Who's on First? Omar Minaya, New York Mets Have Several Options
As any Mets fan can tell you, the Amazins have several holes that need to be filled before taking the field in 2010. A couple more starting pitchers, a first baseman, left fielder, catcher, setup man...phew.
Looking at the free agent market, most of these holes can be easily filled through signing the available players. There's starting pitchers available such as John Lackey, Joel Pineiro, and Jason Marquis, left fielders such as Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and catchers such as Bengie Molina and Yorvit Torrealba.
The most glaring position that will be difficult to fix from the outside is first base. There are some intriguing names such as Nick Johnson and Hank Blalock, but neither seem to be connected to the Mets in anyway this offseason so far.
But the Mets do have several ways in which they can approach this problem.
The most likely option is the Mets putting Daniel Murphy at first base. They still like his bat, although he will never be too much of a power hitter, and his defense at first was extremely impressive considering the inexperience at the position.
But if the Mets fail to sign a big bat such as Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, can they afford to put a rather unproven hitter such as Murphy at first? If they do sign a Holliday or Bay, I think Murphy at first is feasible since he'll be sixth or seventh in the batting order.
If not, Murphy may not have a place on this team. You could use him as trade bait to lure another first baseman via trade (Adrian Gonzalez?) that can help out. Murphy alone won't loosen A-Gon from the Padres grasp, but adding a player that has proven he can hit and play first at least adequately in the majors to a package of two to three other prospects would be a good starting point.
Omar may also look to keep Murphy as a utility guy, while filling the first base role more permanently with a player that has proven himself a little more, such as Nick Johnson or Hank Blalock. As said earlier, there's been no talk of either of these guys in Mets uniforms come April, but either guy would be a good choice.
Nick Johnson has proven the ability to hit for .300, smack 20 home runs, and play excellent defense while doing so. Blalock won't hit for the same average or provide the same defense, but his power is a little better, and since the other two areas of his game I mentioned are up to par with Johnson's, he may come a bit cheaper, too.
One thing to remember before going and signing a first baseman such as those two to multi-year deals is that many media outlets project Mets first base prospect Ike Davis to be ready in 2011. According to the numbers, this kid can flat out rake. He's only 22 years old and hit .309 in Double-A Binghamton last season, while hitting well in winter ball thus far.
Which brings me to another idea which is probably not in great standing with other Mets fans, but it deserves to be brought up. Carlos Delgado is no longer under contract with the Mets, but he's a viable option to put at first as a one year stopgap if healthy (and he'd probably wind up being the cheapest option, too).
That, of course, is a big if. We all know what happened in 2009 with Delgado, who suffered a hip injury in late May which sidelined him for the rest of the season, starting the downslide that would continue for the next four and a half months.
Can Omar afford to take the gigantic risk of bringing Delgado back on a one-year deal, even if it is for a rather small amount of money? Delgado would probably be willing to take less of a salary considering the demand for him isn't exactly what you would call outrageous.
I know all the reasons not to sign Delgado mainly point towards his injury-plagued 2009 campaign, something the Mets can not afford again. But if the Mets can get Delgado on a one-year, incentive laden deal, along with another hitter like Holliday or Bay? A 3-7 batting order of Wright-Bay/Holliday-Beltran-Delgado- Francoeur, when healthy, would be absolutely deadly.
From what I can see, the option with the most risk (the re-signing of Delgado) has the opportunity for the most reward. You know what you're going to get with Murphy for the most part, and even with signing one of the free agent first basemen already mentioned.
Will Omar take one of these safe bets? Or will he take Delgado back on a one year deal, putting trust in Ike Davis to be the first baseman of the future while also having faith in Delgado having a bounce back year? As Omar's resume shows he's not exactly predictable, so only time will tell.
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