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
Your defending AAOP champ is here! Now, let’s face facts: the Mets aren’t going to be competing for world championships in the near-future. The banners of 1969 and 1986 are going to be riding solo for a while as Sandy Alderson continues to recreate the team in his image. With only $110 million to spend in this exercise and over $80 million already committed to next year, this AAOP concentrates on keeping homegrown star Jose Reyes while shuffling around the decks in the starting rotation and bullpen to maximize short-term potential. With a healthy return of ace Johan Santana and the possibility of this team FINALLY getting all of its offensive stars healthy and hitting at the same time, this team could potentially knock out an above-.500 record. This, with the possibility of competing in 2013 and beyond by way of starting pitching reinforcements such as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler and more financial flexibility. Enjoy the madness of bad MS Paintz and slightly better writing!
So, the team has gone through the following financial transformation:
TO, FINALLY... BALLIN' ON A BUDGET WITH SANDY!
AND NOW, WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO? AFTER ALL THE METS HAVE BEEN THROUGH? WHEN EVERYTHING THAT FELT SO RIGHT IS WRONG? NOW THAT THE MONEY IS GONE?
WELCOME TO MY AAOP, LADIES AND GENTS.
PART I: WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE LINEUP?
1) Sign SS Jose Reyes to a 5-year, $96 million contract, with mutual options for 2017 and 2018, that potentially bring contract up to 7-years, $140 million
Analysis: I actually wish Reyes was a free agent in 2013, because the available shortstops and high-profile free agents in that offseason (Kemp, Kinsler, and a bunch of solid starters) provide more of an opportunity for the Mets to rebound if Reyes leaves. Alas, it’s Reyes or bust in this offseason. CJ Wilson is going to make $25 million more than he should, and the two big bats do not fulfill anything on this team. Therefore, Sandy Alderson needs to make this happen as soon as possible to avoid a bidding war and keep the fans interested in Flushing. For argument’s sake, let’s say Reyes takes a deal with the following GUARANTEED numbers: 2012, $17 million; 2013: $18 million; 2014: $20 million; 2015: $20 million; 2016: $21 million. Then, there are mutual options for 2017 and 2018 of $22 million apiece that are based on several health-based factors that ultimately bring the contract up to the obnoxious concept of "Carl Crawford money," as it stands. If Reyes wants that money and he wants to stay in New York, he needs to actually earn it. As fantastic as he was this year, the guy did miss a decent portion of the season and should not be handed the money outright. If all else fails, we still have Jose Reyes until he’s 33 years old at a contract he deserves.
2) Tender a contract to OF Angel Pagan at $4.7 million
Analysis: A lot of people (i.e. pundits and Andy Martino) want Pagan gone, but we have outfield prospects that may make an impact at the major league level in 2012 – or may not. I would keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis in AAA at least for another half-season, and give Pagan one more year (in a free agency year, no less), to try to reproduce his 2010 season. Also, I’m not fond of the potential replacements. I do like David DeJesus but he’s another lefty, and Cody Ross is still hyped off his 2010 postseason despite never doing anything else in his career. Let’s leave that alone and give Pagan one more year in Flushing as a perfectly acceptable stopgap switch-hitting center fielder and see what happens.
3) Sign OF Scott Hairston to a 1-year, $1.4 million contract
Analysis: I deliberated between Hairston and Reed Johnson, who raked in 2011 on a minor league deal with the Cubs. Hairston wins out, only with the actual belief that maybe Terry Collins will actually play him this time around! Hairston serves as the right-handed 4th outfielder and part-time platoon partner for Lucas Duda in right field. He could also be a power threat if the fences are brought in or lowered as believed. He gets another $1.4 million from the Metsies.
4) Make Daniel Murphy the full-time second baseman
Analysis: As far as I’m concerned, Murph’s bat needs to be in the lineup on an everyday basis. As nice as it’s been to slot him into the lineup after an injury happens, our lineup is that much stronger with him in it. Murphy was worth over 3 fWAR last year in ¾ of a season, which means that his bat is extremely valuable to this team. However, I just wouldn’t trade an all-star like David Wright in order to do it. His defense is bad at second, but he’s not exactly Brooks Robinson at any position. I’d give him another spring training to get used to second base, and use him there until an injury happens and he needs to be shuffled. Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner will be around as insurance at second base as well.
