The Mets ended 2009 with the 4th lowest team WAR in baseball at 12.1.
The losses of Fernando Tatis (1.5 WAR), Ramon Castro (.5 WAR), Ryan Church (.4 WAR), Brian Schneider (.3 WAR), Cory Sullivan (.1 WAR) and Gary Sheffield (.1 WAR) bring that number down to 9.2 WAR while the addition of Henry Blanco this offseason brings the figure back up to around 10 WAR (good for 2nd lowest in baseball behind the Royals according to 2009 figures).
Now clearly the Mets offseason plans are incomplete though the market is certainly not the same as it was in November. Here's a couple of non-long-term-devastating solutions to perhaps provide improvement for 2010 and beyond.
1) Sign Matt Holliday to a 6 Year 110 mil contract. To me, Holliday is certainly a safer bet than Bay, and he is a top 15 player in baseball according to WAR (while Bay doesn't crack the top 50). If the Mets are willing to pay Bay around 15-16mil annually, paying Matt Holliday for better production at only a 2 mil increase seems like a no-brainer.
2) Sign Ben Sheets. Is it risky? Sure. But for a player with a career FIP of 3.55 over a stretch of 1400 innings, I will take the risk. I think something in the neighborhood of 7-8 mil given his circumstances would suffice.
3) Sign Carlos Delgado. He made 3.5 mil last season, and giving him an incentive laden 2-3mil contract seems appropriate. He is coming off a full year of recovery time, and there's no reason to believe he can't hit in a part time role.
4) Sign Ryan Garko. Garko absolutely mashes LHP to a tune of 313/392/495. Platooned with Delgado's 287/399/582 career numbers against RHP, there's no reason to believe that these 2 wouldn't make a great platoon. Garko is an adequate fielder as well at 1B and he has experience as an OF barring catastrophic injury. I think he can be had for a contract in the neighborhood of 1-4 mil.
5) Trade for Luis Castillo for Jeremy Bonderman. To me this deal makes sense. The Tigers have a bunch of low starters such as Coke, Galarraga, Bonine, and Robertson who will probably duke it out for the 4th/5th spot in the rotation until Casey Crosby comes up. Scott Sizemore is 25, and far from a guarantee to produce in the majors and already has a broken fibula and ankle (both late last year) on his injury history list. Bonderman makes 12.5 for 2009 and is then a FA. Given a good bounce back season (he has a 4.17 career WAR), he can be worth Type A compensation, and gives us flexibility heading into the 2010 Free Agency as opposed to having contracts for Pineiro or Garland on the books. Furthermore, the Tigers shave 6.5 million in salary for 2010 and improve their 2B position.
6) Sign a 2B to a 1 year deal. There are still a ton of capable 2B out on the market such as Adam Kennedy, Ronnie Belliard, and Kelly Johnson. All 3 are improvements over Castillo, and probably won't be as expensive.
10.1 WAR (current team) + Holliday (5.7 WAR), + Sheets (est. 3 WAR), + Bonderman (est. 2 WAR), + Garko (est. 1 WAR) + (est. 1.5 WAR) + Kelly Johnson (est. 1.5 WAR). - Luis Castillo (1.6 WAR) = 23.1 (good enough for 4th in NL according to 2008 numbers).
Cost for 2010: 18.5 + 8 + 12.5 + 3 + 3 + 4 - 6= 43.5 mil + current payroll.
Gain from 2010: 2 Type A Free Agents.
Contracts on the hook for 2011 and on: only Matt Holliday.