My goal is to turn the Mets from G's:
Oliver Perez: $12 million left on contract
-Do I even need to explain this one?
Luis Castillo: $6 million left on contract
-Initially, I included Castillo on the team in my AAOP. When I got down to analyzing the numbers, however, I changed my mind. As you'll see below, I elected to sign Orlando Hudson, supposing that he'd accept a $3 million dollar contract. Combining the two deals, that's $9 million dollars that the Mets allocate at second base. Given that 1 WAR seems to correlate to around $3-$4 million dollars, if Hudson was have to be worth 2 WAR, a fairly realistic projection, the Mets would just about break even. If he exceeded that amount, the Mets would actually be getting surplus value, in regards to the $9 million dollars being allocated to second base.
Departures (Free Agency and Non-Tendered Contracts)
-Pedro Feliciano has certainly done well by us for the past five years, and then some. For as much as I like him, though- he's one of the longest tenured Mets, interestingly enough, having been on the big league club for eight full seasons (2002-2004, 2006-Present)- I just don't like signing an aging LOOGY to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. We've tried him in different roles (hello platoon splits and Matt Diaz), and he's never really taken to roles other than being the lefty specialist. The other options we have might not be as successful against lefties, but if we're pinching pennies (and, by all accounts, we are), this is one of those situations where it's a rock or a hard place. I'd offer Feliciano arbitration, but with rumors that, among others, the Yankees and Phillies are interested in him, I doubt he'd accept. That draft pick as compensation doesn't sound too bad, either.
-So, I initially wrote up my AAOP with us signing him for 1 years/$3 million dollars + up to $2 million dollars in incentives based on starts/relief appearances, but that didn't work. His funky contractual clause means we can't theoretically sign him until after the 2011 season begins, and I find it highly unlikely that he'll last on the market for that long. So, so long Tak2. I wish there was a Tak3, but sadly, there isn't.
-I've been a fan of John Maine since 2006, and I'm still a supporter, but at some point, you just need to let go, and at this point, I think it's best for the Mets to part ways with Maine. He was decent in 2006, and impressive in 2007, but that was three seasons ago now. We've been waiting for John Maine to be fully healthy for three seasons now, and I think that it's negatively impacted the team as a result. I wish him well in his future endeavors, hope that all of the injury stuff in his shoulder is able to resolve itself, and that he goes on to pitch effectively in the MLB again sometime, but...
-Signing Escobar was something I was in favor of, and I was happy that Omar actually went out and signed him, but it didn't work out, as the injury-prone Escobar tore his right shoulder capsule during Spring Training workouts, and never actually threw a pitch in an official game with the team. A classic-case of a moderate-risk, moderate-reward signing not working out. We tried, it didn't work, and there's no reason I'd bother even revisiting Escobar. He'll be a free agent, so let him try to return to the MLB somewhere else, if he even tries.
-At times, Sean Green looked decent in Seattle, and when he came to New York in the JJ Putz deal, things were rosier, and maybe he could have put together everything, reached his full potential, and been a good bullpen piece. That didn't happen, though. I wouldn't say that Sean Green has been a complete disaster, but at times, it's felt like it. Albert Pujols' extra-innings grand slam is the first thing I think of, when I think of Sean Green. I don't think that Green has shown anyone particularly anything to warrant the team holding on to him. I don't think he'd win much of a bonus in arbitration, but the near $1 million dollars we are paying him is already too much to begin with. We can get crappy, right-handed relief pitching for less.
-Did you know that Fernando Tatis once hit two home runs in one innings, against the same pitcher? In case you didn't, there you go. Fernando's return to baseball and all of that is a nice story, and he had a very nice 2008 and 2009, he's turning 36 in January, and is coming off of injuries basically took away his entire 2010 season. There are better options out there, and I'd prefer the Mets pursue those.
-Henry Blanco performed admirably in his duties this season, and I'd have no problems with the team signing him to a one-year deal once more, but I have an alternate back-up catcher, as elaborated on below.
