Now that the Mets’ losing streak has reached five and their stud pitcher couldn’t stop the bleeding, the fever pitch is rising in New York. Omar Minaya must do something, something, anything! This team is built to win now, the division is winnable, they’re still in it, and they just need some help while their studs are out. Go get someone!
The other side of the coin has imminently reasonable voices calling for calm. This team is built now, they’re still in it, and they just need some help while their studs are out, they say. That help will come from the pieces and parts that make up the bench and the high minors. The cupboard is already too bare, and Minaya needs to keep some bullets in the gun. Stand pat!
Both arguments center on one key discussion: what is the state of the farm system? The current prognosis is that the team doesn’t have any can’t-miss prospects, and is lacking in high-upside guys. The high minors don’t have much talent to trade away. Either way, an honest appraisal of the prospects in the system will let us know if the players could be traded or if the team really needs to hold on to some talent to keep the farm system viable. Starting with AAA and going down, we’ll take a look at some interesting prospects here at GBB, and render a decision: trade ‘em or keep ‘em!
Evans is actually in the major leagues, and getting some at-bats in a platoon with Daniel Murphy. The team seems to be looking to catch lightning in a bottle with Evans, and possibly ‘solve’ their temporary 1B problems with a Murphy/Evans platoon. We’ve talked about how Murphy’s career minor league split OPS against lefties is not great at .725. Well, at least Nick Evans can handle lefties: how about his .914 OPS against lefties in 421 minor league at-bats? So, play Evans against lefties and Murphy against righties, and you’ve got yourself a player that should approach an .800 OPS and give you decent offense.
But should that keep the team from trading Evans? His minor league progression has been very interesting. He started poorly and didn’t crack an .800 OPS in his first 500 plate appearances. In fact, he didn’t have a strong full year until he hit St. Lucie in his fourth pro year, and hit .286/.374/.476 and burst onto the Mets prospect scene. It does matter, though, that the park factor for St. Lucie in 2007 was a 1.15 for home runs, and that the park has played as a hitter’s haven for some time. And he still had those three full years of poor play behind him.
When he hit AA Binghamton and followed up with a .311/.365/.561 line, though, the Mets might have gotten a little giddy. Visions of Carlos Delgado‘s future replacement danced through their heads as they slept. Plans were made for him to begin this year at AAA and play his way into some major league time as needed.
Ooops. The old Evans showed up in Buffalo, and his .093/.218/.227 start was too much for the brass. He got demoted to Binghamton, and back in friendly confines, put up a mediocre .276/.350/.467 slash line in 117 at-bats until it didn’t matter what he was doing and the major league team needed a warm body. And now he’s playing well in the major leagues… in very few at-bats.
There will be some that will say that he’s a keeper. Murphy is done, they’ll say, and thank heavens for Evans! That’s a bit short-sighted. There’s not actually that much to like about Evans: as he’s advanced in the minor league system, his strikeout rate has gotten worse, and his walk rate (mediocre at around 8%) has stayed the same. His .462 slugging percentage in the minors is nothing to write home about, and both of his career years in the minors came in parks that played as hitters parks.
This is not to rain on the parade. He might be a really good fourth outfielder and backup first baseman. He may even rise to about an average level as a first baseman. In a platoon situation, he can rake against lefties and can help in the short-term.
But the fact is, he’s more likely to be fringe major leaguer over the long run. And if any other team likes him more than that, the verdict should be: TRADE HIM!