Ben Reiter at SI wrote a very interesting (if pure fiction) article on cnnsi.com earlier this week that ranks the top 50 free agents and predicts where they might end up. According to the author, the Mets will wind up with Oliver Perez, Bobby Abreu, Juan Cruz, Orlando Hudson. Hmm… I’m not too thrilled with this list. So I’m making my own. Here’s the top 15 free agents (according to this article) and my opinions about how adamant the Mets should be in their pursuits.
1. CC Sabathia- Imagine a rotation with Santana and Sabathia…. And then put it out of your mind and forget about it. It ain’t happening! Granted, I would love to see CC and his .247 batting average against pitching game 2 of the season at Citi Field, but if he wants to stay in the NL he’ll go back to the Brewers or off to the West Coast, and if he wants to go East, he’d be dumb to turn down the mint that the Yankees will throw at him. I’m not holding my breath here.
2. Mark Teixeira- If the Mets hadn’t picked up Carlos Delgado’s $12 million option, I would make the case that he’s the most important missing piece to the lineup. But since there’s such a small chance that the Mets will deal Delgado and then sign Teixiera that I won’t waste my time.
3. Manny Ramirez- Personally, I would LOVE this signing. I know that Manny has had his issues, but 1700 RBIs and 500 HRs… and he’s not slowing down at all? I’d be perfectly fine seeing his right-handed bat in the cleanup spot behind or in front of David Wright for the next four years. If Omar can sign him for $20 million per, this would be a big plus for the lineup.
4. Francisco Rodriguez- The pros and cons of Rodriguez have already been well-chronicled on this and many other sites, so I won’t bother with the stats. BUT I will say this: if he commands more than $10 million per, spend the money on Brian Fuentes instead. I’m going to assume that he’ll want more $12-15 million per, and I’d rather see Fuentes closing games and that extra cash thrown at a bullpen upgrade.
5. AJ Burnett- He’s had his health issues in the past but the Mets are losing Pedro and Hernandez, so the health of the starters won’t be as much of a worry in 2009. With that said, when he opted out of his Toronto contract, he catapulted above Derek Lowe on my starters wish list. His ERA isn’t stellar but his high strike out totals and career .237 batting average against show me a lot of promise. Throw him in as a third starter behind Santana and Pelfrey and before Maine and we’ll be watching a really good show. A four-year deal for $12-15 per is the range I’d be comfortable with.
6. Derek Lowe- If (and only if) Burnett is off the table, the Mets must go hard after Derek Lowe. He may not be the guy to get the win in the big game, but he’s the guy who can get the team to the big game—and after two straight September collapses, we need a guy who is consistent and experienced. He’s been on winners and his offspead stuff would be nice to put behind the power of Pelfrey in a rotation. A three-year deal would be great for $12-14 per.
7. Rafael Furcal- No.
8. Orlando Cabrera- Cabrera is noted as a high character guy, and even if he wasn’t he’s not Luis Castillo so he’d be welcome in Flushing. But unless the Mets find a taker who would swap a bad contract for a bad contract, Castillo will be the starting 2B on opening day 2009. Oh well.
9. Oliver Perez- I’ve got no problem retaining Perez, but it’d have to be for the right price. He’s shown that he’s got a very high upside, but his inconsistency is too frustrating to be truly worth big-time money. He’s fine as a forth starter making $8-9 per for three years or so, but not much more than that. And personally, I don’t think that that sort of money will get it done. Someone will offer him more and he’ll take it.
10. Adam Dunn- So a powerful right-handed bat in right field would be nice. But it seems to me that Dunn is basically a clone of Carlos Delgado. Neither will hit for a high average but they’ll both drive in guys and hit long balls. Dunn does get in base a lot, but his high strike out totals will negate any potential for moving guys along—one of the Mets big flaws has been their inability to advance runners and be unselfish, and it seems to me that that is exactly the definition of Adam Dunn. I’d be okay with signing him, but not ecstatic. Maybe a short-term deal for $8-10 per, but no more.
11. Brian Fuentes- Since the numbers are pretty comparable except save totals, I’d rather see Fuentes as the closer than Francisco Rodriguez. Since he’ll command less money to sign, his high strikeout totals will be very welcome at Citi Field for a four-year deal for $10 million per.
12. Kerry Wood- This is a tough one. I don’t seem him leaving Chicago, but if he does he could be a big hit in New York. But should he be? He’ll strike out a lot of guys and he’ll be a good presence in the pen, so if Omar can get him for less than $10 million per, this could be a good signing.
13. Pat Burrell- Though he’s toned down his status as a Mets-Killer over the years, he’s a strong righty bat that is a touch older than Adam Dunn, though I’m not sure if the age is a positive or a negative. Neither can plan the field well, but with Endy Chavez able to come off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games that may not be a huge deal. So is Burrell a better fit then done? Simple: Yes. He’s played in Philly and gotten booed (a lot) over the years, yet he’s come alive when it matters. Without him, the Phillies don’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs. If Omar can get him for $10-12 million per, this would be a good upgrade.
14. Bobby Abreu- The Mets do NOT need another aging left-handed bat, and since Abreu has diminished from the player he once was in his prime, I have to believe that he’ll only get worse. He’s not a bad player, but he’s also not worth the money he’ll command. Leave this one alone, Omar.
15. Ryan Dempster- His 2008 ERA was nearly a run and a half better than his career average, so I have to assume that his paycheck will be higher than his worth. But he’s got experience as a starter and as a bullpen arm, so his value could be big for this team. But if the price is high, Dempster doesn’t belong in Flushing. Maybe three years for $8 million per? Beyond that and let him go elsewhere.