Your parents once handed you some money and said the following: "Don't spend it all in one place. I am going to move a long a similar line of logic with respect to the Mets offseason.
Earlier I may have pounded my chest and exclaimed to the world: BRING ME HOLLIDAY! Bring me Hudson! However, now I will soften my stance on all things Mets this off-season.
We, as New Yorkers and as people, have this love for instant gratification. We want heads to roll when something goes wrong, we think rookie's latest hot streak is a true measure of his normal talent and when there is a hole to fill we want it filled - NOW.
However, spending all of our money here and now and on perhaps one or two players is not the way the Mets should continue in this off-season. Perhaps our money would have been well spent on a guy like Chone Figgins, who would have been a dream in Citifield's gaping gaps.
If I were the Mets now would be the time I completely retract the offer to Jason Bay and Bengie Molina. They've had their time, and in extending an offer at all I now believe we have made two offers too much. Despite Bay's obvious aversion to signing in Queens, even if he wanted to, I wouldn't want him. He is aging and a defensive liability, despite his obvious hitting skills, I do not want a 36 year old Bay (when the contract comes to an end) patrolling my outfield.
Just because there is money to spend and things to spend it on, does not mean we have to make a so-called splash. Why do we need to do this? To satisfy some urge to upstage the past events and present some false glimmer of hope to the fan base? Or do we need to employ the same strategy as the Yankee's and throw money around until we win?
There is no question that this year's stable of free agents is weak; why should we spend A+ money on talent that is only the best of the relative pool of what is available? Joel Pinero is the premier starting pitcher on the market today, and I hear rumblings that Mets fans want him. I say do not waste your money!
It is often said, do not criticize the idea or plan if you have no alternatives to suggest.
Here is my plan, pull all offers to Bay and Molina (who is old, overrated and asking for too much of everything) and continue to make the signings that we have been. In this regard we put together some pool of organizational depth and useful parts. Maybe take an incentive laden flier on Ben Sheets, whose demands will fall (however do not under any circumstance sign him for his $12 million base demand).
Offensively, we have a strong core. In the infield we will have David Wright and Jose Reyes both of whom are perennially amongst the best at their positions. Luis Castillo who like it or not, was our most consistent player last season and who when needed can still steal a base. At first, Daniel Murphy who will continue to improve offensively and is a solid defender at 1st base (if you don't believe me check out the defensive metrics).Yes, not the best infield right side in the world, but far from bad, given the expected- but not guarenteed improvement of Murphy (also given the fact that he will have more hitters around him to get on base and allow him to drive in more runs).
In the outfield, we have Beltran who if recovered- and I see no reason why he should not be- is one of the best all-around CF in the game. He will provide some of the power we so badly missed last season. In right field, Jeff Francoeur who is an above average defender with a plus plus arm, presents some questions at the plate. Which Frenchy will we get? Who knows, but I know not to expect what we got last season but I do know that he is capable of putting up 20 homeruns and driving in plenty of runs- despite his habitually low OBP.
What about left? I suggest we attempt to sign Jack Cust. Mr. Cust, has a tendency to swing and miss but also averages 110 walks per 162 games, and in the same frame averages 29 homeruns. He may be the poor man's Adam Dunn- but marginally a better fielder though Cust will never brag about being a good fielder. Cust can be had cheap and for a short term deal, allowing the Mets to explore other in house options during the year should Cust prove to be a failed attempt to capture some value. (Read: If Cust sucks it up- and Fernando Martinez or some other player becomes available to play left we can do it easily without much financial loss.) Also we would then be able to upgrade in the next offseason.
Behind the plate, we could have some issues but none which are overly severe. Lets sign Rod Barajas to a two year contract. He provides some pop, he plays behind the plate well and wouldn't be the contractual liability that Molina would be. Furthermore, he would also allow us to explore a better option in the winter of 2010. Additionally, with Santos, who already provides similar OPS+, along with Henry Blanco, Chris Coste and Josh Thole the Mets have something better than just Santos and Schnieder last season.
