Why have the Mets soured on Dominic Smith?

The Mets haven’t gone into the offseason with this much uncertainty in a long time. If the pennant-winning campaign of 2015 seems an eternity ago, think about the year prior. Of course, the seeds of the future NL Champs were in place, but nobody knew nothin’ about where it would end up. Where it would end up was not a good place, a not-quite-mediocre 79 wins. The year began with a portent and – it being the Mets and all – a hint of comedy. After the player introductions on Opening Day, the Mets took the field without anyone at first. As we clever souls in the stands made Abbott & Costello jokes, it was found out that starting first baseman Ike Davis was…ummmm…errr…indisposed. The Mets had gone into the year with two candidates for the first base job, Davis and Lucas Duda. It was Duda who would win the battle, Davis being shuttled to Pittsburgh before the year was three weeks old. Now Duda is gone, having been dealt to the American League this past August, just ahead of his free agency. In Duda’s absence, touted prospect Dominic Smith was summoned from the wilds of Las Vegas to man first.

We knew a bit about Smith before his arrival. He was the team’s first round pick in 2013, the eleventh overall in that draft (a sidebar: he was picked 21 spots before a fella named Aaron Judge was scooped up by the Yankees, but that’s another story). We’d heard he had power, we’d heard he was a good fielder. His progression through the minors seemed painfully slow at the beginning, calling to mind Mets draft busts of the recent past – anyone remember Kirk Presley? But eventually, he found his stroke, slashing at a .302/.367/.457 clip for Binghamton – a team in a pitchers’ league – with 14 home runs and 91 RBI in 2016. Over the course of his MiLB career, the power was slow to develop, but his defense was what the scouts seemed to rave about. So at the outset of his Major League career, we were expecting somewhat of a Keith Hernandez type of player: a slick fielder who will hit you a bunch of doubles and have low – relatively low for this homer-happy era, anyway – home run numbers. He arrived in Queens looking more like George “Boomer” Scott than Hernandez. To be fair, at the tender age of 22, he did…O-kay for the Mets after his call-up, a.745 OPS in nearly 300 plate appearances. He didn’t set the world on fire, played a decent first base; basically, he was good enough to fill the void at the tail end of a lost season.

Now, though, it seems the Mets are casting about for a veteran first baseman to fill the role. Supposedly, there has been contact with free agent Adam Lind and of course there’s pining from the fans for a miracle signing of Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana. Heck, there have even been rumblings about a reunion with Duda. In any case, GM Sandy Alderson has stated flatly that Smith “did not do enough in September” to win the job outright. For his part, we’ve heard that Smith has been working his tail off, trying to shed extra poundage and come to camp in fighting trim. He’ll need to. Over here, it seems like a misallocation of resources to sink precious dollars into a position that already might be covered. For all their brave talk about unseating the Washington Nationals at the top of the division and storming to another World Series, right now it doesn’t look like the Mets will be in that hunt, not with all the uncertainty on this roster. So why not give Smith a chance?

Not everyone can be Hank Greenberg. Sometimes, James Loney is good enough.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

52 comments for “Why have the Mets soured on Dominic Smith?

  1. November 30, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I feel like that last graph was there just to taunt me.

    I’m not opposed to someone besides Smith being the Opening Day starter. I just hope it’s not Adam Lind. Yeah, yeah – I know what he did last year. I also know what he did in 2016.

  2. Reese
    November 30, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I think the infield of Smith, Flores, Rosario and Cabrera will be better than average offensively albeit worse defensively.

    Limited resources need to go into the rotation the pen and a distant third, for an outfielder.

  3. Chris F
    November 30, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    “For all their brave talk about unseating the Washington Nationals at the top of the division and storming to another World Series, right now it doesn’t look like the Mets will be in that hunt, not with all the uncertainty on this roster. So why not give Smith a chance?”

    Charlie, this hits directly at the heart of the matter in my eyes. Just exactly what are the Mets doing? Dumping Smith says “going for it,” while shedding all the payroll and going down in payroll clearly says “not going for it.” I frankly cannot tell you other than there must be the hope for just enough magic joo-joo to get to Sept with a .500 record and some special sauce in Sept to finish with 85 wins and hope thats enough for the post season, where our pitching will out of the blue turn into an unstoppable juggernaut. Miserable strategy to these eyes.

