During Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader, your friendly BP Mets staff (Kate Feldman, Jeffrey Paternostro, Alex Rosen, Lukas Vlahos and Justin Mears) sat down to discuss the rest of 2018, both what it should look like and what it probably does look like.
Kate: Let’s start with the comments the other day about how the Mets don’t need to do a full rebuild. Does anyone think they can compete in 2019?
Jeffrey: They think they can. They probably can. What they think they will need to do and what they actually need to do are not in any way an intersecting Venn diagram.
Kate: The third circle is what they actually do
Lukas: They should try to contend. To do that, they should spend to the tax.
Jeffrey: “Getting a full season of Noah Syndergaard is just like signing an ace.”
Lukas: Since they won’t do that, they should do some other things like an intelligent team (and that starts this season, seeing what you have in the guys you have). They won’t do that either, so it’ll mostly be doing dumb things and hoping the pitching stays healthy and carries.
Jeffrey: Hence Kevin Kaczmarski starting tonight
Lukas: Jeff McNeil is only a 2B apparently. And we’ve got to see more of Dom Smith for whatever reason.
Alex: They can contend if everything breaks exactly right, but we can say that about almost every team
Kate: We also say that every year. They’ll be good if they’re healthy. Eventually we have to acknowledge that they’re never going to be healthy
Jeffrey: The running joke on the podcast has been that they keep building a high variance 81-win team, but once you start hitting the low-end variance a few times in a row is it really an 81-win team.
Lukas: They have two aces, they should try. You can deal either of them at the deadline or next offseason anyway when they predictably fall short.
Jeffrey: There’s a great longform piece on the last decade of Mets Medical/Strength & Conditioning that is absolutely never getting written
Lukas: Barwas and pain guy should team up
Kate: Okay, well there’s our first question: do you trade deGrom or Syndergaard or both?
Lukas: Now, no. This offseason, no. Next deadline / offseason, yes.
Jeffrey: “Depends on the deal.” – Ted Berg
Alex: deGrom yes. Syndergaard no
Jeffrey: I think deGrom you deal at the deadline if you deal him. Syndergaard needs to have a healthy second half, but you are still selling low in December
Kate: I think if you’re pretending to compete next year, you have to keep both of them
Kate: But I think you sell deGrom at the deadline next year
Lukas: I think part of the problem is that there aren’t many teams that need these guys and have the pieces. The Angels and Brewers could start with Adell and Hiura, but don’t have a whole lot else.
Kate: They’re clearly not doing an extension and you have to get something for him
Justin: I really feel like they have the envy of the league with two pitchers of that caliber. They can build around them if they would just spend the money
Lukas: The Dodgers could deal a lot of stuff, but they never trade their good prospects. The Yankees won’t move Torres
Jeffrey: Lukas is right that you are basically limiting yourself to those two teams even though the best matches are the Yankees/NL East teams. I can’t see them doing that, and a good argument they shouldn’t if the idea is to compete in the short term,
Kate: Yeah I think Justin summed it up unfortunately. The Two Aces are enough if you buy around them
Justin: Kate’s point is a valid one though. Why on earth has deGrom not been locked up long term? Why wasn’t that done years ago?
Alex: deGrom’s approaching the wrong side of 30, already has a TJ, and probably isn’t your best starter on the next Mets contender
Kate: Thank you, Brian Kenny
Justin: It all depends on if they actually spend money though
Kate: (That was mean I’m sorry)
Jeffrey: I mean a 5/90 deal is likely fine. Given his skillset
Lukas: I still think it’s worth at least rolling the dice next year.
Justin: If they hold both of them they have to commit to making a run at Machado I feel like
Jeffrey: They aren’t signing Manny Machado
Lukas: Maybe Rosario breaks out, Alonso is legit, and Bruce / Cespedes / the pitching is healthy.
