Mets Summer Mitigation Strategy

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It’s no mystery that the New York Mets Offense has been seriously lacking so far this season, arguably worse than they did last year and that was without Yoenis Cespedes.  The club is currently tied for third in the National League for home runs at 92 so far through 70 games, yet they are 13th in the NL in runs scored at 252.  The Mets have the second worst batting average as a team, only ahead of Philadelphia, with a value of .233.  The team lives and dies from the home run, and with streaky hitters (Cespedes, Duda when healthy) it leads to inconsistent run scoring.  deGrom hasn’t had a win in nine starts due to complete lack of run support.  Jacob is 0-3 in his past four starts, three of which were quality starts in which he earned the loss because the team was shutout for three consecutive deGrom starts. In the other start he went seven innings yielding one earned run with ten strikeouts and no walks, in a no decision.   The team needs to heed Collin’s warning to ‘shake things up’ and make a few moves.  

I’m suggesting a few small moves that make sense for all teams involved and can help the Mets improve in the coming weeks before the All Star break.  New York has key match ups before the All Star break, with seven against the NL Central Leading Cubs in a rematch of the NLCS, and seven versus the NL East Division leader and rival, Washington Nationals.  I’m suggesting three moves that will improve the offense and give opportunities to young hot bats.  

I’m suggesting a trade to the Tampa Bay Rays for one of their relievers, 29 year old Danny Farquhar.  The Rays have 4 outfielders on their disabled list: Brandon Guyer,  Steven Souza Jr., Mike Mahtook, and Gold Glove Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.  Also 1B/DH Steve Pearce just injured his hamstring and is expected to be out for several weeks.  The Rays just acquired Orlando Arcia from Minnesota, who hit 20 homeruns in 2014, and has performed well below replacement level since then.  The Rays are seven games below .500 and six games out of the wild card.  I’m proposing a trade offering: OF Alejandro De Aza, 2B Kelly Johnson, and 27 year-old minor league OF TJ Rivera for right handed reliever Danny Farquhar.  This move offers De Aza a chance to play in center field, Rivera is capable of testing the big leagues in right field, Johnson can play second and Forsythe can slide over to play first (a position he appeared at 26 times in 2015).  The additional position players would bolster a struggling Rays offense, as stop gaps, if nothing else for a team that could compete for a Wild Card berth in the American League.   

De Aza is making $5.75 million this season, Kelly is making $2 million, and Rivera is making AAA money and has accumulated zero MLB service time.  The thrifty Rays, and Tampa would only be losing $527,000 for Farquhar.  We can halve all these salary values seeing as the season is already nearly halfway over and only the remaining salaries would be paid by the new teams on a per game basis.   If and when David Wright spends the remainder of the season on the 60-Day DL, then the insurance policy on his contract will pay the Mets $5.5 at the end of the season.  The Mets can entirely offset the contracts of De Aza, Rivera, and Johnson with $3.75 million.  The Mets would take on $263,500 for Farquhar towards the team payroll, and still net a positive $1.75 million left over from the insurance payout.  This effectively buys a reliever and creates opportunities for prospects to contribute to the reigning National League Champions.  

Waiting in Las Vegas are two capable prospects that are knocking on the door for opportunities to play in centerfield and at secondbase.  I’m advocating for 2011 first round pick, Brandon Nimmo and 22 year-old Dilson Herrera to be called up to replace De Aza and Johnson.  Nimmo is slashing .323/.407/.506 with 27 extra base hits in 60 games.  Similarly Herrera is slashing .291/.339/.491 with 31 extra base hits for AAA Las Vegas.  Nimmo is 23, lefthanded, and the same age as Conforto.  Unlike Conforto, Nimmo is capable of handling center field defensively.  Herrera is only capable of handing second base due largely in part to his size, an alleged 5’10” and weighing in at $1.55.  Herrera, in an Altuve-like, size-defying manner has already hit 6 homers in 150 major league at bats during the past two Septembers. Of course this would displace Walker from second, here’s how I see it shaking out.  

Herrera would not be called up to sit on the bench as Johnson has, but rather to start at second base.  I would see the dominos then falling by moving Walker to third base and Flores to first base to platoon with Loney.  The infield from right to left would read: Walker at thirdbase, Cabrera at shortstop, Herrera at second base, and Flores/Loney at first.  This would get the spark plug Herrera into the lineup, ideally at the top of the order.  

