Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Thor For Sale?

Friday, June 29, 2018


Something incredible happened on Thursday … the Mets didn’t lose! Don’t get too excited—they had the day off. But even with no baseball to be played, the Mets, New York’s favorite and most prominent sports disaster (sorry, Knicks and Jets—you’re playing for silver), still managed to dominate the headlines. And the news wasn’t even Tim Tebow-related.

 

When it comes to the July 31 trade deadline, there are three types of ball clubs—buyers, sellers and teams that stand pat. Care to guess which one the Mets are?

 

“Obviously the trade deadline is coming up,” said interim GM John Ricco. “And that’s a big pressure point in which to better your club. Certainly, we’re going to take advantage of that and look to be active.” Translation—the Mets are open for business.

 

There’s no gray area anymore. The Mets had a good run—they made the World Series in 2015 and followed that up with a Wild Card berth the following season. That’s more than most teams can say. But the Mets will have to accept their fate at some point. The glory years are over. It’s rebuild time in Queens.

 

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Baseball and sports in general are largely cyclical. No one, aside from perhaps the Bill Belichick Era Patriots, can stay good forever. The Mets were one of the most feared teams in the National League for a time, but they weren’t built to last. The trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey dominated during the Mets’ World Series run in 2015, but that success proved to be unsustainable. Injuries and celebrity caught up to Harvey, leading to his ouster earlier this year. Syndergaard’s body has also let him down, limiting him to just 18 starts over his last two seasons. That leaves deGrom, who is having a career year (1.69 ERA) but has just five wins to show for it.

 

Pitching rules the day in October. The Astros won a title on the back of Justin Verlander last year, just as the Giants did when Madison Bumgarner willed them to a World Series in 2014. Having an ace has long been a prerequisite for playoff success, but first you have to actually make the postseason and that requires at least some semblance of an offense. The Mets thought they could stay competitive by stacking their lineup with cheap veterans like Adrian Gonzalez, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, but obviously that hasn’t panned out (Gonzalez isn’t even with the club anymore). It hasn’t helped any that the team’s offensive centerpiece, Yoenis Cespedes, has taken an eternity to recover from what was originally thought to be a minor hip injury. Michael Conforto’s underwhelming follow-up to last year’s breakout season has also been a major stumbling block for the Mets, who enter Friday having lost eight of their last nine.

 

New York blazed to an 11-1 start this year, cruelly instilling a sense of false hope in its fan base. At least the Royals and Orioles knew they’d be bad this year. The Mets couldn’t even get that right. Now with 2018 officially a lost cause, the Mets will go about their rebuild the way that most teams do—by flipping proven talent for blue-chip prospects.

 

Of course, this method is much easier said than done. What players on the Mets’ roster would really interest a contender? Asdrubal Cabrera’s experience and versatility are useful assets while closer Jeurys Familia could help a team looking to bolster its bullpen (though it might take some convincing after Wednesday’s meltdown). Both are headed for free agency, further incentivizing the Mets to move them before July 31. But aside from Cabrera and Familia, the Mets don’t have much to offer. Cespedes is off-limits. So are Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Unless … could the Mets really do the unthinkable and trade deGrom and Syndergaard? Ricco didn’t say no.

 

“For me, everything has to be on the table,” he said. “But you have to look long and hard before you move a game-changing, top-of-the-rotation pitcher.” The Mets can expect modest returns for Cabrera and Familia, but deGrom would bring back a king’s ransom. So would Syndergaard, though teams will have to know he’s healthy before pulling the trigger. This wouldn’t be the same as the Orioles trading Manny Machado, who is leaving next year anyway. Both players are under cheap team control for several more years, which works as a double-edged sword—that makes them difficult to part with, but also makes deGrom and Syndergaard more attractive to potential buyers. New York fans aren’t the most patient bunch and a full teardown might not sit well with Joe from Queens and his army of WFAN callers, but if the Mets are serious about restocking their farm system, dealing deGrom and Thor would do the trick.

 

Because it’s already been discussed endlessly on sports radio, we may as well address the elephant in the room. Yes, the Yankees will assuredly add a starting pitcher before July 31. As dominant as they’ve been, the Yankees as currently constructed don’t have the arms to match up with Houston in a seven-game series. Luis Severino has developed into a true ace but the rest of the staff can’t compare to the Astros’ murderer’s row of Verlander, Gerrit ColeDallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers.