    If the Mets are afraid of wasting the stellar pitching (or at least the imagined version of that statement), then they should be investing in serious MLB talent. But going after middling FAs and praying for the Nats to re-sign Papelbon just doesn’t have much of a shine on it.

  4. Eraff
    November 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Smith was observably “Not Ready” to play at the MLB level…and there is no sane reason to project him as a player on a contending team.

    He had a 380 BABIP in Vegas…. with the Cameo in mind, this points to some more work to be done.

    BTW…. Smith is 6 months younger than Pete Alonzo, who will turn 23 in a week or so.

    They may or may not be down on Smith….the reality is that he’s not ready…and he’s 22

    • November 30, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      You can’t treat minor league BABIPs like those in the majors. Rosario had a .377 mark in the category last year in Vegas – does he have more work to do in the minors?

      After putting up a .511 OPS in August, Smith put up a .754 OPS in September. And that was with a BABIP 35 points below NL average. There’s nothing in Smith’s profile to indicate that over a full season he should put up results in that category that far beneath average. There were 64 NL hitters who qualified for the FanGraphs leaderboards and only 5 of them had a BABIP that low. I think Smith’s results in the majors last year were due more to sample size than being ready for prime time.

      I wouldn’t wager on Smith being a league average 1B in 2018. But I would expect him to crack an .800 OPS if he got 500 ABs and if that’s the team’s worst problem, we’ll be doing all right.

      • Eraff
        November 30, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        Brian, I’m citing a High BABIP for a Guy who is very largely dependent on his bat to make any success. Rosario can struggle and muddle and still contribute as a middle infielder and with his legs. Additionally, Smith had issues with the balance of his game. I’d start with both in a “re-build”…not if I wanted to start fast from day one.

        The fact that both of these young guys had some struggle doesn’t surprise me…but thinking you’re beginning the year with both is a bit of a leap.

        My main point is that Smith is not a dead issue if he’s 22 and back at AAA…that is a bad assumption that they’ve “soured” on him

        • November 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm

          FWIW, I think plans of using someone else at 1B by the team doesn’t mean they’ve soured on Smith, either. In an ideal world, you make a 22 year old force his way onto the team. But, these are far from ideal times.

          Since the Alderson/Collins regime took over, this organization has had a strong aversion to playing youngsters from their own farm system. I’m interested to see if this was due more to Alderson or to Collins.

          I think there’s a case to be made that what Rosario and Smith need more than anything is a manager to believe in them and not bench them at the first sign of trouble. Although there’s a case to be made for signing Jay Bruce, too.

          • Chris F
            November 30, 2017 at 5:11 pm

            “Since the Alderson/Collins regime took over, this organization has had a strong aversion to playing youngsters from their own farm system. I’m interested to see if this was due more to Alderson or to Collins.”

            or is it Jeff/Fred? I cant help think part of this is the failure to accept the state of the team. Even early on as the unacknowledged “rebuild” was occurring, the team collected ridiculous veteran players like Bobby Abreu etc instead of giving ABs to upcoming talent that we needed to see play. As a result, we did not properly rebuild. Instead, the teams still stunk and at the same time did not discover if any of the youngin’s had major league talent…or they were strongly suspicious they didnt. And here we are…doing the same stupid thing over again expecting a different outcome.

            This idea you cant rebuild in NY is 100% idiotic.

            • December 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

              I think it would be an excellent research question to figure out who the first person to utter the “can’t rebuild in NY” line. My guess is James Dolan or one of his lackeys to justify some of the horrible moves he’s made. But it wouldn’t shock me if it came before him, either.

              Anyone who watched the late 70s – early 80s Mets should know better. It wasn’t over the hill guys like Randy Jones, Dave Kingman and George Foster who led them to the promised land. It was farm system guys and young guys they traded for like Gooden, Darling, Fernandez and Backman who drove the team forward.

              My guess is that regardless of who originally said the rebuilding line, the impact is secondary to the mainstream media and talk radio guys who keep repeating it for their own purposes. It’s more fun to write and talk about which free agents you’re going to sign. Those guys should be forced to watch and report on the Pirates teams that went 20 years without finishing above .500 as each year they signed a bunch of non-impact free agents in their annual “Drive for 75” push.

              • December 1, 2017 at 9:34 am

                ” I think it would be an excellent research question to figure out who the first person to utter the “can’t rebuild in NY” line. ”

                Actually, I think it was Steinbrenner, pre-suspension in the late ’80s.

