FanPost

AAOP: The Cinderella Story

Outta nowhere, a former greenskeeper, now about to become World Series Champion.  Everybody loves the little team that could, the kids from nowhere if you will.  It's why we're all Mets fans, right?  My basic principle is to develop as many home-grown players as possible and fill in the rest with free agents and trades.  Toward that end, I'm building a team around Wright and Reyes, with Davis, Duda, Thole and Tejada getting starting jobs and Murphy the utility/first bat off the bench job, and Niese and Gee in the rotation.  We'll build the bullpen partly through free agents and give opportunity to home grown guys as they earn opportunities.  Guys who are blocked by established major league talent can be moved to make the major league team better.

As I see it, this team has two ways forward:  re-sign Jose Reyes, extend David Wright and look to compete in 2012 and the near future, or let Reyes walk, trade Wright, Bay, Santana, Pagan, Dickey and anything else that isn't nailed down or is over 27 years old.  The reason the second option is so dramatic is that I don't see any way of replacing Reyes and still being competitive in 2012.  There are four big-time free agents on the market this year:  Reyes, Fielder, Pujols and possibly Darvish.  CJ Wilson does not qualify as a big-time free agent in my opinion, whatever contract he might end up with.

So let's start with the idea that the Mets can re-sign Reyes.  For lack of a better structure, I'll say 5 years at $100mil with a vesting 6th year based on games played.  Since I hate doing math, let's make it $20mil per year.  If I have to go 6 years, I'd do that at say $110mil with incentives to kick it up over $125 if he plays enough.

 In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, Phillies':  You gotta reload that bullpen, fall back on superior firepower.  I'm going Stony Brook's Joe Nathan on a 1 year $4mil contract.  His xFIP at 3.96 was nearly a full run lower than he ERA.  He struck out 8.66 per 9 and walked only 2.82.  If you look at his stats from after he came off the DL in late June, he had 11 saves, a 3.38 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 8.59 K/9.  I'm willing to bet he can recapture the mojo that he had in averaging 41 saves over 6 seasons before 2010.  If it takes an option year to get him here, I'd do that.  Say an option of second year at $8mil or a $1mil buyout.

I'm signing Rich Harden to pitch out of the bullpen as a 7th-8th inning guy.  His xFIP this year was 3.68 and he struck out 9.91 per 9, walking only 3.38 per 9.  If the knock on him is you can't get 150 innings out of him and he hasn't topped 148 since 2004, why try?  Let's see if we can turn him into another Kerry Wood.  I'd sign him to a 1 year $2mil deal with a team option for a second year at $3mil or a $1mil buyout.  If we can't get Harden, I'd see about signing someone like Sheets or Bonderman to a minor league deal with the same idea of making him a reliever.  Zach Duke had a 3.86 ERA as a reliever last year.  I'd give him a call too.

I'm signing a Molina because I believe Thole will be fine offensively but needs help defensively.  Jose can still get it done behind the plate.  Furthermore, five of the last eight World Series have had a Molina as one of the catchers, so we'd have that going for us.  Which is nice. 

Bringing in Orlando Cabrera or a similar older defensive middle infielder is probably advisable.  As much as I think Valdespin or Josh Satin could help out in 2012, it makes more sense to get those guys playing time in the minors until they earn a shot at the Show.

Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh?  Well, our hat doesn't look so good, so I'm trading it for someone else's bowl of soup.  I'm sending Bay to the White Sox along with Reese Havens, Armando Rodriguez and Brad Holt in exchange for Jake Peavy.  Why would the White Sox make that trade?  They have a good staff in Buehrle (assuming the re-sign him), Danks, Floyd and Humber with a good-looking kid in Dylan Axelrod along with possibly trying Chris Sale for a shot at the #5 slot.  Second, they had exactly one guy who did not have a disappointing season offensively in 2011 (so Bay will fit right in).  Third, they can look at Bay's post-ASB production (.256/.336/.419) and see progress towards returning to form.  Add in the notion of going from pitchers' park to hitters' and that their salaries are nearly identical for 2012 and there you go.  Havens is a nice 2B prospect which they may need if Beckham doesn't improve, and Holt gives them a potential bullpen guy who could help them move Sale into the rotation.  If these two prospects aren't enough to get it done, I'd offer Fernando, Gorski or Cohoon as possible alternatives.  Why would the Mets do this trade?  Peavy is one full year removed from his surgery now.  On the season, he had a 3.21 FIP and 3.52 xFIP, so the peripherals were much better than the 4.92 ERA suggests. 

