Mets Merized Online » Chris Gaine Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:19:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 That Time Jose Reyes Was Almost Traded For Roberto Alomar Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:30:46 +0000 cabrera reyes

The Roberto Alomar trade stands out as one of the worst in Mets history for a litany of reasons.

A classic “He was good until he went to the Mets” player, Alomar had made 11-straight All-Star teams at the time of his trade before the 2002 season. He was the Hall of Fame headliner of a group of big-ticket acquisitions that included David Justice (for about a week) and Jeromy Burnitz. This trio was supposed to bring the Mets back to the World Series after a disappointing 2001 season.

Those three names contributing to a pennant sound absolutely ridiculous now, but it sure didn’t 15 years ago. Maybe it should have, though, because none of them lasted with the Mets, and the team went 75-86 in 2002. Alomar was the poster boy for this group; he was gone from the team by 2003 and out of baseball altogether by 2004.

Despite the Alomar trade’s failings, the Mets really lucked out in that they didn’t give up anyone substantial to get Alomar. They traded Alex Escobar (Their top prospect at the time, who never materialized), Matt Lawton, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder and Billy Traber. The only player from that bunch that ever did anything big was Lawton, who made one All-Star team but never did much else.

Thus, this trade isn’t usually put into the same category of atrocity as the ones that sent Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver or Scott Kazmir away.

But this trade did almost fall into that category. General manager at the time Steve Phillips offered the Indians an 18-year-old minor league shortstop by the name of Jose Reyes in the trade. Yes, that Jose Reyes. So if you thought the Alomar trade couldn’t have gone worse for the Mets, you are sadly mistaken.

According to a 2007 New York Post article, Phillips gave Cleveland the option of taking Reyes instead of Escobar. The Indians opted to take the highly-touted Escobar instead of a largely unproven teenager who had just two minor league seasons and had never been past Single-A.

Former Indians GM Mark Shapiro probably wishes he could have that one back. Escobar played just 74 games for the Indians, and Reyes played, well, a lot more games than that for the Mets. Imagine how much more hated Alomar would be among Mets fans had they ended up trading Reyes for the big-time bust at second base.

They should consider themselves even luckier that they held on to their No. 7 prospect that year, per Baseball America. He turned out to be a guy named David Wright. Maybe the Roberto Alomar trade wasn’t as bad as you thought it might have been, if you consider the alternatives.

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How Have Things Changed Since Zack Wheeler Last Pitched? Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:00:19 +0000 zack wheeler

One of the Mets’ bigger storylines this spring training season will undoubtedly be the return of Zack Wheeler. The former top prospect underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, and has missed each of the last two seasons. If it seems like he hasn’t pitched in forever, that’s because he hasn’t. And boy, have things changed since he last suited up.

If he does return to the mound this year, he will pitch for a much, much different Mets team than he last pitched for in 2014, but just how much has it changedt?

Here was the lineup for the last game he pitched on Sept. 25, 2014, against the Nationals:

1. Eric Young Jr.- LF
2. Daniel Murphy- 3B
3. Eric Campbell- RF
4. Lucas Duda- 1B
5. Wilmer Flores- 2B
6. Curtis Granderson- CF
7. Anthony Recker- C
8. Ruben Tejada- SS
9. Zack Wheeler- P

Daniel Murphy at third base, Eric Campbell in right field and batting third, Anthony Recker behind the dish, even Eric Young Jr. in left field are all things of the distant past. Other long-gone Mets who made appearances in that game include Bobby Abreu, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Satin.

But that’s not all. Here are some other noteworthy tidbits that show just how long it’s been since the Mets got their #WheelzUp (That was the team’s hashtag for Wheeler starts, in case you didn’t remember. Never really caught on like #HarveyDay did):

Yoenis Cespedes was playing for the Red Sox. He had just been traded to Boston in a trade that sent Jon Lester to the A’s. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz were both in Triple-A, neither of whom had yet to see an inning in the Major Leagues. Michael Conforto was playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Jenrry Mejia was the team’s closer– and a pretty good one too, yet to fail a PED test.

Rafael Montero was the Mets’ third-best prospect as ranked by Baseball America, just behind Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud. Jacob DeGrom was No. 10. Matt Harvey was coming off the best year of his career in 2013 after which he both finished 4th in Cy Young voting as well as went under the knife with Tommy John surgery. Lastly, the Mets hadn’t been to the postseason since Carlos Beltran took strike three looking.

So, yeah, it’s been a while since Zack Wheeler last pitched. Hopefully for the Mets’ sake, he can still realize the potential that he showcased in the past. It was only a couple of years ago that he was the Mets’ top prospect, ahead of all of the guys currently in the rotation right now. The potential is still there, so we’ll see if his health can allow it. Otherwise, he’ll be relegated to a 2014 Mets memory with Dice-K and Bobby Abreu, and nobody wants to see that.

Thoughts From Logan Barer:

Looking back at that 2014 team that went 79-83, it is almost impossible to imagine that the very next season the Mets would be in the World Series. Sandy Alderson and friends deserve all the credit in the universe for such a dramatic turnaround, creating such a competitive and exciting team. It will be an interesting spring watching Zack Wheeler attempt his comeback, and with his potential and elapsed time since his surgery, he is someone to watch for Comeback Player of the Year.

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National League East Offseason Standings Thu, 09 Feb 2017 12:00:39 +0000 alderson-wilpon-cespedes

Every team’s 2017 roster is almost set with pitchers and catchers coming next week. So that means that most of the offseason moves have been done, and we can finally start completely evaluating how well teams have done during the offseason.

There was no marquee acquisition in the National East this offseason, but it was far from a mundane offseason for any of the division’s five teams. So with that being said, here are the NL East’s offseason standings:

1. Atlanta Braves

Added: R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, Sean Rodriguez, Micah Johnson

Lost: Mallex Smith, John Gant, Williams PerezA.J. Pierzynski, Tyrell Jenkins

Atlanta is the only team in the division that substantially improved their team this offseason. Adding Colon, Dickey and Garcia to a rotation that already includes All-Star Julio Teheran gives this rotation a tremendous upside that could mean the Braves become the most improved team in baseball. Atlanta was 35-27 over the last 62 games of the season, so they could be a dark horse Wild Card contender this year.

2. Miami Marlins

Added: Edinson Volquez, Jeff Locke, Brad Ziegler, A.J. Ellis, Junichi Tazawa

Lost: Mike Dunn, Fernando Rodney, Chris Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Mathis

The Marlins blew 29 saves last year, the second-most in the National League. They’ve shored up that need by adding Brad Ziegler to the back-end of that bullpen, and Junichi Tazawa should help them in middle relief. Miami has also added two serviceable starters to their rotation, and they’ve done so without losing any key contributors to last year’s team. But they will sure miss Jose Fernandez, as will every baseball fan.

3. New York Mets

Added: Ben Rowen, Tom Gorzelanny, Adam Wilk, Cory Burns

Lost: Bartolo ColonJon Niese (But is that really a loss?), James Loney (same with that one), Alejandro De Aza (and this one), Logan Verrett, and possibly Kelly Johnson

Sometimes, no news is good news. And that’s what the Mets are going to have to hope this year. They didn’t add anyone despite bringing back Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins. But aside from Colon and Johnson they have pretty much every key contributor to last year’s team again this year. Everything for the Mets will rely on the rotation’s health.

4. Washington Nationals

Added: Adam Eaton, Derek Norris, Joe Nathan, Matt Albers

Lost: Wilson Ramos, Mark Melancon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez

The only reason why they aren’t in last is because the Adam Eaton trade will definitely help them in the short term. As Mike Rizzo noted, he has a very good WAR, and has a statline a rotisserie baseball owner would kill for. Trading your top two prospects– including someone as elite as Lucas Giolito– may hurt in the long-term, but that probably won’t have much bearing this season. They also lost Wilson Ramos, who was key piece for them in 2016.

And that wasn’t even the worst aspect of Washington’s offseason. After talk arose that they were trying to trade for both Andrew McCutchen and Chris Sale, they ended up with neither. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen both rejected them as well. In short, they got rejected more times than Beavis and Butt-Head when they glued hair to their face to get girls. No, nobody remembers that show?

But the worst part of their offseason was by far the fact that they did not add a closer. As things currently stand now, Shawn Kelley would be their closer. He has 11 career saves. The only other guy on their roster with extensive closing experience is Joe Nathan, a 42-year-old with nine appearances in the last two seasons. Outside of that, the rest of their bullpen is pretty abysmal. I wrote this article on why the 2017 Nationals look like the 2008 Mets, and as an impartial observer I must say it’s pretty accurate.

There are rumors that the Nats are in talks with the White Sox for David Robertson. If this deal were to go through, they’d probably one-up the Mets and Marlins on this list. If they don’t, it could be the undoing of their entire season.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

Added: Michael Saunders, Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit, Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek

Lost: Peter Bourjos, Ryan Howard, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Charlie Morton, A.J. Ellis

None of the players the Phillies acquired are particular difference makers. Michael Saunders was an All-Star last year, but he batted .201/.292/.367 after June 19. Kendrick could be a solid addition to the lineup, but he is coming off a year where he posted a career low in batting average. Buchholz, likewise, is also coming off of a down year. The Phillies are still rebuilding.

