Welcome to the 2009 Hot Stove season ….

As the Phillies were rolling around on the infield last night much to the dismay of most Mets fans, take solace in that 2008 is officially over. The last out of the World Series officially brings with it the start of the 2009 season, although the Mets have been thinking for the past month about what went wrong and what to do about it.

It’s time to build GM Omar Minaya’s shopping list for the Hot Stove Season.

Here’s my list:

1. Starter #1: Fixing the bullpen begins first with fixing the rotation. They need to add a starter to begin shaving innings from the bullpen total. They will attempt to re-sign Oliver Perez and add a solid, but not spectacular starter such as Derek Lowe.

2. Closer: The Phillies proved a dominant closer is better than a closer-by-committee format. Brian Fuentes appears first on their list. The money is too steep for Francisco Rodriguez.

3. Starter #2: The Mets need fifth starter. They could go in the market, they could gamble with Jon Niese or they could bring back Pedro Martinez.

4. Adding bullpen depth: The Mets’ bullpen blew 29 saves, but Billy Wagner only coughed it up seven times. There were a lot of collapses in the seventh and eighth innings. Help is needed.

5. Bench (right-handed hitting outfielder): Fernando Tatis should be re-signed, I could go with the platoon of he and Daniel Murphy. Adding a proven bat would be beneficial, but not at the expense of adding pitching.

6. Re-signing Carlos Delgado: It’s doubtful Delgado will duplicate last season’s second half, but there shouldn’t be that big a dropoff. I don’t understand the eagerness of some to trade him. Afterall, for a team with holes, trading him adds another. Delgado does have a no-trade clause so it will cost something to get him to waive it.

40 thoughts on “Welcome to the 2009 Hot Stove season ….

  1. Oh my gosh sanity Delcos…. This is the first I’ve seen someone write the Mets will attempt to sign OP. Despite your dislike for him, I’d much rather have a 27 year old withstuff who still might see the light than a 37 year old like Lowe who will spend half hisyears on the Minaya DL. Betting line Lowe for toomany years.
    Agree with you @ LF. Plus Murphy can fill in now and then on the infield as well, giving the team some verstility.
    If they sign Pedro as # 5 Niese is still there as the first call up instead of next year’s version of Jose Lima. Then Minayta can do what he did in ’06 and that is to find releivers who can pitch like Bradford and Oliver did.

  2. Harry (1): It’s not that I dislike OP, it’s just that he drives me crazy trying to watch him. But, yes, he’s young and has stuff. That’s what it’s all about. I think they should push hard early when they are the only ones who can negotiate, but I know Boras won’t let that fly.-JD

  3. Re-sign Delgado?

    I hope you mean pick up his option. One more year of Delgado is fine. No way he duplicates what he did the second half of 2008, but a decent season is fine with me. Outside of that, I don’t think he’ll be in New York past 2009.

  4. JD-I agree with all of your points. I’m not one for trading Delgado…but I’m on record as saying that if one of the major players “has” to go, it should be him. Not that I see that happening.

    As for the bullpen/rotation…the pen needs the most help. I know right now the rotation is Santana/Pelf/Maine and the latter is coming off surgery, but I’m not going to freak out about a bone-shaving procedure unless I see him come late ST and he’s topping out at 90-91 as opposed to 94-95. I really hope they can entice Lowe to come to NY. He would be a perfect fit in that rotation talent-wise, plus he’s a gamer and knows the cauldron that is Northeast baseball.

    Stockpile some vets/youngsters for the no. 5 spot…but if a legit option is available, go after that.

    The bullpen though…ugh. Two many cross-overs. No one could have predicted Heilman would crap himself like he did and truth be told, Feliciano (during ’06-’07) did well against both LH/RH. Meaning you expected to have a LH/RH specialist in Schoeneweis/Smith. Instead, you had your two key relievers added to the Smith/Schoeneweis tandem as specialists. Add in Sanchez’s struggles upon his return and the bullpen was a disaster.

    Now, I’m willing to give Sanchez some more time…maybe he needed to have a full year back under his belt. But I worry that Heilman, because he’s the poster boy for the ‘pens failures, will never be able to rebound in NYC. Even with decent overall nos. last year, he’s been a completely different pitcher since Yadier Molina took him deep.

    Get a closer, whether it’s Fuentes or doing what the Phillies did and taking a chance on a closer who’s struggled some, give the kids (Parnell, Kunz, Stokes-not really a kid) who can throw hard a chance and maybe sign a Juan Cruz-type FA to plug in there.

    I’m not one to subscribe to “change for the sake of change” but they need to bring in some fresh faces on this team…and more than just a few.

    The same cast of characters has coughed up seemingly rock-solid playoff spots two straight years in the final two weeks. For the fans and for the players, they need to see some different faces in the clubhouse…the same cast cannot come back and do this for a third time.

  5. jd,
    Some good stuff However; at what Price does OP make sense, especially with Boros as his agent.No chance do they or should they re-sign Pedro. The Mets need another good starter as I can live with Niese as #5…we did with Pelfrey in 07.
    There is no question in Met fans minds the PB will be revamped and a closer is a close #2 priority. Smith, Faliciano and Stokes should stay, but after that the next three arms will be important.
    I still think an OF bat is needed. No one can honestly say that Tatis and Church will be productive again. Murphy looks to be on his way to being a consistant ML player, but I am not sold on Evans as his Sept. was very average. That OFer may have to come in a trade.
    A major flaw was the Mets inability to hit with runners in scoring position. The lineup you give is basically the same as late Aug and Sept.
    A professional hitter would be nice off the bench.
    Is 30 Mil. the number we have to play with for FA? Omar will have to get busy this off season.

  6. Ollie is going to command 15 mil per year for 5 years minimum. I think given his age and his stuff and the market, it’s a fair deal. Anything more, then I would pass on him. The bullpen without a doubt needs help. Heilman for his own sake should be gone, unless the Mets decide to let him start. I think that Duaner needs more time and hopefully if he does the work necessary he’ll be back to close to 2006 form. If he can do that, it’s a huge lift. I’m not sold on Fuentes as the closer..remember when the Rockies made their run he was removed from the closer’s role. I don’t know about K-Rod..he’ll be another reason to hate the Mets. lol But seriously, he scares me..his career at age 26 might be in decline. I’d love for them to obtain Putz if they can pull it off. Hopefully they can also sign O-Dawg at 2nd

  7. oh yeah, put in my vote for Lidge as NL MVP. I mean you can’t get much better than him.

  8. One thing that I would like to see is Jerry show a little confidence in his pitchers. Nobody can pitch well while having to worry about getting pulled. I agree that the bullpen did not pitch well, but using 8 pitchers in a game ( many times too ) is pretty embarrasing.

  9. For closer, it would be nice to see Omar work a deal for someone coming off a bad year that has the stuff, like a Rafael Betancourt.

  10. RJ
    (8)-I rolled my eyes often as him running out of the dugout 3-4 times an inning…but you know what, no one in that pen deserved the benefit of the doubt. The one thing I wish (and thought would happen but ddidn’t) is Manuel trusting the young guys more.

    When Kunz was brought up and put in almost immediately, I thought that was a good sign…but then he buried the guy and never really gave him a chance. Parnell got a chance way to late after sitting around all Sept and Al Reyes, who HAD closing experience, didn’t get into the game.

    Again, Manuel was hamstrung because of the bullpen’s inability to face their opposite hand, but he was Willie of Sept. 07 this past Sept. when he constantly went back to the same guys over and over and over again…and they continued to fail.

    (9)-Normally I would agree with this type of move, but coming off one collapse and another face-plant, the Mets can’t afford to have anyone who is not a “real” closer start the season, unless it’s Parnell or something who is homegrown.

  11. Hey John,

    Just a correction. DelGado does not have a full no trade clause. The Mets, in 2005 had offered it to him, but when he signed with Florida, they didn’t give it to him. That is how he was traded to the Mets. The Mets could sign and trade him, which I think they should do. I would rather sell a year too early than a year too late. He will be 38 in June…

  12. I say forget about Lowe. He is OLD and going to be expensive too. My pick for number 4 starter is Randy Wolf. He Pitched great for the Astros after they got him, Hes a Lefty to replace Perez, who I dont think will ever change. And Hes 32, still in his prime.
    For the number 5, I agree with Chiti, Give Pedro an incentive deal. If hes done turn it over to a kid.

  13. No Pedro…he’s spent. Wouldn’t mind seeing Delgado traded for a LF or SP or RP. Platoon Murphy and Evans at 1B. Keep Smith, Stokes, Ayala, Schoeneweis as a LOOGY only. Give Duaner a looksy. Send Feliciano and Heilman packing. Obtain a right-hand hitting outfield and closer via free agency or trade. And sign one proven RP such as Cruz. Offer OP 4/$48 and Lowe 3/$36. Leave Niese, Parnell, and Kunz in AAA for seasoning and possible mid-season callup.

    Easy Omar….go get ‘er done!

  14. JD
    Resigning Ollie makes sense if the price is right. If it is 5 yrs at 15mil yr than just forget about it.
    Based on how little the Marlins got for Jacobs it does not seem likely Delgado will be traded.
    I wonder if Omar is running a misdirection at the media. Maybe he will make a run at Sabathia.

  15. You Keep Delagdo for Sure. Trade Nick Evans, and others for JJ. Putz. Sign Derek Lowe and either Oliver Perez or let Niese start. Sign Juan Cruz, and at least two more middle relievers. Resign Easley, Tatis, and Chavez. Let Murphy start LF or 2nd base. Trade Castillo. If Murphy starts second then sign/trade for LF.