-Dessens' insane BABIPs in 2009 and 2010 contributed to his sterling ERA in both seasons, but we all know that Dessens is not actually a very good pitcher, as those numbers suggest. When, as a reliever, you are striking out 3.06 batters per nine innings, and walking 3.06 batters per nine innings, you know there is a problem. Let Elmer go elsewhere for employment.
Re-Signings/Arbitration Increases/Contractual Options
Jose Reyes: 1 year/$11 million dollar team option
-Allowing Jose Reyes to walk at this juncture would be extremely foolhardy, to put it lightly, but I think it's pretty automatic that the team ensures that he'll be a Met for at least one more season. Even with the various injuries and problems that limited his playing time this season, he was worth 2.8 WAR, which is in line with the $11 million dollars that he'll be making when the team activates his option. Given how he performs in 2011, the team can decide how they want to proceed with Reyes.
Angel Pagan: 1 year/$3 million dollars
-Angel is due for arbitration this winter, and will be making a more substantial sum from the $1.45 million dollars he made in 2010. Pagan, interestingly, has nearly doubled all of the stats that are traditionally looked at- 88 games in 2009, 151 in 2010, 6 HR in 2009, 11 in 2010, 32 RBI in 2009, 69 in 2010, 14 steals in 2009, 37 in 2010- all while keeping his average more or less the same (.306 in 2009, as opposed to .290 in 2010). As such, I'd expect him to make about double what he made in 2009, plus a little extra- even still, given his 4.9 WAR, he'd still be pretty underpaid for what his value actually is.
R.A. Dickey: 1 year/$2 million dollars
-The story of R.A. Dickey, and everything he accomplished in 2010, is probably the best thing that happened in 2010. There is no way I'd not tender Dickey a contract. I wouldn't offer him a multi-year deal just yet, because I'd like to see him have one more year of decent success before extending him. He only made $750,000 last season, but deserves a big payday, comparatively speaking. I'd like to see Dickey signed for the short long-term (a couple of years into the future) if he continues to show success as he did in 2010 (and I think he will), so I'd wait until mid-season 2011 to offer him such a contract, if he does indeed continue to impress.
Mike Pelfrey: 1 year/$4 million dollars
-Big Pelf is due arbitration this season, and with him coming off of, arguably, his best season, and with Scott Boras being his agent, I'm going to say that he's in for a decent payday, either through the team and him coming to an agreement, or through arbiters. In either case, I think $4 million dollars is a fair sum, for both sides- Pelfrey's salary exponentially increases, and the Mets still get a pitcher who they are paying below what he is actually worth, based on his WAR numbers.
-First off, I'll explain why I'd give up Fernando Martinez for James Shields. In this case, the Mets would be trading from a point of strength, in that quality center fielders are a much more obtainable commodity than starting pitchers. For all of the problems that Fernando Martinez has displayed, he's still only 22, and has/does/can show glimpses of being a five-tool player, when he's actually playing. There's the rub, but...Giving up a player who might mature into a really solid-possibly-borderline-great player isn't something I'd do lightly. The thing is, though, in Martinez's case, I'm not expecting him to contribute to the Major League team in a meaningful way next season. Or the next season after that, either. By that time, two years will have passed, and it's not as if the team is static and unchanging- more outfielders, some more talented than others, will appear on the Mets' radar as possible full-time/part-time OFs. Fernando Martinez might theoretically have the highest ceiling of anyone we have in the system now, as well as anyone that we might draft or sign internationally, in the next couple of years. Not to sound like Kevin Burkhardt, but I want to see success sooner than later. If Martinez becomes a really solid player in five years, that's great. Moving him now, in this theoretical scenario, will help the team now (and in the next couple of years, in theory), and not hurt the team, per se- losing Martinez, if he does develop into such a player would suck, but it's not as if outfield free agents who are established and play at the same level are hard to find, or that it's impossible that anyone with his ceiling might be drafted by the team again. With his more recent knee arthritic problems, being moved to an American League team would, at the very least, open up the possibility of being used as a DH, which would put less pressure on his knees. He's certainly showed some decent power in Buffalo, belting 12 home runs, slugging .455, and OPSing .772 in 71 games. His average and OBP were lacking, to say the least, but he's still got time to develop that.
