So, the season is over. It hurts, of course, but now we can delve into the exciting world of off-season baseball! Trades, free agents, arbitration, oh my! Although we wish our Mets were playing baseball right now, we have to hope that the organization and front office is doing all they can to make sure that the best team possible is on the field in April. So I’d like to run through some off-season issues and use this as a thread for everyone to continue to ponder as to what the Mets should do to improve our team.
First, let’s look at the money coming off of the books this winter, namely the contracts of Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, and Orlando Hernandez. With the new stadium about to unveil in a few months and tickets prices increasing exponentially, the front office has no business not spending money to improve this team. The farm system will most likely have no immediate impact players for 2009 that we have not already seen in 2008, so improvement of the club for the upcoming season must come from elsewhere. So we have a lot of money and we have a team that seems to be one or two pieces away from being World Series contenders. What do you do?
My first thought after Ryan Church’s flyball fell into Cameron Maybin’s glove was of Manny Ramirez. I was tired of an inconsistent offense, and I was tired of watching Church fail over and over. Ryan had the worst full season of his entire career. I was imagining finally getting Manny and letting him be the savior, the star, the shining light. But now I am not so sure whether this is the right decision. What will Manny bring to the team? Probably just OPS over .900 consistently over the course of his career with the Mets. He’ll probably just be a media darling. He’ll probably join Reyes, Beltran, Wright, and Delgado as the most powerful 1-5 lineup combination in baseball. He’ll probably just hit 30 homeruns, be a beast in the post-season, and have everyone in New York wearing Manny jerseys.
But why would we want that? Let’s go get K-Rod and Sabathia instead. Francisco Rodriguez had 62 saves this year. 62! Ignore the fact that he was coming off his worst season in years. Ignore the fact that his WHIP was higher than Mike Lincoln’s and Edwar Ramirez’s. Let’s just go ahead and throw the bank at him. Because that is what desperation is. When a situation takes a whole of you like the closer situation has for the Mets, giving in is never the answer. Signing K-Rod to the deal that he is going to want is not the answer. It would be a mistake. The Mets have better options in either signing another reliever for less or trading for one, or even giving Joe Smith the opportunity.
I do not think CC Sabathia is the answer either. He is another guy who is going to be asking for the moon and won’t live up to his Brewers performance, unless the Mets 2009 schedule has them playing the Pirates and Padres every other day. Sabathia is the free agent equivalent of Pam Anderson after she just got done with Kid Rock and Tommy Lee: damaged goods. His body frame is not one that should be able to sustain pitching on three days rest for half a season, and considering the change of division and how the AL handled him in 2008, this seems like it could be a big mistake.
On Manny, I do not think the Mets can give him five years and I wouldn’t advocate it. I would propose, though, that a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth would be fine as long as the deal did not go past the $53-$55 million mark over the first three years. Manny is from New York and has succeeded wherever he’s gone. And he also just hit .396 and slugged .743 in almost 200 at-bats in the NL this year. Get a new catcher, get some relievers, get a fifth reliever, and move Daniel Murphy over to second. But most importantly, get Manny.