A Bitter September Pill


So far this month, the Mets are 2-5. They’ve played teams that have a chance at the postseason (Washington, Atlanta, and Cleveland), and the results clearly show the talent differential. While the Mets clearly would like to win as many games as possible, this month is about evaluation. The Mets are getting a look at a lot of younger players (Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker, Vic Black), and making final decisions on some experienced players (Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Carlos Torres, Justin Turner). From a baseball perspective, this month is akin taking a very bad-tasting medicine; it’s painful in the moment, but you know that it’s the right thing to do for a longer-term benefit.

Aug 27, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson speaks at a press conference before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The ongoing evaluation doesn’t ease the pain of watching the team run an inferior lineup onto the field every day. However, Sandy Alderson has repeatedly stated that next year is the year when the next phase of the makeover takes place, otherwise known as competitive baseball. Let’s take a look at some of the accomplishments of the players being evaluated.

Travis d’Arnaud: Hitting .143, 1 HR, 3RBI, .234 OBP. D’Arnaud has been lauded for his game calling and pitch framing. Regardless of his numbers, d’Arnaud is here to stay.

Juan Lagares: Hitting .269, 4 HR, 30 RBI, .304 OBP. Lagares plays outstanding defense in center and right field. He does strike out quite a bit, and has limited plate discipline. While many think Lagares is a lock for 2014, I’m not convinced. He may have a role on the team as a 5th outfielder, but the Mets may need a greater OBP from a centerfielder.

Matt den Dekker: Hitting .269, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .296 OBP. Den Dekker has shown to have a good glove and good speed. However, his lack of plate discipline and limited minor league playing time this year will probably have him begin 2014 at AAA.

Vic Black: Black has pitched only 2 innings. He has an electric fastball, and a wide-breaking curve. He may have control issues, and that may be a huge concern if he is to be a set-up man, or possibly a closer. His stuff warrants a longer look as September moves along.

Daniel Murphy: Murphy is an interesting case. He has a solid .284 average, with a lower-than-expected .318 OBP. Murphy has just 28 walks in 611 plate appearances. Murphy is also a doubles machine (33), but has limited power (10 HRs). Daniel plays an inconsistent second base, though better than could be reasonably expected from a converted third/first baseman. My guess is that Murphy, due to his low OBP and power numbers, does not return for 2014.

Lucas Duda: Duda is also quite paradoxical. He is hitting a fairly low .242, with a respectable .363 OBP. He has prodigious power, yet has only 12 HR is 256 ABs. And if that isn’t enough, Duda has only 27 RBI. That’s tough to do with 12 HR and 15 doubles. Whether or not you believe in “clutch”, Duda hasn’t been productive. His defense is abysmal in the outfield, and acceptable at first base. While Duda is a tough decision, my guess is that he’s included in a trade with an American League team.

Carlos Torres: Torres has done whatever has been asked of him, working as both a starter and reliever. He’s been fairly effective in both roles. He’s pitched 62.1 innings, and has allowed 59 hits with 46 strikeouts. His combined WHIP is 1.075, and he has walked only 8 hitters. My opinion is that the Mets should find a spot for Torres on the 2014 staff.

Justin Turner: Turner is the quintessential bench player. He plays multiple positions, and is comfortable in the role. He has a .271 average, with 2 HR and 14 RBI. Turner plays adequate defense around in the infield. Statistically, Turner appears solid. However, his lack of both power and speed limits his value off of the bench. Terry Collins seems to like Turner. If it were up to me, I’d look for a better option off of the bench, a player with power or speed (or both), who can also play the outfield in a pinch.

The Mets have other decisions to make as well. Decisions needs to be made on Ruben Tejada, as well as Omar Quintanilla, and several others. Once again, to those of us still clinging to every pitch and hoping for every possible win, losing is not fun. However, if we keep the bigger picture in mind, and realize that the commitment is in place to the 2014 team, the bitter pill’s effects may fade into a better feeling.

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