As a 18 year old Mets fan, I have never seen this team win a World Series title. In fact, the playoff run I remember is 2006. As a result, I am losing patience and believe that change must come. The Mets have said that change is coming, but who should really believe them?
The Mets already have some young talent, in D'Arnaud, Wheeler, Synderggard, Montero, Niese, Lagares, etc. Nobody should expect this to be enough. The problem is they have only two proven MLB hitters in Wright and Murphy. These players will not form a core of a contender, that's obvious. It is time to start a new chapter in Mets history.
Also, Mets fans are forgetting how big of a mess the Yankees are. The Yanks are in a bad situation with messy contracts and an inadequate farm system. Their best prospects are stuck in AA and their current roster is nothing to brag about. Maybe I'm being biased, but I really see weakness in the Yankees, and with the A-ROD saga front and center, baseball may not be the main story of the 2014 Yankees. With a powerful offseason, the Mets could become the better of the two NY baseball teams.
Just like every other fan, I am tired of the 70 win teams that we have had to endure five straight years. It is time for change. This may seem unrealistic and something of this magnitude will likely never happen, yet at the same time, it needs to. The current Mets roster is a joke. It will still be a joke if they sign Curtis Granderson and a few mediocre players.
Therefore, here is my 2014 Mets offseason plan:
Tender contracts to Murphy, Parnell, Gee, Young Jr., Duda, Tejada , Davis (to be traded), Turner
Non-Tender: Quintanilla, Atchison
Sign the following players:
Jhonny Peralta: 3 years/ 36 million- Ruben Tejada has been given enough chances. Tejada is subpar and should have a starting role on this team, barring injury. Although linked to Biogenesis, Peralta is a serviceable shortstop who is 31 years old and provides steady production. I would have no problem with him batting 6th or 7th in the Mets lineup.
Joe Smith: 3 years/ 9 million- Why not? Smith was great with the Mets previously and there should be no reason why he wouldn't be interested in a return to Flushing as a solid bullpen arm that may go under the radar. Smith is only 29 years old and has not had an ERA below 3.00 since 2010. He is not a power pitcher, but has 7.79 K/9 for his career and a 1.26 WHIP.
Latroy Hawkins 1 year/2 million- Latroy was a great leader in the clubhouse. He pitched through injury at the end of the year, but was still serviceable. There should be no reason not to bring him back.
John Buck- 1year/ 1.5 millon- Travis D'Arnaud gets hurt pretty often. If he gets hurt, Juan Centeno should not be our starting catcher. Teams should have a strong backup catcher, almost like an NFL team having a capable backup quarterback. Buck can handle a pitching staff and not be an embarrassment when he starts 1-2 times every week.
Phil Hughes- 1 year/ 5 million, 12 million team option for next year- Inconsistent spotting of his fastball is what killed Hughes in 2013. 170 hits in 145 innings should be a red flag, but Hughes is a fly ball pitcher who is an innings eater, perfect for a young Mets rotation. Give the Mets 185 IP, 12 W, and a 4.20 ERA and I am satisfied, yet I know he is capable of much more.
Minor League Signings: Tim Stauffer, Joba Chamberlain, Roger Bernadina, Muenori Kawasaki, Matt Guerrier- No need to explain each of these signings, but each provides depth that is so underappreciated in today's game.
Mets trade Wilmer Flores, Rafael Montero, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Plawecki to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp (Mets take on close to all of his contract) and Stephen Fife- This is the big one. Kemp has absurd amounts of talent and would be a fixture in any team's lineup. Yes, he has over $120 million left on his contract but he is worth the risk. Remember his 2010 season? .324 AVG, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB, .399 OBP, 115 R, 7.8 WAR...the list goes on and on. We have plenty of pitching talent and it is not like Flores is the next Robinson Cano. In fact, I would let the Mets throw in any propect not named Zack Wheeler or Noah Synderggard if the Dodgers wanted (in moderation of course). Kemp would bring attention to the Mets, a team in dire need of it and would also bring in revenue due to his insane popularity. Many would wonder, "why would the Dodgers do this?" Kemp gets injured very often and has proven to be inconsistent, playing in 73 games and having only a .323 OBP last season. He is also owed a ton of money and LA has four outfielders that can start in Crawford, Ethier, Kemp, and Puig. On top of that, the Dodgers add some prospects and opening up funds to bring in another superstar (Robinson Cano?)
