Some unsolicited advice for Sandy Alderson to use in 2014

Unsolicited AdviceOne thing that seems apparent to me is that things get better for the Mets when the GM acts. He traded Ike Davis and first base got better. He got rid of Kyle Farnsworth, John Lannan, Scott Rice and Jose Valverde and the bullpen got better. And perhaps now our long outfield nightmare can improve with Bobby Abreu and Chris Young being recently shown the door.

With the possible exception of righty relievers, no one has ever accused Sandy Alderson of moving quickly to address a problem. But if the Mets are going to be legitimate playoff contenders next year, there are still things Alderson needs to do. Here are 10 things that Alderson should think long and hard about and then act upon before the conclusion of the 2014 calendar year.

1. Regardless of how he does the remainder of this year – trade Wilmer Flores
Last year’s not supposed to count because of the ankle injury and this year’s not supposed to count because of the sporadic playing time. So, here’s hoping he goes on a crazy hot streak the rest of the season to pump up his trade value. People are overvaluing Flores based on his long-time prospect status and his inflated stats at Las Vegas. My belief is that in the long run he’s not going to hit enough to be worthwhile and if the Mets trade Daniel Murphy, it should be to open a spot for Dilson Herrera and not Flores.

2. If Matt den Dekker continues with his strikeout rate, consider him a starting outfielder
As the only person to include den Dekker in his Top 10 prospect list before the season, it was great news for me to hear that the Mets called him up, presumably to be the starting left fielder the rest of the way. He came up with a great defensive reputation and in the little we’ve seen him in the majors, that’s been confirmed with the eye test. But can he hit? He’s got a 32.1 K% in the majors and he can’t succeed with that rate. But since being sent to the minors, he has a 13.5 K% in 192 PA. If den Dekker can keep a strikeout rate under 15 percent in the majors, he’ll be a star. A more realistic goal might be a 20.0 K% from now until the end of the year.

3. Recognize that Jenrry Mejia is not a long-term answer at closer
Confidence is a tricky thing so the Mets cannot just demote Mejia from the role the rest of the season. But any excuse to give Jeurys Familia a few chances in the ninth inning the rest of the way should be utilized. Friday night was just the latest example of Mejia walking the tightrope and it seems odd to me to prefer him over either Familia or Parnell (if healthy) as a closer going forward. And while he should not actively shop Mejia in the offseason, Alderson should be open to including him in a deal for a big bat.

4. Make Jon Niese prove he’s not injured
My firm belief is that a healthy Niese is a low-end SP#2 and it’s surprising and painful to see him pitch the way he has in his last four starts. Order him to undergo a full battery of tests and if he passes let him go to the mound for his next start. But if he gets knocked around again, shut him down and give Rafael Montero his spot in the rotation. It’s more valuable to see Montero get a half a dozen starts against MLB hitters than to see Niese throw up meatballs in the middle of the plate the remainder of the season.

5. Decide what kind of hitter you want Juan Lagares to be
Since returning from the DL, Lagares has a .588 OPS in 137 PA, despite a .330 BABIP. Neither the highs nor lows have been as extreme as 2013, but Lagares has essentially been the same hitter as last year. In both seasons, he had one BABIP-fueled hot streak propping up his overall numbers. In his first 31 games in 2014, Lagares had an .842 OPS thanks to a .393 BABIP. Since then, he’s posted a .586 OPS with little power and fewer walks. If you think Lagares can be a 25-HR hitter, have him sell out and swing for the fences each time up. If you don’t think he can do that, have him try to never strike out swinging, look for walks and hit the ball the other way. His defense is so good, that if he could just put up a .700 OPS he would be a star. But his current approach of no power and no walks and depending upon the BABIP gods isn’t going to get it done.

6. If a team claims Curtis Granderson on waivers, let him go for free
It hurts to write this because Granderson seems like a good guy. But whenever you sign a veteran free agent to a long-term contract, the assumption is you get the value in the front and pay for it at the back end. Here in the first year of his four-year deal, Granderson sits with a 1.6 fWAR and is projected by ZiPS to finish the season with a 2.1 mark. If he shows no decline and finishes each year of his deal with that level of production, he would return 8.4 fWAR for $65 million. Everyone complains about the money owed Bartolo Colon but the money owed Granderson has less chance of being recouped in on-field production.

