AAOP: Go Elite or Go Home

Bumped from FanPosts. The Amazin' Avenue Offseason Plan contest is underway, and here's one example of the many great entries we have already received. You, too, can make a plan. It's your plan, and your plan, you like your plan. The authors of the first, second, and third place plans will receive Amazon gift cards. -- Chris

We're getting close. We have a competent front office. The Mets no longer destroy prospects. There are fewer albatross contracts. The lineup, when healthy, is good enough to contend, although it could be better. The bench needs to be refined to be able to fill any position at an MLB average level of production. The starting rotation needs at least two more quality pitchers. And the bullpen needs to be substantially upgraded.

Unlike last year, the Mets won't participate in the Rule V draft. Too many Mets prospects are now eligible to be drafted. All 40 roster spots will be needed to protect as many as possible, and that still won't be enough. Prospects will be exposed to the draft. To help manage this risk, players will be traded away for some organizational needs.

With the Mets current financial concerns, it won't be possible to realistically address all of the Mets needs for opening day. What will be possible, however, is to have everything in place to field a team better than most contenders by the end of the 2012 season. It may be too late by then to win the wild card, but we will see the Mets improve as the season progresses. By the end of the 2012 season, we will be fielding a team that clearly will be a contender for the 2013 playoffs. We will transition to contention by keeping elite players, and adding more elite players.

The Trades

Trade #1 with the Reds

Yasmani Grandal

We need a catcher. Yasmani Grandal is an elite switch-hitting catcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization at the AAA level. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Baseball America ranked Grandal as the Reds sixth best prospect. Why would the Reds trade an elite catching prospect when they themselves need a catcher? Because Grandal is their second best catching prospect. Devin Mesoraco is their best, and he had his cup 'o coffee this past September.

Yasmani Grandal: switch-hitting catcher
2010 Rookie 8 33 .333 .286 .394 .036 .336 106 12.1% 12.1%
2011 Hi-A 56 251 .359 .296 .410 .214 .407 137 16.3% 22.7%
2011 AA 45 172 .377 .301 .360 .173 .370 123 7.6% 22.7%
2011 AAA 4 18 .545 .500 .667 .167 .582 276 27.8% 5.6%

"23) Yasmani Grandal, C, Cincinnati Reds, Grade B+: Hit .296/.410/.510 in High-A, then .301/.360/.474 in Double-A. Power, patience, good glove. If Mesoraco doesn't seize the Cincy catching job, Grandal will." - John Sickels, Top 50 Hitting Prospects for 2011: How They Performed

While we're getting Yasmani, we'll also take another prospect in lefty reliever Jeremy Horst. He's not elite, but we need the bullpen depth.

Jeremy Horst

Jeremy Horst: left-handed relief pitcher
2007 Rookie 16 0 39.2

7.71 0.45 4.99 11.57 .348 3.18
2007 Rookie 1 0 2.0

13.50 0.00 9.00 18.00 .500 4.50
2008 Lo-A 36 10 102.0

6.53 0.26 2.91 9.71 .272 2.38
2009 Hi-A 23 23 133.0

9.20 1.02 2.77 6.83 .300 3.25 4.28
2009 AA 5 5 29.0

10.86 2.17 3.10 6.52 .329 6.21
2010 AFL 1 0 1.0

9.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 .250 0.00
2010 Level 10 0 12.0

8.25 1.50 4.50 6.75 .265 3.75
2010 Hi-A 11 0 14.0

10.93 0.64 2.57 10.93 .381 4.50
2010 AA 27 0 43.0

7.33 0.21 1.88 9.63 .291 2.09
2010 AAA 6 2 14.1

10.67 0.00 3.14 7.53 .370 2.51
2011 AAA 36 0 51.1

7.19 0.35 2.45 7.36 .260 2.81
2011 MLB 12 0 15.1 0 0 10.57 1.17 3.52 5.28 .308 2.93 5.00 4.72 4.83

What do the Reds get from the Mets? Well, they need a third baseman, a left fielder, and starting pitching. We'll send Cincinnati Daniel Murphy, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Dillon Gee. We're getting this done. We're getting an elite catcher. Grandal might be ready to start in the majors now, but we'll give him some more time. Horst appears ready for the majors, but we'll start him in Buffalo too because we need quality depth. Odds are that Horst will be up in the majors before the end of April.

