I won’t regurgitate the same thing we’ve heard over and over again. I’ll just say, 2009 has been terrible and we all can’t wait until next year. However, many in the media, Jayson Stark, (insert name of another mainstream media dumb ass here) have suggested that 2010 will be just as bad and that the Mets need to rebuild to contend next year. You know what I say? I say, fuck them. Eloquent, I know. With Wright, Reyes and Beltran, three of the top 15 position players in baseball, and Santana, one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Mets are automatically playoff contenders.
The problem is of course, that Reyes hates baseball and is selfish so he fakes an injury to stay on the DL and puts together a reggaeton album that goes multi-platinum and he quits the Mets to be a dancer full time. Sorry, my bad, I was just reading another article that apparently hates Reyes, perhaps for being very good at baseball. Anyway, as I was saying, the problem is what surrounds them in the field, and what surrounds them is, starting with catcher, slightly above replacement level (shocking, I know), replacement level, slightly above replacement level, slightly above replacement level, and replacement level. And that’s excluding the pitching staff!
Well I figured I’m as qualified as anyone in the Mets organization to make offseason decisions, so using my brain, my computer and several websites who I may or may not credit, I begin my has lobby Omar, my has lobby Jeff for a position in the Mets front office. If George Costanza can be considered for the Yankees’ Assistant to the General Manager position, no reason I can’t be for the Mets’.
Basically the point of this post is to suggest what I think the best options at each position (minus Ramon Castro at catcher, that ain't happening) for the Mets next season will be, though I'll say right what one of the Mets' most likely options is, because we all know Jeff Francoeur is our right fielder next season, no matter how badly we wish otherwise. The goal I have is to come up with the best team team possible while not going over the price of the team this year, which according to Cot’s (I guess I will be citing the websites I use) is $149,373,987. I don’t really know enough about other teams to suggest trade options, so most of my selections will be free agent picks. Before we get into it, also according to Cot’s, the Mets payroll obligations before arbitration is $93,113,000 so I’ll go from there hopefully leave enough room for all of the increases in payment of the arbitration eligible players.
Wow, Omir Santos may be the best option for next year at catcher. In fairness to him, he was the first "slightly above replacement level" player mentioned above, so that’s, umm... something? Despite Thole’s awesome start to his career, I can’t shake the feeling that he needs another year in the minors before becoming a reliable player in the majors. The last thing we want is to hand him the starting job, or backup for that matter, and be stuck with him all year because there was no one to replace him with, any one remember that guy who meant business only for there to be a recession.
Looking at the free agent market, and there being limited trade options, it really seems that a guy like Gregg Zaun might be the best bet, along with Santos. If his $2 million option is picked up, another route the Mets could go is Henry Blanco. He’s a solid catcher behind the plate and will be super cheap next year, probably around $750,000, while Zaun will probably be around $1.5 million. Neither of these guy are exciting, but they’re capable and if someone gets injured Thole’s always in the minors. One trade option is the kid on the Orioles, Weeters or something like that, he could be good.
My pick Gregg Zaun - 1 year/$1.5 million, it’s time to bring your Z-Game.
No way around it, Murphy was a huge disappointment. We weren’t counting on him to field, but he couldn’t hit a lick. I do like the guy and hope he can get it together and find a role on the team, but any role he have will be off the bench. Let me say this right away, I want no part of Adam LaRoche. He’s a career .354 wOBA first basemen with poor defense. Why not go with the career .372 wOBA with plus defense at what will probably be around the same price? Yes there are concerns over Johnson’s injury history and his defense this year, though we know UZR isn’t very reliable year to year and is not predicator of future results (I think), but when healthy he is the better of the two and more likely to take a one year deal so the man we all like*, Ike, can take over in 2011.
Now I know there will be an uproarious no with my backup plan, but I would take a shot with Delgado on a one year deal. He has to come cheap, there is no way he can get much more than 3 million dollars coming off of a lost year going into his age 38 season, but of all the options at first base, he offers the most power potential. Of course, if he gets injured again we have Murphy and Nick Evans who should be a fine platoon or Ike Davis if he really tears up the International League next year.
We could try and trade for Adrian Gonzalez, as so many in the mainstream media have suggested, but he will cost a lot in both prospects and money, and while I wouldn’t object, I don’t think he is necessary to the Mets future with Ike Davis looking as good as he did this year.
