"Oh my god, they found me. I don't know how, but they found me. Run for it [Buddy]!!"
It was the fall of 2010, the Mets had just wrapped up their second consecutive losing season, and Omar Minaya had just been fired for his inability to put a winner on the field while saddling the team with albatross contracts and a barren farm system. Sandy Alderson, who was gallivanting through the Dominican, was tracked down by Bud Selig and presumably forced to interview for the Mets vacant GM position. After several faux candidates were interviewed, Alderson accepted Bud's offer-he-couldn't-refuse.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2013, Alderson and the fans have endured three straight losing seasons while waiting for the contracts he inherited to clear the books. As of today, the only remnants of the Minaya regime on the payroll are buyouts of the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts, totaling $8.05 million. Alderson now has a (nearly) blank (small) canvas with which to shape the 2014 Mets and beyond. Here's how he does it.
Tender, Non-Tender, or Kill
"Why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here."
We're non-tendering Scott Atchison and Omar Quintanilla. Old-man Atchison is too expensive to bring back, especially given the way he looked in 2013. This may be short sighted based on a tiny one-season sample, but the fact is we have a limited budget and I'm thinking we can get the same level of production out of a player making the minimum. As for Quintanilla, enough already. If Q is getting meaningful at-bats for your team, something has gone horribly wrong.
"My density has bought me to you."
Tender contracts to Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee, Justin Turner, and Eric Young. If I had my way, I would probably non-tender Justin Turner. Since the front office has already indicated they will tender him a contract, and since I want this AAOP to have a semblance of realism, he gets a contract.
The Free Agents
"...we're sending you back to the future!"
I'm signing Carlos Beltran for two years and $26 million. The defense is declining and the walk rate evaporated this season, regardless, he's coming back because it would make me insanely happy to see him in a Mets uniform again. Also, he can still rake, and this team is desperate for some offense.
Bring back Marlon Byrd for two years and $12 million. Byrd clearly made some changes to his approach this past season and he gets rewarded with a multi-year deal. Byrd's new free swinging ways led to a power spike the Mets likely won't be able to find elsewhere on the free agent market. This team needs power and Byrd has already demonstrated he can do it in Citi Field.
Sign Scott Kazmir to a one year, $8 million contract. I'm banking on the fact that he's too risky to receive a multi-year deal somewhere else. Kazmir was able to resurrect his career by finding the missing MPHs on his fastball. His peripherals were downright sexy this season, with a K% of 24.1 and walk rate of 7.0%. Another option for a similar deal is Josh Johnson, who might be willing to take a one-year deal as he tries to show that his true talent is closer to his xFIP than his ERA.
Sign LaTroy Hawkins for one year and $1 million. Maybe this is optimistic but let's roll with it.
"Hello? Anybody home? Think, McFly. Think!"
I'm trading Daniel Murphy and Dillon Gee to the Kansas City Royals for Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling. The Mets do this trade for a couple of reasons. First, Murphy's trade value will never be higher than it is right now, especially if they're not planning to sign him to a team friendly extension this off-season. As for Dillon Gee, his perceived value may never be higher as well. Gee is coming off of a season in which he put up a 3.62 ERA over 199 innings pitched. Those are great results. However, it's important to note he had a severe home/road split that was largely due to home run suppression when pitching at Citi Field. This split is prevalent in his career numbers as well, although not as extreme as it was in 2013. Gee is under team control for 2014 and 2015, but you'll have to forgive me for dreaming bigger than Gee, which is why I make this deal.
Why would Kansas City do this deal? Well, they have a gaping hole at second base, leading to some Royals fan sites to speculate that they should trade for a second baseman. They're also losing Ervin Santana to free agency and will need someone to eat innings while not costing too much. It's important to note that the Royals finished just four games out of the second wild card slot, so they may be willing to overpay for a couple of marginal wins, as evidenced by the Will Myers trade last year.
I've struggled with this trade and whether or not it is fair for both sides. The Mets are giving up a lot of major league talent, but they're also getting a potential #2 starter in Zimmer. And it sets up a 2015 rotation that looks something like this (let's assume Niese is dealt between now and then):
Sign me up for that.
Package up Lucas Duda and Kevin Plawecki and send them to the Rays for Hak-Ju Lee. As many AAOPers have noted, the Rays appear to be a natural trade partner this off-season, with the Mets' abundance of reclamation first base projects and the Rays' supply of short stops. Lee's value might never be lower than it is now, coming off of a knee injury that cut his 2013 season short. He probably needs some seasoning in triple-A, but I'm banking on him being ready for The Show come mid-May at the latest.
As it stands right now, my rotation consists of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Scott Kazmir, and Jenrry Mejia. My plan involves bringing Noah Syndergaard up as soon as the extra year of control is locked up, so I need someone to make a few starts in April. Let's say we bring Aaron Harang back on a minor league contract.
Admittedly, this is a risky rotation. Kazmir and Mejia are injury concerns. Niese has never thrown 200 innings. Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Jacob deGrom will likely need to eat a bunch of innings. That's okay with me. Let's see what we have here. The best case scenario is pretty good. And let's not forget about that sexy 2015 rotation.
My philosophy for the bullpen after bringing Hawkins back is to stay cheap with internal options. We'll see a lot of arms rotating through the pen over the course of the season. I expect Jack Leathersich will see some time, as well as Jeff Walters.
"...when I kiss you, it's like I'm kissing...my brother"
I've traded away Daniel Murphy, which means Wilmer Flores is my starting second baseman. Obviously, this puts a lot of pressure on Flores to actually hit in 2014. In fact, in order for this team to compete for a wild card spot in 2014 a lot of players are going to have to take a step forward. Travis d'Arnaud is going to have to play to his potential. We're going to need the good Ike Davis to step up. Hak-Ju Lee will have to be a positive win player. In short, it's going to be difficult for the 2014 Mets to make the playoffs.
Rounding out the roster, I'll have Eric Young and den Dekker providing depth in the outfield. Satin makes the roster to platoon with Ike at first. Turner is my "utility" infielder and Juan Centeno backs up d'Arnaud.
"You'll have to forgive the crudeness of this model. I didn't have time to paint it or build it to scale"
This exercise has given me a new found respect for just how difficult the task at hand is for Alderson and the front office. This may not be the best plan for the long term. Perhaps we could sign Choo rather than Beltran, but then the title of this AAOP wouldn't really make sense. The same thing can probably be said for Kazmir.
Anyway, at this point I'm bleary eyed and hungry, so I'm just going to put this out there and see what everyone thinks.
|5||Aaron Harang/Noah Syndergaard||$0.50|
|22||Eric Young Jr||$0.50||OF|
|26||Matt den Dekker||$0.50||OF|