How Long is Mets Rebuilding Plan?

Assuming you believe the Mets are in a “rebuilding phase”, how long do you think the rebuilding plan will last? And why / how did you arrive at that time frame?

The reason I ask is because there seems to me to be a wild variance among fans as to what constitutes “rebuilding” and a disagreement as to how long such a phase should occur. Some think it can be as short as a year; others believe it requires five years or more; and the rest of the fan base thinks the length fits somewhere in between.

You probably agree that the duration of a rebuilding phase depends on a) age and talent level of current 40-man roster; b) quantity of quality talent in the minor league system; and c) depth of ownerships’ pockets / size of organization’s revenue. If so, then apply those three dependencies to the Mets and come up with a rebuilding term. And, add any factors that you believe I’ve missed.

Also, what do you define as the culmination of a rebuilding phase? Is it a specific number of victories? Is it reaching a particular spot in the standings? Is it grabbing a playoff appearance?

Post your thoughts in the comments; this should be a fun discussion.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. dan capwell December 2, 2011 at 6:47 am
    If I had to hazard a guess, I would think that 2012 is more of the same from the 2009-2011 mold. 2013 could be the year we see the young prospects arrive and maybe 2014 when the team takes the first step towards contention, kind of like they did in 1984, 1998 and 2005.
    • Vance December 2, 2011 at 11:50 am
      2012 — Just. End.

      2013 — Just. End. … with a touch of prospect call ups by September if not earlier depending on starting arbitration clocks and development. Many of the -hopefully- studs are in AA.

      2013 off season —
      Bay’s and Santana’s contracts can be bought out for a combined $8.5 million. That frees up $42 million from the 2014 budget.

      $42 – $8.5 gives you 3 or 4 solid (2+ WAR and playing at least 150 games per year) contributors in addition to some decent role players / middle relievers.

      Those types of acquisitions can relieve stress on everyone, give stability to everyone knowing their role and add 8 wins.

      2014 — Dedicated time from Spring Training for prospects. Serious evaluation of those prospects and the free agents you brought in. The “what will win us a championship” evaluation instead of the “what will prevent us from losing 90 games” evaluation we got this year.

      2014 offseason —
      $90 million payroll at this point? Assuming the $140 is sustainable with a winning team driving attendance that gives money for one cornerstone player on the market (if available), or trade for one depending on prospects given up.

      More of the same “What compliment players do we want to keep or replace? What do we need to replace?” you get every year. Like “We know the team will suck in 2012, do we really want to outbid anyone for Broxton?”

      2015 — Should be contending for a Wild Card.

      2015 offseason —
      This should be the final touches similar to Gary Carter as the missing piece for 1986.

      Payroll in the $130 – $135 range saving a smidgen of room for in season adjustment to injury or trade line deals.

      2016 — World Series contender with a mix of young and old players. 3 – 4 of the young players having come up together in the system and matured through a couple of suck seasons. Some older players NOT brought in at 35 years old on a four year contract.

      This should be a sustainable mix built around … wait for it … speed, defense and pitching. Like for realsies speed, defense and pitching; not Jason Bay speed, defense and pitching.

      The sustainability and organizational direction are what’s most important to me. I’d rather spend a couple more years doing it right if need be. 2004 to 2006 was fun. In 2007 and 2008, the culture seemed a little … off even before the collapses. We just finished year three of a five year train wreck. … 2006 was certainly not THAT good.

      Also of note in the ’15 and ’16 time frame —

      Phillies —
      Will be paying over $60 million for 36 year old Howard, 37 year old Lee and 35 year old Papelbon. Howard is already trending downwards. Lee’s back might be flaring up by then (again). Papelbon’s “aura” has already started fading.

      Halladay’s contract will end after ’14 when he’s 38. Not sure he’ll be a factor.

      Nationals —
      Will have $20 million tied up in Werth. Zimmerman, Strasburg and Harper might all be in the $15 million range. Can their payroll handle $65 million in four players and still be competitive?

