The Mets Winning and Draft Pick Issues

Award Winners, CBA, Draft, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MVP, Players, Prospects, Stats

The Mets can’t win even when they win. A 5-1 road trip including a sweep of the hated Phillies and putting a severe hit on the Reds’ hopes to win the NL Central or host the Wild Card game isn’t enough to make Mets fans happy. Now that they’ve moved into third place in the NL East, there are worries that they’re going to make the “mistake” of winning too many games and fall out of the top ten worst records in baseball and have to give up draft pick compensation to sign free agents.

The draft pick issue is not unimportant. The most negative of fans and self-anointed analysts believe that the Mets will use the draft pick compensation issue to have an excuse not to sign any big name free agents. This is equating the winter of 2012 with the winter of 2013 and the club’s retrospectively wise decision not to surrender the eleventh overall pick in the draft to sign Michael Bourn.

Bourn has been a significant contributor to the Indians’ likely run to the playoffs and would most certainly have helped the Mets. But if Bourn were with the Mets, would Juan Lagares have gotten his chance to play? Lagares has very rapidly become perhaps the best defensive center fielder in baseball and already baserunners are leaving skid marks in the dirt when they round third base and think about scoring on Lagares’s dead-eye arm. Signing Bourn would have gotten the team some positive press for a brief time, but ended as a long-term negative. With or without Bourn, the 2013 Mets were also-rans.

For 2014, the Mets no longer have any excuses not to spend some money to sign Shin-Soo Choo, Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltran or Tim Lincecum and to explore trades for Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Matthew Joyce, Ian Kinsler or any other player who will cost substantial dollars. Jason Bay and Johan Santana are off the books and the only players signed for the long term are David Wright and Jonathon Niese. For no reason other than appearances, the Mets have to do something even if that means overpaying for Hunter Pence (whom I wouldn’t want under normal circumstances if I were them) if they’re shut out on every other avenue.

I’m not sure what they’re supposed to do for the last week of 2013. Are they supposed to try and lose? How do they do that? This isn’t hockey where a team with their eye on Mario Lemieux has everyone in the locker room aware that a once-in-a-generation player is sitting there waiting to be picked and does just enough to lose. It’s not football where an overmatched team is going to lose no matter how poorly their opponent plays. It’s baseball.

The same randomness that holds true in a one-game playoff is applicable in a game-to-game situation when one hit, one home run, one stunning pitching performance against a power-laden lineup (as we saw with Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Mets today) can render any plan meaningless. It’s not as if the Mets are the Astros and guaranteed themselves the worst record in baseball months ago. There’s not a blatant once-a-generation talent sitting there waiting to be picked number one overall as the Nationals had two straight years with the backwards luck that they were so horrific and were able to nab Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. And it’s not the first overall pick, it’s the eleventh to the thirteenth. A team will get a great talent, but not a can’t miss prospect at that spot.

As for the mechanics of the draft pick, the Mets are hovering between the tenth worst record and the twelfth worst record. You can read the rules surrounding the pick here. If they’re tied with a team that had a better record in 2012, the Mets will get the higher pick. That means if they’re tied with any of the teams they’re competing with for that spot – the Giants, Blue Jays and Phillies – the Mets will get the higher pick and be shielded from having to dole out compensation for signing a free agent.

Naturally, it hurts to lose the first round draft pick if it’s the twelfth overall. It has to be remembered that there are still good players in the draft after the first and second rounds. They may not have the cachet of the first rounders – especially first rounders taken in the first twelve picks – but they can still play.

Most importantly, there comes a point where the decision to build up the farm system has to end and the big league club must be given priority. For the most part, Mets fans have been patient while the onerous contracts were excised, the Bernie Madoff mess was being navigated and Sandy Alderson and Co. rebuilt the farm system. There has to be some improvement and a reason to buy tickets and watch the team in 2014. A high draft pick who the team will say, “wait until he arrives in 2018-2019(?)” isn’t going to cut it. They have to get some name players and if it costs them the twelfth overall pick, so be it.

