As one of the few former AAOP Champions (see my MSPaint-fueled victory in 2011), I may not post much on here but I always take the pulse of my favorite baseball organization. After the "oh-so close" 2006 season, followed by two years of despair-inducing collapse, the Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel-led Mets bottomed out in 2009 and 2010. This was followed by the savior Sandy Alderson’s reconstruction of the barren New York Mets farm system. As a result, we have had to sit through three years of subpar New York Mets baseball. Most importantly, Sandy took inventory of our then-existing farm system and has separated the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now, the ill-advised Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts are only going to cost us $8.5 million this year. In turn, we can move on with salary flexibility and a rebuilt farm system. Despite the loss of Matt Harvey this upcoming season, it is finally time to take some chances. With help from the beloved MSPaint, it’s your move, Sandy…
II: EASY ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLES
All of these arbitration cases are pretty straight-forward. Parnell fortified the closer’s role for the squad in the first half. Despite the second-half injury, he should bounce back healthy next year. Gee had a nice season and was one of the Mets’ most reliable starters all year. He will fit in nicely as the #3 starter next year. Turner is not anyone’s favorite backup infielder, but he plays several positions competently and has proven to be a half-decent bench bat. Eric Young is a questionable sign at slightly less than $2 million, but there is a difference between him being a starter and backup outfielder in 2014. I don’t like him as an everyday player, but EY Junior can serve several roles on this team. He has proven to be a very viable speed option, and the Mets definitely need speed.
2: Non-tender SS Omar Quintanilla, RP Scott Atchison
Q was a decent enough fill-in when the Mets needed a shortstop, but it is time for this experiment to end. In retrospect, Atchison was a nice bargain-basement signing last offseason. However, he is no longer needed on this team at the major league level. Bye, guys.
III: TOUGH ARBITRATION CASES
3: Tender a contract to 1B/OF Lucas Duda ($1.8 million) and SS Ruben Tejada ($850k)
I will concede the fact that Duda is no great shakes and has to put in a full healthy season to determine his true power potential. However, he is a cheap source of power and would no longer be blocked by Ike Davis at a more suitable position for him. He would be the left-handed portion of a first base platoon in my 2014 lineup. As for Tejada, he has a little too much potential for the Mets to let go of him for $1 million. He will spend the beginning of the 2014 season in AAA, and I would give him time at shortstop and second base with the intention of possibly turning him into a backup infielder. He still has time to rebound.
4: Sign 2B Daniel Murphy to a 4-year, $30 million contract extension, with a $10 million team option for 2018
Daniel Murphy has switched positions several times over the past few years, and he has still been the second-most consistent hitter on the New York Mets over the past three years. As a result, I am locking him up through his age 29-32 seasons. He is not spectacular defensively at second base, but he has certainly adapted to the position well enough. He is a solid contact hitter and he is in the top-half of all second basemen in baseball. We’ll go $5.5 million, $7 million, $8 million, and $9.5 million, effectively buying out two years of free agency at $17.5 million.
I deliberated over whether Ike deserves a contract from us for 2014 because I happen to like him. I’ve decided that I cannot go into 2014 depending on him as our first baseman. He will be 27 next season, and I have a bad feeling we’re entering "Conor Jackson" territory with him. Of course, the whole "Valley Fever" issue seems like an excuse to sell newspapers and drum up controversy, and Ike had 32 home runs in 2012. However, he has not been the same since tripping in the Coors Field infield, and one cannot help whether that condition further hindered his progress.
In this trade, I am throwing in a "sweetener" pitching prospect in Verrett to have them eat the $3.5 million contract. Ike Davis will become Colorado’s "post-Todd Helton" first baseman, leaving Michael Cuddyer in right field. In return, we get Josh Rutledge and Charlie Blackmon. Rutledge is blocked by Troy Tulowitzki but he was very serviceable during Tulowitzki’s extended DL stint in 2012. He then failed as their new second baseman last season (DJ DeMahieu spent most of the year there) and actually spent half of 2013 in Colorado Springs. He is still only 24 years old and had excellent numbers in the minors. He will serve as our new shortstop for 2014. Blackmon is now 27 years old but he is clearly blocked in Colorado’s very good but crowded outfield. Blackmon has had excellent numbers in the minors and actually hit both home and away last year at the major league level (including a torrid September). He will step into a role in 2014 as our starting left fielder.
