Does it not seem like only a few weeks ago when the Mets were sitting 8 games above .500, making a chase for the wild-card, and leaving all the nay-saying fans and media in the dust?
My how time flies when you’re having no fun: somehow, here we are, 6 games under .500 and nearly certainly out of the hunt for that last, extra playoff spot.
Pitching is down and the bullpen is a disaster. D Wright, although still potent has returned back to earth and Ike’s batting average has sat stagnant around the .215 marker. Dickey’s had his gems but also, a few messes, like the loss at the GAB a few days ago, and Johan has been more Pelfrey than Santana.
Absurdly, there’s been a lot of talk, of late, about whether Sandy Alderson is still doing such a great job. To avoid looking at the situation in such shit colored lenses, us fans must acknowledge that despite early successes, this team was never that good, on paper or the field and was far exceeding expectations by remaining in the hunt.
So, while fans complain that Sandy should be “spending money”, the real truth lies in his originally stated plan: patience.
But patience shouldn’t mean 2014, as proclaimed by so many mystery Mets managers. Instead, the Mets should be looking to fill holes, via spending, this coming offseason, in order to build on our part-time success and hopefully extend our playoff chase, next year, until the end of the season.
So where to spend that money? Here is the SC Dave plan for expediting the rebuild and restoring “contender” to our ESPN power ranking.
1. Buy out Jason Bay. This goes without saying and requires no explanation. Sadly, he’s a black hole in our outfield and past the point where his work ethic earns him a pass.
2. Address the lack of speed. The Mets have 58 steals as a team, tied for 4th worst in the league. Yet, remarkably, we’re exactly in the middle of the pack in regards to runs scored. Baseball managers, players and fans know how valuable moving a runner to 2nd can be. That’s why plays are engineered to accomplish the feat, even with sacrificing outs. With stolen bases, we’d avoid those sacrifice situations and set the table for two of the best doubles hitters (Wright 5th and Murphy 9th) in the league. The Mets run differential is a -32 or in french, not very good. Advancing runners early in the order would be a good start.
How can we fix it? Michael Bourn is a free agent. Unheralded as the multi tool player he is, Bourn gets on base (.350), has some pop (9 hrs), plays a nice center field and most importantly STEALS BASES. 32 this year to be exact and on pace for mid 40′s. That total would nearly double what Mets players have stolen thus far, and point us in the right direction to scoring more, and giving our shaky bullpen a bit more space. Bourn will likely cost north of $10 million/season – but he’s worth it. With Matt Den Dekker striking out nearly 1.5 times a night and hovering around .210 in AAA, there’s no immediate solution for CF, internally. Bourn, still in his prime, would be a perfect acquisition for the Mets.
3. Address the lack of power. According to Amazin’ Avenue, 36% more home runs have been hit at Citi Field this year, as a result of management moving in the fences. Great, but not enough. The Mets are still 5th from last in total home runs and, without a monster year from Hairston and Valdespin off the bench, we’d be far lower.
How can we fix it? First, the Mets have been looking for a righty catcher. Thole has shown that he struggles to call a game. Combine that factor with a lack of pop, and the Mets should be well in the market for another catcher. Rangers Mike Napoli could be the solution. After an MVP-like season of 30 homers, hitting .320, Napoli has taken a bit of a dive. Whether injuries or law of averages are to blame, Napoli is down around .220. But still, he has 17 home runs, and will finish with more than 20, just as he did the last 4 seasons (including 2 above 25). Chances are this off-season will make him more affordable. Adding him, would add some much needed pop to our lineup, towards the bottom. An offer between $5-7 million a year might get it done.
4. Re-sign Dickey. Is 4 years, $32 million a lot, a little or just right for an aging knuckleballer? Dickey should not be paid like an ace because he shouldn’t be used like one. Had we matched Dickey up against opposing teams 3rd or 4th starters, chances are we’d see an even more impressive total of wins.
5. Re-sign Wright. Management can not let him go. Allowing him to do so would leave both his shoes and Citi seats empty. Wright is a little less than a franchise player and should be paid as such – $18 a year for 5-6 years is not unreasonable.
With the above changes, here’s how the Mets Lineup would look:
1. SS – Ruben Tejada
2. CF – Michael Bourn
3. 3B – David Wright
4. 1B – Ike Davis
5. 2B – Daniel Murphy
6. RF – Lucas Duda (one more chance)
7. LF – Jordanny Valdespin – (real chance)
8. C – Mike Napoli
There’s an argument to be made for bringing in new pitching. BUT… the Mets are strong in the pitching pipeline.
1. Johan Santana
2. Jon Niese
3. R.A. Dickey
4. Matt Harvey
5. Dillon Gee
With Harvey ready, Wheeler knocking on the door, Familia gaining another year of experience and young prospects like Domingo Tapia, Rafael Montero, Michael Fulmer and others making realistic charges, the Mets should sit tight with their already quality staff; hope for a refreshed Johan and a more consistent Niese and be patient. Money to be spent should be spent on position players. Then, and only then, if they find themselves closer to contention, should Pitching be addressed.
There is of course room for improvement in the pen. But otherwise, this is an affordable Mets lineup – especially with Madoff in the past, Bay hopefully joining him, and several other contracts coming off the books. This Mets team has more power, more speed, and more time spent on the base paths.
This Mets lineup can compete with the depleting Phillies, the unwilling to spend Braves, the Marlins mess and hopefully, the young but financially strapped Nationals. This Mets lineup is one step closer to that 2014 goal, without sacrificing the in-between.