In giving up Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Bobby Parnell, the Devil Rays get three, young, controllable players, two outfielders, and one pitcher, all of whom have clearly has demonstrated that they can contribute to big league clubs in the very near future. Duda, in his brief cup of coffee in September wasn't too impressive, but that batting average and on-base percentage was slammed pretty hard by the .220 BABIP. Over the course of an entire season, with a higher BABIP contributing to a higher AVG and OBP, and his home run power, Tampa would be getting a pretty decent player in return. Captain Kirk, same as Duda, has been very good at AAA, and has the upside of a potential All-Star (according to Toby Hyde) if he improves on his defense at center field, and his patience at the plate. Bobby Parnell brings some measure of bullpen relief to the Devil Rays, who are losing basically their entire bullpen. He is young, will be controllable for the next few years, and while he's something of a one-trick pony, he has been effective to a degree, worth 0.7 WAR in 2010. As compared to 2009, he struck out more per nine, walked fewer per nine, so there's the chance that, in 2011, he improves in that measure some more. "Pound for pound", there isn't a bonafide 'super-prospect' in this offering (the closest we get is Martinez, a B+ ranked prospect who has lost some of that luster since being ranked), but Tampa gets an assortment of players with varying upsides to fill in the various gaps that they have, currently. In the real world, maybe they get a better offer. In this AAOP world we're in, I'm operating in a vacuum, and presupposing that this is the only offer they get and they bite. It's a realistic trade proposal.
In obtaining James Shields, the Mets would be obtaining a player who, at first glance, looks like something of a has-been. He had his best year in 2007, but was a very solid pitcher from 2007 to 2009. His stats fell off a cliff in 2010, though. He increased his K/9 to a respectable 8.28 per nine innings pitcher, but most of his other stats took steps back- he pitched 203.1 innings, about 15 fewer innings than his 2007-2009 prime, and the fewest since his 2006 rookie season. His BB/9 rate continued to incrementally raise, as did his home run to fly ball ration. Most stark was the increase to his ERA and FIP- they rose to 5.18 and 4.24, respectively, the highest ERA he ever posted, and his second highest FIP. Looking closer, his BABIP for both 2009 and 2010 were higher than his career norms- in 2009, it was about twenty points or so higher, and in 2010, it was about a whopping fifty points higher. Having more batters getting on base is certainly would be reflected in his ERA. It, then, is no coincidence, that in 2009, when his BABIP was slightly higher than normal, his ERA was slightly higher than it was in 2007 and 2008, and that when his BABIP was grossly higher, in 2010, his ERA was grossly higher as compared to the previous three years. So, in the end, I am presuming that his BABIP will return to a much more normal level, resulting in his ERA will return to a more James Shields-like range (mid-to-high 3.00s). His xFIP from 2007 until 2010 has been consistent- 3.78 (2007), 3.92 (2008), 3.92 (2009), and 3.72 (2010). Again, assuming all other variables stay more or less constant, I'd expect another season with his xFIP in that high 3.00 range. Coupled with his other peripherals, that'd translate into a 4.0 +/- WAR season. And then, of course, the transition from the dog-eat-dog AL East to the slightly less impressive NL East, would do any pitcher wonders.
In terms of salary, for 2011, he'd be fairly cheap, being owed only $4.25 million dollars. His contract extends to 2014, with club options. In 2012, he'd be due $7 million dollars. In 2013, he's be due $9 million dollars. In 2013, he'd be due $12 million dollars. His contract allows the team to opt out of his services in 2012, for a $2 million dollar buy-out, in 2013, for a $1.5 million dollar buy-out, and in 2014, for a $1 million dollar buy-out. This might be one of the more important parts of the potential deal- in theory, if, at any point in the future, he suddenly takes a true dive off the cliff, and isn't actually worth the money he is being paid, the team can opt out of his contract for a very reasonable sum.
