Mets strongly pondering aggressive moves after recent slide
By Emmanuel Pepis
Swept by the Braves at home, Mets brass poised to act quickly.
Rewind to a year ago around the same exact time. Mets were coming off of getting swept in a series against the Atlanta Braves on the road.
After Sunday’s 6-0 loss, the Mets had the brooms busted out against them by an even worse Braves squad at home. The struggles to manufacture runs via anything but a home run continued to crop up.
Terry Collins hinted a shakeup could happen, so the question automatically becomes what that would include. Let me state out front that I am not a proponent of demoting Michael Conforto. I believe that’s counterproductive and that he would benefit more from perhaps a few days out of the lineup.
Most have brought up calling Brandon Nimmo to The Show and he has certainly put up solid numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas — and is hitting .333 in 63 at-bats against lefties.
Can he provide the same jolt to this offense that Conforto did last season? It’s a risk, but I believe one worth taking at this point. Something needs to happen in a couple of spots.
Travis d’Arnaud’s expected return on Tuesday will hopefully inject some offense back at catcher considering their best defensive option is a journeyman veteran in Rene Rivera who can handle a pitching staff, but is a career .210 hitter.
The odd man out if the Mets bring up Nimmo could very well be Alejandro De Aza. Brought in as an insurance policy in case Yoenis Cespedes didn’t return, De Aza has become expendable and in his chances he has not contributed at the plate.
Now the Mets find themselves looking up at the Wild Card, though there’s still a long way to go. However, the questions around the league have to be asked: are the Marlins for real? Their superstar, Giancarlo Stanton, had a nice series at the plate against Colorado and started to show signs he may be turning things around at the plate.
Will the Cardinals bust out? Well, this past weekend didn’t answer that question positively and they’ll now start an eight-game road trip that features series against the Cubs, Mariners, and Royals. July offers a mixed bag with nine games against Milwaukee and San Diego and four against Pittsburgh, but the rest of the month features .500 or better opponents.
There’s also the Dodgers to consider, who feature the probable NL Cy Young front runner (albeit a very crowded race) and a July schedule that sees them stay in Los Angeles from the first of the month to the All-Star break (10 games total). In that span, they will face the Rockies, Orioles, and Padres.
All of these questions contribute to the other avenue the Mets are exploring, which is going outside the organization for more help. Danny Valencia has been a name brought up in the rumor mill and he is outperforming his contract ($3.15 million base salary).
The Mets are also reportedly discussing whether to make a run at former-Met Jose Reyes, who has been designated for assignment amid poor performance and a domestic violence suspension.
Another option that could be available to pick off a struggling team is Yunel Escobar, who is slightly older and has a higher salary, but who can also play multiple positions and is mirroring his best offensive season that he had in Washington last year with the Angels this year.
The wild card in this whole situation is Yulieski Gurriel. Rated as the No. 1 prospect in Cuba last spring by Baseball America, the 32-year-old would cost more financially and would take some time to tune up in the minors should the Mets pursue that avenue. And it’s something the Mets are considering. That move would not do anything in the very short term, but could pay more dividends in August and September.
This much is known: the Mets are truly a team that lives and dies by the home run. To put some context behind this, 44 percent of Mets runners at third with less than two out have scored this season. That conversion rate is only ahead of Tampa Bay (42 percent).
The Mets are also last in productive outs, which obviously highlights their inability to get a sac fly when needed or a ground ball with the infield back when needed.
Whatever moves they make, particular attention should be paid to situational hitting because while the home runs in bunches are great, the struggles become that much more magnified when they’re not flying out of the park.