We’re almost to the start of spring training and I’m excited.
The Mets have a hole at the shortstop position. Ask any Mets fan, pundit, blogger or media member.
I’ve heard that the Mets need to upgrade their offense, and the only place that is really an open spot to do so is at shortstop. Our infield is mostly set for the next year and we have an outfield that either provides quality defense or is manned by a veteran. We even have a catcher who should be a solid offensive weapon. So the offensive upgrade is at shortstop.
I had advocated for Hanley Ramirez. I still would have taken him, but the amount of money we would have signed him to and the fact that his days at shortstop were likely limited means it’s probably for the best we didn’t throw money at him.
So why not Troy Tulowitzki. There are three points against him; 1. He costs a lot of money, 2. He is injury prone, 3. He would cost at least one top prospect and likely more.
The first point shouldn’t be an issue. Adding Tulowitzki’s contract would make the 2015 Mets expected payroll (including arbitration increases) at about $119 million. That would put the Mets almost dead in the center of team payrolls in 2015. The Mets would be on the hook for $20 million each year through 2019, when he’ll be 35. Then one year of $14 million and an option year of $15 million or a $4 million buyout. So at least $118 million left (Not including bonuses and possibly $5 million contract escalators for the last two seasons.) Fangraphs had a unit of WAR (or a win) valued at about $6 million. Tulo last year earned 5.5 BWAR in about half a season of at bats (319). So in half a season he exceeded his $16 million 2014 season salary by $17 million (6 $/WAR x 5.5 WAR = $33 million). If we were to get that same production, even if it were stretched out over the whole season instead of just half, we’d still have his contract more than paid for. The 2013 season saw Tulo earn 5.3 WAR over 446 innings. He’d still be worth $20 million a year. The 2012 season was Tulo’s worst gathering 0.4 WAR over 181 at bats, which by the 2014 value if a win would be $2.4 mil. A bad break that would be mitigated by the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
So in answering why Tulo seems like he’d be worth the money, I pretty much answered the point about injury. Tulowitzki played in an average of 107 games per season over his 9 year career (117 per season if you eliminate his 26 games in a late call up in 2006 as a season). It’s still more than half the games per season, but ideally you’d like to see him somewhere around 140-160. However, he’s averaged a 4.7 WAR (not counting his 2006 call up). Every season, except for lost years in 2012 (0.4 WAR) and 2008 (0.6) and the 2006 cup of coffee (-0.4), Tulowitzki has been one of the top three shortstops in WAR in Major League Baseball. Tulowitzki’s current hip injury is a little scary for a player at such a mobile position, but the Royals’ Alex Gordon and the Denver Bronco’s Wes Welker have come out of the torn labrum surgery fine, so there is hope he will be a good player upon returning. I mean aren’t we hoping for the same from Matt Harvey.
As for the prospect cost, that’s where red flags start popping up for me. In terms of an offensive upgrade, only three other players can hold a candle to Tulowitzki in recent years, one is the aforementioned Hanley Ramirez, who projects to be a left fielder sooner than later. Another is Jhonny Peralta, who actually led MLB last year in WAR for a shortstop. The Mets could have gotten him but said he was too expensive. In terms of $/WAR he made $34.8 million of his four-year, $53 mil. contract in one season. In the Harvey-less 2014, it would have been a less valuable year, but it could have been enough to get the Mets over .500. The last possible offensive upgrade would be Ian Desmond, who the Mets could have had. Desmond could have been had by sending two top prospects, likely including Noah Syndergaard to the Tampa Bay Rays while assuring that the Washington Nationals received Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. In this deal the Mets would get one of the best shortstops, but only for one year. The Nationals would get a good short stop and also one of the best ss/2b/lf/etc. in baseball. In fact if that trade went through, the Nationals would have ended up with more WAR based on the previous year’s total.
I would take Desmond, but only with 3-4 years of control. While Tulo is a big expense, at least we’d know that we’d be getting six years of control of a top player after we traded 2-3 top prospects and an MLB player.
The IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot is due by the end of the year, and I will post my ballot on New Years, but I thought I’d give you a preview of my thinking by releasing my golden ballot. Continue reading
While filling out my IBWAA awards ballot, I noticed something. The Mets had arguably the best class of rookies this year.
Certainly in terms of the National league, the Mets had a handful of reasonable quality players compared to the rest of the league.
First off is the guy who should be Rookie of the Year for the National League, Jacob deGrom.
deGrom has had a great season and the nation became aware of him after he tied a major league record with 8-straight strikeouts to start a game. It was immediately after that game that Howard Cole posted on @IBWAA that voters could not change their ballots. My guess? People voted for the wrong guy.
They should have voted for deGrom.
