Mets can and should solve shortstop situation in the next month

NY logoAt this point in the season, it becomes more and more clear what the weaknesses of the Mets are: Shortstop and Left Field. What remains interesting is that left field has a ton of reinforcements in the minor leagues that will be MLB ready by either late next season or early 2016. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are slated to become everyday players that swing hot bats. Shortstop on the other hand has “no incoming prospects” and the only way to improve this team is to “bring in someone from the outside.” After fully looking into this problem, it seems that the Mets minor league system has more than what meets the eye at shortstop. After examining some of the forgotten parts of the Mets farm system, there are numerous options that the Mets should explore when thinking of replacing Ruben Tejada. (I am well aware of the Wilmer Flores situation, I’d rather not talk about the on-going topic)

Matt Reynolds:

This man has been a complete freak of nature while dominating pitching in not only AA-Binghamton but in AAA-Las Vegas as well. His numbers across the board have been absolutely ridiculous with a .345/.413/.445 slash line between two levels. Reynolds has only recently been able to come around with the power in his bat, compiling 10 doubles in 42 AAA games. Another interesting part of his game is his great splits between lefties and righties. He has posted an OPS almost 80 points higher against righties, but still keeping an OPS north of .800 against lefties. If he is not considered for the job at short, then I will quickly lose a lot of respect I have for Sandy Alderson.

Danny Muno:

Muno can be considered a player that doesn’t mold well with the recent advanced sabermetrics. He plays the game hard and performs each of the five tools in an above average manner. He has completely raked in the friendly confides of Las Vegas, hitting to the tune of a .373 OBP. He has drawn 50 walks to go along with an extremely reasonable 65 strikeouts. Once again, the knock seems to be on the lack of a legitimate slugging percentage. While he has hit eleven homers this season, much of this is fueled by Las Vegas- as he has not posted higher than nine homers in his previous three seasons. He plays more second base than any other position, but with his style of play, he could man shortstop any day.

TJ Rivera:

Unlike the previous two mentioned players, this guy still resides in a level below AAA. Rivera has posted very solid numbers in his minor league career (.315/.365/.410) but still fails to climb the organizational latter at a quick rate. After spending at least 15 games per season at A-ball, he has finally climbed to AA- and his numbers have not disappointed. Rivera is completely tearing up AA pitching with a .359 average and a .845 OPS. The interesting part about Rivera is that his double rate is considered very solid for a minor leaguer, posting over 20 doubles in each of the last three seasons. His walk rate is a bit average, but his strikeout rate is actually pretty low. Overall, he would make a pretty good utility man.


15 comments for “Mets can and should solve shortstop situation in the next month

  1. Jerry Grote
    August 6, 2014 at 4:21 am

    Notes on TJ … first off, we need to notice that he has been either old or roughly league average at each stop. That definitively changes the validity of his numbers.

    Its not a perfect number (at all), but range factor tells me a bit about SSs. Flores, in the minors, has been able to get to around 4 balls per game, but about 10% less in the majors. TJ gets to roughly the same number of balls in AA (surprisingly more than Tovar who has a rep as a guy that pick it). Reynolds RF is actually lower than Flores at LV.

    So Flores probably is the best fielder of the three, if you discount Rivera a bit for lowered competition. By comparison, Flores is getting to 3.7 plays in the ML but Tejada is getting to significantly more – nearly 4.4. Now you have all sorts of caveats about making comparisons between teams/leagues/ballparks/pitching staffs.

    But I think ultimately the pattern is consistent with what I’d expect: none of the Mets prospects can field SS very well.

    Doesn’t change the thesis of the article. We should get clarity around SS. I just see an awful lot of balls getting through to Lagares and a lot of DPs not completed.

  2. James Preller
    August 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

    It comes back to: Are the Mets building a team around pitching or not? And if so — obviously, yes — then it is essential to have a quality defensive shortstop, particularly if he’s going to be paired with Daniel Murphy at 2B.

    So much of what passes for “prospect scouting” is guys looking at stats on the web. The defensive side of the equation is often completely ignored.

    The Mets need a real shortstop, not a third-rate glove.