Justin: If they are going to try to basically run out this same bad team for another year then they unfortunately need to maximize the return on one of them
Jeffrey: They will take him to dinner like Cano probably. I don’t think you get a wildly different return for either arm at next year’s deadline. Like there comes a point of diminishing returns once you get up to like four years of team control like with Syndergaard. There’s no model for that trade. You are still getting next year’s Keston Hiura for one of them
Kate: I guess part of the problem is also that we have no idea who’s in charge. There’s no way this three-headed monster actually works
Jeffrey: Oh I think that was fairly clear from the presser
Lukas: It’s not a three-headed monster though, there’s still just one monster. And it’s the same monster it always is. Jeffy ain’t going nowhere
Jeffrey: The Padres did this short term before they brought in Preller. Ironically also with Minaya. I expect we will get clarity in the offseason and it will be something like Minaya as President of Ops or equivalent with a GM (likely Ricco but not a lock) under him
Kate: But for this trade deadline, we assume Ricco is calling the shots?
Lukas: The fact that Minaya has weaseled his way back to the top of the Mets hierarchy years after we celebrated him finally getting fired is depressing and concerning.
Alex: I’ve learned to assume nothing with this organization
Jeffrey: I mean the Mets absolutely went out and brought him back
Kate: Also hilariously Mets-y, Lukas
Justin: That’s an interesting aspect of this too. Moving either deGrom or syndergaard is a franchise defining move and the people making the decision aren’t even locks to be with the organization in a few months
Lukas: And by the Mets, you mean Jeff Wilpon.
Jeffrey: “The Mets.” The Metsssssss
Justin Mears: Would they actually have the balls to pull the trigger on that move if that’s the case?
Lukas: No, because Jeff will never let them go into a full rebuild.
Jeffrey: “You can’t rebuild in New York”
Lukas: They refused to deal Wright and Reyes the last time around when they needed to (emotional attachment to Wright aside).
Justin: That was different though Reyes was a free-agent
Jeffrey: I think the most likely scenario is they make the obvious rental deals (Familia, Cabrera, maybe Blevins in August) and reassess after the season
Justin: That was a terrible blunder though. Having the best year of his career and they don’t trade him, then don’t even attempt to sign him
Kate: I am unfortunately with Jeffrey
Jeffrey: Didn’t he pull a hammy right before the deadline
Kate: I don’t think they even sell off Lugo (nor do I think they should)
Jeffrey: I remember it being something like that which made him functionally impossible to deal
Kate: He wormed his way back home so it all worked in the end (Excuse me while I go throw up)
Lukas: Reyes and Minaya both. Gotta sign K-Rod guys.
Justin: I’m actually not a downer on Minaya
Jeffrey: K-Rod has been pretty good in Indy ball I think
Alex: He has!
Lukas: Has he been as good as Jordanny Valdespin? Because that’s the reunion I really want.
Justin: (Omar) did some foolish things, but he at least understood you need to supplement your roster with external big league talent. Bringing Pedro and Beltran here was the start of an exciting string of seasons
Lukas: I’m not so sure that’s Omar as much as the Wilpons allowing him to spend
Justin: Jason Bay was obviously a nightmare. And K-rod didn’t work out. But at least he tried
Jeffrey: No one has been as good as JV1 in the Atlantic League. Not even Lew Ford
Alex: I’m assuming I’m in the minority here but they probably should deal Lugo?
Lukas: If you’re trying to contend next year, I don’t agree.
Kate: Yeah I think they need him too badly next year
Jeffrey: I don’t think you are wrong. They will get interest (The Brewers have been rumored to love him forever) and like if they aren’t going to use him as a starter and given the shape of his arm, might as well deal him while you can?
Alex: His arms going to fall off, he isn’t this (no italics on iPhone app) good, and his value to a contender will never be higher
Lulas: Lugo is basically the third best starter they have at this point.
Kate: They’re not going to replace him
Justin: Exactly Lukas. It all depends on “if they actually intend to contend”
Alex: I agree @lukas.vlahos
Lukas: Here’s the real problem though.
