Maybe one of these Octobers I’ll actually be blogging about Mets games. But until then, I’m here with the obligatory post about the past and the future, since the present is filled with the hits, runs, and errors of other teams. And other players which include Carlos Beltran … Angel Pagan … backup outfielders who have more success than the three that are starting for the Mets … and the familiar rogues gallery of Mets criminals like Guillermo Mota, Adam Wainwright, and Tyler Clippard.
I figure it’s best to try to break this down into small groups of Mets to discuss. We’ll start with …
In theory, there are no untouchables on a team that hasn’t finished with a winning record in four years. In reality, there are two untouchables: David Wright, and R.A. Dickey. The story about a starting offer of $100 million is being floated. I don’t know if that is going to do it. But even if the two sides aren’t close on a deal, and mark this down: There isn’t a chance in hell that the Mets will trade David Wright in the offseason … not while the team is still trying to sell tickets be it All-Star game tickets, or regular season tickets.
That goes same for Dickey. No way the Mets trade him in the off-season. Partly for the same reason, ticket sales. But also: There had been some chatter that maybe it was time to maximize Dickey’s value and get some prospects for him. If the prospect or prospects were major league ready studs, you’d have to consider it. But with the revelation that Dickey’s abdominal muscle was torn all season, and aggravated during his last start, who in their right mind would trade big-time prospects for him? In that case, Dickey means more to the Mets at this juncture than anybody they can reasonably get for him in the off-season.
Now once the All-Star game comes and goes and the Mets are wallowing in the standings as is customary in July, then all bets are off. But Wright and Dickey will definitely be New York Mets to start the season.
We covered Wright. Ruben Tejada gave the Mets more than they had any reasonable right to expect. Although his numbers tailed off, no doubt as a result of only reporting to spring training on time instead of three weeks early (can you tell that I still think that was complete nonsense?) As for Ike Davis: I’ve made my feelings on him known here. In short, he’s part of the solution, not part of the problem. And anybody who wants to hold a low batting average against him after missing four months with a strange ankle injury, then contracting valley f*cking fever is so far beyond help that John Sterling probably makes perfect sense to them.
Second base is another story, and that bleeds into:
Youth in baseball comes in many shapes and forms. There’s the youth of an organization that has the potential to bring great things to said organization. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler come to mind. Then there’s the youth that’s just … young. Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, and Jordany Valdespin come to mind. And I have a secret for you: I’d get rid of all of them. Look, the payroll isn’t changing. The coaching staff isn’t changing. If the roster doesn’t change significantly, then guess what else isn’t changing: the standings.
Now, if Ike Davis has to go, he has to go. But to trade him to fill a hole, say, in the outfield, only creates another hole at first base. What good does that do? Sandy Alderson might as well play whack-a-mole all winter, because that’s what trading Ike Davis does. I’m not saying you’re going to get a lot for these guys. But if Tampa Bay likes Duda as much as we hear they do, then let’s make a deal. If somebody likes Daniel Murphy as a DH, let’s see what they can get back for him. (I like him, but we’re at the point now where what you’ve seen is exactly what you’re going to get going forward.) And if somebody needs a versatile pinch hitter like Valdespin, let’s get the conversation going. Maybe they bring back some pieces who can help. Maybe they can bring back an actual second baseman in a trade rather than a guy who plays second base sometimes. But better that that go through the same old same old, significantly flawed baseball players, because that’s what these three players are: potential in one aspect of the game, deeply flawed in others. You can’t win with these players.
The Mets need three brand new starting outfielders. Jason Bay, if he isn’t going to be paid $13 million to be a defensive replacement, should be gone. Andres Torres becomes a bigger disappointment with every Angel Pagan home run (though to be clear, I still don’t miss him … seeing him hit home runs in the playoffs is like twisting the knife in my back). And if somebody wants to pay Scott Hairston to play 150 games for them, then I wish him luck because it shouldn’t be the Mets. And it damn well shouldn’t be in center field.
I’m willing to give Kirk Nieuwenhuis another shot if he can learn how to lay off the outside fastball or take it the other way. Other than that, the outfield needs to be completely different or the Mets are screwed. The Mets might be screwed anyway, but don’t let us think that until at least May is over. If there is any wiggle room in the payroll and if the Twins are willing to deal, Josh Willingham would be an interesting option if the Twins are ready to give an outfield slot to Chris Parmelee. Ben Revere is an inexpensive option to explore also.
