Dear Prudence

How’s this for a suggestion? How about not spending anything, and keeping the roster mostly intact?

Let me clarify. While the Mets will surely not bring everybody back, with some trades and signings likely to happen, they should not invest much money into the 2011 roster….

By 2012, the Mets, with a year under a new GM and manager, will get an idea of the direction their franchise is heading. By then the Mets will have a concrete idea of where they should allocate their money.

metfandan74, Mets360.

Let’s get this out of the way first: metfandan74, you f#@$ing shill! Obviously the Wilpons put you up to this, poisoning the minds of the fanbase into thinking saving their money this offseason is a good idea. CLIFF LEE OR BUST!


Seriously, though, I’m glad this came up at Mets360 first because I’ve been trying to come up with a reasonable way to suggest something similar here. We’ll have plenty of time to delve into this during the proper offseason and obviously the first concern is hiring a GM. But the Phillies will return basically their whole club save Jayson Werth in 2011, and its hard to imagine any reasonable series of moves that would guarantee the Mets could contend in the NL East next season without the full health and productivity of the guys already on the team and without seriously jeopardizing their future.

There will be plenty of minor moves and roster tweaks to improve the team that should help the Mets’ chances in 2011 so I don’t think they should sit idly by all winter. We know enough about baseball’s whims to understand that every once in a while, everything just sort of falls right for well-constructed teams and squads that look great on paper break down, so there’s no sense throwing in the towel on next season before it even starts.

But the Mets, with so many contracts coming off the books after next season, will not only be in a much better position to spend come next winter, they’ll also have a much stronger sense of where they need to allocate their resources. Will Johan Santana ever return to being anything like Johan Santana? Will Jason Bay hit home runs again? Are any or all of Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell viable Major League contributors?

As it currently stands, the Mets look set for 2011 at first base, third base and shortstop. Bay’s contract means he’ll be slated to return in left field, even if the nature of his injury murks things up a bit. Angel Pagan should be back. Carlos Beltran we’ve discussed.

Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey earned spots in the 2011 rotation with their performances in 2010, even if Niese faded down the stretch. The bullpen will need help, but when doesn’t a Major League bullpen need help?

Thole’s first 90 Major League games have been good enough to earn him the benefit of the doubt for 2011, but the Mets would be wise to sign a catching complement good and healthy enough to play regularly if Thole falters.

They will certainly need at least one middle infielder capable of starting at second base while the club determines if one of Tejada, Murphy, Reese Havens, Justin Turner and Josh Satin could eventually man the position in the bigs.

And they’ll need starting pitching, too — someone to eat innings and take strain off the bullpen and depth to ensure that the last rotation spots are earned, not pre-ordained.

But none of those acquisitions should require the type of imprudent, big-ticket expenditure that fans will inevitably begin clamoring for the day after the new GM is named.

It’s not about rebuilding or retooling or re-whatevering. Don’t worry about labels. It’s just about doing what’s best to create a sustainable winner as swiftly as possible. And the way to do that, as we’ve seen, is not always to try to win as swiftly as possible.

23 thoughts on “Dear Prudence

  1. Hi Ted, love the site. But it’s still a little bit unreasonable to know/suggest what the best allocation of resources is without knowing the budget. If the player payroll budget is fixed at last years $147M and change, then the Mets really can’t sign any major free agents, the money is already committed. On the other hand, if the payroll increases to $160M say, then signing a guy like, say Yu Darvish or Cliff Lee, based partly on the lack of elite free agent starting pitchers in 2012, has to be considered if only for improving the 2012 team.

    • That’s a good point, and I’d add that we don’t know exactly what Lee or Darvish will command. But I’d say, based on past examples, that there’s almost no way Lee’s going to get a contract that won’t hamstring his new team by the end of the deal. Darvish could be different story since he’s still only 24.

      • Hi Ted, I don’t want to turn this into a get Cliff Lee thread, but I did want to say that Lee is the best free agent pitcher available for quite awhile. Look around the league — teams have made a habit of locking up young elite pitchers (Jimenez, J. Johnson, Lincecum, Hernandez, Price). Furthermore, they’re all more or less signed to team-friendly deals. The only reasonable get is probably Zack Greinke and that’s not until 2013. If you’re serious about contending in 2012, you have to sign Cliff Lee, or prepare to rape the farm system.

