Make no mistake about it, the New York Mets have work to do this winter if they expect to compete in 2012.
There was a time in 2011 when, despite injuries to multiple key players, the Mets exceeded expectations and allowed fans to dream about the possibilities of an epic, 1973-esque playoff run. Guys like Justin Turner, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy acted as band aids for the Mets' wounds.
It turns out those wounds are quite deep, and the Mets have shown just how shallow their roster is in recent weeks as they've played a remarkably underwhelming brand of baseball—and that's putting it mildly.
So where do they go from here?
Let's take a look at five potential moves Sandy Alderson & Co. can make this offseason in order to finally change the fortune of the orange & blue in 2012.
Look, I love Bobby Parnell just as much as the next guy. Personally, I think it'd be a breath of fresh air to have a homegrown anchor holding down the back end of the 'pen.
But as of right now, that doesn't appear to be in the Mets' best interest. Parnell has struggled mightily in the setup role, and his command issues have taken on a life of their own.
So what do the Mets do?
They go out and spend on a closer, of course. Yep, we're going down that path again.
Armando Benitez, Braden Looper, Billy Wagner, Francisco Rodriguez and...?
Well there's two potential closers of interest who jump out at you when taking a look at the 2011 free-agent market.
Those guys are Chad Qualls and none other than 1999 Met Octavio Dotel.
Sure, some may argue that they're hardly an upgrade over Parnell. But what they do bring is consistency and experience to the back end of the bullpen.
Not to mention, they're both in non-closer situations now, so they wouldn't have the leverage to ask for a hefty contract on the open market. That plays pretty well for the Mets.
Sandy Alderson recently proclaimed that adding quality arms to his bullpen will be a top priority heading into the offseason.
After watching his beleaguered 'pen implode before our very eyes lately, can you really blame him? The Mets need depth, and they need to get creative with it.
What they should do is acquire journeymen arms and simply hope for the best...something that Omar Minaya actually did quite well.
Am I actually suggesting that Sandy take a page out of Omar's book? Yes, I am.
Acquiring impact bullpen arms via trade during the offseason has proven to be a tough task, so expect Alderson to go bargain hunting on the open market.
He's not going to go and shell out a lucrative contract to a middle reliever, and nor should he. Piecing together a bullpen is an intricate process that takes time and patience.
Expect names such as Todd Coffey, Joe Beimel and Chad Durbin to garner some interest as the winter progresses.
Ronny Paulino has been tremendous for the Mets in 2011.
He's given the Mets a greater offensive threat behind the dish than Josh Thole is capable of providing at this point in his career.
No to mention, Paulino has had some monster games in which he's literally carried the team on his back. Given the question marks surrounding Thole's development and future, it seems to be a no-brainer that re-signing Paulino would be high on Sandy Alderson's priority list.
When taking a look at Chris Capuano's stats in 2011, one would be hardpressed to say that re-signing him is imperative.
Thus far, he's 9-11 with a 4.58 ERA.
However, after considering the state of the Mets' pitching rotation, one will quickly begin to realize how valuable Capuano is as a 4-5 starter.
He's been consistent, give him that. You know what you're getting each and every time Capuano takes the hill. He's going to battle for you, and he'll go through his patented middle-inning struggles.
But from a fifth starter, consistency is exactly what you want. And for this Mets team right now, you can't put a price tag on consistency.
Sandy Alderson needs to re-sign Capuano, and after compiling less than desirable results in 2011, expect that Capuano will accept the Mets offer with pleasure.
Ah, saving the best for last.
Of course, this priority will be the ongoing source of drama and headaches for the Mets this winter, and you can bet they'd like to get this done as soon as possible.
It's been well-documented that Reyes' recent brush with hamstring injuries may actually prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Mets going forward. His market value has taken a hit, as teams aren't going to shell out "Carl Crawford money" to a guy that seemingly just can't stay on the field.
But, that doesn't mean Reyes isn't desirable.
He's the catalyst of the Mets' offense; the spark that ignites this team, the fan base, and the city.
He's more than just a ballplayer in New York, he's an icon. Given the Mets' dwindling perception in the Big Apple, expect Alderson to be pressured to overpay for Reyes.
Do you really think Alderson wants to deal with the media headaches and the fanbase backlash if he fails to re-sign his most popular player? Absolutely not.
Alderson is going to do whatever it takes to make sure Reyes is in a Mets uniform come 2012 and beyond.
And for anybody who thinks the Mets are better off without Reyes, I guess you haven't been watching this club the past few weeks.