February 6, 2009
Where We Stand
by: Pat Andriola on Feb 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Filed under: Articles

So the off-season seems to be pretty much over for the New York Mets in terms of acquiring any more major talent. Here is the simple break-down for the Mets off-season:

J.J. Putz, K-Rod, Jeremy Reed, Rob Mackowiak, Sean Green, Bobby Kielty, Alex Cora, Casey Fossum, Tom Martin, Connor Robertson, Rocky Cherry, Darren O’Day, Cory Sullivan

Traded/released/contract expired:
Pedro Martinez, Endy Chavez, Moises Alou, Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Damion Easley, Joe Smith

Overall, a pretty good swap of players. But after two years of terrible Septembers that cost the Mets playoff opportunities, is this enough? Mets fans had to sit idly by and watch as their division rivals not only swept the rug from under them twice, but then went on to win the World Series. After the 2007 season Omar Minaya made a splash by acquiring Johan Santana, arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball. This off-season the Mets not only got arguably the best closer in baseball in Rodriguez but also snagged one of the most impressive closers of the past few years, Putz, to set up games for K-Rod. Again though, was this enough?

The answer, most likely, is yes. While the lack of any addition to the lineup is perplexing (and somewhat frustrating), scoring runs should not be a problem for the Mets in 2009. With Jose Reyes and David Wright progressing towards their prime years, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado driving others in, and the contributions of guys like Daniel Murphy, Ryan Church, and Fernando Tatis, the Mets should have a powerful lineup. Sure, Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn would make the lineup much better—although Omar and company have their reasons for not pursuing the pair—and they inexplicably let Pat Burrell go to Tampa Bay for peanuts compared to what he is actually worth. Omar and Jerry Manuel seem content with Brian Schneider behind the plate, Luis Castillo at second base, and Ryan Church in right field.

But this is where I have a problem: While the bullpen should be fantastic this year (and a mid-season return from Billy Wagner would probably make it one of the most dominant in the past decade), Omar Minaya did not seem to improve on the margins. Brian Schneider did nothing in 2008 to deserve the starting job in 2009, but he is still here. Luis Castillo apparently gets paid too much not to start, but Daniel Murphy may force Jerry’s hand. And Ryan Church’s 106 OPS+ from right field last year was the worst OPS+ he has had since becoming a regular in the major leagues. One player, such as Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, or Adam Dunn, would fix a lot of these problems. The Mets could afford to lose some offense at catcher if they put Burrell in right field, or could afford to watch Luis Castillo slap grounders to shortstop if Adam Dunn was in left field. But the fact that the relatively weak spots in the lineup have been unaltered despite the fact that no other changes were made to the lineup is disappointing to say the least. Maybe someone like Bobby Kielty or Cory Sullivan will have a breakout year, but counting on this is unlikely.

Have the 2009 Mets improve since last year? Yes, drastically. The starting pitching has improved (losing Pedro was only beneficial), the bullpen is much better, and young players are maturing (with even younger stars like Fernando Martinez close to major league-ready). Another factor to consider is the trade deadline. Omar may have decided to save some cash and prospects for the end of July when some upcoming free agents (i.e. Matt Holliday, Rick Ankiel, Brian Giles, Randy Winn) may become available. But there are not many marquee names in the free agent pool of 2010 other than Vlad Guerrero. With the market the way it is, players may start moving around as less and will stick to signing with their teams for less money rather than rest the free agent waters and get spurned. So when Omar Minaya says that the team now will be the team for 2009, he may also be saying you won’t see any more major moves for a long time.

24 Responses to “Where We Stand”

  1. Comment posted by JamesSC on February 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm (#927222)

    Pretty good article.

    1. I think there is a pretty good chance that there will be no “major” moves next off season as well, we have kind of already made a number of major moves the last few years, and will still have a lot of those players. I would think a big move we likely will make is trading Putz as a premier closer under control next year for some offensive talent to fill in the void of Delagado.

