Writing what I did on Tuesday was quite cathartic. It helped sum up what has so far been yet another Mets season, put some things in perspective, and forced me to actually think about this team some more for the first time in ages. It’s been ugly so far, but there’s still a bunch of season remaining. Here are some ideas for the rest of the season moving forward, how I think this team could best be served.
- Don’t trade Fernando Martinez.
Fernando Martinez is going to be a big part of this team, and perhaps sooner than people think. He’s not playing well in the majors right now, but he’s also 20 years old and probably up a bit earlier than he should be. The promising signs are that he’s showing nice power and he’s showing above average plate discipline, especially for a player so young. His big problem right now is making consistent contact, but there is going to be an adjustment period for a 20 year old getting his first glimpse of major league pitching. He’s not there quite yet, but perhaps by 2010, he will be ready to make a real impact in the major leagues. This is the last series where the Mets will require a DH, so I’d like to see him sent back to Buffalo after this week, and not to return unless Church or Sheffield are hurt and the Mets require an everyday corner outfielder. It does him no favors for him to sit at this stage of his development.
- Don’t trade any other young player for a mid-season rental or a bad contract.
Don’t believe what you read; the Mets minor league system is showing signs of life. Besides Martinez, Josh Thole is tearing up Binghamton, Jenrry Mejia has pitched very well in Double A at 19 years old, Brad Holt became the Mets’ first 2008 draftee to reach Double A, “Nasty” Nick Evans seems to be refinding his stroke in Binghamton, and Ike Davis is starting to pound the ball in St. Lucie. It’s not all coming up roses; Wilmer Flores is struggling a bit in Savannah (although his bat is starting to show some signs of life, and remember he’s only 17), his fellow 17 year old Jefry Marte is also struggling some, and Reese Havens’ bat went a bit cold before he went on the disabled list.
The point is, without counting Murphy, Martinez, or Evans, who have reached the majors, the Mets have real prospects in the minor leagues who could become contributors between 2010 and 2015. I’m not naive enough to think they are going to keep them all, or that all of them will definitely pan out, but the players available for trade right now don’t strike me as being good enough to give up potential building blocks for either a half-season rental or a good player who is grossly overpaid. The bad contracts worry me, particularly the Carlos Lee rumors; he’s not worth that type of money right now, he’s under contract for another 3 and a half seasons, he should probably be a DH now, and by the time that contract runs out, he’s going to be a white elephant for somebody. I wouldn’t trade one of the players I listed above for Lee, let alone a package of them.
- Send Daniel Murphy to Buffalo.
I alluded to this on Tuesday, but I think it would help the team long-term if Daniel Murphy was sent to Buffalo. It would have to be explained that this isn’t a long-term assignment, but they have to figure out what Daniel Murphy is going to be for this team. If they think he’s a platoon first baseman, and that’s it, then what they are doing is just fine. If they want him to become an every day player, or even if they want him to become a super sub who can fill in at first, second, third, and the outfield corners, then he needs to go to Buffalo. Personally, I think his ceiling is a little big higher than platoon first baseman, so why use him like this?
If they send him to Buffalo, they can let him learn left field without having each of his miscued blown up on the back page of the local papers. He showed more promise than people think in left, showing off decent range. His problems are mechanical, which is what you have the minor leagues for in the first place. He was just sort of thrust into left field without warning last summer, and after 2 months, a spring training, and a month and a half in the majors, the team just abandoned ship on the idea. He has potential there, he just needs reps, and moving him out of the outfield doesn’t get him those reps. Same with second base. At worst, Murphy could become a four corners + second base reserve option, particularly if he can start hitting line drives again and if he can get away from a crazy manager who insists on having him bunt all the time. At best, he can become an above average regular in LF, particularly if the range he showed is real. It’s safe to say, though, that platoon first baseman is not what he’s going to be, and it’s a waste treating him as such.
- Hire Manny Acta the moment he becomes available and figure out something to do with him until October.
While it might be a stretch to say this team isn’t going to make the playoffs again, especially with so much baseball left to play, it won’t hurt to have a backup plan ready for 2010. Jerry Manuel has proven himself to be a dreadful manager. While it’s great that he knows how to talk to the rest of his team, unlike Willie Randolph, his game strategies have been a definite negative. He bunts far too often with the position players, which keeps the team from tacking on multiple runs in the later innings, his lineup orders border on ridiculous, and other than “use K-Rod against lefties and Sean Green against righties,” his bullpen management borders on laughable.
Manny Acta is about to get fired by the Nationals for reasons beyond his control; namely, his team stinks. The hitting has actually been kind of good, but the pitching staff has been utter dreck from their ace to their longman, and while a few of their young pitchers figure to become decent, they have nobody who is capable of being a good major league pitcher now other than maybe John Lannan. Acta has shown he can be a smart, thoughtful manager, but even a good manager needs the horses. Jerry Manuel has proven even a bad, borderline criminally insane manager can win a lot of games if he has the horses, so imagine what might happen if you take a good manager like Acta and give him a good core (even if that’s all the Mets have).
There are two problems, of course; what if the Mets actually make the playoffs with Manuel, and what if having Acta in the system causes Manuel to overmanage to an even greater degree than he is now? Those are worthwhile concerns, but nothing that the Mets should be too concerned with, if they do believe in Acta. If the Mets should somehow stumble into the playoffs this year, then they can probably still keep Acta around as a third base coach or minor league manager, since it’s doubtful that even as smart as Acta was, that he’s going to have a neverending line of suitors looking to snatch him up after the season. Likewise, if Manuel does somehow overmanage because of Acta’s presense, then that should show the front office that he was probably ill-equipped to manage this team to begin with. Either way, the pluses outweigh the negatives.