***I will be on the DL for most of the day as I recover from having my wisdom teeth extracted yesterday. But I have a more than capable pinch hitter filling in for me today, my brother Evan. Ironically enough, he decided to write about the Mets, who seem to have half their team on the DL. Enjoy****
Most people are saying that the Mets have hit rock bottom.
Not only are they not hitting, pitching, or fielding the way major leaguers should, they have had significantly more off-field issues than have the other 29 organizations in the MLB.
Oh yeah...they also have a new guy on the DL each day.
Unfortunately, I do not think this is necessarily rock bottom. This could be the beginning of a few miserable years.
However, this does not have to be the case. If the Mets play their cards right, make a few good decisions, and plan for the future, they could be playing some playoff baseball in 2010.
It is my belief that the actions of Mets management from now until Jan. 1 will determine whether the Mets will be playing baseball or golf in late October of next year.
Here are the top five things I think Mets management must do in the next five months if they want to have a chance of making the playoffs in 2010.
1) Shut Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran Down for the rest of 2009
These are two of the integral parts of "the core," and rushing them back to play in meaningless games will do more harm than good.
Both guys are under contract for 2010 so Omar, Jerry, and the Wilpons have to realize that they need to be 100 percent healthy for all of 2010.
Had the Mets not tried to have Reyes and Beltran play hurt earlier in the year, the standings may be very different today.
2) Do Not Shut Down J.J. Putz, Billy Wagner, and Carlos Delgado
Delgado is not under contract for next year and probably won't be back. Thus, they really have no vested interest in him being healthy for next year. (That sounds really bad, though.)
Having him back in the lineup will only provide the Mets with some extra offense and make those late September games somewhat exciting.
At the very least, Delgado has done a lot for this organization, so I believe they owe it to him to allow him to play the last few weeks of this season.
Putz and Wagner are much different.
The Mets hold an $8 million option for Wagner ($1 million buyout) and an $8.6 million option for Putz ($1 million buyout).
If they pitch somewhat effectively at the end of '09 it would make sense to pick up at least one of the two player's options (if not both) and then try to trade them for starting pitching or power hitters in the offseason.
However, it is very unlikely that they will pick up either player's option if they have not played in 2009. Thus, the Mets should make sure that both pitchers pitch some time in August and September (if possible).
That way, they can properly evaluate whether there will be potential suitors for Wagner and/or Putz, which in turn will help them determine whether to pick up either (or both) of the options.
3) Bring Up the Kids and Let Them Play
Guys like Angel Berroa, Gary Sheffield, and Livan Hernandez have no future with the organization beyond 2009. So, let's use the rest of 2009 to look at some of the young guys in AAA and AA to see what they are made of.
Here are a few guys I would like to see playing in Flushing in August and September: Eddie Kunz, Dillon Gee, Adam Bostick, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Nick Evans, and Josh Thole.
Thole is the guy I want to see more than the rest. We need a catcher for 2010 and he is really knocking the cover off of the ball in AA (.345 average, .415 OBP, 1 HR, 40 RBI).
While his power numbers are not great, it is hard to ignore his BA and OBP.
4) Commit to the Young Guys for 2010, but Bring in One Power Bat and One Quality Starting Pitcher
The Mets have brought in many aging veterans over the last four years and we are beginning to see how fragile these 36-year-olds can be.
They should stick with guys like Niese, Pelfrey, and potentially Parnell in the rotation and let them develop into quality starting pitchers.
Rather than go out and bring in an aging veteran to hit .233 (a la Brian Schneider), see if Thole can catch everyday. He very well might not be able to at this point, but they should give him a chance to prove himself (hopefully in 2009).
The same goes for guys like Daniel Murphy. While he has not produced the numbers you would want out of an everyday first baseman, he is still young and working on his game.
I think he needs to go through the necessary growing pains involved in playing in MLB.
On the flip side, I do think they need to sign at least one power bat and one quality starting pitcher to help round out the lineup and rotation.
I would love to get Holliday or Bay in a Mets uniform, but I don't think they will be leaving St. Louis and Boston, respectively. The best route for a power bat might be via trade. (Anyone want Putz or Wagner?)
If a trade cannot happen, I would look at guys like Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel (although I am not sure how he would do in N.Y.), and believe it or not, Manny Ramirez (although he is probably L.A. bound for 2010).
For starting pitchers, I would try to put "all my eggs in one basket" and try to get one stud pitcher instead of a few mediocre ones.
John Lackey, Rich Harden, and even Brett Myers are some potential impact starting pitchers available who I think the Mets should look at.
5) Make Some Personnel Changes
Some members of Mets management/personnel must go after 2009. Here is a list of who I think should or should not be "relieved of their duties" with the Mets:
Jerry Manuel—DON'T FIRE
While he is definitely not perfect, he is not to blame for 2009. The players seem to like him, as does the media. I think he deserves one more chance with a team that is actually healthy.
While I like him, it is very hard to explain how the Mets are leading the league in walks despite playing in a ballpark the size of Manhattan. I think it's time for Dan to go.
Howard Johnson—DON'T FIRE
A few weeks ago my answer might have been very different. However, it seems as though he has really had an impact on Jeff Francoeur, which in my mind justifies his return for 2010.
After two collapses on the 162nd game and a year like 2009, how can one justify keeping Minaya as the GM (aside from money issues)?
Additionally, his "off the field" antics have embarrassed the organization, which the Mets definitely do not need.
I think the Adam Rubin issue was truly "the nail in the coffin."
Unfortunately, I do not think he will be fired. The organization owes him a few million dollars over the next few years, and he is very close with the Wilpons.
Mets medical staff—FIRE
All I have to say is Delgado, Putz, Beltran, Reyes, Sheffield, Castillo, Maine, Perez, Nieve, F-Mart, Schneider, etc.
If I were to list all of the reasons they should be fired, I would get carpal tunnel and would then need to be added onto the DL...we don't want that.
Not only did they not properly prevent injuries (as much as one can), they did not properly treat them (this goes all the way back to Ryan Church last year).
Obviously, it's time for a change in Mets land.