Mets pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard

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Keidel: Trading Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard Is Not The Answer

Would Plunge Mets Into Black Hole Of Rebuilding

Jason Keidel
June 11, 2018 - 11:52 am
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We often hear about teams that "know how to win." It sounds vague and campy and contrived. But how else do you explain why the Yankees never crater while the Mets seem to live in one?

An article in The New York Times over the weekend highlighted the latest iteration of winners and losers, Big Apple baseball style. The piece pointed to 2016, when the Mets, fresh off an NL pennant, were laboring through injuries to make a second straight playoff appearance. Meanwhile, the Yankees were toiling in a Core Four hangover, figuring out how to rebuild a team that was still paying A-Rod and Mark Teixeira. Now look at them. If the Mets had the spotlight two years ago, the Yankees own the stage, if not the entire theater, now.

The Times accurately framed the trades of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller as building blocks toward the behemoth the Yankees have become. Add the young pillars the Yankees called up to the big leagues, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, and you have a club loaded for years.

Now the Yanks (42-19) have the best record in baseball, while the Mets (28-34) have been the worst team in baseball since their scalding April start and just ended a 10-game losing streak at home, salvaging one game of the Subway Series. If you need a microcosm of the Mets -- and why you should not bet on baseball games -- they lost the first two games despite a clear pitching edge, and won the game in which they faced Yankees ace Luis Severino.

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While the Yankees and Mets are on two elevators speeding in opposite directions, we're all wondering how the Mets can get their groove back, and at least share the back page, if not the five boroughs.

The Times concludes that the Mets should follow the Yankees into trading their star pitchers to get a gaggle of prospects and find their Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres. (And Mets fan Boomer Esiason seems to agree.) Trade Jacob deGrom to a pennant-rabid club and jam the reboot button. Among the five-best pitchers on the planet, deGrom would surely bring the Mets a treasure trove of young players. Or if you'd care to get the total team cleanse going, send Noah Syndergaard with him.

There's a blinding difference between trading Thor and deGrom and the Yankees shipping Miller and Chapman. The Yankees traded two late-game relievers, who, though wildly gifted, are more ornamental on a team not contending for a World Series. The Mets have two aces in their rotation, which is precisely where you begin building a winning baseball team. Folks pretend the Yanks traded their two closers and got this team we see atop the sport. But they already had Baby Bombers Judge and Sanchez in their system (as well Severino), and the Chapman trade got them Torres. (The Miller deal hasn't yet yielded big-league results.)

If the Mets trade deGrom, Syndergaard or both, they would give their fans zero reasons to attend games this year, as they would be waving the white flag on 2018. Then next year, their opening day starter would be Steven Matz or Zack Wheeler, if either is healthy enough to pitch. The Yankees are also financially flexible enough to take on Giancarlo Stanton's monster contract, a move the Mets would not entertain.

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The Mets have a haunted lineup. So sure, trading two aces would gain the Mets some cards to play, but their goal would then be to get two aces, which they just dealt. With all due respect to the Times, Boomer and Gio, the Mets need to chop off more dead wood, as they did Sunday night in releasing Adrian Gonzalez, and see what little fruit they can pluck from their farm.

The Mets are allowed to draft well, sign free agents and develop whomever they have now. (And perhaps hire a medical team that keeps their players on the field.) It's fun to pound on new manager Mickey Callaway and his scalp-scratching pressers, but Connie Mack couldn't win with this emaciated lineup. The only reason they can stay in this nauseating string of 2-1 and 3-2 games is because of their pitching. So trading it just doesn't make sense.

Unless you don't care if the Mets plunge into another black hole of rebuilding, something they seemed to have done way more than Mets fans would like since 1986. The Mets share the same market as the Yankees, same city, same resources. They're allowed to share in the winning without shipping the only gems they can put on the diamond every week.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel