The next few weeks leading up to the July 31st trade deadline will be quite telling about the future direction of the Mets and how they see themselves in 2015 and beyond. Most importantly, will Daniel Murphy stay or will he go?
I still stand by my earlier statement that the team isn’t as bad as their record suggests. I still feel that we’re still a bat away from some serious contention. Contention this year? Of course not. I never thought they were more than a .500 team this season anyway, and the run differential supports that they should be much closer to .500 then the 11 games under they currently are.
But they had several games where they blew out their opponents, so take away the couple of blowouts and their run differential is much worse, right? True – but the same also holds in reverse where they were completely blown out in several games. Throw out those games (like the 14-2 shelling against the Angels) and the run differential is completely flipped on the positive side.
Over the course of 162 games, every team is going to be blown out several times and every team is going to win some blowouts. If you take the top four blowout wins and losses the Mets have participated in this season (or just under the 10% outliers), the Mets run differential in blowout games is only +3.
With the above being said, this isn’t about discussing sabermetrics. This is about the direction the team is going. While they’re 11 games under now, they should be closer to a .500 team as the roster currently stands. If they’re currently constituted as a .500, middle of the pack team – how far are they away from taking that next leap toward being a contender?
The pitching isn’t the issue. It’s the hitting. If Sandy and company truly feel that they are (and should be) a .500 team right now (which Sandy coincidentally reiterated a day after my run differential post), then they should also truly feel that they’re not that far from taking the roster from a .500 squad to a contender.
If the Mets truly feel this way, then Daniel Murphy will still be on the roster come August 1st. Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey should all be there next season for a solid top three with players entering their prime and on the rise. Depending on if Bartolo Colon stays, and if he does, how he performs, that’s a solid four in the rotation. Rounding out the fifth spot would be Jacob deGrom with Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard also competing for the spot. (Where’s Wheeler? I hope I’m wrong, but someone’s going to go down to injury). The bullpen is much improved and is young and strong. The improvements to get this team over the hump will be needed on offense.
What does this mean? It means taking a step forward.
Career .291 hitters with doubles power don’t grow on trees and a team that would be acquiring one in a deadline trade isn’t going to be trading away a viable part of their current offense to obtain one. In other words, if Daniel Murphy is traded, it will be for prospects.
If Murphy is traded for prospects, it’s just another position in the offense that will now have to be rebuilt and could be a step backwards. Anyone being called up or acquired is still unproven and the upcoming free agent class of second basemen doesn’t include any upgrades over Murphy.
If Murphy is traded, it’s a sign that next year is either A) just another rebuilding year in the eyes of the front office or B) the team’s financial woes aren’t behind them and the team doesn’t want to spend the money to pay Murphy what he would make in the arbitration process.
If the answer is “A” then we’ve all been sold a bill of goods and even this optimistic fan will be pissed. If it’s “B” here’s my answer to that one – put a contender on the field and fannies will be in the seats.
Daniel Murphy isn’t a cornerstone, but he is part of the foundation, he’s in his prime, and he’s a proven asset to this team. Murphy is part of the solution, not part of the problem. He needs to stay in Queens.