The Mets Are Still Lying To Us

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Last night the Mets traded Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians for a relief prospect named Ryder Ryan. Ryan is a converted infielder and was drafted in the 30th round of the 2016 draft. He’s currently getting lit up in Single-A. The guy isn’t even a top 30 rated prospect in Cleveland’s system. It was reported after the deal was announced that the Mets may have passed on receiving two better prospects from the Yankees for Bruce solely because they refused to eat some of Bruce’s salary in a potential deal.

This trade has hammered home the reality that the Mets continue to deceive all the fans. The front office can’t even be trusted to complete a trade deadline sell-off that is in the best interests of the franchise. It’s pretty clear that the primary motivation for the Bruce/Duda/Reed deals wasn’t to acquire the best quality prospects in return. The primary goal was to maximize salary relief and take whichever young players we could get in the process.

The Mets media can try to spin this trade deadline with all the positive headlines in the world:

These headlines won’t hide the reality that the Mets front office can’t be trusted as long as they continue to be handcuffed by the Wilpons.

When Brian Cashman acquires a pitcher like Sonny Gray, you know he’s making a decision that he believes to be in the best interests of the franchise. Same thing goes for Theo Epstein. You know when Theo makes a deal he feels it fits into his grand plan.When Sandy makes a decision it is impossible to determine whether he’s making the choice because it’s part of his plan or if he’s compelled to make said choice because of the Wilpon influence.

The recent lies have exacerbated my skepticism of Sandy and the Mets front office. The Mets have lied to us about:

The Trade Deadline In General

The trade deadline came and went and in the end, the Mets failed to execute a successful full sell-off of their impending free agents. Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera are still here. Alderson attributed the failure to deal Cabrera/Grandy to the lack of a market for position players. He’s right to say that the market for position players was limited. Teams were clearly focused on acquiring relief and starting pitching.

That being said, are we supposed to believe that the Mets had zero opportunities to trade these guys for anything? The White Sox ended up trading outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Royals for two prospects (one of the prospects was 13th ranked in their system). The White Sox agreed to pay half of Melky’s remaining salary to facilitate their deal with the Royals. In mid-July the Mets leaked that they were willing to eat salary at the deadline to secure better prospects, but then they didn’t absorb one penny when they shipped off Bruce and Duda.

I’d like to believe Sandy when he says that he explored every possible trade scenario, but we all know it’s bullplop. The Mets refused to eat salary and instead watched plenty of comparable position players change uniforms for a superior return (e.g. Howie Kendrick, Eduardo Nunez, Todd Frazier, J.D. Martinez, and Melky Cabrera)

The Returns for Duda and Bruce

The Mets traded Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Jay Bruce for five minor league relief prospects and so far Alderson has gave the fans/media the impression that he was very happy with the return. But was it the best possible return?

It was widely reported that the Yankees had interest in Lucas Duda. In mid-July, Sandy Alderson went as far as to say that he would consider a deal with the Yankees. Then the Mets traded Duda to the Rays for a relief prospect (Drew Smith, 30th ranked in their system). Shortly after the Duda deal it was reported that the Mets refused to trade Duda to the Yankees. As I mentioned above, last night after Bruce was traded we heard similar news that the Yankees wanted Bruce and offered a superior deal but the Mets passed. If those reports have even a shred of credibility then how can we possibly believe that Sandy made the trades with the Rays and Indians for the right reasons?

The AJ Ramos and Reed Deals

 

I had similar concerns with the return in the Reed trade. Addison Reed was one of the top commodities available at the deadline and the Mets traded him to the Red Sox for relief prospects Jamie Callahan (23rd ranked), Gerson Bautista (28th ranked), and Stephen Nogosek (18th ranked). On the surface the deal makes sense. The Mets lack high upside relief arms in their system and their 2017 bullpen has been bad. But it was also reported that the Mets may have passed on acquiring a better quality prospect from the Red Sox in favor of quantity. Why? Did the Mets target relief prospects for the right reasons? I don’t think so.

