10 Free Agency Fears for Mets Fans
Free agents go on the open market today, and with a lack of trading chips, the Mets are expected to dive in deep to fill their multiple holes.
At minimum, they need at least one starting pitcher — maybe two; a catcher; a left fielder; a utility infielder; a LOOGY; a righthanded reliever; and a first baseman (though, that one’s up for argument).
With so many holes to fill and the Mets desperate to erase the 2009 season from memory, fans should fear the following.
1. Signing Matt Holliday
Whoa, you say — what’s there to fear about Matt Holliday? Two words: Scott Boras. Boras is positioning Holliday at the same level of Mark Teixeira, which means he’s looking for 8 years, $180M. Holliday is good, but not that good, and not good enough on his own to turn the Mets’ fortune around. And who knows if Holliday can handle NYC, after spending his entire career in small markets?
2. Not signing Matt Holliday
Either way the Mets lose. When they miss out on Holliday (and Jason Bay), the Mets will turn to the likes of Marcus Thames, Randy Winn, Mike Cameron, or Jermaine Dye. Winn and Dye would be decent gambles if offered incentive-laden contracts, but that’s not the Mets’ style — they like to guarantee big bucks and multi-years for vets on the dowside of their careers (see: Moises Alou). Thames has been coveted by Omar Minaya for a while, and for reasons that defy logic. I can see a two-year, guaranteed deal doled out to any of the four.
3. Signing John Lackey
Again, doesn’t Lackey fit into the Mets’ needs of a #2 starter? Well, yeah, but the Mets will have to pay him dearly. To outbid the likes of the Red Sox, the Mets will have to go to 5 or 6 years and $100M — making him one of the top 5 highest-paid pitchers in MLB. Lackey is good, and the Mets need him, do you want to give 5 years and 9 figures to a 31-year-old with chronic elbow issues?
4. Over-valuing Bengie Molina’s homerun power
The Giants aren’t budging from a one-year deal for the thick, aging catcher, and it’s suggested the Mets can have him if they guarantee two years. Last year was the first time in his career he hit as many as 20 HRs, but it came at the expense of a .285 OBP. He’d be an upgrade over Omir Santos, but not enough to warrant an overpriced, multi-year deal.
5. Losing out on Molina, and over-paying Barajas
There’s almost no possibility the Mets are out-bid for Molina’s services, but in the event they are, they might take the same money and years and fork it over to Rod Barajas, who also has hit 20 HR only once in his career, is also closing in on his mid-30s, and fashions a similarly frightening OBP (.284 career).
6. Going “Schoeneweis” on Joe Beimel
The Mets would like to pair Pedro Feliciano with another LOOGY, and Joe Beimel tops the list. But the 2-year / $7M extension handed to John Grabow raises Beimel’s value. Can’t you just see the Mets handing over a 3-year, $10.8M deal to Beimel?
7. Going “Ollie Perez” on Joel Pineiro
Pineiro is the righthanded version of Oliver Perez — world of raw talent, Jekyll and Hyde personality. Magician Dave Duncan has kept him straightlined for one full season, and now Jo-el is looking for a big payday — the pundits estimate he’ll get a 3-year, $30+M deal. Check out Jeff Weaver’s stats since leaving Duncan’s care.
8. Trading Luis Castillo, then going “Castillo” on Orlando Hudson (or Chone Figgins)
I can see it now: the Mets find a taker for the final 2 years and $12M of Castillo’s contract — then sign O-Hud or Figgins to a 3-year deal of $20+M. In essence, one bad contract swapped for another.
9. Viewing Randy Wolf or Jason Marquis as frontline starters
Both Wolf and Marquis are coming off career years, and will command huge deals. It’s not fiscally responsible to pay back-end starters frontline money.
10. Not addressing the bullpen
In the midst of all the injuries, the lack of power, and collapse of the starting rotation, the inadequacy of the Mets’ bullpen was hardly noticed. But the fact is, the ‘pen needs an overhaul, and there are several decent arms available on the free agent market. In between the “splash” signings, the Mets should also be on the lookout for low-risk / high-reward relievers seeking affordable one-year deals.
(Much like they were all over Tim Redding last winter – since he owned the Mets.)
They love that in a prospective pick-up. Guys who dominate them, then come here and suck for their own rotation.
I’m of the personal belief that Pineiro will be nothing without Duncan; and unlike Redding was (due to non-interest and damaged goods status) – he won’t be cheap.
If it ever came down to a choice, I’d gladly go with Marquis over him.