Analysis: I am not disgusted with Ronny Paulino as a lot of people are on here, but this team could use some sort of upgrade at catcher. Say what you want about those Molinas, but they’re always in the friggin’ World Series. It can’t be coincidental. Molina is slightly less talented offensively than Paulino but had two monster seasons in Rogers Centre in Toronto. Molina was worth 2.2 fWAR combined in two seasons in Toronto and had a .757 OPS last year. However, Molina’s true value comes in his excellent game-calling and defensive capabilities. He could potentially be a mentor to Josh Thole and teach him some things in a righty platoon role as well. Although he had a great year last year, I think $1.4 million is within his range because it’s still a raise from last year and no one is going to give him a starting job.
PART II: WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE PITCHING?
6) Sign RP Frank Francisco to a 2-year, $9 million contract
Analysis: Frank Francisco may be known mostly for throwing a chair in Oakland, but he has also been a pretty damn good relief pitcher for years. Francisco has plenty of experience closing games, and he was worth between 1-1.5 fWAR each of the previous three years in Texas before an abbreviated but solid year in Toronto. With a lot of high-priced closers hitting free agency, Francisco is likely to get lost in the shuffle between small-market teams in need of a closer and bigger-market teams looking for setup men. We’re a former big-market team, and Frankie Francisco is our new closer of the New York Mets. This is mostly so I could stay in tune with my usual 9th inning rant of "come on Frankie, do something" that I’ve been used to for the past three years, but I’ll digress.
The contract is on par with what the Diamondbacks gave JJ Putz last offseason, with a better closer market this offseason taken into consideration. $4 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013, which gives us enough time to groom a minor league arm as a future closer.
Analysis: The good thing about Pelfrey is even though he sucked this year, the pitching market is miserable. Mike Pelfrey at $5.5 million actually has some value to teams in this market, because he picks up the ball every fifth day and licks his way to victory. Well not really, but you get the point.
So, I’m going to offer arbitration to Pelfrey, but with every intention of trading him in January when the upper-crust free agent pitching market gets ugly (as in, Edwin Jackson and CJ Wilson are going for $20 million more than they should, and Jason Marquis or Joel Pineiro is somehow getting another big contract). Out of all the teams I thought of (Colorado, Arizona, Seattle, etc.), Anaheim seemed to be the best fit. Pelfrey would slot in nicely as a fourth starter in Anaheim (replacing Mr. Pineiro) behind their three-headed pitching monster, and could provide innings for them as a perfectly acceptable back-end starter still with potential along with Garrett Richards and Tyler Chatwood.
As for what we’re getting back, Mesa is an electric starting pitcher who suffered from a myriad of shoulder issues in 2011. At this point, he may be damaged goods. With that being said, he was a highly regarded prospect before this and could be a wild card in our system with a few tweaks to his delivery. Amarista, on the other hand, could actually serve as a valuable bench piece in years to come. He is excellent defensively, hit very well in the minor leagues, and could play multiple positions. Sign me up – it’s time to give Mike Pelfrey a fresh start elsewhere.
8) Sign SP Chris Capuano to a 2-year, $10 million contract
Analysis: Here’s my problem with losing Capuano: he proved he was fully healthy last year, but there were times when Terry Collins CLEARLY held him out to protect him. I could remember several instances where Terry held him back from the late-innings (he was under 90 pitches for a lot of his starts last year) even though he was pitching well. It pisses me off that someone will get a better version of him next year after he was coddled in this one. Quite frankly, Capuano was worth a perfectly acceptable 1.6 fWAR last year, but I expect him to be even better in 2012 without all the shackles.
