Over the last few weeks, the Mets seem to have a different overall energy than they had in May or June resulting in a positive opening to the second half and each day the possibility grows that October baseball could return to Queens. However, there are holes to fill and holes that might grow as the deadline nears. There are current holes include leftfield and shortstop, while there might be a hole being formed by the potential departure of Bartolo Colon. With all the outfielders on the 40-man roster, it seems that a shining star will rise, but there are virtually no shortstops in sight. In recent days, there has been a rumor that the Mets could make a run at either Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez due to the reports that Colorado is interested in the Mets prospects. Obviously this could be a report that is just as relevant as the Ryan Braun report was back in November, but something feels a tad different. Trading for Gonzalez is straight up silly in my opinion, mostly due to the fact that he is having a down year and simply can’t perform on the road. Tulowitzki, however, is a more interesting case. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly discussed factors when potentially trading for this superstar.
He is a clear upgrade at shortstop
This is absolutely true. When healthy, he has posted numbers that can be compared to Hall of Famers and has had no shortage of power in his career; posting two seasons of 30+ homers and five 20+ homer seasons. He also can hit for average, with a .299 career batting average and a .340 average this season. This makes him a clear upgrade over Ruben Tejada and his .288 slugging percentage. Defensively, he ranks very well over the course of his career with a 13.2 dWAR and two Gold Gloves. He won’t win anymore Gold Gloves because of Andrelton Simmons and he just isn’t that much of an upgrade over Tejada defensively. Overall, he would become an excellent upgrade at a premium position in a division full of great offensive and defensive shortstops.
His success at Citi Field
Mets fans probably know how well Tulowitzki has fared against them with a .983 career OPS and 18 extra base hits. But contrary to the stereotype of his offensive struggles on the road, he has hit extremely well in a small sample size at Citi Field. While it may be hard to hear, listen to these numbers: .438/.534/.833 slash line with 33% of hits here going for extra bases. Granted he hit at Citi Field during the terrible pitching stretch of 2009-2011, but it shows that the dimensions of Citi Field mean almost nothing to him.
Second Half Success
Before the 2011 Red Sox and Atlanta Braves, the 2007 Mets held the record for the biggest lead of a postseason spot blown in the month of September. Even after 2007, the Mets have built a reputation of blowing any postseason chance they had only a week before with most recent case coming in 2012. Part of the problem has definitely been the injuries right after the break including Dillon Gee and Johan Santana breaking down in 2012. However, it seems that Mets players in recent years have just fallen off productivity-wise when the second half starts. In 2012, it seemed that only Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis could figure out how to hit a baseball in the second half. What does all this have to do with Tulowitzki? It is simple: Tulowitzki has extended success in the second half, especially the Colorado September magic. His OPS in the second half is over 50 points higher than the first half and he has hit more homeruns in September than any other month of the year. If he comes to the Mets, maybe his second half play can be infectious for the other players in the clubhouse. In addition, he has more postseason experience than everyone on the team except Curtis Granderson. Overall, his career tendancies should be able to show that he can help the push not only this year, but for years to come.
Possibly the biggest question surrounding every Colorado hitter, is can they hit outside Coors Field? Even Drew Stubbs, the guy who couldn’t go ten at bats without striking out, is hitting .300 this season while posting some of the best numbers of his career, off the bench! Hitters have been known to strike gold while in Colorado (Larry Walker), and pitchers have been known to completely lose everything while pitching there (Mike Hampton). Let’s go in depth with this topic on Tulowitzki. Obviously, he has higher career numbers at home (.323/.397/.565) than on the road (.274/.349/.469) with an OPS that sits almost 150 points higher at home. However, are his road numbers really that bad? One has to think that with all the terrible hitting ballparks in the west, there has to some bad fuel put into that slugging percentage, and there is. He is hitting a submissive .235 at Dodger Stadium and a meager .400 slugging percentage at Petco Park. In San Francisco, his numbers may seem good on the surface, but he only hit there before the Giants were an incredible team (2007-2009), since then, he has struggled like every other hitter. He has also struggled against the beauty of Cardinals pitching to the tune of a .609 OPS at Busch Stadium. Against NL East ballparks, he has posted pretty solid numbers: Nationals Park (.283/.367/.472), Citizens Bank Park (.321/.391/.554), Marlins Park (.294/.368/.647). The only place where he hasn’t hit in the NL East is Atlanta posting an abysmal (.217/.282/.319) slash line, but much of this is fueled from being held hitless at Turner Field in 2013 for 14 PA. At the end of the day, Rockies’ hitters, not only Tulowitzki, have three other ballparks in their division that can give them trouble, which in return makes their road splits look even worse. Meaning that Tulowitzki, after leaving the pitcher friendly NL West, could have some quality success here in New York.
