The Khalil Lee saga is over.

The final nail in his coffin was a domestic violence charge. That’s a very serious situation that will hopefully play out in the courts with appropriate justice, whatever that may be. It’s not my intention to make light of the situation. However, my belief is that Lee’s Mets tenure should have ended due to his inability to make enough contact with the ball. Especially given his dismal production last year in his second season in Triple-A.

In 2021, Lee put up a .951 OPS at Syracuse and had many thinking he was a future starter in Queens. The only problem was that shiny OPS came with a .402 BABIP and a 29.6 K%. The former wasn’t likely to repeat but the latter was a near certainty to happen again. Back in Triple-A for most of 2022, Lee posted a .692 OPS with a .314 BABIP and had a 33.3 K%.

Nothing about that screamed future MLB piece, much less starter, much less star. Yet the Mets kept him on the 40-man roster, at least because there were no outfielders ready to take his spot. It was no harm, no foul until the Mets signed Tommy Pham. That signing was certainly a foul in and of itself. But to add insult to injury, the Mets 40-man roster was full and they had to open up a position for Pham.

In an ideal world, they simply swap Pham for Lee. But the Mets instead cut LHP Tayler Saucedo, who got picked up by the Mariners. Saucedo was an interesting pitcher, a lefty with crossover potential due to his sinker. He may not turn out to be much of a loss. But to me he had a much, much higher probability of contributing … something to the Mets than Lee and it was a pretty giant mistake to cut him first.

Shortly after the domestic violence charges became public, the Mets DFAd Lee and signed Sam Coonrod, who has been awful in four stints in the majors. In isolation, Coonrod is an okay 40th man on a 40-man roster. But when you look at the big picture, my opinion was that Saucedo had much more upside. Yet he was lost so that they could keep a guy with a giant hole in his swing.

Generally, Billy Eppler has done a fine job as Mets GM. But it’s hard to look at the Pham-Lee-Saucedo thing as anything but a disappointment in the utilization of two 40-man roster spots.

The only saving grace is that the lottery ticket that the Mets gave up to get Lee originally has not paid off for Boston. Freddy Valdez had a .689 OPS as a 19 year old in the FCL in 2021, which wasn’t bad. But he followed it up with a .574 mark in the same league last year. And that was not good at all.

There’s still a chance that Valdez puts it all together and has something of a career, however small that chance may be. If before the domestic violence charges came to light, you offered me Valdez for Lee, that’s a trade I would have made 100 times out of a 100. A 1% chance of making an MLB career is better than a 0.005% chance. Now, after the domestic violence accusations, that chance for Lee has likely disappeared completely.

13 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (2/8/23)

  • Hobie

    Every time I turn around, Pham is in the way, blocking the sun.

    • T.J.

      Mets are going to borrow the 1979 Pirates catch phrase for this season. I can see the yearbook cover now “The 2023 Mets – We Are Phamily”.

  • Woodrow

    If the 40th man on the roster is a big deal this team must be loaded! And they have Uncle Steve’s money! 100+ wins?

    • Brian Joura

      I get that this is not a big deal in the overall scheme of things.

      Still, I’d prefer not to make sub-optimal decisions anywhere on the roster.

      Oh – Hobie, I laughed.

  • Metsense

    Roster construction is very important. The Mets weakness are right-handed DH, backup centerfielder and catcher. Narvaez is a offensive upgrade McCann as the Mets await for Alvarez. Last year they avoided using Marte in centerfield but this year they are apparently going to play Canha when Nimmo needs a rest or Marte if Nimmo an injury. Pham’s didn’t didn’t solve the DH or backup centerfielder problem. Profar would have been a better choice than Pham. He is younger and had a better 2022. He would be $2-3m more expensive too. Maybe he didn’t want a reduced role either. Vientos should be the choice, then Profar and then Pham. The backup centerfielder problem can’t be solved because there aren’t major league quality backup centerfielders available. All Eppler can do is sign a depth piece to a minor league contract and hope for the best.