Now a crazy thought, not advocating it though, is to see if Vlad would/could play first. He can still hit and he can’t play right anymore, first is the stick ‘em when they can’t go nowhere else position, so that might be interesting. He’s probably a DH for the rest of his days, but just a thought.
My Pick - Nick Johnson 1 year/$5 million
Second Pick - Delgado 1 year/$3 million
*Sam doesn’t count
How surprising was Luis Castillo this year? If we missed the playoff by one game, lord knows we’d all hate him for that dropped pop up, but he has been a better than anyone could have thought he’d be this year with the bat. A .305/.396/.353 is certainly a solid line, but he has been terrible in the field, -12.2 UZR, and hurts his overall value. While he’d be tolerable next year, I think our best bet would be to trade him at his peak and save the team $12 million over the next two years. Like catcher and first base, we have a solid player, two actually, in the minors who could/should be ready by 2011, Ruben Tejada and Reese Havens.
Again we need a stopgap and I for one would love to see the Mets go after Placido Polanco. Coming off a down year at the plate, he could probably be had at a slight discount, maybe $2.5 million to $4 million tops. So why would we want a 35 year old who may be on the downside of his career? Because he’s a whiz defensively. Contradicting myself from before, he’s UZR this year is at 10.2, so we know that one year makes all the difference! Seriously though, his UZR totals, from 05-08 have been, 11.1, 5.6, 9.2, 2.1, and yes I picked the starting year after he posted a negative UZR total (-1.8) to boost my argument, however the year before that he had a 16.2 UZR total. In addition to Polanco being a stud defensively, he also has a history of being solid at the plate. Last year he had a .339 wOBA, the year before .371 wOBA so he can hit, but even if he doesn’t improve on his .318 wOBA this year, his value in the field makes him a ~3 WAR player. And his defense, with Reyes up the middle, will greatly improve our pitcher’s effectiveness, especially a guy like Pelfrey.
An outside, very outside, possibility could be Chone Figgins who, while not a lot, has experience at second and is coming off a great year hitting. Also, him and Reyes would make a dynamic one-two punch at the top of the lineup.
My Pick - Placido Polanco 1 year/$3 million
Jose Reyes is selfish and not a grinder. Trade him for David Eckstein.
Again, David Wright, not a gamer, trade him for relief help and sign Chone Figgins to play third... I hear he’s scrappy.
Left field is where our biggest improvement has to come from. With potentially the two biggest free agents on the market, for the Mets to truly compete for a World Series, they have to either sign Matt Holliday or sign/trade for Carl Crawford.
If* the Rays pick up Crawford’s option, he becomes really hard to trade for because we’ll have to give up some of our top prospects, probably Mejia or Holt, Davis or Thole, Havens or Tejada, I could go on. To me it doesn’t really seem worth it for a guy we can sign next year. If by some miracle they don’t pick up his option, he becomes the Mets top target this offseason. He has a decent career ISO, .142, for a corner outfielder, a very good .365+ wOBA the past three, healthy, years, and of course his trademark speed, 82% SB%, so he will be a tremendous asset in the lineup. But his real value comes in the field. In eight years in the bigs, he’s only had three seasons with UZR totals under 10 and two of those seasons he had a 9.8 (his rookie year) and 9.6 (2006). His only down year was 2007 with an uncharacteristic -1.2 UZR. Even in his little time in center he has shown he could be a plus defender should Carlos have to move to a corner spot.
Since it’s unlikely we get Crawford, the next best option is Matt Holliday. At one year older, he may even be the better of the two, although it still seems Crawford is getting better. Holliday is certainly has the bigger bat of the two with a career .400 wOBA and a career .230 ISO. One thing is for sure, should he grace Citi Field with his presence next year in a Mets uniform, he won’t his as well as he did in Coors, but it also won’t be as bad as it was in Oakland. He’ll probably hit around 25 homers a year and have a .395 wOBA, and that ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Matt Holliday is a great hitter the Mets’ lineup desperately needs, but he’s also no slouch in the field. In 2006 he had his bad year in left with a -5.6 UZR which he followed up by having his best year in the field, a 14.2 UZR total. For the most part he is just a good to very good fielder, not Crawford good, but certainly an asset.
