Sometimes A Good Baseball Decision Is Just A Good Baseball Decision

ian desmond

The topic of “Who will play SS?” seems to be dominating the airwaves (or broadband waves) over the last few weeks in our beloved Mets universe. While examining the topic, I’ve started to notice that the sentiment is shifting from “make a move that makes sense,” to “just make a move!”

As many of you saw, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Mets should go “all-in” on Ian Desmond. I have a few problems with his take.

For starters, his argument is that the Nationals likely have not signed Desmond because they are “not offering market value.” Then he explains that Desmond “likely would command $150 million as a free agent next offseason.”

Now I’m sorry, but Ian Desmond is a nice baseball player (who has been in offensive decline the last two years) – but $150 million?

Troy Tulowitzki who EVERYBODY would agree is the best SS when he is on the field, signed a contract worth $157 million in November of 2010. David Wright signed a contract worth $138 million in December of 2012.

You’re going to sit there and honestly tell me you agree that Ian Desmond and his .764 OPS in 2013-2014 is worth the same dollar amount as Tulo or more than Wright? Really?

And it’s not like Desmond is some superior defensive player either. Each of the last two years, Depending on your favorite defensive metric, Desmond has finished roughly about 10th among SS each of the last two seasons.

daniel murphyHe’s a decent ballplayer, but his offensive numbers are declining. In Rosenthal’s example, the Mets should trade Daniel Murphy for Desmond – and then pay Desmond.

Why does that make sense on the field to rob Peter simply to pay Paul? If you are trying to acquire Desmond, you’re basically saying you don’t believe in Wilmer Flores. Yet, if you trade Daniel Murphy – who do you think becomes the 2B? Wilmer Flores.

Is Desmond SO much better to have on your roster than Murphy? I don’t see that as being true at all.

Whenever I look at evaluating a baseball player, I try and eliminate their best year. Why? Because I believe if a player is most like his best season – then that will show up when you eliminate it. However, one great season could elevate a player to a ranking he might not really deserve.

For Desmond, take out 2012. It existed and it’s worth recognizing, but could also inflate his value.

Desmond Breakdown

That is what the Mets should go “all-in” for? Not only in terms of trading away talent, but also giving $150 million to? Why? To prove they CAN pay a player, even if he doesn’t deserve it?

There is a growing sentiment as Rosenthal explains about the Mets finances stopping them from making a move like this. Why can’t it be a baseball decision? Why does everything have to come down to dollars and cents and a refusal to pay?

It doesn’t all come down to money. It all comes down to talent first. Every time the Mets choose to not make a move, it’s POSSIBLE to think about baseball first, financials second.

ruben-tejadaWhether we like it or not, Ruben Tejada was actually one of the best defensive SS in the sport last year. Whether we like it or not there is a belief that Wilmer Flores can hit in the bigs.

Moving away from Desmond for a second, getting a new SS for the sake of getting a new SS is NOT a smart baseball move.

You see a lot of people mentioning a desire to acquire SS Brad Miller and that’s great and all, but the guy hasn’t proven he can hit in the bigs either.

Quite frankly, he wasn’t a better defensive SS than Tejada either. So if you’re getting a kid solely for his potential – why can’t you see what Flores has to offer first?

The TRUTH is, the SS position is NOT very deep in MLB. It’s likely why the Mets kept Tejada because they figure if they go into 2015 with Flores/Tejada and Flores proves he cannot hit in the bigs full-time, they at least have themselves a defensive minded SS which is something worth hanging onto.

People want Tulo circa 2009 or Jose Reyes circa 2008 – it’s not happening. It’s unrealistic.

To me there are six guys you could label as real difference makers worth getting right now at SS: Tulo, Andrelton Simmons, Jhonny Peralta, Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy and Starlin Castro.

Until Tulo doesn’t cost you Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, or Syndergaard – he simply is not a gamble worth taking. You can gamble his contract v. playing time – but you can’t ante up with an arm like those four.

I’m sorry, he’d bring a lot of excitement to the team and I hope he could stay on the field, but the Mets would be taking ALL of the risk there by taking on his contract plus losing an incredibly valued talent like Noah Syndergaard? Pass.

The Rockies also are seemingly not getting any bites on Tulo – that price tag is going to drop eventually, so why submit to it now before you even see if Tulowitzki is fully recovered from hip surgery?

Simmons, not going anywhere – move along.

Peralta, had their chance – didn’t get him… said they were aggressive, can’t live in the past.

Aybar – doubt you can get him now.

Hardy – doubt you can get him now, hope O’s falter and then maybe.

Castro – you sacrifice a glove at SS, but his bat is a difference maker and I’m not sure what is going on there.

That’s it.

With everybody else, there are more logical reasons not to get the player than to get him. I like the IDEA of Brad Miller, but I don’t think he changes much in 2015, and I don’t see how you can give Seattle a big price tag for a kid who hasn’t proven he is any better than Wilmer Flores right now.

The bottom line is – for the Mets, there are other reasons besides the Wilpons for not making moves. Making a trade for the sake of adding payroll is a terrible way to manage a baseball team, and I am glad we have somebody in charge of making those decisions who doesn’t listen to the hysteria surrounding the off-season.

The Mets could use a SS, nobody’s denying that – but they don’t have to make a bad baseball decision just to prove themselves capable of signing a paycheck.

mmo footer

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.