Yesterday, while at a charity event that recognized the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon briefly spoke with reporters. He touched on a number of subjects, but this comment has taken on a life of its own:
I think three of the starting pitchers we’re very pleased with – [Jonathon] Niese, [Dillon] Gee and [Zack] Wheeler. That, along with David [Wright], I think would be the three or four we’re solidified on.
Jeff Wilpon doesn’t really have a way with words. Because of that, the above comment is rubbing some people the wrong way, and has caused a mini furor among the #LOLMets members of #MetsTwitter.
However, I don’t think Wilpon’s comment about there being four “solidified” players was a statement meant to paint the roster as being in disarray. Rather, I think Wilpon was trying (and failing) to note that those players are the ones who are viewed as “untouchable.” I’m not sure why Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese would be viewed as “untouchable,” but I suppose the absence of Matt Harvey lessens the likelihood that the Mets will include any of their big league starters in a trade.
What Wilpon’s comments didn’t mean, in my opinion, is that players such as Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice, Josh Edgin, and others (such as highly touted minor league pitchers Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard) aren’t “answers” or potential answers. I think it means that those players – due to inexperience, health concerns, etc. – have yet to completely solidify their spots.
Back to this idea of “solidified” or “untouchable” players, though…
Look at the teams around the league. How many players on each team would be considered “untouchable.” In other words, how many players on each team would be off limits in a trade unless the general manager of that respective team was offered a package so absurd that they couldn’t turn it down?
Who would the Los Angeles Angels view as “solidified” or “untouchable?” Mike Trout. That’s where their list ends. Go take a look at their roster.
How about some of the 2013 Playoff teams? Who’s untouchable on the Los Angeles Dodgers? Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Yasiel Puig, perhaps Adrian Gonzalez. What about the Boston Red Sox, who have chance to win the World Series tonight? Who would general manager Ben Cherington likely refuse to deal? Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Koji Uehara, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz. That’s six players.
That’s not to say that those teams aren’t in better shape roster wise than the Mets. It’s to point out that mostly every team (no matter how successful) has a very small number of players who they wouldn’t deal in an effort to get better and/or create payroll flexibility.
What the Mets will be doing this off-season, is trying to get better. They’re coming off five consecutive losing seasons, and have the payroll flexibility to make wholesale changes.
Some Mets fans are losing their minds over the fact that Jeff Wilpon said only four Mets are “solidified” for next year, even though the Mets should be looking to make lots of changes. What it Wilpon had instead come out and said that 20 of the 25 spots on the roster are “solidified?” People, myself included, would be livid over the fact that ownership thinks the majority of a 74 win team should be returning in 2014.
When Jeff Wilpon speaks, things often come out the wrong way. That doesn’t mean what he said yesterday was outlandish or ill-timed. The Mets need to improve the roster, and there are very few players who should be viewed as untouchable or solidified. That fact was known before Jeff Wilpon spoke yesterday afternoon, and nothing he said changed anything.