has plummeted and the passed balls/poor blocking of balls in dirt/wild throwing have sky-rocketed. That “thing” he threw yesterday was horrific. I cant help but wonder if there are deep lingering effects, especially given its not his first knock out? He started so well, its hard for me to watch now…almost like another Jason Bay. Too bad…I like him a lot.

        Shop is working out between the lines. Its not a stretch in my eyes to keep him next year, if hes good in the clubhouse.

      • Hobie
        August 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

        >> (I still say either Flores should have been converted) >>

        You’re alluding to C? :-) What about to LF?

        And…
        Would you compare Camden Maron & Forsythe? Sure Blake has more pop, but Maron makes more contact and has upped his OPS 100pts since the ASB (Forsythe’s has declined) and I hear, Camden really understands the game.

        And BTW, Baxter would make an excellent 4th outfielder. Now if we only had 3 better to start.

        • Mack Ade
          August 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm

          Hey Conrad. Weloome aboard.

          Flores can’t run. His 1st base to 3rd base time is Tuesday. He could never play a corber outfield position.

          Maron has had a much better year than Forsythe and seems to have a much better contact command also. Problem is he is dead last in ALL OF MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL in throwing out runners stealing second.

          Scouts will tell you the LEAST important tool for a catcher is throw time to second… but LAST IN ALL OF BASEBALL??? Come on…

          • Mack Ade
            August 31, 2012 at 12:48 pm

            corber = corner

            (hey guys, I’m sorry about the spelling sometimes… I have brain issues and, no matter how many times I check these posts over, I just don’t pick up on where my fingers went in error. I’m sorry.)

  4. Mike b
    August 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Mack. Nice post. Miss you over @ macksmets

    • Mack Ade
      August 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Thanks Mike.

      Just writing and commenting makes so much more sense for me at this point in my journey.

      Now, unlike Clint Eastwood, I just need to stay on the telepromter.

  5. Name
    August 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    That being said, i would like to first point out that this group you have predicted is mostly the same group that they have this year. This group of players were actually the 3rd best scoring team in the NL during the first half.( I don’t know why people are so down on the offense and its prospects, but this isn’t the steriod era of late 90s early 2000s anymore.) Yes, some of the players will regress: Wright, Tejada, Baxter. Some we will lose to FA: Hairston, Cedeno. But also some player will improve: Davis, Duda, dare i say Jason Bay. And some will improve numbers based on not going to the DL: Tejada, Baxter , Thole, dare i say Jason Bay. In the end, i see no reason why all of these can’t cancel each other out and the Mets could have a top 5 offense in the league again.

    As for your list, i don’t see Valdespin on that list. Do you not forsee him being on the team? If this were the bargain edition, i would put Bay on the bench and play Duda left and Baxter or JV in right.

    • Mack Ade
      August 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Err… the premise of the article was using the same names that are currently in the organization and evaluating the depth of that position in the organization…

      3rd best yes, but 1st best lucky also… I don’t do sabr, but many do and the Mets hitting the first half of the season was timely, especially with two outs

      We both have belly buttons and we both have opinions. IMO, you can not defend the lack of overall talent this NEW YORK CITY team is putting on the field, IN 2012, FOR $50,000-$80,000 less than the going rate.

      As for Valdespin, I’m way past team. I barely see him staying out of GITMO :)

      BTW – It’s the “bargain edition” becasue it is what it is. All the Mets field now is a bargain basement team in the largest market in the country.

      Mr. Commissioner?

  6. Metsense
    August 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Interesting insights and your summation is spot on. Even with the ray of sunshine (a great pitching staff) there may be too many “clouded” losses in the forecast similar to the 3-1, 3-2, 1-0 loses the Mets have experienced this month. The defense will need to improve to supplement the improved pitching.

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