The trade deadline is upon us and the Metsecutives have some real decisions to make. Are the Amazin’s buyers or sellers? Has the talent on the farm trumped what is available in the marketplace? Can we make a strong run for 2nd Place (likely) or even a Wild Card (not likely, but possible).
No matter what, the Mets are potentially both buyers and sellers. They have plenty to deal. On the major league level, the names bandied about the most are Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell and Marlon Byrd. Murphy and Parnell would truly be examples of selling “high.” Byrd is another case entirely since he is delivering more production on a $700,000 salary than players being paid 10-20 times that much and is a free agent at the end of the campaign. Clearly, the Mets can afford to dump one of their soft-tossing right-handers and Dillon Gee would likely deliver the biggest return. On the minor league level, the Mets are loaded with a score of desirable arms and some stellar position prospects like Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello and Kevin Plawecki.
With today’s demotion of Captain Kirk, just one switch-hitter and only two lefties in the pen and none currently as starters, the Mets have to be wary of the balance equation. They need a powerful left-handed bat in the OF and another southpaw starter to go with a hopefully healthy Jon Niese.
So, what’s Sandy Alderson & Company to do?
Lets start by answering these questions…
HAVE THE METS TOO MANY TALENTED OUTFIELD PROSPECTS TO DEAL FOR A VETERAN?
This is a real conundrum, which is being defined by the excellent play of several prospects. Clearly, Juan Lagares has turned heads with his stellar routes, heads up all-around defense, quick release, rifle arm and overall speed. But this kid has also improved his stick work each and every month to the point where he is now a pretty tough out. They also have a defensive standout in Matt Den Dekker, now at Vegas and starting to show some offensive prowess after a slow start coming back from a long stint on the DL. Then, there’s the intriguingly athletic Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the powerful bat of Andrew Brown. Not to be outdone, the B-Mets have two outstanding performers in Cesar Puello (lots of tools, but a potential suspension) and Darrell Ceciliani. That’s three hitters from the right side and three from the left. No doubt, Lagares will be in demand, but the others, not so much. Of course, Eric Young Jr. has to be penciled in somewhere (LF, CF or 2B) due to his intuitive play as a leadoff hitter, baserunner and run scorer. That still leaves Lucas Duda, who seems to be a better fit as a platoon first-baseman with Josh Satin (or on someone else’s roster). Mike Baxter is yet another interesting role player who could be a useful cog.
Will Sandy look to re-sign Marlon Byrd (one year: $4 million) or bring back Carlos Beltran (two years: $18 million)? Shin Soo Choo (three years: $33 million) would be a real draw for NY’s burgeoning Korean community, but he would also come with the most expensive price tag. Nothing else seems to make a whole lot of sense when it comes to a veteran presence. Making a deal for Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson and letting all these youngsters battle it out seems to be a whole lot smarter, cheaper and could deliver a far bigger upside. The thought of bringing Beltran back for some postseason redemption is awfully appealing, while having Byrd as a platoon partner for a Pederson or Nieuwenhuis is also attractive.
CAN THE METS AFFORD TO DEAL DANIEL MURPHY?
There is some 2B depth on the roster and in the system. First of all, if Young Jr. does not play the OF, he has to play 2B, where he is probably as good defensively as Murphy. Then, there is the talented Wilmer Flores and his ready-for-prime-time bat. His glove is probably slightly south of Murphy right now. There is also the potential platoon of Omar Quintanilla and Justin Turner, who can both provide depth at the other infield spots. Want more 2B options? There’s always Jordany Valdespin, who is tearing it up in Vegas right now, but it is hard to imagine gracing the field at Citi ever again. Some other near-ready prospects include Rylan Sandoval and Danny Muno.
So, is it time to deal Murphy, who is always going to hit for decent average, have about 55-60 XBH (mostly doubles) and provide adequate glove? It really depends on where the Mets decide to play Young and what they can get for the streaky Murphy, who should be a prized commodity to a number of clubs looking for a complimentary player who can play 2B, 3B or 1B. If the Mets decide to go with Young at 2B, they have two very good trade chips in Murph and Flores, who is destined for 1B or DH. And right now, the Mets would be selling high on the likable and admirable Murph. The bigger question is whether the Mets can afford to send an effective left-handed bat packing?
