What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.
Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.
So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it… Don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.
Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?
First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.
Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity? Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.
Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.
Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.
Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.
Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.
Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.
Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…
In truth this team is on a four-year down-slide and not many arrows are pointing up. Sure, this administration is now limited to working with a payroll of $100 million dollars, but that’s ample enough for many teams who consistently go to the post season with a much smaller budget.
Yes, the Mets have been hogtied by players with huge contracts that effected their flexibility, but in the last two seasons alone we’ve seen many such players traded by more progressive and forward thinking front offices who had the same exact constraints. The difference is they took action and did something about it for the future good of their teams.
A good GM does what needs to be done and succeeds with the resources he is given. If all we needed was a caretaker to oversee whatever you want to call the last two years, we may have as well brought in a front office that wasn’t getting paid more than any other just to stand at a podium with their mitts in their pockets crying “there’s nothing we can do.”
But the fact of the matter is that everyone in that front office knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. Unfortunately, they have fallen far short of the rosy picture they painted in November of 2010 when they predicted the Mets would be a championship caliber team by 2014. Now who seriously believes that?
A new GM always promises a brighter future when he takes on a new job. In almost every case they are all inheriting a team with a tarnished image and a roster full of under-performing and overpaid players with no help on the horizon. When they first get in front of all those mics during his introductory press conference rule number one is to promise that better days are coming. 99 times out of 100 they will tell you when you can expect to see the results of carrying out their new direction and philosophy. When Omar Minaya was introduced to New Yorkers, he promised that the Mets would be back in the post season in five years. He did it in two, and it should have been a three year run if not for an ill-fated at-bat and one horrid pitching performance. The point is we had results at the major league level, and we suddenly had a farm that was churning out baseball players (and still is).
You want to blame the owners for saying “hey we’re cutting payroll to $100 million dollars over the next two years, do you still want the gig?”
You want to blame owners who spent and invested more money on the Mets during the 1990’s and the 2000’s than any other team in the NL?
If it makes you feel good go ahead. But I’d bet anything that a different and more progressive and forward-thinking GM might have made some great lemonade with the lemons he was given. That’s all I’m saying.
There is no success here right now and nobody is pounding their chests because the organization is moving in a new and exciting direction. It’s not happening and the sooner you open your eyes and survey the landscape, the better it will be for you.
Shea Stadium may have once been called Grant’s Tomb, but the city morgue has had more life in it than Citi Field under Alderson’s tenure. It’s become a Potter’s Field.
For those of you who want to deflect all responsibility from the front office to the owners, were you parading up and down Broadway holding a Wilpon for Mayor sign in 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000 and 2006? I’m assuming you didn’t. Nobody cries about ownership when a team is winning, all the credit goes to the GM. But turn the tables around and suddenly it’s the owners who are the villains. How dare they spend $1 billion dollars in the last eight years… How dare they take all the risks, get none of the rewards in good times, and get hung out to dry by their big toes when calamity strikes. Such is life in the Big Apple.