Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Breaking Out My Crystal Ball

Yesterday's win in the finale against Atlanta didn't fix everything that's been wrong with the Mets so far this season, but it was a very welcome ray of light in what has otherwise been a dark few days for the Mets. It wasn't just that the Mets won, either. It was they won a game where they actually scored runs for Jacob deGrom. They played pretty solid defense. Team management managed to keep themselves out of the headlines, and no players opted out on the season yesterday. For the 2020 New York Mets, it was a very good day.

Now that another day has passed, I haven't changed my thinking on Yoenis Céspedes' departure from the Mets. He didn't handle it as well as he could have or should have, but I don't have any enduring bitterness towards the guy. I wish he spent more time on the field the last couple of years, because I genuinely enjoyed watching him. I'm more split on how I feel about his departure this year. There's little doubt that the Mets would have been a better team if he stuck around and was able to shake the rust off, but Céspedes leaving also represents something of an opportunity for the Mets going forward.

The Mets may very well manage to turn things around enough to make the expanded playoffs this year, but I find it hard to envision them winning a championship with the pitching staff as currently constituted. It could happen, sure, but it doesn't seem like a good bet to me. It seems likely that the most useful thing the Mets could do right now is start figuring out things for next year and beyond. Even if Céspedes started hitting better and contributing more offensively, I just couldn't see him as a piece of the puzzle going forward.

Assuming that there is a new owner in place next season, you have to believe they're going to want to make a splash when they take over. There are some interesting names on the potential free agent list, but no real franchise players with Mookie Betts off the table. I can't predict what any of the potential buyers might do if they win the bidding, but I know what I would do. I would have a goal of making the club a bit younger and better defensively. They've just given away too many free outs over the past few seasons.

They're also quite likely to need to bolster the rotation with something more than a 1-year stopgap like Porcello or Wacha if the plan is to have a legit contender next year. There really isn't going to be a lot out there, resigning Stroman might be their best bet. Really, given that Syndergaard is not going to be ready to pitch until sometime during the season, the Mets are probably going to need to get a couple of starters that could keep them in some games. They're going to need an impact bat, a better (and younger) defensive catcher and bullpen help of some sort. There's a core there, but it will take some money for this team to compete next season.

For this season, having a chance to get a longer look at Dom Smith and Andrés Giménez is more valuable than anything Yoenis Céspedes was likely to contribute. If Giménez can continue to hold his own on offense, he could be a valuable player going forward. He provides solid defense at second, third and shortstop. On offense, one area where he really impresses me is the fact that he's only struck out once in 17 AB. He's definitely put himself into the discussion for next year, and with Céspedes gone there should be more opportunities to keep him on the field.

If David Peterson is still putting up respectable numbers when Marcus Stroman returns, the Mets would probably do well to leave him in there, particularly if Rick Porcello and/or Michael Wacha continue to struggle. He's the only starting pitching prospect they have who is even close to major league ready. If he can prove to be a legitimate fifth starter that would be huge, but even showing that he would be a capable fill-in starter next year would be valuable.

The Mets lineup for tonight finally just came out. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but all of the "day-to-day" players: McNeill, Cano and Rosario, are not in the lineup. Giménez is playing shortstop, which is a good thing, but having Ryan Cordell and Brian Dozier in the lineup isn't likely to provide any answers for the future. Ah, well.

That's going to do it for me today. I don't want to miss a chance to watch Wilson Ramos bat cleanup and play DH. Sigh... Please stay safe, be well and take care. I'll be back tomorrow.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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