Kate: Well they’re never going to admit they’re not contending
Lukas: The middle ground is how teams die. You either need to try to contend and go all in or rebuild and go all in on that. They will do neither.
Alex: Yes 1000%
Alex: There’s no worse place for an organization than The Middle
Lukas: They will try to contend while doing nothing and end up an equally bad team that hasn’t improved it’s future outlook either.
Justin: They can’t not do anything and then not invest money in the rest of the team
Kate: Sure they can. And they will
Justin: Either make a blockbuster trade and blow the thing up, or actually supplement them
Lukas: And I’m sure anyone who has heard me say this over the past couple of years is sick of me repeating it, but look at the 2016 Yankees
Jeffrey: Justin has recently woken up from a eight-year coma
Lukas: Probably could’ve made a run for the WC, realized that the middle sucks, and dealt their relievers for top prospects. The Mets were in basically the same spot, hung on to Reed and Familia, and got to the WC game. Hoo-fricking-rah
Kate: And look at the division. The Yankees were up against Boston and…that’s it
Lukas: Then they got nothing for Reed and will probably get nothing for Familia.
Alex: Here’s the problem with The Middle
Kate: The Braves arrived early. The Phillies arrived early
Alex: The Marlins actually tried to be this bad
Kate: I still don’t think the Nats are this bad
Alex: The Mets didn’t intend for this
Justin Mears: The Mets just really need to do what intelligent teams would do which I know is difficult for them. McNeil and Alonso need to be up. They need to find out if they can have a young right side of the infield like that in 2019 or not
Jeffrey: I was told we aren’t allowed to be mad about Jeff McNeil not being up
Lukas: He’s only a 2B
Jeffrey: I can be mad about many things at once though
Kate: We are only allowed to care about Alonso
Justin: Unfortunately Alonso probably won’t get promoted at all because they’re worried service time or whatever. And I’m afraid you’re 2019 opening day first baseman will be jay Bruce
Lukas: I don’t even hate that plan.
Kate: Isn’t the galaxy brain First Baseman Yoenis Cespedes?
Lukas: Let’s be realistic, the Mets can’t get rid of Bruce. They won’t cut him, because they refuse to recognize sunk costs. If he’s healthy enough to be his usual 10% better than league average self, fine. Put him at first and trade Alonso to go all in next year.
Justin: No way
Lukas: We’ve really gone off the rails very quickly haven’t we @kateefeldman
Kate: I don’t even know that you could trade Alonso at this point because you have no idea what he is
Alex: Since Jarrett isn’t here…TEBOW
Kate: I still think we stayed on topic longer than last year. Tebow is 100% here in September
Lukas: I also have no problem with that.
Justin: What if Alonso can become the type of right handed first base bat Goldschmidt is? They can’t move him
Lukas: So long as McNeil and Alonso are here. Ok, more likely he’s just another bad R/R 1B who can’t play defense.
Justin: Only one way to find out
Alex: He’s more league average than he is Goldschmidt
Jeffrey: It’s probably like right-handed Lucas Duda. Which is good.
Lukas: I think you mean Good
Kate: Look, not everyone needs to be a superstar. A league average first baseman is fine. If you assume Conforto/Cespedes are superstars. And whoever else around them is…good enough
Lukas: My point is this though – you have to utilize Jay Bruce _somehow_ because he’s here to stay. The best spot is 1B. Use your other 1B asset to improve the team elsewhere. And long term, dealing Alonso most likely doesn’t cost you much, though some people will scream bloody murder on Twitter I’m sure.
Alex: I wouldn’t deal him
Kate: I do get what Lukas is saying. They almost have too many players. And I’m not a prospect hugger but I hate the thought of blowing his potential to play Bruce
Lukas: You’d also deal deGrom though, so we’re arguing for different paradigms – I’m saying dealing him is optimal for trying to make things work next year, as is keeping deGrom.
If you want to rebuild, then yeah obviously don’t deal him.
