The offseason is about to enter its final month and the Mets still have work to do. What can they do between now and spring training to improve? And what about that Jacob deGrom vs. Gerrit Cole debate?
Dino (via Twitter): Why isn't Brodie Van Wagenen pushing harder to get Starling Marte from the Pirates? He's a perfect fit. It makes no sense.
Just a guess here, and I assume you will disagree with him, but I suspect Van Wagenen doesn't want Marte enough -- or doesn't think he's enough of an upgrade -- to meet Pittsburgh's demands. It's usually that simple...
It's clear the two sides were deeply engaged in talks about Marte. However, those rumors have become less frequent and now the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal is reporting they've made minimal progress on a deal.
The fact is, statistically speaking and according to my eyeballs, Nimmo is on par in the field with Marte. He may even be better in some areas, such as getting to balls in the gap. Also, I'd take Nimmo's 2018 at the plate over any of Marte's past five seasons.
As a result, it might be more effective to pay a more powerful, everyday left fielder the $11.5 million that would be needed to pay Marte. Or, how about trading J.D. Davis and a current starting pitcher -- maybe Steven Matz -- for a big hitter for left or third, say, Kris Bryant, while putting McNeil at the remaining open position... just a thought.
Jeremiah from Smithtown (via e-mail): I'm tired of hearing Yankees fans calling [talk radio] saying Gerrit Cole is now the best pitcher in New York. Have they seriously not heard of Jacob deGrom?
It is ridiculous. I would think most Mets fans at this point are used to needing to ignore Yankees fans, but I too often fall victim and get frustrated. We and most of baseball know the truth, though...
I understand Cole had 35 wins the past two seasons with Houston, but logical fans know pitcher wins are mostly meaningless when judging talent.
DeGrom not only has a better career FIP, more career WAR, more career strikeouts per nine innings and a better career ERA than Cole, he's done it pitching one less season and making 20 fewer starts. Oh, in case Yankees fans forgot, deGrom in five seasons won a Rookie of the Year and two Cy Young Awards compared to Cole, who has won none.
It's a stupid debate. DeGrom all day. The end.
Jessica B (via Twitter): If the Mets trade Jeff McNeil, I quit. Tell me he's staying put.
I'm not worried about it at all. Based on conversations with insiders not with the Mets, I'm 99 percent convinced McNeil will be in the starting lineup for the Mets next April.
He has the potential to win a batting title and hit 20 home runs and plays a solid left field, third base and second base. More than that, though, because of his ability and upside on the field compared to what he'll be paid, he's one of the biggest bargains in baseball.
Because he was drafted out of college and suffered a variety of injuries and setbacks during his minor league career, McNeil made his big-league debut when he was 26 years old.
As a result, he will continue to earn close to the league minimum in 2020 and 2021.
His first spike in salary will be for 2022, when he'll take the field at 29 years old. Not only does he provide immense financial upside to the Mets, but there will be zero pressure or reason for them to consider giving McNeil a contract extension because he'll be 32 years old when first eligible to be a free agent.
According to FanGraphs, McNeil's 4.6 WAR in 2019 provided $36 million in value to the Mets, who paid him roughly $550,000. He earned roughly $200,000 in 2018, during which his 2.7 WAR was worth $21 million.
Aaron from Teaneck, NJ (via e-mail): I like having Wilson Ramos in the lineup, but he seems like a liability behind the plate. He clearly is when Noah Syndergaard is pitching. How does Brodie plan to make this better next year?
Ramos is 32 years old with 901 games played behind the plate. He's no dummy and is young enough, has worked with plenty of pitchers and is well-traveled enough to use what he learned last season and be better in 2020.
I'm always down for upgrading at any position, I'm not all that worried about him. I think he'll be fine and know for a fact he's been working on what plagued his abilities and relationships with pitchers last season.
I do, however, think the Mets need a better backup catcher, specifically bringing someone in who has a terrific arm to be back there when facing teams that have a strong running game. This is where Syndergaard is complicit with Ramos because he does no catcher any favors with how he holds runners on at first base.
And remember, it's not so much the threat of a stolen base as it is having a large enough lead that a runner can get to third from first base on a ball hit in the gap. Keeping that runner at second doesn't just move him back 90 feet, it also protects the double play at all bags. Runners take enormous leads on Syndergaard and, as a result, put him in more positions to fail than he should be...
This is why I think the Mets would be smart to add free agent Josh Phegley, who is likely to earn around $2 million in 2020. He isn't going to hit for average and he's not a everyday option, but he did hit 12 home runs with 62 RBI in 106 games for the A's this past season. More important, he threw out 32 percent of base stealers during his 90 starts.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.