October 24th addendum: If this offer is not enough, it will be upgraded. Perhaps something along the lines of Daniel Murphy and Jeurys Familia for Yasmani Grandal and Jeremy Horst, or just Grandal. The idea here is to get an elite 22 year old catcher who is just about major league ready, particularly because quality catchers are very scarce and rarely available as free agents.

Trade #2 with the Dodgers

Hello Ned? yada yada yada Josh Satin is from L.A. yada yada yada Grission! yada yada yada remember Tony Pena? yada yada yada Francisco Pena yada yada yada needs a change of scenery yada yada yada which is fair for Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers get a cheap player at first base, as well as a catching prospect who may or may not still be a prospect. The Mets get an excellent reliever.

October 24th addendum: This is a very unbalanced trade in the Mets favor. Considering who the Dodgers' GM is, this will still be an opening offer because a) it just might work, and b) for the lulz. In the event that this doesn't fly, we'll upgrade it, perhaps to include Darin Gorski or Zach Lutz.

Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen: right-handed relief pitcher
2009 Hi-A 12 0 11.2

10.80 0.77 8.49 14.66 .481 4.63
2010 Hi-A 11 0 18.0

7.50 0.00 3.00 14.00 .385 1.50
2010 AA 22 0 27.0

4.67 0.00 5.67 16.67 .318 1.67
2010 MLB 25 0 27.0 11 1 4.00 0.00 5.00 13.67 .231 0.67 1.59 1.82 2.95
2011 Hi-A 2 2 2.0

0.00 0.00 0.00 18.00 .000 0.00
2011 AA 5 0 6.0

3.00 1.50 4.50 13.50 .111 4.50
2011 MLB 51 0 53.2 17 3 5.03 0.50 4.36 16.10 .297 2.85 2.06 1.74 2.09

Trade #3 with the Cubs

The Cubs need all sorts of help. Allan Dykstra is a very nice prospect who can help them in a year, and maybe sooner. We'll also send Josh Stinson, a promising young reliever. All that we ask for in return in a reliever. Sean Marshall is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $3.1 million. Why would we trade away a top prospect for an expensive reliever who might only be with the team for one year? Two reasons. The first is that Marshall has posted greater than 2 fWAR in each of the last two seasons. Marshall is awesome, and he will make the Mets bullpen much better. The other reason is that he projects to be a Type A free agent. If he does walk after next season, the Mets gets two draft picks. Why would anyone sign a setup man if it costs a draft pick? Where are the savezzzz? Mets fans, meet Sean Marshall - your new "closer." If for some reason he's not working out in that role, we have Kenley Jansen.

October 24th addendum: This trade may be acceptable to the Cubs based on what their scouts think of Allan Dykstra. He is a former first round draft pick who was floundering in the Padres system until the Mets traded for him before the 2011Sean Marshall season began. If they believe in his bat, there is no need to alter this trade proposal. If there is a need, the trade could be upgraded, perhaps by adding in Robert Carson.

Sean Marshall: left-handed relief pitcher
2006 MLB 24 24 125.2 0 0 9.45 1.43 4.23 5.51 .280 5.59 5.77 5.57 5.13
2007 MLB 21 19 103.1 1 0 9.32 1.13 3.05 5.84 .285 3.92 4.52 4.62 4.43
2008 MLB 34 7 65.1 4 2 8.27 1.24 3.17 7.99 .276 3.86 4.32 4.39 4.19
2009 MLB 55 9 85.1 10 7 9.60 1.05 3.38 7.17 .309 4.32 5.24 4.19 3.77
2010 MLB 80 0 74.2 29 8 6.99 0.36 3.01 10.85 .294 2.65 3.07 2.28 2.50
2011 MLB 78 0 75.2 32 11 7.85 0.12 2.02 9.40 .313 2.26 2.24 1.86 2.50

The Free Agents

José! José! José! Why re-sign him? Because elite shortstops are very scarce. Letting José go so that we have more money for mediocre players is folly. We're going for 6/108, with the contract front loaded: 20,20,20,18,16,14. We'll also make José and Dubs co-captains. Team captains in baseball doesn't mean much. It is, however, a bit of recognition that hopefully compensates for Fred Wilpon's big mouth. It also won't cost more than the price of sewing "C"s onto uniforms.