Who then is going to play the outfield for the Mets?  I'm trading Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cory Vaughn to the Angels for Peter Bourjos.  While both our guys are very young and still with good upside, Bourjos had 5.0 WAR playing an excellent defensive CF this year and hit .294/.333/.475 with 9 HR and 16 steals after June 3.  For the Angels, they want to make room in their outfield for Mike Trout, the 20 year-old super-prospect, so if they can flip a pretty good 24 year-old for a couple of young prospects, I think they do it.  They can bring both guys up as Abreu and Hunter get ready to move on in the next year or two.  Bourjos can play center, Pagan right and Duda left giving the Mets a pretty darn good defensive outfield (at least 2/3s of one).  I know this one is a bit contrary to my basic premise of building with our own guys, but think of it as the 21st-Century HoJo trade.

A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.  The rotation is Santana, Peavy, Niese, Dickey and Gee with Schwinden likely getting the first call if/when an injury comes up.  I'd want to make sure we have Plan B in mind if Santana isn't ready.  Pelfrey, unfortunately, would likely be non-tendered, unless he'd either accept a lower contract than expected (say $3.5mil) or another team find him of value.  I'm assuming he won't be back.  Bringing in 2-3 guys like Sheets, Bonderman, Miguel Batista or Bruce Chen is key because of Santana's health questions.  Yes, Santana should be ready, but if Harvey or Familia is plan B, I think that's irresponsible.  Sure, if they're ready - if they're dominating AAA in mid-June when you need help, give them a call.  Short of that, I'd rather call them up a little too slowly than too quickly.  Look, we don't have a ton of pitching unless the big guys are healthy.  We're not moving Santana.  Peavy is a short-term fix.  Niese is a keeper, I think.  Gee is an innings-eater, but that in itself is valuable.  Hopefully we can keep Dickey around for a few more years but no need to address that right now.  The future of the team (Harvey etc) is not quite ready. 

DOGFOOD?!?!  Nathan and Harden would be the imports to get the bullpen through the year until we find out more about Acosta, Parnell and some of the kids like Leathersitch, Edgin and Lujan.  Acosta had a great second-half - post ASB was 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and 38 K in 35 IP.  Of the minor league invites, I'd hope that guys like Batista, Duke, Chen could pitch out of the bullpen if necessary.  Meantime, I'd like to see some homegrown guys get a shot in Spring Training, even if they didn't pitch at a high level last year.  I'm looking at Edgin and Leathersitch in particular, Herrera, Lujan, Beato and Thayer as well, if he'll come back. 

Position

Player

Salary

Expected WAR

Comments

C

Thole

0.45

1.0

Hit .268/.345/.344 on season, but over last four months hit .298/.368/.395 with 25 walks and 25 Ks. Had 1.0 fWAR in '11, 1.6 in '10.

C

Molina, Jose

1.00

1.0

Produced almost all his value on defensive side - nice cheap compliment to Thole, a veteran who can show Thole a few tricks behind the plate.  Had 1.3 fWAR in '11, 0.9 fWAR in '10

1B

Davis

0.45

3.5

Career to date is about one full season of at bats:  .271/.357/.460 with 26 home runs and 93 rbi.  I'd be a little disappointed if that was all he did in a full season, but pleased if he got a full season, if that makes any sense.  Career fWAR is 4.9.

2B

Tejada

0.45

1.8

Hit .284/.360/.335 on season; last 180 at bats hit .319/.374/.400 with 4 steals, 14 walks, 17 K.  I'd be thrilled with anything in between if he plays defense that well.  fWAR was 1.8 in '11 in 96 games.

SS

Reyes

20.00

5.0

Career splits .292/.341/.411, averaged 4.7 fWAR between '06-'11 including injury-plagued years in '09 and '10

3B

Wright

15.00

3.5

Career splits .300/.380/.508 - I honestly don't know what to expect from Wright this year, but he is young enough to bounce back to being a 5-6+ WAR guy

LF

Duda

0.45

2.0

On the season, hit .292/.370/.482 with 10 homers and 50 rbi; from June 25 on, when he became a fixture in the lineup, he hit .317/.386/.538 with 10 homers and 45 rbi.  I think he can be a 4-5 fWAR guy this year.  Combined AAA stats from 2010-11:  .310/.396/.606 with 27 HR and 77 RBI in 108 games

CF

Bourjos

0.45

4.3

Hit .294/.333/.475 with 9 HR and 16 steals over last 303 at bats on season, excellent defender, only 24 years old.  fWAR was 4.3 in '11 in 147 games.

RF

Pagan

5.00

2.0

Was awful in April, put up career average numbers offensively after return from DL:  .279/.336/.394 with 5 homers and 28 steals in his last 409 at bats.  Assuming he returns to at least passable defense, he can be a 2+ WAR guy again, more if he plays D well.  Was 0.9 fWAR in '11, 5.5 fWAR in '10, 2.9 fWAR in '09 (88 games). 

U

Murphy

0.45

2.0

It probably makes the most sense to trade Murphy as he would have value as a starter for another team, but I love a gamer like him and can't bring myself to give him up.  Had 3.2 fWAR in '11 in 109 games.  Should be less in '12 barring injuries to starters.