      • Cliff Lee is 32, and probably at the end of his prime. From what I’ve read, he will want a 5+ year contract. If I was the one calling the shots, I’d pass on a 5/100 deal for Cliff Lee.

  2. You know what the worst thing is Ted? I am convinced a platoon of Duda/Evans would work in left. But under current circumstances that will not happen.

    Ah-allocation of resources you say!:)

    • Define “work”, as in a Duda/Evans platoon would work.

      I mean all things considered, I like Evans and Lucas, but if I had to choose between Bay or a platoon of Duda/Evans, its Bay 100%.

  3. Totally agree about the prudence, though I will say I’m totally in the tank for Darvish. As you said, only 24, I’m willing to spend for the future returns as opposed to the past performance of a guy like Lee.

  4. “Are any or all of Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell viable Major League contributors?”

    I can only assume you left Nick Evans (who?) off this list as an in-joke for the AA crowd. If so: well done.

    “Thole’s first 90 Major League games have been good enough to earn him the benefit of the doubt for 2011, but the Mets would be wise to sign a catching complement good and healthy enough to play regularly if Thole falters.”

    BRING BACK THE HIPPO! (OPS+ 119 over 128 PA with the Sox this year.)

    • Yes, that’s exactly it. I completely left Nick Evans off that list as an inside joke for the AA community and because I briefly forgot he existed, in some odd subconscious tribute to Jerry Manuel.

      It will be interesting to see how the new regime treats Evans, actually. Like, for instance, will they notice him?

  5. I’m just glad they relieved Omar of his duties before Orlando Hudson hit the market again. I think its pretty safe to assume that with only 1 year left on Castillo’s contract, Omar was prepared to repeat that mistake and give Hudson a three or four year deal.

  6. Mets are “stuck” at most positions going into 2011 so to me, 2011 and 2011 alone should be a rebuilding year. I say bring Beltran back unless you can get someone to take at least 80% of his contract. In a walk year he should produce and there is no sense in eating $10m of his contract. He’s big money and either get rid of it all or keep him. Trade him in July if they fall out of it. All other positions are set except 2nd and catcher. Dump Castillo obviously and sign an interim player for a year since Tejada or Murphy are not he answer at second and Havens and Satin aren’t ready. Thole won’t develop into a front line catcher, platoon him for now and look for better in 2012. We need another good starter to go with Santana, Pelfrey, Dickey, Niese. Upgrade bullpen and bench. Dump Perez, you’ll have to eat that and try to cut bait with K-rod to free up money. TRade some prospects now before they don’t pan out and build around the rest, just make the right choices, which is a tough job. Don’t count on much for 2011 and position to make some big moves for 2012. What else can you do? Don’t sign another 2nd tier star like Bay and watch him under perfrom next year. Go after blue chippers in 2012. Cliff Lee is not coming here. And no more 6-7 year contracts please!! Other than Piazza they never pan out!

  7. I have endorsed this very same strategy several times on metsblog, but my insights disappeared into the abyss known as moderation. It made me feel like Cassandra, except that I’m a dude.

  8. Hey Hey — Right now for a limited time only there is standing room only on the Phils and Yanks bandwagon…ride along to another exciting trip to the World Series. Compare and contrast rosters filled with all-star players at almost every position and then sit back and laugh laugh laugh at the Mets roster. Compare the historical presence of a HOF bound closer to a maniac that beats up his relatives. Watch at team that hustles and slides in to 2nd base hard every single time. Hurry for this limited time offer, if you are ready to throw away 2011, then at least consider a temporary change to blue or red pin stripes…

  9. Whoa, it seems I created quite a stir.
    While I am no shill for the Wilpon’s, I still stand by my post. You make a great point about adding an arm. With Santana’s shoulder injuries being an issue, I can see trying to add an arm. I just wouldn’t want to break the bank. I may look into signing a Ted Lilly, if his demands are reasonable.
    Even if this team had it’s sh!t together, I still think Lee would not look this way.
    Again I am NOT against spending, I just think this is not the year to do so. Make a few trades and try to find lightning in a bottle.
    Lets see what happens in 2011 with a new manager. Heck, if the Mets are in it by the trade deadline next season, maybe you go for the gusto then.
    For now, at least when it comes to the everyday lineup, leave it alone. Lets roll the dice and see what happens.

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