Scout’s Take: Spend or Trade? That is the Question

How to rebuild a baseball team that is in need of repair? Here’s how it works: Trades, free agency and signing top prospects, both here and abroad. Easier said than done. It will take a tremendous amount of work by the scouting and player development departments of any organization to build a farm system, that is both deep in talent, as well as players that can be traded for pieces of the puzzle later on. Know this however, trades are the number one way you can invoke important changes. Teams cannot be afraid to trade a good player that can bring them the talent that will help them where they need it most.

Let’s look at the Atlanta Braves. They’ve traded some really good players over the past 3 years. Some of those trades were questioned by the fans and media and even other teams. Not all of them worked out but the end result was a complete overhaul of that organization from top to bottom and a division championship was won in those 3 years. Free agency acquisitions, believe it or not, are less impactful than good old fashioned trades when executed correctly.

Granted not all teams that attempt bold moves like Atlanta did, end up with a winning season. The Braves were, shall we say “brave” in the moves they made. It could have all come crashing down on them. The question is, do the Mets have the guts to make some bold moves and attempt to change their entire organization from top to bottom? Do they need to follow the Braves’ blueprint for success or do they need to find their own plan?

There is no true foolproof way of rebuilding a franchise and there are a lot of people in baseball and on the outside looking in, that will tell you that the Mets don’t need to rebuild. That they only need a few tweaks here and there. Suggesting the bullpen, catching and another power hitter in the line-up to compliment Yoenis Cespedes. You know, Mr “ER”. The Braves had a team of stars that were last in hitting and finished at the bottom for a few years when they figured, “Why do we need these guys? Let’s see who we can get for them.”

New GM Brodie Van Wagenen will have big decisions to make in the next few years. I say the next few years because the Mets are not going from what they are now to a true contender in this powerful National League Eastern Division over night. The competition has become a lot tougher now with both the Braves and Phillies joining the Nationals as teams to be reckoned with. The Marlins will not be a threat for a while because they are trying to shed money just to be able to stay in Miami a few more years, but those other teams are here to stay for awhile. I can’t see any quick fixes here for the Mets that will put them at the top. Oh, and don’t forget that there are 29 other teams out there who will have to be played over the next few years, 19 of them had better records than the Mets this season.

We know the Mets have the money to spend on free agents. According to Forbes, they are ranked 6th out of 30 teams as far as net wealth at about $2.1 billion. That’s a lot of burgers and fries at the “Shake Shack”. Spending a ton of money is not the answer here and now for me.

To be frank, I have a problem with Van Wagenen. To me he is not a true baseball man who will be able to surround himself with really good baseball men, who in turn can get him good reliable information, so he can make sound, productive trades. Moves that will make changes in this ball club in a positive way. His expertise is in free agency and contracts. Making smart quality trades comes with experience over many years of remembering what did and didn’t work. Shake it up a bit with free agents and see what happens is not the answer here. They have to be smart, bold and work at making good trades. Never being satisfied with what they have. Being willing to trade a good loyal player for a bundle of good prospects.

John Hart told me one time that he just needed two prospects out of ten to make it to the major leagues and that is why you trade “one big fish for ten guppies”. Kind of worked for him for 26 years of building championship teams in Cleveland, Texas and Atlanta.

When you miss winning a championship by a hair, you can do a quick fix by spending a lot of money. The Mets missed by a football field. They need to look at their whole organization from the bottom up and begin to make changes that will make them solid for years to come. Not for just a year or two.

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