Jay Bruce Re-Joins the HMS Mets

January 12, 2018
  
The Mets, as an organization, are a ship adrift at sea. They are a rudderless vessel trying to avoid icebergs by waving silk tablecloths at them. The captain has abandoned ship, taking the good rum with him. In truth the captain never climbed aboard: old Ahab got drunk at the bar and misplaced his peg leg. There are no captains a harpoon’s throw from CitiField: the Mets franchise is a vessel with beautiful chandeliers and no course plotted on the charts. They are gliding towards disaster.
 
The signing of outfielder Jay Bruce is the latest indicator that this team, collectively, has no idea what the hell they are doing. They have no capacity to identify the specific strengths and weaknesses of their club, and no understanding of what steps they should take to return to contention. There is no ruling philosophy being tested here, no guiding principle that unifies this collection of baseball players. To call the Mets a team is to stretch the definition of that word pasts all reasonable dimensions.
 
None of this is a knock on Jay Bruce. Bruce is a good power hitter, and the salary being reported (3 years, $39 million) is a perfectly reasonable contract. Jay Bruce isn’t an all-star, but in the right contexts he is a valuable baseball player. 
 
The problem is that Jay Bruce is not a useful player for the New York Mets. There are hundreds of players available in major league baseball who would capably fill the gaps that the Mets team needs if they want to take advantage of their window of contention. Instead of going after any of those players, the Mets spent $39 million on a player whose only positive is one that the Mets have amply covered, and whose many liabilities are liabilities that are going to have a negatively dominoing effect on the Mets ability to win baseball games.
 
I wrote about Run Element Ratio a year ago, back the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cepedes. For those who don’t remember the metric, Run Element Ratio tells you whether an offensive player is more likely to start trouble or end trouble. The equation is:
 
(Stolen Bases + Walks)  /  (Total Bases – Hits)
 
Players who have high RER’s are guys whose skill sets rest in setting the table: Brett Butler or Kenny Lofton or Rod Carew would be examples of effective high-RER players. Players who hit for power but don’t draw a lot of walks or hit for a high average have low RER rates.
 
Easy example:
 
Name
H
SB
BB
TB
RER
Rickey Henderson
3055
1406
2190
4588
2.35
Joe Carter
2184
231
527
3910
.44
 
Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time and the greatest base stealer of all-time, has a high RER. Joe Carter, a good power hitter who didn’t walk, but managed to drive in 100 runs like clockwork, has a low RER.
 
RER is not a metric that expresses value: it merely tells you where, in the machine of an offense, a player would be best utilized. Rickey Henderson was terrifically good at starting the production of an offense. Joe Carter was pretty good at ending the production…at driving in the runners.
 
Jay Bruce is like Joe Carter: he has a low RER:
 
Name
H
SB
BB
TB
RER
Jay Bruce
1294
62
528
2455
.51
 
Jay Bruce’s value, in relation to an offense, is his capacity to finish trouble. He would be helpful on a team that needed guys capable of finishing trouble. Which teams are those?
 
Tm
H
SB
BB
TB
RER
BOS
1461
106
571
2305
.80
LAA
1314
136
523
2151
.79
PIT
1331
67
519
2105
.76
SFG
1382
76
467
2112
.74
STL
1402
81
593
2330
.73
 
Last year, Boston’s offense had the highest RER in baseball: they had a lot of players getting on base, and they had decent success moving around the bases, but they lacked players capable of clearing the deck. The same holds for the Angels.
 
Which teams are the least in need of a player like Jay Bruce?
 
Tm
H
SB
BB
TB
RER
BAL
1469
32
392
2458
.43
CHW
1412
71
401
2300
.53
KCR
1436
91
390
2323
.54
HOU
1581
98
509
2681
.55
NYM
1379
58
529
2393
.58
 
This, again, isn’t astonishing. The Orioles, perhaps misunderstanding Earl Weaver’s adage about three-run homers, have a lineup stacked with deck-clearers. The White Sox have young offenses trying to figure out what they’re going to be. The Astros don’t need nuthin’.  
 
And of course, there are the Mets. The Mets had the lowest RER in the National League last year, edging out Colorado and Philladelphia.
 