In a down market, either of these guys may be had somewhat cheaply at around $15 million assuming (praying) the Yankees don’t get involved. Should the Mets hope to be a major contender, they’ll need one of these two, or at least another player like them in the lineup.
My Pick - Either Crawford or Holliday 6 years/$100 million ($16,666,666 per year)
We’re stuck with Beltran. He’s no Nate McLouth that’s for sure.
Please god, non-tender Francoeur, he is not worth $5 million. I’d be willing to give Pagan the starting job in right. If he can just not be bone headed (wonderful grammar, right?) and stay healthy, he could be a nice player to have everyday. There’s really no one of the free agent market to go get, and the system is pretty bare in outfielders, so why not? He’s better than Francoeur and if/when he gets injured, there’s F!. Well, there’s F! until he gets injured.
Johan, I hear this guy’s pretty good.
Pelfrey will be much better with an improved defense.
Niese should definitely be given this chance.
Ollie, only two more years, only two more years, only two more years.
Now we could try and trade for Zambrano, Carlos not Victor but he’s getting $17 million+ so no thanks. There’s talks of the Diamondbacks not picking up Webb’s option, in that case we should try and get a deal on another ace coming off injury, but that seems very unlikely. Lackey is going to command way too high a salary, so I’d pass. Pineiro would be nice and depending on the market he’d be a great pickup, but for anything over $8 million, we’d just be buying high on a 31 year old having a career season. We could try and trade for Randy Wolf, but three left handed pitchers isn’t the best idea. One guy for sure I’d buy low on is Ben Sheets. Assuming he can pitch, giving him an incentive based contract for next year and an option for 2011 could be enough to get one of the best pitchers in the game when healthy. Of course you’d want to have him start in the minors, but he’d be great to have. If we really just need a fifth starter to fill out the rotation, the Mets will need to try and give a guy like Marquis or Washburn a one year deal until Mejia or Holt are ready. Worst case we can give Maine another try. Can we send him to the minors next year?
My Pick - Definitely buy low on Sheets, a 1 year/$1 million to $6 million if he hits all the markers should (hopefully do it)
My Pick - I’d also take Pineiro on a 2 years/$15-16 million deal
Backup Pick - If you can’t get Piniero, try to find someone good and cheap, I could live with Washburn 1 year/ $5 million.
Obviously the pitching staff is the hardest to fill, so I’d love to hear what you all think.
Socks or Storks, who can remember?
With Putz gone, (was he really ever here?) we need a setup man and Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano would be perfect for the role. Both have great K strikeout rates and could close in a pinch. Unfortunately they probably want to close, but that’s the reason I want them so much. Frankie is going to get a ridiculous payday in 2012, so if we could trade him, trade him. I’d love to see about Rich Harden as closer. He’s a superstar when healthy, but even then he only goes 5 innings. He could make for great closer or at least reliever should he be willing to try it out. If we sign Gonzalez, we could promise them match-ups in the closer role, giving them a somewhat equal opportunity to close. Hey at least we get rid of Frankie’s contract, right? Oh, and the final spot can be filled in spring training.
My Pick - Rich Harden 2 year/$10 million
My Pick - Mike Gonzalez 3 year/$15 million or Soriano 3 year/$18 million (I doubt he’s taking a pay cut)
My Pick - Some scrub for the minimum
Assuming Murphy can play third and him and Evans can play limited outfield, they should be fine, but we need a defensive specialist. Off an injury, I’d love love love to bring Endy back, even if it’s just for sentimental reasons. For the infield, I’d love to get defensive specialist Adam Everett. Everett’s been brilliant fielder for most of his career and would be a great fit off the bench. If not, we always got the Oil Spill.
My Pick - Endy Chavez 1 year/$1 million
My Pick - Adam Everett 1 year/$ 1 million
Obviously the money is largely guess work, so be nice, but the final total, with Pineiro over Washburn/Marquis/Whoever, Sheets getting all $6 million, Harden and Gonzalez, and Nick Johnson over Delgado, this team would cost, before arbitration, $131,229,666 assuming I put the numbers in right. When someone points out an obvious mistake I made somewhere that I missed, and that I’m way off about the numbers, making this post mostly useless, just talk about what you like and why you hate it.
All stats are from FanGraphs
--If we keep everything the same, but change Harden to Frankie it's $137,729,666--