Friday, October 19, 2012

Advocating an upopular opinion

Time for hot stove to begin (for Mets fans it just begins a little earlier). Here's how I see the Mets situation, and none of this will be news. The Mets need 3 OFs and a catcher, not necessarily in that order of priority. The Mets also have payroll commitments of anywhere from $75 to $85 million (factoring in arbitration and expected increases of select player salaries). The total payroll is projected to be around $95-$100 million, leaving roughly $15 million to spend on player acquisitions. Yes, the trade market offers some options, and by the way, talk of Peter Bourjos's availability has me giddy. I'd love to add his speed in CF, and though he's struggled at the plate, I'm willing to be patient while he learns. But I digress. It's simple, there are many holes and little money. And don't be fooled by the talk of "it doesn't matter how much you spend....", you need money to compete. So, I offer the following.

The Mets need to decide what to do with RA Dickey. They can choose to not exercise his option and let him walk, which would be insane. They could exercise his option and trade him, or sign him to an extension. The knee-jerk reaction is to sign the 20-game winner to an extension, and baseball "people" say that RA's value is roughly $12-$15 million per year for 3 years. Let's say the Mets sign RA to an extension, at $13 million per year for 3 years. That means they're signing a 38-year-old (as of 10/29) and will be paying him $13 million at age 41 (almost) in 2015. It also means that RA would have a raise from $4.2 million to $13 million, sucking up about half of the budget the team has to fill other holes (and that's not counting a potential raise for Wright).

Option 2-exercise the option and trade him. I don't like this option, since I don't see a lot coming back for a 38-year-old who would have to be signed after next season for what would likely be a significant raise. So, I suggest that the Mets exercise the option, allow RA to work for $5 million next year, and then let him walk. This means that less than $1 million of the available budget will go to RA, leaving some money to fill other holes. It also means that RA would be walking at 39, after next season. Knuckleball or not, I have to believe that his production will begin to decrease rapidly at age 39. I like RA. I think that exercising the option would be a crappy thing to do to him after he gave the Mets one of their few bright spots this year. But we all know that baseball is a business. The 2013 Mets, with Swiss cheese holes and little money, know that more than anyone. My position may not be popular or nice, but I think it's the right one when you look at the reality of the Mets situation.

Has anything interesting happened this post season? Oh yeah, not only did the Yankees lose, they absolutely imploded and embarrassed themselves on and off the field. Life is good these days!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

74-88 And it's all over

The 2012 season ended (at least for the Mets) on Wednesday, with the Mets posting a 74-88 record. This represents three fewer wins than last year. That figure is seemingly inconsequential, however it does indicate an apparent lack of progress. Now we all know that progress goes beyond wins and losses, and there were some notable signs of progress this year. The emergence of Matt Harvey would be one of those signs, and I'd add that Familia may be another, and Wheeler certainly seems like another positive sign (albeit on the horizon). However, we all realize that the Mets have many holes, so let's take a high-level look at the team, adding Sandy Alderson's recent comments along with way.

Pitching: Starting pitching is the strength of the team, no doubt. The Dickey situation is interesting. Sandy suggests that Dickey will be extended or traded. If Dickey is traded, how much would a 38-year-old bring back, even coming off a 20-win season? If Dickey is signed, does Niese go in a package to return some talent? Would we be comfortable with Santana, Dickey, Harvey, Gee, and Wheeler? How about Pelfrey coming back? Young? All in all, the SP should be adequate.

Infield: The IF should be fairly set. Sandy says Wright will be here in 2013 regardless of the contract situation, so we know about the left side of the IF. I don't see Murphy coming back, as he may be a valuable chip, and he's not an Alderson player (no power). I think Ike stays, since as Sandy says, it would be tough to replace 32 HRs and THEN begin to add HRs to this year's total. 3/4 of the IFs likely return, so far we're not seeing all of these significant changes Sandy is talking about.

OF: Ah, here is where Sandy may deliver on the changes he discusses. The Mets need to get better, and to do so, they need 3, not 2, but 3 OFs. Here's the question, where do you get these guys? Niese may return one decent OF, but could Duda and someone else bring back another? Where does the third one come from? Sandy likely has $5-$10 million to spend. Does he spend about $5 million on a third OF? That's not getting BJ Upton, folks. I'm not sure what you get for that much money. However, it will be nice to see new faces in the OF. Bay will probably begin the season with the team. He's harmless as a 4th OF.

Catching: Thole will not be back, he is the antithesis of an Alderson player. Shoppach may be back as the RH platoon. But this position is in DESPERATE need of new blood. Does Alderson spend his remaining $5 million here? But then there's the...

Bullpen/Bench: Does Rauch come back (I'm hearing no)? Frank Frank? They owe him $6 million, so yes. But is he healthy? If Sandy follows my Rx above, he'd have no money left to spend on the pen. Does he need money? Can the Mets ride with Familia, Parnell, Edgin, etc. and use all internal resources in the pen, so the money can be spent on other needs? That's what I would do. As for the bench, Hairston will most likely be gone, since he'll seek (rightfully so) a multi-year deal. Turner HAS to go. They need to do better than him off the bench. Cedeno was reasonable this year, and I'd consider bringing him back, if for no other reason than to conserve money (he was at $1.1 million). Can the other two bench spots be obtained "on the cheap"? Can? It doesn't matter, they'll have to be.

I'd like to make one more point. Sandy talks about the need for the "approach", meaning taking more pitches, leading to a higher OBP. He says one reason for the second half failure was a change in approach, hitters taking fewer pitches. I say, "Yikes". I just don't buy that type of baseball. Bobby O doesn't either. It leads to a lot of 0-2, 1-2 counts. That's defensive hitting. Get ready, folks. That's direction from the top. Our team has become the As of the early 2000s. Forget the excitement of Reyes (or someone else) legging out triples and stealing bases. Forget the flashing of leather. The OBP approach shows that defense can be sacrificed for people who, well, have a high OBP.

This is what it is. Personally, I'll always support anything that says "Mets". This may not be my preferred situation in Queens, but it's all we have right now. 88-74 next year could make this all easier to swallow, right?