I want to point out, again, that RER does not tell us anything of the value of a player or a team’s offensive contribution. Houston and the White Sox had similar RER’s, but no one would argue that the quality of their offenses were remotely comparable.
 
With the Mets, however, we know that their offense was inefficient. The Mets paced the NL in home runs, tying Milwaukee for the league lead with 224. But the Mets ranked just ninth in overall runs scored: their homeruns didn’t translate to a lot of runs being scored. As a team, the Mets hit one more homerun than the Cubs…and scored 87 fewer runs. They hit nine more homeruns than the Nationals and scored 84 fewer runs.
 
What the Mets needed to get, this off-season, was a player like Dee Gordon (RER: 1.93): a player capable of starting trouble. Perhaps they could’ve asked about Delino DeShields (1.97) or Cameron Maybin (1.56) or Jarrod Dyson (1.69). They could’ve kicked the tires on Rajai Davis for a fraction of what Bruce signed for. They could’ve asked the Reds about Billy Hamilton. Hell, Jose Bautista still knows how to draw a walk…why not throw a few million bucks at him and slot him in as your leadoff guy?
 
Here’s a list of players who had the highest RER’s in the majors last year (minimum 200 plate appearances):
 
Name
Team
H
BB
SB
TB
RER
Tony Wolters
Rockies
55
33
0
65
3.30
Kelby Tomlinson
Giants
50
23
9
61
2.91
Omar Narvaez
White Sox
70
38
0
86
2.38
Tyler Saladino
White Sox
45
23
5
58
2.15
Greg Garcia
Cardinals
61
37
2
80
2.05
Billy Hamilton
Reds
144
44
59
195
2.02
Delino DeShields
Rangers
101
44
29
138
1.97
Gor. Hernandez
Giants
79
31
12
101
1.95
Logan Forsythe
Dodgers
81
69
3
118
1.95
Dee Gordon
Marlins
201
25
60
245
1.93
Eric Sogard
Brewers
68
45
3
94
1.85
Gregor Blanco
D’Backs
55
31
15
80
1.84
Ben Revere
Angels
80
15
21
100
1.80
Mallex Smith
Rays
69
23
16
91
1.77
Jarrod Dyson
- - -
49
22
0
62
1.69
Andrew Knapp
Phillies
44
31
1
63
1.68
Jarrod Dyson
Mariners
87
28
28
121
1.65
Jace Peterson
Braves
40
27
3
59
1.58
Cameron Maybin
- - -
90
51
33
144
1.56
Brad Miller
Rays
68
63
5
114
1.48
Bruce Maxwell
Athletics
52
31
0
73
1.48
Rajai Davis
- - -
79
27
29
117
1.47
Jon Jay
Cubs
112
37
6
142
1.43
Dansby Swanson
Braves
113
59
3
158
1.38
Robbie Grossman
Twins
94
67
3
145
1.37
Matt Szczur
- - -
44
34
0
69
1.36
Jose Peraza
Reds
126
20
23
158
1.34
Dustin Pedroia
Red Sox
119
49
4
159
1.33
Jacoby Ellsbury
Yankees
94
41
22
143
1.29
Starling Marte
Pirates
85
20
21
117
1.28
Cliff Pennington
Angels
49
16
3
64
1.27
Miguel Rojas
Marlins
79
27
2
102
1.26
David Freese
Pirates
112
58
0
158
1.26
Brandon Nimmo
Mets
46
33
2
74
1.25
Daniel Nava
Phillies
55
26
1
77
1.23
Stephen Piscotty
Cardinals
80
52
3
125
1.22
Ichiro Suzuki
Marlins
50
17
1
65
1.20
Cesar Hernandez
Phillies
150
61
15
215
1.17
Daniel Robertson
Rays
45
29
1
71
1.15
Joe Mauer
Twins
160
66
2
219
1.15
Ian Desmond
Rockies
93
24
15
127
1.15
Chris Gimenez
Twins
41
33
1
71
1.13
Ezequiel Carrera
Blue Jays
81
30
10
117
1.11
Allen Cordoba
Padres
42
18
2
60
1.11
Trea Turner
Nationals
117
30
46
186
1.10
 
You’re telling me that the Mets couldn’t find someone on that list who could set the table for their power hitters, for a fraction of the cost than they spent on Jay Bruce? They could have…very easily. They just haven’t realized what the problem is.  
 
