Troy Tulowitzki: The must haves and the must avoids

Troy TulowitzkiOver 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.

Pros:
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.

Cons:
Coors Field
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.
Injury History
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.

Contract
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
Curtis Granderson
Daniel Murphy
David Wright
Lucas Duda
Troy Tulowitzki
Travis d’Arnaud
Juan Lagares
Some leftfielder
Pitcher

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

21 comments for “Troy Tulowitzki: The must haves and the must avoids

  1. Steve S.
    July 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Can see this trade being made with the Mets giving up Syndergaard, Reynolds, Tejada, Montero, Matz, and Plawecki.

    • Steve S.
      August 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Probably too much for the Mets to give up. Subtract Syndergaard and substitute Gee. Probably wishful thinking on my part.

  2. July 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Julian if you’re going to say that CarGo cannot hit on the road it would nice if you could post some facts to support your supposition. And what is a straight up trade in your eyes? And why is it silly? Finally you don’t bat Tuts 5th in any line up especially if what you have batting 6th is such an inconsistent young player. How about
    Murphy
    Wright
    Granderson
    Tuts
    Duda
    LF
    C
    Lagares
    P

    • Julian
      July 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      The reason that trading for him is silly, in my humble opinion, is because:
      1) He has atrocious numbers at Citi Field (.469 OPS)
      2) The Mets need a power bat from the right side- not another lefty slugger
      3) His road splits are too drastic to trust him

      The reason that I didn’t list these reasons in the contents of the article was because the article was only to be directed at Tulowitzki. I didn’t say “straight up trade” I said trading for him would be “straight up silly” (Not the best choice of words on my part).

      I like your lineup, if in fact you see the left fielder being a double-hitting righty.

  3. Jerry Grote
    July 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Just to put the trade into perspective, Piazza arrived with how large of a contract obligation?

    And again, to put age into perspective, didn’t we once trade for an All-Star, power hitting SS with some injury concerns that was right around 29-30 … trading some young arm to do it? How did that trade work out?

    Trade for healthy players. It really is a simple, non-negotiable, must-have. Tulo (and CarGo) cannot hit from the DL, and worse their injuries force you to play people that turn out to be *negative WAR* creating machines.

    Start with players that have a recent history of pretty good health and productivity, and add in a reasonable contract.

    • Chris F
      July 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      +1

    • Julian
      July 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      I understand that there is a huge difference between the situation the Mets had in Piazza and the one now in Tulowitzki. This was simply to show that the Mets have been able to pull off a trade that would change the course of their franchise.

  4. Steve L
    July 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Syndergaard would have to be the centerpiece of a trade for Tulo. Before reading this post, I figured it would take something like Thor, either Nimmo or Comforto, and Ahmed Rosario (our best SS prospect), and maybe one more lesser prospect. It sounds like the Rockies are asking for something similar, though I think Herrera and Matz are both better prospects right now than Rosario, or at least a lot closer to the majors. That seems like a pretty steep price, particularly considering Tulo’s injury history (the contract actually seems pretty reasonable to me, albeit a year or two too long for a SS who turns 30 in the offseason).

    I’m tempted to say “go for it!” anyways, as Piazza easily outperformed the three guys we traded away for him. But I suspect it’s wiser to hold off for now, as it’ll take a miracle to make the playoffs this year even with Tulo (even if the Mets finish 36-20, that’s only 87 wins and likely short of the second WC spot). It doesn’t sound like any other Tulo deal is imminent, so he’ll likely still be available in the offseason, at which point the price may go down.

  5. July 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Last I read Tuts was going to Philadelphia to see a specialist about his hip. If he’s out for the remainder of the season would you still make the same trade?

    • Julian
      July 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      In reality, the asking price by Colorado would be the same regardless of whether or not he plays another game this season. If in fact the asking price goes down, and he spends the rest of the season on the DL, I would not make the deal because that would be the final straw in his injury concerns.

  6. Steevy
    July 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    This is also a guy with injury issues three years running.

  7. Metsense
    July 30, 2014 at 12:57 am

    If the Mets traded for Tulo would they then be contenders in 2015? Is he the difference maker? The Mets need an established quality impact bat for the middle of the order and they need an upgrade at shortstop. Trading for Tulo satisfies both needs.
    If the Mets go with a starting rotation of Harvey-deGrom-Wheeler-Niese-Gee will they be contenders in 2015 or do you still feel insecure about the offense? If Colon is still with them, where does he fit in? When does Syndergaard get the call up and who does he bump from the rotaion? That means two starters that are not starting. Where does Montero fit,or Matz, Heffner or Gorski? The Mets can give up some pitching for offensive talent. The better the pitcher the better the offensive talent. Tulo would be the difference maker that I would give up pitching talent for.

    • Chris F
      July 30, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Metsense, I cant see the Mets being genuine contenders next year. The rotation is still full of question marks. We have no clue how Harvey will be, or Syndergaard, or DeGrom, or Wheeler for that matter. I love what we have, potentially, but I cant say with certainty we have a lights out staff. Niese? Gee? Hef?

      Anyway, I think 16-18 is the window for Mets with the hopes of everything coming together for a run that could get us to 90+ wins. I think our decision structure should be aimed at making that happen, and if next year starts to be promising then we bolster at the trade deadline. This is what scares me about Tulo. What will he be like 1.5 years from now? Tulo strikes me as a guy that would be best served for a team ready to go right now.

      • Jerry Grote
        July 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        It doesn’t take much to see this team as really quite talented.

