Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Trade Chatter

Sam R. Quinn@SamQuinn_Senior Analyst IIIJuly 26, 2013

Another year, another trade deadline at which the New York Mets will not be buyers.

Despite the fact that manager Terry Collins has his team playing its best baseball all season, the Mets need a lot more than one impact back to vault them into contender status.

Over the last five weeks, the Mets have been putting on a show of inspired baseball and are 20-13 over their last 33 games—the best record in their division since (h/t to ESPN's Marc Simon on Twitter).

But will the good vibes reverberating through Citi Field be enough to keep the fans at bay for the remainder of the season as the franchise attempts to take the next step in their somewhat unconventional rebuilding process?

Will the Mets stand pat? Will they sell?

We'll know for sure by the time next Wednesday rolls around, but for now, we'll play fact and fiction with the latest Mets trade chatter. 


Marlon Byrd Will Be Traded

Marlon Byrd only had 44 RBI in 2011 and 2012 combined, so when Sandy Alderson signed the 35-year-old journeyman outfield this spring to a one-year, $700,000 contract, he likely was not expecting much. In fact, he referred to the signing as a "favor" for someone (audio download here courtesy of Amazin' Avenue).

But, fortunately for the Mets lineup, someone wound up doing a favor for Alderson.

Byrd is absolutely raking this year when you take into account his team-friendly contract and could very well be the most economically efficient player not on a rookie deal. His surprising performance this year is right up there with the top outfielders in the National League, as he is in the top 10 in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR, as well as in the top five in home runs and RBI.

Yes, David Wright is hitting .305 with 15 home runs, 49 RBI and a near-.400 on-base percentage. The captain is also the cornerstone of the Mets franchise. But Byrd has been the most valuable hitter to don a Mets uniform in 2013.

The right fielder is on pace for a stellar 28 home runs and 94 RBI. Anyone who tells you he penciled him in for 28 homers and 94 RBI—or even 18 and 74, for that matter—is lying.

Wright has not surpassed the 28 home run mark since 2010, when he hit 29.

The word on Byrd around the Major League Baseball landscape, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin, is that there are a multitude of teams that are high on him, his contract and his production.

More specifically, the Texas Rangers have their eye on the Boynton Beach, Fla., native. CBS' Danny Knobler offered his insight via Twitter

Rangers clearly concerned about what will happen with Nelson Cruz. @JonHeymanCBS reported interest in Rios. Also watching Marlon Byrd.

— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) July 25, 2013

The question Alderson and his advisors/assistants must ask themselves pertains to the cost-benefit analysis of keeping Byrd versus trading him away.

Will the return he brings be worth depriving Terry Collins' lineup of its most important bat? Is it worth it to do exactly that? Is finishing out the season strong and building a base for 2014 more critical than bringing in one or two mid-level prospects? Is Byrd a candidate to be re-signed in the offseason?

These are points of contention that were likely brought up around this time last season when the Mets were deciding whether to trade Scott Hairston. They chose not to do so and then let Hairston walk the following offseason.

But, to put it simply, Byrd is better than Hairston, which means he means more to the overall production of the team but could also yield a higher return.

How much higher? That is what Alderson needs to determine. If he can finagle his way into an overwhelming deal, then Byrd will be out the door faster than you can realize. If he cannot, he will stick around.

I would say that Byrd's departure is certainly fiction.


Bobby Parnell Will be Traded

Believe it or not, Bobby Parnell is well on his way to becoming one of the premier closers in the National League, if not all of baseball.

In his first full season as a closer, Parnell has taken the reigns and is exceeding the lofty expectations that have been set for him throughout his six-year career. The 28-year-old fireballer who should be getting paid by Cholula for how frequently he reaches 95-plus on the gun, has finally figured himself out after four years as a late-inning reliever.

His 2.35 ERA is lower than those of Aroldis Chapman, Jason Grilli, Addison Reed and Sergio Romo. His .207 batting average against is 55 points lower than that of Jim Johnson and 52 points lower than that of Mariano Rivera, the No. 1 and No. 2 closers in terms of saves this season.

Parnell has spent his entire career with the Mets, but there have been grumblings throughout the media about the closer heading elsewhere before the deadline. Quite a few grumblings actually: one, two, three and many more.

Statistics are not the only aspects of a closer's game that hold weight. The extreme lows are magnified more than the extreme highs, which is why closers need to have short memories and impenetrable psyches.

Parnell has that. Not all closers do.

It is hard to find a closer who has the mental toughness to close games in New York. Rivera is the ultimate exception. Not the rule.

Speaking of New York closers, a former one switched teams this week, as Francisco Rodriguez wound up with the Baltimore Orioles. What does that have to do with the possibility of Parnell getting traded?

Metsblog's Michael Baron offers his insight via Twitter:

@Chris_G1989 @The_GrassyNol @Cavey10 Baltimore overpaid for K-Rod. But, that sets the bar for a Parnell trade, if the Mets choose to do that

— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) July 24, 2013

K-Rod has an ERA just above one this season, but it is in a small sample size (24.2 innings). He'll likely regress, as his .250 BABIP is nowhere near the league average of about .290 to .300 (via Fan Graphs).

The Milwaukee Brewers received Nick Delmonico from the Baltimore Orioles. Delmonico was the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles organization at the end of last season, according to Baseball America.

However, I do not think a No. 4 organizational prospect would be enough for Alderson to part with his closer.

A trade involving Parnell is fiction, as far as I am concerned. 


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