And the problem isn’t just that the Mets are going to have a bunch of power hitters slugging solo homers and losing baseball games in 2017. The signing of Jay Bruce has broader ramifications for the entire team. The signing of Jay Bruce means that when Michael Conforto returns, the Mets will have to find playing time for him in an outfield that already had Cespedes, Bruce, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo all vying for playing time.
 
And this is a team that has deep pitching staff, playing home games on a reasonably big outfield…wouldn’t you like to support that pitching staff by having decent defense in the wide open spaces?
 
Signing Jay Bruce pressurizes everything. It forces someone like Cespedes…who should play a corner position because he a) has a strong arm, and b) struggles with balls hit directly at him…to play out of his comfort zone. It causes the younger players…the guys you should be trying to build your team around….to spend all their time worrying about how they’re going to sneak in at-bats around the millionaire free agents. Worse: the Mets will experiment with playing one of their outfielders in the infield: there is a not-slim chance that Jay Bruce is going to learn first-base mid-season. I’m sure that won’t have any effect on his hitting. And all of this juggling invariably stresses the pitching staff, who would probably prefer having outfielders capable of catching the occasional fly ball.
 
Bruce pressurizes everything…and he solves nothing. That isn’t a slight on him: he is a good player, and there are many baseball teams that would be improved with him in their lineup. But the Mets are the last team that needs a player like Jay Bruce: they have lots of players just like him, and no place for him. His presence on their roster is an expensive extravagance on a team that has real needs that could easily be addressed. Instead the Mets bought a golden doorknob for a ship without lifeboats.
 
 
Dave Fleming is a writer living in western Virginia. He welcomes comments, questions, and angry rebuttals from Mets fans here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. 
 
 

COMMENTS (27 Comments, most recent shown first)

OldBackstop
Correction below: preseason in 2017, 538 gave the Mets a 51% chance to make the playoffs and projected 87 wins.
2:02 PM Jan 16th
 
OldBackstop




Don and I are replicating some posts between here and the board post "The New Monetball?" but.......lets talk about resources (money and contract "courtesy" provided by management) and season performance by the GM:

I just saw an segment of Hot Stove where they summed up the problem with the Mets attracting top FAs under the ownership situation in 2014-2016:

Marcel Ozuna, at his press conference joining St. Louis yesterday, said "At least I didn't have to go to the As."

Dick!, right?? The panel was like "why would he say that? Heymann said "Because any players winding up with the As as the only option know their contract will be a knife fight, no matter how well they do they will never get a long term contract, and they probably will end up getting traded."

Which applies to the Mets, and I've already pointed out the franchise management connections.

An issue with the Mets is, they simply didn't have the option to do a tear down ala Houston or Philadelphia or Pittsburgh the past four years. Why? Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz....fans know they will always have a puncher's chance, and given the Wilpon's disgrace and the free spending Yankees a few miles away (who are said to infuriate Wilpon) they had to find a way to cobble together a team that could at least sell some season tix and have some competitive August games.

Now, let me ask you and the guys bashing the Mets a question:'

What if they had crept into the WC in 2017 and then got knocked out in the division series? That would make three playoff appearances in three years. Only Washington, the Cubs and the Dodgers have done that.

This is a little frustrating finding apples to apples for the next part, but using [URL="http://www.stevetheump.com/Payrolls.htm"]one source[/URL] with the 2015, '16, '17, so ballpark, total payrolls last three years:


Dodgers: $730 million
Nationals: $505 million
Cubs: $410 million
Mets: $320 million

Go kick those numbers at other sources as to whether they are total or include DL or are Opening Day, etc, but I'm confident they will be within 5%.

Now....they DIDN'T make the 2017 playoffs, they won 70 games. But I think I have spelled out the horrendous 2017 situation above: Nobody, not the Nats, not the Dodgers, not the Cubs would have won the wildcard not getting half a season from their top 15 guys, or whatever. One top guy, DeGrom, gave them a full season.

