If the Mets were to make no roster moves from here on out, this is what the 2011 25-man roster would look like:
At first glance, I'm actually not COMPLETELY repulsed by this roster. Especially considering the kind of minor league depth the team is developing. Assuming Oliver Perez ends up the fifth starter, Takahashi, Misch and Maine have the ability to step in and do just as terrible a job as Ollie.
That being said, there are some holes that need to be filled. Starting from the top down:
1. The fifth starter. The Mets have the fortune of having two young, fireballing righties who will likely be in need of starting jobs, in Jenrry Mejia and Matt Harvey. However, neither of them have NEARLY enough minor league experience to be considered for the major league spot. At the same time, they may be sniffing the bigs in mid-summer, so it's highly ill-advised that the Mets try to wrap somebody up long term. Pitchers are never a sure thing, and the Mets do have some depth in spot starters, so they should try and get creative like they did with R.A. Dickey.
The Mets could go very high risk-reward and chase after Chris Young, who, considering the Padres rotation and financial situations at the moment, will not have his option picked up. If he can return to his 2007 form, Chris Young is an ace. If he's ready to pitch in the bigs by May, or even June, he could be a major asset. The same goes for Brandon Webb, however Webb's longer track record of success suggests that he'll want a pretty big contract.
Another consideration would be ex-Phillie Jamie Moyer, the ageless wonder. He can provide slightly above replacement level pitching for a little while, which is more than Oliver Perez or John Maine can say, but both Hisanori Takahashi and Pat Misch are both capable of pitching at Moyer-like levels, perhaps even Dillon Gee.
Javier Vazquez also intrigues me. He's a high-strikeout, low walk pitcher who doesn't allow a whole lot of hard contact. He's always healthy, and his only achilles heel is the home run, which makes me wonder why the Yankees wanted him so badly, considering their ballpark. A move back to the National League and out of Yankee Stadium could have Javy returning to his old self. His value is at its lowest, with an ERA at 4.86, and and FIP of 5.29, and he has just been kicked out of the Yankee rotation. He could be a very interesting buy-low for the Mets, and I think he may be looking to sign a 1 year deal worth $5-6 million.
An option that very much intrigues me is David Bush. The right hander has spent his career in the arbitration process and this year is his first as an MLB free agent. Last year he made the most he ever has, a little over $4,000,000. His tenure with the Brewers, outside of his very good 2006, has pretty much been of a backend starter. Bush's fastball is a very slow pitch, and he gets by now on mixing his 4 pitches with good command. Bush has a track record of very good control that has kept him a major leaguer without spectacular velocity or movement. He is a fly ball pitcher that has suffered through a not-too-fantastic ballpark to pitch in with pretty terrible outfielders backing him up. An outfield consisting of Pagan and Beltran in the spacious Citifield could do him good, and make him a more than passable 5 starter in New York, most likely not costing more than $2-3 million.
2. The 6th and 7th bullpen men. Rodriguez, Parnell, Igarashi, Takahashi, and Perez will likely staff the bullpen next year, and the only two MLB pitchers left are Maine and Nieve, both of whom shouldn't be on the team, and will likely not see Mets 2011 Spring Training. The Mets are left with the choices of internal options such Raul Valdez, Sean Green, Chad Cordero or John Lujan, or the oddities on the free agent market such as Brian Shouse. It's hard to picture the Mets going after a big name setup man, with Parnell and Takahashi around, although the Mets have shown some interest in Scott Downs. Personally I'd like the team to use some minor league depth to fill the void, particularly Lujan and Valdez, and perhaps sign a reliever or two to AAA.
3. Backup catcher. The Mets need a vet around to manage the pitching staff and mentor Josh Thole. I think the Mets should bring Henry Blanco back around to do the job. Gerald Laird could also fit the bill. If the Mets are feeling anxious about giving Thole 100+ starts next year, they could try to add on a good hitting catcher such as David Ross or Miguel Olivo to split time with the young Thole.
4. Second Base. Luis Castillo isn't very good. This much is clear. But glancing at the free agent market, the options aren't much better, and even if we somehow manage to ditch Luis Castillo and his $6 million due this year, the options still suck pretty hard. The best would be Jose Lopez, who in all likelihood won't be returning to the Mariners considering the $4.5 million price tag of re-adding him. Defensively he's a decent second baseman and a good third baseman but the bat is always a question. He never walks and while he has power potential he couldn't manage to knock 10 homers this year. Options such as Kaz Matsui and Akinori Iwamura aren't any more attractive. The best thing the Mets can do is try and trade pretty big prospects for a second baseman such as Brandon Phillips or Kelly Johnson. I can't imagine Phillips being traded with the Reds as contenders and losing the mammoth contracts of Harang and Arroyo, but he'd be the perfect fit for the Mets. Kelly Johnson is also very very good.
5. Backup middle infielder. Joaquin Arias sucks, as does Luis Hernandez. Moving on. I think the most suitable solution to backup the middle infield is Justin Turner. The Mets should avoid an Alex Cora-like signing at all costs. RubenTejada will be starting in AAA and Reese Havens in AA, so perhaps adding a player such as Kaz Matsui to the minor league roster could help, but between Turner, Tejada, Josh Satin and Havens the Mets have good depth here.
6. Fourth Outfielder. One of Chris Carter, Lucas Duda or Nick Evans on the MLB Roster could be very beneficial. They all have proven themselves as sluggers in the minors and in case of injury to Bay or Beltran in the corners they could come in handy. However; the Mets need someone who can man all the outfield positions with good defense. In my opinion Jody Gerut fits the bill pretty pretty well, and he should be able to be had on a minor league contract as well. Alfredo Amezaga could also most likely be available for a minor league deal. Getting both would definitely give the Mets near infinite outfield depth, with Bay, Pagan, Beltran, Carter/Duda/Evans, Gerut, Amezaga, Nieuwenhuis and Martinez.
Making a winning roster for 2011 definitely won't involve any big names. The Mets automatically gain $20 million on their payroll for next year, and although monetary annoyances such as Cora, Tatis, Feliciano, Maine and Frenchy won't be around, that still only makes up for around $10 million of it. If K-rod's contract gets lowered this could help the Mets a little as well, but they still have no shot at getting back down to $120 million.