However, regarding Marquis, why feel the need to choose one or the other? I’d rather avoid both altogether, as they’ll each likely command similar deals, in upwards of $12M per year, while compiling numbers more reflective of a 4th or 5th starter. You can even make the case that Marquis is a lot alike those Duncan-ites who have faltered out of St Louis; it’s just that his win totals are bolstered because he’s had the good fortune of being a part of playoff teams each of the last 5 seasons, and because he put together a solid 1st half in Colorado this past year. Don’t be fooled by a 4/5 starter in a 2/3 starter’s clothing.
I’m most afriad the Mets are going to spend money on people that don’t deserve it, or don’t really factor in the team’s longterm plans. And I think it’s far wiser to take an available $40-$50M and spend it cautiously on 5 or 6 lower cost, conservative pickups rather than 1 or 2 big splashes while ignoring the half dozen other holes on the roster.
The concept you fail to take hold of is that the Yankees spent their big bucks on 2 guys who were in their 20s and were can’t-miss studs (Sabathia & Teixeira). And being the Yankees, they also had the funds and gumption to overpay for a 32 year old Burnett, who had a turbulent season but, on a team fielding murderer’s row, was more than adequate as a #2 starter.
Meanwhile, you want the Mets to get Halladay, who, on top of giving a $100M extension to, you would also acquire for “any 4 prospects in the system” – which would be a more expensive price than either Sabathia or Santana wound up costing. You would also sign Lackey, who would also cost approximately $100M to sign, and he’s coming off two straight injury-shortened seasons because of arm problems. And you want Jason Bay on top of that, who’d likely cost at least another $80-$100M and is no sure bet to be able to handle CitiField’s LF.
Perhaps the biggest problem you glaze over is that all 3 of those guys are over 30 and are going to demand at least 5 year contracts to sign, meaning all 3 will be into their upper 30s (aka, their twilight years) at the tail ends of their contracts, while still making huge money and hurting the Mets’ financial flexibility. You can’t just toss money at 2010 without keeping an eye on what you’re doing to the franchise in 2015. And, to me, having a 37 year old Halladay, a 36 year old Lackey, and a 36 year old Bay making $20M+ each does not sound like a good plan to me. That sounds like a team that developed a short-sighted solution who will be stuck with a bunch of aging, overpriced players who can’t be moved and won’t produce as much as their salary would suggest.
I think that Having Halladay does not make the Mets better than the Phillies next year, even with Holliday too. So I suggest getting Holliday if the price is right for about 5 years. Otherwise don’t make a big move for the sake of making a big move. This is exactly the kind of thing the Mets have been doing for years (Hampton, Piazza, Santana, Zambrano/Benson) and it hasn’t worked yet, so why not try sitting on these prospects and seeing if they are actually worth anything and then either keep them or trade them when their value is really high and get something for less quantity because they are worth more.
As for Martinez look I’m down on his stock as well, but two things: first, never sell low, and second, the guy was 19/20 when he came up, are you really judging him on that? I worry about him staying healthy and his growth being stunted because of that, but I’m willing to sit on him until he either flames out or his stock rises enough that you can get something of worth for him. Heck you might as well keep him in that case.
gary: piggybacking off Mike, the Mets are in a very tough position now to trade for Halladay, opposed to their position in 2008 in the Johan sweepstakes. In ’08, the only suitors for Johan who had the payroll to sign him to a $100M+ extension and give up a package of prospects on top of that were the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets, and when the Sox and Yanks balked because the Twins were asking for better prospects from them than of the Mets, Johan became Omar’s for the taking. None of the 4 players sent to Minnesota were of the “can’t miss” variety, and that was acknowledged even at the time. But the Twins wanted to unload Johan before his contract ran out, and were willing to take the Mets’ deal rather than no deal at all. The trouble with comparing that deal to a potential Halladay deal is that there are many more suitors for Halladay now than there were for Johan in 2008. Also, Halladay will be 33 in 2010, whereas Johan was 29 in his first year with the Mets. You may look at that as only 4 years, but in baseball terms, especially dealing with pitching, 4 years is quite a big difference. Even moreso when you’re talking about $100M+ contract extension. So even if the Mets talk their way into landing Halladay using 4 lesser prospects like they did with Minnesota, that still doesn’t make it a slam dunk considering Halladay is going to be getting up there in age relatively shortly but will still be taking home a king’s ransom in the process. If the Mets have learned anything from their recent mistakes, it’s not to over-invest in talent that will not be giving you an acceptable return over the duration of the contract. See: Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Oliver Perez, and perhaps in short order Frankie Rodriguez and Johan Santana himself.