Before the season, [URL="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2017-mlb-predictions/"]538 gave the Mets a 51% chance to make the playoffs[/URL]. (you have to set the clock to 3/31 to see their preseason odds.) They predicted 51 wins, which would have tied them with the Rockies for the second WC.

So, my question is this:

Had the Mets made the playoffs three years in a row, and looking at the comparative salaries above, would Alderson be considered a stone cold financial wizard, or a lost captain at sea etc?
1:58 PM Jan 16th
 
OldBackstop
Don, I wrote you a very long reply on the New Moneyball? thread, featuring the Wilpon's finances, the 2017 freak injuries and dismantling of the Mets, and the history of the puffery in their patroll due to people like Reyes, Wright and, coming up, AGon.

But more to the point is that the payrolls that are pertinent are 2013-16, and I believe they were in the range of 23rd in MLB to 19th, even with the above factors. If you compare that to their franchise worth, etc, I think you will see the issue.
12:06 AM Jan 16th
 
doncoffin
I'm having a little trouble seeing the Mets as a team without resources. Looking at team revenue and franchise values (https://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/#tabverall) and payrolls at the beginning of the 2017 season (https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/h...roll-for-2017/), the Mets rank 7th in revenue ($332 million), 6th in franchise value ($2 billion), 12th in payroll ($155 million) and 12th in payroll as a % of revenues (46%). They are essentially dead average (45.6%) in payroll as a % of team revenue. We could argue about whether their revenue ought to be higher or lower, whether they're getting value for their spending...but I don't see the Mets as a resource-strapped franchise. The Reds (28th in revenue), sure. Or the Royals (25th). Or the Indians (17th). Having the 7th most revenue and the 6th most valuable franchise seems to argue that the Mets have the resources; that if they have a not-so-good roster, it's not a resource constraint, it's a management issue...

With any luck, I have uploaded the data to the data repository under the file name
TeamRevPayroll2917 (which should have been 2017 but I can't type).
9:42 PM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
......a better likeness, taking handedness and spirit more into account
(before I said "a poor man's Dwayne Murphy")

A very poor man's Minnie Minoso.

If you're a big Clint Frazier fan, you hope he becomes Minnie Minoso.

BTW, where do we find "RER's"?
I had to look it up to remind myself of what it even means.
And y'know, "run element ratio" isn't even the first thing that comes up!
(That would be "reliever effectiveness ratio.")
8:09 PM Jan 15th
 
OldBackstop
If I have my math right, Frazier had an RER of .275 in a small sample in the majors last year and .82 in five seasons in the minors.
6:20 PM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
(typo: didn't mean the double probably)
3:22 PM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
.....about Clint Frazier: So, what is he??

What you said: brawny power hitter.
That brings to mind Ted Kluszewski. :-)

Clint Frazier isn't like that at all.
It's hard to really characterize him, because he hasn't been up long enough, but he's absolutely certainly not anything close to that.

If he'd been up longer, we could look to things like the "most similars" on baseball-ref.com.
Are there such lists for minor league players?? I don't know.

Here's what he seems to be: A dynamic, aggressive, pretty fast player with pretty good power, good but not necessarily great as an outfielder.

Looking for a major league comp, it's hard to think of someone real close.
The main guy who comes to mind is Dwayne Murphy, although Frazier probably probably isn't quite as fast, probably won't have quite as many HR's, probably isn't as good in the field, and almost certainly won't have as many walks.

I guess I'm saying he's a poor man's Dwayne Murphy.
But he's far more that type of player than a brawny power hitter.

BTW, let's see if Dwayne Murphy's comps are any help......
No.
His comps are amazingly unlike him. Of the dozen-or-so players that appear on the lists, the only one who I think was pretty similar is the #1 guy on the career list, Ruppert Jones.
3:21 PM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
(OK -- but Clint isn't how you described him.)
3:09 PM Jan 15th
 
DaveFleming
I meant Clint Frazier.

