As the New York Mets continue through what is up to this point a lost season, it is important to look to next season and beyond. Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel will be back and with good reason. Jerry has done the best job he could have given his lineup and Omar has done a great job of not making a blockbuster trade, further depleting the farm system in what would be too little too late. As we move forward it is also important to remember what we have learned from the 2009 season and how that factors into next season.
In the next few paragraphs we will do a position by position breakdown of the potential 2010 New York Mets.
2009 might have been one of the most revealing year for catchers in the Mets system. We learned this year that Brian Schneider can no longer be an effective starting catcher in any system. At this point he is probably better served as either a catching instructor or a future pitching coach. We also learned that Omir Santos definitely has some potential behind the plate. With that in mind it will be important for Omar to replace Schneider with another effective platoon catcher. My suggestions would be free agents to be Jose Molina (Yankees), Gregg Zaun (Orioles) or Mike Redmond (Twins). Any of those players paired with Omir will be a solid solution behind the plate.
The other possible solution is to let Omar be the everyday starting catcher backed up by the prospect Josh Thole. Thole has progressed well through the minor league system and is due to be up with the club in September. Depending on how he looks in the majors Thole might never be sent back down as we move into next year.
This is another position where the Mets will have to make a serious decision for their future. With minor leaguers such as Ike Davis coming along quickly it might be in the teams best interest to stick with the ever developing Daniel Murphy at 1st. His incredibly improved defense and extra base hitting potential has made him my favorite to start at 1st next season. If he can somehow develop more power he could turn into a legitimate long term option at the position.
The enigma of Luis Castillo will continue into next season. With Castillo signed until 2011 making $6 Million per year he will be a tough contract to move and with him in place it will once again block a player such as Orlando Hudson from entering the picture. We can hope that Castillo comes back to camp with the same attitude and continues his wasted output in 2009.
3rd Base and Shortstop
These two positions can be grouped into the same category as they should be. The rumors of Jose Reyes being traded will fall by the waste-side and once again in 2010 the left side of the infield will be the speedy Reyes and the team captain David Wright.
In one of the best trades of Omar Minaya's tenure Jeff Francoeur came into New York in exchange for Ryan Church. Both players needed a change of scenery but with Jeff being much younger and having a much higher upside this was truly a great trade. If all goes right Francoeur could be the starting right fielder for the next few years.
For yet another season Mets fans will be blessed with seeing Carlos Beltran roaming center field. One of the best defensive and offensive center fielders in all of baseball Carlos is entering the 5th year of a 6 year contract that lasts until 2011.
Left field will truly be where Omar Minaya makes his money this offseason. Right now in looking towards the future you hope that Fernando Martinez is healthy enough next season to play at the Major League level although he might still need some seasoning at AAA (he is not even 21 years old yet). Many of the big free agents are outfielders and if Omar can he will bring these guys in but many of them will end up re-signing with their current teams. Theo Epstein would be crazy to let Jason Bay go and Matt Holiday should return to St. Louis. The guy I would have a target on if I were Omar is Carl Crawford. Crawford's combination of speed, defensive and speed makes him a huge threat in the spacious Citi Field.
The other option in left is to run Angel Pagan out there every night. An outfield of Pagan, Beltran and Francoeur looks really good on paper but their collective ability to stay healthy is in question. Regardless Pagan has shown us that he can be an effective leadoff hitter and a solid defender.
This is another interesting situation for the Mets in 2010. We all know that Johan really needs a solid, go to No.2 starter and what we saw from Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey this year does not help. Regardless Pelfrey, Maine and Perez should all be back to go alongside Johan. Jon Niese will be coming off the injury so it will be hard to rely on him heavily early on.
There are a few big name starters who will be free agents but the question will be if they are willing to part with their current teams and come to the Mets. Some of the larger names are John Lackey, Cliff Lee, Rich Harden, and Jason Marquis. I would love to see the Mets get a guy like Harden to be the righty to Johan's left hook. You have to look at how much money the team has to spend. From what you've heard it isn't as much as we would hope. Dumping Billy Wagner's contract on Boston would certainly help Omar in moving forward.
The Mets will have some cleaning up to do in the bullpen. Of course K-Rod will be back and Putz will most likely be back with a 2010 club option. Everyone else is up in the air. I would imagine they will resign Pedro Feliciano and hold onto Brian Stokes both of whom have performed admirably this year.
Players Who Will Not Return in 2010
- Gary Sheffield: Omar don't even think about it, let him go
- Carlos Delgado: We need to do something to shake the core so Delgado must move on
- Fernando Tatis: With so many other free agent options for a utility infielder/outfielder Tatis just isn't worth his weight
- Tim Redding: It was a nice experiment but Tim has shown us nothing to trust he'll ever be a solid starter
- Bran Schneider: For reasons already discussed
- Angel Pagan, LF
- Luis Castillo, 2B
- David Wright, 3B
- Carlos Beltran, CF
- Jeff Francoeur, RF
- Jose Reyes, SS
- Daniel Murphy, 1B
- Omir Santos, C