Tuesday, May 14, 2013

N.Y. Mets: Sandy Alderson's Rebuilding Plan Is Off Plumb

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS - Can Someone Get The General Manager A Stone Mason Please?@!

Good thing the Mets left town for a few days.  Dropping three of four to the Pirates over the weekend pissed a lot of Citi people off.  And why not?  All facets of the Mets game are failing miserably.  In their haste to escape Flushing however, they left the gate open and unleashed the dogs - meaning us, the people who buy tickets and read newspapers - who visit their web site, buy their stuff, and provide ratings for SNY.  Starting bright and early Monday morning, an intense media and fan backlash ensued.  How then, did the team respond later on the field to the day's criticisms?  ...By signing Rick Ankiel and suffering a seventh inning meltdown against the Cardinals.

Let me get right to my point.  This rebuilding process is off plumb, and it's time to get the blocks back in line.  The losing does not bother me in the slightest.  This was to be expected.  My dissatisfaction stems from obtaining obsolete MLB level players; and I use the term loosely.  For what?  Or should I say, for who? - Us?  Spare me! - Signing Rick Ankiel, who couldn't keep his job with the LOLstros is embarrassing.  Why?  Because Houston wanted to go with their younger talent?  Wasn't that what we were supposed to be doing?  How about this - instead of waisting time with Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel, Shaun Marcum, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison, etc.., I'd rather see a host of other minor league players get the time.  That's what this season should have been about, not piecemealing together inconsequential players who couldn't leach-on elsewhere.

Next year, 2014, is the target date for what exactly?  The short answer is, operating like a New York City club again, and making REAL major league efforts towards regaining National League competitiveness, rather than continuing to half-step through a now three year old sham.  For all intent and purpose, the 2014 season begins now.  That means holding an MLB boot camp for some of their minor league talent, having a good amateur draft in June, and preparing to engage in aggressive trade talks as the July trade deadline nears.  It does not mean trolling the waiver wire, rescuing cast-offs, and riding the backs of cheap off-season free agent acquisitions.  That, to me, still wreaks of Alderson's operational sensitivity to Wilpon's financial plight, and protecting the owner's dwindling gate.

I have long wanted this team gutted.  If you frequently ride this Trolley, that has been no secret.  Finally...finally, I effectively got what I wanted when the Mets hired Sandy Alderson and the deconstruction and reconstruction commenced.  We are now at a point where the Mets can not  merely bobble along this season waiting for their low level minor league players to ripen.  The 2013 regular season should be utilized to its fullest, which means thrusting a few mid to upper level players into big league action, and deciphering which group of players will be used as trade bait.

Behind the plate, Travis d'Arnaud is a no brainer.  He is the epitome of The Plan.  The only lingering concerns regarding the Mets future catcher would be his injury history, whether he recovers well from this latest set back, and if he can pick up where he left off.  Instead of having John Buck serve as back-up, which would give the Mets a hell of a back-up indeed, I believe the Mets should strike while the iron is hot, and trade him as soon as possible.  My thinking is, Kevin Plawecki underwrites the whole insurance policy.  He is currently tearing up the South Atlantic League as the circuit's top hitter and slugger.  Plawecki is still perhaps two seasons away from playing in Queens.  If a deal involving John Buck nets the Mets a useful return, I believe a transaction could serve the Mets well.

Ike Davis is Lucas Duda - Lucas Duda is Ike Davis.  Together, these two were ideally supposed to grow into the Mets main power supply.  Lucas Duda continues to struggle in the outfield, while for a second consecutive start to the regular season, Ike is toeing the Mendoza Line.  Duda is clearly a better first baseman than outfielder, but Ike no doubt has the superior glove.  Both can hit home runs out of any park.  While Duda would most likely be a better Met at first, Ike has no such alternative - for him it's first base or bust.  The case to keep them both is falling apart like wet toilet, while the argument to trade one or both of them is something that needs to be strongly considered over the next six to seven weeks.  More on Lucas Duda later.

Ever since Terry Collins pinch hit for Ike Davis roughly a week ago, I pondered how far off can a demotion to AAA be?  Unlike last season, would the Mets actually follow through this time?  Last season Ike quieted his doubters with a strong second half that currently has the organization and the fans hearts in a bind, because,well..., We Like Ike.  But we "liked" Mike Jacobs and Rico Brogna too.  I do not think a demotion should be out of the question, even if only for a week to clear his head a bit.  Thinking you're the man, and following through are two different things.  I wouldn't want Ike in Las Vegas very long.  Ultimately, he needs to prove himself on this level whether it's for keeping him, or trading him.  He's a funky dude at the plate because he's so tall, with long arms.  He has to unfold himself in order to swing.  He is proving it takes him a few months before he gets calibrated. With those arms, if his timing isn't perfect, we've seen the reults - he struggles like hell.

First baseman Josh Satin is twenty-eight years old, and a six year minor league veteran.  He had a tremendous April for Las Vegas, but is cooling off.  His batting average finally dipped below .300, to a .295 mark after 125 at-bats.  Inside his third season at AAA, he presently has five home runs and twenty runs batted in.  No, I do not believe he is a suitable replacement for Ike Davis.  However, I'd welcome him to Queens for a week or two.  If Satin continues performing well, perhaps a team might be inclined to accept him as part of a larger deal.