      Might end up like the ’08 Mets with half the lineup MVP quality and half AAAA quality. They could also end up as an extremely high quality product.

      Braves —
      Fearing them is in my DNA at this point. I swear they have actual magicians.

      Marlins —
      Who knows? They are spending money now. If they draw more than 5,000 a game in their new digs, they might keep spending money. If not, they’ll have another fire sale in two years.

      So, I guess I’m in the 4 – 5 year range. Contending for a Wild Card concludes a “rebuilding phase” in my book. Commonly expected to make the playoffs in some capacity (Rays/Red Sox/Yankees mix is a reference) is definitely the end.

      2013 jumps the shark. Can Sandy really do more than tread water while two injury/nonperforming players make up 40% of his payroll? Given that, should he be signing many players beyond 2013?

      I’d also prefer the team is at least a little competitive before signing major contracts.

      Would you sign a contract with the team right now? Ownership is broke, the culture is a mess, and the team will be a “success” if it’s not in last place. All this in the largest media market in the world.

      Does a mid range player think it’s worth an extra million a year to enter such a mess? How much does a Pujols think he’ll come here and win a ring?

    • Joe December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm
      This is reasonable.

      Late ’12 will be an interesting time to see if they trade away a few chips for prospects. ’13, especially with a few prospects perhaps ready and Bay/Santana’s contracts coming to a close soon also is a big time. This also would be a couple years in with the “going it cheap” mode and fiscal developments might change in other areas.

      Particularly with an extra wild card, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Mets would have a shot in ’13 but ’14 is a reasonable date for them to have a truly playoff caliber team. What “rebuilding” will involve, I don’t know. Also, this is not the same as watchable baseball. I think ’11 had some pretty enjoyable baseball.

      Lower expectations? Well, as with the economy, maybe like that Mad TV sketch, I have them.

  2. mic December 2, 2011 at 7:21 am
    Assuming you believe the Mets are in a “rebuilding phase”, how long do you think the rebuilding plan will last? And why / how did you arrive at that time frame?

    1. what is a rebuilding phase? Are the mets rebuilding?

    -Personally I dont think they are rebuilding. Evidence: if you are rebuilding dont you trade away your PLUS assets for prospects? If so DW is gone, like last August, Reyes is GONE…last august. Cappy is gone..last August. AND We are picking NOT 12th, but top 5 in THIS draft.

    2. Above rant is further corroborated by the LACK of action/confusion presently seen by the Mets.

    3. Wheeler, CPT Kirk, Zach Lutz, Jeury’s, Harvey, Moviel (the reliever) Carson, Ike, Tejada and Reese are all knocking on the door. Imagine if 3-6 top tier prospects obtained for Cappy, DW and Reyes at the last deadline were mixed into that equation…ALREADY.

    4. Conclusion: The term rebuilding as it applies to the Mets is greatly misused.

    • izzy December 2, 2011 at 8:19 am
      Agree completely mic. They are doing nothing more than cost cutting, but in a slow and devious way thinking they can fool most of the fans all the time, thinking they can survive until Fred and friends come up with new gimmicks to make some dough.. You want rebuilding… See the Marlins…Won the Ws in 97, dumped them all and won again 6 years later.
      • MikeT December 2, 2011 at 11:18 am
        I agree in large part. I disagree that trading Cappy would have yielded top prospects… but I digress.

        To you point, Joe, if you consider “rebuilding” as a philosophy then the Mets have been rebuilding since 2010 when Sandy and crew were hired. the Mets spending in the draft and new approach and emphasis on player development is proof of that. They are rebuilding the organization. This does not have to coincide with losing on the major league level. The Red Sox when Epstein was brought in, and the Yankees soon after that, both were competitive during the restructuring of their organizations. There were steps back, but they were followed by immediate steps forward because they had the funds to do it. The Mets might not have the funds at the moment, but they do already have significant money invested in talent that largely did not perform. If the prior administrations big contracts (Bay, Wright, Santana, Reyes, Beltran, Krod) all were healthy and performing then the 140 mil payroll would have been justified. Since it is likely that the ~100 payroll they have now will not equal wins does this mean they should spend more to make up for it? I don’t think so. so because they are losing and restructuring, we are classifying this as rebuilding. If they were winning and restructuring then we wouldn’t.