Flip CarGo and Grandy if you want, but in this dream scenario the Mets fill all their biggest needs in one big trade. The problem Mets fans refuse to acknowledge is that the Rockies may not want to trade their stars to the Mets. They may actually want to keep all-star quality players. I know they won’t move them for the package I posited. “But Gee and Niese are quality pitchers and den Dekker would help track down balls that don’t go over the fence.” Even if I added a Brandon Nimmo or Dominic Smith, I still wouldn’t trade both Gonzalez and Tulowitski for that package. I might not even trade one of them for that package. Keep dreaming. Don’t overvalue Niese. Apparently the league don’t see him as a very valuable asset. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/08/curtis-granderson-jon-niese-clear-revocable-waivers.html
The optimistic realist:
Mets trade deGrom, Montero, Tejada, den Dekker and Matt Reynolds for Troy Tulowitski.
Mets sign OF Nick Markakis to a 3-year $45 million deal
Rotation: Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Colon, Gee / Syndergaard
Lineup: 1. Curtis Granderson RF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. Troy Tulowitski SS, 4. David Wright 3B, 5. Markakis LF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Travis d’Arnaud C, 8. Juan Lagares CF, 9. Pitcher
In this scenario, the Rockies go after everyone they were purported to have scouted in this report.
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/08/east-notes-mets-red-sox-robertson.html They may not want both Tejada and Reynolds (and will ask for another prospect) or they may see one as a second baseman. Either way, I think the Rockies will not be likely to move Tulo. If they wanted Niese they would have claimed him. Markakis has a $17.5 million club option which may be too rich for Baltimore, especially with Chris Davis and Matt Weiters needing contracts soon. And while that deal can also maybe go to Alex Rios instead, Markakis is the best power bat possibly available. We lose upside on our rotation, but it still looks like a contender.
The realist realist:
Mets sign Rios or Asdrubal Cabrerra to three year deal (depending on who they get for trade)
Rotation: Harvey, Wheeler, Colon, Gee, deGrom or Montero/Syndergaard
Lineup: 1. Castro/Cabrera RF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Granderson LF, 5. Rios/Gonzalez LF 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Travis d’Arnaud C, 8. Juan Lagares CF, 9. Pitcher
Flip Rios/CarGo and Duda if you’d like. I feel like Castro and GarGo are the second tier of trade candidates. Thus I feel Niese can be a part of those deals. We’ll still need to give up serious prospects though. Listen we can’t just get Castro for Neise, Gee and Tejada. As Mets fans we have inflated values attached to our players. This isn’t the ideal solution, but I think it’s the one the Mets can most realistically pull off.
The pessimistic realist:
The Mets trade Colon and Reynolds/Plawecki for Andre Ethier and cash.
Rotation: Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Gee, deGrom/Montero/Syndergaard
Lineup: 1. Grandy RF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Ethier LF, 5. Lucas Duda 1B, 6. Travis d’Arnaud C, 7. Wilmer Flores SS, 8. Juan Lagares CF, 9. Pitcher
Flip Lagares, Flores or the pitcher if you want. Here’s what the cynic looks at. We rid ourselves of Colon’s money, and move a prospect to keep some of Ethier’s money away (it would have to be a good prospect). Surprise here’s the first Flores sighting. Why hasn’t he shown up before? http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/baseballinsider/notes-ny-mets-syndergaard-montero-flores-herrera-plawecki-blog-entry-1.1900447 Mets people say, “Flores is not a shortstop.” But he is cost effective for the spot and maybe works out like Murphy, a below average fielder who rises to average with time at the position while also adding enough hitting. As for Ethier, he hits harder than den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis and would be an upgrade power wise. But I am not expressly for Ethier. If it were Matt Kemp I’d take a chance that he returns to MVP quality.
The fan’s nightmare:
The Mets trade Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon for prospects.
Rotation: Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Gee, deGrom/Montero/Syndergaard
Lineup: 1. Tejada SS 2. Grandy RF, 3. David Wright 3B, 5. Lucas Duda 1B, 6. Travis d’Arnaud C, 7. Flores 2B, 8. Juan Lagares CF, 9. Pitcher
Fan favorites moved for prospects and Tejada is still the shortstop.
The real nightmare:
The Mets sign Nelson Cruz to a four year deal.
Really these guys are not upgrades, but the clamor of fans to just sign people could be placated by some of these signings. These signings will mean negligible improvements with much more salary piled on. I don’t think the Mets will do this, but it really would just doom us to be a team with great pitching and just enough hitting to be a .500 team. We wouldn’t have enough to win a World Series, and we’d finish out of the protected picks.
I was driving around this morning (I do my best thinking while driving) and I had a thought about how I’d set up the batting order. The most interesting thing is also the first thing.