          • Eraff
            November 30, 2017 at 5:13 pm

            I keep hearing about young players that were buried…I confess to a bad memory, but I don’t believe we can point to anyone other than Flores as a Young Guy who has struggled to find ab’s….and He’s flawed—he should play 450 ish or so ab’s given his talent and skill. There have been “young” 24-25th player roster guys, but I don’t see that a young guy has been buried and ruined…and the Conforto thing “almost happened”–it didn’t. Otherwise–Reynolds, Cheech, Plawecki(please don’t forget that I still believe!)….who’s the buried and soiled treasure???

            • Chris F
              November 30, 2017 at 6:38 pm

              Check out the number of AA and AAA at bats for Captain Kirk and Matt den Dekker

              • Eraff
                November 30, 2017 at 8:04 pm

                Chris…are you saying that Kirk and DenDecker were buried and ruined by Collins?…. That’s the example of burying and ruining the young talent!!!!?????

                • Chris F
                  November 30, 2017 at 8:12 pm

                  well look, Im not gonna go that far, but if you ask would I have rather seen den Dekker and Kirk instead of Abreu, Byrd, etc the answer is yes. Where is Cecchini? Reynolds? etc.

                  I also realize that the Mets talent pool has not been much to talk about, but we have needed to see what we have and live through it to know if it was anything. So while I agree with you, I also think we should have played all these folks.

                  I didnt get enough Baxter and Campbell!!!

            • December 1, 2017 at 8:10 am

              If the bar is set at “soiled treasure” then it’s going to be impossible to prove.

              But there’s a well-established pattern to preferring someone else’s trash rather than giving the guy from the system the first shot. It was picking Chris Young over Dillon Gee. It was picking Brad Emaus over Daniel Murphy. It was picking Willie Harris over Nick Evans. It was picking Rick Ankiel over Juan Lagares. It was picking Aaron Harang over Darin Gorski. It was picking up twice-released Nori Aoki and playing him every single day in a lost season in September rather than giving ABs to anyone on the 40-man roster who ever stood in the OF, whether that was Philip Evans or Matt Reynolds or Travis Taijeron.

              And this is far from an exhaustive list.

              I’ve lost count of how many times people worry about how if the Mets sign a free agent to a salary for more than minimum wage how the FA will react if the Mets don’t give them every single benefit of the doubt and how that will impact future free agents from signing with the club. When the ultimate factor in where to sign in 99% of cases is who’s offering the most money. And no one has any problem with the club continually telling guys they’ve drafted that they prefer picking up other team’s junk rather than giving them a shot – even in a season where nothing is on the line.

              What kind of message is it sending to the org’s own players? Work hard, get to Triple-A, maybe even the majors and then when the perfect opportunity for you comes up, we’ll go out and pick up a guy who has a 5.76 ERA or who’s been released two times already?

              I don’t care if the guys they’re bypassing are Quad A lifers. This M.O. stinks.

              • TexasGusCC
                December 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm

                Are you the real Brian Joura? Who are you, and where’s Brian?

                • December 2, 2017 at 9:57 am

                  I have a long history of asking the Mets to give a shot to guys from their own system. Here are just a few:

                  On playing Aoki and Cabrera instead of youngsters – http://mets360.com/?p=34056
                  Preferable options to Loney – http://mets360.com/?p=29428
                  Mets pay premium to avoid playing youngsters – http://mets360.com/?p=28264
                  Case for Montero over Gee – http://mets360.com/?p=24948
                  Time for Mets to stop dumpster diving for starters – http://mets360.com/?p=19291

                  My position in this thread is entirely consistent with what I’ve advocated for previously and to suggest otherwise is completely unfair. It’s as if you stood up for Wilmer Flores and someone asked if you were the real Gus.

                • TexasGusCC
                  December 2, 2017 at 5:25 pm

                  LOL!

                  Well, I have not always just supported Flores for everything blindly. I’ve ripped him for his lack of work on his defense – ahem, laziness on his defense – other when he was to play SS, so he was excited and motivated.

                • Jimmy P
                  December 3, 2017 at 11:32 am

                  I find Bran’s comment here 100% consistent with his expressed POV over the years.

                  I don’t agree with it, but I respect it.

              • Name
                December 2, 2017 at 2:15 am

                “But there’s a well-established pattern to preferring someone else’s trash rather than giving the guy from the system the first shot. ”

                Every team gives shots to retreads. But are the Mets giving more shots to outside guys than other clubs?