    2. I think Omar to some extent is hoping that Castillo will build up some value that he maybe able to move him next year. I dont think this is likely, but I am hoping that if this fails we will end up dropping him (I dont think that is too likely either though). I am really hoping to see Murphy at second by end of next year or going into 2010.

  2. Comment posted by coolpapabell on February 6, 2009 at 2:07 pm (#927245)

    Nice article. The idea of the Mets not doing anything after next year really scares me, the lack of action will not be due to available talent. Matt Holiday will be a free agent nextyear. His agent is Scott Boras and his current team is the A’s. I don’t see how they will resign him, unless he has a horrible year, but even then I still think he walks. I think he is the guys the Mets should target. The only competition would be the Yanks and the Redsox, and I don’t see the Sox making a play for him. If they do then that means Jason Bay could be had.
    That leaves only the Yanks. They are a wild card so. There is one interesting occurence that has yet to be disproven. The Mets and Yanks have yet to be drawn into a bidding war for a free agent. They always seem to somehow not be interested in the same players. If you mention Jorge Posada, I would counter with the thought that Omar made the offer just in case the Yanks weren’t serious about bringing Posada back.

  3. Comment posted by JamesSC on February 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm (#927261)

    I just don’t see us signing Matt Haliday next year, I would be happy to be proven wrong, but this team is expecting Martinez-Beltran-Church for 2010/2011 and I just dont see them spending another 20 mil on Haliday.

  4. Comment posted by Gina on February 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm (#927280)

    I agree with James I think the front office envisions F-mart being ready by 2010. I definitely don’t expect them to spend big on an outfielder.

  5. Comment posted by Joe A. on February 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm (#927292)

    I don’t think the Mets are that committed to Church. If he has a great season, fine you can pencil him in in RF. But if he is just kind of mediocre this season you could see F! in RF and somebody else LF. Not necessarily Holiday, but that would be nice!

  6. Comment posted by skyhappysal on February 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm (#927302)

    A decent article. I agree with alot of your points. But there is a stink of wanting Pat Burrell..

    I would rather have Church’s minor upside, good defense, and ability to run the bases intelligently over Burrell’s lethargy. I know he had conflicts with philly management over the years but everyone he played for wanted to bench him late in games and he is prone to long slumps.

    F-Mart will be ready by 2010, maybe the second half of this year even. We need good young affordabel players to make the books work. Church earned this year based on last years pre-concussion hot start.

    Any available money next year will be needed for a setup man, a first baseman, and a catcher – and it better not be Grampy Jorge from the Bronx.

  7. Comment posted by Gina on February 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm (#927305)

    Even if Church struggles I don’t see how we could spend big on offense. We basically only have Delgado’s 12 million coming off the books, since increases in contracts will basically wipe out Wagner coming off the books. If they didn’t want to spend big this year when we had 20 some million coming off why would they do it next year.

    And just based on his production I don’t see any reason to think F-mart will be ready next season, let alone this season. He just hasn’t shown anything in the minors to suggest he’d be able to put up the offense you expect from a left fielder.

  8. Comment posted by skyhappysal on February 6, 2009 at 5:18 pm (#927308)

    He had a nice Dominican season. If he starts strong he could be up in August and handed the full time gig in 2010.
    The Mets can’t spend big on the outfield though, even if Church struggles, i agree. Next year Murphy will hopefully be starting somewhere – 2b or OF, and decent affordable competition can be found in the form of Jose Guillen or Jeremy Hermida or the likes (acknowledging that they are very disimilar – a number of pieces could fit out there for teh Mets).
    I seriously do not want a defensive liability out there in our new larger outfield.
    Soend the money in 2010 on locking up Maine, shoring up the Putz-less pen and covering off first base.

  9. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on February 6, 2009 at 5:18 pm (#927309)

    The biggest problems the Mets have right now are disasters at first, second and catcher. There’s the pieces to be okay in left and right, Beltan’s awesome, Wright’s awesome, Reyes is awesome. The starting rotation’s at least above average and the bullpen if still shallow is vastly improved.