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It’s Official: The Mets Aren’t Cheap Anymore Tue, 07 Feb 2017 13:30:56 +0000 alderson-wilpon-cespedes

The Mets have spent more money on major-league contracts via free agent signings this offseason than they have in any other year since 2008 – almost a decade ago and before the news of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme wreaked havoc on the Mets ownership and thus team finances as well.

The signings of Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas amount to $136.2 million, which is a major uptick in what the team had been spending in years prior. Since the “Madoff scandal” first began to impact the Mets’ payroll situation in 2011, the team has spent over $100 million on acquisitions just once: Last season. So this could be the new normal for the Mets, although nothing is ever a sure bet with the Wilpons.

Here is a list of how much the Mets have spent each offseason since 2005, when they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran soon after general manager Omar Minaya replaced Jim Duquette:

2016-17: $136.2 million

2015-16: $110.5 million (Includes Cespedes and Cabrera.)

2014-15: $22.45 (Includes Michael Cuddyer.)

2013-14: $87.25 (Includes Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon.)

2012-13: $4.75 million (Includes Shaun Marcum and Brandon Lyon.)

2011-12: $17.8 (Includes Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco.)

2010-11: $8.05 (Includes Chris Capuano.)

2009-10: $75.35 (Includes Jason Bay.)

2008-09: $79.5 (Includes Francisco Rodriguez)

2007-08: $171.45 (Includes Johan Santana‘s $137.5 million contract extension signed after his trade to the Mets.)

2006-07: $52.38 (Includes re-signing Guillermo Mota and Orlando Hernandez.)

2005-06: $47.7 (Includes Billy Wagner.)

2004-05: $199.1

A lot of fans have criticized the Mets for spending like a small-market team. Well, it’s hard to imagine the Rays or the Athletics ponying up $110 million to keep their best offensive player. Just ask Josh Donaldson about that one.

The team has said for years that once the team starts contending, they would start spending more in accordance with that performance. It’s happening.

So, yeah. You can’t call the team “cheap” anymore, though many fans still probably will if the team struggles out of the gate.

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Barring Injury, Wright Could Set Mets’ Home Run Record in 2017 Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:00:43 +0000 david wright

One of the more overlooked players on the Mets heading into the 2017 season has been the one who’s been on the team the longest: David Wright. Wright has played in just 75 games over the last two seasons, and his play has definitely dipped from what it was during his heyday.

But if he can stay at least somewhat healthy, he will likely give the Mets franchise a moment they’ll never forget this year– regardless of whether the team makes the playoffs or not.

Wright is just 11 home runs away from breaking the Mets’ all-time home run record, which is currently held by Darryl Strawberry with 252 home runs. So it’s pretty likely that Wright will finally break this record, which is the only major quantitative offensive mark he has yet to top (aside from triples and steals). This will definitely be a storyline to watch this year.

Even though Wright’s play dipped last year– he only batted .226– he still managed to hit seven home runs in only 37 games. So there is still some power there evidently, though it remains to be seen if the herniated disc in his neck coupled with the spinal stenosis he already has will hamper this at all.

As far as the home run record goes, Strawberry initially became the record-holder in 1988, breaking a record that was originally set by Dave Kingman. The only other Met to muster up any sort of remote challenge since then was Mike Piazza, who finished his Mets career with 220 home runs in orange and blue (and black).

This is actually the fifth-lowest home run record for any active franchise. The only ones with lower records than the Mets are the Rays (Evan Longoria, 241)  Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman, 215), Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton, 208)  and the Padres (Nate Colbert, 174).

Behind Wright, the next-highest active Met would be Lucas Duda, who is 11th in Mets history with 108 home runs.

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Why Michael Conforto Needs to Start 2017 in Triple-A Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:30:24 +0000 michael conforto

It was hard to imagine a headline like this one year ago at this time. Michael Conforto had just come off of a 2015 season where he batted .270/.335/.506 in 56 games with an OPS+ of 130. He also became just the second player in Mets history to homer twice in one World Series game, and the first rookie to do that in 19 years. It looked like left field would be Conforto’s for a very, very long time.

Then came last season. Conforto under-performed all expectations in 2016, by batting just .220/.310/.414 with a 92 OPS+ in 109 games. The same guy who started a World Series game just months before was suddenly sent down to Triple-A. Then the Mets acquired Jay Bruce, leaving him without a spot to play regularly. And since the Mets have not been able to trade either Bruce or Curtis Granderson this offseason, the predicament still stands.

This isn’t to say that Michael Conforto’s career is a lost cause or that he can’t get back to regular major league starting job again. He’s still only 23, so that obviously can happen. But since he doesn’t have a regular spot to play in the majors this year, the Mets have no choice but to keep Conforto in the minor leagues for the time being.

Putting him in a bench slot — or forcing him to make a transition to first base — could stunt his growth and actually be counterproductive in unleashing his potential. He will not have a chance to hone his skills on the bench. Instead, unless an injury or a trade opens up an outfield spot, he should continue doing this exclusively in Triple-A.

It’s not ideal for someone who has spent as much time in the majors as Conforto has to be playing for an extended period in the minor leagues. And if a spot in the outfield opens up due to an injury or a DFA, and Conforto is doing well in the minor leagues, he deserves and would be well-suited in regaining his starting spot. But while he’s in Las Vegas, he will be able to continue to improve and develop into the perennial All-Star talent everyone believes he can be. Conforto won’t be able to do something like that on the bench in the majors.

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A History of Mets No. 1 Overall Prospects Thu, 26 Jan 2017 15:00:16 +0000 amed-rosario

Amed Rosario is the Mets’ best prospect, according to Baseball America. He even graced the magazine’s cover recently, so there is little doubt that he will be the most watched minor leaguer in Port St. Lucie this spring. Well, aside from Tim Tebow.

But if history is any indicator, that might not be a good thing for Rosario or the Mets. Baseball America has long kept a list of the top prospects of each organization. Only four of these players became All-Stars with the Mets. Since there’s nothing going on with the team right now besides bloggers speculating about Jay Bruce, let’s take a look at the last quarter-century of Baseball America’s top Mets prospects, and see how they panned out.

2016- Steven Matz-  The book is still out on Matz, but a 3.16 ERA in 28 career starts is pretty encouraging.

2014-15- Noah SyndergaardThe crown jewel of the R.A. Dickey trade has quickly become the biggest star of the Mets’ young guns in the rotation. And that’s only partially due to his spot-on Twitter game.

2012-13- Zack WheelerIt’s crazy to think that just three years ago at this time, Wheeler was considered to be the best of the Mets’ pitching prospects. He showed potential when he pitched, averaging 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014. It’s too bad he hasn’t pitched since due to an extended recovery from Tommy John surgery.

2010-11- Jenrry MejiaThe Mets called up Mejia at just 20 years old in 2010, and after a couple of starts it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t ready. Injuries, poor play and– ultimately– several PED suspensions kept him away from the field. He ended up making history, but not the kind you want to make: He became the first-ever player to get banned by MLB for life due to PEDs, after failing his third positive test last year.

2008-09- Fernando Martinez- Remember when it was the biggest deal that the Mets got Johan Santana without having to trade Fernando Martinez?

Martinez was hyped up for years, but he never panned out in the majors. He played in just 47 games with the Mets from 2009-11, batting .183/.250/.290 with a 46 OPS+. In hindsight, they probably should have traded him

2007- Mike Pelfrey“Big Pelf” was drafted ninth overall in 2005, and was thrust right into the major leagues the next season. He was wildly inconsistent with the Mets; check out his stat lines from 2007-2011:

2007: 3-8, 5.57 ERA

2008: 13-11, 3.72 ERA

2009: 10-12, 5.03 ERA

2010: 15-9, 3.66 ERA

2011: 7-13, 4.74 ERA

His career with the Mets ended in 2012 after a season-ending elbow injury suffered in his third start of the season.

2005-06- Lastings MilledgeAnother high draft pick, Milledge was drafted 12th overall out of high school in 2003. He reached as high as No. 9 overall on Baseball America’s top prospects list, and was immediately billed as a five-tool prospect.

But Milledge’s potential never really translated in the major leagues; he played 56 games for the Mets in 2006 and 59 in 2007 before being traded to the Nats for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. He was out of the majors for good by 2011.

2004- Scott Kazmir- Kazmir has won 108 games and made three All-Star appearances over his 12 years in the big leagues. But he never pitched for the Mets, obviously, thanks to one of the worst trades in team history in which the team traded him for journeyman pitcher Victor Zambrano in 2004.

2003- Jose Reyes- This one worked out, to say the least.

2002- Aaron HeilmanHeilman is obviously remembered for his worst moments– most notably letting up Yadier Molina‘s home run in the 2006 NLCS and countless blown holds and saves in big games during the following years. But he actually had some decent seasons as a reliever with the Mets: He posted a 3.27 ERA and 130 ERA+ from 2005-2007. Too bad nobody’s going to remember that.

1999-2001- Alex Escobar- Escobar is another guy who Mets fans were told minor league legends of for years. He’s the only player to take the No. 1 title three times, but Escobar’s MLB career was pretty forgettable– he played just 18 games for the Mets, all in 2001.

1998- Grant RobertsRoberts is best remembered being caught in a scandal when pictures of him smoking pot surfaced in 2002. His career went up in smoke soon after that; the Mets released him in 2004, leaving him with a 4.25 ERA in 76 career outings.