                For the Phillies i can name Nava, Blanco, Ty Kelly, Florimon.
                For the Braves : Oh no, Colon, Dickey, Rex Brothers
                For the Marlins: Ichiro, AJ Ellis, Aviles, Vance Worley

                I’m not sure the Mets are any worse than any other club.

                • December 2, 2017 at 10:16 am

                  I think we need to distinguish between shots and preferential treatment.

                  Ty Kelly made his first appearance with the Phillies on April 28 and was with the club the remainder of the season. He amassed 105 PA. Aoki made his first appearance with the Mets on September 2 and amassed 116 PA.

                  And there always was a 99.99999% chance that the Mets were going to non-tender Aoki.

                • Name
                  December 2, 2017 at 2:53 pm

                  I don’t think the point is to argue individual cases. I’m talking about if the Mets are systemically as a whole giving more chances to guys with zero future versus org guys.

                  It’s hard for us to know the Ankiels of other teams because we don’t follow them religiously, but I don’t think to the naked eye that you can say that the Mets are worse than average. It’s not like the Mets are giving 5 chances per year while the other clubs are only giving 2.

                  Then again, the naked eye test can’t pick up small differences that matter. Most of us wouldn’t be able to tell by only watching games and without the aid of stats being flashed in front of our face the difference between a .250 singles hitter and .300 singles hitter – a difference of just 1 hit per every 20 ABs, or about 1 extra hit per week. So the Mets could be 10% worse than average but it hasn’t been proven.

                  So unless your argument is that the Mets should be giving zero shots to older players, i don’t think you’ve shown the Mets are overly deficient in this area.

                • December 2, 2017 at 5:42 pm

                  I welcome other teams to do things in a sub-optimal way. Makes it easier for the Mets. The idea that the Mets have to do something one particular way because that’s the way other clubs do it doesn’t hold much water with me.

                  I think the much more important thing is to examine how the Mets do things, what their options were at the time, what decision they made and how it worked out. Examine it both from the POV of when it was made and after the fact, too. And examine what the short-term and long-term benefits were.

                • Chris F
                  December 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm

                  There is a time and place for everything. At different times along the arc of a team’s progress, acquiring/playing vets makes more sense than playing untested youth with marginal or possibly hidden talent.

                  In my feeling, the first few years of the Alderson administration, the team desperately needed to play as much youth as absolutely possible to see if anyone had the capacity to become an every day guy given 500-1000 ABs. Brian did an excellent job documenting a string of players. Im not saying that playing Young (either) was directly suppressing a junior rising star, but that I wanted to see if there was hope in there. How many nights did we hear Collins say, “we have games we need to win” as the reason to play vets and ruin pen arms. It was a completely broken approach at a time when we so much needed to know if any of the youth could play the game. That Abreu, Mayberry, Young, or Ankiel took a single AB away from anyone is an atrocity.

                  Then 2015 was a smart time to lean on vet talent where we knew there were issues. Ces was brilliant. Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe were such anchors. Clippard’s change-up? All smart moves, but the time was appropriate.

                  Anyway, 2018 is just a few days away, and we are a team “rebuilding for it,” or what ever is going on.

                • December 2, 2017 at 9:51 pm

                  Two things:

                  I love the term “rebuilding for it.”
                  You explained the futility of importing has-beens much better than I did.

                • Name
                  December 3, 2017 at 1:43 pm

                  Is it sub-optimal?

                  “I think the much more important thing is to examine how the Mets do things, what their options were at the time, what decision they made and how it worked out. ”

                  So let’s look at the successes too.

                  Obviously the biggest one in recent memory in RA Dickey. They bypassed org guys in Tobi Stoner and Dillon Gee to bring him up and of course the rest is history. Then there’s Marlon Byrd (almost certainly cheating) but who overtook Kirk/Mdd and the Mets were able to profit from. You could probably name a dozen or so relievers over the years that ended up being positive for the Mets. The Mets picked up Recker and he was better than Nickeas.

                  If we look outside this org, you can find other trash to gold examples. Close to heart is Justin Turner. JD martinez also qualifies. There are more out there.

                  So the question is if giving shots to older guys results in a better hit rate than giving shot to org players. Someone would need to do that analysis. I don’t believe that what either of us presented would suffice to answer this question.

                • December 3, 2017 at 7:07 pm

                  Dickey is not a good example – they didn’t hand him a job. He went to Triple-A and earned his promotion. He was called up in mid-May when after 8 starts he was 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA. At the same time, Gee had a 4.39 ERA and Stoner had a 4.93 mark.

