FROM MY RECLINER, NY — Let me tell you a story. That is what I love to do, after all.
It’s a story about a kid named Bill Mumphrey. For those who don’t know, Billy Mumphrey is a simple country boy — some might say, a cockeyed optimist — who got caught up in the dirty game of world diplomacy and international intrigue. Billy Mumphrey is also a Mets fan.
For Billy, rarely, if ever, is there a comfortable middle ground. His story is one of love, deception, greed, lust and unbridled enthusiasm. For poor Billy, the line between soul crushing, Ruben-Tejada-is-at-bat despair and I can taste the playoffs like a $7 ballpark hot dog, is razor thin when it comes to his prized Metropolitans.
Thus is the life of an obsessive sports fan, I suppose.
So, when the Mets shipped first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Billy Mumphrey had some thinking to do.
The move was not unexpected, as the Mets shopped Davis for months during the off season and had clearly, and inexplicably, chosen Lucas Duda in the Duda-Davis-Josh Satin triumvirate first base competition.
Although Billy mourned the loss of Ike, a fan favorite, whose jersey he bought when Davis was called up in 2010, the stages of grief are nearing their completion, occasionally volleying between anger and acceptance, with occasional pit stops at depression.
Now, all that matters to Billy is what Sandy Alderson got in return because, like I said, Billy Mumphrey’s sports life is a compulsive and complicated mix of dizzying highs and getting kicked in the groin lows and must constantly be assessed and reassessed — there is no middle ground.
The answer, you ask, to Billy’s all important question: RHP Zach Thornton and a player to be named later.
To which he initially responded:
But, hold on. What’s this? Hope? Is that you knocking at the door?
Being the cockeyed optimist he is, Billy came up with a theory. A theory that will prove all the doubters wrong, a theory that will justly place Sandy Alderson back on the Iron Throne of Major League Baseball general managers and prove once and for all that he’s the White Wizard of trades.
There will be doubters, yes. But Billy doesn’t have time for them. To mix a fruity cocktail of two different classic stories: He’s an idea man, don’t take the wind out of his sails. He doesn’t need your damn negativity.
Below is the Billy Mumphrey Theory. Let the unbridled enthusiasm begin.
1. Billy knows Sandy Alderson has a track record
Remember when Sandy Alderson got Zack Wheeler for two months of Carlos Beltran? Remember when he pried Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard away for a 38-year-old knuckleballer? Remember when he snagged Dilson Herrera and a PTNBL (which turned into fireballer Vic Black) for a playoff run with Marlon Byrd and John Buck?
The point is, with the exception of trading Angel Pagan (you could argue that was a decent trade at the time) Alderson has been a magician when dealing players. Wheeler, Syndergaard and d’Arnaud are currently cornerstones of the organization and all were acquired for players no longer considered a part of the Mets’ future.
So, until the word comes down that the Mets sold low on Davis and settled Adam Landecker, Billy is rolling with Sandy.
2. Billy knows Sandy wanted a lot for Ike
Keeping in toe with the first point, it seems highly unlikely that the Sandy Alderson of Wheeler and Syndergaard and d’Arnaud all of sudden waffled on Ike’s asking price.
It was well reported that Alderson’s price for Davis was high throughout the off season, which is one of the reasons Davis stayed put so long. There were rumors about the Brewers’ Tyler Thornburg, the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy and Eduardo Rodriguez and the Pirates’ Nick Kingham as potential Alderson targets. All considered to be lofty prizes at the time.
So, as the story goes, Alderson stayed put and decided not to trade Davis for less than what he believed to be market value for a young first baseman with 30 home run potential.
There’s the possibility Alderson’s asking price came down, but Zach Thornton and a PTBNL? That would be like asking for a mackinaw and getting a seven-year-old fruit roll up.
Then there’s this quote:
“We’re very happy with the trade. We’re happy for Ike, in the sense that he’ll get another opportunity elsewhere. It’s a situation that we needed to resolve here, and we’re happy with the return.” — Sandy Alderson
If Sandy’s happy, Billy’s happy, too.
3. Billy knows Sandy isn’t impulsive
The idea that Alderson would dangle Davis all off season with no significant interest, then make the decision to proceed into the regular season with him and two other first basemen, only to ship the one with the most potential off in mid-April makes no sense.
Unless, of course, the return was considerable.
Alderson made the decision to keep Davis. Just like he made the decision to keep Ruben Tejada. Both were tough, steadfast decisions, as any impulsive general manager would’ve signed Stephen Drew and traded Ike for peanuts a long time ago.
The notion that he, all of a sudden, would change course and ship out Ike for Thornton and a nobody just doesn’t compute. At the very least, he should be consistent and get Drew on board.
4. Billy knows the PTBNL is “significant”
Here’s the tweet that backed thousands of Mets fans away from the ledge:
Here’s the tweet that pushed them off:
Normally, a PTBNL is code for “meaningless org player changing hands.” However, that’s not always the case. Vic Black, who the Mets acquired from the Pirates last season, wasn’t exactly meaningless.
Like I said, Billy’s an optimist, so let’s ride with Heyman on this one, since he’s the guy who broke the trade in the first place.
“Significant” to Billy means top 10 in the Pirates’ system, so basically, much, much better than Zach Thornton. Here’s a link to Keith Law’s top prospects by organization (Sorry, Insiders only). Notice anything? That’s right, Thornton is conspicuously absent.
2. Billy knows the PTBNL is from the Pirates 2013 draft class
Here’s more from Billy’s favorite CBS Sports Insider:
Heyman, you brilliant bastard. Of course! Players taken in the amatuer draft can’t be traded until a year after they’ve been picked, so it makes sense that the Pirates and Mets wouldn’t be able to announce the player’s name until at least June.
Plus, Alderson hints as much: “Players are named later for a variety of reasons, so I really can’t get into it any further than that,” he said. “Because if I were to give you the reason why the player’s [not] been, named it would lead you in the right direction.”
So, if the PTBNL is indeed the linchpin of the deal, then it must not only be someone the Pirates drafted in 2013, but it must be one of their top picks.
Meet Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire.
Both Meadows and McGuire make Law’s and Baseball America’s top 10 in the Pirates’ system and would be steals for Alderson.
I suppose there’s still the possibility that the Pirates will be sending another pick from2013, maybe JaCoby Jones or Cody Dickson,but that doesn’t exactly line up with Heyman’s “significant” claim. Neither guys are ranked in the Pirates’ top 10 by Baseball America or Keith Law. They fall just inside the top 20 on MLB.com’s list.
So, here’s what Billy knows: Sandy has a great track record, he wanted a lot in return for Ike, he isn’t impulsive, the PTBNL is significant, and it’s most likely from the 2013 draft class (Austin Meadows or Reese McGuire).
But then again, you’ve probably read one too many Billy Mumphrey stories.