        So I guess my answer is that “rebuilding” is a misnomer. It seems to mean putting an emphasis on developing talent and losing. I prefer to say the Mets are restructuring and it happens to be coinciding with a time of losing.

  3. Andy December 2, 2011 at 11:10 am
    I agree with the above. Not really rebuilding. If they were to rebuild, I think the standard is probably at least 5 years, and a successful rebuilding means a winning team that actually contends for a dvision championship deep into September. Think 1977 Midnight Massacre –> 1984 Mets.
  4. argonbunnies December 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm
    I was disappointed by Alderson’s comments yesterday about “we have a lot of talent in the organization, we don’t need to start from scratch”. Either he’s stringing the fans along and will discover that more dashed hopes will mean more empty seats and less revenue, or he’s not as smart as we thought and actually believes what he’s saying.

    A full-on rebuilding effort would probably take a few years. A half-assed “we’re sorta rebuilding and sorta competing” phase, on the other hand, will go on forever until someone stops it. Those never produce championships either.

    I’ve yet to see an acknowledgement from Sandy that your quality must be measured against the quality of your competition. Maybe there’s some “objective” sense in which our rotation is fine, but compared to other NL teams, right now, it’s terrible.

    This bodes ill.

    • MikeT December 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm
      I’m not sure you are as smart as you think you are. Every major organization that ranks systems puts the Mets in the middle of the pack. This is a far cry from completely barren in 2008. Minaya got the ball rolling (only after he was killed for neglecting it) and that was supported by the strong 2008 draft but followed up by a bad 2009 draft. Point is the Mets are clearly trending upwards. They keep saying you need quantity sometimes more-so than quality because if you have 4-5 guys you feel could be big time players, if you get one you have done your job and if you get two then you have done a great job. It comes down to evaluation of talent and an emphasis on developing players the right way. I think you are focusing too much at the top, and I think Sandy’s point is instead of being in year one or two of a five year plan they are are closer to 3, perhaps a bit behind.

      None of this is quantifiable. Does have having the top ranked system guarantee you the most success. Flatly no. So if the Mets get 3 of the 5 top pitching prospects to pan out as planned that would be an incredible job and suddenly the rankings don’t mean anything. All you can do is evaluate and do your best to develop and hope for the best. But it is a much better strategy than trying to build via Free Agency. Heck of a lot cheaper too. I’m fine waiting a few years (and was fine back in 2004 too, before all the spending) if it is done right. That is my dream Mets: sustainable success from being built from within.

      • argonbunnies December 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm
        Uh… That all makes sense to me, man. Not sure how any of that is a response to my post.

        “Building through development is better than building through free agency” agrees completely with my points.

  5. Jujo December 2, 2011 at 4:51 pm
    Since there is a new wild card option, that should be the objective every year. The Mets need to get a solid additional starter and fix the bullpen. Lets pretend Reyes leaves, the lineup is Pagan, Murphy, Wright, Davis, Duda, Bay, Thole and Tejada-not scary but they can produce close to what this year’s production was. If the Mets can get someone (Javier Vazquez?) to be a 2, the pitching becomes, Santana/Dickey, Vazquez, Niese and Pelfrey. Pelfrey will be better pitching against other teams 4-5 starters but the key is the bullpen-the Mets need plenty of arms because all games will be a war to win. BUT like any team the goal is the playoffs and the extra wild card provides teams hope. I think they can sneak up on teams because no one will take them seriously.
    • Trump December 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm
      Not seriously contending for a division championship and more until 2015 earliest. I don’t consider the 2nd wildcard to be contending either.

