David Schoenfield of ESPN SweetSpot considers Three Fixes for Each NL East Team. Here are the Mets:
1. Shortstop: If not Reyes, who?
Likely solution: Sign Reyes, or give the job to Ruben Tejada. He’s never going to hit with any power, but he posted a .360 OBP last season at age 21 (in 376 plate appearances). How rare is that? Since 1980, only three other middle infielders had at least 300 plate appearances at age 21 and posted an OBP of at least .350 – Alex Rodriguez, Delino DeShields and Jerry Browne. If Tejada can handle short, maybe the Mets are better off spending their money elsewhere.
2. Bullpen: Who closes?
Only the Cubs, Rockies and Astros had a worse bullpen ERA than the Mets in 2011, and none of them had the luxury of pitching their home games in Citi Field. While the Mets could certainly use an ace for the rotation (only the most hopeful will believe in Johan Santana’s comeback), building a bullpen can be cheap and easy.
Likely solution: Ryan Madson? No, he’s too expensive. If the Mets don’t trust a guy like Bobby Parnell, how about a second-tier closer like Frank Francisco, who would cost about $30 million less than Madson? I’d also consider adding a second reliever like righty killer Octavio Dotel or veteran Takashi Saito. Hopefully the Mets learned their lesson with Francisco Rodriguez: Bullpen depth is more important than an overrated $15 million closer.
3. Power in the outfield
With Carlos Beltran gone, Jason Bay a shell and Angel Pagan apparently returning to play center, the Mets may be struggling to get power from the outfield.
Solution: Move in the fences! (Wait, this will help the other team as well?) Also: Don’t discount Lucas Duda, who presumably moves into a regular spot in right field, with the return of Ike Davis to first. Duda hit an impressive .292/.370/.482. His park-adjusted OPS was higher than Troy Tulowitzki, Howard, Shane Victorino or Carlos Gonzalez.
Shortstop – Tejada will get every opportunity to replace Reyes at shortstop and while there will be a huge drop-off, the Mets don’t seem too overly concerned about it. This is just the way many Mets decisions are made now – laid back, no sense of urgency, it is what it is.
Closer – K-Rod was a $13 million dollar closer… And as far as overrated, he would have led all Mets relievers in ERA, WHIP, K9 and K/BB. The bullpen tanked as soon as he was removed from it. This guy talks about how bad the Mets bullpen was, but fails to mention the Mets bullpen was ranked third best in the National League up until the K-Rod trade. I have to wonder what kind of baseball writers ESPN is hiring these days. The Mets will find even the secondary closer market too rich for their tastes. Ultimately they will sign anyone willing to the job for $3 million dollars or less and it won’t be pretty.
Power/Outfield – You all know my thoughts on Duda. He’s an exceptional hitter with enormous power and I see a breakthrough season for him in 2012. I wish I could say something positive and hopeful about Bay or Pagan, but honestly I would have relegated both of them to platoon roles a long time ago. Who wouldn’t trade either of these two for Jeff Francouer right now?