Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can the Mets Contend in 2012?

After trading Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets freed themselves of what could have been a 2012 killer. The $17.5 million vesting option would have not allowed the team any financial flexibility. As of right now, the Mets have about $63 million tied up for next season to just five players (Santana, Bay, Wright, Dickey, Carrasco). So what does that mean for 2012? Can the Mets put a good team together for 2012 without sacrificing 2011? Here's what I would do if I was Sandy Alderson.

  • Sift through the market with Carlos Beltran. He's the best offensive player on the trade market right now and the Mets should be looking for a top level prospect in return. If a team offers a great deal for Beltran, I'd take it. I know the Mets are playing well this year, but the truth of the matter is that they are simply not contenders. The Phillies and Braves own the best records in the MLB and the Mets are automatically blocked by the two from the playoffs. I can't see the Mets staying with either team through September. Plus, if Beltran leaves, the Mets will not receive draft picks as compensation, due to the structure of his deal. Unless the Mets rip off a big winning streak in the next two weeks and get within a couple of games of the Braves, I think Beltran will be traded.
  • Try to trade Tim Byrdak and Jason Isringhausen for prospects.
  • Mike Pelfrey and Angel Pagan are both due for arbitration again and both will be tendered a contract. As much as Pelfrey has struggled, trading him now would not bring back any great prospects. Expect both of them to be Mets next year, which would add approximately $9-$10 million to the payroll total.
  • Jose Reyes will be offered a contract by the Mets, but it will be difficult to lock him up. He's going to demand at least a 6 year contract worth upwards of $20 million per year; however, he's a player that you must keep. Players of this caliber don't come around often and when one of them shows his desire to stay on your team, you have to do everything you can to keep him. It is likely he would take a tad bit less money to stay in New York, so I would match almost any offer he gets.
  • Murphy, Thole, Davis, Niese, Beato, and Duda will all be back with salaries under $500,000. So I'll say that $3 million will go to these players.
  • Gee and Turner will also return on their rookie contracts.
  • KEEP DAVID WRIGHT: I cannot stress the importance of this step. Wright is an elite 3B and he is the face of the franchise. Trading him would provide a lot of prospects in return, but this guy is irreplaceable. Daniel Murphy doesn't provide the same pop or defense, while Justin Turner is better suited for second base.
  • It will be difficult to sign anybody this off-season with the Mets strapped for cash and I expect the team to focus on the bullpen through free agency.
  • The RF will come from within and is likely going to be a battle between Duda and Fernando Martinez.
  • The payroll for the team I listed above is probably going to be around $110 million, which is right around where the Mets are aiming to be next year.
  • The Rotation will likely be Santana, Dickey, Pelfrey, Niese, Gee.
  • The Lineup: Reyes, Turner, Wright, Davis, Bay, Pagan, Duda/F-Mart, Thole
  • Bench: Murphy, Duda/F-Mart, Paulino.  The rest can be filled out with veterans on the market.
  • Bullpen: Parnell, Beato, Carrasco, with the rest filled out through free agency.
If Santana returns back to form, this team can contend. It puts the rest of the rotation back into place. The lineup will score if they stay healthy and will allow for this team to at least stay competitive for the rest of 2011, even if Beltran is traded. This team has the ability to contend in 2012, but it will all come down to the one thing that has doomed the Mets the past three years: Health.

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