Earlier, I gave my plan for the 2010 Mets season, and while I’m not crazy about some things (in retrospect, I’d rather sign Matt Holliday rather than John Lackey, and go after another short-term pitcher for one year, like a Ben Sheets) that was what I would do had I been in charge of the Mets. This is about what I think the Mets will do, more than what I’d like to see them do. This is based on the Mets’ current needs, plus five years of observing Omar Minaya offseason plans. This is just a guess of how things will shake out for Omar Minaya this offseason:
- Sign Matt Holliday to a 7 year, $120 million contract
I know the latest buzz is that the Mets aren’t going to be major players in free agency. I’m just not sure I believe it. Last year, they weren’t supposed to be major players for Francisco Rodriguez. The year before, they weren’t supposed to be major players for Johan Santana. Coupled with the fact that the Wilpons didn’t actually lose money in the Bernie Madoff scandal, and I don’t see why they couldn’t sign a big ticket free agent, unless the Wilpons are adamant about not paying the luxury tax, which granted is very possible.
All of that said, there is some need for a middle of the order bat here. We already saw what happened last year when Carlos Delgado is extracted from the regular lineup. They need some sort of player that replaces his bat in the lineup. I can’t see Omar being content to go into 2010 with a lineup that is only marginally better than the one that closed the 2010 season. Getting Jose Reyes back will help, but it’s not enough. Say what you will about Omar, but even he wouldn’t be dumb enough to try to patch together left field and first base and hope that it’s enough to compete in a decent NL East, right? He pretty much has to get Holliday or Bay, and since Holliday is better and younger, I think that’s who he will get.
- Sign Jason Marquis to a 3 year, $30 million contract
And that’s where my faith in Omar ends. It’s not that I’m necessarily philosophically opposed to signing Marquis; it’s just that I don’t think he’s a great fit for this team, and I think he’s the type of player you avoid overpaying to acquire. Plus, as Sam Page pointed out at Amazin Avenue, the Mets already have a very similar player to Marquis under contract in Mike Pelfrey, and we know how well Big Pelf pitched with this infield defense. If the Mets can’t get rid of Luis Castillo, there’s no point in bringing another sinkerball pitcher to Queens, since the end result will be ground balls that keep getting past Castillo in the middle of the infield.
You can also insert Randy Wolf or Joel Piniero in here as the token Mets’ bad free agent starting pitcher signing. This offseason is full of potential land mines in the starting pitcher category, and it could be dangerous for a team like the Mets that needs to rebuild their rotation. John Lackey is the premier free agent, and he has missed time in each of the past two seasons. Wolf, Pineiro, and Marquis are all coming off of career seasons. Ben Sheets and Rich Harden come with major injury question marks. There is no such thing as a sure thing free agent pitcher, but this market is ripe with bad choices. Expect Omar to make the wrong one no matter whom he winds up signing.
- Sign Bengie Molina to a 2 year, $15 million contract.
If you’ve read the comments here, you know how I am vehemently against this one, as is Will. There’s no need to rehash the reasons why this would be a horrible move, you either agree or disagree at this point (p.s., if you disagree, you’re wrong). Just know that if the Mets sign Molina, the only skill he brings to the team is the ability to hit home runs. That isn’t an unimportant skill, of course, but he is below average or worse, in some cases much, much worse, at literally every other skill required to play baseball.
- At least one trade
Every offseason, Omar pulls off at least one trade. In 2004, it was acquiring Doug Mientkiewicz and Felix Heredia. In 2005, it was the Lo Duca, Delgado, and Cameron trades. In 2007, it was the dumb Heath Bell trade. In 2008, obviously, it was acquring Johan Santana, as well as getting Ryan Church and Brian Schneider from the Nationals for Lastings Milledge. Last year, it was the J.J. Putz trade. Every offseason since he’s been here, he has made some trade for either a starting position player or a pitcher except in 2007, when he dumped Bell. It seems like a good bet he’ll explore the trade market again this offseason.
That said, I don’t have any idea who will be involved in that trade. I don’t think it will involve Luis Castillo, despite rumors to the contrary. I have a theory that by the time the media reports a trade rumor, that potential trade is either dead or it never existed. That’s why I don’t think any of the trade rumors involving Castillo, Milton Bradley, and (fill-in-the-blank) will ever come to fruition, because if it was something that could be worked out, it likely would have already, especially since every team in baseball knows the Mets want to dump Castillo and the Cubs want to dump Bradley. If anybody was interested in either, something would have been worked out by now.
That’s why I can’t offer a prediction for who will be involved in that trade, only that a trade will be made. For instance, nobody saw the J.J. Putz trade coming, only that Aaron Heilman would likely be traded that offseason. Nobody saw the Church/Schneider deal coming, only that Milledge was likely to be moved at some point that offseason. Everybody knew the team would look to move Mike Cameron after the 2005 season, only nobody knew it would be for Xavier Nady until it was announced. With the starting pitcher market full of landmines, and none of the available catchers looking promising, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the team move in that direction. I could also see them picking up a reliever in a trade.
- The team will not acquire a replacement first baseman for Daniel Murphy
I could be off on this, but I feel like the team is going to give Daniel Murphy one last shot at first base, and if he doesn’t cut it, they’re going to hope Ike Davis is ready to be the starting first baseman by July. I’d prefer to see them bring in a player like Russ Branyan or Nick Johnson on a one year deal and force Daniel Murphy to learn the outfield to work as a four corners sub, but it seems like first base is low on the priority list. I’m not happy about it, but I gave up on Jose Reyes after one season in 2005, so maybe I need to cut Murphy some slack here.
I’m not exactly showing a lot of faith in Omar here. The Holliday move would be a big move for him, and it would be a good one for the team. Signing Marquis and Molina would be typical of Omar as they would be devoting resources to players that may represent an upgrade to what the team already has under team control (though I question Molina even being signifcantly better than Omir Santos), but are still players who are unlikely to be worth the investment of money and years it would take to acquire them.
The wild card here is the trade. Much like Cameron in 2005, Milledge and Mota in 2007, and Heilman and Schoeneweis in 2008, everybody knows Luis Castillo is very, very available. He is coming off of a somewhat defensible season with the bat, although he showed zero power and played atrocious defense. Without looking at stats and going by my gut (wait, I used that joke already), I don’t think they will be able to find anybody willing to take on Castillo for two years, and that they will have to wait until next year to unload him. So who gets traded? I’m worried it’s going to be a prospect, and that the return will be underwhelming. Here’s hoping going into spring training 2010 that Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, and Fernando Martinez arrive in Port St. Lucie as Mets and not as members of new teams.