Brandon Contes. 13th January, 2012 - 10:17 pm
There aren't too many positive things to say about the New York Mets these days. Their talent level and payroll continue to shrink while every team in their division is making big improvements.
The Phillies will be a disappointment if they don't win 100 games; the Braves are certainly playoff contenders with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball; the Marlins have added Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano, and Heath Bell among others to go with their young talent; even the Nationals are no longer a team you can take for granted as they continue to develop young players while making a run at Prince Fielder this off-season. So where does that leave the Mets exactly? Buried at they very bottom of the National League East.
The Mets have a mediocre offense and one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball. Add in the lack of major league ready talent in the minors and insufficient funds to make improvements, and you have a bad team with bleak. The only chance the Mets have at getting better quickly would be new ownership. However, with the recent two year extension for Bud Selig, Mets fans lost their only hope at getting a new commissioner who would force the Wilpon's to sell the franchise.
I don't blame the Wilpon's for wanting to do everything they can to hang on to their beloved Mets, anyone would do the same. I do blame the commissioner for not telling the Wilpon's enough is enough and they need to bring in someone who can afford to run the franchise the right way. Selig did it with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers, but his close friendship with Fred Wilpon is preventing him from forcing the Wilpon's out of ownership.
There are three things a baseball team can do to quickly improve their team. The first is to go out and sign big-time free agents, which is obviously out of the question for the Mets. We saw them do it prior to the 2005 season, but hoping for the Mets to sign an impact free agent is no longer a realistic option for Mets fans. The next option would be to bring up players from the minors that can contribute right away, similar to the way Jose Reyes and David Wright did in 2003 and 2004. The third and final option is to trade minor league talent for established all-star caliber players. However, the Mets have had a depleted minor league system for the last few years so both of those options are almost as unrealistic as signing free agents.
The Mets are going to be bad for the next few seasons, and should acquire as much young minor league talent as they can during this time. They started it last year by trading Carlos Beltran to San Francisco for Zack Wheeler, but they dropped the ball by not trading Jose Reyes while his stock was at an all time high. If they were able to get a top pitching prospect for Beltran, they could have asked for two or three prospects for Reyes. He was playing at an MVP level the first half of the season, but the Mets foolishly held onto him through the trade deadline.
The Mets need to stockpile prospects anyway they can. They need to draft well, and draft players that could contribute sooner rather than later. Hopefully in two or three years they'll start to have a few "top prospects" that can contribute the way David Wright did when he came up. By then you would hope the organization is more financially stable and could add veteran talent to go with their youth.
Ike Davis is a player that the Mets feel they can build around, and hopefully the power Lucas Duda showed at the end of last season is here to stay. I think the Mets will try to keep David Wright, but they have to at least listen to offers for him. Everyone in the pitching staff is expendable. Anything you get from Johan Santana at this point is bonus. Mike Pelfrey is always going to be a talented pitcher who is inconsistent and frustrating to watch. However, he is a strong pitcher who you can count on to throw 200 innings and 125 pitches on any given start. That's something that a lot of teams would be interested in and might be willing to part with a mid-level prospect for. Jon Niese is a solid number three starter on a playoff team and as nice as it is to have a young lefthander in your rotation, if you can get prospects for him the Mets must consider it.
This is a team that has R.A. Dickey as their ace, Frank Francisco as their closer, and a below average lineup. The holes on this roster are endless. They need a major facelift, but can't afford to do so. If manager Terry Collins can keep the team playing hard for the entire season, maybe they'll win 75 games, but I think 68-94 is a more realistic record considering their talent and the division they play in.
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