Posted by Reese Kaplan at 12:00 PM
On a day when no one across the political spectrum agrees on pretty much anything, about the only issue on which there is unanimity of thought is the relief that it’s all over. Similarly, among Mets fans there is the collective weariness growing regarding the Dickey stories and Wright story. Will R.A. get the Cy Young Award? Should we extend his contract, trade him now or trade him at the deadline? Should we extend Wright, trade him now or trade him at the deadline? Most Mets fans have probably reached a presidential race type of conclusion – they know which position they’re voting for, nothing will change their minds and they just want it to be over.
First let’s look at the “Stay the Course” position of keeping pretty much the same cast of characters around and hope that the slow signs of progress will gradually accelerate into a full recovery. You would enter the season with the same infield (though a different right handed platoon catcher), Bay/Duda in LF, Nieuwenhuis in CF and Scrap-Heap-of-the-Week in RF. The pitching rotation would be a strength (assuming health) with Dickey, Santana, Harvey, Niese and Gee. The bullpen would include holdovers Francisco, Parnell, Edgin, Carson and perhaps even Acosta. There would be a few new faces from the castoffs from other organizations. Is anyone excited about the prospects for this plan for 2013?
Now let’s try “The Rich Get Richer” plan. Here both Dickey and Wright are sold for high level prospects in other organizations. The Mets get an immediate $21 million of salary relief. This bonanza would give them the flexibility to address other needs such as the OF, C and bullpen. However, as happened when ties were cut to Castillo and Perez, a promise was made to reinvest funds in the club’s roster. That never happened in 2012. Although there would be money now available to spend, it’s unlikely to happen now either. The roster is comprised of rookies and retreads. In this scenario the Wilpons would pay some bills, have some thrills, and leave the fan base sick in the gills.
Just as in politics, neither extreme case is likely to happen or to work. It takes a combination of the best ideas from both sides of the aisle for any real progress to be made. The rebuild and financial flexibility of the Dickey/Wright trades is a step to restoring offensive talent to a AA and above barren system (save for Flores). Then they must give Alderson the authority to spend the $21 million that was already earmarked as part of the 2013 budget. Do you go out and sign a splashy FA? Do you get a few mid-tier picks? Do you try to obtain inexpensive talent and lock these players up as you did with Jon Niese with a reasonable contract that escalates but remains tradable in the future? How he does it is why he makes the big bucks.
This last approach would seem to pique some fan interest. Yes, there will be people who proclaim loudly, “How could they let Wright go? I’ll never come back.” Didn’t they say the same thing with the Reyes situation which was botched about as badly as it possibly could be, yet the loyal (if frustrated) fan base remained pretty much intact? Yes, attendance was down, but that’s more to do with the level of play than the departure of a single player.
I do know that during the season it was far more interesting watching Matt Harvey and Josh Edgin pitch, or seeing Jordany Valdespin hit the ball over the wall or steal a base than it was seeing proven failures like Andres Torres, Jason Bay and Miguel Batista on a regular basis. New faces with potential to get better will help build a long term marketing base. How many people will tune in for Zack Wheeler’s first start after the All Star break? How many will want to see Flores swing the bat in a September call-up? Now add into that equation the bevy of potential stars you pick up (4-5 of them) in the trades for Wright and Dickey. Don’t forget about the players Alderson should be acquiring with the $21 million he obtained in salary relief.
Election Day is now upon us. Let us look to the important upcoming dates and see if there’s any possibility of breaking the 4th place gridlock plaguing the franchise:
First there are the GM meetings in Indian Wells, California from November 7th through 9th. The 9th is also the day for players to accept or reject qualifying offers from their current teams. Then there’s the Cy Young Award announcement on November 14th. You also have owners meetings in Chicago on the 14th and 15th. After that comes the December 2nd deadline to offer contracts to unsigned players or non-tender them. The Winter Meetings take place in Nashville on December 3rd through 6th. January 15th through the 18th arbitration filings take place and figures are exchanged. Then during the first three weeks of February hearings are held in Phoenix to decide each arbitration case. After that it’s Spring Training.
As Mets fans you likely have to watch up through December 6th to get some ideas of where the roster is headed. There could, of course, be some arbitration surprises with Acosta, Davis, Murphy and Thole all eligible.
If they choose the “Stay the Course” path, then about the only thing you have to look forward to are the faces and names they harvest from other teams’ scrap heaps to fill out the eight vacant spots on the 40 man roster. I want more than that.