Andy Martino had a solid piece today discussing how many within the Mets’ clubhouse would like the team to add a right-handed hitting outfielder, rather than a bullpen arm. The reality is, as reflected in the article, both would be extremely helpful.
From my point of view, the bullpen needs to be addressed first. Sure, the Mets have struggled relative to their success against righties- a .681 OPS against lefties, .750 against righties. But on balance, the Mets are scoring plenty of runs. They are third in the National League in runs scored.
But they are absolutely not preventing them late in games. Their bullpen ERA is 5.11, worst in baseball by a significant margin. Adding relievers to mitigate that damage really ought to be first on the agenda.
It is true that any improvement is the same- that if they find a way to add 10 more runs of offense, that’s the same as finding a way to prevent ten more runs. But it also gets harder to make improvements from higher levels of performance. It requires better players, and those players will cost more in trade.
To find bullpen arms who will present upgrades over the current group? Yeah, that won’t take much.
One other area of possible improvement- a right-handed hitting catcher. Mike Nickeas has been worth -0.5 wins above replacement in 102 plate appearances. Josh Thole has a .610 OPS against lefties this year, .522 for his career. And in 95 plate appearances overall since returning from his latest concussion, Thole’s OPS is just .582.
So a right-handed hitting catcher who could step in full-time if Thole doesn’t improve would be awfully useful, as well.
Let’s not focus on the fact that Kelly Shoppach was available this offseason, and signed for just $1.3 million with the Red Sox. It’ll just irritate me all over again. He has an .881 OPS. Those financial limitations are indisputably the difference between this team’s unexpected success leading to wild card contention and, at the moment, aNL East division lead. Let’s hope they find a way to right some of those wrongs at the deadline. It’s not too late.