The Mets swept the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field in what was an 8-7 cliffhanger victory. They won 10 of their 15 games since the post-All-Star break, and they are in the periphery of the wild-card race at 50-55.
That sweep inspired Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to acquire Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman in an attempt to give the Mets a boost and inspiration of making a run for the wild-card race.
From first glance of this deal, it’s clear the Mets have no idea what they are doing, and they have no plan. One week, it’s they want to trade their assets. Then they follow that up by acquiring Stroman after a sweep that has players and Mickey Callaway talking about a playoff spot despite having a losing record.
For those proponents that like the deal by saying it’s an insurance move with Zack Wheeler being a free agent after this season or to raise up the trade return prices for Noah Syndergaard and Wheeler, that’s giving the Wilpons and Van Wagenen too much credit. Also, Stroman is a one-year rental since he is a free agent after next season. Then what? The Mets have to trade him or ink him to an extension.
It seems foolish to trade pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson for Stroman. The Mets could have used their two pitching prospects to build around in the next few years and used them for the next seven years than get a year of rental for Stroman. Oh, and they have to overpay Stroman to stay for a pitcher who has been inconsistent. In other words, think Kyle Gibson when you think of Stroman.
At least, this trade was not as bad as the Mets trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano that they executed in 2004. Talk about that trade being a reach, even though then-Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson claimed he can fix Zambrano in “fifteen minutes”.
It could just be the Mets think they have good enough baseball in them to stay in the race, and that’s why they acquired Stroman. Why else would they make a bold move like that?
From Van Wagenen’s perspective, he wants to back up his “Come Get Us” proclamation by trying to get a playoff spot, so he has motivation to make another splashy move. From the Wilpons’ perspective, the team wants to be relevant in the local pro sports scene, and they want fannies in the seats at Citi Field. Plus, the Mets live for those back pages from the two major tabloids in town. It’s a business for them.
The Wilpons speak well about wanting a rebuild, but their actions show they are not interested. They talk about doing one thing but they do another. They don’t have a plan.
The Wilpons don’t have the stomach for a rebuild. They experienced it enough, and they don’t want to go through it again after recently going through it under then-Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. While they had a World Series appearance and a wild-card game appearance to show for it, it was brutal before that. Fred Wilpon is 82 years old, and he does not want to use his dying years to watch a team rebuild. That explains why the Wilpons decided to hire Van Wagenen as GM rather than hire an experienced general manager such as Ben Cherington or young executive that knows how to build teams in Rays executive Chaim Bloom that would have preferred to break it up and start over. The Wilpons would rather try, even if it’s a lost cause.
The math says it’s feasible for the Mets to get a playoff spot with 57 games to go. Reality says too many teams are in it for the Mets to leapfrog. Fangraph gives the Mets 7.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. They played inconsistent baseball all season long. This is a team that can finish the season at .500 and maybe playing in meaningful games, but does it really much outside of getting fans excited for next season? This seems like a tease just to get fans engaged this season and for next year.
Even if the Mets somehow get to the mountaintop of the wild-card race, how much will they have left when they get there? They have been inconsistent this season to think they can go on a 35-5 run and take off from there. Their starting rotation is inconsistent. While their bullpen pitched well as of late, no one can forget how bad they were for most of the season. Their hitting has been okay.
Good for the organization for thinking big and trying to be interesting I suppose, but again acquiring Stroman seems like an impulsive and compulsive move for a team that planned on replenishing the farm system a week ago? What changed all of sudden? The Wilpons have been known to make emotional decisions or make decisions to please the fans. It seems like what this move was all about.
The Mets are going to have to beat elite teams to play in October. I don’t like their chances. They are not going to play the Pirates every game, even though they got one more shot at them this coming weekend at PNC Park.
The Mets should be realistic instead of being hopeful. They showed for most of three months that they can’t beat the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies or any elite team. It’s hard to think that’s changing now despite this fine run the Mets are right now by beating up on the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres and Pirates. It’s a dangerous proposition to think the Mets can go on a fall run to remember based on a nice stretch.
Acquiring Stroman turns out to be an interesting move, and it does not inspire much confidence.
The trade reeks desperation than hope or dreaming big.
It also illustrates the Mets don’t really know they want.