Archive for July, 2016

By Steven InmanSandy

The Mets came out of the All-Star break thinking if they could just get a little more offense in the second half they could go on a run similar to the incredible fireworks of last summer. The Mets offense in the first half was embarrassing, headlined by poor at-bats with runners on base. Somehow this Mets lineup has gotten even worse over the last few weeks to the point where the Mets are on the brink of being swept at home by a Rockies pitching staff that entered this series with a 4.87 ERA as a team. Pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Anderson who were badly scuffling, easily shut down the Mets hitters. The Mets have scored just 4 runs in the first 3 games of this series. It has gotten so bad this week for the Mets that they have the Rockies thinking they can compete for an NL Wild Card.

The Mets are batting .202/.279/.318 with men in scoring position on the season, one of the worst triple slash lines with RISP in the history of baseball. While a lot of that is probably just being unlucky, the players must know how bad they’ve been. Asdrubal Cabrera was able to recite his recent 0-30+ AB slump with RISP to reporters after a recent game. There’s a good chance the team’s offensive futility with men on base is in the player’s heads to some degree.

The Mets have been active in trying to resurrect this offense through trades but with a lack of impact bats available it is going to take the last of the Mets farm system to acquire such a hitter. Even a miracle trade for a Jonathan Lucroy won’t save this Met offense. Instead I suggest the Mets turn around and sell.

Now obviously this isn’t going to be the popular opinion coming off a World Series appearance but this team without a major offensive overhaul isn’t going anywhere. The Mets don’t have a true center fielder on the roster except for Justin Ruggiano who they signed Saturday. With Matt Harvey out for the year and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz clearly not the same dynamic players with their bone spurs, the Mets huge starting pitching advantage is no longer that big of an edge over other clubs.

Instead of trying to deal Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce again (who doesn’t fit here as another corner outfielder) the Met should turn around and consider dealing free agents to be Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker and Bartolo Colon.

The Mets will get compensation picks for Walker and Cespedes if they depart since they are likely to offer the two arbitration but the Mets should be able to get more in a package in what has been an extreme sellers market.

The Mets really stripped down their farm system last season to acquire all the pieces that helped them reach the World Series. Trading Cespedes who will likely opt-out for a larger deal could bring you an elite prospect like Michael Fulmer who the Mets traded away at this time last year. Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts as a Tiger this season. While the Mets can’t get him back, they can get a good young piece who can really help next season with (hopefully) a healthy starting rotation. So far this month teams have shown they are willing to trade top prospects for rentals. The Yankees who are just a game back in the loss column to the Mets entering Sunday have transformed their farm system by trading elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller this week. Now instead of bringing back the same old team next season they will have blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier ready to make an impact in 2017.

While this will never happen as the Mets would never sell coming off a World Series appearance, the season continues to head in the wrong direction and if the Mets could retool here and acquire some assets that could help them in 2017, they could be looking at another trip to the World Series in the not so distant future.Selling off now could be the Mets best chance to extend their window to win a World Series.

Advertisements

By Steven InmanHellickson

For all the talk of the Mets acquiring a bat at the trade deadline, it appears now the team will be reversing course and looking at the scarce starting pitching market to help bolster the team. The Mets have been ravaged by injuries this season, and the latest hits have come to the Mets star-studded rotation. Zack Wheeler has had some setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery. With the season half way over it would be unfair to expect much out of Wheeler, if anything in 2016. He will need about a month to build his pitch count up in the minors which the Mets were hoping he would have started by now. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs as well as general fatigue while Matt Harvey is now out for the season. It isn’t known if last year’s massive innings increase is the reason Harvey is injured but he deserves a ton of credit for putting everything on the line for the Mets in the 2015 postseason. Met fans including myself owe Harvey an apology as he really put the team over his own future last season. The Mets don’t get to the World Series without Harvey and if the Dark Knight doesn’t come back from this uncommon surgery at full strength, he could cost himself over $100 million as a free agent in a couple of years.

The Mets must now replace Harvey in the rotation, while Logan Verrett has been decent as a swingman it would behoove the Mets to go out and get another arm. With two Wild Cards in each league there aren’t too many teams that have thrown up the white flag yet but one of those teams looking to next year already is the Philadelphia Phillies. After a hot start, the Phils have had a miserable summer but one bright spot has been trade chip Jeremy Hellickson. The former AL Rookie of the Year is having a solid 2016 after coming over in a trade with Arizona last winter. While Hellickson is certainly more of a back of the rotation guy, he could help the Mets by eating innings and saving the Mets overworked bullpen.

Hellickson, 29, has a 3.39 ERA in his last 11 starts but perhaps most important is that he has thrown at least six innings in 10 of those 11 outings. Hellickson isn’t a huge strikeout guy but he could keep the ball in the ballpark at Citi Field and would be a nice fit for the Mets. Hellickson’s contract wouldn’t be a huge issue for Sandy Alderson and company as he is making just $7M in the final year of his deal. Having said this, due to the lack of starting pitching available, the Phillies are going to ask for a solid prospect or two in exchange for Hellickson’s services. It’s unlikely either the Mets or the Phillies would have a problem trading within the division.

Other than top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets don’t have a ton in their system that they shouldn’t be willing to deal. With the Nationals expanding their lead in the NL East, the Mets join a large group of teams after a National League Wild Card spot. It would be smart for the Mets to add talent in any way they can. The final Wild Card spot could come down to a game or two and adding a veteran arm like Hellickson could actually be the difference maker. Expect the Phillies to be heavy sellers over the next few weeks and Hellickson will likely be at the top of that list. He would be a nice get for the Mets.

By Steven Inman

When the Mets got swept by the Nationals last week, Met fans thought that this team was in major trouble due to a lack of offensive firepower. It seemed like no matter who Dusty Baker summoned to the mound for the Nats, they were going to put up a zero. Once the Mets returned home to face the Cubs everything changed. The Mets began clicking offensively and while middle of the order hitters Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker began playing the home run ball again, the key to the Mets recent turnaround is the re-emergence of Travis d’Arnaud.

Bronx, Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees, Mets, Yankee Stadium, Subway Series

While the Mets called up their former spark plug Jose Reyes on Tuesday, the hitter that makes the Mets go now is actually d’Arnaud.

Last season when Travis d’Arnaud returned from the disabled list, the team took off. Yes obviously acquiring Yoenis Cespedes last year and then re-signing him this winter was crucial but this offense just seems to click when the Mets catcher is hitting. The Mets are 10-4 this season when Travis gets a hit, but just 4-7 when he doesn’t. He was 8-13 with a homer and 4 RBI during the Mets 5-game win streak.  Travis d’Arnaud put up 12 homers in just 239 at-bats last season. The backstop recently changed his stance to help him drive the ball better but for Travis it really comes down to him just staying on the field. It’s hard to get into a rhythm offensively when you miss a month or two every year.

Many thought the Mets were fine without d’Arnaud with Kevin Plawecki getting a real shot to be the everyday catcher. Plawecki badly struggled offensively and his throwing behind the plate wasn’t much better than d’Arnaud’s. Rene Rivera has been solid defensively in spot duty and Noah Syndergaard loves throwing to him but the Mets simply need Travis’ bat in the lineup. While d’Arnaud’s defense leaves much to be desired, his offensive potential could give the Mets a solid lineup the rest of the summer, even without making a trade. If #18 can stay healthy the Mets have a shot at catching the Nationals and winning their second straight National League East crown.