Alex: Sure, I wouldn’t argue that. No team is giving anything close to his perceived value though
Justin: They are going to have a roster crunch provided everyone is healthy (which we know they won’t be). We know Nimmo and Conforto in the outfield. Cespedes/Bruce in one of the corners and perhaps the other at first would block Alonso so I see what Lukas is saying
Lukas: They need close to perfect health if you want to contend next year. They don’t have the resources to build sufficient depth behind these guys for a real contender. Thus, if you want to try to contend, you need to assume perfect health and build from there. If you don’t get the perfect health, the team is done anyway.
Justin: It’s not even just the health though they’ll need serious rebounds from Rosario and Conforto. And who is the catcher?
Lukas: Conforto will be fine. Shoulder injuries take time. I’m pining for Grandal
Kate: It’s definitely going to be d’Arnaud/Plawecki. They are never going to move on from those two
Lukas: So should we talk about specific guys and possible destinations now? Not sure we can beat the horse of ‘the Mets have bad organizational processes’ anymore. Well we could, but we shouldn’t.
Kate: Yes let’s do it. Let’s start with Familia, since he’s one of the two guarantees
Alex: The obvious deal is with Boston in a package with Cabrera
Lukas: Their farm is terrible though. And I think you get more splitting them up.
Justin: I agree with a tandem trade with Familia/Cabrera but like I wrote in that piece last week, I think Atlanta is a perfect match
Alex: I don’t believe they’re getting a top 100 guy for those two dudes. I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d take Groome and some lotto ticket for them
Kate: Atlanta was intriguing to me because it makes almost too much sense. Groome had TJ, right?
Lukas: I’d do that, sure.
Alex: They’d likely deal him for immediate help. Dombrowski traded Anderson Espinoza for Pomeranz
Lukas: Familia can go to literally any contender though, because every contender wants bullpen help. I think the Brewers are another interesting spot if you want to package them, because they need 2B help. Assuming they don’t just call up Hiura.
Justin: Groome actually grew up in my town. My cousin played with him
Kate: Can we assume Cabrera goes to the runner-up for Machado?
Lukas: Hmm, I’m not sure.
Justin: Yeah that’s hard to say. I think Moustakas goes to the runner up for Machado
Kate: Oh man I honestly forgot about Moustakas (You can tell how prepared I am for the trade deadline)
Lukas: Yeah I’ve tuned out a lot due to how bad the Mets are. Who are we asking for from the Braves if we package Familia and Cabrera?
Alex: Good question
Lukas: Touki? That’d be fun.
Justin: They have so many arms and they’ll never be able to find a spot for all of them. I think you try to get a pair of them from them
Alex: I think the Mets would be on him. They’ve had success with that profile
Lukas: I’d be down with Touki and another lower-tier prospect, and I think that’s a reasonable ask from the Braves. The Brewers don’t seem to have much of anything after Hiura unfortunately.
Kate: And Ricco did say they were looking for major-league arms (or close to)
Alex: Is the Touki return for both?
Justin: I’d push for Touki and Joey Wentz
Lukas: You could package both to the Angels since Cozart is done for the season now, but I wouldn’t know what to ask for.
Alex: Touki’s viable in the ‘pen as early as this year and I don’t know if they deal him. But that’s the type of arm I’d target
Kate: I hate to be the obvious downer, but do they trade intradivision?
Lukas: Maybe Griffin Canning from the Angels? For Familia / Cabrera types, I think they would.
Kate: Or are we calling this The Kelly Johnson Exception?
Lukas: Not deGrom or Thor though.
Kate: I think that’s fair. Honestly the only other guarantee is Blevins. And he hasn’t really upped his trade value lately. But he’s lefthanded so he’ll bring something back
Alex: Some sort of lotto ticket
Lukas: Yeah I meant to just sift through minor league reliever numbers, because that’s the kind of return you get for Blevins (Who they should’ve dealt last year and in 2016, but whatever)
Kate: Sandy said that during one of our BP events. He just sorts leaderboards by ERA (I think it was a joke)
Lukas: If you could find two lottery tickets like Stephen Villines in another system, I’d take that for Blevins. Also, Stephen Villines needs some major league time this season. Which he won’t get.
