FanPost

Eh! Eh! Oh. Pee: Hope and Change or ADAE for 2014?

This is purposefully mis-labeled so consider it "out-of-competition" but a case that should be made.  I trust the evaluators in Flushing much more than my cursory in-season scanning of MiLB.com but I do want to make as strong a case as possible that reaching our final destination may require putting the car in reverse for much of 2012.  It may be spot on or way off – but I think it needs an airing.

First I’d offer Jose 4/$80m plus a 5th year club option $20m/$4m buyout, but don’t expect that it will get it done.  If I’m right I don’t see anyway a “nip and tuck” of the current roster creates good enough odds of contending in Sept. 2012 to risk the downside inherent in the type of roster decisions that would require.

I’d like to see the club move as many older “question marks” as possible in order to flood our system with high ceiling, or bullpen depth prospects.  But only move the question marks when we believe we’re maximizing the return or have comparable talent/cost replacements.

Embrace the Acquire/Develop/Evaluate/Audition “ADEA” philosophy with gusto.  Sandy started the team on this path vive le Alderson!  It's the only way to sustainable long-term success.  I’m not breaking any ground here but getting there will be bumpy.  It's time to buy seat cushions.  The goal is to reap the first rewards in 2014 from what will be a long-term contender.

Stuff the system with prospects, acquire and develop them over 2012, audition/evaluate them in 2013 and make key/multiple major FA acquisitions heading into 2014 when the young talent is more projectable.

There are just too many question marks in 2012 to make any short-term acquisition that doesn’t either have 2014 value or the potential to create value for 2014.  While $110m is a robust budget, we’re much more top heavy than the typical contending $110m club.  To get from 77 wins to 90 you need to start with . . .

•  Hope that you can replace 350 Beltran AB’s of 900+ OPS production.  It’ll take an upgrade from the 781 OPS provided by other 2010 RFers.

•  Hope that you can replace the 42 Rodriguez appearances that netted 23 for 26 in saves.  It will take an upgrade from the rest of the bullpens 20 saves against 19 blown. 

Once we’ve got those covered we’re back on pace for . . . another 77 win season.  How many question marks need to be answered to make it reasonable to go into “win 13 more now” mode?  We could . . .

• Hope Jason Bay’s been rope-a-dopin’ us and returns to the 500 slugging monster we paid good cash money for.  LF has tons of room for growth but given his contract it’s also going to be manned  by Jason Bay opening day.

• Hope that David Wright benefits from blue walls and reverses his defensive regression.  His offense is still top flight and the new “Cozy Citi Confines” could return him to past HR glory.  But it's more than outfield fences driving that big gap between his 3 year sub .850 OPS and the four prior years range of .911 - .962.  I’m not predicting an Edgardo Alfonzo like post-28 year decline, but a “sure bet” rebound seems less than certain.  And in 2014 he’ll be 31 and looking for a long-term high-priced deal.  Heck, it’s not inconceivable that the frustration he admitted to at the end of 2011 has him seeking a fresh-start elsewhere.

• Hope that Ike Davis mystery ankle injury has fully healed.  He’s said "The bottom line is there are going to be some effects from this my whole life."  And he was slated to shut down again for six weeks after the decision to avoid the operating table was made.  There’s enough caution in the September reporting to suggest that it's risky to take Ike’s health for granted.  2012 should definitively tell us whether he’s the key offensive building block for the perennial contender that launches 2014 or one of the most tragic “could have beens” in club history.  Ike 2010 .926 OPS – other 1B ABs .797.

• Hope Lucas Duda continues to develop into a left-handed Dave Kingman.  He's exactly the type of player that 2012 should be about – high ceiling but too small a sample size to know for sure.  If he trends up he’s a valuable asset in either the trade market or Citi’s outfield.  But if he sophomore slumps and falls short of the 25 HR/852 OPS we got out of RF in 2010 we’re set back from the 90 win pace.  If Ike’s injury resurfaces, Lucas only needs 15 HRs/825 ops at 1B to tread water there compared to combined 2010 production.  But then we need someone else to cover the 25/852 we got from 2010 in RFers. . .  

• Hope the ace is back.  Johan is returning but he will be 33 coming off a shoulder injury not an elbow.  Odds are that his “old self” is a thing of the past.  He might find the guile and savvy to be a solid number 2.  Or he might resemble post-shoulder surgery Pedro Martinez who only tossed 176 total innings over his age 34, 35 & 36 Mets seasons.  Johan looks more question mark than solid bet to improve the rotations baseline.

With uncertainty at all four corners and staff ace at least there’s more projection up the middle.  It seems unlikely the incumbents at C, 2B or CF will dramatically deviate from their recent past.  Of course there’s a big loss of offense if we can’t afford to maintain the status quo at SS.  The pitching market?  Not many solid budget/proven performance fits on the FA side and any current prospect interesting enough to land a good/established arm in a trade is exactly the kind of prospect I want under the “develop-evaluate-audition” strategy.

So what to do with all the uncertainty?

