An MMO Fan Shot by Marc Epstein (Mystere2417)
Addition by subtraction is a phrase everyone knows but often flies under the radar. As a fan, it’s more fun to focus on new acquisitions than it is to focus on old disappointments. Yet, it is an important part of building a sustainable, winning team to do so. It’s just as crucial to subtract less productive players as it is to add more productive ones.
Throughout Mets history, the whole has not equaled the sum of the parts. The team is in negative territory on the number line of its existence. The same can be said more specifically about the past two disappointing seasons. We’ve accumulated less productive players at an alarming rate since our last trip to the World Series in 2015.
Enter new GM Brodie Van Wagenen who wants to reverse course and change the equation. We can call it the new Mets math.
Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Wilmer Flores follow in the footsteps of AJ Ramos, Jose Reyes, and Jerry Blevins as odd men out during this offseason of change for our favorite franchise. In each case, salary, contract, injury history, and/or under-performance created more negative than positive value and led to their exile from Flushing.
A confluence of events raises questions about the status of several other players to make it to Opening Day at Citi Field. A new, activist GM has changed the narrative of what is possible and likely to happen around these parts. A free agent market flush with talented players at the Mets positions of need offer a smorgasbord of signing options which could make existing players expendable. A blockbuster trade, two contract tender decisions and a minor league invitee to spring training have already shuffled the deck of the Mets options for infield depth. And that same blockbuster trade has freed payroll and created even more positional flexibility and uncertainty surrounding the makeup of the 2019 Mets roster.
As BVW dedicates himself to his stated goal of retooling the blue and orange for postseason contention in 2019 and beyond, players we’ve rooted for on the current MLB roster could be on their way out the door as the next example of addition by subtraction. Let’s take a closer look at the candidates to possibly follow in the footsteps of the jettisoned:
1. Todd Frazier – After a disappointing and injury riddled season, and earning a hefty salary, the Toddfather’s position on the Mets was already tenuous heading into the offseason. In the aftermath of the Robinson Cano trade, the Mets could try to move Jeff McNeil to third base, making Frazier an expensive bench or platoon piece. It could also put him squarely on the trading block as his low batting average is a negative that could be subtracted to improve the team.
2. Juan Lagares – Negative value is not only created by poor performance. It is also created by non-performance. Lagares simply cannot stay on the field, and that makes his presence more of a negative than a positive. Similar to Frazier, Lagares heads into 2019 in the final year of his contract overpaid for his level of production even when healthy, and as always an injury risk. Juan is an ideal fourth outfielder when playing up to his potential, a hustler with speed and a maestro with a gold glove, so there is definitely an important spot for him on the current Mets roster especially considering the team right now has only three active outfielders counting a healthy Juan (which is an oxymoron). Having said that, I can see a scenario where the Mets find a taker for Lagares and bring in a more durable, healthy backup outfielder.
3. Jason Vargas – The starting pitcher no one wanted in 2018 except Sandy Anderson, Mickey Callaway, and Dave Eiland, who all thought they knew better than everyone else, has become the starting pitcher no one wants for 2019. Jason Vargas, the soft-tossing two-time Mets pitcher, has very few fans in Flushing. The start of his encore Mets career got off on the wrong foot, or I should say hand, and went downhill from there with horrific results and another injury, this time of his calf, which mercilessly prevented him from getting anywhere near a diamond for a while unless he put on his jewelry. If the baseball gods are looking down favorably on the Mets this coming season, Vargy will be relegated to the bullpen or banished somewhere within our division so Alonso can face him numerous times.
4. Paul Sewald – There were high hopes that Paul Sewald would be able to parlay his minor league effectiveness into a solid Big League career. His 2017 performance showed glimpses of command and stuff early on, but then he crashed and burned spectacularly in 2018. He was part of the disaster that was the Mets bullpen last year and is a prime addition by subtraction candidate. The only thing likely keeping him on the roster is his low salary and the gaping hole that is still our bullpen beyond the top three or four.
5. Dominic Smith – When do you fish or cut bait? That is the question with Dom Smith, a former first round pick whose progress towards a MLB career was derailed by poor performance, poor fitness, and a broken alarm clock. Perhaps that is too harsh of a take for a kid who is still only 23 years of age, but so far Smith has failed to live up to his high draft status or even his reputation as a slick fielding first baseman. With Peter Alonso leapfrogging him in the prospect rankings after raking at the AA and AAA levels last season, this could be Smith’s last chance to make a first (base) impression. With the trade of Jay Bruce, he could also fill a bench role but doesn’t seem to offer much upside in that capacity. How nice is the weather in Syracuse in the spring and summer? Smith may soon find out.
6. Kevin Plawecki – Granted, Plawecki doesn’t belong on this list, but I’m putting him on it anyway, for a reason. At first blush, you would think Plawecki would have a secure roster spot for 2019 and that might indeed be so. He’s our only healthy MLB catcher, out of options, low cost, was tendered a contract, and logged a 1.3 WAR for 2018. But with the tendering of a contract to Travis d’Arnaud and the availability of starting catchers on the market, the Mets could look to move Plawecki to fill another need, bring in a starting catcher along the lines of Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, or even Devin Mesoraco, and relegate TDA to the backup role if they believe he is fully recovered from his injury. Of course, given his track record of injuries, this could be a risky proposition unless they feel Tomas Nido can handle those duties when the inevitable occurs to TDA, despite not having shown that he is ready to hit MLB pitching. Still, the fans are clamoring for a way to improve the all-important catcher position, and one way to do that is to subtract Plawecki, demote TDA, and bring in a new starting catcher.
Who do you think will be the next odd man out, one of the players mentioned above, or someone else entirely?
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This Fan Shot was written and contributed by MMO community member Marc Epstein (Mystere2417). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to GetMetsmerized@aol.com or use this Contact Form. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.