      There’s a lot of wishcasting going on here as well. Wheeler does have a significant injury risk- what if loses a year to TJ? Now our timetable is pushed back considerably. What if the prospects were looking towards flame out? It is very possible. We need to keep running the best talent through the system because it is a numbers game. Since this is the mets and nothing goes right, AND the ownership will do everything to drag it down…..let’s be real please. 2018 I think is when the wheel will start to turn again.

  6. BklynCowpoke December 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm
    Personally I don’t think the Mets stand a chance of competing even for a 2nd wild card birth until at least 2015, if then. Just look at the Braves and Nationals farm systems compared to ours.
  7. Kranepool December 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm
    I think Alderson, et al are betting on the development of 2 or 3 of the Mets 4 best pitching prospects as the one chance to develop a legitimate long-term contender (Wheeler, Familia, Harvey, Meija). My sense is that these guys will arrive in Flushing in 2013 & 2014 and, the ones who turn out to be real will start to meaningfully contribute in 2014 to 2015. If 2 of them become #2 level starters (and maybe Meija becomes a closer), they could become the backbone of a young starting rotation in its prime (together with Neise as a #3). I don’t see any strong position players coming up in the next 3 years (except maybe Havens, if he stays healthy). So, the rotation + Davis/Duda/Wright (?)/Havens/Tejada + FAs to fill in some key lineup spots is about the only realsitic plan I can see. So, 2015 and beyond, IF the pitchers are for real. If not, the rest of the decade looks bleak.
  8. Kranepool December 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm
    By the way, since many of the comments are looking at 2015 and beyond, the long-range view seems to argue for letting Reyes go (by then, his wheels will be slower and his health more fragile) and trading Wright for 1 or 2 studs, if we can sell the story that his decline has been largely atttributable to Citifield, pre-alterations. If we hold onto Wriight past this offseason, his trade value drops b/c he can opt out of the Mets 2013 option year if traded (and even more if he does not have a strong rebound year, now that the walls are lower and closer).
  9. NormE December 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm
    I fear that the “rebuilding” effort is not going to be successful as long as ownership keeps shrinking the budget.
    The real questions should be: (1) How long will Alderson allow the Wilpons to degrade his reputation? (2) How long will Bud Selig (or the next Commissioner) allow the Wilpons to run a second rate franchise in NYC, the most important market in baseball?
    The Mets are a “vanity” possession for the Wilpons. Being the owner is more important than running a successful franchise.
  10. mic December 3, 2011 at 4:11 am
    What would you rather have; a good farm or good GM? Some teams crank out blue chip talent annually, some are able to compete but by pulling talent from other teams…..Another way of saying lets scrap the rebuilding mantra.
  11. David December 3, 2011 at 10:49 am
    I believe in the Mets case they should be ready to compete in 2013 as a potential playoff team but be a guaranteed playoff team but 2014.

    It all revolves around pitching and they say guys like Harvey, Familia, and possibly Mejia (depending on how he does when he comes back) could be ready to bring up by Spetember this year, which means they would be ready to compete for jobs in spring training 2013 along with Wheeler. If even just 2 of the 4 pan out lets say Wheeler and Harvey our 2 top prospects the rotation could look like this come 2014.

    1. Santana (pick up his option)
    2. Wheeler
    3. Niese
    5. Gee

    and if you pick up one of the top pitchers in the 2013 offseason between Cole Hamels, Zack Grienke, and Matt Cain then the rotation would look very good.

    The next aspect is hitting and after this year I think we will no if Ike is for real. Assuming he is and one of these guys like Flores or Havens pans out I still think we will need to make a big acquisition or 2 between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Murphy can be a big producer as long as we teach him to play a position and we really need to draft a couple of catchers in the 2012 draft because our system is drained. If we sign a big outfielder like Andre Ethier or Josh Hamilton and teach Bay to hit again we will be in pretty good shape.

