Friday, December 19, 2014

Wrong Direction

The scuttlebutt flying around today involves the Mets, which is strange for December, but given that the Jets and Gnats both stink, the Knicks are even worse and nobody can get it up enough for the Rangers (and the Islanders are a non-entity), why not the Mets? The discussion centers around a trade that hasn't been made but has been talked about plenty, involving the Colorados and their all-World Shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki.

It's no secret that Tulo is a great Shortstop. He has been for several seasons, and what's more, he's one of those players that can actually hit in Citi Field, since he came in one year and hit something like 6 Home Runs in 3 days, or at least it felt like that. The resume speaks for itself; he's been an All Star 4 times, and he's got two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. With the Mets in need of a Shortstop since nobody seems too keen on Wilmer Flores (and everyone's given up on Ruben Tejada), well, a trade for Tulowitzki on paper makes a lot of sense.

But it's not the right move, in spite of several arguments to the contrary that I've heard.

Tulowitzki is a great player. That's not up for debate. But it goes against pretty much every principle that Sandy Alderson has been building towards. This might not be the world's most popular argument, but it's the truth. Tulowitzki right now is set to make $20 million a year for the next several years, with a contract that runs through 2021 and owes him $114 million in total. The Mets right now as they're comprised have a low payroll and ownership that won't spend for better or worse, and since you can't force an owner out (or at least not until someone catches Ratso Wilpon screaming racial epithets on video), this is what we've got. This means little now since the Mets don't have a lot of high-priced players, but if we're to believe that the guys here are going to continue their budding success, they'll have to get paid at some point, and sooner rather than later.

And, sure, Tulo is probably worth the money he's making, but he's got to be playing in order to make that work, and in his 9-year career, Tulo has played over 150 games twice. Injuries have been a major issue for Tulo, and in case you were wondering why we haven't seen Tulo playing when the Colorados have come to Citi Field the past few seasons, well, it's because he's always hurt. Injuries limited him to 47 games in 2012, 126 games in 2013 and a major hip injury cut his season to 91 games last season. And how major was that hip injury? Remember the hip injury Carlos Delgado had in 2009? He needed hip labrum surgery and it was Goodnight, Sweetheart for his career. I bring this up because that's the same injury Tulowitzki had last season and he's yet to prove he can return to his normal high level of play.

Then, there's the question of ransom. The Colorados are choking under his contract and his string of injuries and would happily get rid of him, but it's clear that they're not just going to give him away. The word is that Noah Syndergaard would have to be the centerpiece of the deal from the Mets' end of things, but what else are the Colorados asking for? Nobody's brought up what it would cost the Mets. Word is a second pitcher would need to be involved; nobody's quite sure what level pitcher but you'd have to assume at least Rafael Montero, and then even MORE! This goes against pretty much everything the Mets have done over the past 5 seasons. Why spend all this time breaking things down and rebuilding the farm system only to gut everything just when it seems like it's about to pay off? The hot word is that the Mets fans that are up in arms about Tulo and why they don't spend money "would go batshit" if they knew what the Colorados were asking in return.

The bottom line here is that it's a nice pipedream to think of Tulo coming to the Mets, but that's all it is, and that's all it probably should be. There's no indication as to what he'll be after so many seasons lost to injury, and it smacks of a replay of Jason Bay more than anything else. My feeling was summed up rather concisely by a caller on WFAN early this afternoon. If the Mets wanted an expensive, injury prone Shortstop, they would have kept Jose Reyes. In fact, Jose Reyes seems a much more attractive option for the Mets if you really believe THEY GOTS TA HAVE a better Shortstop. I know there's no particular discussion involving him and who knows if Toronto even wants to deal him, but you'd have to imagine he'd cost the Mets less than Tulo would, and lord knows Reyes would probably run back to the Mets in a second, since he a) Hates the Astroturf in Toronto's cave of a stadium and b) Loved playing here. It doesn't sound quite as crazy now as it did a few years ago.

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