José Reyes: Met for Life
2003 MLB 69 292 .335 .307 .334 .128 .338 105 4.5% 12.3%
2004 MLB 53 229 .289 .255 .271 .118 .293 74 2.2% 13.5%
2005 MLB 161 733 .298 .273 .300 .114 .308 86 3.7% 10.6%
2006 MLB 153 703 .320 .300 .354 .187 .367 122 7.5% 11.5%
2007 MLB 160 765 .302 .280 .354 .141 .346 107 10.1% 10.2%
2008 MLB 159 763 .317 .297 .358 .179 .366 123 8.7% 10.7%
2009 MLB 36 166 .307 .279 .355 .116 .342 110 10.8% 11.4%
2010 MLB 133 603 .301 .282 .321 .146 .329 104 5.1% 10.4%
2011 MLB 126 586 .353 .337 .384 .156 .386 149 7.3% 7.0%

Miguel Batista is merely a replacement level pitcher. Why bother bringing him back? To help buy time for pitchers in Buffalo to develop, and for the depth that will be needed in the likely event that a pitcher winds up on the DL. Batista's versatility adds to his utility. 1 year at $900K, and don't expect to see him on the roster in August. Only the last five years of this 17-year veteran's career are being listed below.

Miguel Batista: right-handed swing pitcher
2007 MLB 33 32 193.0 1 0 9.75 0.84 3.96 6.20 .310 4.29 4.11 4.52 4.90
2008 MLB 44 20 115.0 7 7 10.57 1.49 6.18 5.71 .306 6.26 6.24 6.23 5.60
2009 MLB 56 0 71.1 15 11 9.97 0.88 4.92 6.56 .319 4.04 4.50 4.64 4.84
2010 MLB 58 1 82.2 7 6 7.73 0.98 4.25 5.99 .256 3.70 4.52 4.76 4.63
2011 MLB 35 5 60.0 9 6 7.35 0.30 4.95 4.65 .247 3.60 5.13 4.38 5.20

Chris Capuano will be brought back with a 2/12 deal. He was a competent starter, and managed to stay healthy for the entire season. If Santana,Chris Capuano Dickey and Niese outperform him, as soon as at least two of our elite pitching prospects are ready, Cap gets traded.

Chris Capuano: left-handed starting pitcher
2003 MLB 9 5 33.0 1 1 7.36 0.82 3.00 6.27 .250 4.64 5.11 4.36 4.46
2004 MLB 17 17 88.1 0 0 9.27 1.83 3.77 8.15 .298 4.99 5.50 5.31 4.40
2005 MLB 35 35 219.0 0 0 8.71 1.27 3.74 7.23 .283 3.99 5.14 4.66 4.51
2006 MLB 34 34 221.1 0 0 9.31 1.18 1.91 7.08 .295 4.03 4.27 4.04 4.08
2007 MLB 29 25 150.0 1 2 10.20 1.20 3.24 7.92 .330 5.10 4.31 4.45 4.21
2010 MLB 24 9 66.0 2 2 8.86 1.23 2.86 7.36 .290 3.95 4.02 4.22 3.90
2011 MLB 33 31 186.0 1 1 9.58 1.31 2.56 8.13 .311 4.55 3.84 4.04 3.67

The Lineup


This is currently a major area of weakness. The Mets have no catchers who are acceptable as starters, and the most advanced player in the minors, who is a credible catching prospect, has yet to play above Lo-A. This is why we are trading for Grandal. Josh Thole is our opening day starting catcher. By the end of the season, Grandal will have Thole's job.

First Base

Ike Davis will be back. As long as he stays healthy, the Mets are set at first.

Second Base

This is between Ruben Tejada, Reese Havens and Jordany Valdespin.

Of everyone mentioned, Valdespin has the best glove. Valdespin's offensive potential may be the highest, but he still has question marks. There are holes in his swing, but he has greatly improved this during the 2011 season. If Valdespin continues to improve his swing, he could be ready to start in the majors by the all-star break.

Havens has the surest offensive potential, but that is only if he can stay healthy. Havens has the most advanced bat of any Mets second base prospect. He should be ready to start in the majors by mid-season, but he has to stay healthy.