Todd is a free agent, right? He's not coming back to the Yankees, unless I'm missing something obvious. Clint is the future prospect: he's the guy whose spot on the Yankees roster/lineup is potentially blocked by Sanchez/Stanton/Judge. He's a corner OF...a little more mobility than Stanton/Judge, but not enough to be a passable CF'er.
11:26 AM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
Dave: I do disagree with one thing you just said:
Not Clint Frazier; TODD. :-)
(I think everybody makes that mistake sometimes, on either guy.)

I'm totally with what you said about the Red Sox. I posted about that in July, and then about my surprise when they didn't make exactly such a move in mid-season.
Basically what we're talking about there is replacing Ortiz, just in a more theoretical way.
11:05 AM Jan 15th
 
smbakeresq
David,

Very good article.

However it seems to me what you say should be obvious to any GM running a team. They should not NEED to see this, it should be common knowledge. I am an Orioles fan, and most fans were screaming for the Orioles not to resign Trumbo for the reasons you state, his contributions were duplicative. Now the Orioles are stuck with him. Your comments about Weaver are correct, BAL always had some players who would take a walk and get on base. BAL seems to have punted on that now.

I also believe you are essentially correct about Stanton and the NYY. They have many players of the same general type, but not as good as Stanton. BOS should have made a bigger push for him, he is exactly what they needed. But the NYY should have made the deal for the price, allowing them to clear the roster spots they needed. Stanton will not transform the NYY like he would BOS.

10:58 AM Jan 15th
 
steve161
The main thing that New York accomplished by signing Stanton was to keep him from signing with somebody else--especially but not only Boston.
8:17 AM Jan 15th
 
DaveFleming
Well...I agree with everything you said, Maris.

Phrasing it in a different context: last week I watched football with a friend, who is a Yankees fan. At one point he said, 'How about the Yankees getting Stanton? How about that?'

Now...I'm going to go out on a branch, but before I do, I want to acknowledge two things.

1. Stanton is one of the best players in baseball, and,
2. EVERY team would be lucky to have Giancarlo for the price the Yankees paid for him. It's a great boon.

But my response was, 'I don't think he's going to help the Yankees win many more games. He'll help, but not as much as everyone thinks he will."

Why do I think that? Because the Yankees already have players of Stanton's skills. Aaron Judge is basically Stanton 2.0: he is the same exact player. Having one player like that is really wonderful, but having two players like that isn't twice as wonderful. And the Yankees have Gary Sanchez, who is a wonderful hitter but probably not optimal as a catcher. And they have Clint Frazier, who is a brawny power hitter. They didn't NEED a player like Stanton, and getting Stanton actually causes the team some problems, because they're now crowded at the corner OF/1B/DH slots.

Again, that has nothing to do with Stanton as a player. Stanton is the best player on the Yankees. But it's a case of diminished returns: the Yankees already had power-hitting sluggers....getting more power hitting sluggers isn't as big a gain for them as it would be for, say, Boston.

You can look at it in reverse. Boston will likely wind up overpaying for J.D. Martinez, and it will likely be mocked by some circles of baseball observers. But the Red Sox REALLY needed power last year....that was the major gap that the team had. J.D. Martinez has more value to the Red Sox than any other team...he's worth the overpay because of the context of the offense.

Which, to respond to OBS's worries about using Run Element Ratio on a team-basis, is why I'm sort of convinced that it has some value. I watched the Red Sox last year, and it was very evident that the thing they lacked was a guy to clear the decks...that was their big need. RER says as much...it seems to have some team-level insights, though I agree with your point that we have to take mid-season moves into account.
7:22 AM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
(correction, I think:
The discussion under that old article probably wasn't about the relative value of different kinds of hitters, but of different offensive events.)
1:13 AM Jan 15th
 
MarisFan61
Just wanted to give particular kudos to Dave's 'Comment.'
(And I also agree fully with the gist of the article.)

Not that I'm assuming Dave himself sees it exactly this way or that he'd give kudos to what I'm saying :-) ......but IMO, his comment is as good an illustration and elaboration as I can imagine of the 'dynamic' nature of baseball offense and baseball lineups, including aspects that are little if at all subsumed in metrics and including aspects of how "value isn't value isn't value" -- it depends on the context.

