You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Mets
Could Dom (Smith) be traded to a team that needs a DH and what’s his value in return? — @Maroon195
Smith doesn’t have a full-time role with the Mets, but team officials shouldn’t be in a rush to trade him unless they find an exceptional deal. Among the considerations is the fact Yoenis Cespedes’ contract expires after this season, and Smith could fit nicely in a left field/DH/first base role in the future. Maybe Robinson Cano becomes the primary DH, with Jeff McNeil at second, J.D. Davis at third and Smith in left field. Smith is only 25 and won’t be arbitration eligible until after the 2021 season. He adapted nicely to a part-time and pinch-hitting role last year and is exactly the type of player winning teams need. That said, if the Mets could get a near-major league ready starting pitcher for Smith, they would have to consider it. But such a deal would probably involve additional pieces.
Do you think they will stretch out [Seth] Lugo and go with six starters in a shortened season? — @Alorch44
It would be surprising if they went in that direction. If anything, they might shorten the rotation and employ a four-man, giving Jacob deGrom an opportunity to pitch more often. But they could also stay with the five-man set and skip over somebody if they want to get additional starts for deGrom.
With this version of spring training set for just three weeks, starting pitchers will hardly be stretched out by the time the season begins. That will keep a reliever such as Lugo, who can pitch multiple innings in relief, a valuable commodity. If the Mets decide on a four-man rotation, Michael Wacha could potentially slide into a Lugo role in the bullpen. For the first two weeks of the regular season, at least, you would expect to see plenty of pitchers used.
Do you think a shorter season benefits the Mets? — @trickyy16
Cespedes’ expected return to the lineup is already a potential advantage, but I saw the Mets as a team set to contend for the NL East title before the shutdown in March. The teams that didn’t have much of a shot heading into the initial spring training might be the biggest winners. Take the Marlins, who lost 105 games last season. There was a 60-game stretch in 2019 in which they went 29-31 (not great, but they were competitive at least). Everything will be so magnified. During a normal season, losing a player for two weeks to the injured list usually isn’t a big deal. Now if you lose a player for 15 days, it’s the equivalent of 5 ½ weeks in a normal season.
I doubt Brodie Van Wagenen saw Jarred Kelenic as the top prospect he currently is when he traded with Seattle. He gave up quickly on Travis d’Arnaud, who had a productive year with Tampa Bay. Are you concerned about Van Wagenen’s ability as a talent evaluator? — William Kreudl
It’s not so much that Van Wagenen traded Kelenic — no prospect, even a stud, should be untouchable — but the return has been extremely underwhelming at this point. If Edwin Diaz was a dependable closer last season and Cano had performed at a high level, allowing the Mets to reach the postseason, the Kelenic trade would be much easier for the general manager to defend. Likewise, if Kelenic turns out an average major leaguer or even a bust, it doesn’t exonerate Van Wagenen, given he could have used that trade chip in a more productive manner.
Van Wagenen’s background as an agent, not as a talent evaluator, means he must lean heavily on top lieutenants Allard Baird, Adam Guttridge and Omar Minaya. Ultimately Van Wagenen has to decide whose opinion in the organization should carry the most weight.
Gary Carter’s Hall of Fame plaque depicts him with the Montreal Expos. No question he had some great years there, but Carter will always be remembered more as a Met (similar to Reggie Jackson with the Yankees). Do you think this might be changed down the road? Remember, the Expos don’t even exist anymore. — James Sena
Technically, the Expos still exist in the form of the Washington Nationals. But since that franchise seems to identify more with the original Washington Senators (who became the Minnesota Twins), the Expos in reality are non-existent. To your larger point, Jackson’s representation with the Yankees probably doesn’t occur without his three-homer game that put an exclamation point on the 1977 World Series. It was a performance that transcended the sport and elevated Jackson to Yankees royalty. Carter was an integral piece of the 1986 Mets, but the bulk of his Hall of Fame résumé was built with the Expos. His plaque in Cooperstown has it right.
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