No More Moves for Mets?
A few days ago, Mets GM Omar Minaya announced there would not be any more “big” moves by the Mets this offseason.
Per Minaya, as quoted on MLB.com:
“There aren’t going to be any more big moves,” Minaya said, brushing aside any last thoughts of Manny Ramirez ending up as a Met. “We’re going to go to Spring Training with this team.”
Like you, I’ve been waiting for either a retraction of this statement, or clarification.
For example, by “moves”, does Omar mean the team won’t be moving out of Citi Field? I can understand that, since moving from Shea Stadium to Citi Field — even though it was only across the parking lot — must have been quite an endeavor. It would be silly to move again before Opening Day.
Or does he mean the AAA team won’t be moving again? They’ve already made the trek from New Orleans, LA to Buffalo, NY — that’s a much more drastic relocation than the parent club’s move.
Or can Minaya possibly be referring to “player moves”, a.k.a. “transactions” ?
Certainly, I can see that the Mets are done moving their own players, as there don’t appear to be any left on the roster that they’d want to swap, that another team would also be interested in. But does he also mean that they won’t be moving any “major” players “in” — as MLB.com suggests?
Another intriguing quote by Minaya, from the same article:
“We like our team,” Minaya said. “I’m ready to go with this team. We’ve focused, we’ve put priorities in place and we’ve addressed those priorities. Our team today is better than it was at the end of last year.”
Surely, Omar can’t possibly mean that. As I look at the current 40-man roster, and the projected 25-man roster and depth chart, I’m not seeing a whole lot different from the teams that disappointed us (i.e., broke our hearts) in 2007 and 2008. For example, the starting infield and outfield is exactly the same, and the same two catchers return. The starting rotation is the same as well — Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and a host of question marks for the fifth spot. The bullpen definitely has new faces, with K-Rod replacing Billy Wagner, and J.J. Putz becoming the first real setup man the Mets have had since the Armando Benitez / John Franco days. So the eighth and ninth frames are covered, but innings five through seven will remain a chaotic mix of “matchups”.
Nowhere do I see the name “Manny Ramirez”, “Orlando Hudson”, “Juan Cruz”, or “Adam Dunn”, or any of a number of other free agents who could make a significant impact on the team’s success. Heck, I’m not even seeing “minor” additions such as Chad Cordero, Joe Beimel, Jason Isringhausen, Pudge Rodriguez, Ray Durham, Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Abreu, or Ken Griffey. Yes, those last two names are lefthanded hitters, and the Mets lineup is already “lefty heavy”, but you tell me, who would you rather have in left field against a lefty pitcher — Fernando Tatis or Bobby Abreu? I love Tatis, but take away his torrid July and his 2008 stats are exactly in line with his career numbers — essentially, a .260 hitter with limited power who strikes out a lot. In contrast, Abreu hit .315 with an .865 OBP last year against lefthanders; that’s better than what Tatis did against everyone, and including his hot streak. And say what you want about Junior Griffey being “done” — given the choice, I’ll take my chances on Junior making a comeback over Tatis reproducing through a full season, what he did over a four-week period — or banking on Daniel Murphy doing through 550 at-bats what he did in his first 100 (note: Murphy hit .245 over the last 28 days and 59 plate appearances of the season).
Is the team really “better” because Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Endy Chavez, Damion Easley, Luis Ayala, and Argenis Reyes are gone? This would go with Jeff Wilpon’s early offseason quote that the team would improve by means of “addition through subtraction”. I’m not buying it. I honestly don’t see how the dozen or so minor subtractions make the Mets an improved team. The only difference I see is J.J. Putz handling the eighth. Everything else is essentially the same, which means that Tatis and Murphy have to play well over their heads again, Carlos Delgado has to put the team on his back and carry it again, None of the “core” players (Delgado, Wright, Reyes, Beltran) can suffer an injury, and the top three starters — Santana, Pelfrey, and Perez — will have to make all their starts and perform at least as well as last year. All that has to happen in order for the Mets to finish in second again.
Surely, this is a smoke screen thrown up by Omar Minaya — there must be another free-agent signing, or trade, about to be made. You can’t tell me that the biggest acquisitions of 2009 will be Freddy Garcia and Alex Cora (the relievers came in ’08, remember). His “I like our team” quote is distinctly similar to one he made in December, 2007 — two months BEFORE Johan Santana became a Met:
“We like our starting pitching,” he said. “We think we have good starting pitching.”
Can anyone else guess where the Mets might have wound up in 2008, had Santana not been on the club? Does fourth place sound about right? Or perhaps fifth?
Minaya was lying then, and hopefully, is lying now. For the Mets to contend in 2009 with the current roster, will require an enormous amount of luck. With the free-agent market as depressed as it is, and rock-bottom values to be had at every corner, it makes little sense to hand the season to Lady Luck. The Mets don’t necessarily have to sign Manny, but they need to spend a few dollars to push them back into the postseason conversation.