There was one time, a few years ago, under one of our articles, where Bill and Tom and others of that level were discussing/debating the relative value of certain kinds of hitters. I chimed in with "It depends on the team," which I thought to be a bigger variable and involving more 'play' than any of the technical aspects they were looking at. The comment was ignored, as it perhaps should have been because I wasn't operating at anything like their level nor on any of the variables they were looking at. And I do realize, maybe they knew full well that it depended on the team, and maybe they even would have agreed that the nature of the team would probably be the decisive factor most of the time for what was being discussed, and they were just seeking an "all else being equal" understanding, which I guess is what you have to do when you're working on theoretical truths. But I still have a problem with it, because it seems to me that many metric things about players are taken as truths without due regard to their dependence on context and without regard to how the specifics of that player affect the production of others in the lineup and on broader aspects of the game.

An example of those 'broader aspects of the game' is, as Dave said, "the secondary challenge of burning out the arms of the opposing teams." Another example, sort of related but from a different direction, which I've mentioned a number of times and which has gotten almost no resonance except once from Bill, is how good fielding 'saves' a pitching staff and poor fielding wastes it, even perhaps to the point that better fielding may sometimes allow a team to carry fewer pitchers and therefore to have an extra position player. But forget that last thing since it's speculative; I'm not aware of any metric system that takes this into account, even indirectly.
10:11 PM Jan 14th
 
OldBackstop
Dave, what do you think of AGon?
7:54 PM Jan 14th
 
OldBackstop
Dave, I'm not totally down with this metric at a team level, particularly with the way teams binge and purge at the trade deadline.

I pointed this situation out to Bill in some season to season metric he proposed, specifically citing the Mets, and if memory serves he responded by pointing out that I was a dick.

Your premise is on the money.....the Mets need some speedy guys that can get on base. But given their power neutering last July, they also need Jay Bruce. It may have been just as bad to only get a high RER guy in the off seaaon and lead the league in stranded runners rather than home runs.
1:19 AM Jan 14th
 
JohnPontoon
There's no "i" in Gsellman.
I started to posit that the Mets' defense looked pretty bad before I actually looked into it (which is funny, cause I'm usually too lazy for research... I digress.) OF may be problematic if Nimmo has the better side of a platoon with Lagares, as Nimmo seems stretched at CF, whereas Lagares is stretched as a major league hitter. Still, though, I guess their defense should be more than a bit better than last year merely by dint of keeping huge defensive minuses away from everywhere Jose Reyes played and keeping Asdrubal & Wilmer in the positions where they're least damaging. The REAL keys, though, are keeping Cespedes and Conforto out of CF and putting Jay Bruce at 1B ASAP, as Dominic Smith really does look like an elite-level-of-awful defender at 1B.
Whether the Mets actually understand which of their defenders are bad, and where they're bad AT, is the biggest variable. Mets fans have to spend some wishes on that, I guess.
5:32 PM Jan 13th
 
OldBackstop
No! Don't harsh my Bruce buzz. If our pitchers get hot we can ride it in. How different is this team from the '15 NL champs and the '16 wildcards?

The 2015 team....we still have Thor and DeGrom, and likely they are better. Matz, Wheeler, Harvey, Lugo, Gsiellman could certainly pick up the 36-31 record of Big Sexy Colon, Niese and Harvey. No pitcher on that team won more than 14 games, we can improve on that.

Familia is the closer again. Same catchers, Cespedes in left again (a full year this time), Lagares in center again and Conforto replaces Granderson....Wilmer in the infield again. I think we can more than replace the 2015 output of Eric Campbell at third with Reyes. Duda is nicely upgraded by Bruce at first if Smith isn't ready. Murphy is the loss, but....he wasn't Daniel Murphy until the playoffs anyway.

That team won 90 games. Yeah, we have to get past Washington, and that might not happen again, but we could WC our way into the tourney. I'd like to get a hot bat with some wheels, but...maybe that is Reyes.

