I’m sure you have heard the old baseball adage “Let the game come to you.” These pearls of wisdom have often been uttered by the wise old baseball sage to the young up-and-coming player. Uttered so often in fact that it has become a cliche’.
It was meant to convey the application of self discipline. Especially to the young and less experienced, not to be too eager or too jumpy. See the ball. Hit the ball.
Now if you are a Mets fan like me, you love that simple advice and probably are hoping that all your Metsies were using that approach when in the batter’s box. Patience, calm, focus, then spring like a cobra. Use your skills wisely grasshopper. Play it close to the vest.
Well what if your front office played their part of the game the same way, like a poker game for instance, where any information is misinformation? Where for every truth, there are seven bluffs. Where things take time to develop and unfold. As a Mets fan, as a New Yorker, we don’t really like that part of it too much. The waiting. And it seems the longer we wait, the tougher it gets.
So I asked myself. “What am I waiting for?” What exactly? I live and die by my team. Every loss is like a tiny death. Every lost season is like a big one.
But lately I have begun to notice a change in the direction of the winds. Like a freshening breeze the Mets have started to shrug off the negativity. They have begun to relax, to have fun, to do well, to let the game come to them.
I feel as if I may now have a glimpse of the plan, a peek into the future. However, I am going to make several predictions and summations that may not be favored by everyone who will read this so, I ask your indulgence.
2016 New York Mets
Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher) Talk about drama. Whoever said it was easy to be a highly regarded rookie in NYC? No one. And Travis received his baptism by fire this season, there is no doubt about that. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I’d say Mets Nation has beefed up d’Arnaud pretty good. Any controversy he has to deal with for the rest of his career will seem like a walk-in-the-park compared to his sojourn through the treacherous waters of the 2014 season. Met fans went from ridiculously high expectations for him to incredible disappointment in him. They banished him from their hearts, their minds and their stadium. They all but forgot him. And then he returned. How many other catchers would you trade him straight up for right now? Not too many I’d wager. Not the Yankees catcher. Not the Nationals catcher, or the Dodgers catcher, or the Reds, or the White Sox, or the Blue Jays, or the Tigers, do you see where I’m going with this?
Kevin Plawecki (Catcher) Just because you have two talented young catchers, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to trade one of them. One back-stop rarely makes it through a whole major league season without being hurt, or dropping from exhaustion, or both. And there is truly something to be said for friendly competition to fuel one’s desire. I’m all for keeping both catchers. Ideally they will continue to increase in value while being subjected to less wear and tear. Even more important is that we could be maximizing production from the catcher position in this manner.
Lucas Duda (First Base) Another player who still has upside for the Mets. He finally has the confidence of his manager and he’s still gaining confidence in himself. The results of which are perhaps his finest big league season this year. Considering his massive power potential it’s a safe bet to assume he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Wilmer Flores (First Base/Utility) I have placed Wilmer here because a platoon at first-base with Duda could be a distinct possibility. I can see Flores getting his at-bats as a utility player on this 2016 Mets team. Besides playing at first-base, he could back up the other three infield positions and pinch hit.
Dilson Herrera (Second Base) They say good things come in small packages and that sums up Herrera. A natural spark-plug and superb as a table-setter, Herrera is more of your prototypical second sacker. He has already begun to win over Mets fans with his polished style of play and complete array of skills. He should man the keystone for the Mets in a way that will bring back memories of better times.
Matt Reynolds (Shortstop) Reynolds is enjoying his finest season as a pro this year. He has blown through AA by having a tremendous first half and is presently opening eyes around the league in the PCL. He has an advanced hitting approach and uses all fields well. He has put himself squarely in the middle infield prospect conversation and is poised to be making his big league debut anytime now.
David Wright (Third Base) As with any player there will always exist at least a remote possibility that they get traded. As far as David is concerned, I don’t think EL Capitano is going anywhere.
T.J. Rivera (Utility) T.J. has never been on many people’s radar I don’t think, except mine. I have truly enjoyed watching his career ever since he signed with the Mets as an undrafted free-agent in 2011. He has simply hit and excelled at every level he has played at and he continues to trend upwards in his development. A lifetime .311 hitter in 1619 professional plate appearances, Rivera plays second-base and shortstop, and profiles as an infield utility type.
Juan Lagares (Center Field) What can you say about Lagares? He’s a delightful player who continues to show upside, we fans love him and rightly so.
Nelson Cruz / Melky Cabrera (Left Field) This is where the Mets need to spend some money next winter on the free-agent market. They need a corner outfield bat that hits with authority and professionalism. Someone to hold down the fort while young players like Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo finish honing their skills. For your consideration I submit these two players as possibilities. Both are right-handed hitters (which balances well with Duda) and both have been outstanding in 2014. They will be free-agents at the end of the season along with the possibility of Alex Rios joining them on the open market. Cruz has been smoking home runs for Baltimore (28) and hitting in the high .280’s so far, while Melky has been hitting for a higher average (.299), less RBI’s and good gap power, but not as many homers (11). I think this is where the Mets desperately need to spend some money.
Matt den Dekker (Outfield) This guy can go get em in the outfield and you can play him anywhere. His bat is still developing but he shows some extra base power, and he’s still improving. I would consider him a very good fit as a fourth outfielder heading into 2016.
