12 Steps to New York Mets Recovery

Paul SieversAnalyst INovember 11, 2008

There is no need to rehash the last two months in baseball.

For those who have not been following, let's just say its not a good time to be a Met fan. Luckily, this can all be easily fixed. I know that there are about 2,000 other articles here on B/R about how to fix the Mets. Many of them go along the lines of “lets sign K-Rod, Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia and then we’ll be dominant."

Obviously this is never going to happen.

This is why I have laid out a semi-well thought out plan for Omar Minaya and company to follow. The Mets seem to be in a bit of a crisis, and what better way to clean up the Mets than a 12-step program?


Step One : Admitting we are powerless over Mike Francessa.

I am only mentioning this sad excuse for a radio host because he has led the cheers of “trade David Wright and Jose Reyes because they’ll never win." No Mets fan really believes this. Francessa is a typical Yankee fan, one who screams like a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Timberlake show every time Jeter makes a backhanded grab. Who cares if his OPS was sub .800, he’s a winner!

Bottom line is the core of the team is not the problem. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and the rest of the workhorses all need to be in blue and orange again next season.


Step Two: Believing that a manager more competent than Art Howe can restore us to sanity.

Last year's failures were not on Jerry Manuel. If Billy Wagner, Damian Easley and John Maine all stay healthy we probably make the playoffs. Jerry is the right man for the job.


Step Three: Making a decision to turn our will and our lives over to Johan Santana as we understand him.

My favorite Johan Santana stat—during his Twins tenure, Minnesota was a .770 team with him on the hill and a .500 team the other four days. Johan took even longer than usual to get warmed up this season and he still put together a season worthy of a third place finish in the Cy Young voting.

Next season, Citi Field figures to play as a pitcher's ballpark and now that Johan has had a full season to adjust to New York and the National League, it could get ugly for the other 15 teams.


Step Four: Making a searching and fearless inventory of the closer market.

The closer market could not be breaking any better for the Mets. Unlike last years trade deadline where relief pitching came at too high a cost, there is more supply than demand in this year’s closer market.

With K-Rod, Brian Fuentes, Bobby Jenks, Joakim Soria, J.J. Putz, Kerry Wood and others all available via free agency or trade, the Mets are by far the biggest buyer in the market with the Tigers, Cardinals, Rockies and Indians all looking for closers, but not as adamantly.

I would not put it past the Mets to acquire two pitchers from this list to fill up the eighth and ninth innings. More on this later in the process.


Step Five: Admitting to Fred Wilpon the exact nature of our wrongs.

This step involves apologizing profusely for the Luis Castillo contract and getting ownership on board with any strategy to get rid of this guy. Even if it means just a straight release that would cost the team millions of dollars. A former defensive wizard who was an expert at slap hitting and bunting, Castillo is a has-been with bad knees and a worse demeanor.

The only trade the Mets are going to be able to make involving Castillo is a trade for more damaged goods. One trade rumor I heard was Castillo to the White Sox for Javier Vasquez and his awful contract.

I am all for this deal, Vasquez’s VORP was 18 runs higher than Castillo‘s last year. Sure, we would probably have to eat both contracts, it’s still worth it. As far as replacing Castillo, I would like to sign Orlando Hudson assuming Daniel Murphy can't fill in at second base.


Step Six: Being entirely ready to ask God to remove all of the defects in our bullpen.

It is going to take a superhuman effort to remove all of the defects, better pray that it happens somehow.

I would like to see every member of last years bullpen go elsewhere. Unfortunately that might not be realistic. I will settle for just seeing that Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano pitch elsewhere next year.


Step Seven: Humbly ask the other general managers to remove our shortcomings.

This is a combination of steps five and six. Before we look to get rid of dead weight, we must make a list of untouchable players currently in the organization. My list would look something like this:

Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy.

I would not feel good about having to part with Carlos Delgado, John Maine, Jon Niese or even Ryan Church. However, all of these players are flawed in one way or another and may need to go in order to get the parts we need.


Step Eight: Make a list of fans we have pissed off and might alienate, then try to make amends to them all.

This is a plea to Mets management to keep Citi Field affordable. Shea Stadium was a dump but at least you could never accuse the Mets of having a wine and cheese crowd. The Mets are going to need a home field advantage if they are going to overtake the Phillies.

