The off-season, so far, has been an extension of the Mets' 2009 campaign -- an absolute disaster. First, the Yankees made a trade to acquire All-Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers, which stole the back pages away from their cross-town rivals.
Then the only two stud pitchers on the free-agent market, John Lackey and Roy Halladay, got scooped up by the Red Sox and Phillies respectively. This has left Met fans throughout the nation in a state of panic.
The Mets needed desperately to add a number two starter behind Johan Santana, but now that the only two sure-fire options are off the table, they are forced to try and get creative. They also need to add a power bat to a lineup which hit the fewest home runs in the Majors in 2009. So the question is; where do the Mets go from here?
1) Overpay for Matt Holliday and forget about Jason Bay.
There has been a lot of talk over the past couple of months that has linked the Mets to outfielder Jason Bay, and recently General Manager Omar Minaya and Co. offered him a four-year deal worth somewhere in the ballpark of $65-million. Yes, Bay is the more affordable option, but the Mets should forget about him and focus their attention on the more expensive Matt Holliday.
Holliday is a leader in the clubhouse, which the team currently lacks, and he single-handedly took the Rockies to the World Series three seasons ago. He would provide more pop and hit for a higher average than Bay, and would thrive slated between David Wright and Carlos Beltran in the Mets' lineup.
The excuse that the Wilpon family has suffered substantial losses thanks to Bernie Madoff's buffoonary is no longer valid after we learned that they actually came out of this mess with a $50-million profit. So, the Mets have money to blow. They should follow the blueprint the Yankees drew up last Hot Stove season, and open up their wallets for Scott Boras' power-hitting client.
2) Do whatever necessary to trade Luis Castillo and sign Orlando Hudson.
Throughout the off-season, there have been rumors that the Cubs are interested in Mets' second baseman Luis Castillo, but the teams have been having trouble trying to work out a deal. Already, two multi-team deals involving Castillo have fell through, but the Mets must continue to try and rid themselves of him. Castillo was the last man standing last season and hit over .300 on a ballclub which at times looked as though it belonged in Triple A, but by no means is he the long-term answer at second in Flushing.
What epitomized the Mets' 2009 season more than Castillo dropping the lazy pop-up for the 27th out in Yankee Stadium last May? If they can somehow find a taker for Castillo they need to pull the trigger immediately; even if that means taking on a bulk of his contract. They should then focus their attention on the O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, who like Holliday is a leader on and off the diamond. He would be an ideal number two hitter behind Jose Reyes, and the two of them would use their speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths for opposing pitchers. Hudson and Reyes are both Gold Glove caliber fielders, and would make for a formidable double play combination for years to come.
3) Sign Chien-Ming Wang and/or Ben Sheets to one-year deals.
With the two aces already signing contracts (Lackey and Halladay), the Mets must now roll the dice when it comes to starting pitching. The Yankees recently decided to let starter Chien-Ming Wang go, and won’t be interested in re-signing him after their acquisition of Javier Vazquez earlier this morning. Before his injury plagued season a year ago, Wang had won 19 games in both 2006 and 2007; all while hurling one of the Major's most devastating and heavy sinkerballs in recent memory.
He has pitched in New York his entire career, so we know he can handle the pressure that comes along with playing in the Big Apple. When healthy, Wang can be in contention for a Cy Young year-in and year-out, and the Mets would be in the wrong not to take a gamble on him.
They should also look at offering Ben Sheets a one-year deal. He has stated that he is looking for a one-year contract in the range of $12-million. That number may be a bit high, but baseball insiders believe that his price tag will come down drastically in the near future. It's no secret that Sheets is beyond injury prone; something the Mets know all too much about. But when he isn't wasting away on the DL, Sheets can still pitch like an ace.
Mets’ hierarchy let Lackey and Halladay slip through their fingers, and this is the predicament they have left themselves in. Signing Wang and/or Sheets would be risky, but the Mets have no where else to turn.