The Mets have holes to fill this winter — that’s obvious. We’ve looked at the potential free agent pool, and it doesn’t appear to have much depth in regard to the Mets’ needs. Therefore, the Mets likely will explore the trade route in order to strengthen the club for 2008. Oh, just one problem:
There isn’t much to trade.
Let’s take a look at the players who are currently on the 40-man roster, and will be the Mets’ property when 2007 contracts expire. I’ve taken the liberty of splitting them into three groups: Won’t be traded, Can’t Be Traded, Untradeable (due to health), and Trading Chips.
Won’t Be Traded
I could be wrong about El Duque, Maine and Perez. Certainly, Maine or Perez would have to be involved in a major blockbuster — the type that would net a Roy Oswalt or a Victor Martinez. But I’m guessing that Mets management would prefer to hold onto all of these guys.
Can’t Be Traded
Some of the MetsToday faithful are anxious to send Billy away. However he, like Pedro, has a full no-trade clause. Delgado has declining skills and a guaranteed $20M left on his contract. Maybe I’m nuts, but I highly doubt the Mets can move him.
Burgos underwent TJ surgery, Vargas had a less serious elbow surgery performed (bone spur), and both Padilla and Sanchez are huge question marks after missing all of 2007.
Yeah, that’s a fairly long list — better than a baker’s dozen. But hold on there, do we really believe that Mota, Bostick, Collazo, Muniz, or Johnson can land anyone of signficance? Those are throw-in guys. I doubt any would even bring back someone worthwhile in a salary dump.
So let’s cut the list down:
Realistic Trading Chips
First of all, I’d be very surprised if the Mets traded Endy Chavez. But who knows, if they re-sign Marlon Anderson and decide to keep Carlos Gomez around, maybe Endy goes. Yet if he is offered, what could he possibly bring back? A cheapo team like the Marlins, Nats, or Devil Rays could be interested, but none have a desperate need for a fourth outfielder who may or may not be talented enough to play centerfield every day.
Further, as stated before, AHern doesn’t have much value. Sorry, but slick-fielding middle infielders who don’t hit are fairly easy to find. Mario Mendoza had no value in the 1980s, and AHern has none now.
Now in the case of Ruben Gotay, you have a kid who may or may not have played over his head in 2007. Not too many teams are looking for a second baseman, and those that are, probably are more comfortable with their in-house options. Off the top of my head I’d imagine the Rockies will need a second sacker if they don’t re-sign Kaz Matsui. Otherwise I’m having a hard time thinking of a team that might be interested.
I’m also having a hard time believing the Mets can trade Scott Schoeneweis for anyone that can help in 2008. Maybe you agree. Let’s cut the list down again, removing The Show, Gotay, AHern, and Endy for the reasons above.
Realistic Trading Chips – Adjusted
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Take a good, long look at that sparse list of tradeable chips. That’s what Omar has to work with this winter.
Consider the following:
1. Feliciano, Heilman, and Smith are probably your best in-house options for middle- and setup relief in 2008.
2. Humber and Pelfrey are two of only three young pitchers the Mets have in their organization who could be ready to pitch at the MLB level by 2009. (Kevin Mulvey is the other).
3. Gomez and Milledge were corner outfield starters in 2007. Like Humber and Pelfrey, they constitute two-thirds of the Mets’ top position prospects in regard to the near future.
Obviously, you have to give up something to get something. For the Mets to make a deal of any consequence, they’ll have to give up either significant pieces of their future, or the better arms of an already disastrous bullpen. Tough call.
What makes things more difficult is that the Mets may think more highly of their own players compared to their perceived value on the open market. Sure, the Mets think that Pelfrey is the bomb, but nearly every other organization has one or two or three Pelfreys — same with Humber. To get a proven MLB player would probably require BOTH Pelfrey AND Humber — if recent trades are any indication. We may love the speed of Carlos Gomez, but opposing scouts question his bat. Lastings Milledge could indeed be the next Gary Sheffield but there are a large number of clubs who see him as a potential headache — deserved or not, that’s the opinion viewed by many on the outside.
Omar has his work cut out for him this winter, there’s no doubt. Even if you disagree on some of my opinions stated here, you have to agree the Mets don’t have a whole lot to work with. Finding the key pieces necessary for a 2008 postseason bid will take some remarkable creativity.