1997- Jay Payton- Payton’s rookie year with the Mets in 2000 helped catapult them to the World Series, as he batted .291/.331/.447 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs. He went on to have a sold decade-plus long career in the majors.

1996- Paul WilsonWilson was drafted No. 1 overall in 1994 and was the poster-child for the “Generation K” trio of Mets prospects, along with Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen. None of the three accomplished much with the Mets, and only Isringhausen accomplished much at all during his MLB career. Wilson went 5-12 with a 5.38 ERA for the Mets in 1996, which was the only season he spent in the majors with them. He was eventually traded, along with Jason Tyner, to the Rays in the 2000 trade that bought Bubba Trammell and Rick White to the Mets.

1994-1995- Bill Pulsipher- Much like Wilson, Pulsipher entered the majors with much hype but left with little fanfare. He made just 46 big-league starts from 1995-2005.

1993- Bobby Jones- Jones was a staple on Mets teams of the 90s, and was one of the few players from the early-90s doldrums to play for the 1999 and 2000 playoff teams. He went 74-56 with the Mets from 1993-2000, and was named an All-Star in 1997.

1992- Todd HundleyHundley is often forgotten because of the guy who became the team’s starting catcher after him. But he put together some very solid seasons for the Mets, namely when he set a single-season club record with 41 home runs in 1996.

So if you’re keeping count at home, just one player on this list turned out to be a long-term star for the Mets: Jose Reyes, although Syndergaard, Matz, and even Wheeler could join him in that category someday. Ten of the 17 players on here did go on to have at least a somewhat productive big-league career: Hundley, Jones, Payton, Heilman (though I cringe putting him in this category), Reyes, Kazmir Pelfrey, Wheeler, Matz and Syndergaard.

Moral of this list: Amed Rosario, no matter what the experts are saying about him, is far from a sure thing.

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Best and Worst Trades By Every Mets GM Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:00:45 +0000 sandy alderson

The Mets are a team with a penchant for bad trades. Anyone who’s been a Mets fan for more than a couple of years would probably finish that sentence with a handful of notorious trade fans consider to be the worst. You know which ones I’m talking about.

But while the players involved in these trades are usually memorable, the guys who pulled the trigger on them are often forgotten. You typically don’t name-drop Bob Sheffing when you think of the Nolan Ryan trade. Or Joe McIlvaine in the Carlos Baerga trade. And even in the off cases where the Mets make a good trade, nobody goes out of their way to praise Steve Phillips for acquiring Mike Piazza.

But the Mets have had their share of ups and downs over the years, and virtually every one of the 12 GMs in team history have been there to experience a little bit of both. So with this being said, here are the best and worst trades by every GM in Mets history.

* Disclaimer: Some of these deals may have been spurred on by ownership or executives above the general manager’s pay grade. (Ex: Mike Piazza, Tom Seaver)

Sandy Alderson (2010-)

Best trade: Alderson’s best trade has to be shopping R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole to the Blue Jays for Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and two other minor leaguers in 2012. It’s not too often that you’re able to flip a knuckleballer in his late-30s for a legitimate ace and a solid starting catcher. He initially took some heat for trading a fan favorite in Dickey, but he was definitely vindicated here.

Worst trade: A year before the Syndergaard trade, Alderson traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres. Torres and Ramirez both lasted just one season with the Mets while, Pagan became a key contributor to two Giants championship teams.

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Omar Minaya (2004-2010)

Best trade: Minaya acquired Carlos Delgado from the Marlins in 2005 in exchange for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas. Neither of the three players he traded away became MLB stars, and Delgado had a 121 OPS+ with the Mets.

Worst trade: Most of Minaya’s bad moves were free agent signings, not trades. But his most costly trade came when he traded Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson. Bell, who had a 4.92 ERA with the Mets from 2004-2006, made three consecutive All-Star games with the Padres from 2009-2011. Adkins pitched in one game for the Mets and Johnson played in just nine.

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Jim Duquette (2003-2004)

Best trade: There isn’t much to chose from here since Duquette was with the Mets for such a short period of time. And that short period of time wasn’t a particularly good one. But you’d have to consider his best, I guess, to be when he acquired Kris Benson (Anna’s husband) and Jeff Keppinger from the Pirates for Ty Wigginton, Jose Bautista (Yes, that Jose Bautista. He was a Met for about an hour) and Matt Peterson. Benson was serviceable with the Mets, and he was later traded for John Maine, so that’s what makes this trade so good(?) over the long-term.

Worst trade: Scott Kazmir. Need I say more?

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Steve Phillips (1997-2003)

Best trade: There’s no question about it: It’s the Mike Piazza trade. The Mets acquired Piazza in 1998 from the Marlins in exchange for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz. That’s a pretty good return on investment.

Worst trade: Phillips traded starting pitcher Kevin Appier to the Angels in 2001 to acquire Mo Vaughn. While Vaughn wasn’t as bad as many Mets fans remember (108 OPS+ as a Met), his career was finished due to injuries by early 2003. Appier, on the other hand, went 14-12 with a 3.92 ERA in 2002, and was a key contributor to the Angels’ World Series championship team that season.

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Joe McIlvaine (1993-1997)

Best trade: McIlvaine acquired Bernard Gilkey in January of 1996 for Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus and Eric Ludwick. Ozorio never played in the majors, and the other two played in the bigs only sparingly. Gilkey, on the other hand, had a short-lived spree of success for the Mets in the mid-90s. This included one of the best seasons in team history in 1996, when he batted .317/.393/.562 with 30 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Worst trade: In 1993, Carlos Baerga became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby to put together back-to-back seasons of 200 hits, 20 homers and 100 RBIs. He put up borderline Hall of Fame numbers from 1990-1995, batting .305/.345/.454 while averaging 16 home runs and 84 RBIs a year.

Then, in 1996, the Mets acquired Baerga for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino. Baerga became one of the biggest busts in Mets history, lasting just two seasons. Kent became the best power-hitting second baseman of all-time (albeit not with the Indians) and Vizcaino was a solid big-league starter who put together some decent years with Houston. This trade definitely did McIlvaine in as general manager.

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Al Harazin (1992-1993)

Best trade: Harazin’s best move in his short, forgettable time as GM was acquiring Bret Saberhagen and Bill Pecota for Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jefferies and Keith Miller. Saberhagen often gets dumped in with fellow big-ticket acquisitions of the time Bobby Bonilla and Vince Coleman, but unlike these two Saberhagen was about as good as advertised. He went 29-21 with a 3.16 ERA in four years with the Mets.

Worst trade: Harazin didn’t make any egregious trades per se, since he was only in charge of the team for such a short period of time. But he was the Mets’ GM during “The Worst Team Money Could Buy” 1992 season, which saw the Mets go 72-90 despite having the highest payroll in baseball– then 59-103 the following year. His worst move overall would have to be signing Bobby Bonilla to a then-record $29 million contract.

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Frank Cashen (1980-1991)

Best trade: Two trades stand out when recalling the Mets GM’s building of the 1986 team. The first of which is the Keith Hernandez trade, when he acquired the former MVP from the Cardinals for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey in 1983. The latter trade took place ahead of the 1985 season, when the Mets got Carter from the Expos for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. There is little reason to believe the Mets could have won the 1986 World Series without these trades.

Worst trade: Cashen is often remembered as the greatest GM in Mets history, but the end of his tenure was far worse than the beginning. This was on full display during the 1989 season, when he traded for Juan Samuel of the Phillies. In doing so, he sent Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, two key contributors to the 1986 team, to Philadelphia.

Samuel had averaged 20 homers and 50 steals a year from 1984-1987, but was coming off a down year in 1988 in which he batted just .243/.298/.380 and was performing at a similar level in 1989 when the Mets traded for him. Samuel played in just 86 games for the Mets, while Dykstra found new life (possibly from PED’s) in Philadelphia and McDowell pitched another six solid seasons in the majors.

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Joe McDonald (1975-1979)

Best trade: McDonald’s tenure didn’t have many highlights. But he was able to cross the paths of both Mets championship teams in a 1978 trade that sent Jerry Koosman to the Twins for minor leaguers Jesse Orosco and Greg Field. Orosco famously recorded the final out of the 1986 World Series, and appeared in more games than any pitcher in MLB history.

Worst trade: The Midnight Massacre. McDonald sent Tom Seaver to the Reds in 1977 for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry. The names really speak for themselves.

Bob Sheffing (1970-1974) 

Best trade: Sheffing helped energize the 1973 run by acquiring Rusty Staub from the Expos for  Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton. Staub played four seasons in his first stint with the Mets, batting .276/.361/.428 with a 123 OPS+.

Worst trade: In 1971, Sheffing traded Nolan Ryan and three other players to the Angels for Jim Fregosi. Ryan accumulated 5,221 of his record-setting 5,714 strikeouts after leaving the Mets. Oh, and not to mention the seven no-hitters.

Johnny Murphy (1968-1970)

Best trade: Murphy’s time with the Mets was cut short when he died of a heart attack in 1970. But he made a huge impact on the 1969 World Series team, perhaps none more obvious than the midseason acquisition of Donn Clendenon from the Expos in 1969. Clendenon was the Mets’ starting first baseman after the trade, and was named World Series MVP after batting .357 in the Fall Classic.

