Coppola: Will the Mets Touch “The Hot Stove?”

Looking at the New York Mets, I see an organization filled with talented young pitchers at the Major League level. Yet the rest of the team, looks like a rubber band ball, that needs to be unraveled. They have scouted and developed their pitchers very well. Just think of what the odds are in finding the rotation of young arms they have now.

However, right now, their minor league system, is lagging behind the others. The Mets rank in the bottom 20 out of 30 teams in development. They have two players who rank in the top one hundred prospects in baseball. Twenty -year old shortstop Amed Rosario, who is ranked number eleven and 21- year old first baseman Dominic Smith at 54. Both finished the season at AA Binghamton and most good players advance from AA ball.

Think of AAA ball as a holding pen for: “what do we do with these guys?” So these two are close, problem is there are not enough that are close.

The Atlanta Braves have seven can’t miss prospects in the top 100 and twelve others who could be there this year. The Braves also rank at number two overall, in minor league potential. They are a tsunami headed to Citi Field. The Phillies are in the top ten overall. So the Mets need to look to trades or free agency, just to keep pace with the Nationals this year. They can not look for too much help from their minor league system right now.

They need an upgrade at catcher. Rene Rivera is a solid number two who they better re-sign but he is not a number one. They also need help at the corners of third and first base. All of that will have to come from free agency, as they don’t have a pile of prospects, to include in trades.

The top free agents for what they need, are catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Justin Turner and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. With Yoenis Cespedes as their known top priority, they will have to use a ton of their free agent money, on him. Signing him, brings the chances of signing any of the others mentioned, at best, slim. It makes more sense to me to not pursue Cespedes. Then use the money to fill two or three needed positions.

Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo look decent enough, in the outfield. Encarnacion is a big bat. And although he is best suited for the DH and first base of the American League, he may like the money plus playing in New York, like Cespedes has. He is the key, as it also solves first base and a power bat. On the other hand, if they can’t resign Cespedes, or entice Encarnacion to the big apple, there is the possibility of signing Wieters and maybe Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo.

They also have a new problem with their closer. With a suspension coming to Jeurys Familia, possibly a long one, they will have to decide, who will be their closer?

The Mets track record in free agency, as we all know, is more like Archie Bunker, than the Kardasian’s in a department store. So all that talk of spending is pie in the sky. My wife’s grandfather had a saying, “If you took all the what ifs and should ofs and put them in a bucket, with a nickel, you know what you would get? A nickel”.

The market is up, the price of gas is down, it’s the holiday season, spend some money! The Mets are always a surprise, when it comes to free agents and trades. On the other side of the river, the team in the Bronx, is a constant. It is less of a surprise when they make a move. Maybe it’s something in the water, in Queens?

Ah, the joy of the ‘Hot Stove’ season.

Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and professional scout.

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