New York Mets: Priorities for the 2012 Offseason

Dylan NelsonContributor IAugust 14, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 13:  Manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets watches from the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Mets 6-4. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As hard as it is for Mets' fans to accept the fact that the playoffs are not a realistic possibility anymore, they must realize that this year was not a completely lost effort.  Not only did they discover young talent within their organization, the Mets now have their work cut out for them for 2012.

A year that "could have been" was injury-plagued from the start, forcing the Mets to dig up players from their farm system.  This makeshift Mets roster has been overachieving all year and they continue to grind through the dog days of August. 

The Mets discovered young talent during their desperate search to fill voids left by injuries and trades.  Players such as Justin Turner, Dillon Gee and Lucas Duda have been pleasant surprises as they assist in keeping the Mets around .500.

Getting healthy is not the only answer to the team’s problems.  The first step in the offseason is to re-sign Jose Reyes.  Regardless of what anybody says, the Mets are no doubt a better ball club with Reyes at the front of the lineup.  No matter the cost, they have to find a way to retain Reyes. 

Ruben Tejada is progressing; however, he is in no position to take over for Reyes just yet, and Wilmer Flores has a long way to go to even be considered a major league player.

The next step the Mets have to take is to rebuild their bullpen.  The team’s 4.21 bullpen ERA is second to last in the National League.  Jason Isringhausen has been shaky at best, completing only 60 percent of his save opportunities.  The Mets' future closer, Bobby Parnell, has had an 8.31 ERA in the month of August.  The rest of the bullpen hasn’t looked much better as they have been as inconsistent as the team’s record.

The answer to this problem starts in free agency.  Tim Byrdak, Isringhausen and Ryota Igarashi all have expiring contracts at the end of the 2011 season.  Of those three pitchers, Byrdak should be the only one the Mets should consider re-signing. 

Igarashi, who was signed prior to the 2010 season by Omar Minaya, has been nothing but a disappointment.  As he closes out the second year of his contract, he has compiled a 3-2 record with a dreadful 6.06 ERA. 

Jason Isringhausen has been inspiring at times, showing glimpses of the Isringhausen of the past; however, he has yet to show signs of consistency.  He will turn 39 years old this September, causing people to wonder if he will display any signs of improvement following this year. 

Byrdak should be the first reliever the Mets sign in the offseason.  The lefty has been almost unhittable since the month of June. 

There is a long list of quality relievers who are going to be free agents this offseason.  Although the Mets are looking to cut their payroll by almost $40 million at the end of the year, I do not think that they should shy away completely from the free agent market.

One intriguing name on the list of free agent relief pitchers is Matt Capps.  Capps, who was traded mid-season last year from the Nationals to the Twins, has struggled this year.  Granted, he does play for the Twins, who are last in the majors in bullpen ERA.  A change of scenery may be exactly what he needs to get back to his All-Star form of 2010. 

Another name that is interesting is George Sherrill of the Braves.  Sherrill re-established his career with Atlanta this year, becoming one the most reliable relievers in the Braves bullpen.

The Mets have a lot of work to do in terms of getting healthy and negotiating contracts this offseason.  With a revamped bullpen and a healthy lineup, there is nowhere to go but up for New York.