Worst trade: After the 1969 season, Murphy traded Amos Otis and Bob Johnson to the Royals for Joe Foy. Otis made five All-Star teams with the Royals, with whom he played the next 14 seasons. Foy played in just 99 games for the Mets.

tommie agee

Bing Devine (1967)

Best trade: Devine helped engineer the trade that sent Tommie Agee and Al Weis to the Mets for Buddy Booker, Tommy Davis, Jack Fisher and Billy Wynne. The Mets couldn’t have won the Series in ’69 without that one.

Worst trade: The Mets traded Ken Boyer Sandy Alomar Sr. to the White Sox for Bill Southworth and J.C. Martin. Although Boyer was past his prime, Alomar played another decade in the majors and was an All-Star in 1970.

George Weiss (1962-1966) 

Best trade: Weiss, who was the Yankees’ GM from 1947-1960 (A pretty good era in Yankees history), joined Casey Stengel in joining the expansion Mets after they were forced out after losing the 1960 World Series. He didn’t have much success with the Mets, but made his mark when he bought in Jerry Grote from the Astros for Tom Parsons. Grote made two All-Star teams and would remain the Mets’ starting catcher until 1977.

Worst trade: The Mets honestly didn’t have much talent to trade away at this time. But the worst would have to be trading Felix Mantilla to the Red Sox for Pumpsie Green, Tracy Stallard and Al Moran. Mantilla went on to become an All-Star with the Sox in 1965.

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Johan Santana Will Be Eligible for the Hall Next Year Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:00:26 +0000 johan santana no-hitter

The 2017 Hall of Fame class was one for the ages. Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Ivan Rodriguez will all be getting well-deserved plaques in Cooperstown after a star-studded MLB career.

As stacked as this year’s class was, the 2018 class may have even more stars than the last ballot– or any, for that matter. First-time nominees include Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen and Johan Santana. Combine this with holdovers from this year’s ballot like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez and Curt Schilling and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a writer who doesn’t use up all ten of his votes. Except for maybe Murray Chass.

Chipper and Thome are bar-none first-ballot guys. They’ll get in. Andruw should definitely get in at some point too, as might Rolen. But of these five first-time nominees, the one that probably has the biggest uphill battle to climb is Santana. In his prime, Santana was more statistically dominant than any other pitcher in his era. But his prime was short-lived, as shoulder injuries ended his days as an ace after the 2010 season.

Despite this, Santana’s dominance during his prime was unquestionably a Hall of Fame talent. There was a five-year stretch where he was bar-none the best pitcher in baseball, and put up stats that few could even dream of putting up in the hitter-heavy 00s. According to Fangraphs, here’s how he stacked up with all starting pitchers with at least 1,000 innings in the 00s:

- Second in ERA (3.03). Pedro Martinez was first with a 3.01 ERA.
- Second-best WHIP (1.07). Again, Pedro is No. 1 by just a hair (1.04)
- 15th in wins with 118, despite not becoming a full-time starter until 2003.
- Fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.13).
- Sixth in FIP (3.37)
- 11th in fWAR (37.6). Again, Santana wasn’t a full-time starter until midway through 2003.
- Third-highest strikeout rate (25.2 percent)
- Second-best batting average against (.219)
- Second-best ERA- (69). Fangraphs considers anything below 70 to be “excellent.”

And from 2004-2008, he leads all pitchers with at least 700 innings in just about every major statistical category. In fact, his stats during that period are some of the most eye-popping you’ll ever see for a pitcher.

He went 86-39 with a 2.82 ERA and 64 ERA-, struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings and boasted a 4.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He led his league in ERA and strikeouts three times during that five-year span, and led in WHIP four times.

It’s hard to deny someone who was that dominant for a five-year stretch a plaque in Cooperstown.

johan santana

A comparable player currently in the Hall of Fame, although Santana wasn’t as dominant as this legend was, would be Sandy Koufax.

Koufax had a short career, but he had a five-year stretch where he was perhaps the most dominant in baseball history. His advanced stats from 1962-1966 are not dissimilar from Santana’s from 2004-2008:

- Strikeout Percentage: Koufax struck out 26.8 percent of the batters he faced. Santana struck out 26.1 percent.

- Strikeouts per Nine Innings: Koufax struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings. Santana struck out 9.3.

- ERA-: Koufax’s ERA- during that span was -60. Santana’s was -64.

- Left on Base Percentage: 81.3 percent of Koufax’s baserunners did not score. The same goes for 79.6 percent of Santana’s.

So the Koufax-Santana comparison is more valid than you might think. Can’t wait to see the hate I get in the comments section for saying that.

Had Santana stayed healthy and pitched well for another couple of years, he’d be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. But that didn’t happen, and thus he will face an uphill battle to get into Cooperstown — and almost definitely won’t get in in 2018. But a few years down the road, hopefully he gets in, because he truly has HOF-worthy numbers.

Oh, and he brought the Mets a no-hitter. Not even Tom Seaver could do that.

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This Year’s Nationals Look A Lot Like The 2008 Mets Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:30:19 +0000 mark melancon

The Mets were perhaps the most star-studded team in baseball in 2008. They had the game’s best pitcher, Johan Santana, along with solid secondary rotation options in former 15-game winner John Maine and an inconsistent, yet dazzling Oliver Perez. They had a lineup that featured All-Stars Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright. They were destined to finally make a deep postseason run after the disappointing end to the two previous seasons. The roster was stacked with stars, except for in one area:

The bullpen. The Mets’ ‘pen eventually caused them to crash, burn and ultimately miss the playoffs. They had the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball, and this only got worse when closer Billy Wagner went down with an elbow injury that August. Once Wagner went down, journeyman middle-relievers Luis Ayala and Aaron Heilman helmed the closer’s role, without any success.

Nine years after that team crashed and burned in Shea Stadium’s final act, another team in the NL East bears an eerie resemblance to that 2008 Mets team. Luckily for Mets fans, that team doesn’t play in Flushing. It plays in Washington. The Nationals, despite having one of the most talented rosters in the league, have not addressed the gaping hole on their roster that is their bullpen. Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen have both scoffed at deals from Washington, leaving them with no pitcher on their roster with extended experience as a closer.

Shawn Kelley would presumably be the team’s top choice to close should the Nats not make an acquisition between now and the start of the season. He briefly served as the Nats’ closer in between Jonathan Papelbon and Mark Melancon in 2016. But he has never averaged more than one inning per appearance in a season, and his limited work as a closer makes him a less-than-ideal option for a contending team.

But in reality, Kelley is the least of Washington’s bullpen problems. Aside from Blake Treinen, who had a 2.28 ERA last year, the Nats’ bullpen looks pretty terrible. It includes the likes of Koda Glover (5.03 career ERA in 19 games), Oliver Perez (4.95 ERA in 2016), Trevor Gott (nine appearances in 2016), Rafael Martin (21 career outings), and Matt Grace (31 career appearances). That’s not a lot of experience for a team that is going to need to win some close games to come out on top in a contentiously-competitive division.

Washington could still sign a closer. Veterans Greg Holland, Santiago Casilla, Joe Nathan and Sergio Romo remain available as Spring Training inches even closer. Although none of these are ideal choices, they all have experience closing and playing in the postseason– something the team’s ‘pen currently lacks. But even if the Nationals do sign a closer, they have a myriad of other holes in the bullpen.

They’re going to need to hope Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark can consistently go seven innings every night, and that Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy can hit well enough to put games out of reach for their opposition. It didn’t work for the 2008 Mets though, which bodes well for the 2017 Mets.

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Jeff Kent’s Hall of Fame Case Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:00:31 +0000 jeff-kent-sf

Jeff Kent definitely won’t be making the Hall of Fame for anything he did during his five-year stint with the Mets. In fact, he probably won’t make it at all this year. A compilation of all BBWAA ballots made public (great work by Ryan Thibodaux) shows that Kent currently has 13.1 percent of the vote. This is about one-third of all Hall of Fame votes, so Kent would need a lot of anonymous friends to make it this year– or any year, for that matter.

But Kent is by far the most criminally under-supported player on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. He is the best offensive second baseman of his day, and the best power-hitting second baseman of all time. His 377 career home runs are the most ever by a second baseman by a country mile– 76 to be exact. He’s also third all-time amongst second basemen in RBI, tenth in hits, fourth in doubles, second in slugging percentage and third in OPS.

That kind of positional dominance should put anyone in the Hall of Fame.


Kent had a nine-year stretch from 1997-2005 with the Giants, Astros and Dodgers with offensive numbers that would make you think he played first base rather than second. During that span, he batted .296/.365/.529 while averaging 28 home runs and 110 RBIs a year and finishing in the top ten in MVP voting four times, including the year he won the award in 2000. Even during a time where home runs were rampant, this is pretty unprecedented for a second baseman.

Since this is a Mets site, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his career with the Mets. Kent was acquired in the David Cone trade with Toronto in 1992, and left in the Carlos Baerga trade in 1996. He wasn’t the star he’d later become while he was in Flushing, though he did have some good seasons. Kent batted .279/.327/.453 in 498 games over that span. His best seasons came in 1993 and 1995, where he hit 21 and 20 homers respectively. So perhaps he wasn’t as bad with the Mets as hindsight would have us remember.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention his defensive woes. He was one zone fielding run below average for his career, a -0.6 career dWAR and a .982 career fielding percentage. So he wasn’t a great defensive player, but the amount of value he brought to the offense was unprecedented at his position.

