This is part two of the 2011 Mets Trade value Series. If you missed it, click here for part one and the rules.
Group 4: The B Team
20. Dillon Gee, starting pitcher – Gee’s great control and below-average stuff means few walks, a lot of strikeouts, and a lot of home runs; his last name means plenty of bad Post headlines.
19. Reese Havens, second baseman – .978 OPS this season and .830 OPS in the minors overall, but Havens has played just 152 games over three seasons, and just 32 this past year. The 22nd pick of the 2008 draft can’t keep himself on the field; a healthy 2011 will send his stock back up.
18. Cesar Puello, outfielder – A stockier Carlos Gomez, if Carlos Gomez raised his OBP by getting hit by a lot of pitches . . . and was better at baseball. Puello posted a .375 on-base percentage, 45 steals and 8 outfield assists from right as a 19 year old at Single-A, but just 1 home run.
17. Juan Urbina, pitcher – Son of Ugueth. Lefthanded, throws in the low nineties with good control, doesn’t turn eighteen until May. Long way off, so forget about him for a while, but has value as an easily projected prospect.
16. Jeurys Familia, pitcher – Live arm at Advanced-A (137 strikeouts in 121 innings), but command issues. Familia has value because of his age (21 this season) and the strikeouts. He might fall under my “overrated because of an odd name” theory.
15. 14. Cory Vaughn, outfielder and Aderlin Rodriguez, third baseman – Vaughn, Greg’s son and the Mets’ fourth round pick in the 2010 draft, hit .305/.396/.557 for Low-A Brooklyn this season. Rodriguez is a big teenage third baseman who showed good power in rookie ball, but 22 errors in 66 games doesn’t reflect well on his defense. Wait and see how both do against more advanced pitching next season — though in the case of Vaughn and Urbina, when it comes to baseball prospects, never bet against nepotism.
13. R.A. Dickey, starting pitcher – Threw 235 innings between the majors and minors last season . . . Dickey is the first major league player I had ever spoken with. It was back in September of this year — just my second time in the locker room — and I was still nervous as all hell. For my first couple questions, I don’t think my voice ever cracked a whisper; I was also partially distracted the whole conversation trying to figure out what exactly Dickey was eating. (It looked like red beans and corn in milk, which I suspect is something Southern that I’m unfamiliar with.) I’m really, really glad no one has that on tape. Anyway, I asked him about throwing the knuckleball at different speeds. Dickey said it was something he had messed around with before, but 2010 was the first season he’d felt comfortable changing speeds in games. According to Dickey, all he had to do to vary his speed was to stay back over the rubber different times, which allowed him to throw the knuckleball, the slow knuckleball, and the slower knuckleball. He even loosely quoted Warren Spahn in his explanation, saying, “As a student of the game, I recognized that hitting is timing, and pitching is disturbing that timing.” Then he ate some more of the bean-corn thing.
I suspect that the different knuckleball speeds were part of the secret to Dickey’s success in 2010, and because of that I’m inclined to think his year was no fluke. My guess is that he makes $4 million dollars in arbitration this season, as his best comparison is Tim Wakefield, who has made about that with the Red Sox every season since 2003. If the Mets can lock him up for two years, $7 million, sign me up. Dickey would rank much higher on this list with an extension, but is only under team control for 2011 at the moment.
12. Matt Harvey, pitcher – The seventh overall pick of the 2010 draft, Harvey throws a mid-nineties sinker, but questions linger about his control and secondary offerings. He could arrive in the majors by 2012 if everything goes right this year.
11. Josh Thole, catcher – Jason Kendall with less power and batting gloves. Thole is under team control for at least the next five years. If he can float his OPS above .700 by taking lessons at the “Luis Castillo school of never swinging for slap-hitters” and throw a baserunner out every once in a while, he’ll be acceptable.
10. Bobby Parnell, relief pitcher – In 2010, Parnell’s fastball averaged 96.5 MPH, which was the fifth fastest in the majors. He struck out 33 against just 8 walks (2 intentional) in 35 major league innings in 2010, and kept the ball down, generating ground balls and allowing just a single home run. It looked like he sort of figure it all out once he was called up.
That said, Parnell has given up a lot of hits at every level as he’s progressed. I’m hesitant to blame all of it on poor defenses and the sabermetric BAbip fairy. Some pitchers actually do give up more hits than others, and Parnell might be one of those dudes. That being the case, the 96.5 MPH is still cool and he’s under team control for five more years, so Parnell has trade value as a potential closer/setup man. Provided he can limit the hits, and something happens to Frankie Rodriguez, Parnell might be your 2012 closer.
