What Went Wrong in Queens?
Well isn’t the state of Major League Baseball in New York just so interesting? Exactly 10.4 miles separate Citi Field from Yankee Stadium, home to two Major League Baseball franchises with very different pasts and what appears to be very different futures. The New York Mets were on a path to what seemed to be sustained success for the next ten seasons, so what exactly went wrong?
That brings us to the first topic that will be addressed: The state of the woeful New York Mets. The New York Mets believe it or not went wrong in 2013. The key for the head of any professional franchise in the world is for that leader or person in charge of day to day operations to always be thinking three years ahead of the current time and place the franchise is at, the New York Mets failed to do that.
In 2013 the future looked much brighter for the team in Queens. Like the Yankees in 2017, the Mets had a stocked farm system. The Mets entered the 2013 season with the 12th ranked farm system in all of baseball with top notch prospects like Noah Sydnergaard and Travis d’Araud who they acquired from the Blue Jays for Josh Thole and R.A. Dickey after Dickey’s impressive Cy Young Year. In 2011 the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for a stud, up-and-comer, Zack Wheeler. The trend here matches exactly what the Yankees did starting at the 2015 trade deadline and what every professional franchise should do, always look ahead.
So Far So Good, Then What?
The Mets took a piece of value in Carlos Beltran and turned it into one of the top pitching prospects in the game. The Mets wreaked the benefits off of an aging knuckleballer and turned that into possibly the best pitcher in all of baseball when healthy. So the question needs to be asked. Why did it stop for the Mets? Why did they stop turning pieces of value into more value?
Going into the 2013 season the Mets had a team with young talent such as: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Fulmer, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Colin McHugh, Justin Turner and Wilmer Flores. The Mets at one time had seven of the top 30 pitching prospects in all of baseball. You can’t exactly blame the Mets for the trades they did make that didn’t work out.
For instance, Colin McHugh who is one of the most dependable pitchers in baseball right now for the defending world champion Houston Astros. The Mets traded him to the Rockies for Eric Young Jr. Like all franchises who decide to trade young players you always take the gamble of not knowing what that player will become and the fear of that player becoming a star. Colin McHugh sported an 0-5 record with an 8.26 ERA with the Mets so you can’t actually fault them for moving on from him.
The same does not go for the unexplainable release of Justin Turner who has now turned into a superstar with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fact is as a utility player with the Mets, Turner showed improvement over every single year. He finished up his last year in flushing with a .280 average which was better production from what he had prior. Now no one could’ve expected Turners sudden jump to .340 with the Dodgers in 2014, but even since then Turner has been a consistent .300 hitter up until his breakout year in 2017 where he hit .322 with 21 homers and 71 rbis.
Why did the Mets simply release him when they only would’ve owed him 550k the next year? At the very least they could’ve realized he had some value and used him as a trade chip later on.
The Michael Fulmer trade was necessary to make in 2015. The Mets were a competitive team who saw a chance at competing for a title and realized in order to get a power bat like that they needed to give up a top tier prospect like Fulmer. To their chagrin, Fulmer became a top tier cy young quality pitcher which the Mets obviously could not see coming.
The problem is the Mets failed to realize in 2014 that you don’t need six top tier pitching prospects to win. You need a healthy mix of starters and fielders who can create runs along with a strong bullpen to hold leads in postseason games. After the 2015 world series run the Mets should’ve created a package including Zack Wheeler and/or Steven Matz for prominent bullpen pieces that could’ve helped them in the long run. They already saw they were capable of a World Series run with just Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. The Mets had no idea Matt Harvey would fall apart due to injury and poor lifestyle choices but at the time he was looking forward to a 200 million dollar contract.
Why Aren’t The Mets Trending Up?
Due to the failure to look ahead in the future and prepare for a ten year run of success the Mets now find themselves in the predicament they’re in in the 2018 offseason. The Mets seemingly need to address every position on the field except shortstop, left field, and center field. Even the bullpen is criminally flawed going into next year.
The Mets are hindered by one contract and that is the contract of fan favorite David Wright who is owed 20 million dollars a year until the 2020 season where he is due 12 million. Still, even with his heinous contract hitting the cap the Mets have only 71 million dollars in committed salaries going into 2018. Once all the arbitration eligible contracts are settled the Mets would still only owe 122 million dollars to their players going into 2018. The luxury tax threshold this season its at 197 million dollars and over the next year it will rise to 206 million and in 2021 it will rise all the way up to 210 million.
What Are They Waiting For?
