It’s not like we’re in the business of helping the Mets. As far as we’re concerned they could, and should, suck until the nuclear bombs fall on all of us. As we’ve stated before, now that they don’t play in a glorified La Guardia parking lot county fair that was Shea Stadium, there’s really nothing unique about them. They’re just another team that plays in a gleaming new park that occasionally does anything of note. They’re really no different than the Pirates or Tigers or Nationals or pick whatever. Even being in New York, when the Mets are good they don’t move the needle the way the Yankees do. And they never will.
So we’re happy with the way things are.
But for the sake of argument, and if the Wilpons weren’t just Wall Street Hatfields, how could the Mets turn around this structure that was built on a foundation of cardboard and styrofoam?
Firstly, it’s not quite as bad as it seems. Or it has the potential to not be. While the public cover story on the Mets the past four years has been their stable of young pitching (we seem to do this every 15 years or so), the cupboard of positional prospects has not been bare. Michael Conforto was their best hitter before he got hurt (that’s a phrase you should get used to with the Mets, “before he got hurt”), after they stopped fucking with him and just let him play instead of trying to shoehorn aged, overrated outfielders ahead of him. Amed Rosario is now up, and he looks to be a fixture at short. Dominic Smith has joined him at first, and while he’s no guarantee he has simply raked at every level in the minors. And he has nearly 500 games of experience in the system, so he hasn’t been rushed. He’s a safe bet to at least be productive. We could throw in Brandon Nimmo as a useful role player, but that might be a stretch. Still, that’s three players to anchor the lineup, all of whom could be plus at their position. Wilmer Flores certainly won’t embarrass you at third, so he can stay too.
Still, that’s not quite enough to run with the big dogs of the Nationals now in the NL East, and what the Braves could fashion pretty quickly. The Mets are going to have to find more.
Strangely, the Mets aren’t actually that expensive of a team, partly because so many players are young enough to not hit the open market and remain under team control. deGrom is still three years away from free agency. They only have $71 million committed to players next year at the moment, and $49 million of that is to Cespedes and David Wright. Wright is almost assuredly never going to play again so that should be covered by some sort of insurance.
So this is where creativity has to come in. Quite simply, Yoenis Cespedes can’t play the field anymore, and the Mets should be done trying. The 6-WAR player that seduced them into this contract is gone, and it’s unlikely he’s coming back. Would AL teams be lining up to take a $29 million DH? No, not exactly. But that doesn’t mean some teams wouldn’t kick the tires on it. Maybe an NL team or two could talk themselves into sticking him in left and just dealing with the injuries and the doubles his rhinoceros-like range would surrender. Can’t you always convince the Mariners to do something stupid? Toronto will have a young pitching staff but needs bats to replace what they lost in Encarnacion and are losing through the aging Joey Bats. Again, not automatic, but possible. Even though he’s been ouchy Cespedes has provided a .540 slugging. The bat can still work.
Of course, they splash the Mets are going to have to make is deciding which of their starters to flog. And they really only have two choices: deGrom or Thor. Matz is headed for surgery. Harvey Danger has been bad, weird, and hurt. Neither of them is going to have much value right now. Wheeler missed two years and has looked like it. The market for a starter like this… well, look at what the Sox got for Sale. No the Mets aren’t in a massive rebuild like the Southsiders but three new position players, two who are ready to go, to join Smith, Rosario, and Coforto? Suddenly you’re talking.
The Mariners need a #1. The Rangers need one. The Angels need one. The Rockies? The Brewers? This list could keep going, and all these teams are going to be on the periphery of contention next year. Maybe none of them, save the Rangers and Brewers possibly, have what it takes to bring in such a calibre starter. But someone out there does.
There. Mets saved. We’re going to go shower now.