Hey, guys. Despite my week being long and tortuous in its own right, I've been agonizing about what I'm going to write for my Offseason Plan. We've got a lot to cover, so let's just jump in, shall we?
Now that's what I call grit.
MLB Traderumors said in their Mets Offseason Outlook that as of now, we have about $92 mil committed to 2010. Including arb raises and smaller contracts, I'll simplify that to $100 mil. So, here's what I plan to do: create a team using $50 million dollars worth of acquisitions. And for extra fun, I'll throw in some interesting Mets Name Puzzles too.
We sure have fallen from the days of Carter and Piazza, huh? Leaving nostalgia aside, a few things are pretty much obvious to me. First of all, Omir Santos is not a major league starter. I think most competent fans understand that hitting a homerun off of Jonathan Papelbon is not a prerequisite for that position. Additionally, Josh Thole needs some more time in the minors. I think his hitting is good enough to get our starting job (after all, look at his competition), but his defense, admittedly, needs work. Leave him in AAA to learn how to handle a veteran pitching staff, and I have no doubts that he'll rise to play perfectly acceptable defense.
That said, we're left with a hole at the catcher spot. Unfortunately, there really isn't much we can do to fill this hole for anything other than a short term, low risk, low payment type of deal for a veteran catcher. That's why I suggest we spend our money to acquire Miguel Olivo on a one year deal for $3 mil. I know, I know...he had a .292 OBP, actually his HIGHEST total of all time. But coupled with an excellent .181 ISO and above league average slugging, he actually had a pretty good year at the plate for a catcher. Again, this is NOT the sort of offense I'd take from a starting corner outfielder (hint, hint), but I think it's more than acceptable at catcher, especially since we'll (eventually) be combining it with the OBP love child that is Josh Thole.
Backup plans: Gregg Zaun, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder
First Base: This position is difficult. Long term, I really believe Ike Davis is our first baseman. But short term, Daniel Murphy can not play first base as a starter for a contending team. The more I think about it, the more I decide that the propsed Castillo-Bradley-Overbay swap makes sense for all teams involved. Take out your handy dandy Trade Value Calculator, and you'll see that Overbay and Castillo are roughly identical in perceived value. Overbay isn't great by any means, but he's good enough to hold down the Mets' first base spot for the last year of his contract. Given the news that Mike Fontenot qualified for Super Two status, the Cubs are likely to shop him around, putting them in the market for a second baseman, and they'll be more than willing to ship off Bradley. Bradley is decidedly the best player in this deal, and moving to the AL gives him the option of DHing. Sure, there's risk, but the Blue Jays aren't going to get out of perpetual 4th place in the AL East if they don't try something crazy, right? Overbay's contract minus Castillo's contract is a net increase of $1 mil for this season (though we drop $6 mil from next year's budget).
Backup plans: Russell Branyan, Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche
Get it? Over...Bay? See, he's on the Blue Jays and...never mind.
Second Base: Luis Castillo is not in my plans for next year...so who is? There's actually a very strong group of free agent second basemen this season, headlined by Orlando Hudson. The Mets have mostly been connected to Hudson when it comes to free agent second basemen signings, but the player they should really be trying to acquire is Felipe Lopez. Lopez had a 4.6 WAR and is the best balance between the other two marquee free agent second basemen, Hudson and Placido Polanco. Lopez is a better fielder than Hudson, while hitting better than Polanco. To top it off, he seems to be underrated by the main stream media, and I'd be surprised if he cost much more than $5.5 mil per season, which I'll assume is his contract for the sake of this article.
Backup plans: Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, Dan Uggla
In my opinion, the most important move we make is this one. Signing Matt Holliday is not only the easiest move we could make for a superstar, but it's one that I believe could and may actually occur. He's one of the best players in baseball, is still relatively young, plays a position for which we desperately require an upgrade, and costs no talent to acquire, as opposed to trades. This is a position where, I have to say, we need a significant upgrade almost regardless of the cost. Signing Holliday to a 6 or 7 year deal at $18 mil per may sound expensive, and it is. But it's worth it.
Backup plans: Mike Cameron, Carl Crawford, David DeJesus
This position, I've decided to fill from the inside. Surprise of all surprises, it's not Jeff Francoeur! Yes, Angel Pagan, you will be called to start 2010 in right field. Now, I realize that ideally, Pagan would not be a starter for us. However, he's coming off a successful 09 (with an actually significant amount of plate appearances to draw some predictions for next year), and is cheap. And frankly, we can't just throw money about like dust in the wind.
As of now, our rotation consists of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Jon Niese, and Oliver Perez. That's...utterly atrocious, I'll be honest. Santana's sick/nasty, Pelfrey is good (hey guys, defense matters OMGZ), Niese should be good (but shouldn't be counted on as a midrotation starter right now), and Maine and Perez are total wild cards/most likely not very good. All of the possible trade targets are either bogged by bad contracts, quite expensive, or just not very good. As for the free agents, they all smack of guys who are going to get pretty big deals and just kinda pitch meh. Wolf and Piniero are coming off of career years, Lackey's injury prone, aging, and overrated, and no one else really interests me. That's why I'm proposing we sign Carl Pavano. He put up a 3.7 WAR this year, and the guy's not getting more than $6 or $7 mil on a one year deal. Wolf and Piniero, however, wouldn't cost more than $10 mil per year, and would be good alternatives to signing Lackey (blah). Overall, however I would say we should sign Pavano, and couple it with a signing of one of these guys for between $5-$10 mil per year: Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, or Ben Sheets. All are excellent when healthy, and with enough incentives laden into the contract, it may be possible to sign two of these guys. Talk about potential for high reward. For the sake of argument, I'll assume we sign Pavano and Harden for $6 and $10 mil respectively, for one year each, maybe with options. I would then hope that our rotation would be: Johan, Harden, Pelfrey, Pavano, Perez/Niese (start Perez as the fifth starter, but if he flounders, which I think he will, waste no time in bringing up Niese from AAA)
K-Rod, Parnell, Feliciano, and Green should be slotted in for slots right now, as we speak. With our rotation as currently constructed, Maine can fit in as the long man who can make spot starts. To round out the bullpen, sign Kiko Calero for 2 years at 2.25 million per year, and Joe Beimel for a 1 year 2 mil deal.
I'd like to see you find something that someone immediately associates with "Beimel" or "Kiko".
I really don't have a problem keeping Francoeur on a purely scientific level, but considering his near arbitration, it makes more sense just to nontender the guy. Sullivan and Reed need to go, too. Murphy will play a multitude of positions off the bench, and Nick Evans will kick some serious ass as a right handed pinch hitter/platooner. As stated before...sigh...Santos will be our backup catcher. To round out this sweet awesome team, we need to bring in good defensive replacements, one for the infield and one for the outfield. Look no further than our own Endy Chavez (yaaaay!!!) and Adam Everett, both of whom have the highest UZRs among their bench quality free agent peers.