Sign Jeff Francis: 1 year/$3.5 million dollars, with a club option for 2012
-Francis missed the first month of the 2010 season and the entire 2009 season because of arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. When he returned in May, he pitched 104.1 innings to the tune of a 1.9 WAR, pretty good for 19 starts, plus one added relief appearance. When Francis is healthy, he's shown himself to be a fairly valuable pitcher- from 2005 to 2008, he was worth an average of 2.8 WAR. In coming to the Mets, Francis' HR/FB rate will drop overall, which will be beneficial, given that he's a contact pitcher (49.0% GB rate, 36.8% FB rate for his career). If, in 2011, Francis pitches at the same level he did in 2010, or even pitches at a slightly lower level, be it fewer innings, fewer Ks, more BBs, however it happens, the team would still basically be getting the market value for the 1.something WAR he'd put up. He'll be turning 30 when the season starts, and is a lefty, so I'd also include a club option for 2012- should Francis return to his 2005-2008 form, I'd want to retain him to be used in the 2012 rotation, or to be used as a trading chip.
Sign Orlando Hudson: 1 year/$3 million dollars
-Hudson has bounced around from team to team over the last couple of years, accepting one-year contracts for relatively small sums of money (for the baseball world). With the Twins winning posting rights for 2B/SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka, it seems like they're moving on and Hudson will be devoid a team once more. I don't find it unreasonable to believe that Hudson will accept a $3 million dollar deal. The O-Dog was actually more valuable in 2010 than he was in 2009, but because so much of that increased value came from defense, and the fact that his ‘traditional' stats either stayed the same or depreciated, I don't see him making more money than he did when he signed with the Twins last winter. Also, supposedly, he likes the Mets, and wants to be a Met, so there is a second supporting notion for the low contract (then again, though, he's probably willing to go to any team that will pay him). Hudson, offensively, will be an upgrade over Luis Castillo. He won't be a super massive upgrade, like Chase Utley would be, but his Bill James projected slash line of .276/.351/.396 looks nicer than Castillo's .275/.361./325. Defensively, both haven't been the best over the last couple of years, but Hudson, once more, trumps Castillo (+3 UZR over the past three years, as opposed to Castillo's -13 UZR).
Sign Hideki Okajima: 2 years/$4 million dollars ($2 million, 2011 / $2 million, 2012)
-Hideki Okajima has had a fairly successful career in the Major Leagues since 2007, after a moderately successful career in Japan. The Red Sox decided not to offer Okajima a contract, and the Mets would be crazy to let him go to another team. There are numerous reasons as to why Okajima would be extremely valuable for the Mets. First of all, he is a lefty. He doesn't have a pronounced platoon split, but he is indeed more effective against lefties than he is against righties. With the left-handed power in Philadelphia, and the departure of Pedro Feliciano, Okajima can serve as a LOOGY when the situation demands it. Since he does not have a pronounced platoon split, he can be more than just a LOOGY, as Pedro Feliciano was; Reason number two. While in Boston, Okajima served as a normal middle-reliever, the set-up man to Jonathan Papelbon, and spot closer, when the situation dictated it. So, we'd be able to get our moneys worth out of him, using him out of the pen in whatever situation might arise- similarly to how Tak2 was used last season. Spending $3 million dollars a season might be a little overpriced, I'll admit, but he certainly has the theoretical potential to be worth it. In the past two years, he's been worth 0.7 WAR (Fangraphs) and 0.0 WAR, respectively, as opposed to his 2007 and 2008 seasons, where he was worth 1.5 WAR and 1.1 WAR, respectively. His peripherals have also been dropping, with K/9 and BB/9 rates having diminished over the last couple of seasons. A change from the AL East to the less ‘fierce' NL East might help compensate for those declining numbers. Supposedly, some of his problems in 2009 and 2010 stemmed from slight depression, because of his lack of English skills, and the Red Sox policy to not allow team translators in the dugout (Dice-K, it is said, is not much of a conversationalist). With the signing of Koji Uehara (below), he'd have a buddy he'd be able to pal around with.
