Last Thursday, ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law was kind enough to grant our own Tommy Rothman a phone interview which you can read in its entirety here.
Law, who ranked the Mets as having the fourth best farm system in the game and also included six Mets in his Top 100 prospects, discussed a great variety of topics with us and I wanted to summarize what I thought were the eight most interesting insights he shared with us.
1. The Mets Are Drafting Better
“You had the one year with scouting director Chad McDonald, now Tommy Tanous has taken over, he’s had a couple of drafts, and I just think they’ve drafted a lot smarter, especially towards the top. We’ll see if some of the later picks work, they’ve had some later picks that were interesting, those often take a little longer to percolate and show that there’s real value. But I think that they’ve clicked on most of their high picks the last few years.”
“It’s hard for me to really characterize what the draft strategy was under the Omar Minaya regime because I never really got it, I never understood it. Now, they’re doing a better job of just saying “who’s the best player on the board? We’ll take that guy.” They’re not trying to trick anybody, or trick themselves.”
2. Not Sold On Wilmer Flores At Shortstop
“I think he can hit. I don’t think he can play short, I never even thought he was very good at third. I think there’s a real good chance he ends up at another corner, and my question then is whether the bat’s going to profile enough to warrant playing him every day, if he’s in left field or at first base.”
“He’s not very quick, not very athletic, but his feet… I’m very, very surprised that a team that’s clearly aware of defensive metrics would even TRY him at shortstop. I mean really, what are you expecting, running this guy out at short. So no matter what they say publicly, my guess is privately, we don’t wanna go out and spend on a shortstop, we don’t wanna trade the pitching depth yet, and this is the best of the internal options, none of which are good.”
3. Could Mets Keep Young Core Intact As They Get More Expensive?
“They’re not in Rays and A’s territory where they’re just gonna have to move everybody. My guess is, they’re not gonna keep them all. Some of those guys will get towards second or third-year arbitration and they’ll get up towards $10 million a year, and the Mets will decide to pass on some of them.”
4. Still Very High On Dominic Smith
“I still love Dominic Smith, I understand he only hit one home run for them, Savannah has turned out to be a brutal place for left-handed power hitters. I loved him in high school, and I talked to people about him. He really worked on just going the other way, recognizing he’s not going to be able to pull the ball out, so why not focus on making a whole lot of contact, and really using the whole field, particularly going to the opposite field.”
“I believe he’s got plus-plus raw power, at some point I think it’s going to surface, you’ll probably see more of it this year in St Lucie, even more the next year in Binghamton once he gets out of those pitcher’s parks. But I do believe that their best chance for a first baseman of the future is currently in the organization.”
5. Will Mets Ever Make A Mike Piazza Type Splash Again?
“What I would question is, would they go out and get the $22 million player. Guys in that stratosphere. Will they do that? Because the Mets would have, 6 or 7 years ago. And frankly, they’re going to be at a point where getting that player is going to make financial sense.”
“They’re going to put together, say, an 89-win team with homegrown talent, and they’re going to be at the point where getting that elite player makes them a 94-win team, which is a real playoff contender. …If I were a Mets fan, that’s what I would be focused on. Eventually you’re going to want them to get the 6-WAR player, one of those guys hits free agency every year and you want to make sure the Mets are going to do that, when it makes sense, when those 6 wins are going to put them into the playoffs.”
6. Mets Shortstop Of The Future
“Amed Rosario is a star, he’s in my top 100. Gavin Cecchini, he’ll play for somebody because he can play shortstop. He’s not a lock to be an average regular, there are still a lot of variants as to how he turns out. At some point, the Mets will have to make decisions that will probably end up favoring Rosario over Cecchini, because Rosario has a chance to move very quickly through the system due to his bat.”
“Rosario has such an advanced approach, he’s just so… he’s just so freakishly talented. I have a feeling they’re going to have to push him a put more quickly through the system to get him to the point where he’s appropriately challenged by pitching. Going through the four levels of the minors, I could see him doing it in three years, maybe two-and-a-half if he’s just as gifted as I believe he is. The swing, bat speed, it’s all there, it’s just a matter of pitch recognition, ball-strike recognition.”
7. Will Mets Be Buyers If They Are In Thick Of It?
“I think that everything they’ve done and said so far indicates that they’re not going to be buyers. They’re not going to trade a bunch of the young guys to get a veteran, to get an established, older Major League player.”
“I think if the opportunity came up to get the Wil Myers type, the young player who’s in his peak years or they’re still ahead of him, where the money hasn’t gotten big yet, I think that they would do something like that. So they’re opportunistic, but not in a mode where they’re going to say, “yes, we’re going to go get that guy.” And I think part of it is, they’re not likely to win the division.”
8. Mets Chances To Make Postseason
“Ten percent or less. Because it’s wild-card only, and I don’t think they’re as good as some of those other contenders. I think they’re going to be very enjoyable to watch because there’s going to be a lot of home-grown talent on the field, but you’re really hoping Harvey comes back, and you might get half a season of production out of him but they’re not going to want to push him right away. I think 2016 is much more reasonable.”