Framing Questions for the 2014 New York Mets

By John Bernhardt

August 5, 2013 1 Comment

Wilmer-Flores

Larry Brooks penned a thought provoking column in a recent New York Post that magnifies the dilemma facing the Mets front office in deciding how to play out the remainder of the 2013  season. A decent month of July baseball energized the Met faithful and made the Citi Field product a whole lot more satisfying to the palette. Yet, a reality check of any sort, especially with the loss of David Wright for an extended period of time, adds clarity to the Mets mission for the remainder of 2013.

The Mets need to be using the available time left in the season to evaluate personnel to decide who fits into the bigger picture moving forward.

That does not mean the Mets simply fold the tent and give up on the current campaign. Every game has meaning, every game should be played hard, and every game should be played to win. Within that framework, Brooks maintains the starting lineup should reflect the Mets purpose in using the remaining months of the season to learn as much as possible about targeted personnel to build their framework for 2014.

Brooks builds his piece around the case of former Met shortstop Ruben Tejada. Using what I call framing questions, it might be fruitful to ask, “Which shortstop, Omar Quintanilla or Ruben Tejada, has more pay value as the 2014 starting shortstop for the Mets?”

If the answer to that question is Omar Quintanilla, then it is Quintanilla whose name should be penciled in on the lineup card nearly every day. If it’s not, and the Mets feel Tejada has more future pay value, then why is Tejada manning the shortstop spot in Las Vegas rather than Citi Field?

The Brooks argument is a valid one. I love Quintanilla’s spark and passion at shortstop. But, a side-by-side comparison of Tejada and Quintanilla’s stats fall heavily on the side of Tejada. To begin with Tejada is 23 years old and Quintanilla 31. Tejada hit over .280 in two of his first three seasons in the major leagues. In eight seasons of most part time big league service Quintanilla has never batted higher than .257.

It’s possible neither Tejada or Quintanilla will be considered as part of Met long-term personnel planning. For the immediate, these two shortstops are the most likely guys in the organization to be on a major league roster next season. The guy on the lineup card each day should reflect the player the Mets most need to learn about, the player they feel has the best long term value. To Brook’s way of thinking, and mine, that’s Ruben Tejada.

You could use framing questions to make sense of other issues facing the Mets. The loss of David Wright could be answered in a similar way. Do the Mets believe Justin Turner or Josh Satin might have pay value as starting infielders on the 2014 team or might their be more pay value in using the time Wright spends on the DL to learn about and evaluate where Wilmer Flores might fit?

Flores is hitting .322 with 15 home runs and 86 RBIs in Triple-A in Las Vegas. Those who minimize the Flores stats because of the light air and long ball potential in the Pacific Coast League should remember the impressive numbers he logged in stops in St. Lucie and Binghamton last season; a combined batting average of .300 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. Do successive years of minor league production at the highest levels earn Flores a look?

Is Juan Lagares a future pieces as the center fielder of the Mets? What is the pay value of a Lucas Duda return in left field? Or perhaps, which first baseman, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda or Josh Satin, figures most prominently in future Mets plans?

Using framing questions takes the emotion out of decision making and adds clarity to the direction the Mets should be taking for the remainder of the season. Yes, it would be satisfying if the Mets could play one-up and one-down baseball for the remainder of the season. And, yes it would be satisfying if somehow they might catch the Nats or Phillies and at long last escape fourth place.

Yet, if the Met goal is to emerge as contenders as quickly as possible, perhaps even during the 2014 season, whether we land in third or fourth or win 70 or 75 games in 2013 has little significance. Far more important is learning as much as we can about personnel to help shape informed decisions post season to better the roster for 2014.

  • MS

    I agree 100%. I’m glad Lagares is finally getting the bulk of the PT in CF. Watching Nieuwenheis for all those months was getting brutal. I was sooo confused by why the mets called up Baxter to replace the DL’ed Wright. The guy is a pinch hitter and 5th OF. I really want to see what Flores can do, and see if he can stick somewhere in the infield other than 1st base due to his reported lack of range. On the Duda/Davis/Satin issue, I have had more than enough of Duda for a lifetime… he just screams “SOFT” to me. Satin gave us a lift for a couple weeks, but I see him as a utility man, and he should be used as such. This pains me to say, but I think Davis is who we need to see more of. The potential he flashed 2-3 years ago is unmatched by either of the others and it would be great to see him return to form (I won’t hold my breath). Another option there is to see if Flores can play a little 1B.

    The shortstop question is a little trickier for me because although i agree that Tejada is definitely more likely to be in the Mets’ long term plans, I think Quintanilla gives the Mets defense up the middle (covering for the average Murphy defense) that really helps the growth of their young pitchers and teaches them to be comfortable attacking the strike zone and trusting the D can make plays on contact… But then again Terry Collins obviously doesn’t care because he was content to rip Wheeler a new one yesterday. The flip side is that Tejada did flash a nice glove the last couple years, and I’d like to see more of that as well.

    i think depodesta said that there are a lot of people who need AB’s, referring to guys like Turner and Satin. These guys are luxury pieces, and are generally replaceable, so we shouldn’t be wasting Flores’ potential at bats on them.