 

Pursuing deGrom and Syndergaard would certainly make sense, but what would the Yankees have to give up to put one of them in pinstripes? Miguel Andujar and Justus Sheffield are strong pieces but the Mets may be thinking Gleyber or bust. That seems like a deal-breaker and conventional wisdom suggests the Yankees will probably focus on more attainable options like Cole Hamels and Blake Snell. But deGrom and Thor sure are tempting.

 

The Mets have hurdles to clear before they can clean house—the front office is still adjusting to the departure of GM Sandy Alderson, who has taken a leave of absence while he battles cancer. But at minimum, the Mets should clear a path for their young players (it would be nice if they gave Peter Alonso a chance) to see regular at-bats in the second half. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get that Tebow cameo we’ve all been waiting for.

 

AL Quick Hits: Carlos Correa will be placed on the disabled list Friday. Back stiffness has kept him out of the lineup since Monday. Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Bregman will hold down the fort at shortstop for Correa, who has slugged 13 homers with 49 RBI in 269 at-bats this year … It took almost three months, but it appears Chris Davis has finally found his stroke. The Orioles first baseman went yard for the second straight game on Thursday, bringing his season home run total to seven. He didn’t strike out in any of his three at-bats, the first time he’s gone without a punch-out since May 12 … The Red Sox acquired 1B/OF Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays on Thursday in exchange for minor league INF Santiago Espinal. When Pearce suits up for the Red Sox, he’ll have played for all five teams in the AL East … According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, Detroit is unlikely to move Michael Fulmer before the July 31 trade deadline. The Tigers want a big haul for Fulmer, who the team views as a legitimate No. 2 starter. However, the former AL Rookie of the Year has slumped to a 4.20 ERA this season and is also coming off an elbow injury that required offseason surgery … According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network, momentum is building toward a Cole Hamels trade and it could happen before the All-Star Game. The 34-year-old has compiled a 3.61 ERA over 16 starts for Texas this year … Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to resume hitting and could participate in live batting practice as soon as this weekend. The 23-year-old hasn’t played since being diagnosed with a sprained UCL in his throwing elbow earlier this month … Mike Trout is expected to resume playing center field Friday against the Orioles. He’s spent the past nine games at DH while nursing a sprained right index finger … Garrett Richards will make a rehab start for High-A Inland Empire on Friday. The right-hander is coming back from a strained hamstring he suffered earlier this month … Kyle Seager didn’t start Thursday’s game due to a toe injury but appeared later on as a pinch-hitter. He also logged two innings at third base as the Mariners held on for a 4-2 victory, preserving a four-game sweep over Baltimore.

 

NL Quick Hits: Walker Buehler returned to action Thursday following a three-week absence. The rookie struggled, allowing five runs in relief of starter Clayton Kershaw. Buehler had been on the shelf with a microfracture in his right rib … Justin Turner’s ninth-inning blast against the Cubs on Thursday was the Dodgers’ 53rd homer this month, tying a club record set last season (that also came in June) … Yu Darvish’s bullpen session on Thursday “did not go well,” according to Cubs manager Joe Maddon. The right-hander is on his way to Chicago to be re-evaluated. He’s been battling triceps tendinitis for the past month … Christian Yelich is day-to-day after leaving Thursday’s game with lower back tightness. He grounded out in his only at-bat before exiting … Ronald Acuna is back from the disabled list after missing the past month with a sprained ACL. The 20-year-old top prospect has hit .265 with five homers and 13 RBI since his call-up in late April … J.T. Realmuto logged another absence on Thursday but expects to be back in the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Mets. The Marlins backstop hasn’t seen the field since injuring his wrist on Sunday … The Giants’ bullpen has been a disaster since losing Hunter Strickland to a broken hand (this was discussed at length in my last Daily Dose). Sam Dyson was called on to pitch the ninth inning Thursday but coughed up the lead, allowing a go-ahead two-run homer to DJ LeMahieu as the Rockies stole a 9-8 victory in San Francisco (Steve Kerr was in attendance) … Top Reds prospect Nick Senzel underwent successful surgery to repair a fractured right index finger Thursday in New York. The operation was performed by Dr. Thomas Graham. The injury is expected to sideline the 23-year-old (it’s his birthday today) for the remainder of 2018 … Props to Brewers left-hander Mike Zagurski, who is headed back to the big leagues for the first time since 2013. The 35-year-old has logged a 3.90 ERA over 32 relief outings for Triple-A Colorado Springs this season.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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