Yesterday’s walkthrough of one possible route of roster reduction left the Mets’ 40-man roster looking like this:

C (3) – Mike Nickeas, Ronny Paulino, Josh Thole
IF (9) – Ike Davis, Nick Evans, Zach Lutz, Daniel Murphy, Josh Satin, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner, Jordany Valdespin, David Wright
OF (5) – Mike Baxter, Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez, Angel Pagan
SP (7) – RA Dickey, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, Chris Schwinden
RP (6) – Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, DJ Carrasco, Bobby Parnell, Josh Stinson

A total of 30 of the 40 spots would be occupied. If the Mets were to re-sign Jose Reyes before he hits the open market (which I, for one, hope they can do), that would move the count to 31, leaving 9 spots for November call-ups, the Rule 5 draft, and the rest of the offseason. That number could shrink if the Mets hang onto borderline guys like Herrera and Pridie or untested guys like Alvarez and Rodriguez. Or that number could grow if I’m wrong about the Mets hanging onto Carrasco or any of the arbitration eligible guys. A lot remains to be seen. But settling on 9 open spots gives us at least some idea of who the Mets might add to the 40-man in November ahead of the Rule 5 draft.

The Virtual Locks

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF (2012 age: 24) – Selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft, Captain Kirk was raking against AAA pitching when a shoulder injury sustained in early June sent him to the DL for the remainder of the season. He’s probably the position player not on the 40-man who is currently closest to being a big leaguer. He’ll be added.

Jeurys Familia, SP (2012 age: 22) – The Mets signed Familia as an international free agent our of the Dominican Republic in July of 2007. After struggling with his control in 2010, he put together an excellent 2011 campaign. Some speculate he’ll be a reliever in the big leagues, not a starter, but either way he’s one of the Mets’ top pitching prospects and as safe a bet as any to be added to the 40-man this November.

Reese Havens, 2B (2012 age: 25) – Selected in the 1st round of the 2008 draft, Havens has been productive when he’s been on the field, which hasn’t been very often. Still, the power he delivers from the 2B position is too much to leave exposed.

The Other Options

Robert Carson, SP (2012 age: 23) – Selected out of High School in the 14th round of the 2007 draft, the left-handed Carson has struggled since reaching AA in the middle of the 2010 season. However he’s talented, he’s still young and he’s left-handed. He’s headed to the Arizona Fall League, so he may still be auditioning for a spot, but I think the Mets will probably protect him.

Collin McHugh, SP (2012 age: 24) – A few months ago, the Mets’ 2008 18th rounder wasn’t in this conversation. But ever since roster needs bumped him up into the AA rotation, he’s been excellent. And as if to put an exclamation point on his charge into 40-man roster consideration, in his last start of the year he threw a complete game, 1-run, 5-hitter in which he issued 1 unintentional walk while striking out 11. He’s also headed to the Arizona Fall League, possibly for further evaluation, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t awarded a spot on the 40-man.

Brad Holt, RP (2012 age: 25) – Just when it seemed okay to finally write the formerly impressive 2008 supplemental 1st rounder off, he gives you a reason to take a second look. His performance out of the pen after being removed from the AA rotation, while nothing to write home about, was markedly better than he’s been as a start since mid-2009. And he seemed to get better in the role as the season went on. It’s tough to say whether that blip of success is enough to recover some of that 1st rounder sheen. I’d probably take my chances and leave him exposed, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him get protected, or if not, selected.

Juan Lagares, OF (2012 age: 23) – The corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic earned a mid-season promotion to AA after a very strong first half in St. Lucie, and then could do no wrong with the bat once he got to Binghamton. His 2011 come with a gigantic BABIP-related red flag, and the fact that he stopped walking almost entirely in AA is perhaps even more alarming, but he’s headed to the AFL anyway. He doesn’t hit for enough power to be a traditional corner OF, but given his scorching 2011, I could see a team taking a shot on him in the Rule 5 draft and trying to hide him on the bench.
It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him go unprotected and undrafted. His performance in fall ball may go a long way in deciding whether he’ll get the call.