I think the Mets acquired AJ Ramos to create the narrative that they’re improving the bullpen for 2018 when in reality Ramos is just a replacement for Addison Reed. The Mets have no intention of making a contract offer to Reed who has been one of the top relievers in baseball over the last two seasons. They’re just going to let Reed walk, and they won’t be signing any viable relievers in free agency because they never do that. The 2018 bullpen will be Familia, Ramos, and a revolving door of relief prospects that we picked up at this year’s trade deadline. Maybe the new young arms will pan out. Maybe they’ll get lit up. But one thing is certain. There’s no way the Mets will invest any money in bullpen improvements this offseason.

Conclusion = No Hope

From David Wright’s health status (he’s not healthy), to the reason for the delay of Amed Rosario’s big league promotion (Super Two cutoff? Refusal to bench highly paid veterans?), to the real motivation for wanting to pick up Asdrubal Cabrera’s contract option (he’ll be cheaper than any other free agents at third base), the list of lies just goes on and on.

Is there any hope? Nope. Not really. Don’t expect the Mets to make the right decisions in the offseason either. Not with the Wilpons running the show. All we can do is enjoy watching the kids play for the rest of 2017 and hope that somehow the young pitchers magically heal and dominate once again in 2018.

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Mets Bring Back Niese For Bastardo; Uribe Next?

The staff of writers that MLB hired to write the Mets 2016 season script are absolutely hilarious. First the Jay Bruce deal nearly falls apart due to medical issues which was obviously the writers way of paying homage to the failed 2015 Carlos Gomez deal. Then the Indians announce that they’ve designated Juan Uribe for assignment, and Sandy indicates the Mets could have interest in bringing him back. And finally for the last laugh, the Mets announce right at the trade deadline that they have re-acquired crybaby former Met Jon Niese for mop-up man Antonio Bastardo.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the Niese deal. Jon Niese is supposed to be a competent back-end starter, and Bastardo is supposed to be a competent situational lefty out of the pen. They’ve both been horrendous this season. It’s just two teams swapping garbage. Maybe Jon Niese takes the fifth spot in the Mets rotation and finishes the season strong. Maybe he comes out of the pen and puts up decent numbers. It certainly wouldn’t take much to outperform Antonio Bastardo. As far as Uribe goes, with the Asdrubal Cabrera injury I absolutely think the Mets should bring him back despite the fact that he’s having an awful season (.206/.259/.332). Why? Because he’s Juan Uribe dammit, and he was part of the 2015 World Series crew. That’s why. We broke up the band. We never should have broken up the band.

And that brings me to the only real point of this post. If the Mets bring back Kelly Johnson, Jon Niese, and Juan Uribe during a 2016 season where Daniel Murphy is on pace to win the NL MVP, then Sandy and the front office owe the fans a public apology. I don’t care that we essentially stole Neil Walker for Niese. Bringing back a bunch of players six months after you let them go means you exercised poor judgment in the offseason. Whatever. Let’s see what happens.

All I know is Jon Niese better get Edible Arrangements for all the defensively challenged Mets infielders he insulted on his way out the door. The best part is Niese missed the stretch of the season where we had improved defense up the middle. Niese joins the team a couple days after Cabrera strains his patella tendon. Now he’ll be looking at old Wilmer Flores at short all over again. Plus Jay Bruce is joining our stable of poor defensive outfielders. Niese is going to be rolling his eyes non-stop as we boot balls all over the field. Welcome back crybaby Niese!

Mets Acquire Duda’s Neanderthal Brother Jay Bruce

I’ve always wanted the Mets to acquire Jay Bruce. Not just because of his prolific power. I’ve always wanted him because Bruce and Lucas Duda are both left-handed hitting National League Neanderthal sluggers. #LucasSmash and #BruceBash. Now we finally get to see the power duo join forces. And by that I mean we hope to see them join forces when Lucas Duda’s cracked back heals. But the Mets officially acquired Bruce for Dilson Herrera and minor league pitcher Max Wotell. The original deal was for Brandon Nimmo and two minor leaguers. But of course that deal was scrapped because one of the low level minor leaguers coming from the Mets had medical issues. Is there a single healthy player in the Mets organization that can play or be traded? Every major leaguer goes on the DL and now the minor leaguers all have medical issues? It’s insanity.

