Mets Go Nuts!

Never mind what the Marlins are doing — nothing compares to the madness of the Mets at the winter meetings!

Sure, the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes, but Sandy Alderson is not one to let grass grow under his feet. The genius GM made a whirlwind of moves guaranteed to make the Mets almost as good as they were in 2011 — and at minimum, assures them a fifth-place finish in the NL East.

Sit down, because the plethora of moves will knock you backward if you’re standing.

First off, the Mets signed Jon Rauch to a one-year deal. As you know, Rauch is Gulliver to the Lilliputians, an absolute giant at 6’10″, 300 lbs. Remember Chris Young was similarly huge, and he was a great pitcher, too. Rauch slots right into the back end of the bullpen, where R.A. Dickey‘s 7-inning efforts have a chance to become victories. Rauch is coming off a poor season that can probably be blamed on a knee injury that required surgery in the offseason, so you KNOW this was a brilliant move. Look at how well the Mets did signing pitchers coming off injuries last winter. Woop woop!

But they didn’t stop rebuilding the bullpen there, because the Mets also signed Frankie Francisco — to a two-year, $12M deal (who said the Mets weren’t going to be big spenders this winter?). He collected 17 saves and struck out 9 batters per nine innings for the Blue Jays last year, and likely will fight Rauch for the closer role. Two closers in one bullpen … wow … just … wow.

And yes, those crazy Mets made yet another deal to bolster the bullpen, swapping Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Ramon Ramirez and centerfielder Andres Torres. Ramirez had a sparkling 1.16 WHIP and 2.62 ERA through 66 appearances in 2011; he solidifies the seventh inning. Meanwhile, Torres steps right into Pagan’s role in centerfield, bringing with him much better defense, better baseball IQ, and very little offense. But who needs offense when you have these three guys shutting the door in the final three frames?

All this excitement has made me completely forget about losing that All-Star shortstop to Miami. What was his name again?

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. Rob December 7, 2011 at 1:52 am
    Let’s just resign ourselves to the notion that the Mets are going to suck for many years to come until the “Alderson” plan kicks in and some of those incrediblely young prospects that are so far down in the farm system right now manage to cross the street without getting hit by a bus.

    I suppose we can assume that the other so-called available relievers on the market weren’t much better.

    Meantime, the media call to trade Wright continues, probably because they want the fans to literally march on Citifield with pitchforks and torches after that happens. Oh what the hell, trade him too…forget that he’s the face of the franchise and don’t try to keep him around so that he can be one of the valuable veteran pieces in a future rebuilt team….just get rid of him for some prospects. We love those now. Wooo hooo…love those prospects…

    I feel sick…

    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm
      You sound as though you are not willing to wait 5-6+ years before the Mets are relevant again. Typical New Yorker: no patience.

      ;-)

    • Flashy Frank December 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm
      I’m not positive but I think I detected a whiff of sarcasm in Joe’s remarks. You can mock Alderson now if you wish, but won’t you look foolish when the Phillies trade Halliday for Neise straight up. They deal is in the bag and don’t be surprised if the Phills toss in Utley to sweeten the pot. You’ll be talking out of the other side of your mouth then won’t you.

      I have to go now. The attendents are taking me back to my “room” now.

  2. Rob December 7, 2011 at 1:59 am
    By the way, Joe, one of these days you should do a piece on the actual use of “saved” revenue dollars when a franchise is trying to save money. For example, if the Mets are saving $106 million over six years by not signing Reyes, what exactly are they doing with that money? Are they actually using it to rebuild the minors? How can they…you draft or trade for prospects…so how can the money translate to rebuilding? And if the whole purpose of not signing Reyes was to get the draft picks…well…we see how that will turn out.

    Hey…it just occured to me….finish last for the next five years and oh what prospects they’ll recover! That’s a plan!

    Of course, our luck, Alderson finally stocks the system, then he retires and the next idiot they hire goes out and starts the same shenanigans (trade all prospects, sign high priced free agents) that supposedly got us into trouble in the first place.

    I’m still feeling sick…

    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 2:19 am
      Rob, your suggestion has been on my mind for many months now, and I have been struggling with how to turn it into an intelligent story.

      No matter which way I try to put it together, I can’t for the life of me attach logic to the plan of cutting payroll in NYC and expecting it to come out OK. It became even more complicated with the new CBA, which more or less penalizes teams that try to build through the draft and international signings. The more I think about it, the more this story becomes an overbearing, complex monster that turns into a Bud Selig conspiracy theory to create an unofficial salary cap / artificially lower player salaries while also completely destroying MLB as we know it with the ridiculous interleague play, transfer of the Astros to the AL< etc.

      In short, it’s not a simple answer / blog post — it probably requires a several-page essay. Eventually, I do plan to address this madness at some point this winter, and look forward to your feedback.

      Meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Mets can cut a few more dollars from their payroll so the Wilpons can keep the team!

  • Andy December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm
    I was going to ask if cutting payroll doesn’t give the team more flexibility to pay over-slot in the draft and also sign a bunch of international free agents, or maybe even save up for when the team is decent enough that a few big free agent signings would help or the next Ichiro gets posted. Can you point us to a good primer on the new CBA?
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm
      Unfortunately, the new CBA makes it impossible to re-allocate dollars toward player development.

