A lot has been made of the Mets' new ballpark and how that should influence how the team is constructed. But I'm here to tell you that those arguments are idiotic.
Citifield is obviously a pitcher's park. Hitting is not a pleasant experience there. Unless you are facing Tim Redding. But guess what? Shea was a pitcher's park too! The Mets have been flawed from the get go, built in fantasy GM fashion that has no possibility of succeeding long term. All the Met organization has had to do is look at the teams that have been successful in the past for their model.
Met teams that made at least the NLCS:
1969—second in team ERA, next to LAST in OPS+, first in Def Efficiency
1973—third in team ERA, next to last in OPS+, third in Def Efficiency
1986—first in team ERA, first in OPS+, fourth in Def Efficiency (what a team that was!)
1988—first in team ERA, first in OPS+, ninth in Def Efficiency (how did that team lose?)
1999—fourth in team ERA, second in OPS+, second in Def Efficiency
2000—third in team ERA, sixth in OPS+, fourth in Def Efficiency
2006—third in team ERA, secnd in OPS+, second in Def Efficiency
ALL of these teams were built around pitching and defense, with varying offensive success. Now, compare that to the way this team is buil:
2008—eleventh in team ERA, third in OPS+, third in Def Efficiency
2009—ninth in team ERA, eighth in OPS, eighth in Def Efficiency
Quite simply, the Mets pitching is just not good enough. Both the lineup and the pitching staff are built the same way—top heavy. A few stars, and then league average players to fill in the rest of the team. The Mets, with a $150 million payroll, should not have planned on starting Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy in the outfield, or Tim Redding and Livan Hernandez in the rotation.
Winning teams not only have stars, they have depth. Look at the Dodgers. Their bench consists of Mark Loretta, Juan Pierre, Brad Ausmus. Their number eight hitter last night was Matt Kemp—who would lead the Mets in homeruns and RBI's.
So how do you fix it? Simple really—make the pitching and defense the strengths of the team. And it really won't take too much to make it happen. The Mets have somewhere around $30mm to spend and are not losing anyone of significance beyond Carlos Delgado. So I would:
1.) Sign Nick Johnson to play 1B. Est. cost - $11 million a year. Perfect for the Mets—solid OBP and defense.
2.) Sign any of Rick Ankiel, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Randy Winn to play LF/RF. Obviously varying costs here, but the idea is to get a number five hitter who can play pretty good defense.
3.) Sign one of the Molinas to catch. I would actually prefer Jose because of his defense, but Bengie wouldn't be bad either.
4.) Trade for Cliff Lee. This is the most important. I would give up any of the pitching prospects for him, so I can imagine a deal of Niese, Holt and Marte for Lee. Remember, that other than Pelfrey, the last Met pitching prospect to develop in New York was Bobby Jones in 1994!
And the Yankees aren't any better. They have Wang, but then you go back to Pettite in 1995. Pitchers just don't get the opportunity to develop in New York for whatever reason. So the Mets would be smart to deal their pitching prospects for a guy who has already proven himself.
So the 2010 Mets would be -
The bench would have Church, Santos, Murphy and Cora on it—solid ML players who can step in and start without the team skipping a beat.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If Omar and his cronies don't learn quickly that Met teams have to be built around pitching and defense to win, he will follow in the footsteps of immortals such as Steve Phillips and Al Harazin.