Mets Offseason Strategy? Raid LA!
Re-upping Delgado takes the Mets out of the running for this talented defensively skilled first baseman. Or does it?
It's HOT STOVE fantasy time for Mets fans. And it's "make-up any shit we want to and publish it" time for the beat and national mainstream sports reporters. This winter, to me, already has a Steve Phillips era, irresponsible fantasy feeling to it. It is clear that Omar has no responsible plan or grand strategy for the club, so fuck it, let's roll the crazy dice.
What Omar does have is stability. After some dubious contract renewals, the Mets may have endorsed mediocrity and unaccountability, but at least we now know who is running the show this winter. Omar has job security. And Jerry Manuel has the useless NY media eating out of his hand. Manuel thinks the the Angels “are a good model for what needs to be done”, which would be more inspiring if the Halos weren't getting their asses swept out of the playoffs by a team they seem unable to beat. So unbelievably (and thanks largely to the smokescreen of excuse cover provided by the Wilpons), the Mets decision-makers are working from a position of professional strength.
The good news is that the Mets more often than not, win the off-season! Yay! And the failures of the last 3 years should mean everyone outside 4 core players is totally expendable. The bad news, well there is quite a bit. There ain't too much out there for the pen, which could force Omar to spend a lot of his (mental and financial) resources on one part of the team (ala last year's Santana quest) while potentially ignoring other vital parts (hello bullpen and useless aged bench). Many of the potential Met targets are represented by Scott Bora$$. We don't know exactly how the structure of the hot stove market will play out, but we already know the wealthy Yankees will be a factor: they have also been humiliated, resigned their GM, have rotation holes, and opened a new stadium. Some of the Mets potential targets are playing in the playoffs, for teams in nice climates with big budgets: these factors don't make it easier to snag such players. Finally, no one is talking about it, but how will the financial crisis play out here? Already insuring these gargantuan contracts has been a major concern of teams trying to sign big ticket items. How will problems in the insurance industry affect this year's hot stove?
First things first. Aguayo needs to go!!
The Mets must fill their rotation, not with more elderly has-beens, but with innings-eaters in the Jerry style. They also need to improve the bottom of their order. They have to supplement the core offensive players with a righty bat. Without much thought, I'd endorse tire kicking on Derek Lowe, C.C. Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Mark Teixeira. But this season, Omar really needs to make intelligent, creative moves, or find someone who can do this for him. So he needs to do the opposite of signing Moises Alou, Luis Castillo, Orlando Hernandez, trading all the club's fire throwing relievers, etc. All GMs make mistakes, but whether or not Omar can admit them or doubles down on them will determine the Mets future.
Above all, although arrest warrants have only been issued for one of their relief pitchers, the Mets need an entirely new bullpen if they want the team to inspire a shred of confidence. Bullpens in an easy year are a total crap shoot, but after the last two years, this pen needs an enema. Omar has had mixed success with the pen, if you want to be charitable. Signing Scott Schoeneweis at all, not moving Heilman when it was possible, thinking Matt Wise would fix the 2007 bunch of bums for 2008...it'd take all day to list Omar's sins.
Francisco Rodriguez is a tough one to call. The Mets are a club skilled in giving out big contracts and need a closer. K-Rod wants a big contract and is a closer. The guy saved 62 games for the Angels, and he is 26. How close he gets to the five years at $15 million K-Rod is said to be seeking will tell us something about the sanity of the GMs this winter. At least five years at $75 million seems to be what it will take, since the Angels have offered 3 and $34 last winter, and seem to be dangling a four year with 5th year option already. Can the Mets afford the lack of flexibilty of another Billy Wagner-like signing? Can they find a downmarket solution? Can they develop their own candidates? It is clear to anyone watching the Red Sawx-Angels series that K-Rod is no Paplebon. And with K-Rod's storied dip in velocity, Wagner's inability to finish his contract, and the over-ratedness of the "save" statistic, the Mets stance on KRod may be a referendum on whether this club can learn from their mistakes at all. Right now, I'd prefer that the Mets not invest a lot of money in the "closer" position. The situation demands thoughtfulness, problem-solving, and ingenuity, and I am not convinced Omar and his crew have it.
For the rotation, there are many ways to go. I have come around to valuing the type A draft picks the Mets could get more than I value seeing Ollie "By Golly" Perez walk a tightrope and win another 11-15 games next year. So I'd say that Santana and Pelfrey are the only two you can count on seeing next year. You can't count on Maine. The Mets need at least 2 guys and a backup plan. Among the interesting free agents:
C.C. Sabathia. He likes to eat, and NY has plenty of great restaurants. A two-ace team in NY? Consider.
Ben Sheets shouldn't be trusted to sign a new contract without hurting himself. Pass.
Derek Lowe is 35. He likes to bone local sports casters. We have those. Consider.
On to Mark Teixeira. Why discuss him when the press is already reporting the Mets bit on Delgado's option? Well, because I think the Mets need a guy like him. Although I don't know what kind of no-trade provisions are built in to Delgado's contract, I would say the option of trading him to the AL and blowing the $20 million a year for at least $200 million total on Teixeira would be the best solution obviously available to improve the team and build for the future. Delgado? Well, I like the guy personally, and I'm glad the horror show that is his decline was temporarily put on hold, but there is no way he is going to produce anywhere near the level he did this year. The Mets took his option based on what he did last year and how his contract was structured, neither striking me as terribly sound baseball reasons.
On to Manny Ramirez. The Mets should pursue him because this sort of thing is not only Omar's best skill, but also his off season hobby, if you believe the media. Omar is very good at persuading weirdos (Pedro) and the best available free agent of any given year (Beltran, Wagner) to join the Mets. I don't know how he does it, but I suspect at some point he shows them his magic pen with which he will transfer untold riches into given star's bank account. Where are the Mets now if Omar had pulled the trigger to trade Lastings Milledge for Manny a few years back? To answer this question, first ask yourself where they are after he allowed the Thrilledge asset to erode until it was worth a fourth outfielder on a last place team and a $10 million defensive catcher. Got the answer yet? "A much better place." Manny is a offensive force of nature who lives on Planet Crazy where no NY media can hurt him. No matter what they think of themselves, the Mets are indeed in "just so crazy it might work" territory. Three successive early exits for a team built to go deep into October. Time for desperate measures. And defensively, if the Mets are ever going to be able to contain Manny's occasional outfield adventures, it will be when he is pinned in by Beltran, Wright and Reyes. Sure, he might like LA, but like all players, he likes to be "respected" (PAID CA$H MONEY). Hey the Mets already have the posters printed.
What other changes are possible?
The list of free agent left fielders is pathetic. And trades? No Matt Holiday. Just stop it people.
As for catcher, lots of old guys available, but let's just say that I would rather see the 37 yr old Jason Varitek be carved out of the ass of Red Sox nation and installed at Citifield than live through another Schneider Castro filled year. Second base. Besides my ingenious plan to move Wright there, I'd beg out of the talk of Orlando Hudson (31), and look to either give Murphy a shot there, or get creative. Basically, I am not satisfied anywhere other than shortstop, CF, and third base.
Can anyone here fix this team?
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