By Dave Mills
The Mets are surely floundering, albeit gamely, without Reyes, Delgado, Pagan, Putz, Perez and Maine, among others. Perhaps the great unmentioned are the various nagging injuries to almost the entire playing roster, save a handful of younger players. Beltran, Sheffield, Church, Cora, Schneider and Castillo all are playing with injuries, discomfort and/or pain.
A couple of observations are necessary to set the table for the balance of this piece.
No doubt, the Mets most valuable player is Jose Reyes. Without Jose setting the table, creating havoc on the bases and showing his considerable range at shortstop, the Mets are just not the scary team that opponents have to tackle from the first pitch.
No doubt, the 80-pitch drills and emphasis on going to the opposite field has worked. In fact, it has worked so well that the power numbers have tumbled precipitously. Citi Field also has a say in the new approach to hitting. But the combination of the two has created a conundrum for the Mets' brass. High team batting average and woeful power production is tough to resolve.
And no doubt, there are some key players struggling to be consistent. The primary suspects in this regard are Daniel Murphy (OF was not clearly not his forte and while more comfortable at 1B, he is in a terrible slump), Ryan Church (should never have been taken out of the lineup when he was hot early) and Fernando Tatis (no lefties early meant no playing time). In the pitching department, Pelfrey and Maine have to find some level of consistency.
Making deals becomes a more complex endeavor each year.
The Mets are vulnerable to being taken over the coals. Their needs are great and the market is slim pickings.
While most of us would like to hold on to the two best hitting prospects (Fernando Martinez and Murphy) and two best pitching prospects (Brad Holt and Jon Niese)-if Minaya wants to deal-two or three of these guys has to be in the mix. Sure, there are others that can be put in the fold, but those are the gems. Second-tier prospects like Dillon Gee, Eddie Kunz and Nick Evans (if he actually retains such a designation) can be included, but will not get the job done without the cream. The only players the Mets can move from the active roster will be Ryan Church, Brian Stokes and perhaps John Maine, if he has a several strong starts before July 31.
What's a GM to do?
Well... let's consider all the relevant issues.
The Mets have to generate some power and bide time for Delgado to return. They are getting extremely deficient offensive production from 1B, LF and RF. Including Sheffield, Church, Murphy, Tatis, Reed, Pagan and F-Mart, the Mets have only 15 HR and 79 RBI from 1B and the corner OF spots sans Delgado (4 HR/23 RBI). As a comparison, there are a few players endeavoring at the corner positions, like Raul Ibanez (22/59), Jason Bay (17/64) and Mark Teixeira (20/54), who have similar stats to the Mets compliment of eight players sharing those responsibilities.
It sure seems that Jeremy Reed should at least be platooning at one of the corner OF spots. Sheffield is at best a platoon player at this point in his career. F-Mart shows some promise, but is clearly lacking power at this point in his young career. Platooning is fine as he learns how to play in The Show. The catching platoon of Schneider (a placeholder for Josh Thole, perhaps the most impressive hitter in the Mets system) and Omir Santos is above average. Alex Cora is a terrific middle infield/pseudo coach/role player.
From this observer's vantage point, holding on to F-Mart and Holt is imperative to a success quotient for the future.
So here are a couple of deals that might be able to get done:
Make a deal now with the Orioles for Aubrey Huff and Nolan Reimold. Likely, they could be obtained for Daniel Murphy and Nelson Figueroa. Huff would platoon with Tatis and Reimold with F-Mart. The Mets pick up a lefty and righty bat where they are needed. Granted, they are both lacking defensively, but adequate in a platoon with the complimentary player being a better fielder. While Murphy will likely be a very good pure hitter, there is some question about whether he can provide the requisite power for a first baseman, which appears to be a good position for the youngster.
The followup deal for late July could be John Maine, Jon Niese and Ryan Church for Roy Halliday. A prospect such as Gee, Kunz or Evans (if he comes around) could sweeten that deal for the Jays.
There is no short end of the stick here for anyone and all three teams should improve.
If the Mets can make one or both of these deals, have a healthy Reyes, Putz and Wagner for August and September, it might be a stretch run to remember fondly regardless of what happens with Delgado (not in the picture next year) and Perez (should return to form at some point).