So...just stop.
3:51 PM Jan 13th
 
nettles9
Dave, I agree with your article’s premise. This is why I think the Mets will lose 100+ games in 2018. There is no playoff window for the Mets to close because they are outside of the playoff house. All they will do is press their dour faces to the window, the glass steaming with the breath of their wistful sighs, watching on the television screen the highlights of the 2015 World Series, the apex of Sandy Alderson’s tenure. RIP hopefulness.
2:49 PM Jan 13th
 
OldBackstop
This is the terribly frustrating thing to me.....the window of Amazin' Fortune is closing with the dead broke Wilpons. Here is an amazing fact, which I'm not checking with the arbs but I'm pretty sure the ballpark numbers are right.

The Mets have eight starting pitching candidates for 2018: Syndergaard, DeGrom, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, Lugo, Gsiellman and Montero (well, Montero had some great starts last year)

They are paying them something like $15 million in 2018, TOTAL.

The Nationals have one pitcher, alone, making 12 million all by himself, Gio Gonzalez. They have another making $18 million, Stephen Strasburg. They have ANOTHER making $22 million, Max Scherzer.

So the Nats are paying over $50 mil for just their top three starters, and we are paying $15 total for eight.

Despite having a staff of eight guys who have huge upsides, we are starving on budget to field a team.

What happens when we have to PAY our young pitchers over the next few years?

Remember how Moneyball wove their economic miracle story and barely mentioned that they had three ace level starters for practically nothing? Hudson, Zito, Mulder....less that $2 million out of a $50 something million budget.

That's the Mets. We don't need a second baseman, we need a guy to buy the team and run it like the cash cow a competitive NY team can be. It's insanity writ large. Sell the fing team you cheap weasels.
2:03 PM Jan 13th
 
hotstatrat
Well, at least you are not a Detroit Tigers fan. Our forecast is gloominess for the next 7 years. After trading all of our most productive players in 2017 (Verlander, JD Martinez, J Upton, Avila, and J Wilson) - except the guy you gave us for Cespedes (Michael Fullmer) - and thanks for that, at least, we still have no prospects whose ceiling is higher than mediocrity. Other than Fullmer, we have no young players on the roster to give us hope for a return to contention. A comeback from Cabrera probably won't even bring us to .500.

My other team here in Toronto is - or rather should be - in a rebuilding phase, too. They look like a ,500 club now - in a division with two .650 looking squads (NY and Bos, of course) but at least have a nice collection of prospects on the horizon - almost a second generation club that includes the sons of Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette, and Craig Biggio. It's nice having an option of teams to dote over.
11:55 AM Jan 13th
 
BarryBondsFan25
The Mets are still paying for the Cespedes signing. He did not "fit" their team last year but the Mets still gave him a huge contract. Just one year later, the Cespedes contract looks terrible. The team would have a lot more options had they let Cespedes walk last year.
11:27 AM Jan 13th
 
DaveFleming
Just a quick aside: I wrote this article fast, trying to see if I could post something in a couple hours. It was a little bit of an experiment, just trying to see if I could react quickly to the news of the day.

That time crunch didn't leave me space to elaborate on the larger issue, which is the Mets perennial inability to not really decide anything. They start a lot of their years with too many guys in one spot and too few in another. They wishy-wash on their players...they take a course with someone like Harvey or Cespedes and then, a month later, they try a different course. The result is a team where almost no one really knows what they're doing....everyone is floating around. Am I the centerfielder or the rightfielder, or am I the first baseman? Am I a starter or am I going to the pen, or am I going to the minors?

They signed Bruce. My first thought was, 'Of course they did. They did it because they had Bruce, and they knew exactly what they were getting.' The Mets, in recent years, have seemed really timid in how they tackle problems.

In the Cespedes article, I said that the Mets would be an offense that hit a lot of homers, but wouldn't score runs. That was obvious, at least to me: to understand an offense, you have to look at the whole of it, not the individual parts. The individual parts of the Mets offense, last year, were effective pieces. The whole of the offense was a failure. I watched a bunch of Mets games last year, and I saw the same thing over and over again: an offense that was incapable of pressing an opposing team's pitchers. They would sometimes score a lot of runs, but they'd do it quickly. And they had lots of 1-2-3 innings where the opposing pitcher threw very few pitches, and none with runners on base. Even when the offense was effective at scoring, it wasn't effective in the secondary challenge of burning out the arms of the opposing teams: they didn't get pitch counts up, or tire out opposing bullpens.

