One of the consensus issues Mets fans (and I) had with Omar Minaya was that despite many successful individual moves that he made, he lacked an overall vision for the Mets. He never seemed to have the mentality of, “This is what a winning team looks like, this is what a well-rounded team should be made of, and that’s what I’m gonna get, and here’s how I’ll do it…” People want this confidence, vision and no-nonsense attitude from a GM, and I think Matt Cerrone from Mets Blog articulated this quite well recently:
Instead, the Mets are in desperate need of restoring order inside the franchise. They need direction, they need order, so to be attractive to other people. The league’s other executives, agents and players, even their own players, all need to know the Mets are safe, stable and in good hands, after which a young guy like Hahn, or Logan White, or John Ricco, etc., can come in and start a more progressive era.
I very much agree. The seemingly imminent hiring of Sandy Alderson in fact reminds me of the Knicks’ hiring of Donnie Walsh to clean up the mess of Isiah Thomas. Walsh came to the job with a messy cap situation, a team deficient of talent and essentially said, “The next couple years are going to be rough, but we’re going to clear up our cap situation, and get ready for 2010 free agency.” The Knicks struck out with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but they have assembled a competitive core around Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari, a clean cap situation, and the strong prospects of acquiring star Carmelo Anthony.
In many senses, the Mets are unlike the Knicks, with the main one being that the current Mets are in a far better situation than the 2008 Knicks that Walsh took over were. I’m pretty sure most GMs would enjoy taking over a situation with owners who are willing to have one of the top payrolls in the league, in addition to having top talents like Jose Reyes and David Wright (yes, they are still top talents).
Still, even though the Mets should be a competitive team next year (they were for much of the season this year, too), the best course of action for the GM would be to build and construct a team that will win the World Series in 2012 and beyond.
$6 million from Luis Castillo will come off the books.
$12 million from Oliver Perez will come off the books.
$11.5 million from Francisco Rodriguez will come off the books, assuming the Mets are savvy enough to make sure his option doesn’t vest.
$18.5 million from Carlos Beltran will come off the books.
Theoretically, Johan Santana will be fully recovered from rotator cuff surgery, although you never know with those sorts of injuries.
Jon Niese, Ike Davis and others will be hitting their primes after another full season under their belts.
The combined $18 million from Castillo and Perez can basically be considered dead weight; even if they’re on the roster this year, it’s highly unlikely that they’re doing anything productive or worth that type of money. Rodriguez and Beltran aren’t dead weight - they’ll probably do some good things this year - but I think odds are those combined $30 million could be spent more prudently.
The real question is, whoever takes over this team, how does he handle a situation in which he’ll theoretically have $50 million to spend in his second offseason?
Here are some questions I have…
Does the GM let all contracts expire, and use that money on a free agent class that might feature Albert Pujols, Rickie Weeks, and Edwin Jackson among others?
Can the GM convince ownership to spend more than they’d like to this offseason, perhaps on a guy like Cliff Lee, knowing that so much is coming off the books after 2011?
Will the GM look to move some of those expiring contracts in a headache swap?
I don’t know exactly what they should do, but my point is that the Mets should organize themselves not just generically “building for the future” but rather understanding that they will have extreme flexibility after next season. With this in mind they should be very wary of that third bullet point, because when they have the opportunity to do so much, they shouldn’t bog themselves down in another contract that extends beyond 2011 - ie, they shouldn’t want to be paying $18 million to Carlos Zambrano in 2012.
So, even if Mets fans have to live with an 85-win-team next season, there should be a very bright light at the end of the not so long tunnel.
It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve admitted that people should look towards the Knicks for organizational advice. Weird.
“The only time I get to play here [New York] is via the DH and I think the DH is a terrible idea. I think it’s horrible for baseball. If you can’t play the field then you can’t play. I really believe that. The game in the National League, there are so many more little nuances. What happens if [the starting pitcher’s up to bat and he’s] got a shutout, it’s the sixth inning, the bases loaded, he’s got 80 pitches, do you pull him? You’ve got to make that decision. I love that.”—