Yep we’d eventually get to this. Piece of Sh**… Or is it secretly a Position of Strength. Nope, no such luck.
(This is mostly a rant, for analysis on the outfield follow my daily power rankings.)
Here’s what I’ve been saying all off-season long (at least since they traded for Cowgill), Sandy Alderson approached this offseason with a plan.
Plan A- Part 1; Assemble a batch of outfielders to fill in two of the three outfield positions.
Part 2; Find a quality outfielder from trades or free agency.
Plan B- Part 1; Trot out what we had last year.
Part 2: Hope that an extra farmhand or something has a career year.
In terms of Plan A, Alderson finished the first part. He said to himself, “Self, I have three returning guys who might have some talent. They might not though, so lets grab a few guys who might also have talent.” Enter Collin Cowgill and Andrew Brown. “Okay, from that group of five players I should end up covering two of the three positions, whether by a true starter or a platoon.”
That’s not implausible. I could believe that one starter and one platoon quality set could come out of that mix. Then he threw in Marlon Byrd and it became a bit more plausible. I don’t think he expected any of them to be all-stars, but he though that there would be one or two or a platoon that would be good enough to be a third outfielder for an decent MLB team.
On to part two, where he utterly failed. But hold on a minute, you say, why settle for part 1 when you could use part 2 to build an outfield. Well… Alderson had some payroll wiggle room, but not a lot. So big priced guys were out. Josh Hamilton and the like. I personally hoped that Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher would have their stock fall far enough to grab them. Then I saw Bourn was represented by Scott Boras and I wrote him off. I assume Alderson wrote him off when BJ Upton signed his deal (“Bourn will sign a deal just like that, which is too much,” I can imagine Alderson saying.
Then, looking at the second and third tier outfielders there really wasn’t anyone worth the Mets signing. Torii Hunter would have been a good get, but he’s the kind of player that puts a contender over the top, not the kind that you build a team alongside. Same could be said for Delmon Young (though I wouldn’t say it).
So TL;DR, Alderson saw maybe one, max two free agent outfielders who were in his price range and would improve the team (not just be better than someone on the team).
So that is why he took on part 2, if Swisher or Bourn were out of his price range, perhaps a Justin Upton would be be within trade range. Truth be told he was, Alderson just had to give up Zach Wheeler. It might not have been a bad deal, a proven bat for an unproven arm, but Alderson wasn’t going to give away his gem for someone who sounds better than he plays. Then, the secondary outfielders (any other Diamondbacks outfielder, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, a few others who didn’t get traded but sounded like they might). He could have wheeled Noah Syndergaard, or moved Wilmer Flores for an young outfielder with good upside, but he didn’t. He also let some questionable starting outfielders sign elsewhere in free agency (see career year players Cody Ross and Scott Hairston). Both were in the right price range and would have been solid additions, but neither really improve the team (not just be better than someone on the team).
Not trading for Upton was a fail. Not signing Ross or Hairston, while the inaction makes sense, are also fails. But the headline failure was Bourn.
Remember way up above when I said I thought Bourn would slip in price. Even though I recanted that statement, it still turned out to be true. Bourn was in the right price range and time frame for the Mets. But Alderson didn’t want to get fleeced by Boras, so he didn’t pull the trigger.
Frankly, I don’t care about the draft pick thing. He wasn’t expecting it to be an issue when the offseason started so that’s why he didn’t inquire about it then. We also found out that MLB would only make a ruling if they had contract, so there was no use in Alderson asking at the start of the offseason, because he had no contract ready to be signed. For all we know he did touch base with someone at the beginning of the year and that’s how he knew that MLB would “probably agree with our position.” Then after writing off Bourn like I did, one of his people came into the office and said “You know, Bourn is still available and Boras might be willing to settle with our price.” So I don’t accept the “why didn’t he get the draft pick thing straightened out in November criticism.
But if you want the guy, make the deal. Say “Michael, we’re confident. We’re going to sign you right now.” Whether you’re confident in his ability or that MLB will protect your draft choice, you don’t have to say. But if you get his name down in ink on the paper, he can start spring training the next day. No three week wait. And if you lose the pick, too freaking bad. I wrote two posts on Bourn, one debating the draft pick and the other showing my view of the scheming Alderson. So enough of that.
So anyway here’s the POS outlook
RF Somebody from the outfield pile –
CF Somebody else –
LF Or maybe six guys all platooning for the three outfield slots –
Really I have no idea who will be in the outfield. Since Alderson’s Plan A Part 2 didn’t work out, and there’s no Andre Eithier or Juston Upton or even Cody Ross out there, there’s no single, surefire starter. Instead we adopt Plan A Part 1 and Plan B Part 2; see what rises to the top in spring training, then maybe Matt Den Dekker or a super surprising Brandon Nimmo or even a midseason trade come in to fill out whatever hole is left.
So follow my daily outfield power rankings to see who eventually earns the spots. It may take all Spring.