The Mets’ Decision to Call Up Conforto Was Not Done to Placate the Fans
From what has felt like the very first pitch of the season, Mets’ fans have been clamoring for the team to do something anything to address the team’s dumpster fire of an offense. In recent weeks, the fans began pointing to last year’s first round pick, Michael Conforto, as the potential offensive upgrade the team has been looking for. Indeed, after the most recent displays of offensive ineptitude (see here and here), the collective voice of the fans begging for the promotion of the fourteenth-rated prospect in baseball reached resounding heights.
Today, the Mets announced that Conforto was being called up from AA to take the roster spot of DL-bound Michael Cuddyer.
When this move was announced, Twitter exploded with celebration from Mets fans. However, this jovial tone somewhat dissipated as the continued distrust of the front office began creeping back in:
Were the Mets calling up Conforto solely to placate the fan base?
Was this move done to help soften the blow when the Mets fail to upgrade their offense through a trade?
Isn’t this call-up a surefire indication that the Mets do not intend to make any other significant moves by the trade deadline?
I don’t think so, no.
Calling up Conforto and the Mets potential for making a trade should not be viewed as interrelated subjects. The decision to bring Conforto to the majors was a logical one, based solely on the circumstances at hand.
With Cuddyer heading to the disabled list, the Mets had an everyday opening in left field. Looking at the options immediately available to the Mets (i.e., major league roster, minor leagues, and street free agents), the Mets had to assess which player would have the best chance of providing offensive support.
Well, the last four months have proven that there is no one on the current roster:
John Mayberry: .165/.229/.321/.550
Kirk Nieuwenhuis .161/.223/.345/.568
Eric Campbell .176./.299/.277/.576
Daniel Muno .154/.267/.192/.459
At AAA, Darrell Ceciliani was having a nice season and is on the forty man roster. But, in his brief stint with the Mets this season has batted .206/.270/.279/.550 over 68 at-bats. While this would actually be an improvement, Cecillani does not project as an everyday player and is also on the minor league disabled list.
Travis Taijeron’s counting numbers at AAA look good on paper (.274//.397/.508/.904 with 15 homeruns and 46 RBI over 266 at-bats). However, he has also struck out 104 times (!), and he is not on the forty-man roster. The rest of the potential options at AAA are all re-treads (28-year-old Alex Castellanos – .171 career hitter in majors; 29-year-old Brandon Allen – .203 career hitter in majors) who are not on the forty-man roster.
In this situation, Sandy Alderson did what any good general manager should do. He made an assessment of the potential options, and chose the one that provided the most likely chance of success: Conforto.
Conforto’s promotion is not a referendum on the Mets’ prospects for making a trade; it was simply the best possible maneuver under the given circumstances.
Now, whether the Mets have the capacity to and actually do make a trade is a whole other conversation.