This is probably the biggest deal breaker when it comes to inquiring for Tulowitzki: the extensive injury history. In his career, he has had only two real injuries that have held him out for the majority of the season: a quadriceps tendon tear in 2008 and left groin surgery in 2012. However, recently he had a hip flexor injury. What this shows me is that he isn’t injuring anything that could reoccur years and years, like a hamstring or an oblique. Obviously, the question of whether or not his injuries are worth it is simply looking at Jose Reyes. Was it worth watching Reyes get up from every stolen base in pain? Didn’t he hurt the team more by not being there than he helped it when there? Was it just me or did it feel like Reyes was never actually on the field in the final two seasons of his Mets career (even though he played the majority of the games)? These are all questions to remind everyone of what Tulowitzki will be like. To add insult to injury- pun intended- he is playing a position that require a healthy body, and he isn’t exactly 25 anymore. He will be entering his 30’s starting next season. Why would a franchise that has been plagued by injuries want to support anymore injury-prone players. These are all questions to ponder when talking about this possibility.
Another common question is whether or not it is worth obtaining his insane contract that runs through 2020. This contract pays 20 million every season-except 14 million in 2020. There is really not much to say on this concept. Especially considering that it would be almost impossible for the Mets to rid themselves of the contract after obtaining it. The only possibility of this contract being less scary to the Wilpons is if Colorado is willing to pay at least 40 million of the remaining guaranteed 118 million. A question that the Mets should also think about is what would happen towards the end of the Tulowitzki contract when Amed Rosario is knocking at the door. Is it worth it to have a potential top 10 MLB prospect waiting in the wings while a 34 year old is still in the major leagues? In the end, the contract Tulowitzki signed is no different than any other of the mega-deals signed; it’s impossible to move, the salary is ridiculous, and only part of the contract will be worth it.
The prospect dump required to get him
The Mets have slowly but surely built up an empire of a farm system that includes potential aces and potential sluggers (less of the latter). However, if the Mets would actually be serious about acquiring this star, they must part with a couple of prized possessions. Recently, it was said that the Rockies like Noah Syndergaard (who doesn’t), Steven Matz, Dilson Herrera, and Brandon Nimmo. These four together would obviously get the deal done, but there is absolutely no way that any level-headed person would make this deal. But what positions do the Rockies have a need for? Definitely not the outfield or third base, but they do have a need at catcher and second base. The Mets could easily package Kevin Plawecki/Travis d’Arnaud and Dilson Herrera to Colorado. In addition, the Rockies always need pitching when a trade goes down, so who would the Mets be willing to give up? If the Rockies were smart, they would go for pitchers who limit homeruns and are groundball pitchers. Until only recently, I thought that packaging Rafael Montero and Gabriel Ynoa would be a good deal, but since Syndergaard was put on the table- neither will depart in that scenario. At the end of the day, most fans will never actually know what the Rockies want in return unless the trade goes down. But some advice for the Mets: if it only costs Syndergaard and a positional prospect, go for it!
What’s the bottom line? The Mets have money issues and the Rockies don’t really want to deal Tulowitzki- making this whole rumor just that- a rumor. However, stranger things have happened in the world of baseball and we’ve seen in past years that anyone can get traded. I see a very small chance that he gets dealt at the deadline and a much bigger chance that he actually gets traded in the offseason. But just for fun, just imagine a lineup with Tulowitzki’s name in it
Just to put the possibility into perspective, when Mike Piazza was acquired by the Mets in 1998 he was 29. How old is Tulowitzki? ………29