There’s an old saying in baseball, “Pitching wins championships”. As far as I can remember, that quote always rang true even if it was often overused. If you looked at the history of the game, you’d be hard pressed to find championship winning teams that were lacking in the pitching department. You don’t even have to look back that far.
Just take the Detroit Tigers this year. They have a pitching staff already fortified with two Cy Young winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Most teams would be happy with that and call it a day but what did the Tigers do? They traded for another Cy Young winner in David Price by working out a three team trade involving the Rays and the Mariners, with the Tigers giving up centerfielder Austin Jackson and pitcher Drew Smyly.
Now granted, getting a Cy Young winner for outfielder Austin Jackson and pitcher Drew Smyly, is easily the coup of the year if you ask me but it does beg the question, does losing your best defensive outfielder and leadoff hitter really matter if you’re making your rotation the finest in the league? Apparently losing offense matters little to Dave Dombrowski, and dare I say rightfully so.
But Dombrowski’s not the only GM in baseball willing to sacrifice some offense for top notch pitching. Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for stud ace Jon Lester and backup outfielder Jonny Gomes. Am I the only one who see’s the pattern here?
All of this is leading me back home, to the New York Mets fan base, eager and rightfully wanting their team to be relevant again, who began demanding that Sandy Alderson trade their top prospect, pitcher Noah Syndergaard and just about every other significant farmhand for Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
First off let me be clear, Tulo is a stud and the best offensive shortstop in the game today and arguably ever. Unfortunately, he’s also made of Balsa wood and the Mets already have had a lot of experience with expensive, fragile yet immensely talented shortstops. Even Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie Unbreakable cringes when Tulo slides into second on a double as does Rockies owner Dick Monfort.
Now here we are post trade deadline and the Mets are still under .500 and lo and behold guess what we find out, Troy Tulowitzki will have season ending surgery on a torn labrum in his hip. Somehow all the voices wanting Tulo soo bad have been quieted as if their Alderaan was just destroyed by the dreaded Death Star known as the Disabled List. Now if you didn’t know any better you’d think that Tulo actually had the (mis?)fortune of becoming a Met since this injury would be the typical initiation into the orange and blue, but no.
You see Tulo has a history of leg issues dating back to 2008 when he tore his left quadriceps tendon. That along with the fact that he’s on the wrong side of 30, has a mammoth contract which pays him guaranteed money (157 million) until 2020, and you could say that those factors pretty much made Alderson’s decision for him. Oh yeah and Alderson would have had to mortgage the farm for him too.
So here’s the quandary (for SOME Mets fans). Do we trade a potential future Cy Young winner, because you know they grow on trees, or do you bite the bullet and build around the promise of an amazing pitching staff, supplanting your offense by developing players from within (Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Dominic Smith) and perhaps a free agent on a short term basis? Sure, Sandy could package Syndergaard and Montero and a few others and make a run at a bat but then again, so did Fred Claire.
You see Fred traded Pedro Martinez when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, an organization well known for their pitching excellence, for – wait for it – Delino DeShields. Yeah, the Dodgers needed a second baseman and a leadoff hitter and they got three incredibly unproductive years from DeShields whereas Pedro went on to be, well, Pedro. You think Claire wishes he had a do-over with that one?
Not all deals involving trading pitchers turn out that dramatically lopsided but can you seriously imagine Noah Syndergaard ending up in Colorado or Miami or wherever and becoming the next “Pedro”? That would be quite the legacy for Sandy to leave wouldn’t it? I guess Mets fans shouldn’t worry it’s not like this team has ever done anything like that before. I mean it’s not like they traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Ok, that was a low blow.
Sometimes you just have to go with the hand you have and right now, the Mets are holding potential aces. You don’t find arms like the Mets have that easily. Great offensive players, especially outfielders, are scarce in MLB right now (PED testing anyone?) so it’s not just the Mets who are looking for offense. But to have the potential pitching studs and to just trade them for a “name” is just dumb. Especially if the player everyone wants – while great when healthy – makes peanut brittle look like Kevlar.
Sorry, no deal.