Justin: I don’t see the angels as a viable trade partner because in my opinion the 5 playoff teams in the AL are already set and they aren’t one of them. Why move young talent?
Alex: Blevins for Ohtani who says no?
Lukas: I could see them trying to make things work, just because they have Trout and Ohtani is going to need to miss a season eventually for TJ. Would they / could they move Frazier? Assuming this injury is short term.
Alex: I’ve thought about this and it’s probably not worthwhile
Kate: 2019 Third Baseman Jose Reyes. I don’t think you trade Frazier either
Lukas: Wilmer Flores.
Kate: He’s not really making that much to make a difference
Lukas: That’s fair. I want to see if someone actually trades for Bautista.
Kate: I literally forgot about him. Someone should. He’s a perfectly fine bench piece
Lukas: I’d be happy with a return similar to Blevins – high K, close to the majors, low pedigree bullpen arm(s)
Alex: I saw one of the beats tweet out that there’s no interest in Mesoraco and laughed my ass off. Who would want Devin Mesoraco?!???
Justin: I think they find a home for Bautista
Kate: Throw Mesoraco in to Boston for salary relief (they won’t). Slightly off topic, but Bautista is probably the most successful signing in…a long time. And that’s the saddest sentence ever
Lukas: Still not a good signing. Because the process behind it is abysmal. They hit on 18 and got a 3
Kate: You always have to bring me down
Lukas: I have a very small set of skills Kate. Cabrera for Gingergaard who says no
Kate: Jeffrey would be so happy
Lukas: The whole fan base should be happy if they pulled that off.
Kate: There’s no way they pull that off
Jeffrey: There is not
Lukas: Oh of course. They could use Familia too probably.
Kate: So the problem is that we’re out of trade candidates. And you’re not rebuilding a team on Cabrera, Familia and Blevins
Alex: Flores probably gets a look from someone?
Kate: Excuse me, it’s Walkoff King Wilmer Flores
Justin: I don’t think they could get enough value in return for Flores to negate the mutiny
Kate: He’s going to make, what, like $4M next year?
Jeffrey: Yeah you are getting The Kelly Johnson return. So someone else’s Rob Whalen
Kate: That seems super not worth it
Alex: It opens up the playing time they need to give Dom though. The only way to apparently do that is to move the guy blocking him
Lukas: Dom is just so bad.
Kate: Okay, here’s a question
Lukas: What do you even do with him?
Kate: Is Wilmer better than Dom?
Jeffrey: Next question
Justin: Yes lol
Lukas: Dom does literally nothing well
Kate: That’s what I thought too. So I’m not moving Wilmer to free up playing time
Lukas: Can’t make contact, bad power, can’t play defense, can’t run.
Kate: I hate to say give up on Dom, but they really shouldn’t be basing any decisions around him
Justin: Especially since Alonso seems to have supplanted him as the “first baseman of the future.” The fact that Dom has been playing some left field tells you all you need to do about how the organization feels about him
Alex: Fair enough. Well sure it’s not like this wasn’t obvious last year either. But let’s stop screwing around then and playing him in left (edited)
Kate: I know we already talked about this, but I still can’t get past an organization playing Dom Smith in left saying McNeil can only play second (edited)
Lukas: Yeah, why are we wasting at bats on Smith instead of McNeil and Alonso. And, to an extent, Guillorme
Jeffrey: Look there is an argument to just use the rest of the year to prove that he can’t. But they won’t even really fully commit to that
Alex: Right. Once again they’re in the middle of a decision where the middle is the worst place to be
Justin: I don’t necessarily mind them only wanting to play McNeil at 2nd. That tells me they view him as a potential long term answer there. But I’ll be pretty annoyed if he isn’t here on the next plane after Cabrera is traded
Lukas: Dom goes down flailing in the middle of this discussion
Jeffrey: This should clear up after the deadline but it probably won’t
Lukas: Is Reyes cut at the deadline?
