We all have our plans of how the Mets should handle the off-season: Let's make a community plan, position by position, of how this should be done. We'll see if the solutions we all come up with are feasible.
Here's basically how it works:
The Mets have $35-$40 million to sepnd this off-season. Let's assume that they spend $30 million for this off-season. Make a plan about what you would do with this money to improve the team, and then position-by-position, vote for how you would handle this. For example:
If you want Jeff Francoeur in right, Matt Holliday in left, Nick Johnson at first, Luis Castillo at second, Jose Reyes at short, etc. etc., vote accordingly, and make sure it could be financially feasible (no one can predict the future, so ballpark it). What I do not want to happen is that for outfield signing Holliday is the #1 solution, Lackey as the #1 solution to starting pitching and Bay as the #1 solution at first. Obviously the Mets could not afford this. I want this to be realistic.
So let's view the options:
Starting left fielder:
The Most talked about option is Matt Holliday, who is great offensively and defensively. Knowing Scott Boras, his contract could be quite a doozy. Holliday is probably the biggest free agent on the market, and has been worth a big contract for each of the past four years. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) have been 4.4, 7.9, 6.2 and 5.3 over 2006-2009 respectively, which is some of the best numbers in the game. Holliday's contract, in a conservative estimate, may end up at 5 years, $100 million. Would you be willing to spend the money?
Another possibility is B.J. Upton: Although he is a natural Centerfielder, most CFs have no problem moving to the corner, and excel most all of the time. The advantages of Upton are that he is young (25), fast, and he probably won't cost much (most like he'll cost like $5 million, it's his first arb-eligible year). He's a fantastic defender as well, and considering we have the worst defense in the game, literally, he could be a huge help. He has a huge upside (4.9 WAR last year) but a high downside as well (2.1 WAR this year, despite terrible offense). His biggest weakness is also a strength, and that is his weak offense, which may be alarming, but may mean that in a trade he wouldn't cost much. He's certainly not as good a player as Holliday, but at the possibility of his low cost....
Another popular option is Carl Crawford. Crawford will be 28 in 2010, and will be in the final year of his contract. In all likelihood, due his very nice 2009, he may cost a boatload in prospects (think Martinez, Mejia AND others), and later in contract (think 5 years, $80-90 million). In downside and upside, he's slightly better than Upton, however his success in 2009 (5.2 WAR) has made him an attractive option. It seems more likely that the Rays are reluctant to trade Crawford over Upton. Crawford is both a skilled left fielder and center fielder. Very useful, but at a higher cost in talent and money combined than any of the afforementioned.
Here's another possibility: Jason Bay: Bay is a big hitter who can take a walk and has wheels. At 31 years old this is his first time on the free agent market. His predicted contract is 4 years, $60 million. Bay's monster bat produces almost every year (except for 2007), however his downside is that he simply cannot play the outfield position. Although early in his career he was a league-average outfielder, his UZRs over the past 3 years have been -11.5, -18.4, and -12.3. That's Gary Sheffield bad. This has brought his overall WAR to 0.1, 2.9 and 3.6 from 2007-2009 respectively. He costs more than Upton, but less than for Crawford and Holliday, and his value is somewhere in between.
Another option is Bobby Abreu, who would be a cheaper option, and can hold his own with the bat over anyone else here. However, the downside of having Abreu is that he is a defensive butcher in the outfield, and will likely seek a multi-year contract. While for the most part in his career his offense has sustained his lackluster ability in the outfield, in 2008 this was not the case, as his career worst -25.2 UZR was just about the worst outfielding anyone has ever seen, and brought his WAR down to 1.2. He'll liekly seek a 3 year deal, and the value, I'm guessing, would be around $20 million.
A similar option to Abreu is Mark DeRosa, who is lighter on the hitting side but a brilliant defender, who will likely seek a 2 year deal worth $14-16 million. His down year last year could hurt his stock, and he didn't seem to be worth much in trade value, as he was traded to the Indians from the Cubs for next to nothing, and was traded to the Cardinals for a solid Relief Pitching prospect.