                  I already talked about Byrd, who earned his job by coming to camp on an NRI.

                  The Mets acquired Nickeas from the Rangers and if you’re pointing to Anthony Recker as a success story, well …

                • Name
                  December 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm

                  ” first few years of the Alderson administration, the team desperately needed to play as much youth as absolutely possible to see if anyone had the capacity to become an every day guy given 500-1000 ABs”

                  Despite my many futile attempts to remind the masses, everyone forgets that in the early years of Alderson (2011 and 2012) the Mets had winning records all the way to July and with some tinkering, could have turned out like the 2015 Mets or 2017 Yankees, two teams that most fans and pundits thought were “rebuilding” years.

                • Chris F
                  December 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm

                  No matter how much you protest Name, those season were rebuilding years on team that were bad. Being barely passable in the first half is hardly a good team. They were never a threat of any sort for the end of September. And so, instead of seeing development we had to witness an army of veteran rejects and retreads get played under the wildly mistaken pretense that the Mets were “in it”, which they never were. Sorry.

                  The team was still downsizing and critical infusions of FA talent or trades were never coming. So, right as teh critical juncture would be arriving to build, like in 2015, that never was going to happen in the middle of the Madoff problems.

                • Name
                  December 3, 2017 at 7:22 pm

                  2011: 55-53.
                  2012: 46-40.
                  2015: 53-50.
                  2016: 54-50

                  It’s quite comical how one can still think that all hope was lost in 2011 and 2012 considering what we went thru in 2015 and 2016.

                • Chris F
                  December 4, 2017 at 10:47 am

                  July 31, trade deadline information:

                  2011, 3rd place, 13.5 back, 2 over .500
                  2012, 3rd place, 12.0 back, 4 under .500
                  2013, 4th place, 13.5 back, 11 under .500
                  2014, 4th place, 7.0 back, 4 under .500
                  2015, 2nd place, 2.0 back, 3 over .500
                  2016, 3rd place, 6.5 back, 4 over .500
                  2017, 3rd place, 14.5 back, 7 under .500

                  I honestly have no idea what you keep seeing in any of the Mets teams except for 2015 and 2016. I view >10 back in the standings on 1 August makes post season play very unlikely for most teams. The Mets needed to add talent by that date to be competitive, but Alderson was still shredding payroll. The business plan was scheduled rebuild, or whatever it is Alderson did that has hamstrung the team to present condition: no depth in the farm system, a team with gutted MLB talent, and still no steady finances to build from.

              • NormE
                December 3, 2017 at 8:15 am

                My memory might be faulty, but wasn’t Brian Joura
                the guy who advocated for Collin Cowgirl over Juan Lagares back in 2013?

                • December 3, 2017 at 9:43 am

                  The fact checkers rate this claim as partly true.

                  I advocated for Cowgill (love your typo) but it wasn’t in a direct competition with Lagares, as JL started the year in the minors and wasn’t really in consideration for a job on the Opening Day roster.

                  The Mets went against type in this particular instance, giving a longer leash to the rookie from the org than they did to the veteran. In hindsight, it certainly looks like the right decision and it’s too bad they made this the exception rather than the rule.

                • Chris F
                  December 3, 2017 at 11:24 am

                  Also worth noting that Cowgirl (OMG, the was hysterical Norm!) played for the Mets at age 27, so not like the 30+ crowd. Had he worked out, he could have had a long career. Nevertheless, point taken.

            • Jimmy P
              December 1, 2017 at 9:06 am

              Yeah, I believe the idea of the Mets “burying” talented young players is a complete myth. On the pitching end, it’s obviously baloney. As for the regulars, the question that ends all discussion is the one Eraff asked: Who?

              Where’s the quality player who never got a chance?

              The professional team in NYC is not there to “give chances” to players. It’s not about taking turns. It’s about evaluation, scouting, and development.

              In regard to Smith, the hope is that the “experts” in the organization get this one right.

              In keeping with my finger puzzle analogy, how all these moves are contingent, I could go either way with Smith. But I don’t believe the Mets can opt for Smith and still have CF be Lagares, and 2B be Flores, and SS be Rosario, and 3B be Cabrera. None of these decisions are made in isolation; it’s all within the team/roster context.