That seems like a small thing, but it has a ripple effect. I haven't checked, but I'd bet a nickel that the Mets did poorly in the last games of series last year. Why would I guess that? Because they're offense wasn't a real challenge for opposing teams. Come the last game of a series, the Mets pitchers would be feeling fatigue, while the other team wasn't.

That's just conjecture, of course. The larger issue is that I don't believe that the Mets front office recognizes any of this, or understands this. I certainly don't believe that they are fixing anything in a deliberate way.

And the problems extend past the offense...they spread, like a cancer, to every part of the body of the team. You can win with an inefficient offense, if you have good defense and confident pitchers. But the defense wasn't good, and the pitchers aren't confident. Everything is nervous.

And Jay Bruce...Jay Bruce isn't a hard commodity to replace. Yeah, he hits homers. So what? Everyone is hitting home runs these days. You can get dingers easier than any other skill in baseball. The smart teams know this, and they're loading up on rarer skills. The Mets chased a guy because he had flashy HR and RBI totals last year, and the Mets think that those things matter. They don't. Jay Bruce hits homers, but he's posted a .303 on-base percentage over the last four years. He's a neutral-to-crummy defensive outfielder, and we have no idea how he'll handle first base. He strikes out a lot and he is an extreme pull hitter susceptible to shifts, and he can't hit lefties. The Mets decided to make that guy the second-highest paid player on their roster. The Mets poured $39 million on a guy whose specific mode of production is easily purchased on the cheap. They bought the name-brand power hitter because they were afraid to go generic.

Anyway, that's a long rant, and I don't think it's going anywhere. I do agree that the Mets should re-sign Reyes.




9:17 AM Jan 13th
 
OldBackstop
Hi Dave, I played around with the first and second half numbers, and I'm sure if you do you will see that the second half Mets moved up into the 60s, which I assume is the middle of the pack. Other factors to consider are that Jose Reyes went fuego in the second half, hitting to a .928 OPs in September with 6 home runs, and he isn't signed (he also led the team in stolen bases on the year).

And the offensive youth we hope will be part of the team this year, but weren't at the beginning of last year, should skew to the higher RER. Rosario hit .330 in the minors and stole bases and Smith was over .300, but neither with notable power. Nimmo is on your list as a very high RER guy and he should see more time.

To me right now, the move I want to see is the Mets bringing back Reyes. He had a better second half than any of the infield options being discussed -- Kipnis, Harrison, Walker or Kendrick, with more stolen bases than all four combined, and he will come practically free, without blowing any remaining shekels or trading youth.
6:26 AM Jan 13th
 
OldBackstop
Happy New Year, Dave.

I love the Bruce signing, but he only makes sense for the Mets because of the possibility of first base. He's not starting flatfooted here, he started 12 games there last year. If you are afraid of his defense at first hurting the team look at the 2017 documentary "Dom Smith Can't Jump."

You cite some year long measures of the Mets offense, but, perhaps more than any team in recent history, their September team and their May team were two separate teams. You can point out they have a high home run total, but that was run up before the trade deadline. Then they traded Duda, a 30 home run guy. They traded Walker, who had 23 home runs the year before. They traded Granderson, who had 30 home runs in 2016. And, of course, they traded Bruce, who STILL wound up with the 2017 team lead in home runs with 29.

So we can't hot stove around the 2017 numbers....those guys are gone. The guys we are hoping to replace them....Smith, Nimmo, Rosario...they aren't sluggers.

I would love for the Mets to add a bunch of five tool high OBP speed guys, but....we are poor. If our pitching stays healthy and performs....well, first off, why bother talking about the team if they don't. But if they do, home runs from Bruce are going to win games, even solo home runs.

What Bruce gives us is a Plan B with a bonafide star. If Lagares breaks out or face plants, if Dom Smith ain't ready for the show, if Conforto is a few months slower to heal than the six month guess.....Bruce keeps us competitive.
8:23 PM Jan 12th
 
 
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