So Kent is essentially the Mike Piazza of second basemen. And he belongs in Cooperstown for the same reasons that Mike Piazza does.

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11 Best Mets Who Didn’t Play in the Postseason Tue, 10 Jan 2017 13:00:20 +0000 bernard-gilkey

Think of any of the Mets’ all-time great players.

Chances are you probably thought of someone like Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, David Wright or maybe one of the team’s current young aces. All of these players– and pretty much anyone typically considered to be in the Mets’ pantheon of greats– played in the postseason.

But for a team that has missed the playoffs 45 times in 54 postseasons, acknowledging only stars for playoff teams while leaving out the Mets who never got to October leaves out a lot of history. The Mets have had a strange existence in that they don’t make the playoffs very often, but they make them often enough that any decent player who’s on the team for a couple of years of time will probably get there at least once. For example, the Mets’ top 19 hit leaders have all played in the postseason for the team, as have their 12 winningest pitchers.

So making a list of top Mets players without postseason experience is kind of a difficult task. With this being the case, this list is going to be defined as players who played a minimum of three seasons with the Mets and how they performed did during their time with the team– no matter how short of a time that was. So here are the 11 best Mets who never played in the postseason:

Honorable mention: Lance Johnson

Johnson only played a year-and-a-half with the Mets, but his 1996 season was one of the best in club history. That year, he set Mets team records for hits (227) and triples (21) in a season while batting .333/.362/.479. He was traded to the Cubs in 1997, and never really replicated that success after that.

11. Dave Kingman

“Kong” was like a worse version of Adam Dunn. He hit 154 homers in 664 games with the team, but batted just .219/.287/.453. He had his most Kingman season ever in 1982, when he led the NL with 37 homers but batted just .204.

10. Steve Henderson

Henderson is probably best remembered for being a part of the “Midnight Massacre” that sent Tom Seaver to the Reds, but he was actually very good for the Mets. He owned a .287/.360/.423 slash and a 120 OPS+ from 1977-1980. Henderson was one of the few bright spots of the worst trade and era in Mets history.

9. Bernard Gilkey

Gilkey’s most memorable moment in a Mets jersey was his cameo in “Men In Black.” But perhaps it should be his 1996 season.

That year, Gilkey batted .317/.393/.562 with a .955 OPS, 155 OPS+, not to mention the fact that he hit 30 homers and drove in 117 runs. He never replicated this success, however, and was traded away in 1998.

8. Ron Hunt

Hunt was the first star in Mets history. He batted .282/.344/.379 from 1963-66, and was the first Met to start in an All-Star game. He did this in 1964, when Shea Stadium hosted its only Midsummer Classic.


7. John Stearns

Stearns set the NL catcher’s single-season steals record in 1978 with 25 stolen bases. He also has more hits than any Met who did not play in the postseason with the team, although he did eventualy appear as the Mets’ bench coach in 2000.

6. Frank Viola

The Mets acquired the 1988 AL Cy Young winner from the Twins at the trade deadline in 1989. He would stay with the Mets until 1991, and made two All-Star teams. Viola had his best season in Flushing in 1990, when he went 20-12 with a 2.67 ERA. No Met would win 20 games for another 22 years after Viola accomplished this feat.

5. Bret Saberhagen

Saberhagen is one of the few guys from “The Worst Team Money Could Buy” who was as good as advertised. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner with the Royals went 29-21 with a 3.16 ERA with the Mets from 1992-95. His best season came in 1994, when he went 14-4 with a 2.74 ERA and an eye-popping 11.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s too bad fellow big-ticket acquisitions Bobby Bonilla and Vince Coleman didn’t live up to the hype like Saberhagen did.

4. Craig Swan

Swan did pitch in three games for the Mets at the end of the 1973 season, but did not pitch in the postseason. So he makes the list.

Swan played with the Mets from 1973-1984, and was their best player in the dark ages of Mets history– the late-70s and early-80s. From 1978-82, Swan went 39-37– which is even more impressive considering that the Mets had a .402 winning percentage during that stretch. He also posted a 3.12 ERA, and led the NL in ERA in 1978 with a 2.43 mark. So Swan can take the claim as the best player during the worst period in Mets history.


3. Todd Hundley

A lot of people forget how great Todd Hundley was at his best, especially since the guy who played catcher after him got a little bit more attention.

Hundley was the Mets’ starting catcher from 1992-1998, and kept getting gradually better until he exploded onto the scene in 1996. That year, he set a franchise single-season record with 41 home runs, a record that still stands. He followed that season up with a 30-homer campaign in 1997. He hit for elite power over these two years all while posting a .265/.373/.550 slash line and a 144 OPS+.

But an injury in 1998 made him expendable, which led to the Mike Piazza trade. He was then traded to the Dodgers the following offseason for Roger Cedeno and Charles Johnson, ending one of the more forgotten Mets greats’ time in New York.

2. Johan Santana

Santana was supposed to be the final piece that made the Mets a legitimate World Series contender. He wasn’t, but he provided the Mets with two of their most memorable moments in recent memory: A three-hit shutout of the Marlins on short rest to keep the Mets alive in 2008, and the team’s first no-hitter. That no-hitter alone makes the trade and his contract worth it.

Santana’s time in New York was derailed by injuries and collapsing Mets teams, but he was actually as good as advertised through his first three seasons in New York. He went 40-25 with a 2.85 ERA from 2008-2010, and finished third in Cy Young voting in 2008. Then came the injuries, which forced him out of the 2011 and 2013 seasons and hampered his play in 2012. These injuries also helped keep the Mets out of the playoffs during Santana’s time in the Orange and Blue.

1. R.A. Dickey

Dickey came to the Mets as just another Triple-A pitcher, but left them as one of the most beloved players in team history.

Despite playing just three seasons in Flushing, Dickey’s name makes several entries into the Mets’ record books. R.A. has the fourth-best ERA among qualifying Mets pitchers, the fifth-best WHIP, and the fifth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio.

And his 2012 season is one of the best by a pitcher in Mets history. He went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA that year, becoming the first Met since Frank Viola in 1990 to win 20 games. Dickey also took home the NL Cy Young Award that year, making him just the third Mets pitcher to win the award. The other two are Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, so yeah. That’s pretty good company.

While Dickey shined with the Mets, the team never finished within more than 12 games of a playoff spot. This must not have been fun while he was with the Mets, but it does make him the best Mets player who never played in the postseason.

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Why Jered Weaver is a Fit for the Mets Wed, 14 Dec 2016 17:49:44 +0000 jered weaver

Had Jered Weaver been a free agent three years ago, the entire baseball world would be watching and waiting to see which giant deal he would take.

But the Jered Weaver of 2016 is not the Jered Weaver that posted a 3.28 ERA from 2006-2014. He’s not the same Jered Weaver that finished in the top-five in AL Cy Young voting in three straight seasons. He went 12-12 with a 5.06 ERA last season, so that’s not going to put him at the top of anyone’s watch list.

But Weaver is still a versatile veteran who can eat innings and come cheap for a team that needs a stop-gap starter at the back of the rotation. He likely won’t command more than a one-year deal at a low salary, and this makes him especially enticing for the Mets now that Bartolo Colon has left for Atlanta.

Finding another starting pitcher is probably more of a luxury for the Mets, who currently have seven if you include Zack Wheeler. But you know the Mets: injuries are going to happen. Four of their five core pitchers ended last season on the DL, so expecting all of them to be healthy again this season might not be a sure thing. But the Mets also have one of the most stacked rotations in baseball, so they can’t break the bank here either.

This is why Weaver specifically is so appealing here. He’s made at least 24 starts in every season since 2007, and pitched in 178 innings this year. He’s usually pretty reliable from a health standpoint, and he is not going to cost the team that much either from a dollars standpoint. He also comes with a wide breadth of knowledge acquired during his decade in the majors, which could help some of the younger players.

The 34-year-old Weaver is also a reclamation project with potential to turn his career around. His velocity struggles have been well documented; there were times last season where his fastball was barely registering over 80 miles per hour on the gun. But this velocity was creeping back up a bit at the end of the season, and he ended up with an average fastball velocity of 84.0 miles per hour, according to Fangraphs.

And he was never much of a power pitcher to begin with. In 2014, when he led the AL with 18 wins while posting a 3.59 ERA, his average velocity was only 86.8. So if he can get back into the mid-80s on a consistent basis, he could possibly become a serviceable starting pitcher again. He could also be helped by a move to the NL and to a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

The Mets may not end up signing another veteran starting pitcher to a big-league deal after Colon left. But if they do, Jered Weaver is definitely a sensible option.

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The Mets Should Zero in on Ziegler– Even if They Have to Overspend Tue, 13 Dec 2016 12:30:50 +0000 brad-ziegler

The team that signs Brad Ziegler isn’t going to draw front-page headlines or an uptick in jersey sales. Heck, they might not even trend on Twitter for signing him.

But that doesn’t mean that signing Brad Ziegler won’t be an important move that drastically changes the landscape of the 2017 season for one, or multiple teams.

