As the World Series comes to an end, there will be plenty of people sitting in front of their laptops trying to become the next great general manager.
One team that will get a lot of attention this off-season is the New York Mets. There will be demands to trade for pitching ace Roy Halladay, to sign John Lackey, and to sign slugger Matt Holiday.
This while filling holes behind the plate, at first base, and with general organizational depth. Therefore, before all of this goes down, I will impart my feelings as to how this team would move forward if I were the GM.
I am going to get the big things out of the way first.
The Mets should not—NOT—sign John Lackey. Yes, thats right.
John Lackey, at age 31, is starting to break down physically. I would not like to have him for the next five years only to hear Mets fans moan about how bad a signing he was because he barely pitched. He is an injury risk the Mets don't need to take. He would probably perform well next season, and make around 24-30 starts, but I would not want to spend $17 million per season for a pitcher who may just make 24 starts next season, and only continue to regress into his late 30s.
The Mets will not trade for Adrian Gonzalez or Roy Halladay.
This seems obvious to many, but not to all. Think about it. There is talent in the Mets minor league system, just not enough in the high levels to produce a trade worthy of either player.
Oh, and Gonzalez is cheap and under team control for a couple of years. Why would a team like the Padres part with that? And if they did, they would just demand even more value for a player as cheap and as talented as Gonzalez.
While we are talking first base, now is a good time to start talking about what the Mets should be doing.
This off-season it is likely that the Marlins will trade at least one of the following players: 2B Dan Uggla, OF Jeremy Hermida, and/or INF Jorge Cantu. If I were the Marlins, I would start dangling Cantu first, as he is more expendable than the other two. Perhaps a deal involving Reese Havens and a major-league relief pitcher in return for Cantu could work (and maybe we could take Matt Lindstrom back).
With Cantu on the Mets roster he could provide in a platoon at first along-side Daniel Murphy.
Last season against left handed pitching Cantu hit .322/.389/.503 against Murphy's .223/.267/.415. While both hitters were virtually identical against right handed pitching, I think it is worth giving Murphy the time at first, as he is, in fact, a good defensive player and will improve at the plate.
Cantu also makes sense because he has doubles power (hit 42 last season) and has 25-plus HR potential. This would be nice because it would represent a relatively cheap option at first while providing depth (Cantu can play first, second and third), run production with out making a sacrifice elsewhere and he won't block first-base prospect Ike Davis (who I have been high on for sometime, but that is for a different article for another time).
The situation behind the plate is a slightly different one.
Yes the Mets have Josh Thole on the horizon, but he still needs to play a season in AAA ball to become the seasoned player (read: fielder) I know he can be. Having watched him play in AA Binghamton and in New York, I think he can be a Paul Lo Duca (not to be confused for Lo Duca's 2001 season though!) type bat near the top of the order for some years to come.
However, this does not solve this season's problem behind the plate. And no, Omir Santos is not the answer. Well, not the whole answer.
Santos is a decent hitter and is a plus fielder (but not by much). This qualifies him to be a pretty damn good back up. So who will start for the Mets behind the plate?
I think it will wind up being Rod Barajas. So yeah, he doesn't hit for much contact (career .238 hitter) but he does hit for power (19 HRs last season) which is something we need. Further, the catcher's market is not deep and he will come cheap.
The Mets are a big market team, so why do I keep referring to cheap options at first and behind the plate? I believe that the Mets will spend the big bucks (think $16-18 million per year for five or six years) in left field.
Im going to take this moment to jump on the Matt Holliday bandwagon. He is the legitimate power threat that the Mets need and even better is his ability to hit line drives into the gaps, which will play nicely in Citi Field (and even more nicely behind a hopefully healthy Reyes and Castillo).
Do I really need to say much more?
Granted, Holliday in left is no guarantee as he may just as well find his home in St. Louis. I mean, who wouldn't want to play with Albert Pujols everyday? That being said, the Cardinals may have a hard time paying Holliday more than Phat Albert and may eventually run into problems with paying both of them (think something along the lines of $30 million per season).
I also believe that Jason Bay will stay in Boston, leaving Holliday as the only real option left for the Mets next season. Sure, plenty of people may want to trade for Carl Crawford, but c'mon, he ain't Matt Holliday.
At this point the Mets lineup looks like this:
It could be because I put this line-up together, but I feel really happy putting this team out there everyday.
The situation with the starting pitching is baffling. We would all be tempted to add a guy like Lackey (or even Aroldis Chapman) but we cannot be blinded by him being the "best" available.
Thats not a good enough reason to spend all of that money. I have already expressed my concern with his body and rising ERA. Despite my concerns with health, I think Ben Sheets could be a decent option (that is if he doesn't follow Lackey to Texas).
Sheets, who hasnt pitched in a year, could take a one or two year deal worth $10 million per year plus some incentive bonuses. This wouldn't be a problem for me, because it would not be five years worth of aging and injuries. Rather just a one or two year experiment that would at least pay off when he is healthy.
In his eight years, Sheets has made 24 or more starts six times, four of which he started more than 30. In all of those years he's had 3.73 era. After Sheets, the other options really thin out, but perhaps Jon Garland could be a good fit.
The real issue with Mets pitching is Ollie Perez, who is a contractual albatross and for lack of a better term, sucks. We would also need to hope that Pelfry gets back on track and that we see 2007's version of John Maine. Then all we'd need to do is sign some pitchers for depth.
The rotation at this point looks like this:
Perez/Niese/ etc etc etc.
Your next general manager.