The Mets have made one single singing this offseason and it was for bullpen reliever Anthony Swarzak. Now although Swarzak is not a bad reliever by any means he is certainly not a top flight reliever like Bryan Shaw. Shaw publicly spoke on how he would love to play for his former pitching coach in Cleveland Mickey Callaway who now happens to be the manager in Queens. Bryan Shaw wound up signing with the rockies for three years at nine million dollars a year simply because the Mets failed to raise or even match that offer. Two days later the Mets inked Anthony Swarzak to a deal for two years at seven million dollars a year. So the Mets refused to get a much better reliever who showed interest in signing with them, for an extra year at nearly two million more dollars a year.
Not angry enough yet Mets fans? Hold on. One of best position player available on the free agent market this year is former Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is a player that would fit perfectly into the Mets lineup. A consistent power hitter with good numbers who is consistently healthy; the Mets have not showed interest.
Another third baseman who loves playing in the area and is a consistent good team player is Todd Frazier. With the Yankees dipping their toes into the Manny Machado sweepstakes along with young blossoming prospect Miguel Andujar it is unlikely the Yankees will need the ‘Todd Father’ to come back on the multi-year deal he is commanding; the Mets have shown no interest.
Even if the Mets really wanted to think out of the box they could look at the career journeyman Eduardo Nunez who until last year, never blossomed into much of anything with the Yankees and Giants. Last year with the Red Sox Nunez hit .300 and could definitely be a serviceable player who would also stay on the field, something the Mets have had trouble with the last few years, keeping players on the field; the Mets have yet to show any interest.
Are the Mets more in love with Dominic Smith or the six hundred thousand dollars he’s due to make next year?
The Mets seem to be content with Dominic Smith starting at first base next season. Dominic Smith wound up being one of the only athletes in history to gain weight mid season during his brief two months with the Mets in 2017 and although he showed some positive signs, he certainly didn’t show he’s ready to be a productive major league ballplayer. Are the Mets more in love with Dominic Smith or the six hundred thousand dollars he’s due to make next year?
A proven first baseman in Eric Hosmer is available on the open market right now to contribute to a major league team in a big way; the Mets have yet to show any interest. Keep in mind none of these deals would necessarily require the Mets to spend big money compared to what the stars of next years free agency class of Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw and Manny Machado could make.
Too Content To Contend
To finish off the list of wrong moves as a franchise we move to the phone call Sandy Anderson received last week from now Marlins Owner and president of baseball operations Derek Jeter about the possibility of moving Giancarlo Stanton to the Big Apple. Nobody knows the details of the trade including the New York Mets because before Jeter was able to discuss the details Sandy told him the Mets were not interested.
Now, obviously anyone who knows the Mets and their history knows they are not big spenders, certainly not anywhere near the range of Stanton’s 10 years and 295 million dollars due to him. Also looking at their farm system they probably would not have had much to offer up to the Marlins other than prized possession Michael Conforto who the Mets understandably are unwilling to move. Even though acquiring a player like Stanton seems unlikely isn’t it a franchises responsibility to at least inquire when a player of that caliber is offered to you? What if the Marlins hypothetically asked for Josh Edgin and said they’d swallow 100 million dollars due to Stanton, would the Mets have said no to that? No one knows because the Mets didn’t let it get to that point.
There is nothing wrong with listening to a trade proposal and declining it, but not allowing a team to offer the trade is just pure lunacy. As the winter meetings come to a close the Mets have walked away with one bullpen relief pitcher and it wasn’t even the one who expressed interest in playing with the team.
So if you want to sum up how the Mets have done so far this offseason; they have eight needs to address and they have very minimally addressed one, solid job Sandy.
The Mets Must Make Moves
The Mets need to start spending money and turning areas of talent in their franchise into more talent. The Mets can no longer use the excuse of not making as much money as the Yankees for why they cant afford massive contracts. Major League Baseball now has shared revenue which means all of the money made around the league other than box office sales is split between all 30 major league clubs and the commissioners office. The select clubs who contribute a higher percentage to the shared revenue are rewarded with a higher split, a select group the Mets find themselves in.
With owning 70% of SNY, their television network and appearing in the World Series just two seasons ago the Mets do contribute a large amount to the shared revenue along with having some of the highest priced tickets around Baseball. Between the amount the Mets charge for tickets combined with their own television network which most teams around baseball don’t have and being in a New York market the Mets have no excuse to not spend any money other than their owners just not having the drive or care to put a winning product on the field. Mets fans need to come to grips with that harsh reality.
The Wilpons look at this baseball club as an investment. They are looking to make as much money off of the team as possible, the result on the field is not a concern to them. It’s the same problem the New York Islanders suffer. When the source of spending money in a sports franchise has no desire to win, the team will not win and when it does win, it will not be sustained. Teams that are run like this are unable to sustain dynasties and long periods of success because they never look ahead. A problem the New York Mets will likely suffer from until the Wilpons sell the team.