10/27/11

Moving On Without Reyes and Wright - PART 1

6 comments
*I began this as one post encompassing the next 18 months, however it proved to be too long and I felt it would be better split into three parts. This is Part 1, dealing with the groundwork moves this winter that can take the Mets through the 2012 season and put them in a position to finish constructing a playoff-contending team in 2013, one with the potential for sustained success going forward.

With the World Series ending soon, baseball’s third season is about to begin. The excitement of the hot stove doesn’t replace the excitement and hope that comes with watching an actual pennant race, but it does offer some distraction in the months between seasons as well as fuel fans’ hopes for the next year to come.

This offseason is the first real one for the Mets’ vaunted front office. Last year was as much about evaluating the talent in-house and cutting whatever dead weight they could. This winter is the first true test to see what the long-term plan for the franchise is. The deadline deals gave us a preview of Sandy Alderson’s thinking. It seems to be that he’ll look to maximize his tradable assets (Beltran for Wheeler) and remove whatever contracts he feels are weighing the team down (K Rod for nothing).

Alderson’s biggest questions surround homegrown stars Jose Reyes and David Wright. With payroll concerns, Reyes possibly pricing himself out of range, a lack of free agent options and little depth to trade from, the prospects for making a dramatic improvement over last year are slim. Because of this, the Mets might be thinking on cutting bait on the last era and starting over from scratch – letting someone else pay Jose his dream contract, collect the compensatory draft picks, and move Wright while the team still can, increasing their base of minor league talent. I’m in no way advocating letting Reyes walk or trading Wright.

What I’m aiming to do is present at least one path the team can take in the event that both of those things happen. I talk to fans and read posts and the consensus (read:fear) seems to be that if both leave the team this offseason, the Mets will be set back indefinitely, not to compete for the playoffs for years to come. I’m arguing that if they both leave the Mets, the team will have added flexibility and can find a way to win sooner rather than later, competing for a playoff spot in 2013. That’s with only 1 more year of ‘suffering’ to go through.

With that in mind, I would expect any moves made this offseason to either strengthen the team for the long run OR not hinder their flexibility in making future moves. The 2011-12 offseason could unfold like this:

- Jose Reyes leaves as a FA.
This move allows the Mets more room in their budget and nets the team 2 high draft picks. Ruben Tejada takes over as the starting SS and hits leadoff for the time being.

- David Wright is traded to Colorado for Drew Pomeranz, Nolan Arenado, and Rex Brothers.
I’ve analyzed this hypothetical deal here - http://tinyurl.com/roxwright. Pomeranz starts 2012 at Buffalo, Arenado begins at Binghamton, and Brothers begins the year in the ML bullpen.

- Trade Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello, Jefry Marte, Robert Carson for Yasmani Grandal and Bronson Arroyo
With apologies to Josh Thole, the Mets do not have a catcher in their organization who profiles as a long-term major league catcher. While I think a tandem of Thole and a veteran can hold down the fort in 2012, the Mets need a catcher who can be relied on to be part of the core going forward. The options on the free agent market are disappointing and I don’t think the Mets have the firepower to trade for an established franchise catcher. The team’s best bet would be to trade for a backstop with significant upside who is only a year or so away from the majors. The two players I would target are Travis d’Arnaud of Toronto and Yasmani Grandal of Cincinnati. Both players are highly regarded and both are currently playing in organizations with catching depth. Grandal figures to start 2012 in AAA after playing a few games there this past year. While he is a top prospect, he is currently behind Devin Mesoraco, a top 50 overall prospect in all of baseball who will likely begin next year as Cincy’s #1 catcher. d’Arnaud is similarly behind Arencibia in Toronto and also has pressure coming up from the lower levels in Carlos Perez and AJ Jimenez. Both profile as plus-defensive catchers who can hit for power. Of the two, d’Arnaud is already drawing rave reviews for his work behind the plate and for his handling of Toronto’s minor league pitchers. However, I think that Grandal will be the easier of the two to acquire. There have already been rumblings about his availability. The Reds have a limited window to compete with Joey Votto as the centerpiece of the team and might be more willing to deal while the Blue Jays are still putting their plan together and might see d’Arnaud as the true catcher of the future with Arencibia more of a DH. Given Cincy’s status as a small market team, I could see them moving Grandal for multiple pieces as well as looking to get salary relied from Arroyo’s contract, freeing them up to be more active this winter. Flores seems to be a man without a position whose bat still seems special. Puello has all the tools to become a starting ML OF with speed and pop. Marte continues his development and has been performing well in the AFL. He’d quickly become the heir apparent to Rolen in Cincy. Carson profiles as a solid LH relief pitcher. The Reds get out from under Arroyo’s contract, one that could hinder them as a small market team and one that the Mets can afford to take on for a year or two. The Reds also get 4 young players that can supplement the young talent they already have and given them a broader base to build from in the coming years. They won’t miss Grandal if Mesoraco fulfills his potential.

