Yup, you read that headline right. According to MetsBlog this morning, Andy Martino of the Daily News conducted an internal poll of current Mets players to see what they would rather have at the trade deadline, a right-handed power bat or some help for an inconsistent bullpen. Despite seeing a number of late leads get away over the first half of the 2012 season, the majority ruled that a legitimate, everyday right-handed hitter with power would do the team more good than bring in more effective relievers.
I can see what they’re saying; even though the bullpen has cost them a few wins this season, the team’s inability to hit left-handed pitching is just as prominent. However, that doesn’t mean I agree with the players. It would certainly be nice to get another right-handed hitter into the lineup on a daily basis (cough, Carlos Quentin, cough), but come on guys, the bullpen is atrocious and needs to be rectified immediately if this team is going to be a playoff contender.
Also, where exactly would this right-handed bat play in the field? It looks as though left field would be the most logical landing spot, and unless Sandy Alderson and the front office go all in and decide to part with impact prospects, it’s unlikely that the Mets will be able to land an everyday, power-hitting, right-handed outfielder in today’s trade market. It would be nice to throw Quentin or Jonny Gomes up in the box in a late-game situation, but who knows if the long-term benefits will outweigh the costs. I’ll tell you what though, this is where it would be real nice to see the 2009 Jason Bay come to life once he’s done rehabbing from his concussion.
There have been flashes of production here and there from Bay in 2012, but definitely not enough to make anyone feel confident in him being a legitimate power threat again. If the Mets were to make a move for a right-handed bat, it will only make sense to go after a starter; even though a part-time player would be the price Alderson is more willing to pay, we already have a million bench players who can play the outfield and be productive (Scott Hairston, Jordany Valdespin, Mike Baxter upon his return). Add in the rotation Terry Collins will have to work to get Bay, Andres Torres, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis consistent at-bats, and the current logjam would worsen.
If Jason Bay can’t return to the lineup and put some kind of threat into the eyes of opposing pitchers in the late innings, it would behoove Alderson to at least inquire about a player such as Carlos Quentin. It seems as though the price would be steep, but one has to wonder what the Padres would want, who already own one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. For me, a pitcher like Jenrry Mejia could come up in that kind of conversation. Mejia has a promising future, but with the other top-level pitching prospects the Mets have in their farm system, he could be the type of player that is expendable.
He’s shown New York that he is not an effective reliever, but he’s more than capable of being a starter (0-1, 1.13 ERA in 16 innings with Triple-A Buffalo). Could the fact that Mejia is a Major League ready pitcher sway the Padres opinion on an overall package for Quentin? Odds are not in the favor of the Mets and Alderson has shown he won’t sacrifice the future for an immediate fix, but there’s a first time for everything.
However, at the end of the day, the more pressing need and more realistic need for the Mets going into the second half of 2012 is getting help for the bullpen. The players have a point, and as one notable New York player told Martino, “we can’t hit lefties.” True, but platooning in left field with Scott Hairston (.306 BA vs. LHP) will have to work if New York has no other choice.
Everyone was hoping this wouldn’t be the case, but the success or failure of the 2012 Mets could fall on the shoulders of Jason Bay. He can be productive against southpaws (.282/.395/.519 career), but he needs to show everyone he can still do that. He’s already surprised everyone with his quick recovery from his concussion, maybe he can surprise us again. There is a saying in boxing that even though a fighter looks over-matched, he always has that “puncher’s chance,” meaning that one punch can turn the tides in an instant. Bay still has that puncher’s chance, and there is still an opportunity that he can turn it around. My fingers, toes, and shoelaces are crossed hoping so.
Tags: Carlos Quentin Jason Bay Jenrry Mejia Jonny Gomes Left-handed Pitchers Matt Musico Mets Bullpen MLB Trade Deadline MLB Trade Rumors New York Mets Right-handed Power Bat Rising Apple Sandy Alderson Scott Hariston Terry Collins