Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Dave Mills: Much More Than Meets the Eye

Note: This is a guest post by Dave Mills, a frequent contributor to the old Mike's Mets blog.

The various bloggers and bloviators have been on a roll for the past several months. Save our friend Mike Steffanos, who is always introspective and erudite, the incessant speculation on who may be chosen to take primary responsibility for Mets roster construction and maintenance has been profoundly absurd. It is not an easy or quick process.
Quite frankly, in today's game, the most substantive position in any MLB franchise is the GM, or whomever is responsible for the roster. Look at the hundreds of moves the Mets front office had to make this past season. Perhaps there are about three dozen folks with hands-on experience. Virtually all of them are happily employed or not contractually available. There are probably about 30 who are ready to make the move up from some other position (like assistant GM or director of scouting) to the GM role, but are tied to their current organizations and need a release of some sort.

While the Cohen/Alderson regime was most certainly compiling names and resumes, they had to wait for the World Series to conclude to start asking permissions and focusing on a pool of candidates. All along, the goal has likely been the Winter Meetings (Dec. 6-9 in Orlando). And with a lockout pending, the last thing anyone needs to do is rush to judgment on selecting the most qualified candidate.

Bashing Alderson or Cohen in any way, shape or form on this issue is misguided and just plain foolish. No doubt, there are those who will not be comfortable under the penetrating gazes found only in the big city. So, what else is new? Alderson is often too honest with his audiences, but I'd rather hear from an honest broker than a shifty one. If someone wants to criticize Sandy for hiring Calloway, Porter and Scott, it is fair game. But even there, how the heck could he have known if no previous employers came forward, which can be problematic from an HR standpoint? So, how does one keep such incidents from happening again? Only via a full blown investigation of the two or three top candidates by private investigators. And that can take a few weeks.

If I were Cohen and Alderson, I'd take my time and dig deep on prospective hires. Find the two or three that pique everyone's interest and open investigations. With the CBA in question and a lockout looming, there's no rush. The goal is not to satisfy the bloviators in the vast media universe. The fan base is much more patient than those who need something to talk about and write about. In the meantime, Sandy Alderson is quite capable of re-signing Loup and Villar, and just about anyone else who can help the team in the next couple of seasons.

This may also be the moment to ponder a few other things most of the bloviators fail to consider when bloviating. Baseball teams must be balanced. You can't just add players without getting rid of an equal number. You can't add a host of right-handed hitters and pitchers without some lefties in the mix. You can't keep a McNeil and Dom Smith, if you add Marte, Baez and/or Bryant. But all three of those right-handed hitters are available without giving up a draft choice, so signing at least one is an excellent move. Same can be said for Carlos Rodon and/or Rich Hill. No draft compensation/Southpaws for balance. A good GM also knows that players must be acquired through the farm system, through trades, and via free agency. Can a Bryan Reynolds or Cedric Mullins be acquired for McNeil, Dom Smith, Gsellman and a "B" prospect? Why Reynolds or Mullins? One is a switch-hitter and the other a lefty, which is what is needed to replace McNeil and Smith. And we can’t forget that Vientos, Lee, Baty, and one or two others may be ready for some action in The Show sometime during the 2022 season.

Balance is probably being considered as the Universal DH comes to the fore (unfortunately). A platoon of Cano and Davis may be effective. And what about utilizing a platoon of Guillorme and Peraza (now a free agent) at 2B? Such a platoon keeps two excellent gloves active and in the lineup should anyone else go down to injury. At a cost of less than $2.5 million for the 2B platoon, it would balance out the higher salaries at other positions. Guillorme is no slouch when it comes to OBP and Peraza delivers sneaky power.

Lastly, take a look what the Brewers did last season with a six-man rotation. They had six pitchers with 20-30 starts. And it worked thanks to David Stearns, Craig Counsell and Chris Hook. Due to the changes in the game, all the high-90s velocity arms, and injuries, the time has come for the Mets to utilize a six-man rotation. Fact is, many of their hurlers have been better with five or six days of rest. Just look at the stats. An additional benefit is that there will be less innings from the bullpen because starters can pitch a full seven innings or more and still get plenty of rest. But the Mets need southpaws. Rodon and Hill would slide in nicely to the current crop of starters. It could look something like this——deGrom, Syndergaard, Rodon, Walker, Carrasco and Hill. And at Syracuse—Megill, Yamamoto and Peterson. In a six-man rotation (assuming good health) each starter would see 25-26 starts. There's some credible—and balanced—depth. By the way, Japanese league pitchers start once per-week.

So, when the bloviators bloviate, consider the source. Then, think about balance and how important roster construction is to an MLB franchise.

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