The Mets continue to stumble on in search of a semi-permanent plan (at least) for the offseason. So I figure why not put my half-century of baseball acumen to work for them…
The Mets are going for it one last time on the strength of their starting pitching. Or, so said Fred Wilpon a few weeks ago. What the hell, pick up some run support here and there on the cheap, and who knows what can happen. I’m all in.
Unfortunately, the San Diego Padres didn’t read the memo, announcing they were on the prowl to obtain the services of Noah Syndergaard, a dream that hadn’t died since last July when they also rattled the Mets security blanket with overtures about acquiring Syndergaard.
But instead of answering the media deluge demanding answers from the Mets regarding a trade with a resounding, “No we have a plan for 2019, and we’re sticking to it”, Fred Wilpon with some doublespeak managed only to reset the clock for the winter, befuddling everyone.
Hear, hear. The Mets do need to engage in the trade market. Stymied by the expensive free agent market and an ownership intent on playing with the cheap, especially for the two supreme honchos, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado, pitching is what they have, and it behooves the team to not use it as a trading piece.
Sorry to disappoint, but the Mets are facing some potent competition in the NL East. The defending champs Atlanta Braves are only destined to get better. The Phillies have a crazy owner who says he is ready to spend “stupidly” in the free agent market. And the Washington Nationals, with a tweak or two, will be in it as well.
In real time, here sit the Mets, who still do not have a bonafide major league catcher on their roster. There’s nothing on the free agent market left, even if the Mets were willing to spend. So, with Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler on the wheel as trade bait, is J.T. Realmuto so far out of the realm of possibility the Mets can’t lobby Derek Jeter to make the deal?
Is Jay Bruce not a potential lure for an American League team looking for a DH and a reserve outfielder/first baseman? Eating some of his salaries – maybe, maybe not. Again, you have to engage with a plan to make it happen.
Instead, the Mets are spending a lot of time, energy, and media print interviewing for a bench coach, who the last time I checked will not be driving in any runs for the Mets in 2019. Plus, when was the last time a manager didn’t get to hire his bench coach, his right arm in decision making? Alas, this is the fate of Mickey Callaway and why I wouldn’t be surprised if Callaway tires of the Mets long before they tire of him.
On another front, the Mets new GM, Brodie Van Wagenen has openly committed to both Peter Alonso and Jeff McNeill as holders to two spots in the Mets 2019 lineup. Again, this is (presumably) without consultation with the guy who fills out the line-up cards every day, Mickey Callaway.
Here’s a way out of this quagmire. If one of those blockbuster trade proposals for either Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom comes along, take it and run as far as you can into the Mets future. Otherwise, look to Matz and Wheeler, both of whom have upside value, and are guaranteed to make Van Wagenen’s phone chime incessantly.
Or, as Wilpon said in the beginning, shut up and stay pat, hoping the Mets can win enough 3-2 and 4-3 games to make a difference.
But for God sakes, say what you mean, mean what you say – and stick to it. There’s always July when the Mets, along with every other team, can regroup to come up with Plan B, following a half-season in the books.
Sending mixed signals, as the Mets are doing, confounds players and fans alike.
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor