Issues, issues and more issues ….

The Mets have as many issues as a year of Sports Illustrated. They also have a general manager, Omar Minaya, poised for another four years to answer them. Here’s what I see as the most pertinent issues facing the Mets.

1. JERRY MANUEL: Will Minaya bring back the manager who took over a floundering team and guided them into contention until the final day? And with him, his coaching staff? The Mets were fading under Willie Randolph when Manuel replaced him in June. With pretty much the same talent, the Mets turned it around. MY OPINION: Manuel should be brought back. This team worked hard for him and hustled. Talent issues beyond his control is why they failed.

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?

2. CARLOS DELGADO: The struggling first baseman transformed into the slugging first baseman shortly after Manuel took over. Coincidence? Delgado says no and is annoyed with the suggestion. But, his numbers were impressive enough to merit MVP consideration. The Mets could pick up his option for $16 million or offer a $4 million buyout. Was Delgado’s second half a fluke? That’s a tough one. MY OPINION: If the Mets believe they are a contender and make some early moves to fix the pen, then Delgado should be brought back. It would be one less hassle. Should they go this route, there should not be an extension. Make him earn it. HOWEVER, if the Mets remain stagnant and believe they are in a rebuilding mode, then give him the buyout and go young. In this case, I would send Daniel Murphy to the Arizona Fall League for instruction at first. Nick Evans, too.

3. SECOND BASE: Ramon Martinez was a spark the final week of the season, but in the end, he’s still a retread player. Damion Easley is a role player I want back. Luis Castillo is not the answer. MY OPINION: Castillo can’t play here. I would try to trade him with the understanding of eating most of his salary. If they can’t do that then dump him and eat the whole thing. If this is a platoon position next year, so be it.

4. LEFT FIELD: Moises Alou can’t go in a time machine. The Mets finished the season platooning Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans and Fernando Tatis, with Endy Chavez coming in late for defense. I can see them doing that again, but acquiring a full time outfielder would be better. MY OPINION: Whatever they do, it should not be Manny Ramirez. I think they should look for a full time outfielder, but don’t overpay because they have more pressing issues.

5. STARTING PITCHING: They have two spots that are in question, Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez. Martinez was never completely healthy and was lost with the death of this father. His fastball faded and he proved to be a five-inning guy. Half of Perez’s 34 starts were no-decisions and he finished at 10-8, the numbers for a fifth starter. MY OPINION: Perez won’t come at a fifth starter’s salary. With agent Scott Boras, he’ll demand a lot. If the Mets want him, they should make their best offer during their negotiating window and sign him before CC Sabathia sets the market. If Boras says no, then fine and move on. I don’t see Perez ever becoming a No. 1. As far as Martinez, he wants to pitch and I’d bring him back as a fifth starter.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.

6. BULLPEN: With the exception of Joe Smith, I can see a complete housecleaning. Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis are under contract, but so what? Twenty-nine blown saves should mean everybody is vulnerable. MY OPINION: Minaya won’t bring back seven new arms. I’d look at Brian Fuentes before Francisco Rodriguez as the closer because of economics (they are already paying Billy Wagner $11 million not to close next year). The bridge is essential. I’d give Eddie Kunz and Bobby Parnell a shot in spring training to close. Winter ball might not be a bad idea, either. Brian Stokes, Smith, Luis Ayala and Pedro Feliciano I can see coming back. They’ve listened to trade offers for Heilman before. Now is the time to do it, because he’s gone once he’s a free agent. It’s one thing to think overhaul, but it’s another to actually do it. They have to realistic in that the entire pen can’t be replaced.

This will be the offseason Minaya earns his money.

27 thoughts on “Issues, issues and more issues ….

  1. JD: Interesting thoughts on the pen. One thing I’ll say as food for thought…Derek Lowe was closer for the Sox for some time and after initial success he failed miserably at that and was booed a great deal. The Sox converted him to a starter and he actually revived his career. Why can’t Heilman do the same if given the same shot? Well you could say that Heilman doesn’t have Lowe’s psyche, which is true, but I dont think anyone though Lowe had the psyche to rediscover himself w/o a chance of scenery either. Just a thought. Personally I agree with you, but something to consider.