- Trade Bobby Parnell for Ryan Kalish
With the departure of Reyes, his presence is only half-accounted for, meaning that Ruben Tejada can hold down SS, however they will need someone who can hit leadoff. Tejada looks like he can be a productive #2 hitter, however I don’t think he has true leadoff hitter ability. Given the depth the Mets have at their infield positions, it seems that a leadoff solution will have to come from the OF. One team I would look to as a potential trade partner is the Boston Red Sox. The Sox have a glut of OF’ers and not a lot of places to play them. Ellsbury has secured CF for the foreseeable future and it doesn’t look like LF Carl Crawford will be traded anytime soon. If the Red Sox are entertaining any ideas about dealing him, he’ll need at least a year to bounce back and build up his value. Even at that, his contract is prohibitive to any potential deal. That leaves only RF open. Josh Reddick came up last year and performed well for a couple of months. 2010’s surprise prospect Ryan Kalish also performed well in his cup of coffee. He likely would have gotten playing time this year if he hadn’t been injured. Although he recently underwent surgery, reports have him coming back and ready for spring training. Additionally, the Sox have their minor league POY Bryce Brentz not too far from the majors and are discussing OF prospects with the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein. With this many OF (potentially 4) prospects and 1 open OF spot, the Sox will be in position to shop them to see what kind of return can be had. I don’t know exactly what they might want in return, but the player I would target is Kalish. He has speed, plays hard, gets on base, hits leadoff, and can play CF. After Reddick’s performance and Kalish’s injury, he’s likely behind in the depth chart. As Parnell is the talent that is asked about the most by other teams, I think the Red Sox would be happy to add a pitcher who can hit 100mph on the gun. I don’t believe Parnell will be the closer here in NY, so the Mets should get what they can for him while his is in demand. This type of trade might have to happen in ST or even April or May to see how quickly Kalish recovers, however he can fill a number of holes for the Mets and would be a great fit going forward. I would expect him to begin 2012 at AAA.

Whether Grandal and Kalish are the specific acquisitions or not, the Mets have holes at OF/leadoff and Ca that need to be addressed. It would be prudent to look for long-term options now rather than wait until the team is ready to contend and wind up overpaying for whatever is available when they are in need. I would like to see the team proactively fill these positions now for the future.

- Retain Angel Pagan.
There aren’t a lot of options out there that can play CF and if 2012 is a ‘sit tight’ season, I don’t see any reason to get rid of Pagan IF Reyes and Wright aren’t around. With all of the savings in payroll, the Mets might as well go with what they know for now until a long-term replacement is found. If the Mets trade for Kalish (or another leadoff prospect), Pagan can hold down CF until the rookie is ready.

- Trade Mike Pelfrey
I think it’s time to move on here. Pelfrey is what he is, and while that’s not terrible, it’s not great. Every year the Mets wait to trade him his value seems to go lower. With Pomeranz acquired in trade and Niese, Gee, and Arroyo on the roster, there is no need to keep Pelfrey. The Mets can sign a risky vet to a much lower contract and expect the same production. As has been repeated, Pelf can throw 200 innings and there are likely to be teams that value that production. Moving him for whatever young talent can be had is the way to go.

That leaves the main 13 of the lineup as:
1. Tejada SS (0.5)
2. Murphy 3B (0.5)
3. Duda RF (0.5)
4. Bay LF (16)
5. Davis 1B (0.5)
6. Pagan CF (5)
7. Thole Ca (0.5)
8. Turner 2B (0.5)

SP1 Santana (25)
SP2 Dickey (4.25)
SP3 Niese (0.5)
SP4 Arroyo (7)
SP5 Gee (0.5)

This would put the budget at roughly $62M, leaving a lot of room to add a closer and other complimentary bench/bullpen pieces as the FO sees fit. This team would likely not make the playoffs, however there is talent on the roster that can play competitive baseball and could surprise people. Also, keep in mind that this is how the team would look on opening day. With the young talent in the minors on its way up, there could be a much different look to the team once August rolls around and the trade deadline passes.

In Part 2, I’ll go over how I would expect the team to handle the roster during the 2012 season, developing the young talent in-house and in preparation for the next offseason.

6 comments:

Mack said...

Well... you're off to an interesting start.

As a writer, I would love to see both Reyes and Wright traded. It would just give me more to write about.

As you already know, the most boring and least talented portion of this story is going to be the Part 1.

IMO, the Mets are three positions away from a championship team in 2014:

1. an SP1

2. a leadoff CFer

3. a full time catcher

The system has all the other players.

You're getting real close here with Grandal and Pomeranz

Michael S. said...

Thanks for the feedback. You're correct, Part 1 is the boring part....important, but boring.

Not a Kalish fan?

Mike Freire said...

Well done, Mike. Probably not the initial move(s) that the average fan would want to see, but I agree that we need to think ahead.

I don't see any way we compete in 2012, so you are now talking about a two year window before we may be competitive. Is David Wright part of the long range future? Hard to say, but if he is trending downward as some scouts say, it would be better to move him now, versus next year when his value may be lower.

I would love Grandal, but I don't see Cincinnati dealing him for that package (as well thought out as it is). If they move him, they would want a future ace or a true power bat. Sort of like a Zach Wheeler, I would guess.

Wouldn't hurt to ask and you are dead on......we need a true catching prospect in the system.

I look forward to Part Two.

Mike F

Michael S. said...

Thanks Mike. These smaller, foundation-building moves are where I hope this front office shows its worth. Omar could make the big splash but he was unable to plan very far ahead. With no money to spend, lackluster FA options, and not much excess to deal from, the team has to make smaller moves.

Getting Grandal might be a stretch...we need a catcher and he should be available. As far as what it might take to get him, I don't think I'd trade Wheeler....maybe Familia, but I'd like to hold onto him for next offseason. Admittedly, I took a page out of Mack's book in putting together that proposal as I'm not sure what Cincy wants for him.

Mack said...

Regarding Grandal, he is available because of Devin Mesoraco... you can't have two catchers in the game at the same time

teams like Cincy need multiple players to fit their small market salary approach...

you make a list of everybody but Wheeler, Harvey, Familia, and Mejia and tell them to pick three...

Jordany Valdespin could be the key to this deal. Akeel Morris and Gilbert Gomez also

Michael S. said...

If the Reds wanted any combination of Valdespin, Gomez and Morris for Grandal, I wouldn't blink.

Valdespin is redundant with Tejada and Havens in the system and Morris and Gomez are still years away.

Mack's Mets © 2012