9. Fernando Martinez, disabled list – This is high, but I’m still a believer. He’s been injured and rushed, which means, much like me, Martinez has no idea how to play baseball at a high level. Thus, he has no real approach at the plate. Don’t-call-my-name Fernando did put up a .222 isolated slugging percentage in Triple-A the past two years as a 20 and 21 year old, which means that even with no real approach, he’s hitting the ball hard whenever he makes contact. The arthritis in the knee is bad and limits him to a corner, but that might be a good idea anyway. If and when he plays enough to figures it out, look out.
Group 5: The Big Trade Chips
8. Jose Reyes, shortstop – A single year left on his current deal, injuries, and a down period lowers his value, but if Reyes returns to his 2006-2008 form, he jumps to at least #5 on this list. At the moment, however, I’m still assuming the 2010 version is the new Reyes.
If he repeats last season, Reyes is worth a tick more than the $11 million he’ll make; he’s also likely be a type-A free agent at the end of the year, netting his former team two valuable draft picks if he signs elsewhere. The two potential draft picks and a severe shortage of talented shortstops bumps his value way up — if the Mets consider moving Reyes at the trading deadline this season, the bidding might become too insane not to do it. I can envision Brian Sabean and Doug Melvin having a contest to see who can destroy the remainder of their farm system first.
7. Jenrry Mejia, pitcher – Have you ever seen Mejia look upset, or flustered, or frustrated? He’s unshakably confident, almost to the point that it’s a little bit weird. It seems like he could give up twenty hits in a row and still be absolutely convinced he was going to strike the next guy out on three pitches. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but I’d suspect that it’s good; he might not have survived the abuse of the previous front office if that wasn’t the case.
6. Wilmer Flores, soon-to-be-former-shortstop – The best hitting prospect in the Mets system, Flores doesn’t turn 20 until August 2011. He hit .300 after a promotion to the Florida State League this year, where he was easily the youngest player; most of the pitchers were four or five years older. Baseball America ranked him the #88 best prospect in baseball last offseason, but that’s going to jump up after this year.
Group 6: Where Morlocks live (The Core)
5. Angel Pagan, outfielder – Now has 1,009 plate appearances over the past two years that say, “Hey! I’m really awesome at just about everything.” One of the ten or eleven best outfielders in baseball, and a worthy successor to Carlos Beltran in center field. Pagan is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons, but probably won’t make too much because his skill set is varied and undervalued.
4. Jon Niese, starting pitcher – 190 innings per season and a 4.10 ERA for the next five years is really valuable. Niese won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2013, and young, cheap pitching is baseball’s gold standard.
3. Mike Pelfrey, starting pitcher – Pelfrey and Niese are interchangeable in value, depending on what you’re looking for. Pelfrey is a better pitcher at the moment — if only because he throws more innings — but is arbitration eligible for the next three seasons, making him more expensive than Niese. A team in win-now mode would rather have Pelfrey, but a team building for the next few years would rather have Niese. These two make nice rotation pieces for at least the next three years, but the problem is the other three slots.
2. Ike Davis, first baseman – Davis’ walks and strikeouts from month to month this season:
The league adjusted to him in June; Davis adjusted back by September, when he hit .330/.427/.524. His 72 walks are the most by a rookie first baseman since Jeff Bagwell walked 75 times in 1991. Davis will be 24 this season, and is controlled by the Mets through the 2015 season. He’s not going to be a superstar, but he’ll be better than Adam LaRoche, and Davis might make an All-Star game and win a gold glove somewhere along the way. With a big year, he has a chance to take over the top spot on this list.
1. David Wright, third baseman – Over the past two seasons, Wright has hit .307, posted a .390 on-base percentage, hit 29 home runs, and stolen 27 bases — only he hasn’t done all those things in the same year. He can still do it all, but not at once. The power came back last year at the expense of the average; he still seems to change his batting stance every two months. Wright’s fielding at third base has become pretty ugly, particularly going towards the line … and that whole throwing the baseball thing. There’s something weird going on, and hopefully the new coaching staff can figure it out.
Even with all that stuff — the bad fielding, the power drop, the strikeouts — Wright is still the Mets’ best player. His bad seasons would be career years for a majority of the team. Wright is signed for $45 million dollars over the next three seasons, and has the ability to rattle off a monster MVP season any of those years. He is their most valuable trade chip.
Okay, that’s the full list. Arguments will once again be accepted in the comments.