Many individuals within the New York Mets community are quick to point the finger when things aren't going swimmingly.
Manager Terry Collins has been getting shellacked for his decisions—both strategic and personnel—on a nightly basis, but it's clear that the Mets' 13-17 record doesn't fall on the skipper's shoulders.
His boss, general manager Sandy Alderson, is the punch line of countless jokes for his offseason acquisitions—or lack thereof—and rightfully so. Some of the onus falls on the Wilpons for their lack of ownership financial flexibility, but Alderson had some personnel moves that were there to be made and weren't.
The offseason is in the past and can't be changed now, but that doesn't mean that with some crafty moves, the Mets can't improve their roster before the season is over.
Alderson's current roster isn't pathetic, but it's far from being able to compete in the National League. One acquisition isn't going to make this team a contender.
Teams face similar situations all the time—too far along to blow it up, but not far along enough to go with what they have. The primary fix for such situations are deadline moves.
Luckily for the Mets, they have some trade bait for teams that can improve with the addition of just one player.
Nobody inside or outside of Major League Baseball thought catcher John Buck would lead the Mets with 10 home runs and 29 RBI on May 9. Heck, most people probably didn't think that Buck would reach the double-digit threshold in long balls for the entire season, let alone through 100 at-bats.
Buck is the Mets' top producer at the dish this season and has done an exceptional job of calling games for the entire staff. He has worked especially well with the Mets' pitching staff—most notably Matt Harvey, who is the team's most prized asset as well as a young arm in need of guidance at the early stages of his career. The 32-year-old Wyoming native has been a blessing for the offensively anemic Mets.
Don't fool yourself, however. Buck isn't going to keep up this pace for the rest of the season. His 10 homers are just two shy of his 2012 total and exactly half of his career high of 20. He has been decent against both lefties and righties this season, but if his power numbers don't hold up, there will be more people complaining about his .245 average.
Buck is just 6-for-32 with two walks over his last eight contests, and is hitting a putrid .186 over his last 70 at-bats. For those who can't read between the lines, Buck is regressing toward the mean—rapidly.
Even though Travis d'Arnaud's career hit a slight snag when he fractured his foot earlier this season, the young catcher is still looming in Triple-A for the Mets. Buck obviously isn't the catcher of the future and his contract is up at the end of the season so Alderson should try to maximize his value and send him elsewhere.
Most teams wouldn't sacrifice much more than an adequate bullpen arm for a 34-year-old catcher who is in the midst of a power surge. However, the good news for the Mets is that a bullpen arm is just what they need. Met relievers have been much better as of very late, but the last few seasons have been a roller coaster in the 'pen, so some solidification there would be welcome.
Daniel Murphy's .284 batting average may be a bit below what the Mets expected of him at this point in the season, but there are major league teams who would love to have Murphy's bat anywhere in their lineup.
Murphy is a contact hitter with impressive gap-to-gap power and a developing knowledge of the strike zone, but he isn't the future second baseman of the organization.
Seeing as Murphy is now in his fifth season with the club, it is unfair to call him a stopgap at second base, but he definitely isn't the long-term solution at the position either. Although Murphy has done an exceptional job of learning how to play second base, he would be a hot commodity as a designated hitter for an American League team.
His home run power is nonexistent, but he more than compensates for that in the doubles column with 40, 28 and 38 two-baggers in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Fans love the long ball, but sensible general managers have no issue investing in top doubles guys.
It's no coincidence that Murphy's name has swirled around the rumor mill prior to the past two season trade deadlines. The majority of rumors were something along the lines of Murphy for a bullpen arm, but the Mets chose not to pull the trigger.
Alderson will be hard-pressed to pull off a better swap than that unless Murphy is part of a bigger package, but Murphy can help out his general manager by going on a tear for the next two months.
Lucas Duda is one of the more perplexing hitters in the Mets' lineup.
He has been hailed as a valuable power bat since his days in the minors, but those claims have yet to come to fruition in the big leagues. Duda followed up his 10-homer 2011 campaign with 15 dingers last season and hit his seventh of the season Wednesday night against the White Sox.
He's far from an enigma in left field though, as it is clear that Duda will forever be a significantly below-average fielder due to his large frame and lumbering nature.
That would make him a less-than-ideal acquisition for a National League team, but clubs in the American League aren't always worried about defensive prowess when they are attempting to acquire a lefty power bat.
Another aspect of Duda's game that plays right into designated hitter ball is his discipline at the plate, and vision of the strike zone. His on-base percentage is at an all-time high right now, hovering just below the .400 mark. That's in spite of his .239 average so Duda will have his suitors at the deadline if he can continue to show his power.
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