Where in the world did the New York Mets go wrong?
Two years ago, the blue and orange were celebrating as National League champions, awaiting to see if they would play the Kansas City Royals or the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 World Series. The Mets had a promising future as baseball analysts and fans alike talked up how the Mets could have one of the best young pitching rotations in baseball today and, potentially, ever.
The offense featured newly acquired All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, former All-Stars Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson, and young promising talents in outfielder Michael Conforto and infielder Wilmer Flores.
The Mets were a complete team with few holes. The Royals just so happened to be that much better. They outperformed the Mets offensively, on the mound, and defensively. We know how the story ended for the Mets; Jeurrys Familia blew game one, Daniel Murphy’s error in game four, Matt Harvey asking for one more inning in game 5, and Lucas Duda’s throwing the ball away to eventually clinch the World Series title for the Royals.
Although the loss stung, Mets fans felt content knowing that the boys in Queens had a solid chance to eventually make it back. Boy oh boy were they wrong! The Mets blew a chance to re-sign playoff hero Daniel Murphy, who went to the division rival Washington Nationals and has been a wrecking force in the National League.
With the Mets moving on from Murphy, they signed infielders Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera who played very well and helped get the Mets back into the playoffs in 2016. “The Amazin’ Mets” eventually lost to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in a tough to swallow win.
2017 saw the Mets play their worst baseball in recent memory. The Mets finished 70-92, which placed them fourth in the NL East. Every starting pitcher was hurt at one point or another, with only Jacob deGrom being the only rotational starter to pitch over 20 games.
The Mets biggest offensive threat, Yoenis Cespedes, missed half the season with injuries, along with everyday starters Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Michael Conforto all missing time with injuries.
With 2017 behind them, the Mets need fixing and fast. Here are five simple steps the Mets need to take in order to get back to the postseason in 2018.
1) Sign Eric Hosmer
Hosmer has been one of the most consistent first basemen in baseball since entering the Majors in 2011. He will bat .280+ and hit over 20 home runs while playing very good defense. I don’t see Dominic Smith as the future at first. His size and weight is hindering his ability and he did nothing special when being called up last season. Hosmer is in his prime at 28 years old and will provide much needed consistency to a Mets lineup that never has that. He will cost you $100 million, but the investment is worth it. Baseball is the most difficult sport to foresee a young player becoming a solid, All-Star like talent. With Smith, I would much rather know what I get in Hosmer than take a chance on a player who may just be decent to not that good.
2) Trade Dominic Smith and Seth Lugo for Jackie Bradley Jr.
Solving the Mets outfield needs, Bradley Jr. can plug in as the center fielder or right fielder while Conforto is out and, possibly, when he returns as well. Bradley Jr. has a good bat, has a very team friendly contract, and is only 27 years old. In case there is worry of a lefty on lefty matchup, the Mets can always give fourth outfielder Juan Lagares more playing time. Bradley is a former All-Star and in the right setting can be one again. He is also a plus defender, something the Mets have only had in Lagares in the outfield for quite some time. The Red Sox have a need at first base and at starting pitcher. This is a trade that makes perfect sense for both sides.
3) Fix the bullpen and sign Bryan Shaw
The Mets actually don’t have to fix the bullpen as much as you think. I have a good feeling Jeurrys Familia rebounds in 2018, AJ Ramos will settle in, and lefty Jerry Blevins has been a bright spot since signing with the Mets in 2015. The Mets acquired a handful of pitching prospects last season and it appears that Jamie Callahan and Jacob Rhame are ready to compete for bullpen spots. The Mets should look to sign one more arm in the offseason, preferably Bryan Shaw. Shaw has pitched very well for current Mets Manager Mickey Callaway and a reunion could be in the works. Other options include Steve Cishek, Brandon Morrow, or Mike Minor.
4) Add low cost, veteran starters
Mets fans know that in the past few season, the starting pitchers cannot be trusted to stay healthy. deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler once again are projected to be the starting rotation in 2018 as of right now. As insurance, the Mets should pursuit Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, Jaime Garcia, or Clay Buchholtz. Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Rafael Montero, and Chris Flexen will also compete for a potential 5th spot or a long reliever role in the bullpen.
5) Trade Matt Harvey
Harvey has to go. Even if the Mets acquire a few low ranked prospects, it is much more worth it now to get a return than to let him walk in free agency. Trading Harvey would be a fresh start for him and the Mets can get away from the attention he has brought on to the team. Even though he has not pitched well, teams will be looking to acquire him based off of his first few seasons in the Majors and, if he returns to that form, he’s a home run for the team that trades for him. Also, teams are always looking for pitching, whether it be starters or relievers. You can never have too many arms. Instead of the Mets trading for yet another relieving prospect, they should look for starting pitchers or infield prospects, such as a third baseman or a catcher. Even better, trade Harvey, Lugo, and Smith to Boston for Bradley Jr. and prospects Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec. The Mets really need to start planning for life without David Wright and Chavis or Dalbec make for a solid option with a lot of potential.
Here is the projected lineup, rotation, and bullpen if the following occurs:
- Michael Conforto – RF
- Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B
- Eric Hosmer – 1B
- Yoenis Cespedes – LF
- Jackie Bradley Jr. – CF
- Wilmer Flores – 3B
- Amed Rosario – SS
- Travid d’Arnaud – C
- Juan Lagares – OF
- Kevin Plawecki/Tomas Nido – C
- Gavin Cecchini – 2B/SS
- T.J. Rivera/Matt Reynolds – 3B
- Jacob deGrom – RHP
- Noah Syndergaard – RHP
- Steven Matz – LHP
- Zack Wheeler – RHP
- Robert Gsellman – RHP/Veteran Signee (Loser for the 5th spot becomes long reliever in bullpen)
- Bryan Shaw/Signee – RHP
- Jerry Blevins – LHP
- Josh Edgin – LHP
- Jamie Callahan – RHP
- Jacob Rhame – RHP
- AJ Ramos – RHP (Setup man)
- Jeurrys Familia RHP (Closer)
I don’t see the Mets breaking the bank this offseason as they cut so much payroll during the 2017 season by trading away Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, and Lucas Duda. If they are serious about contending, they need to make some moves such as signing a top bat, bolstering the bullpen, and adding depth to the starting rotation.
The Mets also have so much team control over the current starting rotation. They can afford to pay for position players; being that David Wright’s and Yoenis Cespedes’s contracts expire in 2021 (the same time as deGrom and one year before Syndergaard and Matz), they will have plenty of financial flexibility to resign any of the pitchers they choose while also having plenty of money for position players.
It is your move, Sandy. It is your move, Wilpons. Time to pay up and bring the Mets back to being as good as they were in 2015.