Sign Koji Uehara: 2 years/$8 million dollars ($4 million, 2011 / $4 million, 2012)
-When the Orioles won the bidding rights to sign Koji Uehara, and inked him to a two-year deal, they thought they would be getting a Major League starting pitcher. Things didn't work out like that, though, for various reasons, and Uehara only made 12 starts for the O's, all in 2009. In 2010, he was used exclusively out of the bullpen. Out of the bullpen, Uehara was surprisingly effective- his 1.4 WAR in 44 innings out of the bullpen in 2010 was almost as good as his 1.7 WAR in 66.2 innings while in the starting rotation in 2009. What made Uehara so effective? He displayed an excellent amount of control, striking out 11.25 batters per nine innings, while walking 1.02 per nine innings. He struck out 11 batters for everyone one he walked. The K/9 rate was a lot better than it was in 2009, and was a career high, factoring in his NPB work. He has always had good control, in Japan, and Bill James is projecting him to have control numbers more like 2010 than 2009 (8.02 K/9, 1.13 BB/9). Given he's getting on in age, we wouldn't have to worry about him losing his edge, since his fastball is already in the mid-80s- control isn't something that you just magically lose. Uehara can also spot-start, in case of emergencies, or pitch mop-up/long-relief, when necessary, being a former starter.
Sign Dionner Navarro: 1 year/$500,000 dollars
-Given his very poor performance with the Devil Rays over the past two years, and the recent "controversy" caused by him not electing to travel with the team during their regrettably-short playoff experience, the team opted to non-tender him-especially with them possessing erstwhile replacements. His 2010 and 2009 stats aren't particularly compelling, with him accruing a total of -0.2 WAR over the course of both seasons, according to Fangraphs, and -0.5 WAR according to Baseball-Reference, with the majority of the negative value stemming from his weak bat. Navarro is two seasons removed from posting a 3.0 (Fangraphs)/2.2 (Baseball-Reference) season, and will still only be 27 when the 2011 baseball season begins. While Henry Blanco is a solid back up, you know what you are going to get from him (which isn't particularly all that much, but, at the same time, is in no way bad or unacceptable). Navarro, he might be a step down from Blanco as of right now, he is younger and displayed a lot more potential than Blanco, potential that, in theory, might be realized once more. Navarro made $2.1 million dollars in 2010, but with so much against him I doubt that he'd be able to sign for much more than the Major League minimum.
Sign Willie Harris: 1 year/$1 million dollars
-Signing Willie Harris gives the Mets another leftie bat off of the bench, and a good defensive replacement. Harris' defense has trended down in recent years, but he still has a positive net UZR. Harris being a Met also means that he can't make Web-Gem catches that rob ballgames from us anymore, either. Offensively, he wasn't particularly good in 2010, but a .199 BABIP in limited plate appearances will do that to a person. For as low as his average was, he did show a little pop, hitting 10 home runs.
Sign Brian Fuentes: 2 years/$5 million dollars ($2.5 million, 2011 / $2.5 million, 2012)
-A few years ago, the Angels paid Brian Fuentes around ten million dollars a year for his services as a closer. In 2009, despite accruing a Major League-leading 48 saves, Fuentes was a horrible investment, barely over replacement level (0.3 WAR). In 2010, Fuentes wasn't all that much better, and was eventually dumped to Minnesota, where he was exchanged for a player to be named later. The drop-off in his value from 2009 to the present was worse than drop-off in his stats during that same time. If Fuentes wants to make anything close to half close to the $20 million dollars the Angels signed him for, he's going to need to reestablish his value. In coming to the Mets, I think he might be able to do that. The return to the National League would do him good- his K/9 rate dropped below career norms when he went to the AL, he began walking more people than he had been in the past couple of years with Colorado, and his ERA/FIP/xFIP all were up from career norms. Serving as a set-up man and part-time closer, Fuentes might be able to build his value back up, and depending on his performance during the year, could even be flipped over to a team looking for bullpen help (like the Angels did with him this season) for a halfway decent return.
