Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mets get player most similar to Ben Zobrist

Sandy Alderson has resumed baseball activities! Three good moves in one day: Acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for fringe prospects, promoting Michael Conforto and designating John Mayberry Jr. That won't win the pennant, but things certainly look more hopeful than a day ago.

I haven't understood the obsession the hitting-starved Mets seem to have with Ben Zobrist, whose days of flirting with 20-20 seasons are well in the past.  This season, Zobrist has just 6 HR, 33 RBI and a .254 BA in 233 at bats.  This season, Johnson is actually doing better: 9 HR, 34 RBI and a ,275  BA in 182 at bats.

And for what it's worth, according to Baseball Reference, the player most statistically similar to Johnson over his career is... Ben Zobrist!

And all the Mets had to give up for two professional hitters were low-level prospects John Gant and Rob Whelan. (My first response was going to be "Who is John Gant?" but I didn't want people to think I was trying to quote Ayn Rand.)

The most frustrating thing about Alderson's dithering over promoting Conforto was that it appeared to hinge on whether Michael Cuddyer would need to go on the DL. Cuddyer has not exactly been irreplaceable, with 8 HR, 30 RBI and a .250 BA in 292 at bats. Not only is Johnson doing better this year, but so is Uribe: 8 HR, 23 RBI and a .272 BA in 232 at bats.

But Cuddyer was Alderson's big signing last winter, and Mayberry was his other main addition to the Mets' hitting. These moves have proven to be just as bad as they looked at the time, but Alderson's reluctance to DL Cuddyer and designate Mayberry made it seem as if he were still trying to justify having these players on the team. Finally, Mayberry is gone, and Cuddyer can get the rest that he's needed and perhaps make a more substantial contribution down the road.

Conforto may not be ready, but the Mets need to do whatever they can to help this offense.

I remain skeptical that the Mets will make a move for a top hitter, not only because of their unwillingness to spend (the Mets did take on $3.15M in salary in yesterday's trade, but even that amount required the Braves to include some cash, according to ESPN) but because it also doesn't make much sense to give up too much for a rental of some of the names being mentioned. Justin Upton, for example, hit .196 in June and is hitting just .111 in July. And it's not because he plays in San Diego - he has a home BA this year of .291. Upton is currently battling an oblique issue. If you're going to ship out major prospects, you need to do better.

Ultimately, the Mets must realistically assess their chances. They are now 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot. They are also 3 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who have conceded their season with the salary dump of Uribe and Johnson. 

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