Next up in our Needs and Luxuries series, the Mets.
1B – Carlos Delgado
2B – Ruben Gotay
SS – Jose Reyes
3B – David Wright
LF – Carlos Gomez
CF – Carlos Beltran
RF – Lastings Milledge
SP – Pedro Martinez
SP – Orlando Hernandez
SP – Oliver Perez
SP – John Maine
SP – Mike Pelfrey/Philip Humber
Setup: Aaron Heilman/Duaner Sanchez
Closer: Billy Wagner
The Mets had a strong offense in ’07, basically the third best in the NL. Their starting pitching was above average, and their bullpen was roughly in the middle. They ranked second in the league in defensive efficiency.
As you can see above, the Mets have vacancies at catcher, second base, left field, and perhaps in the rotation. That’s because Paul Lo Duca, Ramon Castro, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, and Tom Glavine could all be playing for different teams in 2008.
It’s probably time to move on from Lo Duca, who stopped hitting. The viable free agent options are Jorge Posada, Castro, Michael Barrett, and Miguel Olivo, in that order. Overpaying to lure Posada is an interesting idea. Otherwise, you go for a bargain with one of the others. Trade options include Gerald Laird, Kelly Shoppach, Bengie Molina, and Ramon Hernandez. The latter two would be salary dumps, so the price in players might be negligible.
I discussed the Castillo situation here. I’d probably bring him back, but I’d first learn the asking price for Orlando Hudson, Mark Ellis, and Freddy Sanchez. The first two are free agents after the ’08 season.
Left field, you gotta exercise Mo at $7.5MM (effectively $6.5MM). Easy choice, and Endy Chavez is a nice fourth outfielder. Right field is Milledge’s, no questions asked. I wouldn’t go after a center fielder and then try to shift Beltran over. That sets the outfield in my mind, though Mike Nichols of MetsBlog advocates an Adam Dunn trade.
A starting pitcher is a must, as no one in the ’08 rotation pitched 200 innings. Glavine is OK, but he already declined a $13MM option to stay. He’s probably not worth much more than $10MM. I think the goal is a big, grand starting pitcher acquisition like Johan Santana. I imagine Milledge, Maine, or Gomez would have to be part of such a deal, and the Mets would require a window for an extension.
A solid alternative would be to sign Curt Schilling, though that is a fairly brittle rotation. I’m recommending Schilling for a lot of teams, because he’s still effective and comes on a one-year deal. Not too many guys fit that description (Clemens might be the other, but I don’t like him for the Mets). Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects from the free agent market. And we’ve discussed the trade candidates many times before: Garland, Blanton, Lowry, Willis, Burnett, Igawa, Robertson. Can’t see the Astros making Oswalt available.
Some have advocated the Mets signing a Francisco Cordero type to anchor the pen and succeed Wagner. Signing Cordero or Mariano Rivera seems extravagant; the team has bigger needs. Maybe Omar can dip his feet in with a Troy Percival or someone like that. Good pens are usually built on the cheap. Plus, Duaner Sanchez should be back.
The Mets’ biggest luxury is probably money. Thing is, the free agent market doesn’t offer many star players to suit their needs. Posada and Schilling might be the only "star" players the Mets can acquire without giving up players.
The other luxury is prospects. Gomez’s star is still bright, while those of Pelfrey, Humber, Mike Carp, and Fernando Martinez have faded a touch. Gomez in particular might become a star, and could fetch one of the better players listed above. Omar Minaya’s been in a bit of a slump; can he spin some magic this winter?