Coming into the off season, we are faced with declining attendance, declining teevee viewership, almost no prospects ready to make an impact in 2012, and the vague stench of Omar Minaya's past flatulence still wafting through the air of this roster. We may have some good prospects, but they still require a couple years of patience and minor league apprenticeship. They are still far away and there is no need to rush them to help a team unlikely to contend. We may have a solid core, but that core is simply not good enough to compete in this division without more reinforcements than our roster flexibility and salary constraints will allow. It is time to blow this team up. Change for the sake of change. After all, the business of baseball is the business of entertainment. No one is entertained. These Mets are not loved and the games are poorly attended. It is time to turn this roster over to truly start from scratch and to move on from the painful connections to the 2007-2011 teams. This off-season plan brings change, hope and a brand new look to the team.
First, an analytical look at the current roster:
Ok, now lets get to work fixing this mess.
First, our starting point:
Ok, now I am going to get into turning that roster over, but first Ill address Jose Reyes: I get it. I understand the love. I really do. But a team in this state doesnt spend $100 million on an injury prone short stop coming off a career year, whose game is based upon the fleeting and declining skill of speed. It makes no sense on any level - not for the 2012 team, and certainly not in a back loaded deal that will hamper the a potentially great 2016 team. Jose Reyes top ten comps on baseball-reference are: Glenn Wright, Jack Rowe, Julio Lugo, Cristian Guzman, Fred Dunlap, Orlando Hudson, Brian Roberts, Bobby Avila, Ray Chapman, & Sam Wise. I would think that the memories of Luis Castillo, Roger Cedeno (round two), Brian McRae and Vince Coleman should stand as warning of why not to pay for aging speed, but I know that people love Jose. So, riddle me this: if Jose is fun to watch, why did we have the fewest viewers and attendance last year, during Jose's best season? Because what he brings doesnt translate to the amount of wins or revenues required to make a $100m+ deal worthwhile. Let someone else fall into that honey trap.
Traid David Wrongz
We have one of the following two situations on our hands: 1) a franchise player coming off a couple of down seasons along a stellar career, or 2) a declining player who mysteriously went from great to good. The interesting thing about the #1 scenario is that there is really no upside here. Wright makes 15+ million this year, and with the strong season we can expect in the #1 scenario, he will be an overpaid free agent coming in to next year. He is an at-cost player who provides no profit for the team. There is nothing wrong with a competing team getting top production for top dollar, but that is not how a non-competing team catapults itself into the upper tier. Wright is a free agent after this season, so his current contract poses no upside to the next competing Mets team.
The Rockies are organizationally loaded at catcher and havent been willing to give EY a chance. Reynolds is fourth on their RP depth chart. Wright is on a one year rental, but he could put the Rockies over the top.
The Mets get a starting catcher with tremendous upside - Iannetta owns a career 16.8% walk rate and a .195 ISO. If he puts it all together he can be a significant offensive contributor. Eric Young has a career .388 minor league obp and comes in at 2B, pushing Murphy to 3B where he is better suited. Matt Reynolds is a 27 year old lefty who struck out a batter per inning last year and provides some much needed bullpen depth.
Santana, coming into 2012, is not valueless. Forget the $55m he has remaining on his deal - while sunk cost is a concept lost on Omar & the Pons, it is not lost on AA. The question is, what is Santana worth, and what value, if any, can be extracted from his remaining contract. There are very few comps for this surgery, and they have for the most part come back poorly... Still, it was only a few years ago that he was one of the best pitchers in baseball (that sentence was brought to you by Verizon). The point I am getting to is that it take a certain team that is in a position to speculate on what Johan Santana will do over the remaining two years of his contract. The Mets do not fit that profile.
- Trade Johan Santana and $50 million to the Arizona Diamonbacks for David Hernandez.
The Diamondbacks came pretty close this year, and were done in (like many teams before them) by pitching depth. Here they get a two year gamble on Johan Santana for the cost of their set up guy and only the $5m buyout. I think this is a gamble they have to take.
The Mets get their new closer - a guy who had a 2.94 FIP last year and struck out 10 per 9. Hernandez is not even arb eligible yet, so unlike Santana, he has the chance to become an integral part of the next Mets championship team.
In keeping with the "integral part of the next Mets championship team" theme, the Mets have a lot of guys who may or may not fit that mold. Duda could be one of those guys. Evans could be one of those guys. Murphy could be one of those guys. Kirk, Lutz, Baxter.... guys need to play so we can see who they are. Bay may or may not have a comeback in him, but the bigger issue is that we can not afford to have him take at bats away fromt hose who could be part of the next great team. Bay has 39.26m remaining on his deal... this is a tough one.
The Rays are a clear contender, but they have no money to spend. Further, it looks like they may be trading BJ Upton, opening up a spot int heir outfield. They have shown a willingness to gamble on veterans in the past (Burrell, Damon) if the price is right, and at $4m for two years (including the buyout), the price is right. SRod just didnt have a spot in their infield.
Sean Rodriguez immediately slots in at SS for the Mets. He hasnt done much in his career so far, but this is a guy who put up back-to-back seasons in AAA of .306/.397/.645 and .299/.400/.616. This is the type of player we need to be giving at bats to in a bridge year.
The Mets are still at least two starting pitchers short. Good, young & cheap pitchers are almost impossible to find, as it is very rare for a team to have an excess, but occasionally they are available.
The Reds are contenders, and are missing a good option at SS. Tejada provides them the tools they value, while Pagan pushes Stubbs to LF and stabilizes their OF. Travis Wood just didnt make their top-5.
For the Mets, both Wood and Heisey are not even arb eligible yet, and hold a ton of upside. I am not convinced that Heisey can hold down CF, but it is clearly worth finding out after he launched 18 homers in 308 at bats last year. The real prize here is Wood. Wood is 24 years old and has a career 3.75 FIP. He can be a top of the rotation guy. He had a setback last year, but his minor league numbers had been dominant to that point. Again, another guy who could be a key piece in the next great Mets tea.
Do I need to say anything here?
- Trade Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell and Ronny Paulino to the Twins for Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing
The Twins have one pitcher too many. Slowey and Duensing have both been in and out of their rotation - trading the pair for Pelfrey only downgrades their rotation slightly, while increasing their cost slightly. For their trouble, they pull in Parnell, who could potentially stabilize a very weak bullpen. Scouts dig the heater, and I think Parnell (and Pelf) might show enough in the regard to entice the Twins to take this deal. Paulino fills their vacant backup catcher slot (behind a fragile Mauer).
The Mets get two affordable control pitchers to stabilize the back end of their rotation. Duensing has a perfectly acceptable 4.10 FIP over his young career, while Slowey is at 4.24.
Ok, here is the updated roster:
*New acquisitions in green.
You will notice that this AAOP frees us from any payroll commitments to Santana and Bay following 2012 - all mistakes are finally paid for. In fact, this plan gives us a complete free slate to move forward with. This team will not win, but out of the new acquisitions, and the playing time committed to the young 'uns on the team, we can develop some pieces and free up cash to build around them in 2013 and 2014. Its time to accept that the current roster is neither good nor attracting an audience. We need to go further in rebuilding than we were willing to do last year. We need to start over at the major league level, while continuing to rebuild the minor league system. The team above is a $20m team (cost) with $80m allocated to allowing the team to move forward any way it chooses.