              The Mets could determine that they believe in D. Smith and want to give him time to develop at the ML level. But then they’d need to take the pressure and responsibility off the 22-year-old. Give him space and time and support. Who hits behind Cespedes in the lineup? Who bats leadoff? This team has so much uncertainty and limited resources to address them.

              And I’m also not against the idea that the team’s experts believe he’s not fully matured (the weight issue is a red flag), not ready for prime time. I just want them to get it right.

              My original point: None of this can be explained by a simple “anti-youth” argument. It’s far more complex than that.

              • December 1, 2017 at 10:29 am

                Instead of asking who the quality player who never got a chance – and it’s not always “never” – why not ask which retread became a multi-year contributor? Who’s the reject who went on to play six years with the club like Dillon Gee? Why the fascination with other team’s junk?

                Their most successful retread was Marlon Byrd and even that has to come with an asterisk of some sort. Byrd wasn’t given a job – he was invited to camp as an NRI and he won a bench job with his play in Spring Training and ultimately won more playing time as the season progressed and he performed. He had to fight to earn his playing time, rather than having it handed to him on a silver platter like was done for Rick Ankiel or James Loney or Nori Aoki.

                They chose both Chris Young and Chris Capuano over Gee. When Young gut hurt and Gee got his chance – he got 13 Wins that year. Their preferred choice were other team’s rejects over a guy who went on to win 114 games for the club. But I have no doubt that if Young had stayed healthy the whole year and Gee had the same exact career, only a year later, that most everyone would say that it was that extra year of seasoning that made the difference. When we know full well it wasn’t.

                And before you say that Gee forced his way onto the team or he eventually got his shot — he had a 4.63 ERA in Buffalo and only got a shot because the preferred retread option got hurt. And he was fortunate enough to have success right away. What if instead of going 7-0 to start 2011, he went 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA like he did in his first seven games of 2012? Think he would have continued to get shots? Or would they have scoured the waiver wire for a retread to take his place?

                We’ve continually seen that veterans get both longer and more consistent shots to perform than youngsters from their own system. The young guy has to produce right away or else he needs an injury or complete meltdown from the older guy to get a shot.

                Everyone’s down on Dominic Smith because in his first 183 PA in the majors he puts up a .658 OPS. But when Loney puts up a .559 OPS over 179 PA – the club just keeps putting him out there because he’s a veteran and he produced for another club five years ago. What’s viewed as a slump for the veteran is viewed as proof that the young guy can’t play or isn’t ready.

                The Alderson/Collins regime gave the extreme benefit of the doubt to another team’s veteran and made guys from their own farm system prove it right away with a shorter leash. And the results from putting eggs in the basket of retreads has produced many, many, many more misses than hits. Yet it continues to be the standard operating procedure.

                My hope is that this was more Collins than Alderson but there’s no concrete proof of that. Let’s see what happens under Callaway.

                • Eraff
                  December 1, 2017 at 11:50 am

                  Brian….. your question is excellent, and I Agree that they’ve funneled too many “retreads”. The rest of what you’ve written doesn’t make sense to Me—Collins and player acquisition?….playing Travis Taijeron???…Not Playing Travis???? if they had a hunch or idea on Aoki—maybe they wanted to see him—frankly, I don’t want to see Travis Taijeron, and neither did the Mets.

                • December 1, 2017 at 2:40 pm

                  Certainly Alderson takes blame for acquisition. But Collins writes out the lineup. Was he under orders to play the Ankiels and Loneys and Aokis of the world or was it his decision? That’s what’s unknown.

                  I’ve never been a fan of Taijeron and of the three players I listed, I would have played him third. But Aoki performed as well as the Mets could have hoped and there’s little chance he’ll be there in 2018. If any of the three guys I mentioned had played well – they would have been set up to be contributors to next year’s club. But they didn’t get a chance.

                • Jimmy P
                  December 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

                  I don’t think this makes a lot of sense, honestly. Gee was an early round pick — as I recall — and was considered a top prospect for the club. He ultimately got a shot and performed out of the box. There was no crime in signing Young or Capuano, two good pitchers who had injuries and came cheap. I’d like to the current Mets make similar signings today. Would that mean they are blocking Chris Flexen? No, it would only show a recognition that Flexen might not cut it . . . and that depth is essential at that position. There is value in a veteran who has *proven* in the past an ability to do the job, carry himself with professionalism, and so on.

