The Mets didn’t hold a press conference to announce they would be sellers at the trade deadline, then spend a month looking for a trade partner. They just privately worked the phones. The team entered Thursday night’s game with a 1.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and five teams to leapfrog; trading away players to try and reload for next year is the right move. And they’ve started that process, sending Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay on Thursday. In theory, everyone else on the team is packing their bags and flying to Seattle for the second half of this West Coast trip.
I can’t help but wonder how many of the players who make this trip will still be Mets employees when the team flies back to New York. Every impending free agent could be traded. The main obstacle seems to be a lack of buyers. Asdrubal Cabrera has publicly demanded a trade, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand for the infielder. With Neil Walker coming off the DL, the Mets can temporarily use their surplus of healthy bodies by playing one as the designated hitter. On the other hand, I couldn’t blame any impending Met free agent to be glued to their phone, wondering if they’ll have to call their family back home and say “I’m off to a new city for two months.”
Meanwhile, the Mariners are floating along in the sea of mediocrity that is the American League Wild Card chase. The Mariners are below .500, only two games better than the Mets. But they are only 3.5 games out of the second wild card. They have made a few minor moves around the edges, acquiring a reliever and spare parts, but with only a 20 percent chance of making the playoffs, it seems unlikely they would make a major move.
All statistics through Wednesday night.
WHEN AND WHERE
Game 1: Friday @ 10:10 p.m. from Safeco Field (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Game 2: Saturday @ 4:10 p.m. from Safeco Field (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Game 3: Sunday @ 4:10 p.m. from Dodger Stadium (TV: WPIX; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Friday: Low of 55. Apparently the sun doesn’t set until 8:48 in Seattle this time of year, so expect weird shadows.
Saturday: Sunny, high of 79.
Sunday: Partly cloudy, high of 78.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Monday: LHP Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.30 ERA, 4.97 DRA, .247 TAv, 0.8 WARP) vs. RHP Rafael Montero (1-7, 5.19 ERA, 5.80 DRA, .303 TAv, -0.4 WARP)
Ariel Miranda is the one Seattle pitcher who has been able to take the mound every time it’s his turn in the rotation. The lefty seems well suited to his big home ballpark: he doesn’t miss a lot of bats and he has the third lowest ground ball rate in the majors this year. In a smaller ballpark like Philly or Atlanta, he’d get hammered. Miranda also has a huge platoon split, so expect to see Wilmer Flores and any other right-handed bats still on the roster. Rafael Montero has actually been more effective in his small handful of starts than out of the bullpen this year, where he’s been unwatchably wild. At least when he starts, his walk rate has been below average instead of turn the channel bad. I wouldn’t expect him to adapt to pounding the zone and relying on a bigger ballpark to limit homers.
Saturday: RHP Yovani Gallardo (4-7, 5.58 ERA, 4.80 DRA, .280 TAv, 0.8 WARP) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (12-3, 3.30 ERA, 2.94 DRA, .232 TAv, 3.9 WARP)
Yovanni Gallardo was so bad that he was exiled to the bullpen six weeks ago, but he hasn’t gotten much better in relief. However, the rest of the Mariners staff has gotten more injured. Almost by default, Gallardo is back in their rotation. It’s been years since the veteran righty got enough strikeouts to offset his wildness. After a few bad outings last month, deGrom has become the rock of this pitching staff. When we started the year, we all expected him to be one of the many aces. Now he is the ace and needs to provide innings just to keep the other starters from blowing out the bullpen.
Sunday: LHP James Paxton (10-3, 2.84 ERA, 2.67 DRA, .215 TAv, 3.3 WARP) vs. Seth Lugo (5-2, 4.10 ERA, 6.86 DRA, .279 TAv, -0.8 WARP)
James Paxton was one of those highly touted young pitchers who always seemed to break down, year after year instead of breaking out. At age 28 he’s finally on pace to pitch 150 innings. More importantly, they’ve been highly effective innings. Paxton has won all five of his starts this month, striking out 38 in 33.1 innings while only allowing 25 baserunners. There’s a reason why other teams have been reportedly looking to trade for Seth Lugo, even though he’s struggled this month. The right-hander seems to offer some tantalizing stuff – particularly his high spin curveball – but he’s yet to be much of a strikeout pitcher at the Major League level. It’s probably easy for teams to convince themselves they could fix Lugo and enjoy several years of a cheap contract, which is why the Mets should keep him.
Mariners 3B Kyle Seager (15-for-50 with 4 home runs and 5 doubles since the All Star Break)
Mariners OF Ben Gamel (.327 BA, 10 runs since the break)
Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes (.340/.367/.553 since the break)
Mets IF Wilmer Flores (.7-for-21 with 4 homers in his last 7 games, and the mariners are starting two lefties)
Mariners SS Jean Segura (batting .188/.255/.256 in his last 10 games)
Mariners 1B Danny Valencia (..236 OBP since the break)
Mets RF/1B Jay Bruce (5-for-24 with 8 strikeouts in the last week. Moving to 1B Thursday will surely make this easier…I write before the game starts.)
Mets SS Jose Reyes (4-for-24 over the last two series headed in to Thursday)
WHEN WE LAST MET
A year ago I was at the Baseball Hall of Fame to watch Mike Piazza’s induction ceremony. Along with the Mets fans there were a ton of Mariners’ fans, there to see Ken Griffey Jr’s induction. My hotel was full of very relaxed, happy fans. We shared John Olerud stories. I made friends by saying of course Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall. Part of what made it such a great ceremony to attend was two fan bases that are so far removed from each other that we all wanted to swap stories about baseball from different parts of the country. It seems fitting that the two teams are playing this year on Hall of Fame weekend.
Lucas Duda is gone, but don’t expect prospect Dominic Smith to get called up immediately to replace him. The Mets have been extremely deliberate with top hitting prospects and all reports indicate more of the same. Flores, Bruce and T.J. Rivera could all fill in at first. Neil Walker has been practicing at third while on his rehab assignment, but it is unclear at this point whether he will play there over the weekend.
Here’s a farewell from Lucas Duda: “I was very proud to be a New York Met. And I’m going to be very proud to be a Tampa Bay Ray.”
Photo credit: Joe Nicholson – USA Today Sports