Satin is a nice bat, and really hit well in limited time in 2013, but his time is running low as a Met. He steps into a new role in 2014 in Minnesota as a possible first base option after the departure of Justin Morneau. Swarzak is due approximately $800k in his first year of arbitration, and he was a bulldog in middle relief last season. He is only 27 years old and had almost 100 innings of 2.91 ERA middle relief.
V: TIME TO (FINALLY) PAY UP FOR SOME FREE AGENTS
7: Sign OF Shin-Soo Choo to a 5-year, $87.5 million contract
A lot of people aren’t going to like this one, and I flirted with attempting a "Granderson-Nelly Cruz" double-play but the money was not there. The fact remains that this team DESPERATELY needs a significant free agent splash to counter the "LOL no money Mets" stigma that has been haunting this team since the Bernie Madoff scandal. I prefer the 31 year-old Choo to the slightly younger Jacoby Ellsbury at this price. Choo has not had any significant injury history aside from the freak thumb injury in 2011. Choo also has a skill-set that is going to age better than Ellsbury’s. Everyone knows he is an excellent on-base threat, and he has been a consistent 20/20 threat year-in and year-out. Choo was worth 5.3 fWAR last year in Cincinnati, and I cannot imagine his productivity going down significantly over the next few years. I do not like his defense at all in center field, but we have "Juan the Glove" in center anyway. He will play right field.
Another factor that CANNOT be understated is that the Mets really need to create a stir and sell some tickets. Given Queens’ large Korean population, a signing like Choo would definitely create a buzz in the area. When spending a significant sum of money on a free agent, this factor has to come into play as well.
$15 million in 2013, $17 million in 2014 and 2015, $19 million in 2016, $19.5 million in 2017, full no-trade option.
8: Sign 1B/OF Corey Hart to a 1-year, $3.5 million contract, with a $9 million mutual option for 2015
Corey Hart suffered through two significant knee injuries and missed the 2013 season. With that being said, he is going to attempt to rebuild his trade value in New York on a short-term contract. Hart is a career .300/.369/.526 hitter vs. left-handers and averaged 29 home runs per season from 2010 to 2012. He will occasionally play right field in my lineup, but will primarily play first base in a power-hitting platoon at $5.3 million combined with Lucas Duda. Take that, Ike.
9: Sign SP Scott Baker to a 1-year, $3.5 million contract with innings-based performance incentives
I’ve always been a huge Scott Baker fan for some reason. He is now a full year removed from Tommy John surgery after making three starts for the Cubs in 2013, and should be worth a mid-level flier as a back-end starter. Baker was worth anywhere between 2.6-3.9 fWAR every single year between 2007 and 2011 and was a major rotation cog on contending Minnesota Twins teams during that half-decade. He managed a $5.5 million contract robbery from the Cubs last year, but the Cubs expected him to pitch a full season last year. He gets a similar but slightly lower-valued short-term commitment since he pitched only three games last year.
10: Sign LHP Pedro Feliciano to a 1-year, $900k contract
I want to see Jack Leathersich emerge as the Mets LOOGY sometime in 2014, but we will go with Pedro Feliciano and Scott Rice (and possibly Josh Edgin) in this role to start 2014. He gets little less than $1 million to come back in 2014. What else is he going to do, go back to the Yankees?
