Archive for the ‘Hot Stove’ Category

By Steven Inman

Kennys Vargas

Kennys Vargas could be had on the cheap for the Mets

The New York Mets have been looking for a long-term option at first base since the Carlos Delgado era ended nearly a decade ago. Since then, the Mets have employed the likes of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, James Loney plus a few others with only Duda having strung together much success. Even while Duda had a few strong power seasons with the Amazins, Sandy Alderson and his staff considered him a stopgap option the last few years. Over the past 6 seasons, Mets 1B have hit .242/.329/.438, which is in the bottom third of baseball over that time frame. The Mets have struggled offensively the last few years and health has a lot to do with that but strong lineups often have a big slugger at first base. The Mets haven’t had a consistent All-Star caliber hitter at first since Delgado. This year should be more of the same, so let’s examine who the Mets can look towards at this key position.

Internal Candidates

Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez has not had a good spring after having a dismal 2017 season, where he hit just 3 home runs in 71 games. With that said it seems pretty clear that he is the Mets choice to start the season as the 1st baseman. He still carries a quality glove and has a tremendous track record of All-Star production before 2017. He’s only costing the Mets the league minimum so it wasn’t a huge risk to bring the 5-time All-Star to camp. The main risk with Gonzalez comes from his influence in the clubhouse. I say that because he intentionally missed the World Series with the Dodgers to go on vacation with his family in Europe. The Dodgers couldn’t have been thrilled with that who then convinced him to waive his no trade clause a few months ago to go to Atlanta where he would be cut. If Adrian hits this season he will remain the Mets first baseman.

Dominic Smith – The Mets 2013 first round pick seemingly has squandered his opportunity to be an everyday player in New York for the foreseeable future. Dom pretty much needs to get healthy and for Gonzalez to struggle to get another opportunity. He had just a .658 OPS in 183 PA’s last season with the big club. Smith also really struggled defensively and has missed most of Spring Training with a quad injury. The perception was Dominic Smith had a shot at the Opening Day roster with a strong camp. He was benched early on in camp for being late one day, scouts have questioned his conditioning and he hasn’t been comfortable enough to run with the quad, let alone get back in a game. Dominic Smith’s Met career is in jeopardy just when it was getting started.

Peter Alonso – For the last few years, there has been a pretty even split in the Mets front office on who is the first baseman of the future, Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso. Alonso, 23, has hit in every minor league stop he has been in and is probably the most likely candidate on this list now to be the Mets long-term first baseman. Alonso’s signature trait, his power, could be a game changer in New York. The University of Florida product hit 18 homers in just 93 games in the minors last season. Alonso is a big kid who has a big strike zone so K’s could be an issue as he moves up. He might not be in the Mets plans for a majority of this season (he only has played in 11 games above High-A) but this is a bat to keep an eye on. Dominic Smith needs to get on a field and produce quickly as Alonso is right on his heels now.

External Candidates

Adam Lind – Lind, 34, has played with four different clubs (TOR, MIL, SEA, WSH) over the last four seasons. You would think with his production in that span (.280/.345/.466 in 1,621 PA’s) he would stop bouncing around but the 12-year vet was forced to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees in a very slow free agency. After it looked like he wouldn’t make the team with the addition of Neil Walker, Lind was granted his release. Lind has always mashed right-handed pitching to the tune of .288/.348/.504. He wouldn’t cost much more than the league minimum and pairing him with the lefty mashing Wilmer Flores (.862 OPS against LHP in 2017), could give the Mets one of the best platoon situations in all of baseball.

Kennys Vargas – The former Twin who has drawn David Ortiz comparisons by many was designated for assignment last week by Minnesota. They have a few more days to find a trade for him before he can become a free agent. The 27-year old has shown flashes of massive power but was never able to stick as a full time 1B or DH in Minnesota. The addition of Logan Morrison, who slugged 38 homers in Tampa last season, made Vargas expendable in Minnesota. Vargas hit 21 homers over the last two seasons, in just 441 PA’s. His strikeouts are probably a huge concern for interested teams but Vargas could be worth a flier. He also has just two full seasons of MLB service, so should he be able to stick on a roster, he will be cheap and under control for a long time.

