I have three essays due in the next few weeks, and a bunch of reading I need to do for class. I shouldn’t be wasting my time on some meaningless bullshit about what I would do this offseason if I were Sandy Alderson. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do, because I’m fucking crazy. I AM going to take some shortcuts, meaning no fancy schmancy graphs and no silly Microsoft Paint images or anything of the sort. If my AAOP fails because of that, so be it. Let’s just get into it, then.
The Mets are in a tricky place, and not just because Harvey is out for 2014. It’s conceivable that they’re not too far away from competing, but it’s also conceivable that there’s still a ways to go. They theoretically have a decent amount of pitching depth, but that pitching depth is still currently theoretical. They lack offensive talent at both the major and minor league levels, and there’s no clear and easy way to fix that. And above all, they’re a team that simply has a lot of mediocre players on it, and they’ve got to try to get rid of as much of that mediocrity as possible over the next few years.
I had a few goals here. My first goal was not to dip into our pitching depth. Not yet, anyway. There may come a time when it becomes necessary to do that, but I don’t think we’re there yet. Instead, we’re going to wait another year and see how Wheeler does in a full-season, see how the likes of Thor, Montero, deGrom, Mazzoni, and others do during the big league trials that I imagine they’ll get at some point during the season, see how some of our lower-level pitching prospects advance over the course of 2014, see how some our recent pitcher draftees do after getting more exposure to professional baseball. Once we’ve seen all of those things, we’ll be in a better position to say where we stand on the pitching front.
My next goal was to avoid any huge contracts. I know, I know. It’s tempting to just throw money at one of the bigger free agents and hope that he solves some of our problems. But there’s just too much risk in the likes of Choo and Ellsbury and even Beltran to give them what they’ll be looking for. Of course, I’m not blind; there’s plenty of risk in the path that I’m proposing we take as well. I’m largely operating under the idea that we can use the pieces we already have to build a contender, either by them contributing to the team directly or through trading them for other pieces who can. That’s no slam-dunk, and I realize that. But at the moment, I feel that it’s the better direction for this team to take.
My third goal was to build a team that’s fundamentally sound in the areas that we have a reasonable amount of control in. The fact is, unless you completely dismantle the farm system, there’s not really a foolproof way to ensure that the Mets are going to be a good offensive team next year. That doesn’t mean you don’t bother trying to get guys who you think can be solid offensively, but it does mean that you’ve gotta try to put a little extra focus on the areas where you KNOW you can improve. I put a lot of emphasis on building a solid defensive ballclub, and it’s one with a pretty decent amount of speed as well. That isn’t everything, of course; this team is to succeed or fail based on how some of the players I’m gambling on perform offensively, but we can at least be confident that they’ll be competent in some aspects of the game.
Tender everyone a contract except for Scott Atchison (sorry, Dad), Omar Quintanilla, and Justin Turner; all are expendable and probably couldn’t bring anything back of value. Tejada replaces Ginger as the right handed middle infielder on the bench.
This is where the two most important moves for the long-term are made in my plan. If these moves work out, we’re suddenly in a pretty good position for 2015 and beyond. If they don’t, we probably haven’t hurt our future prospects TOO much, so there’s limited risk but potentially high reward.
Trade Daniel Murphy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Chris Owings
As many of you might have heard, I have officially disbanded the Daniel Murphy for Joc Pederson Initiative. With that in mind, I would like to announce the formation of a brand new Initiative: the Daniel Murphy for Chris Owings Initiative. I will immediately begin accepting applications for admission.