??? (Outfield) This is the Bobby Abreu role with the club. A veteran free-agent hitter and part time outfielder who can pinch-hit and mentor the young players. This roster spot will probably be filled by a veteran free-agent over the 2015-2016 off-season.
Matt Harvey (SP1) What can you say about the prospects of Harvey entering the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the Mets ace? Just this. Welcome back my son!
Zack Wheeler (SP1A) By 2016 Wheeler will have established himself as the 1A to Harvey’s numero uno status.
Dillon Gee (SP3) Dependable, reliable, underrated, and under the radar, Gee just gets the job done. You have to love pitchers like this and on a 2016 Mets staff that features mostly power arms, Gee will offset that rather nicely.
Jacob deGrom (SP4) One of the most pleasant surprises for the Mets and their fans so far this season is this young right-hander who is presently establishing himself as a solid middle rotation type guy. With the fragile nature of Jon Niese‘s health and the present absence of Harvey and Jeremy Hefner from the rotation, deGrom’s emergence could not have come at a better time. Look for him to be that much more established by the 2016 season.
Jon Niese (SP5) We all know what a fine pitcher Jon Niese is, and by today’s standards his contract is very team friendly. But the poor guy seems to be snake-bit, and he is always on the D.L. with one malady or another. To expect him to give you a full season and 32 starts is pretty much out of the question. That’s why you need that sixth starter who when he isn’t needed to start, can also pitch out of the pen.
Noah Syndergaard (RHP/SP6) Thor coming out of the pen in the sixth inning, can you imagine? How many pitching staffs have a luxury like that? Not many. By being the sixth starter you can control his workload so as not to overuse him, as he will still be only 23 years old at the start of the 2016 season.
Jenrry Mejia (RHP) A tremendous bright spot in the 2014 season. The way Mejia has replaced Bobby Parnell as the team’s closer has been quite remarkable. Especially considering the Mets dismal record at developing their own closers for the last 25 years or so. Mejia is like a breath of fresh air for a bullpen that has gelled as the season progresses.
Vic Black (RHP) Another reason for the bullpen renaissance is the hard-throwing set-up man acquired along with Herrera in the Marlon Byrd trade. Props to S.A. as that trade is looking better all the time for your Metsies.
Jeurys Familia (RHP) Ditto for ‘Family’ who again shows us Met fans why you need to be patient with these young players. He spent quite a while developing as a pitcher in the minors and like these other young Mets he was mentored by the great Wally Backman. He worked with some of the best minor league pitching coaches in the game. He struggled upon first reaching the “show.” But now he has let the game come to him and as his confidence grows, so does his success.
Rafael Montero (RHP) As the fifth righty in the pen, this talented young hurler can be brought along slowly and be put in situations to succeed. Like the other guys breaking in between now and 2016, he still may have a future as a starter, but by starting out in the pen he will be groomed for the role rather than being thrust into it.
Where’s Murph? I’m sure you noticed a while back that Daniel Murphy is no longer a Met in 2016. My sincerest apologies for dropping a bombshell on you this way. Don’t get me wrong, I like Murphy, I really do and I think he’s a fine ballplayer. He has worked his butt off and done everything the team has asked him to do. He is our only all-star this year for cripes sake. But let’s be real. Murphy was force-fed the position he currently plays on the Mets and doesn’t have a spot anywhere else. What was once an organizational black hole at the middle infield is now arguably an organizational strength. The Mets are extremely deep at second-base in particular as has been pointed out many times by various writers here on MMO. And one last thing. Let’s not forget it’s put up or shut up time for the Mets as far as offering Murph an extension. They were already shopping him at last winter’s Winter Meetings, and the fact that they didn’t trade him has only increased his trade value for them. And not that it should matter to a team in NYC, but by moving him now think of the $ they’d save!
So your probably wondering by now, whither goes Murph? And for what-ith? This is what I propose.
Trade him for an established and reliable, healthy and durable, left-handed reliever. A good one, a pro’s pro. Someone with a future ahead of him. The type of guy you need coming out of your pen if you are ever going to win a World Series. All you have to do is use a portion of the money you are saving on Murphy to pay such a player.
Steven Matz (LHP) The 25th man to make the 2016 Opening Day Roster is the fire-balling young southpaw. He works in tandem with the experienced lefty described above that was brought in to stabilize the pen. I’m not saying I think Matz is destined for the pen, I don’t, but as a rookie just breaking in to the majors it would be a good thing for him to experience for a season.
Alright now how do you want it, the quick way? Or the slow way? Roughly 80% of this roster was developed by the Mets organization. Three outfielders and a couple of relievers were acquired through trades or free agency. This is obviously the slow way. It’s akin to watching paint dry.
But here’s the thing, as this system is designed it should be self-perpetuating. The talent is heavy at the bottom of the organizational ladder, and is now scattered throughout the rest of the system. It’s a pipeline, and as long as the front office remains aggressive and ahead of the curve at bringing in lot’s of young talent, the machine should continue to run.
It may take a little longer to get there Mets fans, but this seems to be where we are heading. What do you think?
Are you willing to let the game come to you?