Why Sandy Alderson needs to deal for an outfielder

The Mets 2013 projected outfield is an admitted team weakness. They’ve got options but no stars. They’ve all got a weakness. Lucas Duda can hit for power but can’t field; Matt den Dekker can field but can’t hit. You can go through the list and find some concern about them all.

Do any teams have excess depth? Could the Mets improve their outfield by targeting a select group of outfielders who might be expendable by their current teams at the end of spring training? Can we make a reasonable projection as to which teams (and which outfielders) might actually become available.

We can. There are several teams carrying an excess of players in their outfield ranks. Now, granted, this can change in the time it takes a pitch to cross home plate (witness Curtis Granderson and witness Kirk Nieuwenhuis). An injury or other event can impact rosters at any moment. A significant injury to an outfielder can also impact the asking price for a possible replacement (in other words, the more you need somebody, the more you might need to pay).

I’ve categorized the teams which currently show an outfield glut (culled from BaseballHQ projections). The following teams have significantly more outfielders than projected playing time:

Tampa
Toronto
San Diego
Pittsburgh
Baltimore

After removing the names of the outfielders on these teams who are projected to get the majority of playing time (including the “fourth” outfielder), we arrive at a “short list” of potential trade targets (their age, which side of the plate they bat from, and their main “skill” (if any) appear after their names):

Tampa
S. Fuld (31 – L) – speed
R. Thompson (33 – L) – speed
B. Guyer (27 – R) – speed
J. Bourgeois (31 – R) – speed

Toronto
A. Gose (22 – L) – speed
M. Sierra (24 – R) – power

San Diego
K. Blanks (26 – R) – power
J. Guzman (28 – R) – power
J. Darnell (26 – R)
M. Kotsay (37 – L)

Pittsburgh
A. Presley – (27 – L) – speed
D. Ford – (27 – R) – speed
J. Sands – (25 – R) – power
F. Pie – (28 – L)

Baltimore
X. Avery – (23 – L) – speed
L. Ford – (36 – R)
R. Canzler – (26 – R) – power
C. Dickerson – (30 – L) – speed

Only three of these players are below 25. Only one of these players (Avery of Baltimore appears on that team’s list of top 20 MLB prospects. Avery is ranked as Baltimore’s seventh best prospect). A team might not be ready to “give up” on one of these younger prospects or it might take a little more to acquire one of them. Some of these players offer power, some offer speed, and some offer a veteran presence.

What about defense?:

FanGraphs provides the following 2012 (or 2011 numbers if 2012 numbers aren’t available) final defensive UZR values for these players:

S. Fuld: 1.0
R. Thompson: -0.8
B. Guyer: 0.1
J. Bourgeois: -3.4
A. Gose: 1.6
M. Sierra: -3.4
K. Blanks: 3.8 (2011 numbers – he was injured in 2012)
J. Guzman: -0.2
J. Darnell: -0.6
M. Kotsay: -1.2
A. Presley: 3.1
D. Ford: 1.8 (2011 numbers)
J. Sands: 1.0
F. Pie: -13.6
X. Avery: -1.5
L. Ford: 1.9
R. Canzler: -1.8
C. Dickerson: .1

What about which side of the plate they hit from? This is important because the Mets currently have a lefty-dominant outfield. So who are the righthanded hitters and who can offer plus defense?

The short list of those players who can play plus defense and who hit righthanded follows:

Tampa: Guyer
Toronto: none
San Diego: Blanks
Pittsburgh: Ford and Sands
Baltimore: Ford

We can eliminate further discussions about Toronto.

What about the ages of the listed players? Guyer is 27. Blanks is 26. Darren Ford is 27. Jerry Sands is 25. Lew Ford is 36.

What about organizational depth? This is important if the Mets and one of these teams begin any discussions regarding a possible depth. The Mets may need to discuss prospects. MLB 20 top prospects shows that the Mets have 10 righthanded pitchers and 5 shortstops in their top 20.

