The New York Mets are unlikely to be big players in the feeding frenzy that is free agency, and that's fine.
Despite the dreams some fans have to bring Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to Flushing, it's not going to happen. It's hard enough to imagine Jose Reyes re-signing, let alone bringing in elite talent from another team.
I've heard fans calling on general manager Sandy Alderson to bring in Grady Sizemore, a new starter or two, a couple top relievers and a closer. Initially, I went along with line of thought—not Sizemore, of course, but the idea of bringing in a couple veterans or low-risk arms to shore up the team and make them at least appear competitive.
Now I've had a change of heart.
Don't bring in expensive free agents, aging veterans who certainly won't be worth what a team pays for them, or starters with a history of shoulder problems. Stick with the team you have, tough it out for a season or two and rebuild.
Slash payroll to the lowest it's been in a decade. A team with the 19th-best record and 14th-best attendance shouldn't have a top-five payroll. Just because they play in a big market doesn't make them a world-class team. Try as they like, the Mets not in the same class as the New York Yankees. Not in salary, not in history and not in success.
Save the money you would have otherwise spent on these free agents and put it towards players two years from now when the club will be in a much more realistic position to challenge for a division title.
Even if the Mets bring in a No. 3 starter, a closer and a center fielder, how many wins do you think that team will be worth in 2012? Seventy three?
I doubt a few cosmetic changes will successfully paper over the cracks this club currently has. Whichever bit part they bring in, it's not going to be enough to compensate for Reyes heading into the sunset.
Stick Jordany Valdespin or Justin Turner at second base, plug Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the outfield and use the pitchers currently in the system to populate the rotation and bullpen.
Make R.A. Dickey your No. 2 pitcher and then slot Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and Chris Capuano into the final three spots, in any order. Keep Manny Acosta and D.J. Carrasco at the back of the bullpen and let Bobby Parnell close games when the situation arises.
You really think that Mets team will be significantly worse than a club with Laynce Nix and Joe Nathan? I suspect the team the Mets ran out there in 2011, minus Reyes, would still be good for 70 wins.
The Mets have indicated they would be willing to spend at least $100 million in payroll this year. I would say the team shouldn't have anyone costing more than $2 million (with the obvious exception of David Wright, Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Dickey).
Give up to $2 million to maybe five or six other players such as Ike Davis, Ronnie Paulino and Carrasco and then spend $6.7 on the remaining 15 roster spots. That payroll comes to around $82 million. Add in the $3.5 million from the K-Rod move and the team will have a minimum of $15 million in their pocket.
Do the same in 2013 and that sets things up nicely for the future. There's no way the Mets don't bring in anybody new, I just hope they keep everything tight.
Utilize the players making virtually league minimum, save the rest of the cash and invest it in 2014.
By then, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey will be major league-ready, Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello will be ready to graduate from Buffalo and Reese Havens and Jeurys Familia could be in a position to make an impact.
At that point the Mets will have saved some real dollars to bring in the kind of free agents that can push a good team over the edge.
The Mets are in no position to challenge for a playoff spot in 2012. Why waste money on players who won't change that? Rebuild from the bottom up, promote young talent and trust the process Sandy Alderson has brought to the organization.