    • Name
      August 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

      Why should the kind of pitching we have affect our decision at SS?
      Because we have good pitching it is imperative we need a good fielding SS?
      So does that mean if we don’t have a good pitching staff we don’t need a good fielding SS?

      Perhaps only if you have extreme ground/fly ball pitchers would one need to consider pitching, but over a rotation of 5 plus a bullpen, the effect of having 1 or 2 extreme guys shouldn’t matter too much.

      Choose the best player possible, irrespective of other needs.

      • jimmy
        August 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

        If you’re gonna build around pitching you have to be strong up the middle. Trade for a real SS & trade Murph.

        Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as it is a violation of our Comment Policy.

    • August 6, 2014 at 8:44 am

      I’ve been real pleased with the defensive play of Tejada the last couple of months. I haven’t looked at his numbers lately but it seems like he’s gone from a guy who was botching DP balls early in the year to a guy who’s making all of the easy plays and occasionally a really nice play.

      I’m ready to stay with Tejada the rest of the year.

  3. August 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Why isn’t Wilfredo Tovar mentioned in this article or by Mets fans? The guy has had a great year on offense (3 for 4 last night in Binghamton) and he has been the Mets defensive player of the year for the last 4 years? The guy is a great defensive shortstop. The question was about his offense which I think he has answered this year. Where is the love? I think they should take him up to the show in September and see what you have.

    • Metsense
      August 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Tovar had a hand injury and has been out for an extended time. He is just back. He was one of the first Spring Training cuts because he came to camp ill prepared. Tough love sending him out to AA. Many regard him as a better defensive player than Tejada but not a better bat, although he has put up some nice numbers.

  4. Metsense
    August 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Matt Reynolds intrigues me and I have read that he has more range than Tejada and is a better bat. Is Reynolds the next under the radar Juan Lagares or Jacob deGrom? Who knows? Would you rely on an unproven AAA shortstop to be your shortstop in 2015, the year that you are projected to finally contend for a playoff spot? It would be risky and somewhat fool hardy. This is the reason the 2015 answer to the shortstop position lies outside the organization.
    I also agree with James that the shortstop has to be a better than average glove. Good pitching gets sabotaged by poor fielding.

  5. Peter Hyatt
    August 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I also think Tejada has picked up his D of late. His bat hurts.

    Question: anyone else wonder about pinch hitting Eric Campbell last night?

    TC used a .230 hitter while having a significant lead. What does this say to Campbell?

    I was surprised it was not discussed last night.

    • Jerry Grote
      August 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

      EC should only take away that CG has a better defensive reputation, and Campbell was going to be replaced anyways with his team in the lead.

  6. Steve L
    August 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I was actually at the game last night. Was surprised Campbell got the start in left, though I guess they wanted to get his bat in the line up against a lefty (though they should have just put him at first and sat Duda, who looked lost against Gio). He actually looked pretty good, nailing Werth at home when he tried to score from 2nd on a single. TC replaced him with Granderson after the Nats put in a righty reliever, who smoked a ball that unfortunately went straight at the right fielder. And it’s not like Campbell was having a stellar night at the plate up until that point.

    I say give Reynolds a September call up and see what he can do. Tejada’s D is solid, but I doubt he’ll ever be much of a hitter, and think he’s better suited to a utility infield role.

    Alternatively, Muno’s a switch hitter who has done better against righties throughout the minors, so the Mets could create a lefty-right platoon with him and Tejada with the other serving as the utility guy on days they don’t start. Though that may be a bit too outside the box for Mr. Collins.

  7. Peter Hyatt
    August 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    See Campbell’s split: higher average against righty pitching.

    It made me scratch my head and wondered if it was just me.

    • Steve L
      August 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Huh, didn’t notice that Campbell was actually hitting better against righties this year. Though his average against lefties was .309 before last night’s 0-for-3.

      • Jerry Grote
        August 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

        This year’s minor league stats confirm the bias towards normal splits.

        My guess is that the split here is an aberration that would be proved out when you looked at the specifics (notably, who were the pitchers he faced and when).

  8. Jim OMalley
    August 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Tejada has looked ok in field. But the part about playing Tejada everyday is that it puts Wilmer on the bench everyday.

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