I've read enough AAOPs to make me vomit. "Let's trade Montero for a fourth outfielder and start him and hit him cleanup." "Let's sign one player to a contract under $10 million and some minor league free agents." "With my great plan maybe we'll be lucky to win 82 games! (though we'll probably win 75.)" Clearly, these plans will not solve the Mets' problems.
What if there was a plan that in one swoop would get the Mets into the playoffs for the next six seasons and deal a fatal blow to the Yankees, enabling the Mets take over the city once again? Well there is one, and it is the clear direction our beloved franchise should take. It is called "Not AAOP" because it actually involves (wait for it...) SPENDING MONEY!
I must note that with this plan, the Mets are not looking to turn into the Yankees to spend endless money to solve all problems. Rather, the Mets would be looking to plug a few major holes with some real stars from free agency while filling in the rest of the roster for now and long-term internally, sort of like a Rays plus three or four superstars signed to big money. This would set us up to make the playoffs and have a shot at the World Series every year for a few years. That being said, here goes:
First, I would sign Robinson Cano to an 8 year, $190 million deal (or whatever it takes to get it done). Cano is at least a top 10 player in MLB, and over the first four years he will provide so much value that we can live with the rest. (Of course, we would all rather a 7 year deal, but we are going to have to outbid the Yankees.) Cano would improve the Mets drastically and set the Mets up for a big run.
Since this is a Mets blog, I will spend a few lines discussing the ramifications of this move on the Yankees. This would be a devastating blow to the franchise, probably worse than the collapse of 2004. Besides for the embarrassment their fans would feel of being outbid for their best player by the Mets, this would guarantee that the Yankees would be unable to make the playoffs for at least four years. Losing Cano's production at a premium position cannot be replaced. There is no 2nd baseman, shortstop, or center fielder providing anywhere close to Cano's value that will hit free agency anytime soon, and for a team of old players with problems all over, losing Cano would just crush the Yankees. Aside from providing pleasure to all Mets fans, this would enable the Mets to win back over the city like in the '80s, which obviously would be financially profitable to the franchise as well.
Next, I'd sign Curtis Granderson to a 3 year $45 million deal. This is a low cost deal that gives us production and power from a corner outfield spot while also completely destroying the Yankees. We might have to sign Granderson before Cano to get away without the Yankees bidding big on Granderson, but we'll do whatever it takes. Because the other corner outfield spot will also be locked up (more on that in a minute), the low cost contract allows us to trade Granderson if at any point Puello or another prospect lights it up in AAA for a long enough time.
Next, I'd sign Choo to a 5 or 6 year deal (whatever it takes). This gives us a good bat with high on base at the top of the lineup.
Then, I'd trade Murphy for whatever I can get (any reliever or prospect). For 1st base, I'd platoon Ike Davis and Josh Satin, with Duda and Lutz in AAA to replace them if either should falter. I'd reluctantly give SS to Tejada, though I'd monitor Peralta and sign him if he got cheap. I'd bring back Santana for 1 year cheap or even just live with Torres three weeks (only 2-3 starts because #5 starter frequently gets skipped in April), and then bring up Montero (delaying his clock). Syndergaard comes up in late June (to avoid super 2) or after if he's not ready. It probably would be a good idea to sign one starter for cheap or on a minor league deal. I'd bring back Hawkins for 1 year at $2.5 million.
With these moves, the Mets would be in great shape without harming their depth at all. The lineup would be at least a hundred runs better than this year if not more, depending on how 1B, C, and SS works out (though all three spots can't be worse than last year no matter what). Imagine this lineup: 1. Choo. 2. Wright. 3. Cano 4. Granderson. 5. Ike Davis/ Duda. 6. D'Arnaud. 7. Lagares. 8. Tejada (would look better if we got Peralta, then 6. Peralta 7. D'Arnaud 8. Lagares). Now stop drooling. The rotation, even without Harvey this year, would be good enough. The improvement from Niese and Gee and having a full season of Mejia would make up for much of the lost value. (Mejia in particular I think will be incredible, with an ERA around 3 and maybe even lower. Great peripherals, great stuff, and a great groundball rate too.) Montero and Syndergaard should be decent too. And having 8 starters plus Torres for the season should be sufficient depth. The bullpen, as always, is a crapshoot, but with a hopefully healthy Parnell, Hawkins, and some decent young arms, should only improve, and more arms are on the way. This team is set up to compete in 2014, and when Harvey comes back and the young players develop and fill in, look out! A dynasty is in the making.
This is the obvious course of action and would pay off big-time. I'd guess that the payroll would not even go beyond $110 million, which is quite manageable, especially because this team will be successful with all the revenue that brings, and it should not rise above that too much over the next 3 years at least. This should be palatable to the Wilpons even with their recent financial difficulties. LET'S GO METS!!!
P.S. Can I have the Omir Santos baseball? Please