I’m a little surprised the Mets dealt Herrera. They must have soured on him as the heir apparent at second base. That being said, it’s not like second base is a big problem considering we have Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores , and Neil Walker (who we can easily re-sign). Bruce leads the NL in RBIs. He’s hitting .265/.316/.559 with 25 homers and 80 RBIs. This is a great pickup. I don’t care that we have a bunch of corner outfielders. I’m pretty sure we can find a place for him in our lineup. That place will obviously be 4th in the order. I really hope this doesn’t mean that Yoenis Cespedes will be placed on the DL because of his balky quad. We shall see.

The Good News: The addition of Bruce is obviously great for the 2016 Mets. He will certainly help boost the offense. I realize he’s a terrible defender, but the quality of our defense doesn’t really matter if we can’t score a single run. Judging by all the acquisitions we’ve made this season, Jay Bruce will be on the first rickshaw out of Cincinnati and will join the Mets in roughly two weeks. 

Going forward this gives the Mets Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jose Reyes all under contract for one more season. If the Mets like that crop of players for 2017 then that’s fine. If they want to shake things up, they have lots of attractive trade chips to potentially flip for other major league players that fill different needs.

The Bad News: The bad news is this reinforces what I’ve been saying for months. The Mets now have their “contingency plan” when Yoenis Cespedes opts-out of his contract. As soon as he opts out the Mets are going to say, “Well we have three corner outfielders (Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Grandy) and only two corners. Gotta let him walk. What else can we do?” They are going to say Yo refused to play center field. They are going to say he’s injury prone (instead of acknowledging he’s a damn iron man warrior). Whatever. I’ll worry about that when the time comes, but the Mets must keep Yo.

Another Boost On Offense: Jay Bruce is a nice addition, but I’m hoping the Mets have re-acquired Neil Walker’s bat for the rest of the season. He’s been hot lately. That would be a huge boost to this offense.

Instagram: Curtis Granderson is going to have to update his WeFollowLucasDuda Instagram account to include Jay Bruce now that the two giant lefty cavemen sluggers will share a locker room. Also, Grandy is going to have to find someone else to run the account when the Mets trade him in the offseason to solve our new outfield “logjam”. For the record other teams call this logjam depth.

Long Story Short: I’m happy. Adding a new talented player makes me happy. The trade deadline makes me happy. One day I’d like to be the guy that works for an MLB team and leaks everything to the media. The Julian Assange of Major League Baseball. I’ll be the best damn leak in the business.

There’s A Special Place In Hell For Fans That Interfere

Final Score: Rockies 7, Mets 2

What happened in the game? The Mets scored a run in the first inning (RBI single Wilmer Flores) and a run in the second inning (RBI single Kelly Johnson). Then the Rockes got to Bartolo Colon in the fourth and fifth inning (5 ER total) and beat the Mets bullpen (Seth Lugo 2 ER). The Mets made three errors in the game. The Mets never mounted a rally or a comeback. They shriveled up and died on the field on the night Mike Piazza had his number retired.

Other than Piazza’s moving pregame speech, the real story happened in the 9th inning when Wilmer Flores hit a deep drive to left field that either would have ricocheted off the top of the wall or been caught by the left fielder David Dahl. We’ll never know what WOULD have happened because a little weasel of a fan intentionally put his glove out, caught the ball, and stuck his tongue out at the fielder with a smug satisfied grin on his face. The replay review led to Wilmer being called out and Terry being tossed from the game.

I don’t care what team you root for, fans that interfere are pieces of garbage and belong in the Citi Field dungeons. No trial. No hearing. Just seize them and put them in the stockades. I don’t have many harsh stances. But I believe there’s a special place in hell for fans that interfere. There you are forced to make barehanded catches of balls that are on fire. The balls land and melt the flesh off the hand of the sinner who rots in the afterlife. Steve Bartman from Chicago and Jeffrey Maier the Yankee hero will be there. They will pay for their crimes. And so will that fan from last night’s game.