        1B – Since May, Duda really has been a 30 HR player.
        RF – Since May, Granderson has also been a 30 HR player.
        3B – the Captain pretty much has a 25 HR pedigree.
        2B – Murphy will get you 12-15 HR, and a 780 OPS
        C- D’Arnaud since his callup is a .290/.325/.500 and a 20-25 HR pace (unsustainable, but he’s showing power).

        You don’t necessarily need to have all the answers in the world at SP. You add one 20 HR guy, and the rest produce like they can, and voila you have the third best offense in the NL.

        Chris I think you know where I stand on this team – its not far from what you are saying. But at some point you have to put a stick in the ground and say Now. Here.

        Every month Duda hits a handful of dingers, you have to be thinking we need to make the move.

        • Chris F
          July 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm

          Fair enough, and look I love this team like you guys do. I also agree that there is a time for a line in the sand, and I want that time to be soon. If you ask me, I go to CarGo for that line, and pay with the treasure of prospects, and treasure of coin. As far as SS goes, I’m more ready for a trade of young gun for young gun.

          Duda. Wow. I’m so glad that we ditched Ike. He’s looking like a real commodity.

  8. Patrick Albanesius
    July 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    If we get Tulo, there has to be some plan in place to rest him regularly, otherwise this deal will have bad mojo from the very start. Colorado might be convinced to pay off a little of his contract, but $40 million is probably too much. Therefore we are left with a big debt to pay. That may decrease the amount of prospects we have to give up, but I can’t see the Mets adding a $20 million a year player overnight. I hate to say it because I am a huge Tulo fan, but I think that money might be better spent elsewhere. Where, I don’t know unfortunately.

  9. July 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Julian if you get a chance look up CarGo’s numbers for this year home and away. I think you might be surprised at his numbers away from Coors Field. Don’t be mislead by OPS in Citi simply because how many at-bats is that based upon?

    • Julian
      July 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      His slash line at home looks like a match with his career norm (.333/.365/.546), but his road numbers look even worse this year: .170/.238/.341. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make, please elaborate.

  10. Steve L
    July 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I will never understand why Jerry Grote (the poster, not the former Met) thinks he can just pick and choose start and end dates when discussing player stats…

    Duda’s hit 19 HRs in 100 games, he’s close a 30 HR pace for the season, not just post-May. His career numbers suggests he’s more like a 20 HR/season guy, but as he’s in his prime (late 20s for hitters), it may well be legit. Though even this year he’s not hitting lefties (167/254/233), so he’ll always need a right-handed platoon mate. In any event, I agree this is a perfectly acceptable approach to 1B for the next few seasons.

    Granderson had a flukishly bad April, but also a flukishly good June. Throw out those two months and he’s at around 250/350/450 and a 25-30 HR pace, which feels about right. Though given his age a sudden and rapid decline wouldn’t be surprising.

    d’Arnaud’s looked good since apparently working things out in AAA, but we’re still only talking about 33 games, and I’m scared of his injury history. It’s actually one of the reasons I think they should hang on to Plawecki for now, who after a rough start is starting to hit in Vegas. Plan on d’Arnaud, but have a good backup plan just in case…

    All that being said, I don’t think any of these positions are a problem, either right now or for the next few seasons. I do think they need help at SS and LF, but I don’t think anyone is arguing against this.

    Would a healthy Tulo be the answer at SS? I think the answer is almost certainly yes. For his career he’s 274/349/469, which is still excellent for a good defensive SS. And while it’s a tiny sample size (14 games), it’s worth noting that his slash line is 438/534/833 at Citi Field. Of course, he’s had problems staying healthy for most of his career, which makes it a risky gamble.

    I’m less excited about CarGo and his career 259/315/440 hitter away from Coors Field. And he’s corner OF, so the baseline for his bat is a lot higher than Tulo’s. I also don’t believe he’s any more than an average fielder despite the Gold Gloves, and he seems to have stopped running this year.

    I still think they should hold off on a trade at the deadline, then maybe talk to the Rockes about Tulo during the offseason. At that point we’ll have a better read on our young players and Harvey’s recovery, and therefore a better idea if Tulo is worth the gamble. But I don’t think CarGo is the answer, you can probably use a platoon and get his expected production once he’s no longer a Rockie.

  11. July 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Pretty hard to be considered an average defender with 2 GG’s under one’s belt. Take a look at CarGo’s numbers away from Coors Field this year and I think you’ll be surprised. So much for he’s getting older so his numbers should be declining right?

  12. Steve L
    July 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    CarGo actually has 3 GGs, and I still have no problem calling him an average defender. GGs don’t mean much, Jeter won 5 and he’s a bad defensive SS, and Palmeiro won one in a season he played all of 28 games at 1B.

    I don’t think there’s any one metric you can use to judge defensive value, but they all seem to agree that CarGo is average. His RF/9 in LF is 1.76 while league average is 1.83. His career dWAR is minus 0.8. His career UZR/150 is minus 0.4. His career DRS in LF is negative 3. And in 2014 he’s below his career numbers across the board. You can argue his strong arm makes up for some of his range deficiencies, but a good arm doesn’t turn a below-average fielder into a good one.

    I also did look at CarGo’s numbers away from Coors field this year. His slash line is a whopping 170/238/341, which is sub-replacement level. I suspect you mean 2013, when he hit 332/381/606 on the road. Which is impressive if you don’t notice he hit 234/301/405 in 2012, or his (previously mentioned) 259/315/440 career road numbers. 2013 was pretty clearly an outlier, as the vast majority of the evidence indicates he can’t hit away from Coors.

    CarGo to the Mets? No thank you.

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