Ziegler is the best relief pitcher available now that Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are signed. He’s 37 years old, so he’s not going to command a long-term deal for $15 to $20 million a year. And his career numbers are as good as any other relief pitcher in baseball.

He has never posted an ERA above 3.49 since breaking into the majors in 2008, and has a lifetime mark of 2.44. Ziegler has been especially dominant over the last two seasons.

He’s been as good as Kenley Jansen since 2015, and will come at just a fraction of Jansen’s price. Ziegler is also quite versatile; he has been a setup man for much of his career and has only become a full-time closer over the last two seasons, and he has excelled there as well.

This is someone that the Mets need to sign for a couple of reasons. The first of which is their need for another arm in the bullpen. Jeurys Familia could end up getting an extended suspension after he was arrested in October and charged with simple assault. And after he comes back, the Mets will need a seventh-inning man to shore up the back end of their bullpen.

And another reason the Mets need him– and this is the one that will justify overspending on him– is that both the Nationals and the Marlins are vying for a closer. Ziegler is by far the strongest option here and depriving two division rivals of a guy who is statistically on par with Kenley Jansen might just be the biggest upside of a Ziegler-Mets partnership.

The Nationals’ bullpen right now is nonexistent. If they get a closer like Ziegler, however, they’ll re-emerge as favorites to win the division. The Marlins are in a similar situation, albeit they’re a middle-of-the-road team that probably is going to need to make a lot more moves to contend.

Other options on the relief market are not nearly as effective as Ziegler has been. They include Neftali Feliz, who is one season removed from a 6.38 ERA, Greg Holland, who hasn’t pitched in two years, and Santiago Casilla, who has been remarkably inconsistent over the last couple seasons. Considering this market, the Mets need to sign Ziegler to keep their division rivals from acquiring a top-tier reliever.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports predicted that Ziegler would get a two-year, $18 million contract. That’s more than fair for him, and if the Mets need to go a little bit higher than that, so be it.

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Why a Five-Year Deal is Too Much for Cespedes Sun, 27 Nov 2016 14:00:41 +0000 yoenis-cespedes-550

If Yoenis Cespedes is offered a four-year deal, the Mets have absolutely no excuse not to sign him. A deal like this would likely give Cespedes an elite average annual value, and it would give the Mets a shorter-term deal that would not be too constraining over the long term.

But this is looking less and less likely by the day. It’s beginning to look like Cespedes is going to land a five-year deal from someone, and if that’s the case than the Mets should pass.

Most Mets fans probably want to see Cespedes back in orange and blue next season, no matter what the cost. However, a five-year deal for $25-30 million per season is too risky– especially if Cespedes’ production tailors off.

Mets fans have been used to the MVP-caliber production that Cespedes has put up ever since he was traded at the 2015 deadline. He’s batted .282/.348/.554 since coming to the Mets, with 48 home runs, 130 RBIs and a 140 OPS+ in 189 games. Those, indeed, are MVP-type numbers.

The only problem is, Cespedes can’t be trusted to put up those numbers on a year-to-year basis. Keep in mind that the last two years for “Yo” were both contract years– when players tend to put a little extra effort in. Before the trade, Cespedes’ career slash was  .269/.317/.473 with a 118 OPS+.

This includes a two-year stretch from 2013-14 when he had a .298 on-base percentage over 287 games. Reverting to these kinds of numbers, especially as Cespedes gets older, is not at all out of the realm of possibility. Especially on a big contract.

Declining play in the field will also be problematic for Cespedes going forward. Cespedes has posted a negative dWAR, according to Baseball Reference, in each of his first two seasons with the Mets. The team has already moved him out of center field, and these issues are not going to get any better when Cespedes is 35.

Likewise, the precedent for position players in their 30′s who get big free-agent contracts is not exactly good. Eight have received $100 million contracts in their age-31 season or later, here are the results:

Robinson Cano (2014-23): 158 games, .299/.355/.479, 25 home runs, 88 RBIs, 5.7 bWAR

Josh Hamilton (2013-17): 97 games, .255/.312/.428, 13 home runs, 49 RBIs, 1.1 bWAR*

Albert Pujols (2012-21): 144 games, .266/.325/.474, 29 home runs, 98 RBIs, 2.9 bWAR

Jayson Werth (2011-17): 123 games, .267/.358/.437, 16 home runs, 61 RBIs, 1.6 bWAR

Alex Rodriguez (2008-16): 110 games, .269/.359/.486, 22 home runs, 73 RBIs, 2.9 bWAR**

Alfonso Soriano (2007-14): 127 games, .269/.359/.486, 26 home runs, 75 RBIs, 1.0 bWAR

Carlos Lee (2007-12): 149 games, .283/.337/.466, 23 home runs, 97 RBIs, 1.4 bWAR

Jason Giambi (2002-08): 128 games, .260/.404/.521, 30 home runs, 86 RBIs, 3.1 bWAR

*Does not include missed 2016 season. Hamilton was also released with one year left on his deal.

**Does not include missed 2014 season. Rodriguez was also released with one year left on his deal.

It’s too early to draw a verdict on the Cano contract. But of the other seven, with the exception of Giambi and Lee, experienced marked drop-offs in production. And in the cases of Hamilton, Rodriguez and Soriano, the contracts became major albatrosses for their respective teams, and hampered them for years. And, given the Mets’ luck, (which let’s face it: Is a big factor in public perception) fans shouldn’t get their hopes up that one of their players will end up bucking this precedent.

We all know that the Mets aren’t the type of team to pony up big-ticket dollars for marquee free agents. If Cespedes’ deal becomes a long-term albatross a la Johan Santana, it could hamper the Mets in that respect for a long time. Four years is manageable, but five is just too much of a risk.

If the Mets had a Dodgers-style payroll system, than the risk of a five-year deal for Cespedes would be minimized greatly by ownership that doesn’t hesitate to shell out money to star free agents. But we all know this isn’t the case, and if the Cespedes deal doesn’t work out, the Mets are going to be stuck in a bad situation for a long time.

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MMO Original: The All-Time Mets Seasons Team Thu, 24 Nov 2016 14:00:37 +0000 mlb_g_reyes_wright1x_600

Just about everyone and their mother has done a piece on what the Mets’ all-time team would look like, and they all look pretty much the same.

However, when you adjust this all-time team to include the best season at every position, it looks a little bit different– and the numbers are even more impressive. Between decades of losing seasons, the Mets have actually had several fantastic individual seasons that have set both franchise and league records. So with that being said, here’s the All-Time Mets Seasons Team:

Catcher: Mike Piazza, 2000

Piazza was at the apex of his career in 2000, and put up numbers that few catchers– or any batter, for that matter– will ever put up. He batted .324/.398/.614 with 38 home runs, 113 RBIs and a 1.012 OPS. That 1.012 OPS was the third-highest ever by a catcher, and it helped bring the Mets to their fourth World Series in team history. Piazza’s 1999 season, in which he set a club record with 124 RBIs while blasting 40 home runs, could also have easily been swapped into this spot.

First Base: John Olerud, 1998

He was the guy who wore the helmet in the field. Remember him?

Olerud only played on the Mets for three seasons, but definitely made his presence felt while he was in Flushing. In 1998, he batted .354/.447/.551 with 22 home runs and 93 RBIs, giving him the highest single-season batting average in Mets history. His fWAR of 8.1 is 2.3 wins higher than any other first baseman’s season in Mets history as well, making this season a clear choice.

edgardo alfonzo

Second Base: Edgardo Alfonzo, 2000

Another pivotal part of what Sports Illustrated dubbed “The Best Infield Ever,” Alfonzo batted .324/.425/.542 with 25 home runs and 94 RBIs in 2000. Those aren’t numbers you often see a second baseman put up. Fonzie’s average, on-base percentage and fWAR from this season are all franchise records for second basemen, and his slugging percentage, home runs and RBI marks are all second.

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, 2006

Reyes did it all in ’06. He batted .300/.354/.487 as the team’s leadoff hitter, and led the league in triples with 17 and stolen bases with 64. That alone would qualify as an all-time great season, but Reyes also hit a career-high 19 home runs to go along with 81 RBIs. This was a Rickey Henderson-esque statline that may never again be seen in Mets history.

Third Base: David Wright, 2007

There are several Wright seasons that could take this spot, but 2007 takes it for a couple of reasons. First, Wright set a franchise record for all position players with an 8.4 fWAR. Second, his .325 batting average, .416 on-base percentage, .546 slugging percentage and .963 OPS were all career highs. He also became the third player in Mets history to join the 30-30 club, as he hit 30 home runs and stole 34 bases.

It’s unlikely Mets fans will ever see Wright play like this again– if he ever does play again. But it’s fun to look back on how truly dominant he was in his heyday.

Outfield: Carlos Beltran, 2006

The only thing a lot of people might remember about Carlos Beltran in 2006 is him staring blankly at Adam Wainwright‘s curveball. That’s definitely a shame, because Beltran’s 2006 was one of the best seasons of any offensive player in Mets history.

Beltran batted .275/.388/.594, tied a franchise record with 41 home runs, drove in 116 runs and stole 18 bases to go along with all of that. Oh, and he also won a Gold Glove in center field. Beltran was easily the best player on the Mets in 2006.

