What Mets could learn from Braves and Astros, regardless of who runs baseball operations

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen treated art with faded background
Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen treated art with faded background

As the World Series grinds toward a conclusion, it’s worth noting that the Braves and Astros have something in common the Mets could learn from, no matter who winds up being their primary decision-maker on the baseball side.

That is, both teams largely fixed broken parts of their ballclub at the trade deadline with aggressive deal-making, and they did so without giving up Top 10-type prospects.

You’ve surely heard by now about how Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos re-made his entire outfield by acquiring Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler, all of whom have had a major impact, both in leading the ballclub’s late-season surge to the NL East title and delivering during this postseason.

Yet Astros GM James Click made similarly impactful trades to shore up a thin bullpen, acquiring Kendall Graveman, Phil Maton, and Yimi Garcia. Graveman and Maton, in particular, have been vital for the Astros in this postseason that to a large degree has been a battle of the bullpens.

Meanwhile, the Mets went for the big-splash move in getting Javy Baez (and journeyman pitcher Trevor Williams), while giving up their 2020 No. 1 draft choice, speedy center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong.

And while it’s fair to say there wasn’t much quality starting pitching available to address their biggest need at the time, it’s also fair to say the Mets would have benefited from the types of moves the Astros and Braves made, considering their bullpen gave up way too many killer home runs late in the season and their offense never did come to life.

Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, if indeed Jacob deGrom was never coming back from his elbow injury. Or would that plan have changed had the Mets stayed in contention all the way to the end of the season? DeGrom says he would have returned. It’s worth remembering they still had a reasonable shot as late as mid-September, before they completely collapsed, losing 10 of their next 11 games.

Anyway, the point is that the Braves and Astros did more, specifically in terms of volume, while giving up less, which in retrospect appears to be revealing in a couple of ways, at least in the eyes of scouts and executives I asked to evaluate the Mets’ situation.

“First of all, they need to beef up their farm system,” one scout said. “They have some quality talent at the top, but they lack the kind of depth that might have allowed them to be more aggressive at the deadline. I look at what the Yankees did, and though it didn’t work out with (Joey) Gallo, getting him and (Anthony) Rizzo without giving up anyone in their Top 10 (prospects) spoke to the depth in their system.

“And then I think the Mets need someone who will come in there and be a little more creative. Sandy (Alderson) tends to be on the conservative side. The one knock I’ve heard over the years about him is that he tends to focus on one move at a time, where some other GMs have several possible deals in the works at the same time.”

Another exec who has made trades with Alderson added: “Sandy can be deliberate. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Everybody has a process. I’ll leave it at that.”

In any case, it should be noted that sources in the Mets’ organization say it was Zack Scott who pushed to make the Baez trade, and was given the freedom to do so (with Steve Cohen’s approval) after Alderson decided at some point last summer that he could trust the acting GM’s judgment.

Of course, trusting Scott’s judgment took on a whole different meaning in the case of Scott’s DUI arrest in August (for which he’s no longer with the organization, SNY’s Andy Martino reported on Monday), but the point is that Alderson seemingly is ready and willing to step aside as the primary decision-maker on baseball matters.

Could that change depending on their ongoing search for a president of baseball operations or a GM? It’s certainly possible depending on the level of experience of the person (or persons) they hire.

With that in mind, the people I spoke to believe it’s critical the Mets find the right person as they head into an offseason with seemingly endless possibilities.

“I see them as almost at a crossroads right now,” said an exec who knows Alderson well. “If deGrom wasn’t there I’d say they should re-tool for a year, let their high-ceiling prospects get closer to the big leagues to give them some flexibility in their roster maneuvering. Right now, I don’t think they have enough pitching, but deGrom gives them a shot if he’s healthy, and their owner wants to go for it.

“So that puts their baseball ops people in a position where they need to make some potentially difficult calls. They had a lot of players underperform so do they trust them all to bounce back? Can they get value if they trade some of them? Where do they spend their money in free agency?

“There are a lot of ways they can re-shape the roster if they’re willing to take some chances, and I think they need to do that, because they haven’t played to their talent level. It’s asking a lot for someone new to come in there and maybe think a little outside the box and be bold in making player moves in addition to hiring the right manager.

“That’s why it’s so important for them to get this hire right. They’ve got some good players but they’re not a ready-made contender. I believe the moves they make will be crucial to their level of success next year.”

It’s something for Mets fans to think about as they watch the World Series decided in part by the moves rival GMs made at last summer’s trade deadline.