Reyes DL: I wrote about the inevitable Reyes DL trip the day of his injury. It was the lock of locks. Well he’s officially on the DL for his oblique injury. Honestly, the Jose Reyes addition was pointless from day one. I love that we had our scouting department analyzing his remaining skillset. And we had our stats guys projecting what he could produce on the field and how he could boost this team. We had our front office payroll guys leaping for joy when he agreed to a contract option for next season at the league minimum. Meanwhile I’m sitting on my freaking couch saying, “Umm hey guys all those things sound great, but you do realize he’ll be injured the entire time and never actually add anything to the team right?” I mean we all watched the Reyes Era before he departed for Miami. He literally was hurt every single season. Well he’s gone now. So long.

Cespedes Dead: Yoenis Cespedes was yanked in the fifth inning with his balky quad that he’s literally been battling since the All-Star break. I really wish I could absorb his quad injury and allow him to play at full strength. I would totally embrace the pain if it could save our season. I’d just be hobbling around at work like Leaping Larry in Seinfeld.

Anyway, I said at the All-Star Break that Cespedes should have been placed on the DL. That was the time to do it. I also said recently that the Mets have been avoiding the DL stint because they know that at this point 15 days without Yo could effectively end our season. Terry basically said that after the game. He said “We’re going to do the best we can to make sure he stays off he DL. We need him. We need his bat in the lineup.”The bottom line is the season is falling apart. If they DL him we’ll probably be out of the race by the time the 15 days are over. If they keep playing him he’s eventually going to do real damage to the quad. It’s totally a lose lose situation. I can’t wait for the Mets to let Yo walk in the offseason because he’s “injury prone”.

Ruggiano: The Mets signed Justin Ruggiano before the game and started him. He’s a right handed hitting platoon outfielder. The Rangers cut him earlier this season. Forgive me if I don’t break out the champagne and party hats. I suppose it’s a nice addition for our sinking ship. He can actually hit lefties like Juan Lagares which is nice.

Deadline Strike One?: It was announced last night that Jonathan Lucroy was traded to the Indians for four prospects. The Mets package centered on Travis d’Arnaud and Brandon Nimmo and just didn’t get it done. Well a few seconds ago Lucroy apparently vetoed the trade to Cleveland! Let’s see what happens. I like Lucroy, but I’m not getting too worked up if the Mets fail to trade for him. Travis d’Arnaud is much better than the player we’ve seen this season. And I just don’t think Lucroy is single-handedly saving this squad.

Deadline Strike Two?: The Mets are pursuing Jay Bruce. Where will he play? I don’t know. But I’m not worried about the Mets figuring out where to play a slugging outfielder. Considering we just signed and started Justin “Scrap Heap” Ruggiano, I think the Mets will find a place for a potent power bat. I’m guessing he’ll play corner outfield while Cespedes is on the DL and then the Mets will just let Cespedes walk!

Screw the Yankees: The Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for a haul of prospects. They just traded Andrew Miller overnight to the Indians for another haul of four prospects. They turned two stud relievers into 8 young studs. They are selling in arguably the most insane sellers market I’ve ever seen. Figures. Lucky bastards.

Today: Noah Syndergaard today. Let’s see if we can snag one game or if we will go 0-7 against the Rockies in 2016. Pray.

Mets Can’t Give Up; Every Team Is Mediocre

I completely understand the way that most Mets fans feel as we approach the final week before the MLB trade deadline. This team has been mediocre for nearly three months now (35-37 since April). Last season at this time the Mets were 2 games out of first place in the NL East. This season we sit 6.5 out of first and a game out in the Wild Card. There is no Yoenis Cespedes type of player coming to this club on July 31st to carry the team in August and September. Although the Mets have had stellar pitching in 2016 (ERA 3rd in MLB) and have hit a lot of home runs (6th in MLB), they haven’t been able to score runs (28th) and hit with runners in scoring position (last). The bottom line is the Mets may not be the luckiest team this year, but they don’t get clutch hits or comeback late in baseball games. That has made for an uninspiring product on the field.