Make that 4/$84m offer to Jose.  If he stays “tweak-to-win now” is much more tempting but equally risky.  If he leaves, hire two more amateur scouts for the 3 first/supplemental round picks next summer and audition/evaluate Tejada over 500 PAs.

Dangle Wright but hold out for 2 top prospects.  Likely no one bites, so he stays, plays, pops a few more over the new “Cozy-Citi-Confines” wall and builds further value.  Keep him on the block and hold or stiffen the price and deal him when the return is sizable.  If he tanks then we gambled and lost a chance to have acquired lesser prospects.  That’s the kind of risk 2012 should be about.

Offer arb/sign both Pelfrey and Pagan and then trade them.  They won’t return studs so target AA bullpen arms with upside.  The hope is one of the guys we get turns into a cheap 8th inning guy by 2014 – maybe we get lucky and hit on the closer of the future.  Even if neither pans out – it’s a 50-50 call on offering arbitration as it is.  So do it then get something for them.

Take a flyer on Grady Sizemore for 1/$6m with a 2nd year $10m club option with $1m buyout.  This is probably $2m more than Pagan would have gotten but if Sizemore rebounds he’s a valuable trading chip that might return a blue chip prospect at the deadline or next off-season.  If his injury recurs it’s a lost gamble but since there’s real upside it’s one I’d be willing to take.

Sign Javier Vazquez to 1/$7m w 2nd year $9m club option w/$1m buyout.  Same principal as Sizemore.  If he’s having a great year then trade him at the deadline to a contender and Dillon Gee takes his slot, if he’s not he cost $2-3m more than Pelfrey but we got a bullpen prospect for the lost $2-3m.

Re-sign Capuano 2/$10m.  Capuano was in demand at the trade deadline last season.  Since he’s lefty, he well could be again.  None of Sizemore, Vazquez, Capuano are 2014 pieces but any of them that gain value should be flipped into prospects that might be.

Start the season w/the untradeable Jay Bay in LF and hope he returns to enough form to trade him along with 50% of his salary for a couple of those fringy high-velocity AA bullpen prospects.  I’d only have Bay play 6 of every 7 games with the days off coming with righties on the mound.  This will marginally help the effort to rebuild his value by flattening his ugly splits by 10-15%. 

I’ll bite on Nathan for closer at $3m and add Saito for $2-3m as well.  I could also go with Jonathan Broxton for one of these slots.  The exact player is less important than the profile – reasonable cost, short-term with a chance they will build upon their current value and possibly be needed by a contender come trade deadline time.

Backup catcher.  Again, I’m somewhat agnostic here.  I guess I’d lean towards a Kelly Shoppach who might build some value though the versatility of a Ryan Doumit is intriguing.  I’m penciling in $3m here as insurance against Thole being Justin Huber II.  Thole is another player that will prove either useful or fodder by next off-season.

I’d round out the bench with a decent backup for Tejada in Alex Gonzalez, a left-handed hitting outfielder capable of playing CF in David DeJesus or Rick Ankiel, Nick Evans and Willie Harris or another versatile left-handed hitter.

Position

Opening Day

Cost

Trade Deadline

Catcher

Thole

$.5m

same

1B

Davis/Duda if injured

$.75m

same

2B

Murphy

$.75m

Havens/Valdespin

SS

Tejada

$.5m

Tejada

3B

Wright

$15m

Murphy

LF

Bay

$16m

Evans/F-Mart/Lagares

CF

Sizemore

$6m

Niuewenhuis/Lagares

RF

Duda/Evans if Davis injured

$.5m

same

 

 

 

 

S1

Santana

$24m

Key hurlers the farm:

S2

Dickey

$4.25m

Gee

S3

Niese

$.75m

Schwinden

S4

Vazquez

$7m

Beato

S5

Capuano

$5m

Mejia, Familia, Harvey

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Evans (R)

$.5m

 

 

Alex Gonzalez (R)

$2.5m

 

 

David DeJesus (L)

$1m

 

 

Doumit/Shoppach (R)

$3m

 

 

Willie Harris (L)

$.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Nathan

$3m

 

 

Manny Acosta

$1m

 

 

Bobby Parnell

$.75m

 

 

Tim Byrdak

$1.5m

 

 

DJ Carrasco

$1.2m

 

 

Takashi Saito

$2.5m

 

 

Daniel Herrera

$.5m

 

Total budget is $99.2m with Sandy getting pre-approval to use the extra $10m on going over slot in the next draft where the club could have 4 of the first 55 picks. 

This club isn’t going to be very good unless we hit pay dirt on about 65% of the question marks & “upside additions.”  The goal is to accrue more “future 8th inning guys” by signing/trading Pagan & Pelf and a couple of advanced to blue chip prospects at the trading deadline depending on whether Wright, Bay, Sizemore or all rebuild their value.  Same principal with a lesser return on some of the bullpen arms like Nathan.

It’s time to suck it up for a year and get more talent so Sandy can make smart, bigger acquisitions following the 2012/2013 seasons.

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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