So, I figured I'd go crazy here with some big moves in my AAOP. These 2012 Mets will look a LOT different than the 2011 Mets, but I think they'd be competitive. I acknowledge in advance that this will be controversial, and I'm a little sad that my plan ended up looking this way.
First off, the big question: my head says let Jose Reyes go. I love Reyes, but he's too much of a risk for a team with the financial problems the Mets have. And now that there's no Steve Einhorn bailing them out, I think the Mets need to start thinking about payroll flexibility.
If you look at the post-Reyes Mets, almost all of their offensive strength is in players on the easier side of the defensive spectrum (LF/RF/1B/3B). This is a problem, and one that we need to address this offseason.
Other people here have proposed this one, and I'm in agreement on it. Bay needs to go to clear up space for other hitters, mostly. And Peavy might be a necessary get for the Mets, based on my second trade...
2. BIG DEAL #1 (This is the one I'll get the most criticism for...) - Mets trade SP Jon Niese and IF Jordany Valdespin to the Cincinnati Reds for C Yasmani Grandal, 1B/OF Yonder Alonso, and IF Zack Cozart.
In one fell swoop, the Mets will replace Reyes, bring in a top flight catcher prospect, and add an additional trade chip or corner OF in Alonso. The only way they can do something like this, though, would be to trade their top asset: Jon Niese. Niese is either a good pitcher with BABIP problems or a great pitcher with bad luck. Either way, you are addressing multiple needs at once, and the idea is that you will be able to survive without Niese long-term--you'll have the younger guys coming in over the next couple of seasons, and the team's improved financial position will allow it to spend a bit more on starting pitching in 2015 or so, we hope.
3. BIG DEAL #2 - Mets trade OF Yonder Alonso (or OF Lucas Duda, depending on who the Padres prefer), OF Angel Pagan, OF Kirk Neuwenheis, and cash to the San Diego Padres for OF Cameron Maybin and RHP Matt Lollis.
I think it would be hard to persuade the Padres to trade Cameron Maybin, but the Mets would be giving them a viable CF replacement AND a power bat at the corner, in addition to a pretty good prospect. Lollis is mostly to balance out Neuwenheis a bit, but I acknowledge that this might require a lesser prospect from San Diego to work.
The cash to the Padres is to pay the difference between Maybin and Pagan. It will probably be somewhere between $4 and $5 million.
4. Move David Wright to LF.
Wright's become a net negative at third base, defensively, and there's now a big opening in LF for the post-Bay Mets. The other option is to trade Wright and stick Alonso in LF, but I'd rather have Wright if I can. If Chipper can make the move in the middle of his career, then Wright can, too.
5. Sign the following players:
On my count, that's $92.7 million before the minimum contracts and roster invites. Add in a bunch of minimum contracts (I'm guessing 14-15), and we're up to $99 million. Add in the Pagan cash, and we're up to $103 million or so. So there's still some flexibility in the payroll for the season itself.
What does that roster look like?
1. Murphy (3B)
2. Maybin (CF)
3. Davis (1B)
4. Wright (LF)
5. El Dudarino (RF)
6. Cozart (SS)
7. Tejada (2B)
8. Thole (C)
SP - Johan Santana
SP - Jake Peavy
SP - R.A. Dickey
SP - Chris Capuano
SP - Mike Pelfrey
CL - Frank Francisco
RP - Joe Nathan
RP - Takashi Saito
RP - Tim Byrdak
RP - Manny Acosta
RP - Bobby Parnell
RP - Daniel Herrera
In the minors, you'd have whichever spring training invites didn't make the cut, or didn't graduate thanks to injury. You'd also have Josh Stinson, Dillon Gee, and Pedro Beato as future call-ups for injuries. On the hitting side, you'd have a premier catching prospect, Yasmani Grandal, in AAA, to pair with your already strong pitching prospects.
I think this would be an interesting way to address the team's problems. It would cost them Jon Niese, but I think otherwise, you're really blasting off out of the Omar Minaya era into the future. You would also have young talent on the tougher end of the defensive spectrum: Maybin, Cozart, and Grandal would replace Pagan, Reyes, and Thole up the middle. And they're already quite strong at the corners, with Duda, Wright, Davis, Murphy, and Satin. Essentially, you would be building the core of a young offense to match the young pitching that's coming up. I think once 2013 rolled around, you would have some serious financial flexibility AND the young talent to start competing again.
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