As for the 2-year contract, ANYTHING can happen with young pitching prospects. No one knows if Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler will be ready next year, 2013, or never. I wouldn’t avoid investing money into the pitching rotation for 2 years for the sake of making room for guys that aren’t ready at THIS point. So we’ll give Capuano 2 years at $5 million apiece, with the comfort of a new contract in New York.
9) Sign SP Aaron Cook to a 1-year, $2 million contract, with $3 million in performance incentives
Analysis: I don’t trust Dillon Gee as the outright #5 starter, especially with Johan Santana as a tremendous question mark. Therefore, we have room for one reclamation project. Cook is never going to get his $11 million option picked up by Colorado, as he’s had "everything wrong with him" the past two years. OMGzzzz, Aaron Cook has gone 9-18 with a plus-5 ERA in the past two seasons – MUST TRAID! Good thing a lot of people in baseball still think like this. Actually, Cook has suffered from a wildly high BABIP the past 2 years (.345 last year), and his FIP has sat at 4.54 in both injury-plagued seasons. Cook has been one of the best Coors Field pitchers in recent memory (being an intense groundball pitcher and all), and I just got a guy who had a better fWAR (1 win) in 97 "miserable innings of 6 ERA ball" than Mike Pelfrey in 2011. Oh yeah, for millions less – and he pounds the ball into the ground and does not waste pitches at all. And he doesn’t lick his fingers like a customer at KFC, either.
As for his contract, I’m giving him the same base salary as Jeff Francis last year, who had a similar career trajectory out of Colorado after being injured for multiple seasons – with a few innings-based pitching incentives to sweeten the deal.
10) Sign LHP Mike Gonzalez to a 1-year, $3 million contract, with a player option of $4 million in 2013
Analysis: If the bullpen is going to be rebuilt, the Mets need relievers with an actual track record of you know, being good pitchers. We can’t sit around hoping that one day Bobby Parnell learns how to become an elite closer, or some turd sandwich that’s been shuffled up and down the New York Thruway 14 times learned something in Buffalo or Binghamton. Tim Byrdak may be a funny guy, but he shouldn’t be the only LOOGY on this team. I remember Gonzalez being extremely efficient with Rafael Soriano a few years back in Atlanta, and we’re going to use the Francisco/Gonzalez pairing in similar fashion in the late innings. It helps that he’s familiar with the NL East, he’s been pitching in bandboxes the past few years, and he has always had electric stuff (over 10 K’s/9 in his career). I think he’s worth the investment as a solid left-handed setup guy and situational closer.
11) Sign RHP Chad Qualls to a 1-year, $1.3 million contract
Analysis: Chad Qualls was about as unlucky in 2010 as a man hit by lightning twice, and was worth negative value last year, but his 2011 was split down the middle. He was good at the beginning and end of the season (last appearance of the year notwithstanding), and was not as successful during the dog days of summer. His home/road splits were also poor, but he should not skip a beat moving from Petco Park to Citi Field. At the bare minimum, he’s always been stingy against righties and could be a solid ROOGY for the Mets. He also has a track record of being a good reliever and a workhorse, and that’s more than can be said about the majority of the Mets’ unproven relievers at this point. We’ll go $1.3 million, which is fair considering he was already given $1.2 million by San Diego in a buyout scenario earlier this month.
12) Non-tender RP Taylor Buchholz, but offer an invitation to spring training w/ a $750k guaranteed contract if he makes the team
Analysis: With all due respect to Taylor, we see quite a few relief pitchers get picked up off the scrapheap every year and produce. With his issues, I am worried that he’s lost money again if he’s tendered a contract. Buchholz gets a non-guaranteed invitation to spring training, with a guaranteed roster bonus of $750k if he makes the 25-man roster in April. I think this is fair, considering the circumstances.
13) Tender a contract to RP Manny Acosta at $900,000
Analysis: In June, I would’ve told you to send Manny Acosta down the river. In all honesty, I still don’t like Acosta and probably never will. I just can’t argue with results at this point. Congratulations, the Acostalypse – you’re getting a little less than a million from the New York Mets next year.
