Sell, Sandy, Sell

An article by posted on July 8, 2014

The current standings for the Mets comes as no real surprise. I predicted on the air the Mets would win 78 games this season while losing 84, a modest improvement over recent years. In doing so, I also admitted I might be caught up in preseason hype because a serious analysis of the roster left me suspicious the 2014 Mets could be any better than the 2013 edition.

ColonYes, we added Bartolo Colon, a move I endorsed, but I was hard pressed to believe he could replace Matt Harvey’s outputs. Yes, we added Curtis Granderson, a move I heartily endorsed, although I couldn’t speak with confidence that coming off a season of injury he could replace the outputs of Marlon Byrd. And, yes, Travis d’Arnaud was our everyday catcher, another move that excited me, but I could only hope a young Travis would put up offensive numbers like those of a seasoned veteran. As for the rest of the position players, they were pretty much the same.

The one area of our roster where we have made significant improvements is the bullpen. But, at the time we made preseason predictions, our bullpen looked nothing like the pen waiting in the wings at Citi Field. In fact, one of my biggest frustrations in the early season was all the talk of the experience of Valverde and Farnsworth over the power arms and potential of Black, Familia, and Mejia. Rejoice, Met fans, at least we seem to have that part of the game moving in the right direction.

If the Mets are sincere about their rebuilding plan, we have to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. That means wearing long-term lenses to consider any moves that might help our chances of fielding a competitive team in the future.

I understand, this is not what Met fans want to hear. And, playing the part as sellers, not buyers, or not holding pat, reinforces the perception that the Mets are locked into always being a ‘one year away from the turn around year’ team.

But, Met fans would like to hear it straight. If we have a plan, tell us clearly what it is. And, if that plan has to do with stockpiling young prospects who might be used to obtain future major league ready serviceable pieces, tell us so. Then don’t squander a chance to move personnel in a lost season to accelerate the timetable in executing that plan to provide a competitive major league baseball team.

Don’t patronize. Tell us what it is you are trying to do and then get busy doing it.

daniel murphyBeing a seller does not necessarily mean moving Daniel Murphy. Murphy is a proven major league hitter, one of the few position players who uses the dimensions of Citi Field as a hitting advantage, a steady, consistent threat at the plate. In addition, Murphy is homegrown, a guy who has done whatever the organization has asked playing at least four different positions as need dictated. Murphy is a guy with a work ethic who makes the most of his talent. Modern baseball reality is you will need to pay for the services of a player with Daniel Murphy’s profile.

If $8 or $9 million dollars is beyond the Mets financial capacity, and they think Wilmer Flores is ready to provide adequate major league play at second base thus freeing the budget to spend in other areas to build the team, tell us. Understand, we won’t like it. A New York City team in the NYC market has a fan base that believes we should be able to afford a second baseman in the Daniel Murphy price range. If that’s not the case, tell us. We’ll scream. We’ll shout. We’ll curse your name, but in the end we will appreciate the candor.

As sellers, moving Bartolo Colon and/or Bobby Abreu would be our most likely move. I loved the Colon signing for three reasons. First, I figured Colon would be a stabilizing fixture in the starting rotation in the beginning of the season. If somehow we were in the playoff picture in 2014 by mid season, a wily, veteran like Colon would be a huge asset. Finally, if by the all-star game we were out of contention, which is the case, Colon could prove to be an enticing option for pitching starved postseason contenders, allowing us to move him for pieces that might better fit into a long-term plan.

Understand, it is only a contending team that would take a flyer on Colon. At his age, Colon is not a player to build a future around. That means we could only receive a highly rated prospect or two in moving the veteran pitcher. Any talk of obtaining a major league ready position player for either Colon or Abreu is pure fantasy.

Looking forward I would take the prospects. This is the area where Sandy Alderson has worked the best in the past and I’m hopeful he moves aggressively once again. Although he has struggled in an up and down season, Zack Wheeler, a pitcher obtained in just such a previous move, is part of a longterm Met improvement plan. Vic Black and Dilson Herrera are also key clogs in the Mets’ efforts to move forward. Every Met fan understands the potential Black adds to our bullpen, and first impressions of Herrera at the Double-A level are very promising.

Yes, you’ll be ridiculed. Prospect Park, the AAAA Mets, and all the rest. Don’t pretend. Don’t placate. Buck up! Follow the plan. Go out and bring in some additional future talent.

Sadly, it does not look like Chris Young can be moved, although his name should certainly be on the table. We have already spent one-half of his salary. If you can bring in a future prospect worth a look, buck up, admit you made a misjudgment and agree to pay 70-80 percent of the remaining salary commitment and move Young to bring in some potential future talent. Once again, shout “I told you so” but appreciate the candor.

As a mid-season seller, the only possibility of bringing in a major league ready position player would come by dealing with another team far removed from the pennant chase, a team with a similar long range plan looking to move one of their few proven major league players on a poorly performing team for a prospect or two that might point to a better future. That is, a team like us.

The first half of the 2014 Met baseball season has been very difficult to take. More and more I find myself paying attention to the play in Las Vegas and Binghamton. Thank heavens I have the B-Mets.

I never believed the Mets were a contending team going into the season, so that’s not really the issue. It’s the pretending we’re something that we know we are not that drives me insane.

The time for a steely backbone is upon us. If there is a plan, this is no time to waver. Don’t pretend we are what we are not. It fools no one and erodes confidence and trust.

We are sellers, so sell. Opportunity awaits. Bring in some prospects that will increase the flexibility to make the low cost moves that a franchise of limited resources must make to someday become competitive.

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About the Author ()

MMO Minor League Analyst John Bernhardt is a retired public school teacher and administrator, who still coaches high school baseball. Growing up in a Yankees household, Bernhardt was an ardent Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fan. When the Yankees fired Yogi in his first season as the Bomber manager, curiosity turned to passion when the Mets signed Berra as a player/coach and he has pulled for the Mets ever since. In retirement, John writes the sports for a local weekly, The Catskill Mountain News and hosts Tip-Off, a Friday morning sports hour, from 8:00-9:00 on WIOX, 91.3 F.M.

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