It seems as if the Mets are committed to giving Adrian Gonzalez the first crack to solve this position. My choice would be a Lind/Flores tag team at first. They would be smart to check in on Lind as soon as possible and Lind would likely be interested in coming to Queens with the amount of playing time likely available.

Who do you think should be the Mets first baseman in 2018 and beyond?


By Steven Inman

World Series - Chicago Cubs v Cleveland Indians - Game Six

Photo via CBS

If you’re reading this, you probably already know it’s been a very quiet offseason for the New York Mets. The team brought in 2017 breakout reliever Anthony Swarzak early on and re-signed Jay Bruce to a 3-year deal Wednesday. This has been the slowest moving MLB offseason in recent memory and there are still plenty of players available that can turn the Mets into a contending club before it’s time to report to Port St. Lucie next month. The Mets could use a starting pitcher and another reliever but it appears Sandy Alderson and his staff has made solving second base a priority. The issue the Mets are having is they’re trying to drastically cut payroll and don’t seem to have the prospects necessary to acquire talent in trades. Despite not having a lot of chips at the table, the Mets can still get their man. Second basemen like Ian Kinsler and Dee Gordon (Dee will play CF in Seattle) were traded for little more than salary relief earlier this offseason. The player the Mets should grab will be tougher to acquire than just a salary dump but he’s worth looking into. That player is Jason Kipnis.

Kipnis, 30, is coming off the worst season of his 7-year MLB career. He was banged up and missed about half of the season with injuries. He didn’t really hit and eventually the Indians decided to move AL MVP candidate Jose Ramirez to Kipnis’ position at 2B and move Jason to center field. The move held mix results for Kipnis and he is expected to move back to second should he stay in Cleveland in 2018.

Kipnis has been in trade talks all winter but the Indians have reportedly been reluctant to move the 2-time All-Star. Kipnis in 2015-16 before his injury plagued year, hit a healthy .289/.357/.460 in nearly 1200 at-bats. During those seasons Kipnis was also a very strong defensive player at 2B so the Indians shifting him to the outfield, where he hadn’t played since 2009 rookie ball was strange. His contract isn’t cheap which is probably why Cleveland is even considering moving him. Kipnis is owed around $13.7M in 2018, $14.7M in 2019 and then has a $16.5M club option for 2020. With that said if Kipnis can come close to his 2015-16 numbers he is a nice bargain for whatever club he is on.

It’s unknown what the Mets could give up that would intrigue the contending Indians. After losing Bryan Shaw to Free Agency they can probably use another reliever. Would the Indians have interest in AJ Ramos and prospects in a Jason Kipnis deal? If I were the Mets I’d have to explore it. While Ramos is expected to be a big part of the Mets bullpen, his salary will jump via arbitration from the $6.55M he made in 2017. The money the Mets could save could allow them to make another big move such as upgrading their starting rotation or look into another reliever to replace Ramos.

When considering the Mets’ payroll remember Jay Bruce’s 3-year $39M deal is backloaded this season, perhaps in an effort to let Sandy Alderson make another big move.

It’s strange to see a quality player like Jason Kipnis reportedly available at arguably his lowest value but there have been similar salary dumps across baseball this offseason. Time for the Mets to take advantage.

In the offseason edition of the Mets Report podcast Rob DeLucia and Steve Inman discuss the impact Mickey Callaway can have on the Mets, what Omar Minaya’s new role will be in the organization, the Mets second base options, why the Mets shouldn’t trade Juan Lagares and if the Mets only have $10-$15 million left to spend, who should the Mets spend it on? Thanks as always for the support and if you want a question or comment responded on the next show leave it below in the comments section!

By Steven Inman


Photo from Chicago Tribune

We’re well aware at this point how much the Mets need to add externally after a disastrous, 70-92 season. The team is going to have to add a 3B or 2B, bullpen help and another starting pitcher. Another piece they’re going to need is an additional outfielder. Yoenis Cespedes missed 81 games this season, Michael Conforto underwent major shoulder surgery and could miss a chunk of 2018 and Juan Lagares has not shown he can stay healthy at the major league level in his big league career yet. Obviously with so many needs and payroll coming down a reported $15-$20M, Sandy Alderson and his staff really can’t afford to spend big bucks on a major outfielder. The perfect guy to compliment the Mets outfield is Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, has been a solid table setter for the Cubs this season. He has stops on his baseball card in St. Louis and San Diego prior to signing a one year $8M deal with Chicago last winter. The Mets might be banking on Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo platooning in center field to start next season but that would be a mistake. The Mets must start to accrue depth, so they can have a plan B if/when everyone gets hurt again. If Conforto is in fact not ready for the season, Nimmo and Lagares would be forced to play every day and the Mets 4th outfielder would be someone like Matt Reynolds, who hasn’t distinguished himself in the majors yet.

