Before news broke on Tuesday of Sandy Alderson stepping away because of his health, most of the questions posed dealt with what the Mets should do with different players or how the Mets could possibly contend next season. While it may seem crass to some to address these issues, they are issues facing the Mets nevertheless, and given what has happened, there are very real questions about this team which need to be answered.
Mets Fan in NC asks . . .
What realistic changes can this team make in order to be a playoff contender in 2019?
John S. replies . . .
First and foremost, it should be made clear this question was asked prior to the announcement Sandy Alderson was stepping down to continue his fight with cancer. Accordingly, this was not a callous question ignorant of a person’s health.
That said, with Alderson stepping aside, the answer to that question might be even more important than it might have been a day ago.
One thing Jeff Wilpon made very clear is he is replacing Alderson. Sure, he said that there was going to be a three-headed team in John Ricco, J.P. Riccardi, and Omar Minaya. However, the full text and context of his quote needs to be examined.
On the topic of how this was going to work, Jeff Wilpon had this to say, “John, J.P., Omar . . . I plan to have the three of them come to me in the same way so it’s just the three of them coming to a mutual decision — which I think was happening anyway behind the scenes – to go to Sandy and then have the final decision to come to me with.”
Essentially, Jeff announced he’s replacing Sandy Alderson. Instead of a learned baseball man filtering opinions to come up with the best course, a man who once purported himself as a former minor league catcher for the Expos will be making those decisions.
This comes at a crucial time for the franchise when the organization needs to decide to extend or trade Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard. Put another way, they need to decide who is and who is not part of a core which could lead the Mets to their next World Series title.
At this moment, the biggest change the Mets need to make is to find a General Manager, one that is not John Ricco.
Remember, when Alderson was first diagnosed with cancer in 2015, it was Ricco who was the point man at the Winter Meetings. At those Winter Meetings, the Mets flat out embarrassed themselves telling anyone who would listen they were going to sign Ben Zobrist. As that happened, Zobrist was signing a deal with the Cubs.
It’s possible he and the Mets learned from this, but with so much at stake, can you entrust this team to him when in the end Jeff Wilpon again feels empowered enough to believe he’s the acting General Manager?
So, in a long way to answer your question, there’s likely nothing that can be done to turn things around to make the Mets contenders next season.
Wall Flores asks . . .
If Brandon Nimmo continues to establish himself as a 1st division regular and future cornerstone in the OF, do you think the Mets will contemplate trading Jay Bruce in the off-season? The contract duration and remaining monies could make this a bit prohibitive, but I wonder if this is what they try to do. Cheers!
John S. replies . . .
Previously, the Mets had a nearly impossible time trying to trade Bruce. First, they tried to move him in the 2016-2017 offseason. Despite not looking for more than a reliever, teams were first asking for Curtis Granderson and later asking the Mets to pay a portion of Bruce’s deal.
In the regular season, after Bruce had hit 29 homers and 75 RBI, the best the Mets could get in exchange for Bruce was Ryder Ryan.
This year, Bruce is dealing with heel, back, and hip issues. He’s hitting .212/.292/.321. He’s going to turn 32 next April. In the ensuing two seasons, Bruce is going to be owed $14 million in successive seasons.
Long story short, short of deal like the one the Braves and Dodgers made last year featuring Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp, or a deal where the Mets include a prospect to entice a team to take on Bruce’s deal, it’s really difficult to imagine the Mets unloading Bruce’s contract.
The best bet is to hand him a first baseman’s mitt and move forward with an outfield featuring Michael Conforto and Nimmo.
* * * * * * * *
Hopefully, you enjoyed this mailbag as much as I enjoyed answering your questions. Keep the questions and comments coming and make sure to send them to AskMMO@metsmerizedonline.com