7. In trade discussions with the Cubs, ask if Jorge Soler is available
Everyone imagines that the Mets and Cubs match up well because the Mets have pitchers and the Cubs have shortstops. That’s true enough. But perhaps the value for the Mets is in Cuban outfielder Soler. He’s had injury problems both years in the U.S. (along with some attitude concerns last year) but the guy can rake. In 22 games in Double-A, he had a 1.355 OPS. In 16 games in Triple-A, he has a 1.181 OPS. For the year, his slash line is .377/.473/.783 in 167 PA.

8. Do not let Kevin Plawecki hold up any deal for an impact player
Everyone wants catching and with a young starter in the majors establishing himself, the Mets have one to deal in Plawecki. He crushed the ball in Double-A but has had some trouble in Las Vegas. Still, he’s showing up everywhere in mid-season top prospect lists. Look to sell high on Plawecki, partly due to an overvaluation of his MLB chances but mostly due to the presence of a potential star already in the majors at his position.

9. Accept the injury risk of Troy Tulowitzki
It’s got to be hard for Alderson to give up a ton for a guy who seems guaranteed to miss a month of the season. But Tulowitzki is so good when he’s healthy that he should pull the trigger. There’s always the (slight) chance he gets passed it in a new environment and even if he doesn’t, the Mets have an acceptable backup option in Ruben Tejada.

10. Fire Terry Collins
Niese glares at him when he comes to the mound. David Wright jogs like an old man on balls hit in the infield. Carlos Torres’ arm looks like it might fall off any day now. Eric Campbell can’t find any playing time. Josh Edgin is used in the least-productive way possible. Players go to the minors and come back better thanks to real coaching. His lineup choices and pinch-hitting decisions leave a lot to be desired. His record is horrible. A recent MetsBlog poll showed that 69% of the respondents disapprove of his job performance. If Frank Cashen was running things, the first thing he’d do would be to find a new manager. Collins is so bad that even M. Donald Grant would authorize money to be spent to find a replacement. Put us all out of our misery and get us a manager who doesn’t make things harder than they have to be.

32 comments for “Some unsolicited advice for Sandy Alderson to use in 2014

  1. Jon
    August 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

    1. Anyone can go, but I don’t think the Mets are anywhere near the a position where they *must* trade a young position player who can hit.

    2. That’s a big if on the whiffs, but if he can cut the rate, I’d consider him a solution for #5.

    3. Don’t necessarily agree. All relievers have rough patches, young ones particularly. Inasmuch as the closer role is overemphasized generally and Mejia despite the rough patches is succeeding there for now, leave it be. An injury or some other external event eventually will spark a change.

    4. Niese’s trajectory reminds me a little of Maine when he kept trying to plow through shoulder issues. I am certain the club is very concerned with his health right now.

    5. Lagares is the one I might look to flip high. Love to watch him out there but a 600 OPS isn’t going to cut it, particularly when other spots in the lineup aren’t providing enough.

    6. Eh. Not a high priority right now. Would need good return.

    7. Suspicious of these built Cuban guys coming in and mashing, but OK.

    8. Sure.

    9. Don’t think Tulo is reali$tic. Tejada is the type of guy who will become a valuable backup only upon transfer to another org. Happens with young SSs who fail all the time.

    10. I’m less troubled by Terry’s tactics than you; what bothers me is too frequent faulty execution. Someone should answer for that.

    • August 9, 2014 at 10:45 am

      What do you think Flores’ MLE looks like? I would suggest that if you think Flores can hit in the majors – you aren’t taking enough air out of his PCL stats.

      • Steve L
        August 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

        Flores just turned 23, and he hit 311/361/494 as a 20 year old in AA Binghamton in the Eastern League (which is a pitcher-friendly league). I think he’ll eventually hit MLB pitching, but he needs regular playing time to do so.

