We all make mistakes.
Drafting players is not an exact science. Sure, you can make an informed decision. But every organization is going to draft a “sure thing” who winds up being a bust. It’s inevitable.
The Mets are no different.
Preston Wilson, Jay Payton, Lastings Milledge, Paul Wilson, Alex Escobar, Fernando Martinez, Jason Tyner, Alex Ochoa, Ryan Thompson, Shawn Abner, Bill Pulsipher, etc. Believe me, the list goes on.
We’ve all put our faith in a player that hasn’t panned out. We’ve overlooked their flaws and made excuses for their shortcomings. We’ve rode it out to the bitter end, until it was finally time to face facts. We’ve gone down with the proverbial ship.
In those situations, and in the cases of the players listed above, there is one thing that they all have in common.
The players were given a chance to fail.
In November of 2015, Alderson seemed very confident that Dilson Herrera would be the Mets’ second baseman of the future. The Mets did not offer Daniel Murphy a multi-year deal, with Sandy Alderson calling Dilson Herrera “a viable alternative to Murphy.”
Fast forward to December of 2015. The Mets sign Neil Walker to play second base.
Fast forward to August of 2016. The Mets trade Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce.
Hey, people change their mind. This is a lot of flip-flopping though. He was touted as the second baseman of the future. But when the Mets were struck by the injury bug during the 2015 season, the Mets called up Danny Muno, Matt Reynolds, Eric Campbell, Eric Campbell, Eric Campbell and Eric Campbell. No Herrera.
But then after the season Herrera is the second baseman of the future, so it’s no big deal to let Murphy go?
(Alderson also said the same thing about Ruben Tejada when they let Jose Reyes go. Important to remember that the team is owned by the Wilpons and Alderson has become the team’s spokesperson.)
Now. About the Jay Bruce trade. We were starved for offense in 2016. Teams trade valued prospects all the time in the midst of pennant races. What makes this particularly interesting is that Sandy Alderson spent the entire off-season trying to trade Jay Bruce.
Again, something could have happened that made Herrera fall out of favor within the organization. It’s also worth noting that Herrera has done absolutely nothing with Cincinnati. He hasn’t even cracked their major league roster.
Moving on. (Bear with me.)
Alderson defended the Herrera trade at the time by saying that the Mets had Gavin Cecchini, their first round pick from 2012 to play second base.
Let’s fast forward to the summer of 2017. The Mets were waiting for an awful season to end. They had traded off Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Neil Walker and Lucas Duda. As the Mets were then mathematically eliminated, and they had traded away their second baseman, it seemed like a perfect time to play Gavin Cecchini, right?
The Mets played Jose Reyes at second base everyday to close out the 2017 season.
Yes, Jose Reyes. The guy who Sandy Alderson declined to offer a long-term deal because he felt that Reyes’ game would be too dependent on his legs later in his career? Well, it’s 2018 now and Reyes is on the roster for the third consecutive season.
Again. We are not privy to all that goes on behind the scenes of a major league organization. This is another example however, of a player who Alderson acquired that hasn’t been given a chance to fail or succeed. You are not playing your first round pick over Jose Reyes? 25 games out of first place? That’s a problem.
To the Mets credit, they did play their number one pick from 2011, Brandon Nimmo, down the stretch last season. Posting an impressive On Base Percentage of .379 in the 2017 season, Nimmo seemed to be a valuable piece for the Mets going forward.
Remember when I said Alderson spent the entire off-season following the 2016 campaign trying to trade Jay Bruce? That made it all the more bizarre when news broke that the Mets signed Jay Bruce prior to the 2018 season. More bizarre were the terms of the deal. Jay Bruce was signed for 3 years, effectively burying Brandon Nimmo.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but I feel like a recap is necessary here.
- The Mets let Daniel Murphy go because they had Dilson Herrera.
- The Mets trade Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce.
- Mets spend the entire 2016 off-season trying to trade Jay Bruce. They eventually trade Bruce during the 2017 season.
- Mets sign Jay Bruce for 3 years and 39 million dollars in one of the slowest off-seasons in recent memory. The move effectively buries Brandon Nimmo as Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto are currently on the roster.
After the Yankees worked out a deal for Giancarlo Stanton this off-season, reporters asked Sandy Alderson if the Mets had any interest in pursuing the reigning MVP. Alderson responded in a tongue-in-cheek manner. He said, “we have Brandon Nimmo.”
If Sandy looked that reporter in the eye and said, “no, we have Brandon Nimmo,” and committed to playing him everyday, then I’m with you 100%. Nimmo and Alderson would have my full support. Sink or swim. If you want to make a joke of Brandon Nimmo, and then sign Jay Bruce to bury him? Sorry, I’m not laughing.
So, we are a month and a half into the 2018 season. Brandon Nimmo has been an on-base machine. His playing time has been limited, but he’s made the most of every opportunity. He’s been such a spark, that there is talk of moving Jay Bruce to first base. Bruce has only played at first once this season, so Nimmo’s playing time has mostly forced Michael Conforto to the bench. (I’d get into the handling of Michael Conforto now, but that would turn this into a novel.)
It should be mentioned that much of the “Jay Bruce to first base” talk has been fueled by sub par play from Adrian Gonzalez.
Oh, yes. This season the Atlanta Braves are paying Adrian Gonzalez upwards of 20,000,000 dollars to not play for them. After an entire off-season of publicly ridiculing Dominic Smith, their first round pick from 2013, Alderson decided to sign Adrian Gonzalez for the league minimum.
Adrian Gonzalez who is 36 years of age, dealt with back issues all of last season, and was left off the Dodgers’ playoff roster.
We are now a month and a half into the season. During their recent home stand, Todd Frazier was placed on the disabled list. Jay Bruce flew home to Texas to witness the birth of his son. The Mets called up Luis Guillorme and Dominic Smith.
Dominic Smith was up with the big club for 3 days before being sent back to Las Vegas. He had one at bat. (He would have had 2, but Jose Reyes got picked off.)
Luis Guillorme is still up with the team. He’s been with the Mets for a week. He’s had one at bat, and appeared once as a pinch runner.
What is the plan? It’s clear that Sandy does not trust these players that he has drafted.
Want clear evidence of that? Yoenis Cespedes has played everyday, even though he is clearly suffering from a quad injury. It should be mentioned that Cespedes has spent time on the disabled list each of the last two seasons, after he attempted to play through injury.
I say all that to say this.
We have a problem.
By all accounts, Sandy Alderson does not know what the budget he has to work with is. All free agent signings need to be approved by ownership, and it’s clear the Omar Minaya blank-check days are long gone.
That makes scouting, drafting, and developing these players all the more important. I’ll say it again. Drafting players isn’t easy. The list of can’t miss prospects who never developed into Major League players is endless.
But if you don’t trust players that you scouted, drafted, and developed to play over Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez in 2018, that is a HUGE problem.
Until we can change this, another trend will continue. That trend is giving everyday playing time to players past their prime. Sure, the propaganda machine will spin it. But these players are not mentors. The Mets are trying to catch lightning in a bottle on the cheap.
Every once in a while it works out, and we find a Fernando Tatis. I’m not looking forward to Jason Vargas pitching to Ozzie Albies next August though.
So, Sandy. If you’re listening. Trust yourself a little more.
If you gave your first round picks a quarter of the chances you gave Hansel Robles, we might have a better understanding of what we have going forward.