Notes & Thoughts: On Familia, Francisco, & the Trade Market


Here’s today’s pertinent news and notes:

Jeurys Familia heading to New York for exam:

Reliever Jeurys Familia, who was rehabbing recently before experiencing a setback, is en route to New York to be examined by team doctors.  According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Familia is not in pain, but is unable to fully extend his arm during his delivery.  He has been on the disabled list for the last three weeks with biceps tendinitis.

Apr 28, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) connects for a two run homer in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Familia is one of the most promising bullpen arms the Mets have, and the hope is that he’ll turn into a reliable late inning option.  The 23 year old appeared to be coming into his own before the injury forced him to the disabled list.  Overall this season, he has a 3.48 ERA over 10.1 innings pitched.

What’s the deal with Frank Francisco?

After performing poorly in 2012, former closer Frank Francisco reported to spring training this year both out of shape and ill prepared.  For the last three months, he’s been “rehabbing” from surgery that wasn’t invasive.  According to Andy Martino, Francisco isn’t in pain and isn’t injured.  Still, he’s nowhere close to rejoining the big league club.  Here’s a disturbing piece from Martino’s article:

"It was the worst bullpen session they could remember. Frank Francisco was on a mound in Port St. Lucie in late March throwing for several uniformed Mets staffers, who still believed that the closer might earn some of the millions owed to him this year. Then they watched him pitch.  One of the guys in attendance gave Francisco an insincere ‘attaboy,’ walked off the field, and called another friend in the organization. ‘That was disgusting,’ he told his buddy, who recalled it to us. ‘He’s either hurt or he doesn’t care.’"

It’s apparent that something is amiss with Francisco.  Without being there, it’s impossible and unfair to state with authority that Francisco doesn’t care about returning.  However, it certainly seems that may be the case.  If the Mets were in contention and Francisco was viewed as someone who would help a beleaguered bullpen, this would be a much bigger problem.  Well, the Mets aren’t in contention, and Bobby Parnell has taken the role of closer and made it his own.  The Mets certainly wasted a decent chunk of money on Francisco, and that’s a shame, but I’d be glad if he never tossed another pitch for the team.

Matthew Cerrone: Mets will be buyers this year:

According to Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog, the Mets are looking to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline.  The idea, is that filling one of their gaping holes during the year will make it that much easier to fill the remaining holes after the conclusion of the season.  Opines Cerrone:

"These days, people with other teams have been telling me the Mets are very willing to trade a top pitching prospect, a big-league arm (think Bobby Parnell) and Wilmer Flores, for a young, under-contract hitter. They have talked with teams about Jon Niese over and over again during the last 18 months, and I think they’d consider moving Zack Wheeler in the right deal.  No team can build an entire outfield in one winter, so I think Alderson knows he needs to make an acquisition this summer, regardless of the team’s record. The issue he has is that, as good as Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero have been, they’re still too unproven to build a deal around. The buzz on Syndergaard is growing, though, and I see no scenario where he and Wheeler get moved.  The Mets have young pitching that interests other teams, especially if they’re willing to deal Parnell; and they have an opening in payroll after this season. Also, Alderson would prefer to trade for power now, then sign a light-weight leadoff hitter in the winter. So, no doubt, we’re going to hear and see trade rumors this summer connecting the Mets to Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton, Dodgers OF Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista and 1B/3B Edwin Encarnacion."

The above is a lot to digest.  There are those who scoff at the belief that Cerrone has sources, but it’s clear that he does.  He was the only person who was confident in the Mets’ ability to land Johan Santana after the 2007 season (while every media member laughed at the possibility).  There’s probably lots of truth in what Cerrone wrote today, but I have to disagree with a few of his assertions.

First of all, his claim that Montero and Syndergaard are “too unproven to build a deal around” is too vague.  Would a deal built around Montero net the Mets Giancarlo Stanton?  Highly doubtful.  However, Montero is a tremendous pitching prospect who’s on the cusp of AAA.  This isn’t someone who’s an unknown in Low-A ball.  Additionally, Noah Syndergaard is drawing comparisons to both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.  When the Mets acquired Wheeler from the Giants as the only piece in the Carlos Beltran deal, he was in A ball.  Syndergaard is already in High-A, and will likely be promoted to AA Binghamton sooner rather than later.   It would certainly be more challenging to build a deal for a Carlos Gonzalez type around Montero or Syndergaard and others (instead of Zack Wheeler), but it can likely be done.

Further down in his article, Cerrone says that Andre Ethier is the player he sees as the most likely one to end up with the Mets.  For the sake of the Mets and the fans, I hope he’s wrong.  Ethier, 31, is a glorified platoon player who is signed through his age 35 season.  Over the last three seasons, he’s hit .225 with a .276 OBP and .600 OPS against left handed pitchers.  If the Mets were to deal anyone of significance for Ethier, the fans would have a right to be up in arms.  His age, contract, and splits scream that he’s not someone the Mets should be pursuing.

For now, we’ll just have to sit back and wait to see what Sandy Alderson has up his sleeve.  Alderson noted a few weeks ago that the team might be buyers this year with an eye on the future.  Between now and the trade deadline, there will be rumors flying all over the place.  Once the dust settles, perhaps the Mets will have one of the impact outfield bats they clearly desire.

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