Mailbag: Did the Mets Miss on Adrian Gonzalez?

Mario asks:

Message Body:

I bet there will be a lot of Met fans wondering why Sandy didn’t try to trade for Adrian. What I’m wondering is what you think would be a comparable package of Mets prospects to that that the Red Sox had to give up. Would Mejia and Davis be a good starting point or did the Sox give up more?

Thanks,

Mario

Jenrry Mejia and Ike Davis are a good starting point, but the trade was actually a four-for-one. The Red Sox are also including Reymond Fuentes and a player-to-be-named-later.

I love Adrian Gonzalez and his original $5.5 million contract might be the best bargain in baseball. Of course, now the Sox will pay him like a king for many years beyond 2011.

So a comparable Mets package would have been Davis, Mejia AND Cesar Puello and someone on the level of the fourth player, who is not expected to be an impact-level guy.

The Padres picked up the top pitching and top hitting prospect in the Red Sox system. 

My favorite of the three is 21-year old 1B Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo hit .263/.334/.481 in AA, but .281/374/.531 after the All-Star Break.  He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 which forced him to miss nearly the entire season, but the cancer is in remission.  Keith Law compared Rizzo to a young Gonzlez, “Like Gonzalez, Rizzo is a plus-fielding, plus-makeup, power-hitting first baseman, although he’s probably a notch below Gonzalez as a pure hitter and has had some trouble with left-handed pitching so far in the minors.”  Also both played in Portland, ME as 20 year olds and their slash lines look remarkable similar: .263/.334/.481 for Rizzo and .266/.344/.437 for Gonzalez. 

The Red Sox paid Casey Kelly, who turned 21 in October, the fifth-highest bonus of the 2008 draft to buy him out of a football scholarship at Tennesee.  He split 2009 between pitching and hitting, and the Sox strangely skipped him over advanced-A in 2010 jumping him straight from the SAL to the AA Eastern League.  Not surprisingly, he struggled in AA as a 20-year old in his first full year pitching, with a 5.31 ERA, 118 hits 35 walks and 81 strikeouts in 95 innings.  Still as Kevin Goldstein wrote, “Kelly is definitely a player where the scouting reports trump the status.” Goldstein still sees a star in Kelly:“he still projects as a star-level rotation piece who will look even better pitching in San Diego.”

Fuentes is a toolsy centerfielder, who Baseball America ranked #9 in the SAL in 2010.  I argued here that Fuentes was overranked on a list when Wilmer Flores wasn’t ranked.  He and Puello put up very similar numbers in 2010.

I’m having a little trouble formatting tables today, but check it out:

G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO SB CS SF SAC HBP AVG OBP SLG BB% K% XBH%
Puello 109 404 118 22 1 6 32 82 45 10 1 10 22 .292 .375 .396 6.82 17.48 6.18
Fuentes 104 374 101 15 5 5 25 87 42 5 2 5 8 .270 .328 .377 6.04 21.01 6.04

As between Mejia, Davis and Puello or Rizzo, Kelly and Puello the consensus around baseball would prefer the ceilings of the Sox youngsters. Kelly in particular should stay a starter, while Mejia might well move to the bullpen. Of course, Davis is the only one in the big leagues so that counts for something. The description of Rizzo as a plus defender with power who struggled with lefties in the minors, could have fit Davis very well.