Below is a transcript of an email conversation between Chris Flanders and me that happened earlier this week. All stats were correct at the time we were discussing it, which means there have probably been changes by the time you read this.

Brian: Chris, let’s get right to it. One thing that I know we disagreed on was at the trade deadline you were ready to trade whatever it took to get Juan Soto. No one doubts Soto’s tremendous talent. But it was my take at the deadline that the Mets couldn’t get a trade done without including Francisco Alvarez and that made it a deal killer for me. Instead, I wanted the club to go after Willson Contreras, even though he was just a rental. And I was willing to trade Mark Vientos and possibly Ronny Mauricio to make that happen.

Now, Contreras is on the IL, Soto has an OPS 138 points lower than he did with the Nats and Josh Bell is in sub-Plaweckian territory since the trade. On top of that, Alvarez is crushing it in Triple-A since coming back from the IL and Mauricio has 10 HR in his last 199 PA. My question to you: Did the Mets dodge a major bullet by not shopping at the top of the market at the trade deadline?

Chris: Nice job digging that up Brian! The trade deadline deals really have been something to assess. I’ll do my level best to still defend my original position, that unloading for Soto was a gamble worth the risk. From the get go, I think as a whole, Darin Ruf and Daniel Vogelbach have been disappointments, Ruf in particular. Mychal Givens hasn’t been a whole lot to celebrate, even though there is improvement. We gave up folks and got pretty little back.

The thing is with trades like moving Soto to San Diego (in my best Ron Burgundy), what is hard to capture is the adjustment period to a new division, new pitchers, a new clubhouse a new pennant race, and a complete change in life. My money says this dip in Soto’s output is just the transition to a new world. Look at Freddy Freeman or Francisco Lindor. Had Soto gone to the Mets, practically nothing would have changed. He would be seeing everything all the same, except facing Mets pitching! He even could have lived in DC still. My sense is that there would have barely been a hiccup in his performance and we would be +4 up on the Braves. As for who it would have cost for 2.5 years of Soto – the exact time frame of Cohen’s desire to win the World Series. Let’s look at Brett Baty and Vientos as top-end markers of the pipeline who are now up. Life in The Show is a lot different than AAA. Notwithstanding the Braves rookies, all the sudden the hits dry up. Pitchers are way better, and that shiny OPS gets some real tarnish. Baty’s OPS has dropped on the order of 350 points. Vientos is sporting a .206 OPS. Will Alvarez be better than either? I’ll go with probably; but who knows? So, the Mets gambled on “gain little, lose little.’ I question whether that’s a smart approach. Look at Mookie Betts, or Babe Ruth. The staggeringly rare opportunity for capturing lighting in a bottle means you do it.

Changing direction, a bit, what about the performance of the Mets across this September versus the raging wildfire we are used to seeing this month? I predicted a 20-6 record, which will be the first time in three months I’ll have been quite wrong. Am I missing something about what has happened this month from your perspective? I feel it’s been a letdown, even a disappointment.

Brian: I’m not ready to even hint that a guy like Vogelbach, with a 140 OPS+, has been a disappointment. Yes, it’s frustrating watching him let pitches middle-middle go by. But it’s pretty clear that he’s someone other teams do not relish see coming to the plate. He’s got great bat speed, legitimate power and an elite OBP. I’ll also push back on Givens, who got off to a rotten start with the Mets but has been everything the club hoped he’d be after his first three appearances in blue and orange. In his last 15 games before going on the IL, Givens had a 2.65 ERA and a 1.235 WHIP. Those are great numbers for your fourth reliever and match pretty much exactly what he did with the Cubs this year before the trade.

As for the Mets and September, it’s easy to be disappointed because the quality of opponents that the club faced make you think the record should be better. But the goal is to win two out of every three games played. They’ve played 23 games and they’re 14-9. If they won two out of every three, they’d be 15-8, so they’re a game worse than what we would prefer seeing. Winning two out of three is a .667 winning percentage. That’s between the Mets’ current .630 mark and the Dodgers’ amazing .693 mark. If they go 6-2 the remainder of the way, they’ll finish September with a .645 winning percentage. If they go 5-3, that’s a .613 mark.

Finally, why are people so enthralled with Tylor Megill? We can recognize that he seemingly came out of nowhere last year to give the club much-needed innings. And he stepped in and performed admirably at the start of the 2022 season, too. But this is a guy with a 4.73 ERA in 133.1 IP in the majors and in three relief appearances this year, has allowed 2 ER in 2.1 IP. There’s a lot of stuff to dream on with Megill. But when push comes to shove, is he likely to give the club anything more than Baty or Vientos would in the playoffs? Those are guys to dream on, too.

Chris: One thing about the season stats is that they do little to identify the mysterious “clutchness” of a player. I’d like to see a lot more of key hits like game winners or rally starters. Frankly, I don’t see that in Vogelbach, even though I appreciate his total offense. I still see him as mostly a slap hitter who watches an abnormal amount of first-pitch center-cut strikes and swinging at balls. I hope that he cements a place as a well above average hitter as a DH.

I am retreating to the more granular level with September play than the “isn’t winning 2 of 3 successful?” Of course, that would be true, but here after the rotten home loss against the Marlins last night they are 14-10 for a .583 winning percentage against the worst teams in baseball. Meanwhile, the Braves are not letting up. In this month where the team had complete control to take the division and get a bye, this likely 100-win team is now heading for a wild card game where anything can happen. I am for sure calling this September a bad run – especially so given that Atlanta is playing better. It’s looking like the car ran out of gas before October.

I hear ya about Megill. I think there is a lot of memory about his splashy start last year, but that’s not where he is anymore. Pushing this further, the falling apart of all starters past Scherzer is making the post season alignment for the rotation and relievers quite a task. It’s sure hard to be excited about carrying either Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker as SP4 knowing that their starts are just as likely to rapidly be mop-up games as quality starts. I am even somewhat concerned that Edwin Diaz is not getting enough innings to be fine-tuned for October given the Jekyll and Hyde performances resulting in win big – lose big games, which is a sign of questionable starting pitching and an offense that simply is hard to describe. Right now, I’d say “advantage Braves” to win the East and move through the playoffs.

3 comments on “On not making bigger deadline moves, the Mets’ September record and the love for Tylor Megill

  • BoomBoom

    Enjoyed this. Makes me think back to the chats a la fangraphs could be a fun way to spark more interaction. Maybe even bring on some guests

  • AgingBull

    Loved reading this dialogue between knowledgeable Mets fans who are not afraid to voice an opinion and back it up with rationale. More of this please!

  • NYM6986

    It’s Sunday night and I know too much, but this back and forth was a lot of fun to read even now. Thanks.

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