Mets offseason grade: Very boring C-/D+

Posted: February 15, 2015 in Odds and Sods

Spring training is upon us.mets

It’s been seven long years (six seasons to be exact) since the Mets last posted a winning record or flirted with the playoffs.

During that time, the Madoff scandal happened, reducing the Mets crooked owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon into penny-pinching Moneyball enthusiasts.

The organization has embraced a slow (and I do mean slothlike) rebuilding process under general manager Sandy Alderson, which has produced the best Mets farm system I can remember in quite some time. There is pitching depth galore, and because of that, the Mets made just two pitching-related moves outside the organization this offseason, both minor ones – adding Sean Gilmartin in the Rule 5 draft and Duane Below on a minor-league deal to shore up the left-handed relief corps.

The position prospects are coming along as well, but what about the big-league team? Is this the year they finally inch past .500 and contend for a playoff spot?

I believe so on the first count (improving three wins from last year’s 79-83 record would get them past .500), but not so sure on the second count.

By my estimation, 85 wins gets you at least on the periphery of that second wild card spot. But did the Mets do enough this offseason to jump by at least six wins (and they’d probably need more than that to actually make the playoffs)?

I don’t think so, and that’s frustrating. This offseason has been one of severe inactivity, a calling card of the Alderson regime. While I love what he and his three assistant GMs have done with the minor leagues, they seem to take an overcautious approach with the big club, always feigning interest but never jumping into the fray.

What’s strange about the approach this offseason is they jumped right in, signing Michael Cuddyer the first day of free agency. Was this a good move? Only if the guy stays healthy, which at age 36, is a big if.

He’s a quality big-league hitter, but to acquire him through free agency, the Mets forfeited a first-round pick in next year’s draft. I’m not a miser with the draft picks. I think you can forfeit a first-rounder from time to time for the right guy. But an aging slugger with poor defensive skills, buoyed the last few years by Coors Field, just doesn’t seem to be that guy.

I’ll eat my words if he hits .330 and knocks in 90 runs, but this move seems risky to me.

Secondly, the Mets kept talking all offseason about wanted to add a shortstop. They failed in that regard miserably, but this might not be a bad thing if Wilmer Flores runs with the job. I believe in him as an offensive player. The defense is a big question mark.

They also wanted to upgrade the lefty relief corps. Bringing in Gilmartin and Below (along with Scott Rice and youngsters Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez) gives you a bunch of options, none of them very proven. And if Josh Edgin regresses, you may not have a reliable lefty in the pen. I would have brought in a quality veteran to battle for one of those spots.

They also targeted a lefty-mashing RH bat for the bench, and they did so theoretically with John Mayberry Jr. Never been a Mayberry fan, although he has hit lefties well over the course of his career. Had they waited, a guy like Dayan Viciedo would have been a nice choice (as he is now a free agent after being cut by the White Sox). Younger and big-time power.

The Mets have a glut of starting pitchers. With the return of ace Matt Harvey, they essentially have six men for five spots (even more when you count prospects Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero, who are all knocking on the door). They’ve been pursuing trades for Dillon Gee, but really should have had Gee, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the market and seen if they could have gotten anything useful. Even Montero. Just don’t think Gee was going to fetch them much, and it seems like Sandy wanted too much for him. He’s a nice back-end starter, and an affordable one, but he’s probably not going to get you an impact big-league piece or even a high-end prospect in return. Probably a midrange prospect is all you’ll get. Now the Mets go into spring with Gee on the outside looking in. Just think with the depth the Mets have on the mound, he (or Niese or Colon) could have and should have been moved.

To compound matters, the Nationals (who made the Mets their bitch last year) continue to get better, as did the Marlins. With the Braves and Phillies in rebuild mode, the Mets missed a golden opportunity to make a bold statement.

Does the team have the talent to make the playoffs? Yes, especially if Harvey comes back to be the ace we know he can be. Teaming up with Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and fellow young gun Zach Wheeler and if guys like Syndergaard and Matz pan out, the Mets could have a dominant rotation for years to come.

But this year, you’re banking on a bounce-back year from the declining David Wright. Same goes for Curtis Granderson. You need Cuddyer to stay healthy and come close to replicating his Rockies numbers. You need another 30-homer season from Lucas Duda. Youngsters like Flores, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud need to take steps forward. Just a lot of question marks offensively. And when you factor in the idiotic managing of Terry Collins, I see the team falling short. 83-79 finish is my prediction and a battle with the Marlins for second in the division.

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Comments
  1. I think I’m at 83-84 myself, and I can’t say I disagree with any of your assessments above. I think that more than anything, our really poor defense (which is going to be worse this year with Flores and Cuddyer) will be the major reason we fall short.
    –Dom

  2. Phillymets says:

    Hello ASod, nice blog and good writing on our Mets. For what it’s worth, here’s my +/- for the Mets vs last year — admittedly an optimistic estimate and not scientific:
    – Harvey returning: +1
    – Full year of deGrom: +1
    – Development of Wheeler: +1
    – More solid/stable bullpen: +1
    – d’Arnaud produces like 2nd half: +1
    – Healthier Wright: +1
    – Slighly better Granderson: +1
    – Cuddyer if healthy: +1
    – Regression to mean for Duda: -1
    – Possible regression for Lagares: -1
    – Flores’ defense cancelling his offense: 0
    – Murphy consistent: 0
    – Decline of Phillies and Braves: +2
    – Improvement in Marlins: -1
    – Modest improvement against Nationals: +1
    – Total: +8

    79 wins + 8 = 87
    Could be + or – 2 or 3 from this total
    Unlikely to make playoffs with 87 wins.

  3. ASod75 says:

    Thanks guys for the comments. 87 wins seems generous, but I’d certainly take it. I believe in the pitching, but I’m worried Wright and Grandy are in decline. If they can get better seasons out of them, that would be a big boost. Cuddyer will help if he can stay on the field. I’d add a -2 or -3 for Terry Collins. Guy is an idiot and should have been fired already.

    • Phillymets says:

      Yeah, I am choosing to be optimistic this year! More than fair point about TC; I just left that impact as a net zero because he was there last year and is there again. .. so no change. Was just trying to capture the possible plusses and minuses from last year. Anyway, nice to connect on your blog – have been a long time reader of MMO – and LGM!

  4. sherm50599 says:

    This is a terrific blog post. I also completely agree.

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