Cardinal Rules for The Mets

Yes, I get the irony of making this statement in a post built around a trade proposal, but I think we have to be realistic about the Mets this offseason. Given the state of the Wilpon’s finances, I sense that many Mets fans are setting themselves up for further disappointment by expecting GM Sandy Alderson to go out and add several big names to the team’s roster this offseason. As was the case the past two winters, a barrage of postings by reporters and bloggers is once again stoking those hopes. Yes, the Jason Bay and Johan Santana contracts are finished and Alderson is rumored to have somewhere around $35M to spend this offseason. But…

The Mets will owe David Wright $9M more in 2013 than they did last year and they had to cough up $5M just to get rid of Santana. If you don’t think these figures aren’t calculated as part of 2014 payroll increases, then you haven’t been paying attention.

So isn’t it true then, that even before busting a move, that the $35M is actually $19M? Speaking of raises, there is that “team friendly” contract that they gave Jon Niese last year. It goes up by $2M this year. Go figure in an extra $6 to $7M more for Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Eric Young, Jr., Bobby Parnell and Lucas Duda following arbitration. Abracadabra, that $35M is now more like $10M.

To quote Shaggy Rodgers: “Zoinks!”

I am a baseball fan and as such, I tuned into the postseason to watch good players and well played games, which was a definite break from watching the Mets for much of 2013. It is only natural, I think, to ponder what playoff team has the best model for the Mets to follow. Perhaps it was due to the lengthy exposure, but I believe the St. Louis Cardinals are that team.

The Cardinals played deep into October with young flame throwers, power hitters in the corner outfielder spots and a group of multi-dimensional players elsewhere. The first and last categories are the hardest to fill.The Mets are actually somewhat down the road already in developing these types of players (pitchers definitely and closer than you might think on some position players). This offseason should be about Alderson adding that power hitting element, without depleting too much from the other two columns.

He should look north for the solution.

What would it take for the Mets to land Jose Bautista? His Toronto Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing last place finish, consecutive losing seasons and are now 20 years past Joe Carter’s Game Six homer, which was their last playoff appearance. Their GM Alex Antonopoulos rolled the dice last season and lost. Now his team is in need of a reboot. Would he accept a Mets package of say Niese, Murphy, Jeurys Familia and Cesar Puello for Bautista? The Jays apparently wanted Niese last year and are in need of a second baseman, so there may be the makings of a deal. Due to salary concerns, I would try to keep Niese and Murphy as the centerpieces but would be willing to swap Familia and Puello one-for-one with players like Josh Edgin, Matt den Dekker, Gonzalez German, Jacob deGrom or even Vic Black if AA insisted. I would hope Alderson balks if AA also asks for Rafael Montero, unless the Jays add a really good second piece to the pile. If it takes a third prospect not named Montero from that list besides Familia and, Puello to complete the deal, then so be it.

For sake of the argument, let’s say that the Mets get Bautista for the Niese/Murphy/two prospects package. If they also non-tender Ike, then projecting arbitration raises, the 2014 salaries of those three exiles nearly equals Bautista’s. They have swapped money but added power and strengthened their outfield. On the downside, they now need a pitcher to replace Niese.

Several sites have suggested that the Mets target Roy Halladay to bolster the rotation. That’s a very intriguing idea for a number of reasons, not the least is Doc’s potential influence on the Mets young pitchers. How much would Halladay want? Is there a past relationship with J.P. Ricciardi that the Mets could leverage?

Bautista’s power potential will lift the Mets offense, but they still need another bat in the five-hole to protect Bautista while he protects Wright. The name I really like is Jhonny Peralta. Like Bautista, he fills an offensive and defensive shortcoming. Here’s the problem: Peralta is going to want more money than Alderson has to spend. Instead, I can see them landing Corey Hart. I don’t get all of the hating on Hart. I like his power and perhaps Alderson is able to sign both Hart and Doc to incentive-laden deals. He could then ship Duda and maybe an arm like Darin Gorski or Cory Mazzoni for someone in the mold of a Matt Joyce or a Dee Gordon. No one will confuse either of those latter two with All-Stars, but either would be a considerable upgrade over last year’s incumbents.

Could, perhaps, maybe. It’s going to be another tough winter, as I don’t think they can fill more than one or two holes. Another big letdown for those expecting more. Still, I am far more sanguine about what might start to happen once the actual games begin in 2014.

Like it or not, as long as this Front Office is in power,it is still all about the direction they took the day they traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler. Since then, they have added Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Black in trades and have nurtured Matt Harvey, Montero, Wilmer Flores, den Dekker, Jenrry Mejia, German and Juan Lagares through the system. These are “Cardinals Guys,” in my estimation. The pitchers throw hard and the position players, with the exception of Flores, should be counted on to play good defense and either add speed or high OBP to the offense. Some combination of those guys, Wright, Bautista and a few lesser acquisitions described two paragraphs above, is better than last year’s team.

Cue the sarcasm about the 2014 slogan I suppose, but I think they have to start somewhere and aiming to finish above 500 is the next logical step.

13-14 Offseason

About the Author

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.

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