Brian Kenny: Ten Rules To Fixing The Mets

An article by posted on December 1, 2013

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Last night Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny), formerly of ESPN and currently at MLB Network tweeted out his rules for fixing the Mets. Aside from being a fan of his, I found these rules to be interesting and agreed with most, if not all of them. So I decided I’d pass them along to you guys with some thoughts of my own.

I couldn’t agree with this more. I know there’s been a lot of talk about signing a couple of veteran pitchers to “bridge the gap” until Matt Harvey gets back and guys like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero arrive. That would be a foolish move and a poor allocation of funds. If the Mets want to go out and sign one potentially difference making pitcher like Matt Garza or Masahiro Tanaka – then that’s great. You can never have enough good pitching. However, signing a guy like Bronson Arroyo to a three year deal reeks of desperation. Desperation to win enough games to keep fannies in the seats but not truly contend. There’s plenty of pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Erik Goeddel and Cory Mazzoni who could be given a look in the rotation to see what we have. Any Mets fan looking to be realistic has to know that 2014 isn’t about contending– not seriously anyway. Which brings me to rule #2….

Like I just said, 2014 isn’t going to be the year we compete. I know that the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson pointed to 2014 as the year to look forward to and many of you are up in arms. The sad truth is that Matt Harvey’s injury pushed the entire timeline back a bit. The smartest thing for the front office to do at this point is to try to find ways to improve the team without compromising future offseasons. Because while I know many of you want to see Alderson go out there and sign a big name, there isn’t a name big enough to make this team a winner. Maybe next season the market changes and teams aren’t handing out the absurd contracts we see going around this year. Maybe that’s when we make our big splash. When Harvey is back. Wheeler has a full season in the majors under his belt. Syndergaard and Montero have gotten a taste of the majors. Maybe then we make the signing or trade that we need because we didn’t overreact or overpay this winter.

While I don’t think this rule is vital, I understand where Mr. Kenny is coming from. Obviously the bullpen was a problem for the Mets last season. Clearly that can’t continue. But more than that, relievers make for great trade chips come July. If you can buy low on a few guys and they have bounce back or breakout year you can really turn those guys into solid prospects. It’s a great way for a team stockpile organizational depth.

This may be my favorite rule. I’ve long been a supporter of the belief that if you don’t have/can’t sign star players you can almost create one by using a platoon. There are plenty of players out there who are adept at doing just one or two things well. However, their flaws tend to make teams see them in a negative light. The key is to find players who complement one another. An example would be a guy like Jeff Baker pairing up with Ike Davis to form a first base platoon. Davis’ struggles against lefties are well documented. Baker is a career .298 hitter vs LHP and hit .313/.407/.667 against them last season. Neither player is a stud, but combined they could give you the production of a well above-average first basemen.

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. David Wright is our best player and the face of this franchise. If we ever want to lure a free agent here, Wright is going to be the guy to help do so. He does everything the organization has asked of him both on and off the field. Injuries have plagued him in the past few years but since 2005 only Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Chase Utley can top Wright’s 47.8 WAR.

This one caught me by surprise. I’m glad to see someone in Kenny’s position and with his knowledge of the game go out of his way to support Lagares. There seems to be a split amongst Mets fan when it comes to our young centerfielder. Many don’t think he provides enough offense to justify a starting spot. However, center field is such an important defensive position that I think you can live with a lack of offensive production. Lagares is already one of the better centerfielders in baseball no matter what your statistical preference is. Plus I’m not sold that he won’t hit. Will he be a star? No, but I think he can hit .250, draw a few more walks and I see more power in that frame.

Everyone knows that the best way to get an out is to not allow the hitter to put the ball in play. Well, the Mets have a lot of pitchers in their system who strike out batters at a high rate — especially in the bullpen. We also know that pitchers only have so many bullets in their arms. So I believe Kenny is wondering why guys like  Jack Leathersich, Jeff Walters, Goeddel and others remained in the minors this year while the bullpen struggled at the major league level. I’d have to agree with him.

This ties in with rule #4 and also the example I brought up using Ike. If you’re forced to work under a budget, as it’s now become clear the Mets are, platoons are the best way to go about it.  However if another team wants to “pay nicely” for the chance to fix Ike that’s fine also. Rule #4 should also apply to Lucas Duda if he’s going to be the one to stick around.

This is the one rule I am firmly against. In a previous rule Kenny mentions “half players”, a.k.a platoon players. I don’t understand why you’d want to pay $20MM+ annually for one. I think my dislike for the idea of signing Choo is well documented. If not, click here.

I don’t necessarily think either of those players are part of the problem, but I’m not completely sold on them being part of the solution. If we’re going to platoon at first base I’m partial to giving Ike a shot at the righty side of the platoon. Also if you’re telling me Josh Satin is the only option versus lefties then I’ll take it, but I like the Baker/Davis platoon that I mentioned earlier simply because Baker provides power. As for Lucas Duda, I’ve heard that there’s just as much interest in him as Ike. If that’s the case I’d prefer to trade Duda because Davis has more upside. However I could be swayed if we’re being offered a better return for Ike.

Overall I think Mr. Kenny touched on a lot of important topics regarding the Mets and their future. If they’re to build a consistent contender they need to formulate a plan or set of rules and stick to it. They’re not as far off as you think. There’s plenty of teams in the league that would love to have our starting pitching. Or a star third basemen who says all the right things. Or a centerfielder who makes the difficult look routine. The key is to decide what mix of players we want to put around them and how to go about it. There are times to spend, and there are times when being patient or frugal is the best play.  We can’t let some promise we were made a couple years ago cloud our judgement. Otherwise we end up overspending to put a band-aid over a bullet hole.

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About the Author ()

Kirk Cahill is a native New Yorker and lifelong Mets fan. He's recently taken to blogging and enjoys following prospects and frequenting minor league games. You can follow him on Twitter @KirkC_.

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