Saturday, October 30, 2004

Can The Mets Compete In 2005?

Whomever the Mets pick as manager will have an enormous task ahead of him for next year. He will inherit a deeply flawed team with a odd mix of very young and inexperienced players side-by-side with some veterans on the ripe side of 30. It's that weird intermediate stage only found in sports franchises and guys trying to grow their hair out. So what has to go right in order for the Mets to compete?

Here are the five keys to the Mets in 2005:

1. No Stupid Moves. In light of the recent rumors Heyman and Lennon floated about in Newsday, this has to be the #1 key to next year. While it may seem like common sense not to trade for aging sluggers making $18 million a year or trading away potential All-Star youngsters making $300,000, after the Scott Kazmir trade I'm taking every crazy rumor seriously.

In order to be successful this offseason, Omar Minaya needs to obey Jay's Three Laws of GMing.

  • The GM shall spend his available funds in the most efficient manner possible by first plowing as much of it into low-risk players in their prime before making any high-risk transactions.
  • The GM shall not trade away any major league player under 25 without getting back equal talent of a comparable age and salary.
  • The GM will give a young, unproven player a shot at earning a roster spot before giving the spot to a "proven" veteran on the downside of his career.
You think these rules would be common sense from a purely business standpoint but apparently not in the Mets case, who really are inefficency personified. That's the really painful thing about our team, we have all this money and spend it in the worst way possible. I look at the $23 million freed up by Mo Vaughn and Al Leiter's contracts and I see Carlos Beltran, Kris Benson, and Tino Martinez. The Mets see Sammy Sosa and veteran du jour. This has to change.

Oh, and as for all the "Beltran will never come to the Mets. He's going to the Yankees" comments. To that I say, bullshit. If the Mets commited themselves to getting a star player, they could. They're in the same town as the Yankees and, while their payroll will certainly be less, they have the capital this year to afford them if they spend it wisely. Fred Wilpon needs to stop making half-assed offers and commit to going all the way. It's okay to overbid for some players if you know they're going to perform and if they have no history of injury -- Beltran certainly falls into both of those categories.

2. Jose Reyes must be healthy. One has to wonder what would have happened to the Mets season if Reyes hadn't missed half of it with hamstring problems. He's 21 years old and despite his injuries, he has demonstrated that he can hit major league pitching and has a cannon of an arm. He may still fail but if he does, he won't cost the Mets anything other than the minimum salary. Trading him is simply ludicrous.

3. The Youngsters must show improvement. While I want as many of the kids to play as possible, I also fully realize that they have to perform and continue to get better. David Wright will almost certainly improve, that's a no-brainer. But if Reyes is healthy, he needs to work on his plate discipline, Victor Diaz needs to keep hitting, and Jason Phillips needs to have a bounce back year. Gogs earns my vote as the biggest diappointment from last season and really, while I think he should be given another shot this year, if he hits .200 again, the Mets should start looking elsewhere.

4. Rick Peterson must work his magic on Victor Zambrano. It's imperative that Zambrano turns into the #2 (or #3) starter we were promised when Kazmir was traded away. He and Benson (assuming he signs) will have to anchor this rotation for the next couple years and leading the league in wildness just won't do.

5. The Bullpen must be stabilized in front of Looper. This is one of the shakiest bullpens I've seen on this team in years. I believe with a year of experience under their belts that Orber Moreno and Tyler Yates could become the new late inning anchors and should be given a shot. The Mets desperately need to get rid of Mike Stanton (who they're probably stuck with) and get a dependable lefty or two. Until next year, that is, when they should go and sign Tim Hudson and let him throw 30 complete games.

(Kidding, kidding, although I would love Hudson. As a free agent. Just don't trade Reyes for him.)

As you can see, that's an awful lot to go right. It's not out of the realm of possibility though and, to be honest, I would be thrilled with a .500 season and a late shot at the wild card. In fact, I would rather see the Mets have a .500 season and miss the playoffs than see the Mets trade away Reyes, Petit, or Milledge in order to "compete" this year. Improvement and hustle is all I ask.

It all comes down to good business practice. Spend your money wisely. Give cheap players a chance. Replace players who don't perform. And if you build it, we will come, come often, and cheer.

4 Comments:

At 9:25 AM, Blogger CJ said...

