A few, hopefully quick, thoughts on the Mets and the trade deadline here…
As Bean aptly put it in a text last night about the K-Rod trade, "Alderson is ninja." I didn't have any opinions about Rodriguez as a trade option; I didn't think we'd get that lucky. Setting aside for a moment what the Brewers have in mind with that, I like the deal. It saves the Mets money, possibly leaving them a couple stock trades and a bake sale away from re-signing Reyes, and it rids the roster of an emotionally troubled player who is about to enter his decline years — and whom the Mets only signed based on a gaudy saves stat from 2008 that didn't tell anyone much of anything useful about Rodriguez as a pitcher. It told us a few things about Mike Scioscia as a manager, and how he uses his bullpen; it told us a few things about Angels starting pitching; and it told us that the Mets front office at that time would let itself get felt up by sweet-talking numbers that lie.
I hated that signing at that time, for that reason. Rodriguez isn't a bad pitcher, by any means. He's not a relaxing pitcher, God knows, but he's quite good; his similarity scores put him on a par with Joe Nathan and Bruce Sutter. But his Wins Above Replacement for 2011 is just over one, he's not getting any younger, and if he doesn't stay healthy, et cetera and so on. The rest of the Mets bullpen is…whatever the opposite of "lights-out" is? …Okay, that's unfair; it's gotten much better since the springtime, and the mercy DLing of Buchholz hasn't hurt. And I remember Doug Sisk, so, you know, this isn't all that bad. K-Rod's not so good this year that we can't get by without him (Gothamist's description of his '11 to date as "excellent" is overstating the case).
But Bean also worried that Rodriguez is "the first domino," and we can't give up yet. I see what she's saying — it's gratifying that a team I didn't expect to notch a .400 winning percentage even with all the stars healthy is clinging like an angry old monkey to break-even. Unfortunately, the Mets play in the NL East, and even if the Amazin's can climb over the Braves, a couple of teams in the Central will pose a problem. Teams like…the Brewers. And the Reds. And the Cardinals. And and and. I get not wanting to sell the team off for parts, but a major part of Alderson's mandate as the GM right now, in my opinion, is to signal to ownership and fans that he understands and accepts reality. And the reality is this: the Mets have no postseason shot in 2011. The Mets also have a handful of overrated position players that other teams maybe might have a use for, because going forward, the Mets really…won't. We need pitching — 95-mph, young starting pitching. We need an ace. Another sad reality to face: Santana is probably done. He's absolutely done as Johan Santana™. He's possibly done period. That acquisition made sense at the time and just didn't work out, but it's been not working out in operatic fashion for like two years now. Let's get some fireballing help in here.
With whom could the Mets make that happen? Let's see here.
Wright. Fred Wilpon shouldn't have made the comments he did, probably, but he had a point about Wright. He's not a superstar; I don't see "superstar" in his future. Could Wright move on to a team that plays in a hitter-friendlier ballpark and experience a return to previous power form? Sure, and I think gambling on that is the best outcome for the Mets and for Wright's career. He's not going to get it done that way at Citi, so let another team have a shot with it. Turner et al. have done just fine replacing him, and I don't think Turner has superstar makings either, but the Mets can go with him, or they can continue living in denial about Wright's long-term value to the team.
The complication there is that Wright has somehow become the face of the Mets. I don't understand that, honestly; I like the guy fine, but he doesn't seem to have enough personality for the fans to form such a profound attachment to him. And after the swoons and chokes of the last few years, maybe it's time for a different face anyway, so if Alderson can move him, I support that — but he would get killed for it.
Beltran. Apparently there's interest in him, which is surprising to me. He's having a good season, he's playing nearly every day, he made the All-Star team — I live in constant fear that one of his legs is going to fall off, but opposing scouts may not have that anxiety, and I suspect he wants to leave. I don't know that we can get enough in exchange unless we package him with another player, though.
Murphy/Davis. I would love to see Murphy go into a deal with an AL team that can park him at DH. The Mets can't afford that kind of Dr. Strangeglove "defense," and if Davis comes back 100 percent, Murphy's extraneous.
That injury raises a lot of questions, though; Ike has missed a lot of time. I can't predict how it's going to play out when he comes back, but prior to the injury he looked like a solid player both ways and didn't cost a lot of money. He's the one to hold, still, I think.
Reyes. I'm so torn about Reyes. He's having such an amazing year and I've had so much fun watching him…but then he got hurt again, and then K-Rod got traded, which frees up some ducats to keep Reyes. So, the "can the Mets keep him" question is back up for debate, along with "should they keep him," which seemed settled in favor of "yes, if possible" until he got hurt.
Here's how I see it. The kind of money Reyes is going to want, he can totally get. He "shouldn't" get it, but he will totally get it, and at the end of the day, he should probably get it from another team. What's behind his awesome '11 so far? A big part of it is his speed, which he's not going to retain — either injuries will slow him down, or throwing himself at triples will create more injuries. Another big part of it is the calendar. It's a contract year. A lot of people think the idea that players turn it on in a walk year is horseshit; I think there's something to it. Either way, let some other GM write checks on that.
Reyes is super-exciting. He's a great player. It's a bummer that he's going to leave. But: understanding reality; accepting reality. Reality: the Mets could try to put together a sweet deal for a seldom-injured version of Reyes. The actual version is a weakish return on investment, and that's the kind of contract the Mets need to avoid even the appearance of like the plague for the next few years.
Bay. Well, who would take him, is the question, and "no one" is the likely answer. I won't belabor points I've made in the past about the Bay deal, but if your team needs a gracious, forthright guy who handles a super-frustrating career downturn without making excuses or giving up, Bay is your guy. He's doing his damnedest out there, he's working with his manager, and I salute him, because he knows that signing bombed. Nobody knows it better than he does. But what he's not bringing in doubles, he's trying to make up for in effort, and I for one appreciate that. I don't appreciate it so much that I would cry if he went to, say, the Cubs (and got a nice little post-trade bounce out of it for himself), because accountability doesn't drive in runs, but still. The next time you hear someone banging on about how athletes make crappy role models, point 'em to that guy. Admirable isn't always about the long ball.
The Reyes injury has raised a lot of questions over the last few weeks, and I really know nothing about what's waiting in the farm system, so I don't know how any of it is going to turn out. It's going to get exciting, and possibly depressing, in Queens over the next two weeks.
Tags: Bean Bruce Sutter Carlos Beltran Daniel Murphy David Wright Doug Sisk Francisco Rodriguez Ike Davis Jason Bay Joe Nathan Johan Santana Jose Reyes Justin Turner let's go Mets Mike Scioscia Sandy Alderson shut up Wilpons Taylor Buchholz