The New York Mets are about to record another losing season for a fourth-straight year, and really the storyline has been the same. The Mets start off well and then when the heat of the summer turns on, they quickly flame out.
As the regular season approaches an end, management is already working ahead, making plans for the future and exploring possible trade scenarios. This winter will be an important one for the Mets because a clear indication will be made on where this team is heading.
Changes are made to teams every offseason but with the losing and problems with ownership finances, the changes the Mets make will be examined under a larger microscope. Every move is critical in trying to convince a waning fanbase that the team is taking the correct steps in becoming better.
Here are four players that need to be dealt this offseason by the New York Mets.
Besides outfielder Jason Bay, pitcher Johan Santana may be the most difficult contract for the Mets to move.
There are a lot of benefits for the Mets by trading Santana. They would be relieved of paying over $25 million to Santana in 2013 even though if they find a way to deal him, they would most likely have to pick up some of that salary.
Trading Santana would make room for some of the young pitching prospects the Mets have to get an opportunity to pitch. Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia are waiting in the wings for an opportunity to pitch in the majors full time.
In a perfect world, the Mets would be able to find a suitor, but of course, there are obstacles. Santana holds a full no-trade clause and would have to approve a move. Also, there is a club option for 2014 for $25 million but also holds $5.5 million buyout. Something would have be reworked if moved.
Injuries are also a concern as Santana has not been able to stay healthy the past couple of seasons.
Santana also holds a special place in the hearts of fans; he is the only pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter. That emotional attachment has to be taken into consideration with how the fans will react.
The problem with Lucas Duda is that his bat belongs in the big leagues, but his glove and defense do not. The Mets have tried making him into an outfielder and the experiment just has not worked.
His bat cannot cover for his mistakes.
After Duda hit 10 home runs with a .292 batting average and .852 OPS in 2011, the Mets knew they had to have him in the lineup. The problem in 2012 was that his defensive struggles followed him to the plate. The power is still there, but his average and on-base percentage have taken significant hits.
The ideal position for Duda is first base or even better, designated hitter, but Ike Davis has fully entrenched his position there. While Duda is not even eligible for arbitration until 2014 at the earliest, if they can move him, they could actually get something of value in return.
Daniel Murphy has the same problem Lucas Duda has. He belongs in a lineup because he can hit, but his defense is suspect.
The Mets have moved Murphy all over the diamond. They tried him in the outfield, first base, third base and now he has been the regular second baseman in 2012. While he has made improvements at the position, it is still not an ideal spot for him.
Like Duda, first base looks to be the best fit for Murphy but that is not happening with the Mets.
There were rumors that the Mets were trying to deal Murphy before the trade deadline, so there is reason to believe the Mets will be open to talks again.
If the Mets can get something of value in return for Murphy, they really should consider making a deal.
Here is a situation where a change in scenery may just be best for everyone involved. Bobby Parnell has shown an ability to pitch out of the bullpen.
Before this season, Parnell was more prone to throw, not pitch. The mindset was to blow batters away by overpowering them with his high-90s fastball.
In 2012, he has learned how to pitch. Parnell has better command of his fastball and now has a nasty curveball to keep hitters honest. While he has improved, he still leaves a lot left to be desired.
Parnell has the stuff to become a closer, but he has not proven that yet in his career. The stress of pitching in New York is most likely the main factor as to why he has not been able to make the transition.
New York is not for everyone. Francisco Rodriguez proved that.
The timing seems right if there are teams interested in Parnell and want to make him a set-up man or a closer. Clubs are always looking for bullpen help and Parnell could be a huge asset in the right situation.
If the Mets have one thing, it is young arms coming up through the farm system. This makes Parnell expendable if the Mets deem him so. They could easily find a guy to take Parnell's role in the bullpen with some of the pitchers they have ready to make the transition to the majors.