Now that the Mets have officially introduced Sandy Alderson as their new general manager, the rebuilding of the team can begin. Alderson signed a four-year contract with a club option for 2015 to replace Omar Minaya, who was dismissed following the end of the regular season.
The task of rebuilding the Mets is going to be difficult to say the least. Alderson will have to deal with a club that already has $130 million dollars committed to payroll before the 2011 season even begins, and with ticket prices rising, the fan base has become increasingly hostile and frustrated.
Alderson wont have much time to settle into his new position either. He must address the expiring contract of reliever Hisanori Takahashi, who could become a free agent, and the 2011 club option on the contract of shortstop Jose Reyes, which must be picked up by Sunday.
To say Alderson has a difficult job ahead of him would be a gross understatement. The Mets still don't have a team manager, and Alderson has made it clear that he prefers a manager who follows the philosophy of the general manager and doesn't create a lot of waves—that means fan favorites like Bobby Valentine and Wally Backman might not be in the running.
Most importantly, what fans question most is the team roster. No one wants to see Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez or John Maine back with the team next season, but how do you get rid of them?
Eat the contracts? As much as I'd like to see the Mets do that, I doubt they will. Of those three, Castillo, believe it or not, probably has the most trade value. But even that is very little.
Perhaps one big payroll dump? Trade all three in one big deal? Ha ha. Unlikely, but hey, who knows.
Personally, I'm excited to have Alderson. He is an incredibly intelligent lawyer, a Harvard grad who built a perennial postseason team with the Oakland A's in the late 1980s, winning the World Series in 1989. I think he was the best choice of possible general managers. But no matter how smart he is or how many glowing reviews he gets from other GMs, the Mets need a lot of work.
Over the last few days I've spoken to a lot of Mets fans, each more angry than the last. They all have different ideas about how to fix the team, but the one thing they've all said cannot ever happen is trading any of the core players, namely David Wright, Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran.
To that I could only ask, why not?
Honestly, why can't the Mets at least explore the idea of bringing in some young, fresh talent in exchange for their better players? Most of you reading this will say because they are our better players. Well, that's all well and good, and I'm not debating that, but what has this team won?
I hate to say it, but let's examine the New York Yankees for a moment. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte have all won together, five World Series rings to be exact. They play together better than any group of players in perhaps all of baseball history.
The Mets' "core" hasn't won anything together. Maybe they never will. And because of that, no one should be untouchable.
The road the Mets have travelled on since 2006, the last time the Mets experienced any success, has led them to repetitive failure. So why not get off and try a new route?
Want another example?
The Philadelphia Phillies are a good one. They traded away such fan favorites as Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome, and now they're one of the best teams in baseball. Yes, the meat of their roster is homegrown (Utley, Howard, Rollins, Hamels), but trading away other solid players didn't hurt them in any way.
It's time for the Mets to take a page from their biggest rival and not be afraid of change.
It's just as easy to find faults with the Mets' core players as it is to find talent. You can tell me that Reyes is the driving force of the Mets' offense. He is, unquestionably. But he missed time twice during the regular season and most of the 2009 campaign. Prior to 2009, Reyes was a durable player. But his high-energy play may finally be taking a toll on him, and the Mets have to have noticed.
The Mets could get good players in return for Reyes. The Boston Red Sox, for example, have been desperate for an everyday shortstop since they traded Hanley Ramirez, and they also have a wealth of young pitching available. If the Mets could gets their hands on some of that in exchange for Reyes, why not? Jacoby Ellsbury may also be available, and he would easily replace Reyes in the leadoff spot.
Carlos Beltran is entering the final year of his contract. Coming off an injury, Beltran didn't join the team until August and hit only .255 with 7 HR and 27 RBI. The Mets won't be able to get anything of value for Beltran during the offseason, but if Beltran can put together a solid season entering the All-Star break—and during a contract year, I have no doubt that he will—the Mets could get some good players back for Beltran and shouldn't be afraid to shop him around.
David Wright is a different story, slightly. Wright is the face of the franchise and perhaps the most beloved player on the roster as far as the fans are concerned. After a disapointing 2009 season in which Wright hit only 10 home runs, he had a tremendous season in 2010 (.283/29/103).
Look, I love David Wright—he's a great player and one of the best third basemen in the game today. But the one thing I'll never hesitate to admit is that Wright is not clutch. He never seems to get that big hit to put the game away, and quite frankly, I'm sick of it. While Wright is the player I'd least like to see the Mets shop around, I wouldn't break down and cry if they were able to make a beneficial trade happen.
OK, Mets fans. If you've read this far, put your tissues down. It's going to be OK.
I'm a Mets fan too. I love the Mets, and no matter how many games they lose or how pathetic they play, I'll never jump ship. I hate the Yankees—I really, really do. But the thought of trading away some of our core players doesn't make me nearly as sad as the last four seasons have made me.
I'd be surprised if any of the players I've mentioned were shipped off, but the team needs a new direction. Alderson is the first step. We don't know who the next team manager will be, but whoever it is, that's the second step. But the third step is the roster, and the Mets can't leave any stone unturned, any option unexplored.
Don't be afraid of change, Mets fans!