Sunday, December 08, 2013

N.Y. Mets: The Winter Meetings Situation Report

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

"Who's baby is that?  What's your angle?  I'll buy that!" - Fred Flintstone

NEW YORK METS: Sandy Alderson Still Has Much To Accomplish During The Winter Meetings.


Baseball's Winter Meetings are upon us.  The yearly bacchanalia of baseball executives, agents, and media begins now.  If a furious start to the free agency period serves as any indication, then the Meetings should get plenty wild, and create steady streams of news.  The traditional gonzo festival will culminate on December 12th, with the Rule-V draft.

Many great careers got their start, thanks in part, to being exposed to the Rule-V draft.  This is partly when Paul DePodesta earns his salary, in hopefully selecting quality talent that may have gotten squeezed out or suppressed in other organizations.

Through several recent non-tenders, Sandy Alderson reduced the team's 40-man roster, then added Chris Young to set the number at 35 players.  Once Curtis Granderson is (officially) figured in, the 40-man roster sits at 36 players.  Yes Mets fans, after much adieu, Sandy Alderson finally addressed the outfield through free agency.

The Mets still have positions that require his immediate attention.  A starting pitcher, perhaps a reliever, and a shortstop top the list.  A back-up catcher, and clarification regarding first base would rate second on the list.  While much can be anticipated over the next several days, Mets fans can still reasonably expect more activity from their general manager.  With room on the roster, and with a few more dollars to spend, Sandy Alderson indeed still has much to accomplish.

So far, no further word has materialized regarding Sandy Alderson's now questionable interest in pitcher Bronson Arroyo.  Otherwise, the GM has a few major league players, and a basket full of minor league eggs to talk trades with.

Heading into the Winter Meetings, here is the Mets current Positional Players situation report:


Projected Starter: Travis d'Arnaud

Projected Back-Up: Pending.

Situation: Sandy Alderson ended the regular season saying he wanted to acquire an experienced MLB catcher, as a hedge should Travis d'Arnaud reinjure himself.  Free agent A.J. Pierzynski was my preference, but is no longer available, having signed with the Red Sox.

Travis d'Arnaud himself has even been involved in mild, if not baseless rumors.  For the moment, Anthony Recker is the favorite to back-up d'Arnaud.

Alternative: Juan Centeno.

Future Prospect: Kevin Plawecki; projected to play 2014 in Binghamton.

First Base

Projected StarterLucas Duda

Projected Back-Up: Josh Satin.

Situation: Make no mistake, Ike Davis is on the trading block.  Most recent rumors have him linked with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Otherwise, first base looks to remain an in-house issue next season.

I prefer a platoon with Josh Satin.  I think Coach Collins does too, but first base seems primarily Duda's for the moment.  He, like Ike Davis, is falling out of favor, and falling short on time.  This will surely be Duda's last opportunity to prove his worth.  Duda is no less on the trading block than Ike Davis is.

Free agent James Loney is still available should Sandy Alderson be compelled to spend more Wilpon dollars.  However, it is finally time for Lucas Duda to provide the same type of production, or be moved.  Save money here, and ensure both Duda and Satin get a fair shake.

Alternative: Despite breaking his fibula while playing winter ball in Venezuela, I'm in favor of re-signing our in-house free agent minor leaguer, Allan Dykstra, and giving him an equal chance at winning the job in Spring Training.

Future Prospect: Dominic Smith; projected to play 2014 in Brooklyn.

Second Base

Projected Starter: Daniel Murphy.

Projected Back-Up: Wilmer Flores.

Situation: Murphy is arbitration eligible for two more seasons until he earns his free agency in 2016.  He is regarded as the Mets best major league trading chip.  His name constantly gets mentioned, and lately, even more so.  However, it doesn't appear as if Murphy is going anywhere, any time soon.  I could be wrong though.  That's the great thing about the Winter Meetings.  Murphy recently endured major slights, first from a Jeff Wilpon omission regarding core players, then by his general manager who specified a want for more good guys in the clubhouse.  That was code for Alderson's displeasure with Murph's free swinging ways.

Non-tendering Justin Turner opened up a more clearly defined role for Wilmer Flores as the back-up second baseman.

Alternative: As Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner, were non-tendered by the Mets, Eric Young Jr. can be moved back to his natural position should Daniel Murphy get traded.

