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Mets David Wright Not a Golden Goose (Pt. 2)

Monday’s part one piece discussing the trade value of Mets third baseman David Wright using a rumored deal that he could head to Anaheim for Peter Bourjos-plus was met with mixed reactions as New York fans rushed to defend their white knight in the face of statistical analysis. In all, it proved to be an excellent conversation starter and segue into part two looking at the Mets continued need for young arms, even with the duo of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, as well as the financial freedom dealing Wright allows.

Few organizations boast two top pitching prospects the likes of former first round picks Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. As pitchers like Johan Santana and maybe Mike Pelfrey potentially move onto new organizations in the near future, it’s comforting to know the next wave isn’t far behind. Add Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia to the mix and the downside potential of the four young pitchers appears to be two starters and two back of the pen arms at a minimum.

Zack Wheeler Video After The Jump

However, the gap to what’s next in line is cavernous as it’s difficult to identify a single dependable starting pitcher from what’s left in the organization. Mark Cohoon, Chris “Family Night” Schwinden, Brandon Moore, Robert Carson, Kyle Allen, Collin McHugh, Darren Gorski, etc., are considered more bullpen or swing types at this point. Gorski had a fantastic 2011 season, but after scouting him a handful of times in 2010, I’d need to see him put together a second stellar season in 2012 for me to become a buyer.

Any of the three of Tyler Chatwood, Garrett Richards, or John Hellweg would split the middle and form second tier of Mets pitching prospects providing additional depth on the starting pitching side. It’s certainly not sexy, but definitely something the Mets organization could use.

Beyond discussing an Angels/Mets swap, the simple fact is dealing 15 million from the active roster and replacing it with a spread of minimum salaried pieces would allow the Mets to attempt to expunge Jason Bay from the current roster. At this point, fence or not, I’m ready to label the Bay signing a disaster and cut losses if possible. His 5-600 plate appearances would be better spread across a Nick Evans/Lucas Duda platoon in left field.

Like the Braves deal of Derek Lowe, I can envision a scenario where a team would be willing to take on a wins worth of salary and Bay and roll the dice. That would still leave the Mets eating 11 million or so per year over the next two, but a Bourjos or like player would still provide excess value even after the money paid for Bay.

Additionally, the four million or so saved after dealing Wright and Bay could then be shifted toward keeping Angel Pagan who is likely to play to his 2012 salary. If Pagan can return to previous defensive form at a corner, he may prove to be a steal.

A few years from now, baseball fans are likely to reflect on Omar Minaya’s legacy during his time as General Manager of the Mets and concede he was successful at building a bench and bullpen. And while the ability to develop piece players internally is often overlooked, an Arizona Diamondbacks week in review reveals a total of eight million spread across two light hitting utility infielders and a career backup catcher. To compare, Ruben Tejeda will make 10% of what the Diamondbacks signings will net over the next two years and produced only 0.2 less WAR than the threesome combined in 2011.

The Mets organization is in a position where they have a number of minimum salaried young players on the active roster and in the upper minor leagues who should provide excess value across a number of big league roles. Of course not all will wind up being viable starters, or even big leaguers in the long run, but this team will contend again when their young arms are ready to shoulder the load. Assessing the future and potentially signing those assets to long term deals at a pre-arbitration discount is the forward thinking play and best for the financial health of the organization as a whole.

Patience is key for the Mets as Minaya’s desperation to chase the wild card previously led to the Francisco Rodriguez and Jason Bay signings. Had the Mets stood firm and invested their resources more astutely, Jose Reyes might have already been extended and the idea of dealing David Wright would be a moot point. However, Alderson took the organization over in a period of transition due to no fault of his own. Fans seem to be looking back upon the Reyes/Wright years as the golden age of the Mets the same way Cardinals fans appreciate the work of Albert Pujols. One big difference though – Pujols has rings.