The Mets went into the offseason knowing they would be hamstrung by the ill-advised, over-inflated contracts former GM Omar Minaya gave to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.
Their main objective was to restock the front office with credible baseball people with similar minds and one common philosophy. They started at the top by bringing in Sandy Alderson who shortly afterwards hired Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi as his special advisers.
Fred Wilpon has given Alderson a budget of $145 million, give or take. With already over $135 million committed to players on the current roster, the limited payroll flexibility have severely restricted Alderson's maneuvering capabilities.
So far the new team has done a very good job with what it had to work with. The Mets have added Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Scott Hairston and Willy Harris. All small, low-risk moves on players that could and should break camp and help this team in a big way come the 2011 season.
Personally, I feel the Mets should have jumped into this free agent class, which is far superior to next year's market—unfortunately that is when the Mets will finally have money to spend.
Instead, they could have overspent for Lee, paying more this season and less next season to balance it out and, in doing so, preventing him from going to the Phillies.
The Alderson regime is aware of the fact that over $60 million in payroll will be coming off the books after the 2011 season with the end of contracts for Carlos Beltran ($18M), Oliver Perez ($12M), Luis Castillo ($6M), Jose Reyes ($11M) and presumably Fransisco Rodriguez ($11.5M).
The first thing the Mets will want to do is lock-up Reyes to a long-term contract probably worth around $18 million annually. Reyes is a home-grown, rare commodity that cannot be allowed to leave. No other player in the game today is more suited to play for the Mets in Citi Field than Reyes is.
After that, they need to stay away from the 2012 free agent class. I mean, after Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, who may never actually make it to free agency anyway, there is not much left out there.
Instead, they need to look to take on payroll via trade and get the best possible players available. By this time they will be shopping for a second ace and a power bat. The best possible way to do this is by taking on large contracts and in doing so only having to give up second-tier prospects similar to the Vernon Wells and Alex Rios deals.
With the farm being as strong as it currently is, a few big trade acquisitions next year should make the Mets a legitimate contender for 2012.
So many of my friends have told me that if the Mets ever win another World Series the world would come to an end, and that may just happen in 2012.
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