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4 thoughts on “The Mets Winning and Draft Pick Issues

  1. Well…Carlos Rodon *is* thought to be a Strasburg-level pitching talent, but the Astros had him sewn up months ago. But I wouldn’t want to be the Astros anyway, not even with Appel in the system and Rodon coming. Their pitching is so putrid that they’re going to need a lot more than those two to get their losses back down to double digits. They’ve actually let up 838 runs this year, or 105 runs more than the Rockies, who play in a park at least as notorious for killing pitchers. The second worst RA in baseball is the Twins’, at 760. The “Disastros” have lost over 100 games three years in a row. The last time the Mets did that, most of their fans hadn’t been born yet. So yeah, they can have Rodon, and mazel tov.

    Now, as for the Mets, I’m fine with them either finishing with a top 10 pick or not. I can’t root for those guys to lose. I’d be more concerned about the quality of the pick than whether or not it’s protected, because the only players who are going to get a QO who the Mets are likely to be kicking the tires on are Choo and Ellsbury. I think Lincecum will stay where he is for at least one more year, and if Beltran gets a QO he will almost certainly accept it, because nobody is giving up a draft pick for him at this stage of his career. Both Choo and Ellsbury are Boras clients and Scott Boras likes to draaaaaag out the negotiation process on an E-ticket player for as long as humanly possible, often after the first of the year. And those guys are going to have many suitors; Sandy is not known to be someone who likes getting into a bidding war, so Jeff would probably have to make him do it.

    In any case, the team shouldn’t be putting all its eggs in the basket of anyone repped by Boras; I would think that by the time those guys are ready to sign, there will be multiple other irons in the fire. So I don’t think the protected pick is really going to be much of a factor here.

    1. They’ve got the top ten pick. I don’t like some of the things I’m hearing dropped into the media. We’ll see if they’re actually going to spend or if they put up another masquerade. The fans won’t go to the park if they pull more trickery. They’ve had enough.

      1. GMs, when they talk to the media, basically speak in code, unless they are the type to bid against themselves and therefore don’t mind wearing a FLEECE ME sign on the back of their pants. These guys are salesmen if they know what they’re doing, and used car salesmen at that.

        And Sandy has been pretty good at not actually leaking out what his plans are; evidently, he was talking to Alex Anthopoulos for a deal built around Dickey and D’Arnaud for a month before we actually heard anything about it. Until then, there was really nothing in the media about it but “well (ahem, cough) maybe they don’t want to commit long-term to (cough, gag, harrumph) a 38-year-old pitcher having an unprecedented (hack pitooey) career season.” But nobody actually knew anything for sure. And they still don’t. They are just guessing, like everyone else.

        I am about 5000% sure, though, that Sandy is not going to sit on his hands in the final year of his contract (excluding team option). But he can’t promise anything, obviously, because he doesn’t even know who will be available to sign or trade for yet, or what the going rate will be. For all we know, Choo decides to stay in Cincy, Abreu turns out on closer inspection to have about as much ability to hit breaking balls as Allan Dykstra, and the Rockies won’t trade Tulo or Cargo unless Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, AND Noah Syndergaard are included. It’s way too soon to know anything.

      2. When we see these “insider” stories, it’s obvious the reporters are getting them from somewhere and the someone who’s leaking it wants it out there. There’s less actual dogged reporting and digging up of facts nowadays than there are strategic leaks. We saw the “story” a few years ago regarding rumors of a Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols swap and Ruben Amaro Jr. was livid while the Cardinals swatted it away as idiotic. That’s because there was no basis for it and the leaker might not even have existed.
        The Rockies aren’t stupid enough to think that deal would ever happen. What might be more feasible is a three-way trade so the Mets can use some of their pitching to get the young bats the Rockies want and spin a package for Tulowitzki. I’d do it for Tulowitzki and not CarGo.

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