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NLEI: Mets at the Trade Deadline - in need of relief, like, now

Mongo wants to pitch in New York so Mongo can eat the Phillies. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
Mongo wants to pitch in New York so Mongo can eat the Phillies. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Because I am reluctant to mess with a formula that works, I'll again start out with the primary questions before delving into some thoughts about what the New York Mets might actually do at the trade deadline:

  1. Are the Mets in contention? Sort of. They are eight games behind the Nationals and 4 games behind the Pirates and Braves for the wildcard slots. They also are performing slightly below their expected third order wins, which suggests that they are not overly lucky or playing over their heads. I don't see them as likely to fade, though their recent losing streak is, well, sort of fading, but it was back to where they should have been. In any case, they are what they are, which is to say, mediocre. Mediocre may be enough this year. How nice would it be if the Phillies were at least mediocre?
  2. Do the Mets have chips to trade? You betcha! (wink, wink). Jon Sickels thinks they have five of the top 100 most prospecty-ous prospects in the whole land. Like most teams, they aren't going to be thrilled to move their crown jewels, like Zack Wheeler, but maybe some other team will be finding Nimmo if the Mets really have their eye on some deadline help.
  3. Do the Mets have the financial resources to pull a trade and sign? Given the complexity of the Madoff issues and my lack of interest in following them, I will hazard a "no" but I invite more learned folk to educate me. My working hypothesis here is that the Mets are not inclined to add payroll and are consigned to "rental only" territory.

Let's leap into Metitude!

What do the Mets need?

A casual glance suggests that the Mets might need a power hitter, since they are below league average in slugging and near the NL basement in home runs, but their OPS+ tells a different tale. The Mets are second in the NL in OPS+, so we can see some park effect at work, despite the moving in of the fences this year. The Mets are fourth in the NL in the all important "runs" category. Their offense is in pretty good shape, though that same casual look tells me the Mets should stop trying to steal bases, since they suck at it and it is costing them runs. Just an aside, there.

They could use an outfielder, since the trio of Andres Torres (check the slugging), Scott Hairston (OBP), and Lucas Duda (worse D than Ibanez?) is not providing much value in overall WAR. Duda in particular has been, er, "good" for -2.0 rWAR. Blech. Sort on WAR here. Stealing something I saw at AA, the Mets could use some replacement level players to replace their replacement level players in the outfield, with Hairston possibly excepted but for his egregiously low OBP.

Turning now to the infield, Ike Davis hasn't been great, but he's had issues with Ebola or Dengue Fever or something (actually, Valley Fever, and it is good to see him playing again). At catcher, second, short, and third, the Mets are meh to fine to really good.

David Wright, especially, is intriguing, since he's having a super-duper great year, with an rWAR of 5.0 to date. There is a team option for $16 million next year, but Wright has only had one season with more than 3 WAR in the last five four [thanks, ES - see below] and that is this year. I'm not so sure I pick up that option if I am Alderson. Next year he is 30, and the Mets can get 2 WAR somewhere else more cheaply.

Maybe if the Mets continue to swoon over the next few weeks, it might be a good time to sell high on Wright to a more optimistic team. As long as the Mets are in "contention" I can't see them pulling the trigger on a deal, though - that would demoralize fans who have come back the park a little bit as the Mets have stayed "in it-ish" as the season has gone on. Besides, Sandy Alderson says the Mets are buyers! Believe!

As I wrote in the Braves write-up about Michael Bourn, maybe with the bevy of buyers, the Mets might be smart to swim the other way and dish Wright to a team with fetish for aging, injury-prone, and expensive infielders. Trade Wright and his awesome team option and scoop up a young outfield prospect and a few young relievers with live arms? PAGING RUBEN AMARO, PAGING RUBEN AMARO, right? Kidding, kidding. My god, I can just imagine the comments. Maybe Sandy Alderson really is Ruben Amaro's friend. Just to be safe, someone needs to tell Scott Proefrock to hide Domonic Brown, preferably in a country that doesn't extradite.

As far as starting pitching is concerned, the Mets just lost Dillon Gee to a blod clot disorder, and they lost Chris Young to being Chris Young. Jonathon Niese, Johan Santana, and R.A. Dickey are all on the right side of an ERA+ of 100, but a starter isn't out of the question, though Gee may be back before the end of the year.

Still, the big need that the Mets have is here. I mean, it's worse than the Phillies' pen, right? So you know it's really bad. Well-vetted and sourced reports suggest that the Mets have their eye on Jonathan Broxton, which is probably true, since if he knew that the Mets were not watching him, he would probably eat them.

Alderson is no fool, and he is certainly aware of the volatility of relievers given small sample sizes. I imagine he would start by trolling for high K, low BB relievers who have, for some reason, underperformed their FIP or xFIP or SIERA, and look for a team that is trying to shed a player or a player and payroll. This is why Broxton comes up, but his K rate is about two-thirds of what it used to be. He isn't "high K" anymore. He sort of sucs, which is "sucks" without the "K".

I went hunting on a custom data dump for relievers with S+H-BS of over 15 (lots of appearances) who are older than 28 (teams won't want to give up, cheap, young, good bullpen parts), and I sorted by xFIP and K/BB ratio. Looking at teams that are out of contention, I came up with an assortment of things like Randy Choate, Glenn Perkins, Darren Oliver, Matt Belisle, Casey Janssen, Dale Thayer, Brett Myers (!), Brandon Lyon, and Kameron Loe. Of the group, Myers and Lyon will be very available. J.J. Putz, maybe? How sweet would that be?

Observant sorts will note that Broxton did not make my list. He ate it.

Of the three teams I have looked at so far, I think the Mets are most likely to do something, if only because their pen needs fixed next year, too. I wouldn't be shocked to see them look for OF help, either, but not just a "this year" deal. Torres isn't the answer, though the Mets did get Jason Bay back recently. Maybe they go with "addition by DL subtraction" there, but who knows what Jason Bay is anymore?