    This off-season, there was nothing at catcher and the only serious upgrade at first was gonna cost you too much for anyone other than the Yankees in retrospect. So… it’s regrettable that we’re stuck with a dud at catcher and the 2000 year old man at first but… also sadly kind of unavoidable.

    The place where there’s no excuse to have such a gaping hole is second base. There’s free agent options at second and you could also move Murphy there are buy a left fielder, where there’s even more options.

    Keeping Castillo around is going to bite the Mets a lot harder than any of us care to admit this year and… if there’s a way out of it, they have to swallow hard and take it.

    There’s just no there there.

  10. Comment posted by Gina on February 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm (#927310)

    I wouldn’t describe Jose Guillen as decent. And I wouldn’t say a hot start in AA should be enough for them to declare him ready. And the Dominican League isn’t necessarily the best context to evaluate him. I think Anderson Hernandez opsed over 1.000 in the Dominican league.

  11. Comment posted by skyhappysal on February 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm (#927311)

    You got me with the inclusion of Anderson Hernandez in the discussion. I’m not saying he will be ready this year, I am predicting the Mets will call him up for a bit if they need something in the outfield.

    The fact that the Mets are signing so much bric-a-brac for left field makes me think they really will give Murphy a shot at second base. Even if Castillo is healthy he won’t play more than 4 games a week.

    Delgado is not a disaster this year, he would be in any kind of extrension probaby. If he gives us .250-30-90 with some nice scoops at first base we will be fine. If he gives us anything more, which he may, then that’s gravy.

  12. Comment posted by skyhappysal on February 6, 2009 at 5:58 pm (#927312)

    Oh yeah, Jose Guillen is a turd, he plays a weak defense now that he has put on 30 pounds. But he would be cheap and he can still hit.

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  14. Comment posted by Peter H on February 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm (#927313)

    I don’t think we can make any assumptions about F-Mart at this point. The front office may very well envision him starting in 2010, but they’re not going to do that if he struggles in AAA this year.

    Also, it’s true that the free agent market is going to be pretty barren next year, but you don’t necessarily have to address your needs through free agency. I agree with James that one possibility is to replace Delgado’s production by packaging Putz for a big bat.

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  16. Comment posted by Peter H on February 6, 2009 at 6:30 pm (#927314)

    Brian Schneider did nothing in 2008 to deserve the starting job in 2009, but he is still here

    So… it’s regrettable that we’re stuck with a dud at catcher

    Honestly, I think you both are being way too rough on Schneider. He’s obviously a below-average hitter, but, then, so are most catchers. If you look at Brian’s production relative to other catchers, his offense isn’t that far below the positional average. The Mets probably overrate his defense, but I still think he qualifies as an above-average defender.

    And if not Schneider, who else would you have in mind? Jason Varitek? Ivan Rodriguez? LoDuca?

    The positions where we really have room to upgrade are LF & 2B.

  17. Comment posted by Wally Dykstra on February 6, 2009 at 6:43 pm (#927315)

    I think Burrell in RF would have been a defensive disaster, though I wouldn’t have minded seeing him in LF. I think folks are not being fair to Church. The guy was great out of the gate and then had 2 horrific concussions which ruined his season. The guy could be decent this year. I would be ready at this point to throw something off the wall at Manny that wouldn’t have a lot of years in it but which would allow him to feel like his value was recognized and would incentivize him to play hard. Something like a $25 million 1-yr contract with a vesting $25 million second year if he meets milestones and a $5 million bonus if the Mets win the division.

  18. Comment posted by Gina on February 6, 2009 at 8:08 pm (#927317)

    We couldn’t afford to give Manny that type of contract and stay under the luxury tax threshold which the Wilpons won’t go over. As far as I understand right now we’re less than like 6 million from it. Which is why we’re supposedly trying to move Castro.