11: Void SP Johan Santana’s contract buyout and sign to a 1-year, $6 million contract with performance-based incentives
I’m definitely writing with my heart here. I personally do not want to see Johan go out with a buyout. I would attempt to void the buyout and negotiate Johan being in Port St. Lucie with the squad to start 2014. He has resumed his throwing program and seems determined to return. The Mets also need another left-handed starter until Noah Syndergaard is ready. Johan can stand pat and continue his rehab with us. It makes sense since it is wasted money, anyway. Hopefully spend one more year in Queens before riding off into the sunset.
12: Sign RHP Matt Albers to a 1-year, $1.2 million contract
Albers is a solid but not spectacular middle reliever. He was good in Cleveland last year and has pitched in at least 56 games for five straight seasons. With plenty of young pitchers in this bullpen, the Mets can use a veteran influence. Albers will serve as a middle relief option to setup Bobby Parnell along with Vic Black.
13: Sign C Jose Molina to a 2-year, $4 million contract
Let’s face it – Travis d’Arnaud has struggled with injuries over the past few years. Depending on TDA to produce a full season at the major league level may be far-fetched at this point. Instead of depending on Anthony Recker or Juan Centeno (yuck) as our starting catcher in 2014 if TDA goes down, I’m signing Jose Molina. I get it – much like d’Arnaud, Molina is a righty so a true platoon wouldn’t happen here. He is also 38 years old and cannot hit. However, he is still a great defensive catcher and can serve a mentor role for both d’Arnaud and our pitching staff as John Buck did this season. I am not looking for a platoon – I am looking for a veteran catcher who can tutor our young stud and potentially step in as a full-time starter in case of injury. Molina fits the bill here.
VI: MINOR LEAGUE GUYS
13: Sign SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (w/bonus for making team), SP Tsuyoshi Wada, SP Chris Narveson, RHP Alex Burnett, RP Alfredo Aceves, OF Xavier Nady, IF Reid Brignac to minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training; DFA Andrew Brown, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin
Analysis: Dice-K pitched well his last few starts of the season after being a disaster in his first few starts as a Met. He will serve as a minor league option but will compete for a spot in spring training. Wada is an interesting case, as he had a higher ceiling than Wei-Yin Chen when both signed with the Orioles. After two years of inactivity, he never received the call from Baltimore late last-season despite being ready. He will definitely be a starting pitching option. Narveson is working his way back from shoulder surgery after being a decent starter in Milwaukee in 2010 and 2011. Burnett and Aceves are two veterans who will serve as ancillary middle relief options, while Nady and Brignac are signed primarily for depth reasons.
MEET THE 2014 METS
C – (R) Travis d’Arnaud ($500k)
1B – (R) Corey Hart ($3.5m)
2B – (L) Daniel Murphy ($5.5m)
SS – (R) Josh Rutledge ($500k)
3B – (R) David Wright ($20m)
LF – (L) Charlie Blackmon ($500k)
CF – (R) Juan Lagares ($500k)
RF – (L) Shin-Soo Choo ($15m)
1B/OF – (L) Lucas Duda ($1.8m)
OF – (S) Eric Young Jr. ($1.8m)
C – (R) Jose Molina ($1.5m)
IF – (R) Justin Turner ($1m)
IF/OF – (R) Wilmer Flores ($500k)
SP1: (R) Zack Wheeler ($500k)
SP2: (L) Jonathon Niese ($5.0m)
SP3: (R) Dillon Gee ($3.3m)
SP4: (R) Scott Baker ($3.5m)
SP5: (L) Johan Santana ($6.0m)
CL: (R) Bobby Parnell ($3.3m)
RP: (R) Matt Albers ($1.2m)
RP: (L) Pedro Feliciano ($900k)
RP: (R) Anthony Swarzak ($800k)
RP: (R) Vic Black ($500k)
RP: (R) Jeurys Familia ($500k)
RP: (L) Scott Rice ($500k)
OMAR’S "SPARE PARTS"
Jason Bay ($3.5m)
TOTAL SALARY COMMITMENT: $82.1 million dollars ($2.1 million over budget)
SO SANDY, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE 2014 NEW YORK METS?
LET'S GO METS!!!