Next up is the bullpen. With an already solid core of relief pitchers in Francisco Rodriguez, Feliciano, Green, Stokes and Parnell, we have made some solid signings this offseason in this department. Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi are good signings and are both pitchers who can be very valuable to the success of the bullpen next season. Guys like R.A. Dickey are around for depth and not much more, but he pitched pretty okay last season and when needed to fill a hole is not so bad (but is if he needs to be in the bigs for an extended period of time probably). If the Mets continue to sign some decent relief pitchers combined with the progessing minor league talent like Tobi Stoner, Stephen Cylne and Eddie Kunz (who could be valuable as a specialist) there is a decent group of pitchers to suppliment what we have already got.
Do I need to remind you that bullpens tend to be easy to fill with cheap talent successfully year to year? This is the truth, and no amount of relief aces will make this untrue. It has often been the case that a relief pitcher signs a relatively big deal and then flop only to have some scrub or random dude replace them and perform better than or equal to the league averages.
Now the big problem- the starting rotation. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are some bright spots but the bad news is that this is a situation that cannot be resolved this off-season. Think about the problems that we have, and how each problem can be addressed. We need a number 2 starter, however there are none of those left in the pool of free agents. People will demand Pinero, but he has been all over the place in his career and refuse to believe that he is a binafide number 2 or the answer to our problem. If he does not fill this need, why waste 3 years and 30+ million dollars on him? Yeah, he may be the best out there now, but in 2011 and 2012 we would be slamming our heads on the table asking why we made such a move. Lets avoid that now and just don't do it. The next issue in the rotation is Oliver Perez. Lets face it, he sucks but even worse is that he is sucking 12 mil per year and a spot in the rotation from someone who deserves both the spot and the money. There is no realistic way to solve this problem this year. What do you do? Bench him? Cut him? Trade him? Nope. Not going to happen. In a perfect world I would terminate the contract give him his money and never look back but this will not happen. No one wants to trade for him, even if we eat his contract in its entirety, he will have no takers. So we wait 2 more seasons until his contract ends (hoping- no, PRAYING that he gets traded or injured)
Up until now, I have not discussed Ben Sheets. Sheets, if healthy is a legitimate number 2 starter. And that is a big if. However, even if Sheets makes 24 starts he will be a major improvement over anything that we have got. That being said, right now, he is not worth this $12 million. If Sheets can be had for much less with incentives that would bring the deal to near $12 million then signing him should be a no brainer.
That being said, right now we have Johan Santana, who is one of the, if not the, best starters in the game. Behind him, we have John Maine, who is recovering from a major injury. Maine, is not a bad pitcher rather he is decent and if he performs as he has Maine makes for a solid number 3 starter. That being said he tends to throw a lot of pitches which eats away at his durability. Then there is Mike Pelfry. Who knows what we will get from him. I ve seen him be completely dominant and I have seen him suck horribly. Let him pitch this season, let us see what we have got. If he does well, that means we could have a shot at possibly contending this season if not, we gets non-tendered, released or traded later on.
From there we have a mix of internal candidates to fill other spots in the rotation. Bobby Parnell can be an interesting option, and I would let him compete for a role in the rotation before he ultimately settles in the bullpen. There is Jon Niese, who I have never been high on until recently. He is a student of the game and has learned to adjust. He also has one of the nastiest curve balls I have seen on a young pitcher. Perhaps Fernano Nieve can catch lightening again, but this is doubtful. There is Nelson Figgeroa, who has shown himself to be serviceable in spot start situations. Can Kelvim Escobar still start? I dont know but maybe we can let him try. We also have those pitchers in the minors like Mike Antonini who I doubt will start, but why not look at him? There is Brad Holt, who is looking closer and closer to being ready for a spot in the bigs, and perhaps Jenry Mejia can pull a Dwight Gooden and start in the bigs as a teen? Both pitchers are flat out nasty, but are unproven.
Perhaps the Mets should sign someone, just not someone who is considered to be the top of this off-seasons crop because we should not spend for the sake of spending or be irresponsible just to get someone. It makes no sense. A one year deal makes sense, one year of Jon Garland sounds great right now.
Perhaps what I am saying is that we may not get 1st place this season, but we can. The point really is when there nothing special to spend on, there is no reason to sacrifice money and roster spots when all of those things can be spent on better players next year.
But to the people whining and crying about the Mets not spending enough out one side of their mouths while whining about Omar Minaya making bad signings out of the other I have a message, make your mind and shut up.