WHAT TO DO AT FIRST-BASE?
The 2013 season is turning out to be quite remarkable in terms of depth in the Mets system at all positions, not the least of which is 1B. Few of us could have imagined Ike Davis would have a first half slump that was longer and more profound than his 2012 first half swoon. But he did and it is. So devastating it has been, that virtually everyone acknowledges it cannot continue or ever happen again. Non-tendering Ike is a real possibility even if he picks it up a bit in August and September. As with the OF and 2B, there is depth in the system and we have a taste of it already on the major league roster in Josh Satin, Lucas Duda and even Andrew Brown. More importantly, there is depth on the farm. The promotion of Allan Dykstra (83H, 83BB, 87K, .300BA, .465OBP), a left-handed on-base machine with some power and glove, from the B-Mets as a September call-up makes a ton of sense. Some of us believe that the only position the talented Wilmer Flores can play for the Mets is 1B, but is he a better hitter than Satin? Well… he has more power. Just for good measure, the Mets have two excellent prospects in the low minors—the right-handed hitting Jayce Boyd and lefty Dominic Smith, this year’s first-round draft choice.
WHAT WILL THE CATCHING CORPS LOOK LIKE IN SEPTEMBER (and beyond)?
No doubt, the Mets have prospect depth behind the dish, but the d’Arnaud injury really puts a damper on what to do with John Buck at the trade deadline. The best guess is that Buck remains with the club for the balance of the campaign with d’Arnaud getting the bulk of the playing time in September as a call-up. Unfortunately, this means that intriguing prospect Juan Centeno (the only left-handed batsman in the group) and toolsy prospect Fernando Pena (son of Tony) will likely not get a look-see from Mets fan, while at the same time destined to open the 2014 season in Las Vegas. It is far-fetched to imagine two rookie catchers on the Amazin’s 2014 roster.
Anthony Recker has shown some promise in terms of power, athleticism and handling the pitching staff (a better staff ERA with him than Buck), which might be enough to secure the backup job for next year as well as some increased playing time. And with Kevin Plawecki a real candidate for Mets Minor League Player of the Year, who will likely open at Double-A, the outlook is promising indeed from the depth perspective.
IS JOSE REYES DESTINED FOR ANOTHER LAST PLACE FINISH?
Who would have thunk it? I still believe the Highlanders will finish last, but right now, it sure looks like the off-season retooling of the Jays has been the antithesis of what the pundits predicted. Yet, not as bad as what happened to the Fish in 2012. Things can still change for the better, but the Red Sox look like the real deal and the Rays and Orioles are not about to fold. It is also hard to imagine that the Dickey/Thole/Nickeas for Buck/Syndergaard/d’Arnaud/Becerra deal will not turn out to be one of the worst in Jays’ history, and one of the best for Alderson & Company. The $16 million two-year contract for Melky Cabrera is also an ouch!
So, why bring this up? Reyes is still a favorite of Mets fans and a Long Island resident. Can Alderson pull off a deal to get Jose back where he belongs?
FIVE MOVES IN THE NEXT FIVE DAYS
1. Deal Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell and John Buck to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Kenley Jansen and a “B” prospect
3. Deal Dillon Gee and Jacob DeGrom to the White Sox for LSP Hector Santiago and LRP Santos Rodriquez
4. Bring up Juan Centeno to platoon at C with Anthony Recker
5. Bring up Wilmer Flores to play 2B
FIVE MOVES ON SEPTEMBER 1
1. Bring up Travis d’Arnaud to catch most of the remaining games
2. Bring up Joc Pederson to platoon with Marlon Byrd
3. Bring up Allan Dykstra to platoon with Josh Satin
4. Bring up Jack Leathersich as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen
5. Bring up Greg Burke to get right-handed hitters
Will all of this happen? No way! Can one or two of these deals get made? Why not?
Enjoy the countdown.
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