                  Loney got a shot because the Mets were in a very tough spot. I think you were the only guy on the planet who lobbied for Oberste (is that the name?). Loney came in and added a degree of professionalism. After 120 ABs or so, with the season winding down, it was obvious to everyone that Loney wasn’t going to be brought back. Because he sucked. No pop. But he filled a gap when they needed a professional body.

                  Smith got 180 PAs and was disappointing. He’s 22. There are more chapters to be written in his story, and today it’s not at all clear what the Mets will do with him in the future. Meanwhile, I’ve got my eye on Peter Alonso.

                  Ankiel was admittedly a terrible move and ill-conceived. They clearly had no idea what Lagares could do. It was sad. But it’s not like the Ankiel experiment went on for long time. He got a shot and the club moved on. It was a weird move at the time. My feeling was that it came from Sandy and DePodesta’s arrogance. They came in and believed they were so smart that the Mets could compete because they’d sift through the talent pool and pick up good pieces who were ignored by everyone else. An Abreu here, a Capuano there; add a pinch of Ankiel . . . and a Quintanilla . . .

                • December 1, 2017 at 12:32 pm

                  “Gee was an early round pick — as I recall — and was considered a top prospect for the club.”

                  He was a 21st-round pick and did not make BA’s Top 10 list for 2010 or 2011.

                  You say it’s no crime to go out and sign guys who used to be good and block guys who are ready to perform. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, I guess you can justify it if you don’t want to use a young guy in a season where you think you’re going to make the playoffs. I don’t agree with it but at least there’s some rationale for it. But it’s hard to justify blocking guys in your own org in a year where you’re going nowhere. Where’s the upside? The upside is if a guy from your org perform well, you’ve got him under control at below market value for five years. If the retread succeeds, he either leaves or you pay him market value.

                  As for Loney, I lobbied for the Mets to move Neil Walker to 1B and give Dilson Herrera a shot. But perhaps injuries were why that didn’t happen.

                  No one is saying that Smith’s story is finished. The question is whether they kick him to the sideline at the start of 2018 because of a small sample when if he was a veteran who performed the exact same (or worse) in the same sized sample they wouldn’t hesitate to give him another shot right away.

                  Over his final 179 PA in 2016, TDA had a .609 OPS. But the team didn’t consider him a problem, didn’t add anyone to challenge him for 2017. But Dominic Smith puts up a .658 OPS – one where he performed significantly better in his second month than he did his first – in a similar number of PA in his first exposure to the majors and the conventional wisdom is he’s not ready. And all because of his age and lack of previous MLB pedigree.

  5. Pete from NJ
    November 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Seems like a lot of pressure being put on the young man. A slow start would create decisions that should not be made by early May.

    Keith Hernandez repeated may times that Smith’s swing had changed to an uppercut power swing instead of the line drive gap power that had brought him sucess. This changed his style and brought all the doubt we now see.

    Hopefully W Flores as a semi platoon partner gives the team a backup plan and pressure release valve all at the same time. Big gamble for the FO spending cash on a position that hopefully is filled internally.

  6. Metsense
    November 30, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    The average NL first baseman in 2017 had a 838 OPS. The Mets should not take the risk of entering the 2018 season with Smith as the primary first baseman. The addition of a player such as Jay Bruce , Logan Morrison or Adam Lind would give the team an insurance policy at 1B, a corner outfielder, and a power bat. Smith is only 22 and there will be opportunities for him in the future. I would prefer that he earns his position.

  7. Eraff
    November 30, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Chris…this Myth of buried young players is too much— Matt DD, Kirk, Campbell, Mike Baxter???????!!!!!!! Baxter!!!???

    Collins managed around those guys and gave them what they earned….. it’s a helluva thing to be a great ballplayer with AAAA talent—I like All of those guys, but they were not buried.

  8. MattyMets
    December 1, 2017 at 7:36 am

    It could be that this chatter is just a ploy to motivate Smith. In any case it’s hurting his trade value so forget any notion of packaging him in a deal. Maybe this lights a fire under him and he shows up to Port St. Lucie in great shape and knocks the cover off the ball in spring training. If not, let him start the season in Vegas and force his way back to Queens. Meanwhile, if the Mets bring back Bruce, he can split time with Flores at first until Smith is ready. Remember, it took him a little while to adjust at each level. MLB history is littered with good and great players who started off slowly – Mickey Mantle comes to mind.