Cesar Puello, CF (2012 age: 21) – Signed out of the DR in 2007, Puello is a toolsy, young prospect. The power that scouts saw despite his hitting just 1 HR in 469 PA in 2010 is starting to emerge (10 HR in 2011). The move from right to center (provided he can stick there defensively) is what makes him really interesting. He’s not big league-ready, but neither was Jesus Flores when he was left exposed and got claimed (and successfully retained) by the Nationals a few years ago. Sandy Alderson’s strategy with young, high-ceiling position players remains to be seen, but I think he’s the most likely A-ball hitter to be protected.

Wilmer Flores, SS (2012 age: 20) – The Mets signed the Venezuelan shortstop on the day he turned 16 back in 2007. His size and lack of speed make it unlikely he’ll be able to remain at SS, so the further he descends down the positional ladder, the more he’ll have to hit to remain relevant. He’s appeared on 3 straight BA Top 100 lists, so he’s been highly thought of for awhile. But I can’t see a team being able to hide him on a roster all year. My gut says they’ll leave him exposed, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they didn’t.

Jefry Marte, 3B (2012 age: 20) – The Dominican third baseman is headed to the Arizona Fall League, which is the only reason I’m mentioning him here. He strikes me as way too raw for any team to risk selecting. I’d be very surprised if he was protected this year.

Other long(er)shot names that could come up: Jose De La Torre, Mark Cohoon, Kai Gronauer, Rhiner Cruz, Allan Dykstra, Erik Turgeon, Gonzalez Germen, Wilfredo Tovar, Pat Misch, Mike O’Connor

Right now, my guess as to who will be called up to the 40-man roster in November would be Nieuwenhuis, Familia, Havens, Carson, McHugh, Holt, and Puello, which would bring the 40-man roster (which after my subtractions was at 31) back up to 38, leaving the Mets 2 open spots for free agents and/or the Rule 5 draft. Is that likely to be right on the money? Absolutely not. My own visceral reaction is that they’re going to have more room on the roster than that this winter. But that’s my specific take on how the next 3 months
or so might generally unfold., bringing the Mets’ 40-man roster to this:

C (3) – Mike Nickeas, Ronny Paulino, Josh Thole
IF (11) – Ike Davis, Nick Evans, Reese Havens, Zach Lutz, Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes, Josh Satin, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner, Jordany Valdespin, David Wright
OF (7) – Mike Baxter, Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Angel Pagan, Cesar Puello
SP (10) – Robert Carson, RA Dickey, Jeurys Familia, Dillon Gee, Collin McHugh, Jenrry Mejia, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, Chris Schwinden
RP (7) – Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, DJ Carrasco, Brad Holt, Bobby Parnell, Josh Stinson

One last thing to keep in mind, especially with regard to trying to predict who will be protected and who might be selected in the Rule 5 draft, is that it’s not always obvious just by looking at the numbers or listening to the rumors. Last year, I expected Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, and Josh Stinson to be added, but Armando Rodriguez was a big surprise (to me at least). As was Manny Alvarez, who wasn’t added to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but to prevent him from leaving via minor league free agency. Additionally, up until a few days before the draft, I had no expectation that the Mets might lose a player. Then BAM, Elvin Ramirez is the 3rd player selected, after reports he was touching triple digits on the radar gun in winter ball. Point is, surprises happen and a lot can change between now and November 18th (the deadline for protecting players) and December 8th (the Rule 5 draft).

Click here to read Part I

13 comments on “Mets’ fall 2011 40-man roster math, Part II: Addition

  • […] here to read Part II Related Posts:Mets’ fall 2011 40-man roster math, Part II: SubtractionSizing up the […]

  • Metsense

    Thanks Chris for the in depth look and information that a regular fan could not cultivate on their own. It is appreciated.

    • Chris Walendin

      Thank you very much, and I’m glad you enjoyed the info and opinions. Although, FWIW, I don’t consider myself to be anything more or less than a regular Met fan (okay, okay, a kinda nerdy regular Met fan who enjoys transactions and procedures rules and uses a few spreadsheets to keep track of things).

