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.

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.
  1. izzy November 11, 2013 at 7:50 am
    Interesting how the accepted PR BS of Alderson and company successfully has bloggers and beat reporters mention only the latest 2 contracts off the books. how happy they are that Reyes, Perez, Castillo, Beltran, KRod, are all forgotten. They’ve probably taken 100 mil off the books and now we have to hear that they are further limited because Wright will make more $$!!!!!!
    • Dan B November 11, 2013 at 11:07 am
      The question that is never asked of this front office is how come other big market teams can be profitable with $150 million payrolls but the Mets struggle to make ends meet at $90 million? I hear how mid market teams win with $90 million payrolls but how many mid market teams win with $60 million payrolls. Teams that maximize their assets win both games and profits. Does anyone feel the Mets maximize anything?
      • izzy November 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm
        Dan: This is the teflon GM. He has an excuse for everything……. and a bunch of bloggers and beat reporters who won’t challenge or question anything for fear of being cut off from the inside stuff, better known as baloney. Janish may be the only blogger who tells it like it is in Metsland.
      • lenny November 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm
        the mets”Does anyone feel the Mets maximize anything?”
        BS
  2. hernandezhofer November 11, 2013 at 9:43 am
    Ouch! Your proposal is a big time over pay. I wouldn’t trade Niese for Bautista straight up. What would the rotation look like then? Wheeler, Gee and a bunch of scrubs? You can’t win like that. Not only do you give up your opening day starter for a 33 year old outfielder, but you added in Murphy, whose OPS+ was only 24 points lower than Bautista’s, will get about $10m less next year, and plays a premium defensive position.

    No way.

    • izzy November 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm
      If all these Metsies are so good then why do we suck with them?
      • mic November 13, 2013 at 4:16 am
        EXACTLY!!!

        - Basking in the glow of Harvey’s injury season, somehow we think we have pitching. NOT. A rotation of Wheeler, Gee and Niese is going nowhere. So why not trade Niese who is …for all measures a lefty Matt Garza. In fact I’d take prospects and then sign Kazmir to be my designated lefty starter.

        SALARY: Izzy is correct again: Unless Niese and Murphy go the Mets are not getting better salary wise either. Marlon Byrd is not even considered here….newly sporting the $7M raise.

        Alot of youngsters are ‘mentioned’ above. But have we seen any stars emerge from these touted farmhands? …Go ahead mention Harvey…and I will counter with ‘Paul Wilson” and ask for assurances he comes back the same within 24 months.

    • Andrew Lloyd November 13, 2013 at 1:11 am
      Agreed, the trade proposal is a ridiculous overpay. Either Niese OR Murphy, plus one (not two) of the prospects of the caliber mentioned. Add a single-A medium level prospect – should be enough to get Bautista, assuming the Jays want to trade him at all.

      I don’t buy that they only have $10M, or even just $19M, to spend. They have something like $45-50M coming off the books, after all. Johan was making like $25M; Bay close to $20M; Francisco $6M (terrible signing btw). There are other misc dollars going away – Marlon Byrd, e.g. Sure, he was probably $1M – but there’s a bunch of those in the bullpen.

      So even with contract increases and arbitration increases for 3-4 players, they should not be afraid to add $25-30M in new payroll this offseason, I would think. Minimum.

  3. BklynCowpoke November 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm
    If the Mets are looking to get a player of value through the trade route, they are going to have to part with at least one, and possibly two, of their top pitchering prospects. I would prefer they trade Wheeler and keep Syndergaard since I have heard Syndergaard’s mechanics are much better than Wheeler’s so the chance of him breaking down is much less. I would also trade Montero before I would trade Mejia, since I was impressed with Mejia’s performance prior to his elbow flaring up last season. I would trade Niese before I would trade any of the other above named prospects, since his history of breaking down at some point during the season makes me doubt his durability.
  4. Jujo November 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm
    That is way to much to pay for Bautista. If there is only $19 mil do this: Trade Ike or Duda for Aoki. Then sign Morse to 1 year incentive based $5 mil plus and then go for Peralta 2 years $20 mil. Offer Capuano 1 year $3mil or perhaps Kazmir. Spend about $20 mil on FA

    Keep the rest of the players we have and use 2014 as another transition year. Maybe 75-80 wins.
    Lineup:
    Aoki RF Brown and EY backup
    Peralta SS Tejada backup
    Wright 3B Flores backup
    Morse LF EY backup
    Murphy 2B Flores backup
    Ike or Duda/Satin 1B
    Darnaud C Centeno backup
    Lagares CF Den Dekker backup
    SP Niese, Gee, Wheeler, Capuano, Mejia/Montero
    RP Parnell,Black, Edgin,Torres,Hawkins,Rice

    This plan keeps the pitching we have, we let the kids develop and protect Wright with Morse and Peralta

  5. DaveSchneck November 11, 2013 at 11:44 pm
    Dan,
    Your premise that there is only $19 mil of additional payroll is severely flawed. There is no reason in the world that the Mets cannot spend $100 mil on 2014 payroll. If they spend it properly, it will likely insure less losses, not more losses, as it will awaken the fan base from its depression. The key, and Alderson knows this, is to avoid the albatross contract. Their problem right now is simply supply and demand – their needs, SS and #4 bat – are in the smallest supply.
  6. Quinn November 12, 2013 at 2:50 am
    I have read where a lot of people are high on Puello, is there something to their excitement or is it just Mets fans overly excited for a prospect. If he is half of what they say couldn’t he be a feasible answer in a corner OF position? Also I read 5/6 teams have expressed interest in “our 1B” situation. Not only does this flatten me with surprise, it makes me extremely curious to see what type of package they can land or what package they put together.
    I find myself getting excited over the possibilities, but then I remember SA is still in charge and I honestly think he is incapable of pulling the trigger when necessary.
  7. mic November 13, 2013 at 11:14 am
    I am excited by Puello. I am excited about Juan Centeno Wil Tovar and I think Kirk is not a bust yet. BUT…who has established themselves after coming through the ranks during the Collins era? Could the tendency to sit a player when they are hot be a factor? To yo-yo them up and down the line-up? To bench them in favor of cold-hitting veterans? …hmmm