Let’s examine why this deal makes sense: the D-Backs have a need for a third baseman and a burning desire for grission (their actions last off-season proved that to be true). Murph fits both of those requirements. Meanwhile, they have a solid option at shortstop in Gregorius, making Owings expendable. Worst case scenario, you can look at this deal as one that isn’t necessarily "fair" by objective standards, but one that the D-Backs might realistically accept. Still, I think it’s probably a lot closer to fair than many will give it credit for. There’s been a lot of talk about just how good a player Murph really is, and it’s kind of overlooked that he was a 3 fWAR player last year in spite of his shitty defense. I think he’d be a much better defender at third, where his lack of range wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, at Chase Field, his offensive numbers would get a little boost as well. The D-Backs probably aren’t too far away from being a contending team, and Murph could help them get there. So I think this is a deal that they would be willing to make. And from our perspective, we get a quality shortstop prospect who’s ready for the big leagues. Another thing to note: Owings’s biggest weakness seems to be his plate discipline. The same was said of d’Arnaud last year, but as soon as he came to the Mets he started walking way more than he had in the past. I don’t know what kind of hitting approach the D-Backs organization preaches (though their love for grission makes me suspect that they don’t value OBP as highly as the Mets do), but it’s conceivable that he would improve in that regard upon being taught the organization philosophy. Something to consider.
Trade Lucas Duda to the Seattle Mariners for Dustin Ackley
The Mariners are in a bit of a rough spot. Jack Zduriencik needs to see his team gain some positive momentum next year if he wants to keep his job. In order to do that, he’s going to need to see his team’s offense improve. I think the Mariners are going to be one of the teams making a big push for Ellsbury (they have a protected pick, so they won’t have to give up a first rounder to sign him; that gives them an edge over some of the other teams), and for the purpose of this discussion I’m going to assume that they sign him. They’re also going to be looking for a DH to replace Morales with; that’s where Duda comes in. This is an exchange of two guys who both have promise but who have thus far failed to deliver on that promise, both of whom can use a change of scenery. Ackley is a question mark with the bat, something the Mariners can’t afford, and the two positions he’s played the most of are occupied by Franklin and now Ellsbury. Duda’s not exactly Big Papi, but he would provide some amount of stability to the lineup; and the Mariners might actually buy into the idea that a change of scenery (especially outside of New York) will help him. The Mets get a guy to replace Murph with. There are obvious question marks with him, but if he regains his 2011 form than we have a solid option at second for the next few years. Even if he doesn’t, at the bare minimum we’ve got a solid fielder at second. He’s worth taking a chance on.
And yes, this means Ike Davis is our starting first-baseman for 2014. There are a few reasons why I’m electing to stick with him over Duda. One, because of Stockholm syndrome. Two, because I’m trying to build a sound defensive ballclub, and Ike is a better defender than Duda. Three, and most importantly, because there is a part of me that still believes that Ike can be a productive player; it wasn’t as notable as in 2012, but he did make some legitimate improvements in the second half of last season. Plus, he’ll only be playing against righties, with Satin going against lefties; if Ike plays REALLY well, maybe you can sample him against some lefties and see if he can go back to being an everyday player. But until then, just put him in a position where he’s most likely to succeed and hope for the best.
Like I said above, I’m not in favor of handing out any exorbitant contracts that would be too difficult to get out of and potentially severely harm our financial situation in years to come. But there are still some moves that we can make that can help us towards our ever-elusive goal of respectability.
Sign Nate McLouth to a two-year, 15 million dollar deal
Since we have some payroll flexibility this year with my plan, I’d try to frontload this deal as much as possible; say, nine million this year and six million next. That’ll make it easier for us to cut bait after a year if we want to. I struggled for a while coming up with a suitable plan for left field, but I think a platoon of McLouth and Young is our best bet. Not an ideal one, mind you, but one that we can work with. McLouth is a solid hitter against righties but can’t do shit against lefties; Young is better against lefties (albeit still not great), and his speed makes up for at least some of his deficiencies. They should combine for a not-too-terrible defense as well. Not exactly the sexiest of options, but I think we should get 2+ fWAR from this tandem.
Sign Grady Sizemore to a one-year, four million dollar deal
I’m surprised that virtually nobody has suggested this. In my mind, the best thing that the Mets could do this offseason would be to find another Marlon Byrd. Sizemore is the likeliest option to do what Byrd did last year. Assuming he’s healthy, we stick him in right field and hope for the best. If he works out and goes back to being the player he was in Cleveland, terrific; we’ve got a bargain and somebody who we could potentially deal at the deadline. If he doesn’t, cut him loose midseason and give Puello a chance. But for a team in our position, it’s a worthwhile gamble.
