Matt Harvey’s UCL sort of fucked the 2014 Mets. There’s no easy way to say that, but I feel it is true. If this rotation had Harvey atop it, the Mets pitching staff goes from middle of the pack to Top 5 in the NL. However, even with Harvey, 2014 was going to be a tough year to compete. With very few position players locked in, both at the Major League level as well as at the "almost ready for prime time" stage, the Mets need a lot of help filling in gaps, and need a little more time to evaluate what they have in certain guys. My plan, hopefully, does that so such a degree that a 2nd Wild Card could be within reach, but the farm is not sent away in the process, either, setting up 2015 to be the year the Mets return to greatness. Ladies and gentlemen, my 2014 New York Mets:
(For Major League Minimum, I assumed $500,000 per player, and all initial player name mentions link to their Baseball Reference page)
I make two trades for outfielders on opposite ends of their careers - one, a seasoned veteran, the other a young turk.
Cuddyer is on the wrong side of 30, has played in an extreme hitter’s environment, and is owed $10.5 million in 2014 (with a possible bump up to $12 million, depending on certain offensive milestones reached). However, he is a fit for this team in a few ways.
-Dude has power (slugged .530 last year)
-Dude is a righty outfielder
-Dude can play 1B in a pinch (more on this later)
-Dude adds a veteran presence
-Dude is in the last year of his last big contract
The Rockies aren’t going to compete in 2014, and could use the money to help them restock their shelves for 2015 and beyond. In Flores, they get a hitter who will absolutely tear up that stadium and in Walters a potential late-inning reliever.
Guyer is just about too old (27) to be considered a prospect, and has a few guys ahead of him on the Rays depth chart. He’s been injured a fair amount in the past, and is certainly a flawed player.
However, he gets on base at a decent clip, has some speed, can cover all three outfield positions in a pinch, is younger than most free agents, and has the potential to be an everyday piece for the Mets. Here is a picture of him getting an ice cream cone after his first HR as a Met:
Now, I know trading a right handed relief pitcher to Tampa seems a little too easy, post-playoffs, and that everyone has made the "Ike will be a success in Tampa" comments already, but I really do think this trade makes sense. If Ike is make $3 million or so, that is a bargain for a 1B/DH with some power, if he actually puts it together. And Familia is the type of pitcher that would thrive under the direction of the Rays staff.
Free Agent Signings:
Sign LaTroy Hawkins to a 1 year, $1.5 million contract
Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka to a 1 year, $1 million contract
N00bs worth more than a million bucks:
Sign Stephen Drew to a 2 year, $16 million contract, with a vesting option for 2016 for $8 million
Sign David Murphy to a 1 year, $4.5 million contract, with a vesting option for 2015 for $6 million
Drew is a capable shortstop who can hit a little and is slick with the glove. Because of his injury history, Ruben Tejada is a Las Vegas 51 (and Wilfredo Tovar is a Binghampton Met) where, hopefully, he can prove that he deserves a job in the majors. In Drew can stay healthy, a third year wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Murphy is coming off a down year, but has the skills that would make a bounce back year not out of the question. If he is playing well, his option will vest for 2015 at a modest pay increase, but still be a relative bargain. If he’s playing like shit, the option will never vest. To start off the year, Guyer and Murphy will platoon in left field. Guyer, by the stats, really doesn’t need a platoon partner, but he’s a guy who has had little success in the majors so far, starting him out playing only against righties might help him ease into the role.
If Murphy really is shot, Guyer is the regular left fielder by June 1. If both are hitting well, Murphy gets flipped at the trade deadline. If Guyer is a disaster, he’s a 51 and Murphy is your everyday LFer.
Plus, Omar approves of the vesting options:
N00bs worth a million bucks exactly:
Sign Miguel Olivo to a 1 year, $1 million contract
Sign Donnie Murphy to a 1 year, $1 contract
Olivo is just about the same as every backup catcher, with just barely enough offense to fill in for a month if need be. If he isn’t your cup of meat, insert any of the other available backup guys in this spot, give or take a million or so.
Donnie Murphy can play shortstop in a pinch, and is your new backup 2B/3B as well. He has far more pop (but potentially a much less developed pie tool) than Justin Turner. Plus, he gives us all the Murphs.
So, this is what the team looks like in list form:
Juan Lagares CF
2B – Daniel Murphy
SS – Stephen Drew
3B – David Wright
C – Travis d’Arnaud
David Murphy/Brandon Guyer
Lineup vs RHP
1 – d’Arnaud
2 – Murphy, Daniel
3 – Wright
4 – Duda
5 – Cuddyer
6 – Murphy, David
7 – Drew
8 – Lagares
Lineup vs LHP
1 – Guyer
2 – Satin
3 – Wright
4 – Cuddyer
5 – Murphy, Daniel
6 – d’Arnaud
7 – Drew
8 – Lagares
Because of Tejada at AAA and Cuddyer in RF, there are plans in place for injured/ineffective players at SS and 1B. Because of the injury history of just about everyone in the starting rotation, neither Syndergaard nor Montero was traded away. The bench is more versatile than in years past, with more pop from just about everyone other than backup C (no one will match the power or the ass of Anthony Recker) and Young, who brings speed (along with Guyer), as well as offering another backup 2B if need be.
There still is not a real leadoff hitter, but if Guyer can prove himself an everyday player, he’s probably the best choice. Having d’Arnaud lead off against righties is not ideal in any sense, but (based on his Minor League numbers) the kid can get on base more than Lagares or Drew, so he makes sense in that spot.
The rotation is young (minus Dice-K), with high upside (minus Dice-K), though fragile. Having Torres in the bullpen as the long man/swing/spot starter should be emergency insurance on a day to day basis, and Montero and Syndergaard should be starting in the majors at some point this season, regardless, so they are the first called up when/if the injury bug strikes.
The bullpen looks similar to last year, with the additions of AAAers deGrom and Leathersitch. Neither proved that they were ready for a September call up, but both have the raw stuff to be effective. With the rest of the bullpen relatively tested, these two are going to get a shot at the Opening Day roster and hope to impress. If not, Gonzales Germen and Josh Edgin are in Vegas waiting to get called up.
In the outfield, this gives Cesar Puello and/or Matt den Dekker another year to prove they are major leaguers, and hopefully one of them replaces Cuddyer in RF in 2015. Similarly, if Guyer is the real deal, he could be in LF for most of the decade.
Overall, the lineup is stronger, the rotation ready for callups, and the bullpen decent (something a Mets ‘pen hasn’t been in a dog’s age - although there is no guarantee this batch doesn’t flame out, too). The team looks similar to last year’s, but with enough changes to potentially make some noise later in the year. Plus, because of the paucity of long term deals, the team is still financially flexible enough to pull of a big trade at the deadline or sign a free agent or two next year, when the team will truly be ripe for contention.
The salaries in numbers:
Free Agents/Trades: $28 million
Returning Roster: $45.5 million
40-Man Spots by Injured Major Leaguers: $1 million (Hefner/Harvey)
Total: $83 million