New York Mets News

Mets: Power, speed, both, neither?

By Rich Sparago

In 2014, the Mets finished tied for 20th in the Major Leagues with 125 home runs. They finished tied for 12th with 101 stolen bases. As they prepare for 2015, the Mets will have several roster decisions to make. They may decide to build their offense around power, or on-base percentage and a “small ball” approach.

Sep 26, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson in the dugout before a game against the Houston Astros at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The evidence suggests that either approach can work. The Baltimore Orioles led MLB with 211 home runs, and they won the AL East. The Kansas City Royals led MLB in stolen bases with 153, and they’re in the World Series.

If the Mets non-tender Eric Young, Junior, they’ll lose 30 of their stolen bases. In terms of player additions, the Mets will likely seek to bring in mid-level players on short-term contracts (or via trade). Some of the names being discussed are Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, and Jay Bruce. Cuddyer had an injury-plagued 2014, hitting just 10 home runs in 49 games. Bruce hit 18 home runs last year, while Cabrera hit 16. It’s unlikely that any of these players will provide a significant increase in the team’s home run production (consider Cuddyer will be 36 years old).

The Mets could get increased production from David Wright and Curtis Granderson, but again, next year’s roster will probably not come close to league-leading power numbers. Juan Lagares may steal a few more bases, and Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis may add some, but the Mets are not shaping up to be a speed team (like the Royals).

So what will the Mets’ 2015 offensive identity be? Long ball? Small ball? Moneyball (OBP)? I’m not sure the Mets know. They may not be able to answer this question until player availability becomes more clear. But the way it looks now, the Mets don’t have an identity. They seem to be a collection of one-dimensional, fairly non-athletic players (with a few exceptions).

This is why I think signing Michael Cuddyer will be a bad idea. He’s a below-average outfielder (career OF UZR of -42.8), who is getting older, and will be playing a very large right field. His offense is not going to add enough to make a difference, and his defense may end up hurting the team.

I’d like to see the Mets realize that they play in a large ballpark (fences moved in or not), and are building around pitching. I’d like to see them try to become more athletic, by bringing in players who can run the bases and cover ground defensively. The Mets don’t have the resources to bring in enough impact bats to make power the focal point of the offense. Speed and defense are generally less expensive, and may make more sense for the kind of team that the Mets want to be.

The Mets need an identity. Yes, home runs sell. But they’re not necessary to win. Just ask the Kansas City Royals.