One of the major challenges facing the team is how they should approach free-agency in 2011 and go about readjusting their roster.
How’s this for a suggestion? How about not spending anything, and keeping the roster mostly intact?
Let me clarify. While the Mets will surely not bring everybody back, with some trades and signings likely to happen, they should not invest much money into the 2011 roster.
There are two reasons why I think the Mets should stand pat.
For one, the team will more than likely struggle anyway while trying to keep up with the Phillies and the Braves in the NL East.
For the last couple of years, the Mets have tried throwing money around trying to fix the problem. It hasn’t worked. It’s time to instill a new culture around Flushing, and hope a new coach, maybe a Wally Backman, can make an imprint on the team.
Besides, if all goes right and all players return and stay relatively healthy, this is still a team with some talent. While the Mets have underachieved, they still could put together a solid lineup, and perhaps a new manger can get more out of the team. Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Ike Davis is a decent core unit to work with. If all play up to their capability and stay off the DL, this is a team that could surprise some folks.
I would like to see this group get one more chance to prove themselves under a new manager.
Sure, the Mets could upgrade at catcher and second base, but the options on the market are less than tantalizing.
The second reason why the Mets should spend modestly in the off-season is the Mets have too many bad contracts tied to them that are due to come off the books after the 2011 season. There is no reason to overspend this year when the chance to really open up their wallet will be in 2012 when the contracts of Beltran, Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Francisco Rodriguez come off the books.
By 2012, the Mets, with a year under a new GM and manager, will get an idea of the direction their franchise is heading. By then the Mets will have a concrete idea of where they should allocate their money.
So, the way I see it, the Mets should have their everyday line up set for next year.
The staff could use a tweak or two, but you still have to consider the return of Santana early in the season. It’s almost a given they will re-sign R.A. Dickey, thus giving them four pitchers locks to be in the rotation in Santana, Dickey, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese.
The big wildcard, when it comes to off-season spending, is what they should do with Hisanori Takahashi. Takahashi has stated that he wants to start. If he is hellbent on starting, the Mets should probably just let him walk. But if he can come back as a reliever, heck, maybe even return as the closer than I say roll the dice with Takahashi.
The closer position will be a sticky situation for the Mets. Will the Mets ultimately be freed of paying K-Rod’s contract (grievance hearing just got underway)? I really hope K-Rod does not come back. I’d rather take my chances with either Takahashi or giving the role to Bobby Parnell.
The way I see it, the only money the Mets should spend is on the bullpen (where Pedro Feliciano may have to be replaced as well) and depth. Take a few fliers and try to get younger in the process.
Next year should be a season of transition and rebirth; one of trial and error. Let’s see what happens on the field this year and then get ready to open the checkbook in 2012.