    1. Tejada/Flores SS
    2. Murphy 2B
    3. Ethier/Hamilton CF
    4. Davis 1B
    5. Wright 3B
    6. Duda RF
    7. Bay LF
    8. maybe Yadier Molina? but realistically Thole sadly.

    Finally the bullpen, and to be honest I am not quite sure how to deal with this other than picking up a bunch of young relievers who no one else wants and trying them out in spring training.

    This probably isn’t too logically thought out considering I did it in 10 minutes but its what I got.

  12. MarathonMet December 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    Great question!
    Yes I believe the Mets are in a rebuilding phase.
    How long should it take for them to be competitive again? I would say it depends on how the current group of players under control (davis, murphy, duda, turner, tejada, thole,niese, gee, parnell, beato) turn out. If they turn out to be a good group of players, then we could be competitve as soon as 2013-2014. If not, then it will take longer.
    There is a twist to the way I see things though.
    First of all, I think Reyes is not gone yet. Alderson says that he will start the 2012 season with a payroll slightly under 100 mm. If they allocate Reyes 14-15 mm for 2012, then they can get a closer and outfielder and make the cut. The problem with that is that in 2013 they will have to either add another 20 mm to their payroll in order to keep Wright or else forget about him (I’m assuming that Santana and Bay stick around to finish their contracts). Can they add 20 mm in 2013? If the core group I identified at first play good baseball, and everyone else stays healthy and plays like they should, then Yes, its possible, because attendance and expectations will be rising.
    There in 2013, Wright stays, some of the pitching prospects begin to close in, and again, maybe we are competitive.
    Finally, after the 2013 season, Santana and Bay come off the books, we are all happy to still have Reyes and Wright around, our smart front office has its chance to finish its flexible payroll, and we should hope that a competitive team should be on the field.
    My main question is: are the Mets better served spending the 15 mm in 2012 onReyes or on an outfielder, a catcher, a closer, a reliever and a starter. Which gives the Mets a better chance of finishing the year as believers again.
    The good thing, is we’ll know the answer pretty soon.
    • Mike B December 4, 2011 at 4:26 am
      Do you really think David Wright is a 20 million a year player? This is the Mets problem they are so hung up on DW being the face of the franchise. Contract sitution aside if you gave every GM a chance to build a team around Reyes or DW. 100% would pick Reyes.
  13. Cver December 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm
    I think that we can’t talk about this in a conventional manner, since there are other unusual factors at play. First, the GM isn’t necessarily committed, as we’ve heard rumblings of, to see this through, whether it is 3, 4, 5 years or longer. As a matter of fact, if Selig suddenly became incompacitated or worse, it certainly is possible that Alderson could become Commissioner and otherwise, there has been talk of Alderson not staying on longterm. Then, there is the owner’s situation. Since they are truly still calling the shots on budget and who knows what else and their situation is quite uncertain with us knowing what other “shoes might drop”, it’s difficult to feel any certainty of any secure plan that will be able to be implemented. It’s nice that the blogosphere can still come up with ideas though and I commend all of you for your efforts!
  14. Marathon Met December 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm
    To be honest, I have no idea how much wright will be worth. The point I tried to express was that in 2013 they will have to address wrights future, without any big contracts coming off the books. Therefore they either have to bring the payroll up (and for that to happen the team must be on the rise, meaning attendance and expectations growing) or they will have to let him go.
    • Mike B December 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm
      Well you dont need a crystal ball, if you dump every player that would be a starter on another MLB roster attendence will be down, BTW Marlins just offered Reyes 17.5 for 6 with an option for 22 on the 7th year, he is gone. Might as well hit rock bottom this april and dump wright for whatever they can get.
      • Marathon Met December 5, 2011 at 8:48 am
        Now that Reyes is gone, the question is what will the smart front office do with the 15-20 mm they available. Will two relievers, maybe a starter (capuano/young type), a catcher, an outfielder and a shortstop make the mets a team that ends the 2012 on the rise? If so, then wright stays.