    If the Mets don’t have the patience, then the alternative is to package him in a deal and sign Santan or Hosmer. What’s that, the Wilpons choked on the asking price? What’s that, we have bigger needs? I have zero interest in Adam Lind or similar players. If this team can’t bring in impact players, I’d just as soon give someone a chance. Excellent point about a 50-year-old Bobby Abreu (he might have been slightly younger) over Den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis.

    • Jimmy P
      December 1, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Abreu was early in Sandy’s tenure when he was most militant about plate discipline and the value of walks. Abreu was the poster boy for that approach and that was the word he preached from Day 1: Approach, approach, approach.

      Hudgins coached Abreu in Winter Ball and came away raving about him.

      In TC’s defense, once Abreu was around, he had to give him a reasonable shot. He was supposed to be a beacon of light showing “the way.” Obviously, we all saw that he was toast.

      It’s also part of the reason why Sandy didn’t like Murphy, who never walked enough, wasn’t a looker, didn’t buy into the approach; and I’ve always felt it was why d’Arnaud struggled so much at first, because the Mets prescribed method didn’t fit with his “grip it and rip it” approach. His brain short-circuited.

      It’s why they hated Byrd who got into Turner’s ear (and probably his medicine cabinet). Those two decided not to listen to the coaches, not drink the Kool-Aid that Sandy/Hudgens were selling.

      Of course, when it came time to compete, Sandy was finally forced to go out and get a talented guy like Cespedes, who didn’t do anything “right” except hit the snot out of the ball.

      To his credit, slightly, Sandy doesn’t preach as much about “approach” as he used to when he first arrived. Repeated failure has chastened him a bit.

      • December 1, 2017 at 9:41 am

        ” It’s why they hated Byrd who got into Turner’s ear (and probably his medicine cabinet). ”

        I hate to say it, but I think you’re right about the medicine cabinet thing.

        And I hate to say this even more — it borders on sacrilege: keep your eye on Murph in that area, as well.

        • Jimmy P
          December 1, 2017 at 11:33 am

          I totally believe it with Turner, because he so openly credits Byrd for turning his career around. Player is on the ropes, career headed nowhere, and Byrd — a steroid user who turned his career thanks to those drugs — says, “I know a guy who knows a guy.”

          Just my opinion.

          With Murphy, I don’t believe it. He’s always been a hitter and an obsessive one at that. His approach changed. I was always frustrated by his willingness to dink balls the other way for singles; Long helped him learn how to pull more, drive more. I feel like he saw the light, building on established skills.

          But when it comes to PEDs, I think anything is possible. There’s just far too much money on the table for players to not want to push the boundaries a little bit, or a lot. How many millions did Bartolo earn after his mysterious surgery? How many millions did Byrd make after getting caught?

          If I’m Josh Smoker, I’d think long and hard about finding a new health shake.

          • Jimmy P
            December 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

            On Byrd, just looked it up.

            He was released in June of 2012. OPS was at .488. He went to the Mexican leagues.

            In 2013, he signed with the Mets, had an OPS of around 850, went on to earn another $17 million, essentially doubling his career earnings after the age of 33.

            He’s currently suspended for a full year after his second time getting caught on steroids. The first time was in 2012.

    • Jimmy P
      December 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

      I don’t believe that “chatter” effects trade value.

      If Mets are looking to trade him, given the club’s needs and limited resources, it’s obvious they have serious doubts about his ability to play 1B in the bigs.

      What team in baseball would give up a player of value for a guy the Mets don’t even want? It doesn’t matter what they “say,” it’s about what they “do,” and if the Mets thought he was any good . . .

  9. Eraff
    December 1, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Brian used The D Word—Dilson…OK…here’s where I soften my stance—and I’ve already admitted to a poor memory, so thanks for jogging it!

    I thought Dilson would be a 10 year starter and that he could make a few Allstar teams…and he seemed posied to begin on that. What happened??? He did get buried—did it ruin him?…did they bury him in an attempt to jolt him out of unknown bad habits?

    So….yeah—he was a highly talented and productive prospect who At Least deserved the opportunity to fail 2-3 years ago…he didn’t get that chance. …Dilson is still just 23 years old.

    • December 1, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Shoulder injury

    • Jimmy P
      December 3, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Dilson got a couple of chances and looked Smith-ish.

      He didn’t get extended opportunities. But again, teams have a developmental program. Coaches, scouts, a minor league system. Evaluations can and should happen at that level. Not everybody gets an extended turn at the Majors. That would be an insane policy.

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