Less than a week from the trade deadline, the Mets continue to hang around and the NL East continues to look shaky. Speculation on their pursuit of a big acquisition has picked up, most prominently involving Colorado Rockies’ superstars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Tulo and CarGo are both oft-injured elite talents with strikingly similar career numbers; both are just entering their prime years. Which would be a better idea for the Mets to spend big on?
Tulowitzki has 200 more career at-bats than Gonzalez, as he entered the league two years earlier; but again, their seasonal averages are oddly comparable. Tulowitzki averages 118.7 hits, with 22.8 doubles, 19.4 home runs, 68.2 runs and 64.7 RBI in 397.1 at bats. Gonzalez averages 117.6 hits, with 23.6 doubles, 19.1 home runs and 64.7 RBI in 397.9 at bats. That’s just eerie. CarGo has better speed numbers, averaging about nine more stolen bases and two more triples per season, but he also draws about 11 fewer walks per season and strikes out over 20 more times. Basically, you get virtually the total package with both players, except CarGo gives you a bit more speed and Tulo gets on base a bit more and is less strikeout prone.
Both fulfill Mets needs
Troy Tulowitzki would give the Mets a right-handed bat with raw power for the middle of the order. Now that Lucas Duda has fully asserted himself as the Mets’ lefty power hitter, he and Tulo would make a daunting 1-2 punch in the middle of an offense that’s showing signs of resurgence. He would also give the Mets an elite glove at shortstop, dramatically improving their infield defense behind a pitching staff that continues to improve. Carlos Gonzalez would solve the Mets’ revolving-door problem in left field. He also would complete a defensive outfield that would be as good as any in baseball, with the outstanding Juan Lagares in center and Curtis Granderson as a solid presence in right. He would probably hit a fair amount of triples at Citi Field, and his speed in the lineup would put immense pressure on defenses. The Mets could then abandon the Chris Young experiment, keep fewer than six (!) outfielders on the roster and actually have more than one backup infielder on the roster.
Why Troy Tulowitzki is a better fit for the Mets
With Duda establishing himself at cleanup, the Mets are pretty much set for lefty bats in the lineup and off the bench. Tulowitzki would not only be their biggest overall threat, he’d provide everyday power from the right side. And if Tulo solidified the middle of the order, there would be less pressure on the left field position to produce runs. The Mets could platoon in left, or allow their revolving door of reserve outfielders to sort itself out, while batting their left fielder eighth. Tulo would also fill a greater need on defense. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker are excellent defensive left fielders with speed and power (both also hit from the left side, furthering the previous point); CarGo isn’t necessarily a defensive upgrade over either. Meanwhile, Tulowitzki is a noticeable defensive upgrade over almost anyone else who plays the position. Ruben Tejada has more upside than many give him credit for, but nothing like what Tulo can provide at shortstop.The Mets have middle-infield talent in the minors like Dilson Herrera, whom they could include as compensation along with pitching talent. The Mets need a right-handed bat more than they need another lefty, and Tulowitzki would provide a bigger defensive boost than Gonzalez. The time has come to make a big trade, and Troy Tulowitzki should be the Mets’ primary target.