NEW PLAN

goto:

http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/mailbagESPN?event_id=4908

and send:

Dear ESPN, I want Wally Backman, but my front office is
blind to the FANS. Please let Wally Backman know how much
he is wanted. Thank you, Mets Fans

 
At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

POSTED BY: TERRY10014

I like much of what you said, but you didn't go far enough.

First of all, does anyone think that this team can be as good as the Cubs or Houston in any less that three years. These were the two teams that competed for the last spot in the playoffs.
If they can it will take a slew of luck and smart baseball decisions to build that kind of club, something the Mets have not had a lot of in the past 4 years.
So lets be charitable and say the Mets can get to the playoffs by 2008. How many of the players that they have now will be on that team, realistically, two, David Wright and Jose Reyes. If you agree with this then you begin to see what a monumental job Minaya has before him.

Look at the roster, I don't think that anyone who will be over the age of 34, (born in 74 or later) on the present roster will be on the 2008 team.

IN the outfield, aside from untested young players only Richard Hidalgo, born in '75 qualifies. Does anyone actually see Hidalgo on team and productive in three years time?

In the infield, aside from the above mentioned Reyes and Wright, only Matsui, and it would take a contract extension to have him on that team. Do you think that is going to happen?

Catchers, only Jason Phillips, who would need a Lazarus type turn around to survive that long. Even if Phillips bounces back to be a .260 hitter is he a starting catcher on a playoff team?

And pitching
Benson, Looper, Zambrano, Yates and Strickland. Does anyone seriously think this is the core of a playoff staff.

We are talking about, probably, the worst organization in baseball, still in decline and in a state of total disorganization.

Any talk about signing or trading for a marquee name player, Helton, Delgado (why anyone would big money on a first basemen is beyond me, anyway) Sosa, Ramirez, Beltran and any of the pitchers available as a panacea for this teams problems, is not only ridiculous, it is suicidal.

The next two years should be spent on developing young pitching and solid defense by trading for young players in other organizations and signing younger, solid less spectacular free agents.
When the club has developed into a team like the 83 and 84 teams, then it can enter the trade and the free agent market for the Carters and the Hernandezes that will push them over the top.

 
At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

POSTED BY: TERRY10014

I like much of what you said, but you didn't go far enough.

First of all, does anyone think that this team can be as good as the Cubs or Houston in any less that three years. These were the two teams that competed for the last spot in the playoffs.
If they can it will take a slew of luck and smart baseball decisions to build that kind of club, something the Mets have not had a lot of in the past 4 years.
So lets be charitable and say the Mets can get to the playoffs by 2008. How many of the players that they have now will be on that team, realistically, two, David Wright and Jose Reyes. If you agree with this then you begin to see what a monumental job Minaya has before him.

Look at the roster, I don't think that anyone who will be over the age of 34, (born in 74 or later) on the present roster will be on the 2008 team.

IN the outfield, aside from untested young players only Richard Hidalgo, born in '75 qualifies. Does anyone actually see Hidalgo on team and productive in three years time?

In the infield, aside from the above mentioned Reyes and Wright, only Matsui, and it would take a contract extension to have him on that team. Do you think that is going to happen?

Catchers, only Jason Phillips, who would need a Lazarus type turn around to survive that long. Even if Phillips bounces back to be a .260 hitter is he a starting catcher on a playoff team?

And pitching
Benson, Looper, Zambrano, Yates and Strickland. Does anyone seriously think this is the core of a playoff staff.

We are talking about, probably, the worst organization in baseball, still in decline and in a state of total disorganization.

Any talk about signing or trading for a marquee name player, Helton, Delgado (why anyone would big money on a first basemen is beyond me, anyway) Sosa, Ramirez, Beltran and any of the pitchers available as a panacea for this teams problems, is not only ridiculous, it is suicidal.

The next two years should be spent on developing young pitching and solid defense by trading for young players in other organizations and signing younger, solid less spectacular free agents.
When the club has developed into a team like the 83 and 84 teams, then it can enter the trade and the free agent market for the Carters and the Hernandezes that will push them over the top.

 
At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Wilpon would add 10-15 million to the payroll, defer some money, and sign 3 key free agents the Mets can make the playoffs this year. Pedro Martinez, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Delgado would create a batting order that would average scoring 5 runs per game and a pitching staff that would give up less than 4. A lineup of Reyes, Matsui, Floyd, Piazza, Ordonez, Delgado, Wright, and Cameron would be lethal if healthy, and a rotation of Martinez, Glavine, Trachsel, Leiter, and Zambrano would be well above average.

 

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