We won't live long enough to see the Mets win the most World Series championships. That is not who the Mets are. From our humble beginnings in 1962, when the Amazins fielded the worst team of all time, to the highs of 1969 and 1986, we've been a team of extremes. There are two extremes, on the winning side, that have never been done. A 120+ win team that goes on to win the World Series would be the perfect counterpoint to 1962, and it would be the winningest team of all time. If that mythical team were to be part of six consecutive world series championships, the Mets would lay claim to the greatest dynasty in the history of baseball.
Six straight World Series championships, and a 120 win season. If these things were easy to do, they would have already been done. As I figure it, 5 WAR players at each starting position, and four WAR 5 starting pitchers (and a WAR 3 starting pitcher) gets us to a 120 win season. That won't happen any time soon. The Mets farm system will have to be dramatically upgraded. We'll have to maneuver for players with elite potential, and not settle for league average players when we don't have to. This will take time. We can't go from 78 wins to 120 in one season. As we build to 120 wins, good things will happen. We'll become an 85 win team. Then 90. We'll keep getting better. First a wild card. Then a divisional title and back to the World Series. We'll keep getting better. We'll build to win 120 games, and to win playoff series. When the day comes that the Mets complete a season with 120 victories, we'll head to the post season as repeat defending World Series champions.
The winningest season and the greatest dynasty. This is my dream for our Mets.
And if the dream fails? What if the Mets don't win more than 110 games in a season, and only capture two World Series victories in the coming years? That failure will be easier to live with than the failures of the last decade.
There is a $150 million budget for 2011. The Mets probably won't contend for a wild card. Improvements can be made, however, to field a better team in 2011 and a contender in 2012. We want to add inexpensive players to fill holes until we can get an elite player, and when we can get an elite player, we get him.
A 10-step plan to begin our journey to greatness
Step 1 — Pink Slips
Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, of all the people to ever put on a Mets uniform, you were two of them. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
Step 2 — ???
Step 3 — Mercenaries
This is not a strong free agent market. There are still needs that can best be fulfilled by signing free agents, and a backup catcher, a backup center fielder, and bullpen help are among those needs. We'll resign Henry Blanco to a one year $800,000 deal. Tony Gwynn, Jr. is available, and he's about the best backup center fielder on the market for a budget conscious team. One year and $800,000 for him too. Bullpen help gets interesting. We need a new LOOGY. We also need an additional closer so that the Mets will have greater flexibility. K-Rod will be used in high leverage situations, so he may not be closing as many games. Brian Fuentes is the man at $4 million for one year. He will be more than an overpriced LOOGY. He'll help to prevent that vest from kicking in, which will make him worth every penny.
Step 4 — Trade R. A. Dickey
The Mets will trade R. A. Dickey to the Mets for a player to be named later. That player will be R. A. Dickey who will then be traded to the Mets for a player to be named later. This will be repeated several times with the goal of triggering some rift in the time/space continuum which will result in much Dickey. The Mets need for more starting pitchers will be solved. If that doesn't work, the Mets will proceed to the next step.
Step 5 — "Dayton, this is Sandy! How is Kansas City treating you?"
Kansas City needs to move Zack Greinke. Greinke, who has suffered from an anxiety disorder, was believed to not want to pitch in a large market like New York. Now there are reports that he would be receptive to a large market, but he wants to be on a winning team. The Mets were two games under .500 in 2010. With no other changes, Greinke should be able to post 5+ WAR and make the Mets a winning team. Other changes, as well as players rebounding, could make the Mets contenders for a wild card spot in 2011. What do the Royals get in exchange for Greinke? Jenrry Mejia, Jordany Valdespin, Nick Evans and Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Two question marks with high ceilings, immediate help for their outfield, and an outfield prospect who is a year away. The Mets get an elite question mark who can be the opening day pitcher in 2011, and a Game 1 starting pitcher in a World Series. If Greinke can't handle New York, he can be traded to another team, and value can be recovered.
Step 6 — The Keystone Migraine
There are no elite second basemen on the market. The closest that the Mets have to a second base prospect with elite potential is the perpetually injured Reese Havens. Havens could be ready to hit major league pitching now, but if he is not healthy, we'll never know. The Mets should allow him to compete for the job in spring training. He'll likely start in Buffalo at second base, so other options need to be available.
Ruben Tejada needs to demonstrate that his September (.355 wOBA) was not a fluke. That is why he will probably start in Buffalo at shortstop.
Daniel Murphy is a third baseman attempting to convert to second base. He has major league experience as a hitter, and could be a league average bat at second, which would be an improvement. There are no reliable accounts about his defensive play. He could be an average defensive second baseman and better than Turner. He could also be a major liability. No one really knows. Murphy deserves to compete for the spot in spring training. At Murphy's age and talent level, if he can't earn a starting job, he'll be on the Mets bench for depth.
Justin Turner finished his .395 wOBA Bisons season by going 6-6 while hitting for the cycle. Omar rewarded him by ignoring him. One more reason why we needed a new general manager. Turner is an experienced, but below average, second baseman. If he can translate some of his offensive prowess from Buffalo to Citi Field, he could be that WAR 2 second baseman that we would have been thrilled to have in 2010.
The ideal outcome is that Havens wins the job. The realistic outcome is that Murphy and/or Turner start.
Step 7 — Thank you sir, may I draft another?
The Atlanta Braves just signed Ed Lucas to minor league contract, but he is not on their 40 man roster. Interesting player. He is 28 years old and has never played in the majors. Lucas can play all infield and outfield positions. He posted a .390 wOBA in AAA this year. We'll take him in the Rule 5 Draft.
I don't want to trade with Tampa because they have a smart front office. I will, however, take one of their players in the Rule 5 Draft. Meet Stephen Vogt. He is a 26 year old catcher who can also play first base and left field. He has never played above advanced A, but boy did he play! .345/.399/.511 and a .412 wOBA for the lefty batting Vogt. If Tamps wants him back for organizational depth, we can talk.
Step 8 — "There's a sucker born every minute"
Unless we get a great deal, we're starting the season with Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez. Then we wait. Between injuries (it happens to other teams too) and pennant races, Sandy will be happy to talk with desperate GMs. If Bay can be moved in a good deal, Lucas Duda starts. If the Mets are contending and Beltran is playing well, some soul searching will have to be done. K-Rod is available for a trade all season long.
Step 9 — S t r e t c h
Enough with the injuries! Being a Mets fan should not require knowledge about oblique muscles. We're adding Pilates to the Mets. This won't end the injuries, but it should reduce them. (This idea was inspired by MTC, and by my sister who owns a Pilates studio.)
Step 10 — "And remember, no matter where you go, there you are"
Tai Chi improves concentration. Am I the only one who gets frustrated watching Jose Reyes, who has plus defensive tools, make bone-headed errors? He should be earning gold gloves, not auditioning for the Laff-A-Lympics. Jose, meet our new Tai Chi instructor.
Projection: 87-75 in 2011
|The Likely Lineup|
|Tony Gwynn, Jr.||OF||0.5||$800,000|
|The Starting Rotation|
|R. A. Dickey||Knuckleballer||3.0||$3,000,000|
|Gary Matthews, Jr.||OF||0.0||$1,100,000|
|Rule 5 Draft Fees||$100,000|
|Tai Chi instructors||$250,000|
|A competent front office||Priceless|
|Adding it all up||47.0||$148,502,000|