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Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes, 2015

Maybe Cespedes shouldn’t even be on this list since he only was a Met for two months in 2015. But it’s hard to argue that any offensive player in Mets history had more of an impact in one season than Cespedes did in 2015– even if it was just for two months. The team was 38-22 after the Cespedes trade; it was just 52-50 before the trade.

Cespedes batted .287/.337/.604 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games after the trade, with the .604 slugging percentage being the third highest in Mets history. He was on a 162 game-pace for 49 home runs and 126 RBIs, which both would have been franchise records. The Mets probably could not have made the playoffs in either of the last two years without “Yo,” and might not make them anytime soon if they don’t re-sign him.

Outfield: Darryl Strawberry, 1988

“Straw” was one of the brightest stars in baseball in the 80s, and 1988 may very well have been his brightest season. He led the league in home runs (39), slugging percentage (.545), OPS (.911) and OPS+ (165) all while stealing 29 bases and getting on base at a .366 clip. He finished second in MVP voting to Kirk Gibson that year, despite Strawberry out-homering and out-slugging him despite having a comparable on-base percentage. This definitely provided a bit of foreshadowing for that October, when the Dodgers shockingly beat the Mets in the NLCS.


Starting pitcher #1: Dwight Gooden, 1985

Gooden’s 1985 season is easily one of the five best in the liveball era. His stats are so amazing that they don’t even need to be put into words. So I’m just going to leave them alone so that you can bask in their greatness:

24-4 record, 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games, eight shutouts, 268 strikeouts in 276.2 innings, .0965 WHIP, 229 ERA+. These numbers need no context or qualification. They’re amazing.

Perhaps the most impressive of those stats is the 229 ERA+. For those of you that aren’t up on your Bill James, 100 is always the league-average ERA+. So that means Gooden was 129 percent better than the league-average pitcher in 1985. That’s almost unfathomable.

If the “All-Time Mets Seasons Team” were compiled again in 100 years, most of the guys on this list would probably be replaced by a new century of Mets baseball. But it’s safe to say that Gooden will still be on here.

Starting pitcher #1A: Tom Seaver, 1971

Can’t have an all-time Mets list without Tom Seaver. Just can’t do it.

You could pretty much put any of Seaver’s seasons from his first stint with the Mets on here, but 1971 definitely stands out as the best– despite the fact that he didn’t win a Cy Young this year. He went 20-10 with a career-best 1.76 ERA, a career-high 289 strikeouts and a 194 ERA+. Seaver is bar none the best player in Mets history, and this is bar-none his best season.

Closer: Jeurys Familia, 2016: 

The last month-and-a-half of Familia’s life has turned what was once a good reputation upside down. For much of this season though, Familia was as good a closer as the Mets ever had.

Familia set a Mets record with 51 saves, and held a 2.55 ERA and 161 ERA+. He also had the second-longest streak of consecutive saves in baseball history this year, which was snapped in July at 52.

His season, kind of like Beltran’s 2006, will be remembered for its worst moment that manifested on the highest stage: The three-run home run he allowed to Gillaspie. But he was fantastic for just about all of the regular season– especially considering the Mets’ weak history in the bullpen.

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Featured Article: Seven Veteran Pitchers Who Could Replace Colon Mon, 14 Nov 2016 20:16:38 +0000 andrew cashner

The Mets world is reeling after the news that Bartolo Colon signed with the Atlanta Braves. This was unexpected, as Colon had passed up on better offers last season to return to the Mets.

Now with the team having most of its rotation coming off of injuries, they are going to probably need to acquire a veteran starter on the cheap who can fill in Colon’s void and be a stop-gap in case of injuries to their core pitchers. The Mets probably won’t go for a higher-end option like a Rich Hill or a Jeremy Hellickson (who are actually considered high end in this awful market), so these are guys they could presumably get on no more than a two-year deal.

Rather than gambling on a reclamation project like Brett Anderson or C.J. Wilson, the Mets will probably want someone who resembles Colon: of a sure thing– at least in respect to injuries– due to pretty much their entire rotation being hurt. There aren’t a whole lot of good options out there, but here are seven veteran pitchers who the Mets could presumably consider to replace Colon:

Andrew Cashner – It’s hard to believe that the Padres traded Anthony Rizzo away for this guy. He’s coming off a 5.25 ERA this year, so that means a big free agent payout may not come. But he’s still just 30, can touch the mid-90s with his fastball and lives in a world where Jeff Samardzija can allow the most home runs in the AL and get a $90 million contract the following winter. So anything is possible here.

If Cashner ends up going the Nelson Cruz route and gambles on a one-year “prove it” deal, this is someone who could really help the Mets. He’s had success in the major leagues and possesses the pure “stuff” to succeed in the majors. But in a weak free agent pitching market, another team could overspend for him. And it’s safe to say that that team won’t be the Mets.

Edinson Volquez – The 34-year-old Volquez is coming off of a year in which he had a 5.37 ERA, but represents very little injury liability, something the Mets really need. He has made at least 30 starts in four straight seasons and posted a 3.30 ERA from 2014-15. This is someone who, if he’s in the market for no more than a two-year deal, the Mets should strongly consider.

Jorge De La Rosa – De La Rosa is 36 years old and has a 4.64 career ERA, which isn’t terrible for a guy who has pitched in Coors Field a ton. He could presumably pitch better in a more favorable pitching environment, like Citi Field. The former Rockie also made at least 24 starts in each of the last four seasons, making him a reliable guy.

Mat Latos – Latos posted a 3.25 ERA from 2010-2014, making him one of the NL’s better starting pitchers in that time frame. Since 2015 though, he’s been with five different teams, and posted a 4.93 ERA. He probably won’t cost anything more than a minor league deal , and he’s still only 28 years old– which is kind of unbelievable considering he’s already pitched for seven teams. This could be a last resort if the Mets can’t afford anyone else.

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Jered Weaver – Weaver, 34, was 131-69 with a 3.28 ERA from 2006-2014. Two years ago, he lead the AL in wins. But he has since fallen on hard times. his fastball barely reached over 80 miles per hour at some points last year as his ERA ballooned to 5.06. He has made at least 24 starts, however, in each of the last ten seasons. So Weaver represents a stop-gap option that could benefit from a move to the NL.

Ryan Vogelsong – He is a solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher who mostly stays off of the disabled list. He has a 4.81 lifetime ERA, so he’s not a star and most likely won’t get more than a one-year deal. But again, not too many solid pitchers to chose from here. The 39-year old has average 24 starts over his past

Dillon Gee – He was an ideal No. 5 starter for most of his Mets career; going 40-34 with a 3.91 ERA from 2010-2014. He then proceeded to spend most of 2015 in the minors, and held a 4.68 ERA this year with the Royals. The 30-year pitched mostly out of the bullpen this year, but if the Mets really need a starting pitcher a reunion makes sense on a minor-league deal.

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Mets Free Agents Who Were Better Than Their Reputation Sat, 29 Oct 2016 18:30:53 +0000 The suffering-rich tradition of the New York Mets is rivaled by few other organizations in pro sports, so it’s only natural that fans are going to lash out at some of their players. This is especially true of the many free agent acquisitions that went sour during their tenures with the Mets.

But sometimes, fans aren’t always right. Many players, like Vince Coleman, Mo Vaughn, Kazuo Matsui, and Oliver Perez, perhaps deserve that reputation. But some of these players were hated for non-baseball reasons or specific moments, and were otherwise pretty good on the field. Here are just four of those players:

bobby bonilla

1. Bobby Bonilla – He didn’t live up to the hype of his record-setting five-year, $29 million contract, but he was mostly solid during his tenure with the Mets. Bonilla hit .270/.356/.495 with 95 home runs and 295 RBI in 515 games with the Mets.

His last two seasons during his first stint in New York were particularly solid. In 1994, he batted .290/.374/.504 with 20 homers and 67 RBI in 108 games. The following year, he batted .325/.385/.599 with 18 homers and 53 RBI in 80 games before he was traded to the Orioles– those are MVP-caliber numbers.

Of course, he failed miserably during his second stint with the Mets in 1999, and yada yada yada the team is paying him until 2035.


2. Tom Glavine – Glavine is often put in the same category of players like Willie Mays or Mo Vaughn who came to the Mets long after they were productive. This isn’t really fair to Glavine; he wasn’t the Hall of Fame pitcher he was for the Braves in the 90′s, but he was mostly decent with the Mets. He was 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA and 107 ERA+. These aren’t elite stats, but they’re good for someone who was in their late-30′s. Then came the last day of the 2007 season…


3. Carlos Beltran – Many have argued that Beltran didn’t live up to the seven-year, $119 million contract he was given in 2005. Fred Wilpon thought so. This is largely due to him striking out looking to end the 2006 NLCS.

In reality, however, Beltran is one of the best players in franchise history. He is fourth all-time in OPS, fifth in slugging, sixth in homers, RBI and on-base-percentage, and eighth in runs scored. Aside from the strikeout looking, he’s far better than people give him credit for.


4. Francisco Rodriguez – “K-Rod” came to the Mets after recording an MLB-record 62 saves with the Angels in 2008. While he never put up numbers like that again, Rodriguez was not awful on the field while he was with the Mets. He compiled a 3.05 ERA and 129 ERA+, and was even named an All-Star in 2009. But he’s best remembered for being injured after assaulting his girlfriend’s father after a game — one of the most bizarre moments in Mets history.