It’s Okay To Be Okay: With all that being said, the notion that the Mets should sell or stand pat at the trade deadline is completely and utterly insane. Why? Because almost every team in the league is mediocre at best. The Mets went to the World Series last year, and openly stated the goal was to win a championship this season. As a result of that, every fan set the Mets 2016 baseline for success at a high level. Everyone expected elite regular season play from this team, and they’ve been about as mediocre as a team can be since the end of April. But the bottom line is very few teams are elite and we don’t have to be to make the playoffs.

The Land Of Mediocrity: Last year at the end of the season, there were 3 NL teams (Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates) in that 95 win, .575 winning percentage realm of success. Right now in 2016 there’s three teams trending in that direction (Nationals, Cubs, Giants). But everyone else stinks! The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds, Rockies, Padres, and D-Backs are all well below .500. The Cardinals and Pirates are hovering around .500 but are nowhere near the regular season juggernauts they were in 2015. The Dodgers are mediocre at best and injured and may lose Clayton Kershaw for the season. Oh and remember those “elite” teams I mentioned? Well the Mets took 5 of 7 from the Cubs this year and 2 out of 3 from the Giants. Sure we’re 4-9 against the Nationals, but they’ve just been Murphing the hell out of us.

It’s Called A Window, Pal: This season will be a war of attrition. Keep pace with all the mediocre teams. Keep the core players on the field. Get the injured bodies back by August. A hot three week stretch in August or September will lead to a Wild Card berth. Let’s see if we can hang around the longest. Why not? I’ve actually heard some crazed fans comparing holding on to Cespedes at the 2016 deadline to when the Mets held on to Reyes in 2011. That’s completely ridiculous. Our current situation is the exact opposite of 2011. In 2011 we were on the verge of a rebuild. In 2016, we are playing in our championship window and Cespedes is part of our core. This young pitching staff is in place right now, and we have to make the most of the 3-6 year stretch where the arms are under team control.

I realize Matt Harvey is out for the season and that sucks. But the core players are here and producing at a high level. Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, and Jeurys Familia were all All-Stars. Jacob deGrom is having an All-Star caliber season. Steven Matz has struggled of late, but he’s still having an impressive rookie campaign. These are the core players. How can we even consider waving the white flag with the core producing? No. I don’t want to hear about bone spurs and sore quads and next year. Giving up on this team and on this pitching staff in 2016 would be insane.

This Is Life In MLB: There’s no denying that the quality of Mets baseball we’ve seen in 2016 has been far from elite. But it’s never elite for 6 months, and it doesn’t have to be. We certainly learned that lesson last year. Baseball nowadays is 4 awful teams, 4 very good teams, and 22 mediocre teams hanging around and trying to get a ticket to the playoffs. That’s just the way the league works. Dave Cameron at FanGraphs wrote a great preseason article essentially dismissing the notion that MLB has a tanking problem. In the article, he highlights the larger point I am trying to get at above.

The point is that MLB is experiencing a “golden age of parity” as Cameron puts it. This isn’t the NBA where the Warriors vs. Cavs is an absolute lock to repeat as the 2017 NBA Finals matchup and where one player can turn a team from garbage to playoff caliber. This isn’t the NFL where there’s like four to six real contenders that make the playoffs every single season and having an 8-8 or 9-7 record is a pretty strong indicator that your team doesn’t have a great chance of winning the Super Bowl. MLB is a league where the average fans spend half the season ripping their hair out because their team fails to live up to a standard of winning that probably wasn’t achievable to begin with. How often do we say over the course of the season “just win this series”? Well good luck maintaining that .667 winning percentage.