    Also I agree Burrel in rf would have been a disaster but I don’t think the op was suggesting Burrel replacing Church in rf. I think he meant putting Burrel’s proven bat in left field would have made us less reliant on Church who is a bit of a question mark. And while Burrel’s defense in left is horribly horribly bad we don’t exactly have an all world defensive combination slotted in there now. Though personally I’m fine with them not signing Burrel, I’m not as fine with them not signing Abreu or Dunn if they’re going to be signing for less than 8 million though.

  19. Comment posted by skyhappysal on February 6, 2009 at 10:22 pm (#927319)

    I read some defensive ratings which actually had Murphy as above average out there, although not graceful. Tatis surprised me with how well he actually played in the outfield as well.
    Pagan is nice defensively of course, and Reed is quite strong.
    I don’t need any more outfielders on the team. If the Mets signed Dunn then fine. Abreu is still good at the plate but really below average in the field lately.
    I am not pleased with attempt to trade Castro. Catchers get hurt too much and I feel good about Ramon starting for 2 weeks straight. We don’t want to have to pull DeFelice out of retirement…
    I hear the Mets are looking to spend their last dollars on Wil Ohman, a real good move.

  20. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on February 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm (#927322)

    Oh, I know that there were no free-agent upgrades this winter at catcher… that’s why I said “we’re stuck”. But he’s really quite terrible.

    As a hitter, he’s nothing more than singles to clear the pitcher… and defensively, he’s pretty well overrated. Schnide’s an absolute dud.

    If only Castro could EVER stay healthy, he’s got a good bat for a catcher and he catches… well enough to hit, you know? It’s a shame and a half.

  21. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on February 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm (#927323)

    Oh… also… Beimel might not be a bad last minute add for the bullpen if he comes cheaply enough.

  22. Comment posted by megamets.comm on February 7, 2009 at 7:29 am (#927329)

    Awesome Mets blog. Hey you forgot to mention Freddy Garcia and Tim Redding. A couple of crap shoots, but they could prove valuable eating up innings. I think Omar did a tremendous job with the money he was allotted, but I still think that we need another lefty specialist to match up against guys like Howard, Utley, Ibanez, etc. I linked you up to my blog and am hoping you will do the same for me. Keep up the good work. Peace.

    P.S. About a month ago I copied your article on Pettite and posted it on my blog, my readers really liked it. I gave you full credit of course.

  23. Comment posted by megamets.comm on February 7, 2009 at 7:41 am (#927330)

    littlefallsmets, I’d rather have Dennys Reyes. Lefties hit a lilliputian .202/.250/.287 of Dennys last year. I’d love to have Beimel despite lefties hitting a robust .278 off Joe in 2008, because Beimel did manage to keep both OBP(.330) and SLG(.311) at respectable levels and has yielded just 1 HR the last 2 years. Supposedly were not going to get either, and the acquisition of Heriberto Ruela (Vereran Mexican Leaguer) may be the last lefty reliever we acquire this offseason.

    Lets Go Mets.

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  25. Comment posted by James Kannengieser on February 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm (#927363)

    I’d rather have Dennys Reyes.

    It would be embarrassing to sign a lefty specialist like Reyes after trading Scott Schoeneweis (a very capable lefty specialist). I’d like to see Ohman or Beimel, guys that are lefty but can also get righties out. No more specialists are needed in the pen. That was a huge issue in 2008.

  26. Comment posted by Super T on February 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm (#927387)

    How ’bout Chad Cordero? A 7th, 8th, and 9th of three former/current closers in Cordero, Putz, and K-Rod would be pretty sweet.

  27. Comment posted by Super T on February 7, 2009 at 8:26 pm (#927388)

    I also think we need to start thinking beyond this coming season and thinking about replacements for C-Del at 1B. My vote is for Daniel Murphy. LF is supposedly going to go to F-mart and I’ve read alot of scouts don’t think Murphy will make it at 2B, so how ’bout putting him at 1B as Delgado’s successor?