Jay hits lefties and righties at a great clip (.288 career vs LHP, .289 vs RHP). He is not a guy with much power but he can play all 3 outfield positions well and won’t break the bank. Jay just finished a 1-year, $8M contract with the Cubs and will likely get around the same money next season. Jay has said publicly his preference is to return to the Cubs, who have advanced to the NLCS or further the last 3 years but with the surplus of outfielders in Chicago, the Cubs may be inclined not to negotiate a new contract with Jay.

With the amount of injuries the Mets endured last season (and for the last decade) it would be smart for the club to start to accrue depth. By signing and starting Jay, the Mets would be in a position to have Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares as late inning pinch hitters and defensive replacements. Plus they could step in as starters should one of the Mets outfielders get hurt or in the likely event Conforto isn’t ready for the opener.

Does an outfielder like Jon Jay make sense for New York?

By Steven Inman


Photo from NY Times

In what has been a disastrous year for the New York Mets, perhaps no player has been more disappointing than the Mets former ace, Matt Harvey. After leaving the mound in the 9th inning in Game 5 of the World Series 2 years ago, it has been all downhill for the right-hander. The last two seasons, Harvey has been totally ineffective with a dip in his fastball velocity by around a full mile per hour in each of the last two seasons. As a result of that, Harvey is throwing his fastball slightly less and his slider more. Harvey is in rare territory here as a pitcher trying to successfully return from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

It’s been difficult to find a pitcher to undergo this surgery and come back just as effective as he was before. Not saying it’s impossible, but the early results have been very discouraging. Harvey has a 5.82 ERA and has let up a whopping 17 homers in just 77.1 innings. (2.0 HR per 9) He has given up a ton of hard contact and doesn’t seem to be fooling hitters these days. As a player who has one final year of arbitration next season, it’s time for the Mets to let go of Harvey. In arbitration, whether it makes sense or not, it’s extremely rare for a player to get a pay cut. Matt Harvey is making $5.125 million this season so he will make slightly more if offered salary arbitration.

The Mets have question marks all over their team. With pretty much every top prospect in the organization already promoted to Citi Field, this farm system isn’t going to be able to contribute much in 2018. Sandy Alderson and his staff are going to have to find a second baseman, a third baseman, another starting pitcher, bullpen help and perhaps a corner outfielder with Michael Conforto in jeopardy of missing a chunk of next season. All of that is with the Mets saying it’s likely the team sticks with their current catching duo. Sandy Alderson acknowledged that the club’s payroll is likely to slightly decrease from the $145-150M it started this season as. With so many holes still to fill, paying Harvey $6M without any signs that he can be close to the pitcher that he was is probably not a great use of resources.

It’s highly unlikely Harvey would get $6M guaranteed somewhere if the Mets non-tendered him. If the team didn’t offer him arbitration, they could always bring him back on a smaller, incentive laden contract.

Harvey has had one of the more roller coaster careers an athlete has had in New York. The 28-year old went from the Dark Knight to getting booed in the blink of an eye. His agent Scott Boras along with Harvey were very apprehensive about the righty pitching throughout the postseason after putting so many innings on his arm coming off Tommy John surgery. Pressure from the Mets along with public pressure from fans and media, convinced Harvey not to shut himself down for the year and ignore his “innings limit”. We’ll never know if his downfall is because of all those IP in 2015, but they surely didn’t help him. Matt Harvey deserves a thank you from all Met fans for putting his career on the line in the pursuit of getting the Mets to that 2015 World Series.  He was magnificent in that game 5 vs Kansas City and if things had gone differently in that 9th inning, perhaps Met fans would have a different outlook on Harvey today.

Harvey should be remembered as one of the great Met pitchers that helped the club reached just their 5th World Series since 1962. With that said, it’s time to move on.

The Mets are going to have to make around a 20-game improvement next season if they want to make the postseason, to do that while cutting payroll, the Mets are going to have to make creative decisions like this one.

