The Plan, Part 1: Assumption Junction
"I like this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman
This is the first of a two part post (it was going to be one long one but it kinda got out of control) on my thoughts of what the Mets should try to accomplish in the offseason. It's certainly easy to be an armchair GM and say this and that should be done but it's another to be the actual GM and make the moves for real. Therefore, I've tried to skew this article away from what I think should be done and instead towards what I think it will be possible to accomplish. Naturally this make not make for the most ideal team but hopefully it will approximate what the team will look like on opening day 2005. In order to do this, I have to make a few assumptions and, well, that's where it gets tricky. And we all know what happens when you assume. *sigh*
That being said, here are my three major assumptions:
1) Mike Piazza, Joe McEwing, and Mike Stanton will all be back next year.
While we can debate the pros and cons of trading Piazza until the cows come home but the simple fact is that he ain't going nowhere. Piazza makes $15 million next year, Stanton makes $4 million, and Super Joe, he of the sterling .609 OPS, will make $500,000. These are contracts that will be impossible to move given their current rate of production unless Minaya truly suckers someone or pays all their salary. Piazza has 10-5 rights to boot.
2) John Franco, Al Leiter, Cliff Floyd, and Richard Hidalgo will NOT be back next year.
Here are the big assumptions that may or may not pan out. While Franco will certainly not be back next year, Leiter and Hidalgo could both re-up with the Mets at a lower salary and Minaya may not be able to trade Floyd. Regardless though, I do think that these are all things that have been bandied about and are certainly within the realm of possibility next year.
3) The Mets will be able to sign Kris Benson.
This should be a done deal already and it certainly seems that it will get done before he hits the free agent market.
I think these are all fairly reasonable assumptions to make. They may not all necessarily happen but certainly could all be accomplished in the offseason if the Mets are so inclined. So what does this leave our initial roster at?
Starters: Jose Reyes, Kaz Matsui, David Wright, Mike Piazza, Mike Cameron, Victor Diaz
Rotation: Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano
Bullpen: Braden Looper, Mike Stanton, Orber Moreno, Tyler Yates
Bench: Jason Phillips, Vance Wilson, Joe McEwing, Eric Valent, Craig Brazell, Danny Garcia
20 players total, leaving room for five more. Obviously if we could excise Stanton and McEwing it would open up two more slots but I'm fairly convinced they aren't going anywhere for one more year. Likewise I also think that Victor Diaz should be given a shot at left field and that Danny Garcia should be the primary backup middle infielder. Notice the absence of Jeff Keppinger. Probably the least likely assumption I'm making in this whole piece is that Danny Garcia will beat out Keppinger for a bench spot next year. Given how high both the management and Gary Cohen are on the guy I really don't see it unless Garcia hits .500 with power in spring training. We'll see -- I'm going to be optimistic on this one though.
Notice that the bench is enormously weak with three catchers and McEwing. Ideally the Mets should try and trade Vance Wilson (and he may be able to go because he still has value) but I'm going to leave him in the mix for now. Craig Brazell may not make the team in spring training either but he is a lefty so I'll leave him in there for now.
So what do we still need?
1) A Right Fielder. Keep in mind, Mike Cameron is not moving from center.
2) A First Baseman. Presumably one who's slick with the glove and a lefty to boot.
3) A Fifth Starter. Presumably from our farm system.
4 and 5) Two Bullpen Arms. A righty and a lefty (and I'm assuming that Tyler Yates will be the long man)
I'll address who we should add for these slots in Part II.