    • Woodrow

      Those problems don’t look too big to me. Two good defensive catchers and Alvare on the way. Escobar as DH if/when Baty steps up. This team is loaded. 100+ wins? Wire to wire?

  • JimO

    Plus news just came in that Bryn Alderson is leaving.

    • ChrisF

      Good bye and good riddance. We’re finally clear of them.

  • Metsense

    I was surprised the Eppler didn’t sign Andrew Chapman , a left-handed reliever that could have supplemented Brooks Raley. It could have been done at 1/ $6m and the team option second year.
    Another option would have been Michael Fulmer, a 29-year-old reliever, that supposedly got under 1/$5m contract.
    Profar would have been a better choice than Pham.
    There is a pattern though that the late signing players, or not signed players, opted out of their previous contracts. They weren’t superstars but they’re better than average players but they seem to be ignored by teams.

    • Brian Joura

      It’s two offseasons now that Eppler has had a chance to sign Chafin and he didn’t do it either time. Makes you wonder if he has some inside info that makes him shy away.

      • Jimmy P

        It seems to me that one of the changes in the game is that teams — well, let’s stick with the Mets for simplicity — the Mets prefer 5-6 relievers who are signed and expected to be “good.” But then the value move is relievers with options. The Syracuse shuttle. Moving 6-10 guys up and down all season to avoid burning out the dependable pieces. And, of course, oftentimes guys get hurt, so the option relievers become even more important. Plus sometimes a couple of those guys enjoy some real success.

        I’m saying: It’s pretty obviously the strategy now — the importance of option relievers — the guy the Mets just picked up off the Phillies, for example — rather than filling the opening day roster with 7-8 solid relievers at good salaries. I think this is generally true across baseball. They’ve crunched the numbers, analyzed the data, and come up with that strategy.

        • Metsense

          Precisely. The Mets only have five good relief pitchers; Diaz, Ottavino, Robertson, Raley and Smith. Maybe one of Peterson and Megill but the talk is they will will stretch out Syracuse. They had room for another good relief pitcher. Chapman or Fulmer would have fit the bill. Three relief pitchers on the Syracuse shuttle is one too many. Two is ideal, because as you said, sometimes the expected good relief pitchers get hurt.

        • Brian Joura

          I know you’re just the messenger and that this is not something you’re necessarily advocating to happen.

          To me, this seems like a really good strategy for teams with a strict, fixed budget. It seems myopic for the 2023 Steve Cohen Mets.

          Sam Coonrod stinks. Yes, he’s probably like the 15th option. But the Mets used 21 relievers who did not start a game last year and Mychal Givens had 1 start and 18 relief appearances. I don’t see why on a team where money is no object that you would only have five relievers that you’d write into the bullpen in pen and then have 20 relievers with options fight out for the last three spots.

          I don’t know all of the relievers that were available as free agents. I do know that both Ottavino and Robertson are baseball senior citizens and that Drew Smith has never pitched a full season in the majors. There are legitimate concerns about three of the five reliever locks (regardless of how much I like all 3) and knowing that – the organization decides to go cheap in not signing established guys for the pen? That seems unwise.

          I’m not a huge Chafin supporter. But since he’s been mentioned previously, let’s use him. In the past two years, he has 126 IP, a 2.29 ERA and a 1.040 WHIP. He signed for essentially the same contract as Tommy Pham. Now, you should get more value from your 4th OFer than you do from your 6th RP. But there’s a lot of reason to believe Chafin is better than a 6th RP and that Pham is worse than a 4th OF.

          Theoretically, would you rather have a RP give you 60 IP, with a 2.50 ERA and a sub-1.1 WHIP or a 4th OF give you 200 PA and an 87 OPS+ which is what Pham gave last year? The OF probably gives you more WAR but I’d suggest it’s much easier to find someone to give you the OF production that the RP production.

          Edit: Chafin had a 1.4 fWAR in 2021 and a 0.9 mark last year. Meanwhile, Nelson Velasquez had an 87 wRC+ in 206 PA and had a 0.1 fWAR. Adam Duvall had 315 PA, an 87 wRC+ and a 0.9 fWAR

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