It's the Hot Stove season once again! For the 29 teams not the current World Champions, it's time to regroup and work out a plan to rise to the top of the mountain next year.
No need to relive the past two seasons for the Mets, we both know how it turned out—two September failures.
Anyway, time to move onto the 2009 season, in which the New York Mets will have a new home. Good-bye Shea Stadium. Hello Citi Field!
As far as the product on the field, there are a bunch of changes that are needed.
Obviously, the bullpen needs to be addressed.
Current free agents also would have to still be-resigned or replaced. Here are a few suggestions I think would be good for the Mets.
Sign Kerry Wood
The popular reliever to sign is Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, at least if you ask the mainstream fan.
However, at age 27, and coming off a 62-save season, Rodriguez worries me a bit.
His peripherals have all dropped dramatically in recent years, and could end up a prime candidate for the Robbie Alomar syndrome Mets fans have experience all too much in the early part of this century.
I think Wood, while still obviously a risk, would come cheaper then Rodriguez, and hopefully continue upon the success he had last year as a closer in Chicago. He handled the rowdy Wrigley Field crowd, so I don't think New York would scare him.
Wood would be a change for the Mets, who are used to predominantly left handed closers in their history (Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers, John Franco, Billy Wagner). Which brings us to the estimated contract it would take—3 years/$35 million.
Sign Jeremy Affeldt
After a successful run in Cincinnati and Kansas City, Affeldt would be a nice addition to the Mets' bullpen.
A one-time swing-man between the pen and the rotation, Affeldt should be able to provide some much needed innings, and not just be more of a situational lefty like the present left-handers Scott Schoenweis and Pedro Feliciano provide.
Affeldt has no big-city experience, but being brought in as a complimentary piece rather then to be "the man," should allow Affeldt to hopefully be okay in New York. Estimated contract—3 years/$17.5 million.
Sign Juan Rivera
Manny Ramirez you say? Mark Texieria? Yes, they would be nice, but I don't think either one is realistic.
Signing Rivera would give the Mets a lot of flexibility, and a combination in the corner OF of David Murphy, Endy Chavez, Fernando Tatis, Juan Rivera and Ryan Church should give the Mets enough production to avoid the offensive struggles they had at times in the middle to bottom of the lineup the last two years. Estimated contract—2 years/$9 million.
Re-Sign Oliver Perez
Yes, they will have to overpay, but why not bring back Ollie?
His 0.31 ERA last year against the divisional rival Phillies is as good a reason as any. Ollie is frustrating for sure, because "he's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get" the rest of the year. But in a big game, I'd take him over most pitchers not named Johan Santana.
Unfortunately, dealing with Scott Boras won't be easy, and the Mets will likely have to give on the fourth year. Estimated contract—4 years/$48 million.
Sign Mark Grudzielanek
With Daniel Murphy and/or Luis Castillo as the potential second baseman, why not bring in a steady veteran like Grudzielanek to add some production from the right hand side?
Assuming Castillo is sent packing at some point in the season, Grudzielanek would give another option for manager Jerry Manuel to use against a tough lefty, and provide some production in either the two or seven hole of the batting order when called upon. Estimated contract—1 year/$1.5 million.
Bring In All the Arms You Can to Compete for a Bullpen Spot
If I was looking to upgrade my bullpen, I'd bring in as many arms as I could and have them compete for a spot in spring training.
The Mets have used this method for some success in the past, bringing in guys like Darren Oliver or Roberto Hernandez who were cast aside by other teams, only to have a bit of a resurgence in Queens.
Bring in guys like Chad Cordero and Mike MacDougal. Pitchers that have had talent, but for one reason or another, haven't been able to have success in the recent past.
You bring in enough candidates, you're likely to catch lightning in a bottle at least once.
Move Aaron Heilman to the Starting Rotation
This is a tough decision either way because Heilman has had great success in the bullpen.
However, he has recently suffered from a bit of wildness, and the propensity to throw the gopher ball. I think Heilman would be best served at this point by being made the No. 5 starter going into spring training.
I don't think it serves his or the Mets best interests to bring him back into a bullpen spot at this point. If that is the plan, he should be traded to another team, so he could start with a clean slate.
With all the moves suggested above, it would leave the Mets with the following lineup/pitching:
- Jose Reyes SS
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- David Wright 3B
- Carlos Beltran CF
- Carlos Delgado 1B
- Juan Rivera LF
- Ryan Church RF
- Brian Schneider C
Bench: Grudzielanek, Ramon Castro, Fernando Tatis, Luis Castillo, Endy Chavez
- Johan Santana
- Mike Pelfrey
- Oliver Perez
- John Maine
- Aaron Heilman
- Kerry Wood (Closer)
- Jeremy Affeldt (set up)
- Joe Smith (set up)
- Duaner Sanchez (set up)
- Pedro Feliciano/Scott Schoenweis (whichever one isn't kept, the other one should be traded) (situational lefty)
- Bobby Parnell (set up)
- Jason Vargas (long man)
Obviously, each bullpen spot short of Wood, Affeldt and Smith would be up for grabs in spring training. These are just mere suggestions at this point, because I'm not certain of who would emerge.
I like the makeup of this team potentially, although Grudzielanek would not be a dependable back up SS, meaning at some point Castillo would have to be sent packing and an Alfredo Amezaga-type should be brought in that could back up at a lot of positions, as well as provide some speed off the bench.
What do you guys think about these suggestions?
I think they are somewhat realistic, they wouldn't break the bank for the Wilpons, and it wouldn't come across as cheap either in my opinion. It could then bring back smiles to the faces of GM Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel like in the picture above.