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New York Mets Should Focus on Carlos Gonzalez, Not Andre Ethier

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COMMENTARY | The New York Mets have stumbled to a 23-35 record in 2013. The main reason for this is their lack of offense. As a team, New York is hitting .226/.294/.369, which ranks among the worst in baseball. Despite being out of the playoff picture, Sandy Alderson has said the Mets could be buyers at the trade deadline next month, with the 2014 season in mind. The Los Angeles Dodgers are rumored to be interested in moving Andre Ethier, but this is not a player New York should attempt to acquire.

Ethier has had a tough season in Los Angeles, and it's easy to point to his .229/.315/.346 line as a reason to not work out a trade for him. However, the left-handed hitting outfielder has built a strong reputation for himself through his eight-year MLB career.

He's experienced four seasons of 20 or more home runs, and three seasons of 80 or more RBIs. Ethier has a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award to his name, as well as two All-Star selections. It was this body of work that earned the 31-year-old the five-year/$85 million extension he agreed to in 2012 with the Dodgers.

New York is in great need of proven outfielders with power. Outside of what he's done this season, Andre Ethier fits the profile of what they desire. With his 2013 struggles and the emergence of Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers may be willing to pay a significant portion of the $69 million he's owed from 2014 through 2017 to send him packing.

In order to get an outfield bat to improve their starting lineup, the Mets will need trade from their organizational strength, which is starting pitching. Top prospects like Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero are the types of pitchers who could eventually get traded.

I've come to terms with one of these attractive pitching prospects possibly getting traded to acquire outfield offense, but it shouldn't be for a player like Ethier. At the age of 31, he will quickly be past his prime (if he's not already), and would be on New York's roster until his age-35 season. That's not counting his $17.5 million option for 2018.

When looking to acquire a legitimate power threat, it's important to think about whether or not their current power numbers would translate to the pitcher-friendly confines of Citi Field. In 58 at-bats since the park opened in 2009, Ethier is hitting .276/.391/.375 with one home run and six RBIs.

The combination of his age, lack of production this season, and his poor statistics at Citi Field should lead the Mets to look elsewhere for a power bat.

If Sandy Alderson is prepared to package one of the organization's top pitching prospects for a proven MLB hitter, I'd rather see him pursue a younger player, like 27-year-old Carlos Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has historically been a better hitter at home than on the road, but he's done the complete opposite this season. While he's hitting .260/.351/.535 at Coors Field, Gonzalez has put together an impressive .348/.414/.696 line on the road. His .132 career batting average in 38 at-bats at Citi Field isn't pretty, but I would rather take a chance on a player of his caliber.

He's owed $63.5 million from 2014 through 2017, and will only be 31-years-old by the time his contract expires. That would allow the Mets to pay him during what should be the most productive years of his career. Also, the Colorado Rockies could use some young starting pitching to build around, making New York a natural trade partner.

Andre Ethier is a good ballplayer, but he doesn't have the kind of power potential moving forward the Mets should use to build their offense around. If they acquired someone like Gonzalez, he could form a tempting one-two punch with David Wright in the middle of New York's batting order.

Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as the Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net.

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