Furthermore, Lackey is guarenteed to do better than 4/$60M, and Bay has already rejected a 4/$60M offer from Boston, so that’s not gonna get it done for him, either. So perhaps you need to start thinking ‘smaller.’
And I know you are WAY down on Fernando Martinez, and perhaps justly so, but you can’t write off a top prospect after just 91 at bats as a 20 year old. That is entirely unfair. Maybe in today’s day and age some of us have taken for granted the Tim Lincecums and the Albert Pujols who are dominant from the first day they get to MLB. But they are more the exceptions than the rule, and when dealing with a prospect like FMart who every scout seems to have great things to say about, you have to be willing to give the kid more time to mature and develop. He hasn’t even turned the legal drinking and gambling age yet, for goodness sake. I know the wounds of Alex Escobar and Lastings Milledge are still fresh, but just because the Mets have had bust prospects in the past doesn’t mean every prospect from then on will be a bust. It doesn’t work that way.
re: Lackey – Depends on price. If its too high, go with BOTH Pineiro and Wolf. Or go with one of Sheets/Bedard/Harden along with Wolf. The main point here though: the rotation needs 2 new pitchers, not 1. Unfortunately that means non-tendering or trading Maine. But we need more consistency, not a guy who is extremely unreliable as a starter and is a typical 1st half pitcher anyway. I don’t like Perez but his contract pretty much forces him to have a spot in the rotation.
re: Catchers – There is nothing wrong if they go with Barajas; hes a better defensive catcher than Molina and he won’t cost a draft pick (like Molina would) since hes a Type-B. Another factor is the contract length — If Molina is looking for 2 years and Barajas is looking for 1 — you go with Barajas.
re: Beimel – He sucks. Stay away.
re: Pineiro – Disagree. Hes never had control problems like Ollie does. He basically changed himself into a 2-seam crazy/groundball/pitch-to-contact pitcher. If he can continue throw the 2-seam fastball at the rate he did last year he’ll be alright; as good as a #2 starter? Probably not, but a durable #3 seems reasonable. I don’t want him for 3 guaranteed years though.
re: 2B situation – I would push hard to move Luis, but yeah, don’t go crazy with the contract to Hudson or whomever. Nothing over 2 guaranteed years.
re: Marquis/Wolf – I hate Marquis. Hes a #5 at best, and I don’t really buy into his sudden career year. Randy Wolf, on the other hand, has proven to be a solid #3 when healthy. I would have no problem bringing in Wolf in addition to another starter (preferably ONE of: Lackey, Sheets/Harden/Bedard, or Pineiro).
re: Bullpen – Definitely need an 8th inning guy. I have a feeling the bullpen might be overlooked this year, and the bullpen problems of 2008 might re-occur if that happens. We NEED a quality 8th inning guy. Parnell is not that man quite yet.
In terms of Figgins, I don’t see that happening. He’d be in the exact same career stage as Castillo when he came over. A player over 30 who thrives on speed – it’s just not a winning combo.
Finally on the Lackey front I totally agree. As a Sox fan, I’m praying they don’t get him. He hasn’t made a pitch in the last two Aprils and he’s got the body type of someone that might get fat once the deal is signed.
Again, FMart has 91 at bats at the MLB level and is only 20 years old. How can you accurately state at this stage of his career that he is not going to be a “major league caliber player?” You realize you’d be going against almost every pro scout that has ever seen him play, and I’m apt to take their opinion over yours.
Also, Thole’s first action in the bigs saw him hit .321 over 53 at bats. It’s a small sample size, but what about a .321 average suggests he’s not a major league caliber player? Sounds like you got some ‘splainin to do.
*Tip o’ the cap*
This is a great thread!! Joe time for a part deaux.
A. The thing that strikes me about the FA market…that I-dude has already WELL stated is that it sucks. There is no Sabathia PERIOD. John Lackey is to this FA market what Zito was…and Lackey really is a Derek Lowe. As it stands …and as the mill suggests the Mets might as well look at Joel and Sheets:
-In Sheets you have an ace. But when will he be ready? BUT I see a guy who if healthy Will win 70% of his games.
-In joel you have essentially everything Mike Pelfrey has not become..a ground ball machine.
Frankly I’d get both. I’d trade Pel (sorry dude), and possibly Maine. I think Nieve, Niese and late on Jeurys will get a look at the #5 spot. I think both Nieve AND Niese stand a chance to get innings this yr. I’d LOVE to have Pedro back too. Ollie i cant project. I’ll wait till March.