Jeffrey: Because they will always find playing time for marginal vets
Kate: My not-actually-a-conspiracy-theory conspiracy theory is that they hold onto Reyes until they can get Wright back for a game
Alex: I stand by my theory that he’s the corresponding move for TEBOW. What better way to go out than for the former Heisman winner
Kate: I think Alex may like Tebow more than I do
Alex: I don’t. I just think the whole thing’s funny. The Metsssss
Kate: So play out the rest of 2018. What happens the day after the trade deadline
Jeffrey: The Mets lose a baseball game
Alex: Ricco’s the GM giving the presser
Lukas: Are you asking us what should happen or what will happen.
Alex: McNeil’s starting at 2B ONLY
Kate: Let’s go with what should happen first. I think McNeil is up and the starting second baseman
Lukas: Reyes cut, Cabrera + Familia + Blevins traded. Hanhold, Smith, McNeil, and Guillorme up. McNeil plays everday, mostly at 2B but I also want to see him at 3B, LF, and even SS on occasion.
Hanhold and Smith get high leverage work. Down the line, Villines, Bashlor, and Uceta also get time at the back of the bullpen. Alex: Agree with Lukas
Kate: I think that all is entirely fair
Lukas: Dom cut or sent back to Triple-A, I don’t care which. Alonso plays everyday at 1B.
Kate: He’ll go to Vegas. They’re not cutting him
Justin: Kate is absolutely right in my opinion. They want a Reyes at short wright at third visual before the end of the year
Kate: The last few months should be about getting looks at everyone borderline. So now, what will they do
Lukas: Reyes plays everyday. Smith plays, but not everyday. Alonso languishes in Triple-A for no reason. Kaczmarski gets more at bats than McNeil. They continue to be way too slow with their reliever promotions and we don’t get a definitivie idea on any of those guys. And Tebow, of course.
Alex: Yea I couldn’t have said that any better than Lukas just did. Also I know we’re past that point in the conversation, but I’m interested to hear thoughts on keeping/moving Wheeler and Matz?
Kate: Oh right, those guys. I just assumed they were both on the DL
Alex: Both pitching as well as ever!
Lukas: I’d keep them both.
Kate: Yeah I would too
Lukas: If you’re trying to contend next season, nothing you get for them will help more than they will.
Kate: I just don’t think the team replaces them
Lukas: If you want to rebuild, then yeah trade them.
Alex: Agree with that Lukas
Lukas: You need to make up your mind though. Don’t trade one.
Justin: Don’t trade any of your pitchers
Lukas: Do both or neither (barring someone making a huge offer for one).
Kate: And I don’t think either has been good or healthy enough for long enough that you’re going to get blown away
Lukas: Wheeler has looked good of late I think. But yeah, you’re not getting anything noteworthy for either of them. Christ, this is depressing.
Kate: He’s looked good. I don’t know that he’s looked good enough that he has more trade value than 2019 value
Lukas: Is there anything else we’ve missed? Don’t think there’s anything else that we can point out is bad.
Kate: I think that’s it and it’s depressing as hell. I really don’t think they’re going to be good next year
Alex: Is Yoenis alive?
Lukas: Is Amed Rosario just bad?
Kate: Okay the idea wasn’t to get MORE depressing. I know how we’ll finish it: predictions for win-loss record this year
Justin: I don’t know if they even win 70
Lukas: 67-95 next year
Justin: It’s pretty depressing writing their record in my scorebook every night
Jeffrey: 74-88 again
Kate: Optimist Jeffrey is the stuff of nightmares. I’m going 70-92 too
Alex: I’ll go 72-90 this year. 79-83 next year
Lukas: Don’t worry guys, Anthony Kay was mediocre in Advanced-A tonight. The farm will save us.
Justin: I’m saying 66-96 this year
Lukas: How did no one predict 69 wins. I’m changing mine to 69-93. Not a good season, but at least it’s nice
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski – USA TODAY Sports