Minor League Transactions of Note
(Note: I kept Minor League signings off of my total Mets payroll, because Minor League payrolls are kept separate from their MLB-affiliate's payroll. Obviously, other signings must be done to ensure that the Minor League teams have their line-ups filled, but the following, to me, are notable signings that may have an impact on the Major League team)
Sign Brian Bannister
-Bannister is coming off a disappointing season where he was a 0.0 WAR (Fangraphs) player, the definition of replacement level. As such, the Royals might cut Bannister, and replace him. If so, I believe he would be a good Minor League depth signing. Bannister has shown glimpses of how good he can be, in 2007 and 2009. Given the nature of this signing, there would be virtually no risk, and if Bannister was able to perform (in either AAA or the MLB, should some opening in the rotation become available) at those 2007/2009 levels, it has a relatively high upside.
Sign Chien-Ming Wang
-Wang hasn't pitched since 2009 (and, that 2009 season was particularly brutal), because of various injuries. He signed with the Nationals in 2010, but never actually made it to the field, as he spent the entire season recovering from surgery. Given that the Nationals are generally viewed as a cash-strapped, small-market team, I am not imagining that they're willing to tender Wang a contract when there is a chance that he still might not pitch in 2011. The Mets, on the other hand, in theory, are not as cash-strapped as the Nats, and could throw Wang a bone, and pick him up on a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. Given the above, I doubt that he'd have many suitors, and as such, would be a cheap pick-up, despite the pretty good numbers he put up (all those winz!) in 2006, and 2007.
Sign/Trade Chris Hayes
-You might be wondering who Chris Hayes is. He's none other than everybody's favorite submariner with throws diagonally ipsilateral, and has sophomorically corrigible opinions, Disco Hayes! I don't know if he's a Minor League free agent this winter (he's been with the Royals for six seasons, and is turning 28 next season, so that cut-off has got to be approaching sometime), but regardless, we need to obtain him. And, it's not a sentimental thing, either. Disco had a fair year as a reliever in AAA in 2010. He had 10 strikeouts in 27.1 innings, and three of those came in one inning- talk about efficiency! His performance for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the independent Atlantic League wasn't so bad, either. When a bullpen guy goes down, we've got our guy to bring up and fill in. And, even if you're down on Disco (why, I can't imagine, but), think of it like this: Who would you rather see in the pen: Disco Hayes, or Jenrry Mejia? Exactly.
First Base: Ike Davis (Lefty)
Second Base: Orlando Hudson (Switch)
Third Base: David Wright (Righty)
Shortstop: Jose Reyes (Switch)
Left Field: Jason Bay (Righty)
Center Field: Carlos Beltran (Switch)
Right Field: Angel Pagan (Switch)
Catcher: Josh Thole (Lefty)
Nick Evans (Righty)
Dionner Navarro (Righty)
Justin Turner (Righty)
Chris Carter (Lefty)
Willie Harris (Lefty)
James Shields (Righty)
Mike Pelfrey (Righty)
Jon Niese (Lefty)
R.A. Dickey (Righty)
Jeff Francis (Lefty)
Johan Santana (Lefty)
Francisco Rodriguez (Righty)
Ryota Igarashi (Righty)
Manny Acosta (Righty)
Koji Uehara (Righty)
Hideki Okajima (Lefty)
Pat Misch (Lefty)
Brian Fuentes (Lefty)
Total 2011 Payroll
Johan Santana: $22.50 million
Carlos Beltran: $20.00 million
Jason Bay: $18.00 million
David Wright: $14.25 million
Francisco Rodriguez: $12.00 million
(Oliver Perez): $12.00 million
Jose Reyes: $11 million
(Luis Castillo): $6.00 million
James Shields: $4.25 million
Koji Uehara: $4 million
Mike Pelfrey: $4 million
Orlando Hudson: $3 million
Angel Pagan: $3 million
Jeff Francis: $3 million
Hideki Okajima: $2 million
R.A. Dickey: $2 million
Ryota Igarashi: $1.75 million
Brian Fuentes: $2.5 million
Willie Harris: $1.0 million
(Gary Matthews, Jr.): $1 million
Dionner Navarro: $0.500 million
Jon Niese: $0.400 million
Ike Davis: $0.400 million
Chris Carter: $0.400 million
Nick Evans: $0.400 million
Pat Misch: $0.400 million
Manny Acosta: $0.400 million
Justin Turner: $0.400 million