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Should Mets Take a Chance On Greg Holland? Thu, 27 Oct 2016 11:00:36 +0000 ykwjvvxa

Despite the impression you may have gotten from the NL Wild Card game, the Mets have a great bullpen. The team’s bullpen ERA of 3.53 was the third-best in the NL, save for that dreadful game 163.

And given the reality of post-Madoff life for the Mets, it’s safe to say the team won’t be breaking the bank on a big-name free agent this year. And even if they do, they’ll probably want to allocate most of their funds on more dire areas, like filling in Yoenis Cespedes‘ spot in the lineup. So don’t get your hopes up on Aroldis Chapman coming to Queens.

That being said, you can never have enough bullpen arms. And since the Mets probably won’t have a huge budget, they should go out and sign former Royals closer Greg Holland. Holland represents a reclamation project who has about as high a ceiling as a reliever can have.

The ex-Royal missed all of 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He suffered the initial injury in September of his contract year– about as unfortunate a time possible. But from 2011-2014, Holland was one of the best closers in baseball. He ranked second among closers in ERA (1.86), seventh in saves (113), second in fWAR (9.1), and sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.57). Numbers for a reliever don’t get much better than this.

Holland started throwing in August and is expected to be ready to pitch in February.

Since he fell off a bit in 2015 with a 3.83 ERA, and since he’s coming off of an injury, Holland will likely cost any team that signs him no more than a one-year deal. This is someone who is a perfect fit for the Mets. No other one-year deal candidate has as high a ceiling as Holland does, maybe at any position but especially in the bullpen. This is a player the Mets should aggressively pursue.

The best-case scenario for Holland is that he returns to 2014 form. This would mean innings seven through nine would be anchored by a near-unhittable three-headed monster that features three pitchers who could be closers for most teams. The notion of the Mets having a bullpen that good probably seems unthinkable for those who lived through the Aaron Heilman/Frank Francisco/Jose Valverde days.

And the worst-case? He gets released midseason. That’s it. There likely won’t be a huge financial commitment here, so the Mets can do that. And Holland would probably be best suited in a one-year “prove it” deal for his sake too: If he does well, he might be able to sign a bigger deal elsewhere and recoup some of the money he could have earned last winter.

Sandy Alderson has bought in several reclamation projects that have worked out well: Marlon Byrd, Addison Reed, and even Jose Reyes have come to the team with little expectation and become key contributors. Greg Holland could be next.

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If Kyle Schwarber Becomes Available, Mets Should Make Full Pursuit Sat, 15 Oct 2016 11:00:48 +0000 kyle-schwarber

It’s October, and the Mets aren’t in the playoffs. So since there’s no better news to talk about, it’s time to read about completely hypothetical trade ideas that will probably never happen.

There are no reports that the Cubs are actively looking to trade injured young star Kyle Schwarber, and they opted not to do it at the trade deadline. But it might make sense for the Cubs to trade him, considering that they won 103 games without him this year, and their outfield of Ben Zobrist, Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward isn’t exactly one that’s desperate for a revamp. He’s a natural catcher, but the team has been hesitant to play him behind the plate. He made just 15 starts there in 2015, so they might not have anywhere to play him if they don’t want to put him at catcher.

Schwarber missed all but two games this year due to a knee injury. Last year, he batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 69 games as a rookie. This is someone the Mets could definitely use: A star position player under long-term, affordable team control to compliment the team’s young pitching staff– if it ever comes back.

The Mets should even consider trading one of their young starting pitchers for Schwarber. Someone like a Steven Matz or a Matt Harvey has legitimate ace potential, but has become a little bit more expendable this season after the emergence of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

Without Matz, Harvey or another one of those pitchers, the team would still have three young aces, Gsellman, Lugo, Zack Wheeler (if he’s ever healthy again) and maybe even Bartolo Colon if he re-signs. The Mets still have more pitchers than they know what to do with, and Gsellman and Lugo both pitched well enough down the stretch to at least compete for a roster spot.

A straight-up Matz-for-Schwarber trade is something that could make sense for both teams in the long run. The only Cubs starting pitchers that are under team control beyond 2017 are Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. Single-A RHP Dylan Cease is the team’s only blue-chip pitching prospect on the horizon, but he is likely at least two years away from the Bigs. So they could really use a young starting pitcher, not just for 2017 but for future seasons.

Without most of their young pitchers down the stretch this season, the Mets still had the third-lowest team ERA in the NL this season. However, they scored the fourth-fewest runs in the league. This trade could only bolster the team’s lineup and make them a more complete team. Schwarber could split reps between the outfield spot that will likely be vacant if Yoenis Cespedes leaves, and spend time behind the plate as well.

Theo Epstein is quite possibly the greatest executive in sports history. Maybe he’s too smart to trade Schwarber. Maybe he’s too dumb to not trade for Matz or another one of the Mets’ pitchers. Either way, this would be a great deal for the Mets should it come up.

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Here Are the Mets’ Options if Cespedes Opts Out Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:00:10 +0000 yoenis cespedes

It looks as though the Mets’ offseason plans will be largely contingent on whether Yoenis Cespedes opts in or out of the two remaining years of his contract.

If he opts in, then the Mets retain their best hitter for at least another season. But if he opts out, he will become one of the most sought-after free agents in an otherwise weak class– virtually guaranteeing a nine-figure multiyear deal.GM Sandy Alderson’s reluctance to ink players to big deals likely means that Cespedes is a gonner if he opts out– which ESPN’s Adam Rubin said the team expects him to do.

Cespedes said in August that he was not planning on opting out He has made very clear that he loves playing in New York– something the Mets undoubtedly have going for them– but it makes little sense from a financial standpoint. Cespedes could be walking away from at least $100 million– and possibly up to $200 million– if he decides against free agency.

The Mets already seem to have two of their outfield spots locked up. Curtis Granderson is under contract for next year and Jay Bruce has a $13 million team option for 2017. So to fill that final spot, Mets seem to have three of courses of action they can take this offseason if Cespedes signs elsewhere. They can sign an immediate replacement in the outfield, stay internal and start Michael Conforto in left field, or do a mixture of both. Here’s a rundown of the three options:

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Free agent replacements: If the team is emphasizing winning and improving the team for 2017 over long-term player development, they have a few solid shorter term options on the market.

The biggest name in this category is Jose Bautista. “Joey Bats” missed 46 games this season with a knee injury and had a down year by his own lofty standards– batting  .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. Given these factors and Bautista’s 36 years of age, a four-year deal of about $80-100 million seems to be fair for him. He’d essentially be a more expensive version of what Curtis Granderson was when he signed with the Mets three years ago.

Matt Holliday also makes sense in this situation. He’ll be 37 in January and has missed 141 games over the last two years, so it’s unlikely he’ll get more than three years from anyone. But he has still hit effectively when he has been healthy; he hit 20 home runs in 381 at-bats this season and was an All-Star in 2015. He still looks like he has some good baseball in the tank on a team-friendly deal.

Rajai Davis could work here too. The 35-year-old outfielder led the AL in stolen bases this year with 43– one more than the Mets had all season. For a team that needs a natural center fielder and able runners on the basepaths, an aging Davis would be someone who can provide both. And given his age, probably won’t demand a huge contract either.

Other outfielders that could work on short-term deals include Brandon Moss (28 home runs), Michael Saunders (24 home runs), and Carlos Gomez (.284/.362/.543 in 33 games with the Rangers).

michael conforto

Internal: The Mets could simply put all of their faith into Michael Conforto and give him a starting job in either left or center. To say this is a gamble would be an understatement.

Conforto has shown promise in the minor leagues and during his time in the majors in 2015, but had a nightmarish 2016. He batted .174/.267/.330 in 230 at-bats after May 1. He may have shown flashes of potential in the past, but it would be unwise to hand him a starting job given how he played this year.

They could also presumably use Juan Lagares in center if they wanted to, and hope he returns to the form that made him a Gold Glove winner and tolerable hitter in 2014. But that seems to be a stretch for a lineup that desperately needs to produce more runs.

The mix: 

Another option that could possibly work is to sign a middle-of-the-road veteran to a one or two-year deal to compete for the final outfield spot, and act as a safety net should Conforto struggle. This seems sensible if the Mets have strict budgetary constraints this year, or want to develop Conforto.

Austin Jackson is one player who fits this bill. He signed a one-year deal with the White Sox before the season, and will likely be looking at a one-year (or minor league) deal this year since he played in just 54 games in 2016. He is unlikely to cost more than a few million dollars, and has periodically shown flashes of talent in the majors.

Matt Joyce is another player who could be at play here. He was impressive as a part-time player with the Pirates this year, batting .242/.403/.463 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 231 at-bats. Joyce also has pennant race and playoff experience from his years with the Rays, and his high on-base percentage is something that Alderson seems to like.

Other free agents who are of this description include Franklin Gutierrez (14 home runs in 248 at-bats for the Mariners), Seth Smith (16 home runs in 378 at-bats for the Mariners), and Gregor Blanco (.344 lifetime on-base percentage with the Giants).

Cespedes has until five days after the end of the World Series to opt out of his contract. Let’s hope he doesn’t pull a LeBron and decide on ESPN.

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