Mets trade Matt Den Dekker, Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz to the Rockies for Michael Cuddyer- Now, we have a legitimate outfield. Cuddyer is very underrated and is friends with David Wright, making him perfect for the Mets clubhouse. The Rockies are (or at least should be) in rebuilding mode and Cuddyer has one year left on his deal and would make sense to trade in order to save payroll. It would be tough to expect Cuddyer to bat .331 with a .389 OBP again, but he still is a quality outfielder. An outfield featuring Cuddyer and Kemp would easily be the best OF in New York that features two legitimate bats that will serve as blankets for David Wright. Den Dekker is a solid-defender with a powerful swing, and Ynoa and Matz give Colorado some pitching to stockpile in their farm system.
Trade Ike Davis to the Brewers for Norshika Aoki- The outfielder shopping does not end here. Sorry Juan Lagares, your glove is tremendous but your bat is underwhelming. He cannot draw a walk if his life depended on it, which is terrible for Citi Field. Once MLB coaches learn his every weakness, Lagares will be placed on the bench simply because he cannot draw a base on balls. In Aoki, the Mets get a leadoff hitter who can field as well. Aoki's WAR for his first two MLB seasons has been 3.3 and 3.0, respectively. He is much cheaper than Shin Soo Choo, in fact the Mets save money in this deal by shedding Davis' contract. The Brewers get a 1B who has 30 HR potential and who knows, Davis may just need a change of scenery. Still, it's time for him to leave. Imagine, Cuddyer, Aoki, Kemp from left to right. That would be awesome.
1. Norshika Aoki-RF- Solid CF and leadoff hitter. Comparable to Choo but much cheaper.
2. Daniel Murphy-2B- Coming off a strong season- 2nd most hits in NL, 20 steals, nearly 80 RBI
3. David Wright-3B- Could have a monster year with some protection behind him
4. Matt Kemp-CF- When healthy, one of the best OF's in the league
5. Michael Cuddyer-LF- Leader in the clubhouse with an offensive mindset that fits Citi Field
6. Jhonny Peralta-SS- Durable, everyday shortstop
8. Travis D'Arnaud-C- Still learning the ropes, but should get the bat going in his first full season.
Juan Lagares- The best defensive replacement in the league.
Eric Young Jr.- Speed wiz off the bench. Lagares and EYJR form one of the best OF benches in the league.
Justin Turner- Defines mediocre, but is cheap and a veteran.
Muenori Kawasaki -Imagine Turner and Kawasaki on the same team, that would be a great duo for the clubhouse
John Buck- mentioned above
1. Zack Wheeler- Electic stuff, ready for his first full year in the MLB
2. Jonathon Niese- Looked great at the end of the year.
3. Dillon Gee- Innings eater, was great for the final 2/3 of the season
4. Phil Hughes- mentioned above
5. Jenry Mejia/ Tim Stauffer/ Stephen Fife-The five spot could be a problem, but one of these three could step up.
Closer: Bobby Parnell- A risk after neck surgery, but he really took major strides last year
Setup: Latroy Hawkins- mentioned above
LOOGY: Josh Edgin- Looking forward to see him when healthy. Gives up some HR's, but if he can lower his fastball and slider more often he should be fine.
Summary: The Mets would go into the 2014 season with a revamped lineup that hopefully brings some life to the franchise. Every bat in the lineup would be a tough out, and the pitching staff could only grow with Synderggard waiting in AAA. Harvey will be back in 2015 to anchor the rotation. The bullpen is a weakness, but a midseason trade could completely change that if needed. I am not going to calculate the exact payroll, but I would guess that it would be about $90 million, right where it was last year. Worst case scenario, this plan doesn't work out, but many of the players are on one-year contracts, meaning the Mets could restart next year.
Projected 2014 record: 88-74, grabbing 2nd NL wildcard.- This could be a bit optimistic, but anything can happen. Maybe Kemp returns to 2011 form or D'Arnaud becomes an elite catcher. Either way, this team should be exciting to watch and would likely be the better of the two baseball clubs in NY.