        The bigger problem is he’s a third baseman masquerading as a middle infielder. I think they should try to trade him because Wright’s locked up long-term, so there’s no room for him on the major league team.

        Flores and Plawecki aren’t superstar prospects, but could net solid prospects at bigger positions of need, or be packaged with better prospects in a mega deal.

    • Jon
      August 9, 2014 at 11:11 am

      As I view Flores it’s not necessarily the Vegas stats that impress but the fact that he’s done it all very young. Still a good chance he’s improving.

  2. Metsense
    August 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I agree that Hererra is the future second baseman. MDD needs to show he can do it in the majors and if he can then Lagares could be trade bait.Mejia may end up a good trade chip because not only can he close but teams may want him as a starter. Granderson being claimed would be a blessing in disguise. Plawecki should also be a trade chip (or TdA only if necessary). Montero needs to pitch in the majors in 2014. Tulo is the daily double, defensive SS and established quality impact bat. Collins should not be back because the record fell short with the talent he had. Alderson has a lot of talent he can trade to restructure this team.

  3. NormE
    August 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    My unsolicited advice for Sandy Alderson would be to not sign a new contract with the Mets. The Wilpons will not/cannot give you the monetary resources to complete the job of acquiring the talent to go with the younger players within the organization.

  4. Chris F
    August 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I like quite a few of these moves. Here are a few comments.

    Lagares is a victim of TCs line up shuffle. What do you want from JL is an important question, putting him in the position to achieve that matters. I think he’s a 6 or 7 guy, and I leave him there.

    I don’t bite on Tulo. The cost would be so much to bear both in treasure and people, that 120 games a year just isn’t enough. His contract would limit almost all other future moves, and like Cano, we will be paying for his declining years just like Wright. If I give up people, I’d go youth and see what a deal for Addison Russell would cost.

    Grandy could easily be seeing the effects of switching leagues and new pitchers and new stadiums. I’m not surprised to see a player take a year to get reset…look at Brian McCann and shin soo-chu. I think he can be productive.

  5. Tommy2cat
    August 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Too early to draw conclusions about Flores, MDD & Mejia. See how they perform from now until the end of the season and then re-evaluate.

    Agree entirely on Jon Niese and Rafael Montero. Niese needs to take a seat & rest his arm. Allow Montero the same latitude we are giving Flores, MDD & Mejia. See what he’s got.

    Agree somewhat with Grandy, except that he offers some intangibles to an otherwise young outfield that are difficult to quantify. Feel the same way about Colon’s influence on our pitching staff. Kind of like having those guys in the clubhouse and dugout.

    Too soon to formulate a position on Plawecki. We still don’t know what we have with d’Arnaud. If nothing else, Plawecki has been competent and durable at every level.

    I’d be very reluctant to give Colorado a treasure trove for Tulo. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy and his stats away from Coors Field are uninspiring. I would prefer to retain some organizational depth and explore younger, less costly alternatives.

    I like Terry Collins, but not as a manager. I’d like to see him replaced with Wally Backman in the off-season.

    Prior to Alderson’s hiring, The NY Met organization went through a series of traumas from a roster laden with under-performing free agents, it’s lack of organizational depth and the enormous adverse impact of Madoff’s scheme.

    Why do I mention this? Because it explains why Alderson has, at times, moved at a snail’s pace when it comes to making roster decisions. I surmise that Alderson valued the restoration of organizational depth and stability very highly on his priority list.

    Thus, it’s important to remain prudent while the composition of our major league roster evolves with the infusion of home-grown prospects – we need to know what we have before we decide what we need and how best to acquire those needs.

    • NormE
      August 10, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Tommy, I really like your thoughts on Alderson and organizational depth and stability. But, I’m concerned that if there isn’t enough organizational talent to adequately fill the holes, will Alderson be allowed to bring in outside players who may carry a higher price tag?

  6. James Newman
    August 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Good points, I agree with firing Terry. How does d’Arnaud look completely lost at the plate, and turns it around after being in AAA? Supposedly Backman sat him down and gave him confidence, why isn’t that being done at the Major League level?