    As far as the starters, I would NOT bring Pedro back. Do you really think he would be willing to be a 5th starter? With his diva attitude and ego? I don’t think he’d be willing to take a paycut, and if they bring him back he’d bring with him all the crankiness that an aging over the hill former superstar comes with. Everyone feels the Mets owe Pedro something, but I think that’s total BS. Beltran, etc went where the money was and Pedro being here had nothign to do with it. Maybe he brought more fans to the stadium, but winning does the same thing. As far as I’m concerned he never lived up to his contract, and he did essentially what the Red Sox knew he’d do in that he was fragile and on the decline.

  2. JD: What do you think about the idea of Murphy picking up 2B? What exactly does the organization think of him and where do they see and Nick Evans in terms of the future? I remember reading some reports on both of them earlier in the year and it seemed neither was felt to project to anything great. Any changes on that now?

  3. John, I enjoyed your blog this season both on LoHud and on here. Best of luck to you and I hope the blog continues this off-season and into next season.

  4. I thought during a game Burkhardt said Murphy is projected to play Arizona fall ball at 2nd base to get ready to play there. That’s where he makes most sense to me.

    Evans at first? Could work longer term but he needs a transition year. Delgado there with Evans being his appointed backup makes sense.

    The Mets have the first base instructor nearby. Keith played the position as well as could be played, he could be valuable for young Evans.

  5. Pingback: Sports News » Blog Archive » Issues, issues and more issues ….

  6. I’m mixed about Manuel. I mean he is great with the media and did turn around the team, and I suppose it’s not his fault that the bullpen sucked and the offense couldn’t get a clutch hit. BUT…he was the bench coach and manager for two of the biggest choke jobs in baseball history. Why should he come back?

  7. To RMKMets: I’ve thought that about Heilman. He was going to be in their rotation in 2006 before Brian Bannister emerged. Why not again? I don’t know why they won’t give him a chance considering he’s been off the last two years in the pen and they need a starter.-JD

  8. To RMKMets: I don’t think the Mets owe Pedro anything. You make good points about being a diva, but if he’s game I would bring him back. You can never have enough pitching and are you ready to say Jon Niese is the answer?-JD

  9. To RMKMets: About Murphy playing second, I’m all for giving him a shot. I think he’ll be in Arizona soon playing there. If he takes to the position, that’s a major plus.-JD

  10. JD, I will keep posting. The hot stove discussions are always fun. One thing about Manuel. He said he would try to give the core players more rest. It turns out Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Even Delgado all played in over 159 games this year. The last time a team had 4 players play that many games was the 1968 cubs. Add to that the fact that they had no days off the final 15 games and I know some people dont want to hear it, but these guys were tired. Then add the stress that no lead was safe. These guys were toast at the end.

  11. FYI – Mike Francesa, John Minko and Evan Roberts have spent the last hour and a half blasting the Mets management and players (yes, Mike has changed since he married into a Mets family).

    In fact, Mike and Minko say there are only three players who are ‘safe’ Santana, Pelfrey and Beltran. They are also advocating Jerry Manuel being let go -.

    Up next at 3PM – Omar Minaya on WFAN.

  12. 1. Jerry Manuel

    He’ll be back. The media loves him and his personality. Mets won’t risk another media rebellion (re: end of 2007, beginning of 2008) against their manager (Willie) which was a huge distraction. Proof positive of this is the zero stories going after Manuel who ultimately failed. I’d bring him back though.

    2. Carlos Delgado. I’d definately pick up the option. It’s not much considering the buy-out. I would look to trade Delgado coming off a big second half. If not keep him for the year. Try Murphy at 1st. No way that kid can play second well.

    3. 2nd base. Trade Castillo (of course…eat the contract in the deal for a relief arm with potential, but no performance yet). I’d go with a young player there or a platoon with a veteran (Easley) and a kid.

    4. Left Field. The Mets need more offense. I don’t think they can do enough to fix the bullpen. They have a lot offense, but with this pen it’s not enough. I’d take Manny being Manny for a year or two, but definately not more than that. If not, who knows what willbe available. Rocks can’t afford Holliday. Maybe a package for him.

    5. Starting Pitching. Santana, Pelfrey, Maine (Super-cross fingers), ?, ?. This will be tough. One kid (Parnell or Niese) and one proven veteran. I can see Omar bringing in Livan Hernandez not that I agree with that.

    6. Relievers: K-rod and Juan Cruz. Keep Smith and Feliciano. Trade the rest.

    Front Office, Omar shouldn’t get 4 year. He should get 2 years. Manuel should get 2 years.

    Wilpons should sell the team (re: Jeff Wilpon said this team over-achieved). Let them buy the Dodgers.