  • Chris

    Let me echo the sentiment. Well done Chris…its greatly appreciated.

    Chris F

  • Brian Joura

    I’ll be disappointed if the Mets keep fewer than 40 and risk losing Flores and Marte. Especially if they keep Holt and Stinson to do so.

    How close was Gronauer to making your list? I could see him sneaking on here with the team’s lack of depth at catcher.

    • Chris Walendin

      Given the lack of catcher depth and the fact that Gronauer got an AFL assignment last year, you’re right, it wouldn’t be that much of a shock if they protected him. I don’t know a ton about his receiving skills, but I think he’s at least adequate back there. And if he had been able to replicate his 2010 in St. Lucie this year in Binghamton, then he’d have probably been on my list. But the bat dropped off enough this year that I don’t see another team claiming him and then keeping him in the Majors all year. He was close enough that I mentioned him in the list of names that might come up, for what that’s worth.

      Stinson’s already on the 40-man, so to not protect him would mean they’d have to waive him, making him available to every other team WITHOUT the Rule 5 restrictions, which is a riskier move than simply leaving another guy unprotected. As for Holt, he’s probably the “last one in” of the group I suggested they might protect. If you want to put Flores or Lagares in there instead, I wouldn’t give you too much of an argument. I put Holt ’cause I think he’s the most likely of that trio to be selected. Generally speaking, I’ve gone back and forth on risking Puello, Flores, and Marte all year. That’s the order I’d protect them, I just ultimately decided to draw the line between Puello and Flores.

      As for the open spaces, I expect the Mets to make at least one selection of their own in the Rule 5 draft, so I’d be very surprised if they went in with a full roster (which would mean they couldn’t make a pick).

      Leaving a guy like Flores unprotected is a gamble, but it buys you another year of control if it works out. And perhaps more importantly, it buys you an extra available spot on the 40-man roster for the entire 2012 season (one that Flores would have otherwise had to occupy). I’m very eager to see how Sandy Alderson will handle these decisions.

  • Beebop

    Boy flores was a top 3 prospect for 3 seasons and now he won’t be protected? Makes you see just how bad the farm system has become.

    • Chris Walendin

      If the Mets do decide to leave Flores exposed, I wouldn’t see it as an indictment of the whole system necessarily. It’s just that Flores is still really far from the Majors. That doesn’t mean he’s not still a valuable prospect. It’s just that a team selecting him would have to keep him on their bench all year long. That’s a pretty hefty price to pay for a prospect who’s never played above A-ball with questions about where he’ll ultimately fit defensively whose value is still largely based on projection as opposed to results.

      Deciding who to protect and who to leave exposed isn’t as simple as just selecting your best eligible prospects. It’s a balancing act between overall potential and proximity to the Majors. You’re not only thinking about who you’d least like to lose, you’re also thinking about who’s most likely to be selected, given the significant Rule 5 constraints placed on selected players. And it’s also worth mentioning that it seems to be a lot easier to hide a pitcher than a position player for a year on most Major League rosters.

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  • JoeBourgeois

    Good job — with only one caveat: It seems pretty clear from recent leaked comments that they’re not gonna keep Paulino.

    • Chris Walendin

      Thanks Joe. I agree about Paulino. When I put this piece together about a month ago, I hadn’t heard any of the negative rumblings about Paulino, so for ~$1.5M he seemed like a decent bet to be kept. Now, not so much. If they don’t retain Paulino, though, I expect them to replace him on the roster with another catcher. So from that perspective, it shouldn’t drastically affect the makeup of the 40-man roster.

      Generally speaking, I’m very much looking forward to the end of the World Series, when the offseason will really get started. Then I’ll be able to see whether my predictions were only kinda wrong, or severely wrong. We’ll see!

  • Beebop

    Flores was the man, now he’s just another prospect. Martinez was the man,now you wonder if he’ll ever get 500 ML ABs. Havens can’t stay on the field. Satin and Duda like Murphy don’t have a position. It’s no wonder the farm system has been ranked so poorly. Alderson has a lot of work to do.

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