No one on the Mets is untradeable.  Despite his recent slump, I believe Daniel Murphy has considerable trade value.  That said, will the real Daniel Murphy please stand up?  While he showed signs Monday of breaking out of a horrific stretch at the plate, the damage is done - meaning there is enough doubt regarding the Murph to question his future playing second base for the Mets.  Inside his fifth season on the field, we have only witnessed portions of his full hitting repertoire at any given time.  We are still waiting for a complete season at the plate.  Either he hits for average, or slugs with some power and hits doubles.  He has yet to accomplish both in the same season.

The quartet of Daniel Murphy, Davis, Duda, and David Wright constitute the designated core of the Mets line-up.  Without the ifs, ands or buts, which are staples of blind love, how do these four rate against those of their division rivals, and the five other division leaders throughout baseball?  Without crunching the numbers of those players, I would venture to guess they do not compare favorably - not at the moment they don't.  I'm merely suggesting this is all food for thought.  Clearly, David Wright is not going anywhere, and I have zero issues with Ruben Tejada.  If we can improve upon him, fine.  Otherwise, Ruben and I are cool.

In the outfield, my plan called for Lucas Duda playing everyday no matter what.  The Mets need to find out once and for all, who Lucas Duda is, and what he is capable of, on a night in and night out basis.  By playing everyday, come the trade deadline or even should he last the season, we will have much more conviction regarding our opinions of Duda.  I see his case cut and dry.  Lucas will either win the left field job, take over first base, get traded, or in some other fashion, become a former Met heading into the 2014 regular season.

Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd are a waste of valuable time.  If the team is rebuilding, and the 2013 season was intended to be spent out of contention, center field and right field have no business in their hands.  None!  I would immediately hand center to Juan Lagares and right field back to Andrew Brown, full time.  And in the short term, Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter may go about their business.  Before long, I'd like the Mets to consider giving Collin Cowgill a second shot, although I have no particular attachment to him, and do not see him being a part of the Mets near future.  He is batting .314 at Las Vegas, and maybe could prove valuable off the bench.  Jordany Valdespin is another talent I would trade as soon as possible, also striking while the iron is hot.  He seems intent on wearing out his welcome here, so the Mets should probably get a return on him while they can.  Once Matt den Dekker is back on his feet, I want him to receive playing time as well.  Although a bit of a stretch, I'd much sooner give Cory Vaughn, currently batting .296 at Binghamton, the position before letting Marlon Byrd and Ankiel hinder The Great Plan.

On the hill, Matt Harvey and Jon Niese, are the figurative sure bets.  Dillon Gee remains on the list of good guys, but he is struggling this season.  Jeremy Hefner also still has a friend in me, but Shaun Marcum has worn out his stay.  Zack Wheeler's time in Flushing should start some time in June.  Collin McHugh is also readily available for a call-up.  Obviously, McHugh and Hefner, are second tier to Zack Wheeler.  With pretty good seasons brewing In Binghamton, Logan Verrett and Rafael Montero are trying to get noticed as well.  Overall, the starting rotation could be substantially better in the second half of the season, once a few arms are infused.

The bullpen needs to get rid of these free agent squatters, and handed over to the balance of the Mets minor league pitchers who's performances are at least deserving of an audition.  In a season such as this, let them come learn how to pitch in Flushing for a while with little pressure.  After Bobby Parnell, Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, and the currently DL'd Jeryus Familia (I would have included Jenrry Mejia, who was placed on the 60-day DL), I would extend an invitation to John Church and Marc Cohoon from Binghamton, and get Gonzalez Germen out of the Pacific Coast League as well.  That's seven.  The better relief pitchers in the Mets stable reside in Binghamton, but there is no need to bum-rush Joe Pignitano's tomato patch with every pitcher who has a good strikeouts to innings ratio.  A few pitchers can be worked in and out throughout the second half, or starting in June, but not until then.

We have pitching in the system.  The Mets have right-hand power pitchers growing like mushrooms at Savannah and St. Lucie.  Some the club will keep, while some should be under consideration for trading.  What the Mets do not have, is a high impact position player on the horizon, and certainly none with any appreciable power.  Players like Josh Satin, Wilmer Flores, Wilfredo Tovar, and Cesar Puello, and a few others seem unlikely to supplant anyone on the current roster anytime soon.  As it pertains to Flores and Tovar in particular, I would add them to the list of players I would immediately trade, again striking while the iron is hot, as they still maintain a decent rating on the Mets prospects list.

The 2013 season is hemorrhaging.  But I'm here to say that's okay.  We need a good old fashioned  Civil War era blood letting anyway.  However, this needs to get done the right way.  The idea of playing prospects is hopefully weeding out the keepers, and to advertise possible trade bait.  That said, Sandy Alderson - tear down this wall lance these leaches from the team.  You're wasting valuable playing dirt, grass, bubblegum, and so many other resources.  Most of all, you're boring us by importing garbage.  With these stop-gap grade-C nags, apathy grows by the minute.  Time is of the essence, Sir.  If the 2014 season is the target for this diabolical plan for turning the corner, I suggest you stop the extenuating double-speak and cease with nonsensical roster adjustments, and start the baseball rolling with a hard evaluation plan now.


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