      If you have an ESPN “Insider” subscription then I recommend Keith Law’s breakdown here:
      http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog?name=law_keith&id=7270031&_slug_=mlb-new-collective-bargaining-agreement-does-more-harm-good&action=login

      A free breakdown is here: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/11/22/2576566/mlb-labor-deal-cba

      What I can provide is this: per the new CBA, teams are heavily taxed if they go over set budgets for international signings and the draft. So in other words, everyone has a limit they can spend — and it’s not a high ceiling. Without getting into the details, what it comes down to is this: the strategy of building a team thru the draft and amateur signings — such as done by the TB Rays, Oakland A’s, and others — is no longer a tactical long-term advantage. Bud Selig couldn’t ever get a salary cap in place with existing players, but it was easy to create one with players who aren’t yet anywhere close to joining the MLBPA (i.e., current amateurs). Selig is doing all he can to turn MLB into a socialist ideology, where everyone is equal and the owners make as much profit as possible. Marvin Miller must be spinning in his grave.

  • Heybatter December 7, 2011 at 2:12 am
    If you were any more cynical Joe people might think you’re a Phillies or Yankees blogger. I am beginning to think the only part of your Bio that applies lately is ‘cranky’.
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm
      You’re right … I should be pleased that the Mets are guaranteed to finish in the NL East basement in 2012. What’s wrong with me?
  • mic December 7, 2011 at 5:46 am
    PS: Nuts= The Marlins offer to Albert of 200M/10yrs
  • Walnutz15 December 7, 2011 at 8:40 am
    I’d rather they went NUTZ…..I’d gladly play CF.
  • Joe December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am
    Kevin on SNY said, though I guess it merits repeating, that these moves obviously don’t suddenly make fans forget about Reyes. They are however reasonable moves that make the team better overall.
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm
      Better than what? The Buffalo Bisons? Even that is debatable.
  • DaveSchneck December 7, 2011 at 9:44 am
    They are better than they were 24 hours ago, and maybe better than they were in August and September 2011. And, on top of that, Pujols is still out there…
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:40 pm
      The Mets also became much worse 24 hours ago than they were 24 hours before that. So the point is?
  • Steven December 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    I really like the Torres move. I consider him an elite defensive center fielder and the Mets need good outfield defense more than the 40 or so points in batting average we are giving up assuming a revival year by pagan
  • Kranepool December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm
    A reasonable set of moves, given where the Mets are in 2012-2013. My memory (maybe faulty) is that we lost a disproportionate number of games by bullpen meltdowns, especially in the 2nd half, so adding 2 pretty good relievers (like Joe, I don’t see Rauch as an improvement) should add a few wins. The FA market is pretty thin this year (other than 1 guy who’s gone and 2 we can’t afford), so these incremental improvements, together with healthy returns of Ike and Murphy (I hope!), and some increased production from Wright and Bay (the new fences should help, though I certainly understand that’s a double-edged sword), could help the Mets come closer to .500 or so, IF the rotation holds up at about last year’s level. Nothing great, but a more competitive atmosphere for the younger Mets (Ike, Murph, Tejada, Duda, Thole, etc.) to grow up in.

    On the topic of what the Wilpons can afford: This business about “losing $70 million” may be somewhat bogus. I get that the attendace has dropped around 35% over 2 years, which is a huge hit to food and merchandise sales, in addition to the tickets themselves. But they hold the TV rights in their separate sports network, so we don’t know what revenues and profits the Mets generate into Fred’s pockets from that. This suggests that the combination of post-2008 reversals in their real estate holdings (the original source of their wealth) and the loss of around $500 million they thought was safe in Madoff’s funds (not to mention the enormous legal fees in fighting Picar’s remaining $300 million claim against them) may be much more of a factor in their financial dilemna than the overall financial performance of the Mets. With the FA market getting stronger next year, and the Mets shedding some big contracts this year and next, they have to make some intelligent “buys” net year. If they can’t, then maybe Bud will finally be ready to tell Fred it’s time to sell (for you who remember, he could go to Fred with the other village elders, like Goldwater did when it was time to tell Tricky Dick to resign).

    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm
      Ironically, what was it that John Lennon sang? “instant karma’s gonna get you ….”
  • Rob December 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm
    Which raises an absolutely fascinating point. Shoenfield told us the other day that the reason that Boston and the Yanks weren’t doing anything of import this year was because the big FA class is coming next year, when guys like Cole Hamels will be available. Does anyone want to wager the house and a set of sterling silver salt shakers that the Mets will be prominent participants in next year’s FA festivities?
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2011 at 11:43 pm
      I would bet my house that the Mets are nowhere near a major free agent signing for at least as long as it takes for the Wilpons to go bankrupt. This is 1977 all over again, minus Joan Payson.
      • Rob December 8, 2011 at 1:33 am
        Of course, I should have inserted the word NOT between the word “will” and “be”, but being sleep deprived and perpetually depressed, I flubbed it. I’d bet my house and salt shakers on absolutely no activity for years to come…and we lose any home grown players that we develop too! I’m going for broke…
        • Kranepool December 9, 2011 at 2:50 am
          Well, I realize that I may be pissing up a rope in hoping that the Wilpons will finally fold their tent and sell. But, really, wht ealse is ther to hope for? As long as they’re here, this franchise will be a big-city, low payroll lost cause. Solrt of liek the Orioles, but more boring. Sigh.
  • murph December 8, 2011 at 3:20 am
    Why are we still even fans of this team? Do we enjoy getting kicked in the (pick one) throat, stomach, groin?

    2010 (Omar’s last year) the Mets won a pathetic 79 games (4th place, ahead of only the lowly Nationals).

    2011 (Sandy’s first year) the Mets won a pathetic 77 games (4th place, ahead of only the lowly Marlins).

    That’s right, the Nationals and Marlins are the competition now. Not the Phillies and the Braves.

    This team is a joke and an embarrassment. Now we are asked to be patient and wait for rebuilding? Come on!

    I love this blog, but sad to say, my love of the Mets is fading fast. They are not “lovable losers” they are just losers.

    • Piazza December 9, 2011 at 1:35 am
      You’re the only loser here, you and Janish.