This is the third of a three-part series on the New York Mets. The final column features a look at the Mets farm system and who might be available for a call-up to provide a youthful presence on a team that needs a good kick in the butt.
Previously, we’ve established that the Mets season is all but lost, at least regarding landing a spot in the playoffs. We took a look at some of the trades the team should consider, but for the most part, we came up empty regarding the return the Mets would get, unless they thought the unthinkable, which would mean parting ways with Noah Syndergaard and/or Jacob deGrom.
The second column in the series pointed to the frustration of having to deal with a front office and ownership that appears to lack the will and desire to respond to the need for the team to turn over its player personnel and pretty much start over again.
The possibility of Sandy Alderson resigning at the age of 70 and one battle with cancer under his belt was considered a chance. I suggested Alderson’s assistant, John Ricco as a replacement, but several comments nixed that idea in favor of going outside the organization.
Which doesn’t leave much room for improving the team now, does it? Especially since you first have to subtract players before you can add new ones. But there is a way to shake up the team, and it doesn’t need to involve a series of trades or free agent signings (Hanley Ramirez). Because some of the answers just might be sitting in the Mets backyard.
As expected, when I took a look at the rosters of the Mets minor league affiliates, the pickings are slim. But there are a few players who, if given the opportunity, look like they can provide some youth and energy, together with production, to a team that is well on its way but has yet to hit bottom.
Interestingly, the Mets Triple-A team in Las Vegas has little to offer, and the team itself is floundering along with a record of 22-31 in the Pacific Coast League. The Mets, for instance, could take a flyer on a recycled outfielder Matt den Dekker (.300, eight home runs, and 26 RBI), or shortstop/second baseman Gavin Cecchini, who has played 250 games at the Triple-A level, compiling a batting average of .296 over three years. Only 24, Cecchini would be the better bet unless den Dekker (30) has found something new and lasting in his game. Both would be lukewarm additions to the Mets at best.
Forget the pitching. As advertised, there’s nothing there except for Chris Flexen (3-3, 3.40), who is already the Mets emergency starter.
Moving over to Double-A Binghamton, though, the Mets have a team at four games over .500 (27-23) with what appears to be some players of interest who are not named Tim Tebow. And we should clear something up about the Mets and Tebow before we go further. Tebow will be a Met very soon, and his presence at Citi Field will be the bone thrown to the Mets faithful. As I wrote back in February about Tebow, if you can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em? So, let it be.
Peter Alonso is a 23-year-old first baseman who was drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft from the University of Florida. In his three seasons in the minors, Alonso has played a little more than the equivalent of a full major league season.
His 6’3″, 245 lb frame has produced the power expected from a first baseman, with 48 doubles, 37 home runs, and 128 runs driven home. Alonso’s .393 on-base percentage is complemented by only 134 strikeouts in more than 700 plate appearances.
It all spells plate discipline, and if Alonso has it there, it follows he is also disciplined and mature enough to cope with a rush to the big leagues. Who loses in this exchange? That’s an easy one. So long, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Plawecki can go back to doing what he does best as a catcher.
Jeff McNeil is another Double-A Binghamton athlete who is showing promise and quick development in the Mets system. A high-round draft pick, McNeil was selected by the Mets in the twelfth round of June 2013 Amateur Draft from California State University.
At 26, McNeil plays all three infield positions and qualifies as one of those unsung prospects who could make a significant contribution to the Mets, even if he is designated merely as a utility player. McNeil has made all the stops in the Mets system and over six seasons has compiled a batting average of .304, together with an OBP of .374. Power, not so much, but he catches everything and has committed only 22 errors as a pro.
Who loses in this exchange? Another easy one. Jose Reyes, take your broken wings and learn to fly (elsewhere).
On the pitching side, the Mets have another under the radar prospect in Nabil Crismatt. Nabil who, you say? Well so did I until I warmed up to what he is doing this season. At 23, it appears the Mets signed Crismatt when he was playing in the Dominican Summer League. A native of Columbia, Crismatt has made eleven starts at Binghamton, compiling a 7-2 record with a 2.66 ERA.
A right-hander, Crismatt has given up fourteen fewer hits than innings pitched (64) while walking three batters every nine innings. Typically, the Mets would elevate him to Triple-A sometime this season, but given the course of the Mets, and assuming his mindset is ready, what can it hurt to put Crismatt in the rotation for five or six starts?
Who loses in this exchange? This one is not as clear-cut, but Zack Wheeler would appear to be the odd man out. The Mets can either do a “Matt Harvey” on him by sending him to the bullpen (more likely), trade him (somewhat likely), or release him (unlikely). No matter what, though, everyone has seen enough of Wheeler to know he does not fit into the Mets plans.
So, that’s a beginning. Readers may be aware of others, and those comments are more than welcome. To be sure, these are lengthy steps for all of these players to take. But the crucial question remains, what can it hurt, and doesn’t the upside outweigh doing nothing?