Tejada is the safe choice to start the 2012 season. He has a good glove, and a slightly below average bat. We'll go with Ruben as the opening day second baseman so that Havens and Valdespin can get more playing time in Buffalo. But if either Havens or Valdespin outperform the others in spring training, to the satisfaction of the front office, then Tejada will start in Buffalo.Jose


José! José! José!

Third Base

David Wright had an awful season in 2011. There is reason to hope that he will perform like he did when the Mets were in Shea Stadium. Wright showed signs of improvement after he returned from the disabled list, and they were driven by a return to his former mechanics at the plate and in the field. David Wright surrounded by Playboy bunniesIf Citi Field's dimensions are adjusted, Wright may benefit greatly. There is also reason to be highly skeptical. 2012 will be a pivotal season for David Wright. If he performs even close to the Shea Stadium David Wright, then he's a keeper. If he continues to flounder, it will be time to move on, but that time is not now.

Left Field

Face palm. Jason B... WHY?!? OK, Jason Bay will be our starting left fielder. Bay was awesome in September. It was only one month, and his excellent performance was BABIP fueled, so let's temper any enthusiasm. I believe that Jason Bay can perform at the level that was expected when he was signed. I also believe that he will be unable to sustain that level of performance for an entire season. We're going for one last chance for an extended BABIPLucas Duda fueled performance and then TRAID! If we can't trade him, Bay gets cut. He's got until the trading deadline. The next left fielder could be The Duda, Fernando Martinez or Juan Lagares.

Center Field

Angel Pagan was terrible in 2011. This is not the player that Mets fans saw in 2009 or 2010. Considering the overall scarcity of center fielders, and the lack of credible center field prospects in the Mets' upper minors who might be ready at any time in 2012, Pagan stays. We're looking for him to get close to his 2010 form.

Right Field

Lucas Duda is a legitimate 3-tools player. He can hit for average, hit for power, and throw. We'll just have to overlook the other tools and hope that Duda can learn how to play right field. He would be better in left where there is less ground to cover, but that real estate is occupied... for now.

The Bench

We'll keep Mike Baxter, Nick Evans, Jason Pridie, Justin Turner and Mike Nickeas. This is not a great bench, but we've also seen worse.Mike Baxter Why not spend money to improve the bench? Because this is a rebuilding year and quality bench players can be picked up in any free agent market.

The Rotation

This will be the Mets weakest area on opening day. The resources are simply not available to sign, or trade for, the pitchers needed to contend. We'll have to make do with what we have for now. The good news is that help is on the way. The Mets have four elite starting pitching prospects that could reach Citi Field in 2012. Matt Harvey is the most likely, and he could join The Show as early as mid-season depending on how he pitches. Jeurys Familia will start in AAA, and it is not reasonable to expect to see him with the Mets until the end of the season, provided he is not traded. Jenrry Mejia is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. It is possible that he can be fully recovered by mid-season, dominate AAA, and get a late season call up. Don't count on it. 2013 is more realistic. And then there is Zack Wheeler. He has yet to pitch in AA. Wheeler would have to be lights out in AA, get a mid-season promotion to AAA, and dominate that level if there is to be any chance at pitching in the majors in 2012. It's possible, but it is more realistic that we don't see Wheeler until some time in 2013.

So we'll start the season with who we have. Johan Santana will be back, although no one knows how effective he'll be. R.A. Dickey is rock solid. Jon Niese will try for his first complete season in the majors. Chris Capuano was respectable, so we'll bring him back. Mike Pelfrey will rejoin the Mets for his final season with the club. Why will this be Big Pelf's final season? He'll be a Type B free agent. We'll trade him during the season, or let him walk and collect the draft pick.

The Bullpen

Suckage be gone! We're adding Kensley Jansen, Sean Marshall and Jeremy Horst to Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, Daniel Ray Herrera and Bobby Parnell. Actually Batista and Beato did suck to varying degrees, but they stay in the organization. Beato is a tremendous raw talent, but he needs more time in the minors. AAA for Pedro until he figures it out. Jeremy Horst will also start the season in Buffalo. Batista had a scary BB/K ratio, but somehow performed well with the Mets. We just need him as a long man until one of the kids in Buffalo is ready. Don't expect to see Batista with the Mets at the end of August. We're just buying time. By the end of 2012, if we need to still upgrade the bullpen, we'll need to get fewer pieces than we currently need.

