I call myself an optimistic realist. That is, I try to see the cold hard facts in a positive light. That being said, are the Mets the best team in the National League? Definitely not. Would I put them in the top half of NL teams? Yes. With a trade here, a couple of free agent signings there, and bounceback years from guys with down years in 2011, this team is capable of making the playoffs. I believe this is a realistic and attainable assertion.
In last year’s AAOP, I made the point that everyone wrote off the Padres heading into 2010, and even though they didn’t make the playoffs, they won 90 games. This year, when Adam Wainwright got hurt during Spring Training and was out for the year with Tommy John, plus the added distraction of the failed Pujols contract talks, the Cardinals were given no chance in hell by the mainstream media. Well, they proved everyone wrong now, didn’t they? I think the Mets can very well be 2012’s version of the 2010 Padres and the 2011 Cardinals.
We should be able to make a trade or two that brings in cost controlled young players with potential to be offensive cogs in our lineup for years to come. Bad contract swaps should be done if it addresses a pressing need. When it comes to free agents, the approach I advocate for is hard to argue with: make the team better by any means necessary. Let’s just hope this long-term approach to building a perennial winner isn’t thwarted by the events prophesied in that horrible, cheesy, overdramatic, special effects galore movie Roland Emmerich made a couple of years back.
With that being said...
1. Pay the man: Re-sign Jose Reyes to a 6 year/108 million dollar deal
The Mets need Jose Reyes to be competitive. As a big market team, it is an absolute shame, and a public relations disaster if another team outbids us, especially for one of our core players who has been played his whole pro career with the Mets organization. Although I have no doubt Ruben Tejada will have a solid, albeit unspectacular,major league career, there is no way that he will be able to replace Jose Reyes’s production. Jose provides intangible value in ways besides his outstanding OPS and WAR. This is a golden opportunity for Sandy Alderson to send a message to the fanbase that he’s truly committed to long term winning by getting a deal done. I understand Sandy is concerned about the amount of years in the deal, but six years from now, Jose will be 34. Hardly an old man. To me, the difference between 33 and 34 is negligible at least, minor at most. Give him his years, give him his money. 15.5 million in 2012, progressing one million each year until 20.5 million in year six of the deal.
2. Offer arbitration to Mike Pelfrey, BUT trade him to the Cincinnati Reds along with Jordanny Valdespin and minor pitching prospect (one of Mark Cohoon or Robert Carson, plus Chris Schwinden) for Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal
Mike Pelfrey will never be the ace pitcher that we envisioned him to be when he was drafted all those years ago. However, he does have value as an innings-eating, back of the rotation starter. There is a market for that. Pelfrey has had only two good seasons (2008 and 2010) and has not been able to build on those the following year. His walk and strikeout rates have dropped the past three years (which is both good and bad, respectively), while maintaining a roughly .300 BABIP. His xFIP is consistently in the mid 4’s, which does not suggest future improvement. In addition, his 9.1 HR/FB rate is unacceptable for a supposed sinkerballer who calls a pitcher’s park home. I propose that we offer arbitration to him, but get something for him on the trade market. He figures to make, give or take, 5 million in arbitration in 2012.
The Cincinnati Reds seem to be in need of a starting pitcher. No one in their rotation pitched 200 innings this year. Bronson Arroyo, normally their innings eater, had a miserable year. Edinson Volquez, who had shown flashes of brilliance before his Tommy John surgery and PED suspension, is in danger of being nontendered after a horrific season. The Reds also have Yonder Alonso blocked on their major league roster. He is a young player who has a good possibility of becoming a star in this league, and the Reds have been dangling him around in the trade market for quite some time. He will be our new left fielder; the fate of Jason Bay will be described in number 3.In the minors, the Reds have two excellent catching prospects in Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal. Mescoraco is the more highly regarded of the two, and the Reds would be naturally reluctant to trade him, but this makes them all the more likely to entertain trading Grandal. Grandal is close to the majors, has posted very good minor league numbers for a catcher, and has the potential to be a fixture behind the plate for years to come. Valdespin is a very raw prospect that had a good year in the minors in 2011, but needs to work on his both his behavioral and plate discipline. The Reds also need a second baseman in the wings to replace Brandon Phillips, who is going to be a free agent this offseason. We also have a glut of 2B/SS types in our system like Tejada, Turner, Havens, and Satin, so Valdespin is expendable in my opinion, especially to strengthen the organization as a whole.
