As the 2012 season winds down and the Mets organization and fans alike turn their focuses to 2013, there are plenty of needs that have to be filled before the first pitch on Opening Day is thrown next season. Aside from trying to retain David Wright and R.A. Dickey long-term, which is on Sandy Alderson’s to-do list, he must also give the bullpen another face lift, while also fixing the outfield, which has become a platoon factory. Alderson said on Mike Francesa’s show last week that New York needs to infuse the roster with productive players, and the best to do that is through trades this winter.
After watching the Big League roster perform the last two seasons, Alderson and his front office executives have also done a thorough evaluation of the Mets’ farm system, being pleasantly surprised with the amount of talent that is present. So, without bottomless pockets to spend on big money free agents, the Amazins will have to get creative with how they acquire these “productive players,” as Alderson stated. One thing is for certain, though; it sounds like he’s ready to make some moves to get this team ready to be a contender.
One of the few areas there seems to be significant depth for the organization is starting pitching. As of right now, the 2013 rotation probably will look like this: Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Matt Harvey. Of course, this is contingent upon Santana being fully healthy by spring training and Gee’s rehab from his unexpected surgery last month to continue to go smooth. However, with Collin McHugh putting together a very impressive MLB debut last week against the Rockies, there is some chatter starting to formulate that the 25-year-old hurler drafted in the 18th round in the 2008 draft could get a shot to compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training.
When you look at his last couple of seasons in the minor leagues, it’s hard to deny that McHugh is ready to pitch in the MLB. Once he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton in 2011, he went 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 93.1 innings pitched. Once 2012 rolled around, he did more of the same with Binghamton (5-5, 2.41 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) and was promoted to Buffalo, where he’s gone 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 69 innings pitched. Wally Backman was praised McHugh’s command of the strike zone (2.8 BB/9 IP in ’12) and his ability to fan hitters (8.3 K/9 IP in ’12). The starts he is scheduled to get this upcoming month, beginning next week against St. Louis, could build his case to interested suitors over the winter that he is an MLB-ready pitcher, one that could give the Mets some more MLB-ready talent in return.
We can’t forget about Jenrry Mejia, as he’s been in Triple-A most of the season since he came back from Tommy John surgery last season. In 25 appearances (9 starts) and 63 innings pitched with the Bisons, Mejia is 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. With the Mets bullpen in the shape it’s been in this season, the organization instituted a throwing program for their 22-year-old right-hander to prep him as a reliever. However, in 21.1 innings out of the bullpen, Mejia is 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA, and opponents are hitting .303 off him, compared to his 2-2 record, 1.94 ERA, and .220 opponent batting average in 46.1 innings as a starter. Terry Collins has said that Mejia will likely get a few spot starts in September once he’s called up, and there’s no reason to not think both Mejia and McHugh could be pitching next month to increase their trade value over the winter.
After watching McHugh dominate with 9 strikeouts and 2 hits over 7 shutout innings last week, it’s hard to fathom trading him away, especially with the uncertainties that surround the statuses of Santana and Gee for 2013, but Jeurys Familia and Zack Wheeler are honing their craft in Triple-A, waiting for the call. Familia hasn’t had a stellar season by any means (8-9, 4.78 ERA, 1.61 WHIP in 130 IP), but he is only 22-years-old as well, and the organization is high on his development moving forward. As for Wheeler, he performed great with Binghamton (10-6, 3.26 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) and although his control has been shaky since he was promoted to Buffalo (1-2, 3.54 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), Mets officials are projecting that he could be ready to get the call to the Majors by the second half of 2013, as scouts have said this year he already has MLB-ready stuff.
So, although it would be tough to watch either McHugh or Mejia get shipped out of New York via trade, there are viable options for the Mets to fall back on if the projected starting rotation doesn’t pan out. You have to give something up to get what you need in trades, and right now, it looks like they have a surplus in starting pitching (knock on wood). I mean hey, if all else fails, they could re-sign Chris Young to a minor league deal, right? Maybe not after last night’s start.
Do you think either Mejia or McHugh should be used in a trade this off-season? Why or why not?