Future Prospect: 1) - Dilson Herrera; projected to play 2014 in Kingsport, or Brooklyn.
2) - L.J. Mazzilli; projected to play 2014 in Savannah.


Projected Starter: Ruben Tejada

Projected Back-Up: Wilfredo Tovar.

Situation: Free agent Jhonny Perlata priced himself beyond the Mets parameters, and ultimately signed with the Cardinals.  The Mets also turned away from Rafael Furcal, while Red Sox free agent Stephen Drew still remains unsigned.

Several trade scenarios can, and need to be explored.  With Ian Kinsler headed to the Tigers, I would assume the Texas Rangers would be less inclined to trade Jurickson Profar, although he has recently been rumored to be included in a possible deal for David Price of Tampa.  The possibility for a deal remains open.

Otherwise, the Mets non-tendered Omar Quintanilla, which all but ensures Ruben Tejada's return to shortstop next season.  Ruben has a lot of impressing to do.  He and Lucas Duda signed up for a strengthening program this off-season, and for Ruben's sake, it better pay off.  The GM and Terry Collins have long been disgusted by Tejada's work ethic and conditioning.  This is the final straw for the Mets diminutive shortstop.  If he doesn't shape up, he'll be shipped out.

Wilfredo Tovar is now the front-runner to assume the back-up role.  This position is by no means Ruben Tejada's to keep.

Alternative: None to speak of.  The Winter Meeting may solve this dilemma.

Future Prospect: Gavin Cecchini; projected to play 2014 in Savannah.

Third Base

Projected Starter: David Wright

Projected Back-Up: Josh Satin, Zach Lutz, Wilmer Flores

Situation: There is no situation.  For as long as he remains healthy, David Wright is a Met for life, which in Flushing years, means for the next seven seasons.  Before the signing of Curtis Granderson, he was the only positional surety the Mets had, and now, he may finally have reliable protection behind him in the line-up, as well.  Wright should benefit from hitting along side both Granderson and Chris Young, and could conceivably have his first 100+ RBI season since 2010.

Alternative: None to speak of.  Lutz and Flores have that covered.

Future Prospect: OF/3B Dustin Lawley; projected to play 2014 in Binghamton.

Left Field

Projected Starter: Curtis Granderson

Projected Back-Up: Eric Young, Matt den Dekker

Situation: Sandy Alderson signed free agent Curtis Granderson to a straight four year, $60 million dollar contract.

Alternative: None to speak of.  The position is manageable with their current depth.

Future Prospect:
1) - OF/3B Dustin Lawley. 
2) - Cesar Puello; projected to play 2014 in Port St. Lucie or Binghamton.

Center Field

Projected Starter: Juan Lagares

Projected Back-Up: Curtis Granderson, Matt den Dekker, Eric Young

Situation: The door remains wide open for someone else to take over center field, but despite suffering a minor injury playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Juan Lagares has seized the moment.  He showed enough poise and defensive prowess during his MLB debut to warrant the starting center field job.  At 24 years of age, he is an eight year minor league veteran.  Juan will still need to provide his share of offense, which still remains a questionable proposition.

Alternative: Matt den Dekker may pose the greatest in-house challenge to Lagares' current hold on center.  Dekker is similarly known as an above average fielder, and perhaps swings a mightier bat.

Eric Young is arbitration eligible.  Despite leading the National League with 46 stolen bases last season, Eric Young's .249 batting average, and his .310 OBP were not up to lead-off hitter standards.  Working in his favor, Young is a switch hitter.  A platoon with lefty-swinging Matt den Dekker isn't out of the question, as Eric Young is a better hitter from the right side of the plate.

Future Prospect: Brandon Nimmo; projected to play 2014 in Port St. Lucie.

Right Field

Projected Starter: Chris Young

Projected Back-Up: Curtis Granderson, Andrew Brown, Matt den Dekker

Situation: Sandy Alderson signed free agent Chris Young to a one year, $7.25 million dollar contract.  He'll be needed to at least replicate Marlon Byrd's season, and Scott Hairston before him.  Otherwise, Young is merely the latest on a long list of players over the last ten years to play right field for the Mets.  There is potential for a lot of upside here.  With the way money has been tossed around so wantonly during this free agency period, Chris Young's price tag has officially become reasonable.

Alternative: None to speak of.  The position is manageable with their current depth.

Future Prospect: Lacking.  Cory Vaughn's minor league career is falling apart.  See left field.


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