An MMO Fan Shot by Marc M. (Not4)
The 2017 Mets have been disappointing and frustrating, no doubt about it. Several factors have played a role, including injuries, players’ under-performance, poor fundamentals and defense, poor managing and some bad luck in terms of timing.
Regardless of the reasons, our team has been difficult and aggravating to watch far too often this season. That said, calls for “a complete rebuild” or “getting rid of 85 percent of the roster” seem to be based more on emotion than reason. While emotion can get the best of anybody at times and skew our perception, it seems that is overwhelmingly the case here.
Returning Position Players & Changes Already In the Works
As it stands right now, the Mets will likely have three starting position players returning in Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud and another three position players returning in some capacity or another in Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and Juan Lagares, most likely as bench players. (It also seems likely that the Mets will pick up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option and that Brandon Nimmo may be on the team, as anything from the fifth OF to the long side of a CF platoon, depending on other factors).
In all, that means that eight of our 13 or 14 position players will return next year. Before you lose heart, keep in mind that, of the eight players listed above, only three or four are likely to be starters, and most fans are happy about two of those in Cespedes and Conforto. While many want to replace d’Arnaud, the reality is that the catching position is very thin and there just are not any options out there that seem worth pursuing at this point.
And for those yearning for better defense and a youth movement, that is already in the works, as there is a good chance that both Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith get called up at some point this year and are our starting shortstop and first base respectively next year. So, in short, at least one quarter of our starting position players fit the bill for youthful, more athletic, better defensive players. The remaining three starting position players (CF, 3B and 2B) are, at this time, anyone’s guess, but more on that later.
While health is obviously going to play a large part in the construction of next year’s pitching staff, the Mets are likely to return all seven of their starting pitchers next year in some capacity or another.
Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz can probably be penciled into the rotation. The remainder of the year and next spring will likely determine who among Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman fill out the rotation and who winds up in the bullpen (or in Vegas).
And there still remains the possibility that the Mets sign a veteran pitcher who can offer a more durable alternative and depth. For those pining for the Mets to trade one of their oft-injured SPs because of their injury concerns, those very concerns make it unlikely for any to get traded, unless the Mets sell low, which we all can agree is generally not a good thing.
Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins (barring a trade) and Paul Sewald are three relievers that we can be pretty confident will return next year. Two or three (if we sign a veteran SP) more spots could come from those SPs who do not make the rotation (Harvey, Wheeler, Lugo and Gsellman) That leaves perhaps two spots to fill – one of which is hopefully a free agent signing and, in particular from my standpoint, is Addison Reed (after we trade him away at the deadline for prospects). The last spot can be filled either with another FA, or from anyone of several in-house options, including Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin and Erik Goeddel.
The Rabbit Hole is Not as Deep As Some May Think
As this exercise demonstrated, the Mets are not a team in need of, or that is likely to get, a complete re-build. But, with two starting position player changes already in the works, and up to another three potentially occurring, there are sufficient changes that can result in a dramatically different team than what we currently have the misfortune of watching – or put another way, just two or three changes more than those already planned.
The infield defense should be vastly improved just with the addition of Rosario (obviously) and Smith (who is an upgrade over Lucas Duda’s acceptable defense). Depending upon who the Mets go with at third and second, they could field a very strong infield defense – which is a far cry from their approach this year.
Offensively, the Mets are unlikely to have as much firepower as this year, at least not right out of the gates as Rosario and Smith are likely to experience some growing pains and a learning curve. But our currently constructed team has been too much feast or famine – with far too many games where the offense has disappeared, even when not facing elite pitching.
Depending upon who we bring in, it is possible that we field a less prolific but more consistently pesky offensive team next year. Certainly replacing Terry Collins with what we all hope is real manager will be a step in the right direction in this and really every regard.
Turning to those last three starting position spots, the Mets could fill one or more using in-house players, they could re-sign one or more of their FAs or other FAs, or they could trade for one or more of those positions. Some of those decisions could be impacted by whether some of the younger players (in-house options) get playing time in the second half and how they perform. There are many variables which will likely impact how the Mets decide to proceed.
There have been rumblings that the Mets may want to re-sign either Neil Walker or Jay Bruce to add another proven veteran bat in the middle of the lineup, but that too is dependent upon how things play out the remainder of the season. Bruce could price himself out of what the Mets would rightfully be willing to spend and Walker’s injuries could be enough to prevent the team from comfortably committing to him.
If Rosario and Smith both are called up soon and are productive enough that could give the Mets enough comfort to go with a guy like Gavin Cecchini at 2B and/or Nimmo in CF, depending upon what they may show the rest of the year. Alternatively, if Rosario and Smith experience sufficient growing pains, the Mets may choose to fill those spots with veterans.
While many fans are currently skeptical about Cabrera, if he has another strong second half (like the past two years) and continues to look healthier in the field as he has since moving to second base, it’s hard to imagine the Mets not picking up his option.
Likewise, if T.J. Rivera continues to hit and play third base, perhaps the Mets are willing to let him compete for and win 3B, provided 2B defense is strong enough. Like I said, there are many options which can and will be impacted by many variables that will play out over the remainder of the year and over the winter.
The net result of all that has been laid out is that, with a little tinkering, the Mets should be able to field a team next year that is younger, more athletic, better defensively with perhaps less “all or nothing” bats in the lineup.
* * * * * * * *
This Fan Shot was contributed by Marc M. (Not4). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 20,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.