Sign Josh Johnson to a one-year, six million dollar deal
I’ve seen some people suggest that Johnson will get a multi-year deal, but I don’t see that happening. Frankly, I’m not even sure if I’d want that if I’m Johnson; I’d probably want to sign a one-year deal with an NL team in a pitcher’s ballpark, regain the value that I lost in 2013, and sign an even bigger contract next winter. The Mets tried this sort of move with Marcum last year and it didn’t work out, so there’s no doubt that there is some risk involved here. However, there’s a little less risk due to Rafael Montero pretty much being ready for the big leagues whenever we need him (Wheeler was not ready at the beginning of 2013, so it was a bit of a different situation). Sign Johnson and hope that he can stay healthy and produce; if he does, either trade him at the deadline or keep him and say goodbye at the end of the year, possibly after offering him a qualifying offer. If he doesn’t, then Montero gets the call.
Sign LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year, three million dollar deal
Oh, why not? I don’t want to give much more than that to a free agent reliever, and it would probably take that to get someone better. He would provide VETERAN PRESENTS (which, as much as we make fun of it, probably isn’t COMPLETELY worthless; just look at Izzy’s impact on Parnell), we wouldn’t be relying on him as much as we did last year, and we’d be in line to have some options down on the farm if he can’t cut it. Low-risk move.
Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang to minor-league deals
Genuine starting pitching depth is something of a myth, but these two guys would give us the closest thing to it as is realistically possible.
Sign Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak, and David Aardsma to minor-league deals
The devils you know are better than the devils you don't, I suppose.
Is this a first place team? Probably not. Is it a wild card team? Probably not. Is it a respectable team? I think it’s got the chance to be. There are obviously a fair share of question marks; we don’t really have any idea how guys like d’Arnaud, Ike, Ackley, Owings, Lagares, Sizemore, Johnson, and Mejia will perform. But I do believe that this is a team with some good, young talent; next year, we’ll have a better sense of how much of that talent can contribute to the next good Mets team and how much pitching depth we truly have. If all goes well, my plan here puts us in a position to be much more confident about our future a year from now.
Catcher – Travis d’Arnaud: $.5 million
First Base – Ike Davis/Josh Satin: $4 million
Second Base – Dustin Ackley: $.5 million
Shortstop – Chris Owings: $.5 million
Third Base – David Wright: $20 million
Left Field – Nate McLouth/Eric Young Jr.: $10.9 million
Center Field – Juan Lagares: $.5 million
Right Field – Grady Sizemore: $4 million
B1 – Juan Centeno: $.5 million
B2 – Josh Satin/Ike Davis: See above
B3 – Ruben Tejada: 1 million
B4 – Eric Young Jr./Nate McLouth: See above
B5 – Matt den Dekker: $.5 million
SP1 – Jon Niese: $5.05 million
SP2 – Zack Wheeler: $.5 million
SP3 – Dillon Gee: $3.4 million
SP4 – Josh Johnson: $6 million
SP5 – Jenrry Mejia: $.5 million
BP1 – Bobby Parnell: $3.2 million
BP2 – Vic Black: $.5 million
BP3 – Jeurys Familia: $.5 million
BP4 – Latroy Hawkins: $3 million
BP5 – Josh Edgin: $.5 million
BP6 – Gonzalez Germen: $.5 million
BP7 – Scott Rice: $.5 million
That, in addition to the Santana and Bay buyouts, leaves our payroll at $80.05 million, if my very quick calculations are right.
Okay, and I know I said there wouldn’t be any silly Microsoft Paint images in here, but I just made you read through a shit ton of text without any nice-looking charts or amusing pictures, so the least I can do is give you all a sample of my kindergarten-level art skillz.
Here’s a piece of pizza, with pepperoni of course:
Here’s a cat, because cats are obviously better than dogs:
And here’s Mr. Met (warning: keep out of view of young children, as sight may cause nightmares):
And that’s that. Please be honest but fair in your assessment of my brilliant plan.