The Winter Meetings are upon us which means most of us baseball loyalists will be checking our smartphones like we can somehow alter our team’s fortunes in signing the guy we want them to sign.
But the Hot Stove season is rife with lies and innuendo meant to steer us in a different way. Meant to get us excited and build up angst.
In that regard the Mets signed the one guy i wanted them to sign so I am already satisfied with the output thus far. But I thought a better way of giving my predictions (read my best case/worst case scenario for the Mets), would be to get through the thicket of news I’ve heard and give my best guesses on what to expect.
- The Mets will trade Jay Bruce and/or Curis Granderson- in 2013 when the Mets signed Curtis Granderson it was a modest signing but not headline worthy but this is what it did. Granderson switched sides in the Yankees/Mets civil war and brought a measure of class and universal respect to the team. It also brought leadership, one i’ve always felt was overrated when it came to giving David Wright props. In that vein I think Granderson is the guy the Mets want to keep and Bruce the guy they want to trade. Granderson is the older player (by 5 years) and the one with the bigger financial commitment for next season ($15M vs. $13M) but teams want Granderson for the same reason the Mets want to keep him: his leadership. To me the news that more want Granderson sounds like teams want to undercut Bruce’s value and hope the Mets sell low which is why I think Granderson will be the guy to go. Bruce didn’t hit much for Mets after being traded and the feeling is that teams may shy away from a guy who can’t play in the spotlight of a pennant race which the Mets expect to be in next season barring a catastrophic season. My hunch is that the Mets trade Bruce for a prospect pitcher OR a reliever who they will try to march right up through the system to assist in the bullpen.
- The Mets will trade Conforto for a major reliever- I don’t buy it. I think the Mets will listen to offers but this would be a TERRIBLE time to trade Conforto. The Mets had as much to do with his horrible season as Conforto constantly managing to platoon a guy who had an idea when he came up to the plate. Especially after letting Murphy go, the Mets should be valuing a player who hits for average which almost every single scout and prospect site says he will. He will also hit for power, but ONLY if you play him. The Mets were inconsistent in explaining Conforto’s lack of AB’s by noting their concern in their defense, but then how to explain Wilmer Flores’ playing time? The Mets defense is contingent on their starting rotation being excellent and their offense bludgeoning teams to death. Conforto should have been afforded more AB’s and this is where the Mets get into trouble. When you get into bed with a guy like Yoenis Cespedes you do so with the understanding that you have to placate him a little. The Mets however have allowed him to dictate where he plays (he would prefer playing left field). Having Granderson and Bruce at right means Conforto’s only hope to get regular AB’s would be centerfield which leaves another problem- how to get Juan Lagares AB’s. My hunch is that the Mets explore Conforto at 1st to get him regular AB’s and protect themselves against Lucas Duda’s back.
- The Mets will move Zack Wheeler to the bullpen- This is a development I’m in favor of even if excellent baseball writer Mark Simon is not:
But I think this helps bring Wheeler along slower while also giving guys like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who deserve a shot at innings in the rotation a chance at just that. I like Gsellman for the bullpen because of his arm and the fact that he has that bowling ball sinker that gets a ton of weak contact. Seth Lugo’s spin rate also created some historically bad contact but I prefer him over Gsellman in the rotation as part of a six man rotation to start the season just so that the Mets keep their fragile pitching staff rested. Much of their pitching woes should be plugged in by internal solutions. If it worked for the rotation why can’t it work for the bullpen? My hunch is that it will be Wheeler who gets moved to 7th inning duty to start the season and when Familia returns, the Mets will add innings to expand him into a long reliever role and more if play or situation warrants.
4. The Mets are looking to trade one of their starting pitchers for positional talent- I don’t see it. If they learned anything last year its that you can’t have enough pitching. Their offense, if healthy can score enough runs to win more games than not. The best use of their resources would be to lengthen your pitchers careers by asking them to pitch fewer games. The six man rotation, one I’ve personally called for on this page, is now a necessity and can no longer be considered foolish. Not when the Mets have this kind of pitching staff. Not when this isn’t a forever kind of thing. In fact I think they should start off with a six man staff and then when August and September games come you have a much more rested staff that can push through the dog days and give the Mets the kind of shot in the arm they need. Why can’t the Mets employ some form of common sense to give their players a chance and be smart about getting them back to the normal 5 day routine as the season wears on? My hunch is that the Mets employ a 5 man rotation and one of Wheeler, Lugo and Gsellman spend considerable time wasted in Triple A.