One thing I wouldn’t want the Mets to do is to spend money on the free agents out there. Josh Hamilton ain’t coming anyway, and options like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher have “overpaid” written all over them. Yuck.
The opening day roster included guys like Manny Acosta and Miguel Batista. D.J. Carrasco eventually became a part of this group. The bullpen challenged the ’62 Mets for worst ERA in club history. By the end of the season, Batista was gone, Carrasco was gone, and others like Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, and Jeurys Familia came in and performed well enough to get a look for next season. The Mets spent a lot fo money on the bullpen last season with mixed results. With a stagnant payroll and more pressing needs, it’s at least nice to know that Edgin, Carson, and Familia are viable options to take up spots. Bobby Parnell will have a role too, though I wouldn’t be against wheeling him if the right deal came along. (I question whether guys like Parnell and Ramon Ramirez will ever find their form with Dan Warthen as their pitching coach.)
I’d also think about trading for a real closer. Frangag Frantsisk is a reliever posing as a closer. Jon Rauch can certainly close for the Mets but he’s a free agent and I have a funny feeling he’s wearing another jersey in 2013. Joel Sherman suggested that the Mets trade Murphy for Chris Perez. I have a feeling that after Perez’s comments towards the Indians organization about how they don’t spend money, the Mets can have him for a lot less. I only hope Chris can see the irony in such a trade.
This is the Mets strength headed into next season. Dickey should win the Cy Young. They’ll have Dillon Gee back. Matt Harvey is Matt Harvey. Johan Santana and his contract aren’t going anywhere, so he’s your fifth starter until he gets hurt again. Those are your answers. Here are your questions:
What do you do with Jon Niese? Keep him in the rotation or trade him for a big bat? I like Niese a lot, and he made huge strides this season. But with the offense being so anemic this season, the Mets might have to consider a deal if it will make them better, and especially if it’ll bring back a guy like Justin Upton. Not that I expect this to happen, but the Mets have an interesting chip if they decide to use it.
Will Zack Wheeler be ready? And will the criteria the Mets use to decide if he’s ready change because the farm team is in Las Vegas instead of Buffalo? Wheeler may not be fazed about a season in the PCL. But are the Mets fazed? I can’t see Wheeler down there very long, especially if Santana does, indeed, get hurt again.
Does Chris Young come back as a fail safe option? I’d almost … almost consider it. Only because he’s bound to improve a year away from surgery just as Chris Capuano did after going to the Dodgers. I’ll still say that letting Capuano go while keeping Pelfrey was a huge mistake, though Capuano could have lost 3-2 games just like Young seemed to, so while that move was significant, I’m not sure it would have mattered much this season. When it’s all said and done, what not giving Capuano the two years ultimately means is that there’s doubt as to whether the Mets will trade Niese for other pieces. Whereas if Capuano was in the Mets 2013 rotation, Niese’s ticket is probably written out of town.
The Oakland Factor:
It’s easy to watch the 2013 playoffs and say: “let’s be like Oakland“. But the trades that Oakland made to help shape what they are today are trades that the Mets aren’t going to be able to make. The Mets don’t have an Andrew Bailey or Ryan Sweeney available to steal a guy like Josh Reddick with. The veterans on the Mets who they’d love to be able to flip for somebody make too much money. And the player who can bring back Josh Reddick type players is David Wright. And while it would take some major marbles to do it, it isn’t getting done before the season. If it gets done before the deadline, the return isn’t going to be as good. Not to mention that Citi Field would be burned to the ground if Wright were to be traded. So good luck with this comparison. Oakland’s square pegs don’t quite fit into our rhombus holes.
Besides, I’m all for spending smartly and not putting the team in a position where they are paying decrepit baseball players $30 million in the final year of their contract. But do we have to go too far the other way? As great as the A’s story is, do we really want a $55 million payroll that makes a miracle run once every five years or so while finishing with 70-75 wins the rest of the time? I’m not disrespecting what Billy Beane has done there. But first off, he ain’t walking through that door in Flushing. And second, I’d eventually like to aim a little higher than one playoff series win in 20 years. I’d settle for being still in the race on August 1st. All that said, it’s almost as if at this moment, Sandy Alderson has even more restraints than Beane does considering all the dead weight on the payroll. That said, this is a big off-season for him. First orders of business are Wright and Dickey. Next. changing the roster significantly has to be on the list. One trade along with a bunch of bargain basement signings isn’t going to produce an Oakland miracle run. There has to be more change for that to happen.