When it comes to trades involving the Mets – whether made or speculated – entails a great deal of reading between the lines. So it goes with this ember in the Hot Stove boiler involving Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates.
Sure, I can throw a lot of crap against the wall like I’ve read on other sites about the Mets giving the Pirates Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, and while those are all names that could get it done, it won’t happen.
We all know GM Sandy Alderson is reluctant to dip into his glut of young pitching, but this time it isn’t a matter of being afraid of pulling the trigger, but rather trying to protect the Mets’ pennant hopes for 2017.
I’ve suggested using Gsellman and Lugo for work in the bullpen as well as a protection for their young starters, of which four are coming off surgery: Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery twice in the past three years; Jacob deGrom has had two surgeries; Matz has a problem staying on the field and had a significant bone spur removed; and Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years.
Then there’s Noah Syndergaard, who was diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow in July, but maybe this kid really is a Norse god as he seemingly pitched better after that, posting ERAs of 2.45, 2.84 and 2.83 in the last three months of the season.
With Bartolo Colon gone and four potential starters with health concerns, you can appreciate Alderson wanting a security blanket when his only sure thing is his youngest pitcher Syndergaard – now the undisputed ace.
But, Alderson’s apprehension goes deeper. You can also read into this the Mets really don’t know what to expect from their young rotation, and likely won’t until spring training. By that time, they might have to find ways to get Gsellman and/or Lugo innings before Opening Day.
Alderson acknowledged the uncertainty a couple of weeks ago saying, “Am I confident they’re all going to be 100 percent? Well that would probably be unrealistic to believe.”
It also tells you Alderson might be concerned the Mets’ window of opportunity is closing faster than he’d hoped. The Mets GM is hoping the pitching can hold up and he can get enough hitting from Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and the rest of the offense to carry them into October.
Sure, I’d like for them to get McCutchen, but you could see this coming. Trading for McCutchen, or making any kind of deal of that magnitude, pretty much went by the boards after they went all out for Cespedes, their top offseason priority. The Mets have all the pieces and the depth in pitching to save the day if needed. Start messing with that depth by dealing one or more of Matz or Gsellman or Lugo and you’re left tempting the fates.