In his latest mailbag, Matthew Cerrone answers questions about a potential Mookie Betts trade, Luis Rojas, and more...
Are we getting Mookie Betts or not? The Padres seem to want him more. ~ Anthony Rosato
Boston's goal in trading Betts has been to significantly reduce payroll and get below the luxury tax threshold. The rumored deal between the Padres and Sox would send Wil Myers to Boston, which wouldn't cut enough money. Therefore, the sticking point between the two sides is likely David Price, who Boston has been trying to package with Betts because it's the biggest cost saving possible.
For the Mets, though, sending just Jed Lowrie to Boston could work for both sides.
To rival San Diego's offer, Brodie Van Wagenen would need to trade Lowrie, part with two of Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty or Francisco Alvarez; and give up a mid-level pitching prospect, such as David Peterson. In return, the Mets get Betts, who would add $20 million to their payroll.
For Boston, they would add Lowrie, reduce their payroll by $20 million, add to their system a big-league ready pitcher and two top-100 prospects.
I think this is doable.
However, if Price is required to be in the deal, it gets super complicated and probably falls apart.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if Van Wagenen can somehow add Betts, he can keep Jeff McNeil in the outfield and then trade J.D. Davis and Brandon Nimmo for a big-time third baseman. I doubt this happens, but there are moves to be made and Van Wagenen has options...
I'm worried about Luis Rojas' inexperience. How do you feel about him? - Mark Iannetta
I'm still concerned with how his inexperience and age might hurt him when handling constant pressure and needling from New York media. But, I'm open minded and hope he will have no problem transitioning from a mostly behind-the-scenes coaching job to being front and center, at the mic, on camera, two times a day.
That said, I love that he bleeds Mets blue and orange. He's been in the organization since 2007. I love that he's bilingual and comes from a long string of baseball DNA. I like that he's organized and equal parts administrative and on-field instructor. I love that he's a teacher of the game and is known for being calm and focused. And, I love that he has long-standing relationships with most of the team's current players.
That said, I know nothing about how he'll be in-game, specifically how he'll manage the bullpen. But, I get the sense he doesn't have an ego when making decisions. Thankfully, he has a very good coaching staff with different experiences and ways of looking at the game. Together, they look like a nice group and Rojas may be just the right fit to keep it glued it together.
What is the most important statistic for the Mets to improve upon next year? ~ Elizabeth Muratore
I'd take more wins, that's for sure! In all seriousness, though, to get those wins, the bullpen has to get its act together and see a bit more luck.
Thanks in large part to Jacob deGrom, the 2019 starting rotation was among the best in the National League. Similarly, they had an above-average, NL offense during most of the season. In the second half, they were actually among the NL's best in home runs, runs scored, extra base hits, getting on base and putting the ball in play. If they can add an All Star hitter by trade (see above) the lineup can be elite.
The bullpen, on the other hand, was a mess. And, even when they were pitching well in August, they were still never a lock and rarely in command of the moment. The crazy part is that they also pitched among the fewest innings of any team in the league, which means their totals could have been so much worse.
If they can walk fewer hitters and give up fewer home runs, it'll be a different story in 2020. I think new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will help in this regard. I also think Edwin Diaz will be better -- and he had a major impact on the above numbers the entire season.
The other good news is that a lot of these poor results can be linked to also being among the least lucky bullpen in the NL. Mets relievers had a .312 opposing batting average on balls in play. It almost certainly will be lower in 2020. If that happens, and if Diaz can be better, those two things alone will make a huge difference in the overall staff.
What is the status of the change of ownership? Since the early announcement little has been said. ~ @Jay2Cee
According to reports, billionaire investor Steve Cohen and the team's current ownership group are still negotiating the terms of a deal. Then, once agreed upon, MLB owners and the commissioner's office will need to give it a stamp of approval. Based on similar situations with the Dodgers and Royals, this is rarely a quick process. So, based on precedent and total guesswork, if a change in power occurs, I'd expect Cohen could have a say in dictating the budget before the end of this coming season.
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.