The Transition to Contention

Projected Lineups

Opening Day Salary Opening Day Player Position Trading Deadline Player Elite?
$430,000 Josh Thole Catcher Yasmani Grandal "Yasmani" is Cuban for "elite."
$430,000 Ike Davis First Base Ike Davis Ike was looking elite before that fluke injury.
$430,000 Ruben Tejada Second Base Jordany Valdespin Valdespin is an elite talent with an elite temper.
$15,000,000 David Wright Third Base David Wright Dubs once was, and he's young enough to be again.
$20,000,000 José Reyes Shortstop José Reyes Uh, yeah.
$16,000,000 Jason Bay Left Field Juan Lagares Lagares probably isn't, but he might be.
$4,700,000 Angel Pagan Center Field Angel Pagan Crazy Horse was elite in 2010, but not even close in 2011.
$430,000 Lucas Duda Right Field Lucas Duda Duda's bat is elite. His glove? Duda's bat is elite.

Projected Bench

Opening Day Salary Opening Day Player Position Trading Deadline Player Elite?
$430,000 Mike Baxter OF/1B Mike Baxter Nope.
$430,000 Nick Evans 1B/3B/LF/OF Nick Evans Who?
$430,000 Mike Nickeas Catcher Josh Thole Are you kidding?
$430,000 Jason Pridie OF Jason Pride He has an elite wife.
$430,000 Justin Turner IF Justin Turner Other than Turner's grission, no.

Projected Pitching Rotation

Opening Day Salary Opening Day Player Position Trading Deadline Player Elite?
$24,000,000 Johan Santana LHP Johan Santana Once upon a time, Johan was very elite. The only thing about him that is now elite is his contract. With some divine intervention Santana might be elite again.
$4,550,000 R.A. Dickey Knuckler R.A. Dickey He's a freakin' deity.
$430,000 Jonathon Niese LHP Jonathon Niese No, but he is better than league average and getting better.
$6,000,000 Chris Capuano LHP Chris Capuano He was for one game in 2011, but otherwise, not at all. Cap is just holding down the fort until enough of the elite pitching prospects are ready.
$5,700,000 Mike Pelfrey RHP Matt Harvey Oh, Harvey just might be the real deal. We'll find out soon enough.

Projected Bullpen

Opening Day Salary Opening Day Player Position Trading Deadline Player Elite?
$1,000,000 Manny Acosta RHP Manny Acosta The Acostalypse isn't, but he's become an acceptable bullpen piece.
$900,000 Miguel Batista RHP Pedro Beato Beato has the potential to be elite, but he needs more seasoning in the minors.
$1,200,000 Tim Byrdak LOOGY Tim Byrdak Nah, but he gets the job done.
$430,000 Daniel Herrera LOOGY Daniel Herrera He has the most elite screwball in the majors, but otherwise, not even close.
$430,000 Kenley Jansen RHP Kenley Jansen Hell yeah!
$3,100,000 Sean Marshall LHP Sean Marshall You betcha!
$400,000 Bobby Parnell RHP Bobby Parnell The speed of Parnell's fastball is quite elite. After that he's just a lottery ticket to someday become elite.

GM mistakes

Opening Day Salary Opening Day Player Position Trading Deadline Player Elite?
$1,200,000 D.J. Carrasco RHP D.J. Carrasco Only at weddings and bar mitzvahs.
$1,000,000 Gary Matthews, Jr. OF Gary Matthews, Jr. His dad thinks he is.

Adding it up

$109,940,000 We're within budget.

What did we do?

We held onto our elite talent. We traded for an elite catcher, something that the Mets have done before with very good results. This helps the lineup transition into one of the best in baseball. The starting rotation is slightly improved. As Harvey, Familia (if kept,) Mejia and/or Wheeler become ready, it will also become good enough for the post-season, but not in 2012. The bench is static for now and can be improved at a later date. The bullpen is greatly upgraded. If the bullpen still needs to be upgraded, there won't be as many positions that need to be improved. So, we're getting ready. We're getting ready for a dynasty.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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