Tampa has 5 righthanded pitchers and 4 shortstops.
San Diego has 13 righthanded pitchers and 1 shortstop.
Pittsburgh has 9 righthanded pitchers (including Gerrit Cole) and 1 shortstop.
Baltimore has 8 righthanded pitchers and 1 shortstop.

So this shows that our depth in righthanded pitching isn’t really too intriguing except maybe to Tampa. Shortstops, on the other hand, are a more scarce commodity. The Mets could deal from organization strength if they chose to with these teams. The Mets could deal someone on their major league roster who plays another position (like a Murphy or a Turner) for another Outfielder. The Mets could also deal another outfielder for one of these outfielders. Or the Mets could include a righthanded pitcher or shortstop as part of any deal structure.

Could the Mets benefit from acquiring one of these players? Are they better than what the Mets currently have?

Brandon Guyer has good balance between power and speed as well as a positive outfield defense ranking.

Kyle Blanks has plus power plus a positive outfield defense ranking. Blank, however, we know comes with a history of injuries.
Darren Ford has plus speed as well as a positive outfield defense ranking.
Jerry Sands has plus power as well as a positive outfield ranking.
Lew Ford doesn’t have a stand out skill but could offer a veteran presence along with a positive outfield ranking.

  Statistics            
    At Bats HRs RBIs SBs      
2013 Outfielders                
Cowgill   118 1 10 1      
Nieuenhuis   282 7 28 4      
Duda   534 20 76 1      
M Baxter   300 4 32 5      
J. Valdespin   260 8 26 15      
A. Brown   65 2 7 0      
M. Byrd   100 2 9 1      
M. Den Dekker   100 2 11 5      
                 
Options:                
B. Guyer   328 9 40 9      
K. Blanks   231 9 28 2      
D. Ford   295 3 25 18      
J. Sands   331 12 46 2      
L. Ford   209 7 29 3      
                 
Presley   361 9 39 11    

Only Duda exceeds these five players in the HR and RBI categories. Only Jordany Valdespin exceeds Guyer or Darren Ford in speed potential. All five of these players could probably be acquired. All could contribute in one or more offensive category as well as defense. Guyer has a nice balance of power and speed. Blanks has nice power (although he comes with an injury risk). Darren Ford offers the best projection for steals. Jerry Sands offers power potential. Lew Ford offers power and is the oldest of these players.

By the way, although he’s a lefty, I like Presley too so he’s in the projection table.

5 comments for “Why Sandy Alderson needs to deal for an outfielder

  1. Name
    March 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Where did you get the numbers for the statistic table? Are those your projections?
    BA isn’t considered here, and a lot of options you listed here are projected to have sub Mendoza averages. Other than Sands, i would not give up a top 20 prospect for any of the players you listed there. I don’t see any of them as a significant upgrade over what we have.

    Lew Ford had to play in the Atlantic League last year, why is he even being considered?

    • March 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      I’m with Name, any chance you reference your source for these stats? Not only is the slash line missing, but some of the numbers appear to be wrong. Guyer only has 3 home runs in his career; one came in 7 at-bats last season. He’s never broken .200 average as a major leaguer.

  2. Tommy2cat
    March 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the hard work. Numbers appear a little skewed, but you did roll up your sleeves and try to find the best match sets for our ball club. Bravo.

    I’d rather see the Mets target someone like Gary Brown or Jake Marisnick – another “A-Type” prospect. Guyer has incredible speed, so he deserves consideration.

    Don’t underestimate our outfield just yet. Duda collected 3 hits today, Valdespin, Cowgill & Byrd have shown a lot early this spring. Andrew Brown is a natural outfielder with an absolute cannon for an arm, & Den Dekker & Niewenhuis have skills, but haven’t put it all together. Baxter is a worthy bench player.

  3. Brill
    March 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Jim
    Spectacular article….I take it you are into Roto….The MRL perhaps?
    Brill

  4. Jon
    March 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I like the Blanks idea. He’s raking in Spring Training.

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