14) Do not release RP DJ Carrasco
Analysis: I just feel like addressing this because a lot of people eliminated Carrasco in their AAOPs by way of releasing him. He did suck last year, but he is already dead money. We have seen guys make tweaks over and over again and come back a new relief pitcher the next season, and he actually has a track record of being a solid middle reliever. I will give him spring training and the first month of the season to rediscover his previous success. Chika chika, DJ Carrasco.
15) Sign SP Dontrelle Willis to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, with a $1.5 million roster bonus for making the big league roster by June 1
Analysis: Sadly enough, the D-Train was about as efficient as the A/C/E line in New York City for quite a while. He did pitch relatively well with the Reds in his 13 starts last year, though. The run support was not there and the ERA was at an even 5.00, but Willis was remarkably worth 0.8 fWAR and his FIP was about a run less than his ERA. Although he may never be the 2005 Dontrelle ever again, he’s worth a shot as pitching depth. It’s pretty remarkable that he’ll only be 30 years old next season. He’s getting the exact same contract that Freddy Garcia got from the Yankees last year, sans performance bonuses: a minor league deal with a $1.5 million roster bonus for making the team (and an out-clause if he does not make it by June 1). Of course the obvious New York "media capital of the world" anxiety issues linger, but he seemed more composed last year than in years past.
PART III: MINOR LEAGUE DEALS
Analysis: Here are just a few minor league contracts to close it all out. By the way, I actually had Byrdak in this list last year, so you could blame me for that one. I also had Cory Wade, so maybe Mr. Alderson should’ve listened to me with that one. Argh.
Pat Neshek was an extremely good reliever with a deceptive delivery with the Twins a few years back before inevitably going under the knife. He has not been successful in his comeback with San Diego the past two years. He is worth a shot as a continuing work in progress. Much like Neshek, Gaudin has been terrible the past two years after being fairly decent in years past. At the worst, he could potentially be a ROOGY candidate in the bullpen. Felix Pie was pretty good with Baltimore in 2009, decent in 2010, and absolutely, utterly atrocious in 2011. After being a heralded prospect in Chicago, he’s never lived up to the hype. However, he could play all three outfield positions competently, which makes him suitable as a minor league invitee. Bobby Seay is a fairly disappointing story, as he was a successful reliever in Detroit who had shoulder surgery and has missed the past two years. He’s worth a look as well to see if he’s healed. Josh Bard is one of those "lingering backup catchers" who manages to find work because he has a decent bat, and Jackie Z has been more than happy to do so in Seattle the past two years. Mike Nickeas reminds me of the bullpen catcher or clubhouse attendant more than the third catcher on the team, so Bard gets the opportunity to make the team in case of injury as a switch-hitting backup.
INTRODUCING… YOUR 2012 NEW YORK METS
C: Josh Thole 0.4 million
1B: Ike Davis 0.4 million
2B: Daniel Murphy 0.4 million
SS: Jose Reyes 17 million
3B: David Wright 15.3 million
LF: Jason Bay 18.1 million
CF: Angel Pagan 4.7 million
RF: Lucas Duda 0.4 million
C Jose Molina $1.4 million
OF Scott Hairston $1.4 million
IF Justin Turner 0.4 million
IF/OF Nick Evans 0.4 million
IF Ruben Tejada 0.4 million
SP: Johan Santana 24.0 million
SP: RA Dickey 4.8 million
SP: Jon Niese 0.5 million
SP: Chris Capuano 5 million
SP: Aaron Cook 2 million
Other Starting Pitching Options: Dillon Gee, Dontrelle Willis, Chris Schwinden, (potentially late-season promotions) Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler
CL: Frank Francisco 4 million
RP: Mike Gonzalez 3 million
RP: Bobby Parnell 0.4 million
RP: Chad Qualls 1.3 million
RP: Manny Acosta 0.9 million
RP: Tim Byrdak 1.2 million
RP: DJ Carrasco 1.2 million
Total Payroll for tentative 25-man roster: 109.0 million ($1 million under budget)
And, there you have it - my Amazin Avenue Offseason Plan. At this point, there's only one thing left to say:
Thanks for reading, AmazinAvenue! Let's go Mets!