Sure We Need A Lot But…: The bottom line is the Mets have a number of areas where they need to improve. They need to do so through internal improvement and via some external acquisitions. But that’s the same situation almost every team is in. If we fail to make the playoffs then we take the roster and tweak what we need to in the offseason. We’re trying to win a championship after appearing in the World Series last year, and we have a window to do so with the core players I mentioned above. You try to win and then you tweak. Try and tweak. It’s all we can do. Giving up is not an option. After all, the Mets just need to be the best damn mediocre team in Stink Town! How hard is that?

The Mets Can’t Afford To Trade Wheeler

This season, the injury plague has spread throughout the Mets clubhouse much like it did in 2015. As soon as David Wright went down, the fan base started clamoring for a big time trade. Every fan has a pipe dream proposal where they just name a bunch of guys on the Mets top prospect list and assume the package will land the Mets a franchise type bat. But I’ve poured over the lists of prospective trade options as well as the Mets farm system, and I keep coming to the same conclusion. If the Mets want to land a big time bat that is under team control for more than just this season, the trade talks will begin and end with Zack Wheeler. For most fans, that price doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. Well it should be. Trading Zack Wheeler would be a mistake, and it’s a price the Mets cannot afford to pay if they want to remain competitive over the next few seasons.

In 2015, the Mets had a pitching surplus. They had arguably the top rotation in the game and two frontline starter types in Zack Wheeler and Michael Fulmer that weren’t even a part of the major league equation. The Mets knew they had the flexibility to deal from that surplus, and at the deadline they clearly made Wheeler/Fulmer available. We saw the Carlos Gomez for Wheeler trade play out and ultimately fall through. And we saw the Mets ultimately pull the trigger on the Michael Fulmer for Yoenis Cespedes deal that catapulted the team to the NL East crown. In his brief major league stint so far this season, Fulmer looks like he’s going to be a top of the rotation starter (7-1, 2.52 ERA). The Mets already knew that was the likely outcome with Fulmer. It’s the reason they were hesitant to deal him. But that trade netted the Mets Cespedes, and it’s a deal the 2015 Mets make 10 times out of 10. Why? Because the 2015 Mets had the pitching depth to afford it. Unfortunately, after dealing Fulmer and a number of other pitching prospects in 2015 deadline deals, the 2016 Mets lack that luxury.

The Mets blueprint for making the playoffs includes them putting an ace on the mound every single day. Five aces baby. That’s been the plan for years. Wheeler is that fifth ace. The one area the Mets have been blessed this season is the health of their young pitchers (Yeah I said it. I’m ferociously knocking on wood. Relax). Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that run of luck lasts year after year. In order to make the most of this championship window and have any chance of sustained success, the Mets are going to need all five aces to carry them. Period. You think Bartolo Colon will be around forever? You want to trade Wheeler and possibly roll with Logan Verrett or Sean Gilmartin as the fifth starter next season? Trust me, don’t look at the list of available free agent starting pitchers for next offseason. There’s a reason front line guys get paid so much. There’s not that many of them.

I’m not saying the Mets shouldn’t look to deal some minor league talent to upgrade the roster. But the available crop of infielders that I’ve been reading about (e.g. Danny Valencia, Yangervis Solarte) does not include a franchise level bat, and Jonathan Lucroy is a catcher. I realize Lucroy can play first base, but it’s not his true position. He’s started just over 30 games at first base in his 7 year career. Travis d’Arnaud is supposed to be back next week, and Lucas Duda is supposed to be back before the end of the season. To give up Zack Wheeler for a player that ultimately creates a roster conundrum for the end of the season and into next season seems foolish to me. In the short term for this season, I think the best move for the Mets is to look to make marginal upgrades to the roster via trade, utilize internal options (e.g. Dilson Herrera, Brandon Nimmo), or make a big international signing (*cough* Yulieski Gourriel *cough*).

In the long term, I think the Mets are better served holding on to all the pitching and looking for ways to upgrade the major league roster in the offseason via free agency. To me that’s the most effective route to elevate this specific roster to a championship caliber level without sacrificing the key strength upon which all the hope for success is predicated. We will live and die with our core of five aces. We cannot afford to compromise that blueprint for the sake of a quick fix. At least not this year.