It’s Time for Sandy to Upgrade Shortstop

An article by posted on April 22, 2014

nick franklin

After Jenrry Mejia and the bullpen turned in spectacular performances to help the Mets improve to 10-9 last night, I thought to myself, how the hell are the Mets one game above .500 given how bad their offense has been to start the season? It’s even more mind-boggling when you consider the caliber of teams they have faced. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Mets have squared up against the Nationals, Reds, Braves, Angels and now the Cardinals; all teams that are significantly better than the Mets on paper.

It’s really amazing when you think about it. Curtis Granderson has been useless, David Wright really hasn’t been David Wright until recently, Travis d’Arnaud is just starting to put it together, Chris Young played his first game since opening day a few days ago and Juan Lagares has been MIA for about a week now.

To say the Mets offense has been anemic would be a compliment. At least people with anemia are currently alive. The Mets offense is dead. It does not have a pulse. But somehow the Mets are still in it. This tells me they can remain in it for a significant amount of time with increased performances from players like Granderson and Chris Young, the continued emergence of Travis d’Arnaud, the return of Juan Lagares and most importantly, an upgrade at shortstop.

Ruben Tejada can only dump so many baseballs over the second baseman’s head before other teams catch on. I hate to beat a dead horse as I’m sure most Mets fan can agree that Tejada is not the answer but that does not mean we should stop talking about it. It’s time for the Mets to move on from Ruben Tejada and there’s no better time than now to make a move.

There seems to be some sort of urgency developing in Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 5-17 and already eight games back in the National League West. If they feel they have any sort of chance at playoff contention, the time to do something about their horrendous start is now. The problem with Arizona is, of course, their pitching. And it’s a very big problem at that. They are dead last in all of baseball in ERA (5.69) by a sizable margin. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is seemingly dead set on calling up uber prospect Archie Bradley after earning Super Two status so he’s not currently an option. The fans are fed up. Both Kirk Gibson and Towers are on the hot seat and they really do not have any other options at this point.

If I recall, the D-Backs have a certain shortstop the Mets would certainly be interested in. No, I’m not talking about Didi Gregorius. The Mets need offense, not defense. I’m talking about Chris Owings. Owings is off to a decent start, batting .290 with four stolen bases. Mets fans got a brief look at him during the Mets’ three game series in Arizona and it was Gary Cohen who referred to Owings as a ‘gamer’. I’m sure Arizona would love to make him their shortstop of the future but you’d have to believe they realize he’s a much more attractive trade chip than Didi Gregorius.

With their current situation, the D-Backs could possibly be willing to move Owings and possibly even at a lower price than before the start of the season. They were rumored to be interested in a top catching prospect so maybe if you add a guy like Kevin Plawecki to a deal that also includes a proven major league starter like Jon Niese or Dillon Gee, Towers might be willing to budge.

There’s always Nick Franklin as well, who I have always seen as a better fit for the Mets than Chris Owings. He may not be the better overall prospect but I think it’s safe to say his offensive ceiling is higher. He’s got 15-20 home run power with good speed and the ability to hit for average. He is also a more patient hitter who could maybe profile in the leadoff spot for the time being.

The problem many see with Franklin, however, is his defense. This ‘problem’ is a bit overstated in my opinion, as most scouts believe Franklin can be fringe average to average at the position for the foreseeable future. The Mets could always move him to second base if they choose not to extend Murphy, while going after a shortstop in free agency next offseason where the crop isn’t half bad. At second base, Franklin could actually be good enough to save runs on defense.

The only problem I see with acquiring Nick Franklin for a decent price is the fact that Brad Miller is currently in a monstrous slump. It is unclear whether or not the Mariners believe Franklin is capable of manning shortstop but after recently calling him up, they might be inclined to give him some reps at shortstop and an opportunity to seize the position away from Miller. The Mariners, however, desperately need pitching as well due to James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker all currently residing on the shelf.

Whether it’s signing Stephen Drewtrading for either Owings or Franklin, or giving Wilmer Flores a fair shot at the job, the Mets desperately need to do something about their shortstop dilemma. If they expect to float above .500 for the rest of the season, it’s a necessity. The rest of their offense is nowhere near good enough to justify Ruben Tejada or dare I say, Omar Quintanilla, at shortstop for the rest of the season. It’s time for Sandy to pick up the phone and make a move.

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About the Author ()

Peter grew up in Brewster, NY and has been a Mets fan as long as he can remember. He now resides in Massachusetts and despite the recent success of the Red Sox, he has remained loyal. He is currently a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst working towards a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Follow Peter on Twitter: @peteanselmo

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