    Also, Mejia may be moved to the 7th or 8th inning guy, as Parnell is coming back next year and will probably be the closer. Familia looks solid and could be the closer next year.

    The rest of the points I agree with. Soler would be an interesting acquisition, and every star has their pros and cons, including Tulo.

  7. Patrick Albanesius
    August 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I bet the asking price for Soler is too high, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe a package deal for him and a SS, but we’d have to give up plenty to do so. If you think Niese and TC don’t get along, wait until it’s up to Collins for Harvey to come out of games next year because of pitch counts. I’ll put the over-under on Harvey’s angry tirades about the management at around 4 for next season.

  8. Jack Strawb
    August 10, 2014 at 2:19 am

    “But if the Mets are going to be legitimate playoff contenders next year,…”

    This is an obvious error in judgment. 2016, maybe, but far too many things have to go right and too many very young players have to develop far too quickly for contending in 2015 to be anything other than a fluke.

    “My firm belief is that a healthy Niese is a low-end SP#2 ”

    This too is a distinctly odd position to take, given that Niese has all of one season that’s even arguably that of a low-end #2 pitcher, and he’ll soon be entering the decline phase of his career.

    Other than the unwarranted optimism, I enjoy your writing. Cheer.

    • August 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

      What’s obvious about it? If you say it’s your opinion – that’s fine. But there’s a huge gulf between what’s an opinion and what’s obvious.

      Over the 2012-2013 seasons, Jon Niese threw 333.1 innings. Only 86 pitchers in MLB threw 300+ those two seasons. Sorted by ERA, Niese finished, 29th, making him a low-end SP#1. If we sort by FIP, he ranks 33rd, making him a high-end SP#2. If we rank by xFIP, he’s 34th, still a high-end SP#2. If we rank by innings, he’s 69th, making him a high-end SP#3. If we rank by fWAR, he’s ranked tied for 58th, making him a low-end SP#2. His combination of innings and quality over the previous two seasons makes him a low-end SP#2.

      • Steve S.
        August 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        Great use of stats, Brian! Where would the same analyses place Gee?

    • Jerry Grote
      August 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

      “he’ll soon be entering into the decline phase of his career”.

      Adam Wainwright is on the phone for you. Tim Hudson, line 2.

      Look, snarkism aside

      • Jerry Grote
        August 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

        snarkism aside (as I was about to say), Niese in his career has thrown very few innings.

        • August 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

          Since becoming a full-time starter in 2010, Niese has thrown 792.2 IP. That ranks 46th among all pitchers in MLB. I don’t believe that’s anything about which to be ashamed.

          • Jerry Grote
            August 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

            Next year, at 28 and after 5 years in baseball, he will have the first chance to either pitch more than 30 games, or get to 200 IP.

            Despite his recent run, he actually doesn’t get deep into games.

            Total innings fails to catch the fact that he’s continually injured and missing games. When you never have the weight of having to throw 220, you don’t have the cumulative weight of pressure on your joints.

            It makes a difference.

            • August 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

              I think your third graph is a combination of BS and conjecture

              • Jerry Grote
                August 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm

                LOL. It’s conjecture and bullshit that his total innings pitched fails to capture that he is unable to go to the mound 33-35 times a year, or consistently pitch more than 180 innings.

                That Niese has a WAR that places him 64th, and an IP that places him 46th, says a whole world about what sort of value you can put on those innings pitched Brian.

                That’s my “conjecture” about your position on IP.

                • August 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm

                  You know how many pitchers started 33 or more games last year? 19

                  Know how many started 33 or more games the year before? 22

                  You’re acting like not starting that many games year in year out is some kind of personal failure when it’s just not. For the overall combination of innings and quality the past two years, Niese is a low-end SP#2.

                  If you want to pretend that being ranked around 55-60 among pitchers in MLB is not anything to be happy about — go right ahead.

  9. Jerry Grote
    August 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

    For those of you that have reservations about Tulo’s splits …

    Away from Colorado? “Only” an 818 OPS, *but*

    As Mets fans we’ve become used to him crushing us at Citi, we know he owns a 1.368 OPS – the best in any stadium including Coors.