This is a pure bad contract swap. The White Sox saw a truly awful season from Adam Dunn, who is far worse than Bay at this point. Peavy’s White Sox career has been derailed by a torn pectoral muscle late in 2010 and underwent a surgery that has never been done before on any baseball player. Peavy may never regain the Cy Young form he showed in San Diego, but his xFIP in 2011 was a respectable 3.52, which shows that he can improve in 2012. Bay at this point is owed, at minimum 35 million (which includes a 3 million buyout) through 2013, with the vesting option worth 17 million. Peavy is owed 21 million at minimum , which includes a 4 million buyout of a 2013 club option worth 22 million, which is sure to be declined unless Peavy somehow reverts back to ace form. At minimum, this amounts to a 14 million dollar difference.
Although he has lost some luster in recent years, Fernando Martinez still has some, albeit not that much, value as a prospect. Kenny Williams has looked to acquire him once before, reportedly asking for him back in the 2008-2009 offseason in a proposed package for Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye. Throwing in Fernando Martinez may reduce the difference that the Mets would have to chip in by half. Also, the White Sox farm system is regarded as one of the worst in the game, and acquiring even a fallen star prospect like Martinez could only help. Kenny Williams is known for making aggressive trades to shake things up, and to acquire once-star outfielders who are in a multi-season slump (see waiver claim of Rios, Alex, 2009.) This deal seems to suit both of William’s tendencies.
4. Extend David Wright’s contract. Exercise club option and make extension take effect after 2013. Extension: 2014-2019 worth 90 million, no trade clause.
This has no bearing on this year’s AAOP salary wise, but I think it would be wise for Sandy to do this already and end the media swirl over Wright’s potential availability. Even in a down year, Wright is still one of the top third baseman in the game. His subpar 2011, plus Wright being a core player, the face of the franchise, and his desire to be a Met for life, should make an extension easy and somewhat below market rate. With both Wright and Reyes locked in for the long term, it restores fan confidence in the overall direction of the franchise, and provides the team with two top-tier players that will don the orange and blue for hopefully the rest of their careers.
5. Offer Angel Pagan arbitration, will earn about 4.5 million
OK, we all know that Angel had a rough year in 2011. But his 2010 was one of the best on the team that year. He also had a decent 2009 before getting hurt. He deserves another chance. With his subpar 2011, Pagan doesn’t figure to make that much more than his 3.5 million salary in 2010. I’ll say he settles at the midpoint between his submitted figure of 5 million and the Mets figure of 4 million. 4.5 million seems about right for Pagan’s services. Other options on the market, both free agent and trade, don’t appeal to me. Who knows how healthy Grady Sizemore really is? Nate McLouth was never the same since being traded to Atlanta in 2009. David DeJesus is a more expensive version of Angel Pagan.
6. Sign Jonathan Broxton to a 1 year/1.6 million dollar deal (plus incentives)
It was interesting to hear that Sandy wanted a closer this offseason, especially keeping Moneyball in mind. However, this move would bring in a closer at minimal cost, which would appeal greatly to Sandy.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Broxton was one of the best closers in the game. Now, who knows what happened to him. He represents a perfect opportunity to bring in someone new to the bullpen who has the potential to be lights out. This is a low-risk, high reward signing. If he rediscovers his form, great. If he still sucks by the middle of the season, cut him and move on.
7. Sign Matt Murton to a 1 yr/1 million deal with mutual option for 1 million
I totally forgot about Murton until I read one of the other AAOP's. Matt Murton never got slack in Chicago or Oakland. He went to Japan and was an All-star over there. We should try to bring him back to the States and use him as a fourth outfielder who is undervalued and provides average, obp, and some pop off of the bench. Maybe he can be the Colby Lewis of offense.
Bench: Nickeas, Evans, Turner, Tejada, Murton
Minors: Satin, Capt. Kirk, Lutz, Grandal, Pridie, Baxter
Minors: Mejia, Cohoon OR Carson, Stinson, Harvey, Familia, Carrasco
Salary Total: Started with 80 million
Plus 15.5 million for Jose Reyes
Plus 7 million in Jason Bay-Jake Peavy deal
Plus 4.5 million for Angel Pagan
Plus 1.6 million for Jonathan Broxton
Plus: 1 million for Matt Murton
Total Payroll: $109,600,000
So there you have it folks. I added only major league deals to the salary, minor league deals like Pridie and Baxter I didn't factor in. Our bench has mostly familiar faces save for Murton, and we have depth and versatility all around. As for our new acquisitions, Alonso gives us a young, high potential bat in left field. Trading Bay for Peavy gives us a former ace looking to recapture his glory days, and the signing of Jonathan Broxton gives the team a low cost option that can pay high dividends. I believe that these moves makes the team competitive in the National League. Add that to Jose Reyes having another consistent year, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis coming back from injuries that marred otherwise good seasons, and David Wright healthy and reverting back to 2005-2008 form, and you got yourself a damn good ballclub that can capture the Wild Card.
If not, hey, it ain’t the end of the world, we’ll just party like its 2012. Praise be to Dickey. Thank you for reading, I await your feedback.