The Mets defense up the middle has been a significant improvement from last year’s most common double play combination of Flores and Murphy.  Cabrera and Walker have had great chemistry and the concerns over Cabrera’s range are muted by great hands and consistent above average plays.  The advanced metrics still have him pegged at below average, but in relative terms the middle infield defense has improved from 2015.  There is cause for concern that there could be negative externalities from the rearrangement, but the nonexistent offense that ranks dead last in all of baseball with a batting average with runners in scoring position at paltry .209.  The pitching-rich team should value offense significantly more than defense because the team is squandering great pitching because they’re incapable of scoring three runs a game consistently.  The team with great defense doesn’t help them win 2-0 games, but just an average offense could lead to many 3-2 victories.  In this proposed orientation, Walker can produce average thirdbase defensive metrics, and Herrera can certainly handle second base.  Flores should start at first versus lefties and Loney should versus righties.  Loney will likely be a late game defensive replacement over Flores when facing lefty starters.  The addition of Herrera to the lineup over Loney should lead to an improvement in scoring opportunites.  Loney has been no slouch with 22 hits in 76 at-bats, producing a .289 average.  The front office has been hesitant to bring up Herrera to start but he certainly seems ready and able to start on Opening Day 2017, assuming Neil Walker signs elsewhere this winter as a free agent.     

The Mets seem poised to re-sign Jose Reyes since he was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies nine days ago, following his 53 game suspension for his domestic abuse allegations.  However, his character has been a concern from a public relations standpoint.  I believe the moral boost to the fans, the addition of his presence ,and his leadership in the clubhouse would heavily outweigh the tarnished passed of Reyes.  This young team needs a verbal leader that Reye’s youthful spirit can provide in the absence of captain David Wright.  He offers a top of the lineup bat that offers more speed than anyone else on the team.  His addition could move Granderson down to the middle of the order where his homeruns with drive in more runs, seeing as 6 of his 13 homers have been solo shots.  The club has discussed playing Reyes at second, likely moving Walker to third.  Reyes’ range has diminished, and is seen as a middle infielder more than a third baseman.  It’s now looking like Herrera will continue to light up triple A Las Vegas as the prodigal son is poised to return to Flushing.  Reyes and Herrera would play a similar role as the now everyday second baseman and play in the same spot in the lineup.  The Mets fans need a fresh face, and there’s none better than Reyes’ signature smile.  Any longtime Mets fan basks in the glory days of David Wright and Jose Reyes together on the left side of the infield.  They have memories at Shea of a young Jose leading off and stealing 60+ bases for three years in a row, and David Wright hitting the cover off the ball for such a long time.  His signing will breathe life into a deflated team that has lost four straight match-ups versus the Braves, including being a victim to a complete game one hitter by Julio Teheran on Father’s Day, that I witnessed.  Jose has regressed offensively in the past year alone, with a staggering 7.4% increase to infield pop ups, and a reduction in hard hit balls by 4.7%.  Regardless Jose offers a live bat off  that would offer more potential than Kelly Johnson and would at least keep the rioting fan base at bay, as the team looks for any and all ways to spark the slacking offense.  Listed below are my proposed line ups that advocate moving Granderson into a more run productive role.  

 

Hand Pos Lineup versus Right Handed Starters
1 S SS Asdrubal Cabrera
2 R/S 2B Dilson Herrera/Jose Reyes
3 R CF Yoenis Cespedes
4 S 3B Neil Walker
5 L LF Michael Conforto
6 R C Travis d’Arnaud
7 L RF Curtis Granderson
8 L 1B James Loney
9 SP Pitcher

Bench:

  1. Rivera C
  2. Nimmo L, CF
  3. Lagares CF
  4. Reyes S, SS/Herrera 2B
  5. Flores SS

 

Hand Pos Lineup versus Left Handed Starters
1 R/S 2B Dilson Herrera/Jose Reyes
2 R CF Juan Lagares
3 R LF Yoenis Cespedes
4 S 3B Neil Walker
5 R C Travis d’Arnaud
6 R 1B Wilmer Flores
7 S SS Asdrubal Cabrera
8 L RF Curtis Granderson
9 SP Pitcher

Bench:

  1. Rivera C
  2. Nimmo L, CF
  3. Conforto L, LF
  4. Reyes S, SS/Herrera 2B
  5. Loney L, 1B

 

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