An MMO Fan Shot By Mystere2417
It’s less than one week before the trade deadline. We’ve already jettisoned the closer from our 2015 NL Championship team for two marginal prospects, salary relief, a bag of balls, and a million dollars in international pool Monopoly money to be named later.
Jeurys Familia joins Daniel Murphy and Matt Harvey as key members of our 2015-16 postseason core who have moved on to other teams. This trade feels like a turning point in Mets history even though Murphy and Harvey played equally important roles in our postseason runs. It’s not that Familia was the most beloved member of those teams, but we wouldn’t have made the postseason twice without him. Despite some glaringly epic fails, he was a key cog in our last pennant, and I just wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank him for his contributions to the franchise.
Endings are also beginnings, and this disaster of a season is no exception. It can’t end soon enough so we can begin again. For the Mets, there’s always next year. It’s a perennial refrain tinged with both disappointment and hopefulness, but the latter is in short supply these days. The Mets are sellers, which means more changes are in store. Change, by definition, means different. It does not innately signify better or worse. It is not intrinsically good or bad. It depends on what we’re changing from and to. And therein lies the rub.
The faithful (read that “the mob”) are understandably nauseous, raucous, and incredulous from two seasons of abject failure after two seasons of sipping from sweet (or bittersweet) postseason waters. The disappointment and frustration are palpable for everyone not named Mickey (why, because we like you) Callaway. The emotional and guttural reaction to tear it all down is in vogue, but a rational response is contraindicated more than ever before.
The reactionaries are dying for the Mets to rebuild and trade everything not nailed down, including Jake The Great, our former homegrown Rookie of the Year in the midst of an All-Star and Cy Young season in the prime of his career. The reactionaries yearn for a multi-year year rebuild characterized by multiple last place finishes a la the Cubs and the Astros in the hopes of replicating their success and coming out the other side with a perennial contending team. I wish that outcome was guaranteed, but that’s a fallacy. Losing doesn’t always beget winning; in fact, it often leads to even more losing.
I’ve been saying to anyone who will listen that this remains a time to try to compete and that rebuilding cannot and will not happen, if at all, until mid-2020 at the earliest given our contractual commitments to Cespedes, Bruce, Wright, and deGrom becoming a free agent. As a longtime Mets fan who lived through the aftermath of the Midnight Massacre and saw the late 1970s rebuild fail miserably, be careful what you wish for. The premium prospects we bring back if we trade our homegrown stud ace are more likely to become Pat Zachry and Dan Norman than Noah Syndergaard and Jeff Kent.
Lets assume for the moment the idea of a complete rebuild is the pipe dream I believe it is and that Mets management and ownership will rule it out. In that case, let’s turn our attention to what is most likely to occur. At the trade deadline and during the off-season, the Mets will retool and try to accomplish what they failed to do this past offseason and surround our core of deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, Conforto, Nimmo, and Rosario with enough depth of talent to compete next season, while building the lower minor leagues for the rebuild to come.
It’s going to be a tall order to retool rationally and successfully for 2019. Our needs are numerous, the offense is dreadful, and the bullpen is horrific.. We have to get younger, more athletic, and better defensively if we are going to have a chance to turn a load of losses into a bushel of wins. We also have to replace the power with Cespedes going under the knife. Unfortunately, getting younger will have to wait on the development of Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Justin Dunn. It’s difficult to get younger when free agency is your primary option for improvement.
Speaking of free agency, if any offseason class is worthy of investment, it’s this one. Our timing was definitely off by investing in last year’s free agent class. My plan would include acquiring a third baseman, of which there are several available. This opens the door to play Todd Frazier at 1B next year, assuming Alonso needs one more season of AAA experience. If we give the untradeable Jay Bruce a first baseman’s glove in spring training as well, we’ve got a solid one-year platoon that is better then the individual parts and has MLB depth to account for injury.
We also need a middle infielder. My preference would be to bring in a shortstop and move Rosario to second base, his inevitable position when Gimenez is ready for MLB promotion, but there just aren’t many interesting shortstops available via free agency, so he stays put at short for another year or two. But there are second base options available including Josh Harrison, DJ LeMahieu, or Brian Dozier. Pick one.
Most importantly, where do we start in reconstructing our bullpen, arguably the worst among the culprits in our lousy season? First, we need a lockdown closer, but forget Craig Kimbrel. He falls into the Manny Machado fantasy wish list. Other available closers will be Cody Allen, Kelvin Herrera or a reunion with Jeurys Familia, but I propose we follow the Cubs strategy with Brandon Morrow and elevate a rising setup man to be our new closer — Adam Ottavino. He’s been lights out this year pitching in a hitters ballpark. He’ll still cash in, but might be slightly more affordable and actually more effective. We need more than a closer, we probably need at least three more relievers to complement Lugo and Gsellman in our retooled pen. Pick three.
Lastly, we need another SP, the one Jason Vargas was supposed to be. With Kershaw, Corbin, and Harvey available (just kidding), we could target a guy like Dallas Keuchel or a number of other options. Pick one.
The common denominator, of course, is money. When you don’t have minor league talent on the cusp of promotion, the only other choice is to spend. Retooling will cost money, and the Wilponsies aren’t known for their open checkbook, but this is what retooling looks like.
There’s been a huge debate about hiring a GM to replace the three-headed monster that replaced Sandy Alderson. While that’s important, there’s something more important. Get Fred on the line. Tell him to get his credit card ready and increase his credit limit. Charges are coming. Lots of charges. It’s the only rational path forward, for now.
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