If all of the concourses are indeed open to the playing field, then there is no reason plenty of standing room only tickets shouldn't be available.


Step Nine: Making direct amends to these disgruntled fans however possible.

After last season's debacle Mets management could reach out to us directly one of two ways.

Option One - Pay for an army of cardiologists and psychologists to make sure fans are physically and mentally stable after last season.

Option Two - Get a damn closer.

Option two seems a little more realistic. Signing Brian Fuentes would probably be the easiest way to do it since K-Rod is asking for extraordinary money. Let's say three years for $30 million. Maybe a bit much for Fuentes but we are desperate here. I think five of my 12 steps include the bullpen, are we sensing a trend here?


Step 10: Continuing to take personnel inventory and promptly admitting our wrongs.

That’s right, we were wrong for ever making Heilman a relief pitcher. He should be a starter. He would be great. You hear that baseball! Aaron Heilman would be a fantastic starting pitcher for your team, and it's your lucky day because he’s available for trade!

Step 11: Seeking improvements through trade and free agency.

Here is where steps one through 10 come together. Here are a few moves I feel are realistic for the Mets.

Let's assume we can make the following trade with the White Sox:

Mets get : Javier Vasquez and Bobby Jenks

Sox get: Luis Castillo, Fernando Martinez, Argenis Reyes and cash

This trade would allow the White Sox to acquire two top prospects while the Mets get a closer with big game experience and a fifth starting pitcher to replace Pedro Martinez.

Let's also assume we can make this trade with the Royals:

Mets get: Joakim Soria

Royals get: Eddie Kunz and Nick Evans

I would imagine Soria would be willing to trade the closers role in Kansas City to be a set-up man in a pennant race. Another concern the Mets have is catcher as they are not happy with how Brian Schneider handled the pitching staff.

Let's assume the Mets make this rumored trade:

Mets Get: Bengie Molina

Giants Get: Brian Schneider, Scott Moviel, Ruben Tejada and cash

I would also trade Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, Duaner Sanchez, and Pedro Feliciano to anybody who would give up marginal prospects in an effort to at partially make up for the losses in these three trades. Some teams like the Rockies still think a few of these guys could be assets.

These trades would leave a holes at second base and in the bullpen. We will also have a hole in the middle of our rotation assuming we lose Oliver Perez. These holes would get filled through free agency with the following signings:

Jon Garland

Orlando Hudson

Eddie Guardado

Jeremy Affeldt

I keep hearing Derek Lowe’s name pop-up in rumors with the Mets, but apparently he wants no part of New York, so I went with Garland instead. Orlando Hudson apparently would love to become a Met and he would seem to be a perfect fit.

Eddie Guardado and Jeremy Affeldt would replace Feliciano and Schoeneweis as our lefty specialists. After all of these moves our roster would look like this.

C: Bengie Molina

1B: Carlos Delgado

2B: Orlando Hudson

SS: Jose Reyes

3B: David Wright

LF: Daniel Murphy, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church

Bench: Ramon Castro, Fernando Tatis, Edny Chavez, Valentino Pascucci and Damien Easley

Starting Pitchers: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, John Garland, Javier Vasquez

Bullpen: Bobby Jenks, Joakim Soria, Joe Smith, Bobby Parnell, Eddie Guardado, Jeremy Affeldt, Nelson Figueroa

This roster certainly has holes. It lacks depth in the rotation which could be a problem if Maine is not 100 percent or Pelfrey does not recover from last year‘s work load, it probably needs better left handed specialists in the bullpen or another right handed bat. The farm system would certainly take a hit.

With that said, I would rather have those problems than holes at second base and closer. I feel that it would take a lot to keep this roster out of the playoffs.


Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these step, it's time to take care of business.

This Mets team needs to realize that after two years of heartbreak, nobody is going to feel sorry for them.

The Mets will never have the romanticism of the pre-Schilling Red Sox, nobody will ever feel sorry for any team with an NY insignia on its hat. The Mets need to go back to the mid-'80s and play the “us against the world” card as masterfully as the 1986 team did.

Get tough, celebrate home runs, play to the traveling fans on the road, throw at Jimmy Rollins. I repeat, throw at Jimmy Rollins! Once we get the right mix of fringe players, the talent will be there. At that point winning must become an attitude.


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