1/29/13

Reese Kaplan - Reshaping the Roster Between Now and Opening Day

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If the season opened tomorrow there would be a lot of jockeying for positions on the 25 man squad that came north, yet many of the contenders for those spots don't offer a whole lot in terms of up side.  Two outfield platoons, a mystery bullpen and some unknown commodities on the bench don't put much fear into opposing teams when they have to play the Mets.  Now if you accept the mantra of the week -- build from within, cherish draft picks and don't hand out long term contracts to anyone on the wrong side of 30 -- then there it requires a little creativity and dice rolling to improve the team.

Target Chicago Cubs

Make a push for Tony Campaña.  The speed demon simply has nowhere to play and CF is his natural position.  It should not take much to pry him loose.  Whether he can hit or get on base enough to start we won't know until given the chance, but he's stuck on the depth chart behind David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Scott Hairston,  Alfonso Soriano and Brett Jackson.

Target Colorado Rockies

They have some OF depth in Tyler Colvin, Dexter Fowler and Eric Young, any of whom could help the Mets.  Where they could possibly use some help is at 2B or 3B and the Mets could offer up a choice of Daniel Murphy or Jordany Valdespin or Wilmer Flores as a starting point.  They could always use pitching and whomever the Mets feel deserves a lifelong beating at Coors Field could be bundled as well.

Target Los Angeles Angels

If they use Mark Trumbo at DH, then go with an outfield of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton, then the only surplus is the albatross of a contract of Vernon Wells.  The interesting name here is Hank Conger, a .297 career hitter in the minors who, at 25, could give the Mets good backup should D'Arnaud have injury problems and the luxury of parting ways with John Buck.  Alberto Callaspo seems to be the weak link on the team, so your same options of Murphy, Valdespin and Flores could come into play, though only Valdespin might be a good value even-up.

Target Los Angeles Dodgers

Despite their enormous payroll and them embracing the old Yankee philosophy of buying a pennant, they are a little weak at both 2B and 3B.  The same triumvirate could be pitched here in return for some relief help from one of the more talented bullpens in the game.  With Brandon League now dubbed the closer, I'd at least ASK what it would take to get Kenley Jansen to come east knowing it might be a few months before he's 100% after surgery.  It's unlikely you could get Jansen but there are others there with good numbers, too.

Target Milwaukee Brewers

It's been reported that the Brewers are seeking a first baseman and the Mets have a few possibilities in Duda and Murphy to offer up to an opposing team.  Murphy is not a classic first baseman in that he has limited power, but Duda seemed to flourish when given the opportunity to play there.  The target from the Brew Crew would be former Met farmhand Carlos Gomez who last year put together a 19 HR/37 SB season while playing his usual stellar D in centerfield.  He's also the right side of 30.  Offering up Duda, a centerfielder and a 2nd tier pitching prospect -- Familia, Gorski, etc. -- might be a place to start the conversation.  I'd also inquire about Norichika Aoki who showed in his American rookie season that he wsa not intimidated by major league pitching.  They could also use a shortstop.  On paper Jordany Valdespin can play that position.  I'd pity poor Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez if he did, however.

Target New York Yankees

While trades between the crosstown rivals are relatively rare, they usually can take place when they don't involve marquee names.  Towards that end I would see what it would take to pry speedster Eduardo Nuñez free from the Bronx Bombers.  The Mets most definitely have a lack of speed on the team and Nuñez has played all around the diamond Valdespin style in search of a position.  He's played mostly SS in his minor league career, but with Captain Fistpump firmly entrenched there until his retirement, you might find they would talk.  I don't know what type of player they'd seek in return.

Target Oakland A's

Coco Crisp is the odd man out in Oakland with the acquisition of slugger Chris Young.  Therefore it would be worth talking.  It seems the A's are weak and 2B and 3B, so the same suspects -- Murphy, Valdespin and Flores -- could begin the conversation here, too.

Target San Diego Padres

The Friars have long been rumored to lust after Daniel Murphy and it's been reported that the Mets turned down a swap of he and uber setup man Luke Gregerson.  Given the state of the Mets' bullpen, it might be worth reconsidering that transaction.  They could insert your choice of Justin Turner, Jordany Valdespin, Josh Satin or even Reese Havens at 2B as a one-year stopgap while grooming Flores to take over in 2014.

Target Texas Rangers

After losing Josh Hamilton and handing the CF reigns over to untested Leonys Martin, the Rangers might be less inclined to move super backup Craig Gentry, but as 4th on the depth chart it shouldn't take a whole lot to get him.  He's a speed merchant with the glove for centerfield, so he would be a good fit for the Mets.

Target Toronto Blue Jays

Despite having already pulled off the biggest deal of the off-season, it would still appear that Toronto has three players that could help the Mets who are NOT slated to be in their starting lineup -- Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose, all base stealing threats and all capable of playing centerfield.  How do they match up?  The only immediate weak link I see is at 2B where Maicer Izturis is about a replacement level player. In fact, why he's listed ahead of Bonifacio on the depth chart, I'm not sure.

Target Free Agency

There's not a lot left out there, but there are still some bullpen arms worth exploring.  It's well known the Mets are kicking the tires of Brian Wilson, but what about Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Kevin Gregg, LaTroy Hawkins, Bobby Jenks, Brandon Lyon and the trio of former Mets Frankie Rodriguez, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch?

There's not much left that can swing a bat now that the Phillies nabbed Delmon Young for a $750K base salary while Sandy Alderson was out working on his outfielder standup routine.  Unless you think Jim Thome, Grady Sizemore or Carlos Lee can play the outfield, about the only credible and healthy name with some pedigree is Scott Podsednik, but another lefty isn't exactly what the franchise needs right now (despite the apparent flirtation with Michael Bourn).

There are options out there which won't jeopardize the future core of young talent bubbling beneath the surface in the minors.  What it takes is some vision and some guts to make the necessary changes.  A friend asked me if the Mets are actually better at any position starting 2013 than they were ending 2012.  Despite a minor debate on the merits of Buck vs. Thole, the answer was no.  That conclusion doesn't sound as if the overhaul promised in October has taken place.





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