IF

Cabrera, O

1.00

0.2

Valdespin is the first up if there's an injury in the middle infield, but I think he can be a long-term answer at second if Tejada isn't so he needs PT.  If not Orlando, then John McDonald or the other Hairston brother.  Basically a veteran who can flash the leather.

OF

Pridie  Fernando  Evans  Baxter

0.45

0.2

Pridie is probably the first guy up as he is strong defensively, but given Bourjos and Pagan we may need the offense more, which could make the others more useful.  Whoever is hitting will play the most, but they are bats off the bench, so likely Evans and Baxter are the more "expendable" on the bench.  Fernando still has the potential to be good.

 

 

 

 

 

SP

Santana

24.00

2.0

Could be high, could be low.  His previous low for WAR since 2002 is 2.6 when he's, you know, actually pitched.  However xFIP has gone up every season since '04.

 

Peavy

17.00

2.5

Had 2.9 fWAR in '11 with 3.52 xFIP in 111 IP.  Over one full year removed from shoulder surgery, worked through tendinitis and took every turn from May 11 to September 6 when the Sox shut him down saying he wasn't quite over his surgery yet.  I'm betting he will be this year.

 

Niese

0.45

2.5

Had 2.7 fWAR in '11 and 1.9 fWAR in '10.  His 3.28 xFIP ranks 14th in the majors last year among guys with 150+ innings.  I'm willing to bet the improved team D will help him the most

 

Dickey

4.25

2.5

Had 2.5 fWAR in '11 and 2.8 fWAR in '10.  I'm all in with him.

 

Gee

0.45

0.2

Had 0.2 fWAR in 2011.  Would be first one traded or sent to bullpen if/when the kids are ready.

CL

Nathan

4.00

1.0

Had 0.0 fWAR in 2011, but you have to go back to 2003 and his last year with the Giants to find a year under 1.9 before that.

RP

Harden

3.00

0.5

Had a 0.4 fWAR in 2011 as a starter.  Last year was -0.6, but has 17.0 WAR over career.  I'm banking that his power will translate well to the bullpen.

 

Acosta

1.00

0.5

Had a 0.1 fWAR in 2011, but that is skewed by his first-half stinkitude (6.75 ERA in 12 innings) and toiling in the minors until June.

 

Parnell

0.45

0.5

Had a 0.6 fWAR in 2011 and 1.8 WAR over the last three seasons combined.  Feels like he should be a 1+ WAR guy if we ever get an idea about that 5-cent head of his.

 

Byrak

1.00

0.2

Had a 0.4 fWAR in 2011, but has been up and down in his career.

 

Duke

1.00

0.1

Last three spots are up for the taking.  I'd bring in guys like Zach Duke, Chen, Sheets, Miguel Batista, Bonderman (whoever will take a minor league invitation), Carrasco, Herrera, Beato, Lujan, Edgin and even Leathersitch, and say whoever pitches best in the Spring will make the team

 

Thayer

0.75

0.1

I don't think you can build a bullpen by saying "I'm spending $3mil on player X to be our LOOGY or long-relief guy" and then thinking you've got it solved.  OK, spend that on your closer / 8th inning guy, but too many bullpen guys flame out.  Better bring in a raft of guys, throw them in and see who can swim.

 

Tankersly

1.00

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

103.75

39.2

 

Add in a couple million for the guys who won't be on the roster (Matthews, Carrasco) and another couple million if the options on Nathan and Harden aren't picked up and we're in at $108mil.  Still enough to offer minor league deals to all the scrubs I mentioned above.

If the injury bug hits, we can find out about guys like Weaver, Familia, Harvey or Mejia in the rotation by year-end, Edgin, Leathersitch, Beato or Lujan in the bullpen.  Murphy can fill in ably for either Wright or Davis if they get hurt.  Hopefully Valdespin could take a turn at second or short if either Reyes or Tejada got hurt.  If not, we'd have Orlando Cabrera or McDonald as a defensive replacement again with Murphy perhaps providing some offense.  Down the road, we still have Wilmer, Fernando, Nimmo, Lagares and Lutz who could contribute and we haven't given up any draft choices for 2012. 

With Davis and Tejada on the infield for (hopefully) a full season, Bourjos and Pagan in the outfield, Molina sharing catching duties, and a return to form for Wright and Reyes, I look at Duda as the only defensively challenged full-time player.  We've managed to keep all four of our best pitching prospects, plus Flores and Fernando.  Yes, we gave up Nieuwenhuis, Havens and Vaughn, but I think for the right guys.  Bourjos is perhaps not an all-star, but a young, talented player who can do a little of everything.  Peavy is a one or two-year guy (yes, I'd pick up his option if he truly returns to Cy Young form, otherwise, no) who can do more than hold the fort until the first kids are ready.  I tried to be conservative in my estimates for WAR.  With that, I have an 88-win team.  If healthy, this is a 90+ win team.  It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole!  It's in the hole!  It's in the hole! 

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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