The X Factor: A Case For Nady and a Productive Mets Offseason

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Slowly but surely that sinking feeling is beginning to settle in the hearts of Mets fans. The dark feeling fans of the Metropolitans know all too well, the feeling of hopelessness.  The 2009 season, marked early with thoughts of glory and grandeur is effectively over for the Mets. Ineffectiveness and injuries scarred the season from the start, and as the recent series in San Diego has shown us, it is getting to a ridiculous point.

But, within this cloud of despair, there is a silver lining fans can look for: the possibility of a productive offseason.  The team now has 50 games left of a lost season to begin planning for the next one. Before I begin with what I believe would lead to a more productive and gritty team , I want to wipe the dreams of Matt Holliday, John Lackey, and Jason Bay out of anyone’s minds. With the current financial climate the team is in, ideas of big time free agents being showered in money are dreams only Yankee fans can have.  Whether the Wilpon’s want to admit it or not, it is obvious with the front office’s behavior that the Madoff scandal affected the team’s financial situation greatly.  I will attempt to devise a few productive moves the Mets could make, not fantastical ones, but ones which will hopefully lead to a better team in 2010.

To fix the Mets in a timely fashion we first have to address the glaring problems the Mets have. Firstly, there is a dramatic drop off in talent throughout the entire system. From the major league club all the way down to
their minor league teams, there is a lack of depth.

The major league club has arguably five of the top major leaguers (Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Santana, K-Rod) which provides us with a core of players that we can build a winner around.  From there, the talent drops off significantly into players with potential to be decent (Pelfrey, Maine, Francoeur) and young unproven guys who have flashes of greatness, but need time to grow (Murphy, Parnell etc.) That does not even take into account the plethora of over the hill veterans who take up a chunk of the roster such as Delgado, Castillo, L.
Hernandez, Tatis etc.

This is also evident throughout the minor leagues. Every level has a group of decent prospects at the top, while the rest of the club is made up of less than stellar players. The standings reflect this: Buffalo, headed by Nick Evans, Dillon Gee and Eddie Kunz (also Fernando Martinez who is on the DL) is dead last in the International League, and is 19 games out of first place. The Buffalo team is relying heavily on players who are past their prime, or are unable to cut it at a major league level. While some would argue this is normal for a AAA squad, a AA squad is supposed to be made up of some of a ballclub’s most promising prospects and not washed up has-been’s.  Binghamton is headed by top prospects Ike Davis, Brad Holt, Jenrry Mejia, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada, who all have considerable promise and for the most part are producing nicely.
However, the Binghamton squad, much like its AAA sister, is in last place and is a dismal 21.5 games out of first place.

The key to the 2009-2010 offseason should be gaining depth and power. Like I said before, the likes of Matt Holliday or Jason Bay roaming the cavernous gaps of Citi Field are slim to none. But there is one option that is both practical and affordable. His name is Xavier Nady.

Nady, who is coming off surgery on his right elbow, would be a perfect fit for the Mets. He is a gamer, who has proven he can produce in New York. He would provide the team with pop, as well as a very good #5 or #6 hitter to place behind David Wright. In 2008 he had 25 home runs, and 97 RBIs – half of those coming from his time on the lowly Pirates. Most intriguing off all would be his presumed cost. Coming off an injury, Nady could come at an extremely discounted price. Although he is represented by the infamous Scott Boras, not even Boras can get Nady a big time contract in the current cost cutting climate of the MLB. Look what happened to Bobby Abreu…

Signing Nady to a one year deal at or around $6 million with a hefty option for a second year would solve at least one of the Mets biggest problems. Who wouldn’t rather see Nady in LF than Gary Sheffield?

After securing Nady, Omar Minaya would be wise to pick up players who can back up and fill in nicely.  In other words, provide the team with much needed depth. Picking up the likes of Eric Hinske, David Eckstein and trading for Eric Byrnes would give the Mets players who can play and most importantly contribute when
called upon. Hinske would be a more than adequate back up to Murphy at 1B, as well as spell the corner OFs and David Wright at 3B. Eckstein would serve as a spark plug the Mets desperately need, as well as being a superb backup for Louis Castillo and Jose Reyes when needed.  Byrnes is another player who could come cheaply from Arizona and be a “run-through-the-wall” kind of player the Mets lack. Hinske, Eckstein, and Byrnes would cost little to nothing to add, but their presence would be invaluable. Could you imagine having Eckstein fill in at SS rather than Anderson Hernandez? I would also advocate trading for a catcher.
AJ Pierzynski on the White Sox strikes me as someone the Mets could really use. Some argue AJ is a clubhouse cancer, while others say he is a teammate that you either love or hate. There is no arguing however, that he plays the game in a gritty and hard fashion, something the current Mets could learn a few things about. Also, Pierzynski’s contract expires at the end of the 2010 season, hopefully allowing Josh Thole to slide into the role in 2011. A package including Eddie Kunz, Dylan Owen and Shawn Bowman could be a place to start when talking to the White Sox.

Finally, the Mets are in desperate need of a solid #2 starter. The Free Agent market offers some interesting possibilities, while the trade market offers others. My personal choice would be for the Mets to acquire Erik Bedard. Like Nady, Bedard is coming off an injury riddled season, and should come at a discounted price.  Bedard would certainly provide the Mets with a devastating 1-2 combo at the top of the rotation, and would allow Pelfrey and Maine to slide down into more comfortable #3 and #4 slots in the rotation. Other Free Agent possibilities include Brad Penny, and Rich Harden.  I would also sign lefty Joe Beimel .

Overall, the real money would be used on Nady and Bedard, the two per year could cost roughly $13 million. Eckstein and Hinske would not cost more than $2 million.  Beimel would cost around $2-3 million. That still presumably gives the Mets $1 million out of their supposed $20 million able to spend on various other
parts via trade or something else.  A lineup of Reyes, Castillo, Beltran, Wright, Nady, Francoeur, Murphy, and Pierzynski would be a lineup built for the cavernous Citi Field, providing a great deal of doubles.  The Mets cannot build a team built on blasting the ball out of the park anymore. They cannot be the Phillies, who play in the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park. The Mets lineup would stress extra base hits and moving the runners over. The bench would be something like: Pagan, Hinske, Eckstein, Byrnes and Santos.  All fully capable of filling in when needed.

Finally a rotation of Santana, Bedard, Pelfrey, Maine and Perez has a lot of potential to be great.  A great 1-2 punch of Santana and Bedard could go head to head with anyone in the game (most notably our friends Mr. Hamels and Mr.Lee). Pelfrey would be a fantastic #3 starter, and Maine could continue to tap into his potential in a stress free #4 slot.  And of course the bullpen would be solid: K-Rod, Putz, Feliciano, Green, Parnell, Stokes, and Beimel.

While acquiring Nady and a few bench players not be the splashy offseason many fans want, I believe it would plug a great deal of holes the Mets have at a cost that is not very extravagant.