    But what about the rest of the NL East stadiums, where he’ll see his most ABs? Including Citifield ..

    260 AB, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 140 total bases,
    .304/.384/.539 and a .923 overall OPS. His 162 game normalized runs out to 35 HR/108 RBI and don’t forget he’s an excellent fielder as well.

    Not quite Coors, but awfully, awfully close and better in fact, than his career numbers.

    From 2007-2014, including all those games lost to injury, he’s been more valuable than David Wright (bb-ref) in terms of WAR, 25% more valuable than Hanley Ramirez (no bargain when it comes to games played, either).

    I don’t know what it will cost to get him. It’s not like the front office in Denver have shown any smarts in literally any deal in the last few years and I like Sandy’s chances in getting a good deal.

    He’s the better fielder than HRamirez, has hit better in NL East stadiums than HRamirez, has a better profile/team player than HRamirez. Since he plays the position so well, Tulo will more likely complete his contract at SS as well.

    I would guess that Flores would be pretty appealing to Colorado, along with Syndergaard. Its a steep price. Pay it.

    • Chris F
      August 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Is it just me that worries that Tulo paying 120M$ for Tulo right now feels a lot like Pujols, Cano, Hamilton etc? His best days are mostly in the rear view mirror. I can only envision the injury time will do nothing but increase. I get how good he is, but I can’t help but wonder if were better served fishing for Addison Russell or Starlin Castro.

      • August 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        It’s you

      • Jerry Grote
        August 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        I think there’s about an even chance that Castro and Tulowitzki produce the same amount of WAR over the next ten years. Beltre, Chipper Jones, Chase Utley … they all were good for around 30 WAR. Castro produces that year in, and year out.

        But Castro will never do, what Tulo could do: deliver an MVP, 7 to 10 WAR season that puts a pennant up at Citi Field.

        “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, did he use five bullets or six. Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement I lost track myself”.

        Do you feel lucky?

        • Chris F
          August 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

          That’s exactly it. What if all he can give us is 100 games in the first couple years?

  10. Peter Hyatt
    August 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm


    you’ve gotten our attention.

    I especially agree with:

    Granderson on waivers. I do think he is a good guy in the clubhouse, but…
    I agree that Kevin P is great trade bait.

    The only thing I am on the fence is about TT’s injury risk….

    interesting article.

  11. August 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

    This was a great post, Brian. Sorry I missed it when you first put it up.

  12. Steve L
    August 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Tulo’s numbers are inflated by Coors, but his career road slash line is 274/349/469, which is still excellent for a SS. Through in the strong D at short and he’s clearly one of the best players in the game, and worth 20 Million per year if he’s healthy.

    Of course, he’s had problems staying healthy. He did actually average 134 games/year from 2007 – 2011, but over the past 3 seasons he’s only managed 88 games/year (assuming he doesn’t come back in 2014). It seems like a risky bet for someone who’ll be 30 next season.

    I’d still probably take that gamble, though, and being willing to part with Syndergaard as the centerpiece of the package. However, it sounds like the Rockies are difficult to trade with. Supposedly the O’s asked about De La Rosa, and the Rockies wouldn’t trade him unless the O’s parted with Gausman. So they wanted a top 25 pitching prospect who has already reached the majors in exchange for 2 month rental of De La Rosa.

  13. Steve L
    August 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    One quick aside, while I think the Marlins won’t be looking to sell this offseason, the Mets really should kick the tires on Stanton. That’s a guy I’d empty out the farm system for…

    • Chris F
      August 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Can’t do it. Look Stanton may reach 600 or even 700, but without the supporting pieces we’d need to give up all he be is a major hr hitter on a so so team. That won’t get you a flag to fly, just ask the Marlins. Besides with the incredible pitching they are developing, I don’t think we really have what they need. There’s no combination of infielders or pitchers we have in the system that would even get us in the door on Stanton.

  14. Patrick Albanesius
    August 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Hmmmm, Stanton.

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