  13. Minaya on with Francessa: Essentially no one is untouchable and will look at anything and everything including “the core,” in order to improve the team.

  14. I’ll give Omar credit…he is as exasperated as us fans are as to why the Mets couldn’t complete the task.

  15. Delgado: Option is for TWELVE mil, not 16 unless he wins MVP.

    Heilman: Technically “under contract”, but Mets are not obligated beyond this season. He can be non-tendered if no trade is made.

    Closer: Though he may not be available, I’d approach KC about Soria. A 3-for-3 (Evans, Kunz, Heilman) would be a starting offer, with upgrade possible if they’ll talk.

  16. Well, if Sadecki is posting, Chiti is posting! Here’s my worthless 2 cents.

    First base: Keep Delgado. There’s so many problems and you pay him 4 mil to leave, keep him one more year and you have Evans/Carp battling to be successor. Let him go and you kniow Omar will be bidding on Texeira all Winter and letting other problems float.
    Second Base: Shouldn’t be a problem but it sure is. But you really can’t let Castillo go until you know if Murphy can do the job. And if you let Castillo’s legs heal all Winter he may still be good enoguh for this offense. So, I’d go after Hudson ands if that doesn’t work well, Omar did give Catillo 4 years!
    Left Field: I think rather than experiment with Murphy at 2nd make him the left Fielder.
    Starters: I offer OP arbitration. If he buys in I only have him for 0ne more year. If he doesn’t I get draft pickes and hten I offer Pedro a 1 year. If they both go, you are desperate for starters especially not knowing what is Maine’s future.
    Pen: Burn baby burn. I agree with JD; Smith stays. Parnell and Kunz can prove their woirht in the Spring and other than that sign every guy off the scrap heap and hope some have a good year. Worse case they can’t be worse than this year’s bunch.
    Closer: Minaya has to sign one of Fuentes/K-Rod I don’t care who. It ain’t my money. But there is no internal solution. That’s been proven.

    I’ve been a Met fan since the first game. But my firends in Western PA who are Pirates fans are showing sympathy to me and the Mets today. That is quite an indictment of Minaya. But he gets 4 years. I guess that makes snese. Contracts that are too long are the Met way.

  17. JD- do you think the mets could put together a package for matt holliday or aaron rowand? Holliday would be worth FMART and a couple other prospects and Rowand would be available for less than that I would believe. I also think getting a lefty hitting specialist (Juan Rivera or Kevin Mench) to sub for Church against lefties

  18. So Jim, Do you think Minaya could trade his pen for one of these guys? Seriously, Face it, he brought in a great pitcher and because he failed to address the team’s biggest weakness, it didn’t help. Why would another hitter help. They can’t score enough runs with the pen we have.

  19. Jim: As much as I like Matt Holliday, I think they’ll use their resources for pitching this winter. … I wouldn’t be too quick to sit Church against lefties. He was hitting them pretty good before the concussion.-JD

  20. Harry- I think we all know the bullpen will be and needs to be revamped but when you think of successful bullpens, its usualluy young, power arms. Most successful bullpens are not highly expensive. The Red Sox most expensive reliever is Timlin and he does not even pitch much now. Scouting and finding good fits are the key in building the bullpen.

  21. About Heilman and the starting rotation. I’d like to see him get a chance to start. I think he has too much ability to just non-tender him or trade him for peanuts. I would like to see the Mets sign a veteran pitcher like a Derek Lowe and then allow people like Heilman, Niese etc. to compete for the fifth starters spot. Like you said JD why not give him at least a chance to be a starter before you just let him go for nothing.

  22. JD- I agree Church did look good but signing someone like Juan Rivera would not be too expensive and a solid insurance policy. The final day lineup had Ramon Martinez batting 6th. How? Adding a RIGHT-HANDED bat would be huge IMO

  23. Dan: The name to watch if he is allowed would be Junichi Tazawa. Just google the name and you’ll get some info. He’s 22 with a fastball somewhere in the 90’s depending what article you read…

  24. JD

    I mostly agree. I would leave Murphy in LF or first. I would get an OF. Not a starter, but someone who can play and is cheap. You hsve to hedge that the AA twins may not be able to produce.

    Your stance on the pen i could not agree more.

    starting pitching – i think OP is gone and would lean toward not bringng pedro back, I think he is too old.

    We will have to go out and get at least one pitcher.

    The only issue you did not address is the bench. that needs an overhaul also.