Zack Wheeler

Marc Carig on Hot Stove Show: Low OBP 'a strike against' Yoenis Cespedes for Mets

November 07, 2014 - 4:45 am
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In an interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show, Mets beat reporter Marc Carig or Newsday described New York's National League club as being "somewhere in between" as they chart an offseason course, particularly as it pertains to the possibility of dealing starting pitchers. At a time when Matt Harvey is expected back for the start of next season, the team has a number of high-end talented young pitchers from which to deal -- including Rookie of the Year finalist Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.69, 9.2 Ks/9 in 140 1/3 innings in 2014), right-hander Zack Wheeler (11-11, 3.54, 9.1 Ks/9 in 185 1/3 innings) and top prospect Noah Syndergaard (a 22-year-old with a 3.25 ERA, 10.0 Ks/9 and 2.6 walks per nine in his minor league career, including a 4.60 ERA in the hitter's paradise of Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014). The team's pitching inventory also includes less glamorous but nonetheless useful options such as left-hander Jon Niese (9-11 with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts in 2014, under contract for $16 million total over the next two years with two team options through 2018) and right-hander Bartolo Colon (15-13, 4.09 ERA in 202 1/3 innings in 2014; one year remaining on his two-year, $20 million deal). "They've certainly got some choices. They're somewhere in between," explained Carig. "Their two biggest needs are a corner outfielder with power, particularly a right-handed bat. That would be one. And right behind that would be a shortstop. I think any team that could offer one of those things to them becomes of extreme interest. Now it becomes a question of whether the Mets want to put in play their best trade chips. '€¦ "They've got a really good core of young arms who would make a deal go. We're taking Noah Syndergaard, their top pitching prospect, Jacob deGrom, who's probably going to be the Rookie of the Year. It's those guys where they've got to decide, are we going to put that in play? Zack Wheeler had a very good first full season in the major leagues this year. If you start talking about those types of guys, now you've got the keys to the kingdom. Now you can make something happen. I don't think they've shown much indication of wanting to do that. So the second level would be some of the veteran pitchers they've got. "Now you're talking about the left-hander, Jon Niese, who's had his injury issues but when he's been healthy he's been pretty good. And then you've got a guy like Bartolo Colon, who at 11 million bucks is what he is. He's a guy you can plug into a rotation. Depending on how the market shakes out, that might be the going rate. That's a decision they must make, and that's why they're sort of caught in between, because if they put those higher end guys in play then I think a lot of options open up. But if they don't, I think they've got a juggling act here to try to make something out of Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon." Given the team's desire to acquire a corner outfielder with power, could the Mets view Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes as a possible target? "I think they're clearly intrigued by him because they need the power. But this is an organization that values on-base percentage and that's a strike against him," said Carig. "Let's put it this way. I think if the Red Sox would put him in play, I would imagine they would get better offers elsewhere. I can't imagine a scenario where the Mets are putting their better chips in play for a guy like Cespedes, just because for all the power he brings, that lack of being able to get on base is a big strike against him. I would think that would make them wary of really pursuing him super-hard going into the winter time." To listen to the complete interview with Carig, click here. To listen to the Hot Stove Show in its entirety, click here.