By Steven Inman

Join Rob DeLucia and I as we breakdown what the Mets did at the Trade Deadline, how the Mets’ payroll will look going forward, early impressions of Amed Rosario, what we hope to see out of Dominic Smith and what does the future in New York look like for Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler & Terry Collins?

Thanks for listening as always and any questions you want answered on the show, leave them in the comments section below!


By Steven Inmanlucasdudatravisdarnaud2kkhqgxhhwhm

As Met fans, tell me if you’ve heard this before, the Mets ability to score runs consistently, will come down to the success of Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud. The major league careers to date for both players have been roller coasters, with 2016 being hopefully closest to the low point. Both hitters battled injuries and ineffectiveness all of last season to the point where they lost their starting jobs to inferior offensive players, at a time when the Mets really needed more offense. It’s no coincidence that both Duda and d’Arnaud combined for 11 homers, 38 RBI and less than 100 hits while the Mets finished just 25th in runs last season. The two had their best seasons offensively in 2015 where the Mets finished middle of the pack in runs. For the most part, health permitting, the Mets have an idea of what they’re going to get out of Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. Duda and d’Arnaud when they’re swinging the bats well lengthen the lineup and allow those middle of the order hitters to possibly see an extra plate appearance a game with guys on base.

There isn’t a ton of stability in this Met lineup. Curtis Granderson is getting up there in age, Michael Conforto likely doesn’t have everyday plate appearances after the Mets completely botched the Jay Bruce situation and we all know the issues David Wright is going through to stay healthy. After the poor offensive season this group had as a whole, combined with all the question marks going into 2017, make Duda and d’Arnaud the Mets biggest x-factors offensively in ’17.

Besides the Mets need for these two to perform, 2017 is a HUGE year for both players.

Lucas Duda is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season and the free agent market has recently evolved into one that doesn’t reward all or nothing power hitters. Chris Carter, who tied for the NL lead in homers last season with 42, was non-tendered months ago and now can’t find an everyday job. The same goes for clubhouse favorite Mike Napoli. The Mets can’t even trade slugger Jay Bruce without eating some of his $13M remaining on his contract. Teams don’t value these  less athletic, non-versatile players anymore despite their enormous power. For Lucas Duda to find an everyday job in 2018 and beyond he is going to need to have a career year and show that he is more than just a power threat when healthy. The Mets have top prospects Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith getting closer and closer to the Mets 1st base job so the writing is on the wall for a Duda departure, especially after he turned down a contract extension a few seasons ago. Duda slashed just .229/.302/.412 a season ago but he has put up healthy OBP’s with impressive power numbers in the past. While the Mets need Duda to perform in 2017, he needs a big year even more.

Like Duda, Travis d’Arnaud also badly needs a breakout season. The former top prospect has never been able to stay healthy at the major or minor league level. The backstop has struggled defensively and has shown he is unable to throw out runners to date. There are plenty of offensive minded catchers in the game and there is nothing wrong with that but d’Arnaud hit just .247/.307/.323 last season after a strong 2015. Even when d’Arnaud was healthy he lost at-bats to backup Rene Rivera, who the pitchers preferred to throw to. The two catchers offensive potentials are vastly different but the Mets didn’t seem to regret Rivera taking over for d’Arnaud down the stretch, which is terrifying considering Rivera is a career .213/.264/.332 hitter across 8 major league seasons. It seems as if the Mets are willing to give d’Arnaud another chance as the Mets starting catcher but it would surprise no one if this was his last chance. It’s no secret the Mets were interested in Jonathan Lucroy last summer and were willing to include d’Arnaud in a deal for him. Travis d’Arnaud’s upside is still of an elite offensive catcher (albeit with defensive issues) but the catcher will never be able to show off those skills if he doesn’t stay healthy this year. The Mets are a better and deeper team when d’Arnaud is hitting. Whether or not you believe in RBI as a legit stat, the Mets were 8-2 in ’16 when d’Arnaud drove in a run. The Mets are going to need d’Arnaud to drive in a run (or runs) in more than 10 games if they want to be a decent offensive club.

It’s pretty clear to any baseball fan that the New York Mets will rely heavily on their pitching in 2017 but without Duda and d’Arnaud contributing to this offense the Mets will remain an unbalanced team that will continue to be forced to search for offensive help.