  16. Scott: Not that he is going to be traded anyway, but Delgado has much more value than Mike Jacobs who is awful.

  17. Not for a young team he doesn’t. Mabye for like Toronto he does but not the Royals

    I’d Sign Cordero for a year, he was injured the entire season but still was great wen healthy, and for a bad team.

  18. What’s going on? I agree with Steve the original. Jacobs is junk and the Marlins won that deal. And I half agree with Sadecki. Don’t get Lowe, but Randy Wolf? He may be younger but he’s had his share of injuries and he’s not nearly as good as OP.

  19. The Nats outrighted Chad Cordero to AAA today and he refused the assignment making him an FA. Do you take a flier on him being a reclamation project like Lidge was in Philly?

    I’d love to know what kind of dollars he’s thinking coming off a very soft year to see if it’s worthwhile for the Mets to try.

    They wanted him at the break last season.

  20. Chiti, OP is not too good. He had 10 wins last year. Wolf had a dozen. He had an arm injury in the past, but he looks like he is fully recovered coming off a 6-2 3.57 ERA. He doesnt have Ollies stuff but he is a proven winner and much more consistent. He is under the radar and can be gotten cheap.

  21. What’s going on with Second base, there’s no way we can go into the season with Castillo as the starter. If you can’t make a trade for one then sign O-dog or Eckstein.

  22. The following is what I think Omar is going to target. Doesn’t mean I want them, just means, my feeling is… get used to these names:

    Starting pitching targets, I see:
    Oliver Perez, Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf, and one of the japanese guys, either Kenshin Kawakami or Koji Uehara. I can also see Omar mingling with Freddy Garcia and Jon Garland (Although I hope not, garland sucks).

    Bullpen targets are: K-Rod, Fuentes, Juan Cruz (who I think is almost a given to sign), Jeremy Affeldt,
    Also don’t forget about possible trades, these guys I see as target for various reasons, like falling out of favor or whatever: J.J. Putz, Rafael Betancourt, Mark Lowe, Huston Street, Takashi Saito.

    Delgado has a no trade clause? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t, I mean that’s how he ended up here, haha.

  23. Sadecki: Wolfy:, see I’m getting ready for him in a Mets uni and ready to join you in the new Wolf pack!, I won’t cry if he’s picked up as the 5th starter but I don’t believe in a lng term deal he’d be better than OP. Plus he was only 12-12 and last year was the first in at least three where he made more than 15 starts. Maybe I do’t like him because he used to be a Philly though…..
    But cheap… If he’s as good as you say, he’s not going to be cheap.
    As for Cordero, he can’t be compared to Lidge. Lidge didn’t miss virtually an entire season when the Phils got him. He was just not pitching well. Coredeo couldn’t throw 80 when he was disabled. He might be good again but he’s not getting signed as anybody good’s closer this Winter.

  24. Chiti, I cant find his lifetime stats against the Mets, but he was 2-0 against them last year. He always gave the Mets headaches when he was a philly. I say he will be cheap because he is under the radar. The names you always hear are Sabathia, Lowe, Burnett and the soon to be traded peavy. Perez falls into the secondary category and Wolf is not even mentioned. 3 years for 15 Mil should get it done. BTW, who is going to give Ollie 75 Mil for 5 years? My bet is on the Yankees. Rumors are that CC and Burnett are not too interested in playing for Hankenstien and co.

  25. jd

    i agree with your list.

    as you know OP will not come cheap.

    someone above offered 5 yrs at 15 per.

    that is 5 years and 75 for a player who is a head case with great stuff. not sure i would do that. if you give him the years and money i think he is one to pitch below expectations.

    as someone else said, give a shot to the young guys. kunz i think is a guy we could use in the pen. given all we have to do and the shape of the pen the past few years, leave him in, he will fail on occasion, but so did these vets.

    there are others who should be in the pen too. let spring weed it out.

    but as i said a few weeks ago, the pen with the exception of the closers or near closer should be cheap, else we will cry about them failing and how much they make.

    oh yeah, add a valid bench to the wish list, its good for competition and good when we fall asleep in september..

  26. Chad Coredero had labrum surgery in his pitching arm. He’s not coming back and if he does he surely won’t be his unspectacular self..

    And man, I really question Kunz. I just don’t think he’s very good. I seen enough of him and I’m not impressed(and I don’t mean Mets games). But then again, I wasn’t very impressed with Pelfrey from day one. His fastball sure as hell isn’t as advertised.

  27. Pelfry is the poster child for how not to bring a player to the majors. Pelfry turned himself into a very good pitcher inspite of how he was handled.
    With that said expecting Kunz, Parnell or Niese to be ready to contribute to the pitching staff earlier than midseason is very unrealistic.

  28. what is wrong with the three young pitchers?

    i am not proposing they be the closer or set up guy. just a couple of guys in the pen.

    ours suck. all pen ppl will blow up from time to time. some of these guys are supposed to have decent stuff.

    success is more in the head than raw stuff anyway. you have to have some control which also is learned.

    we cant turn over the whole staff anyway from outside. you will be forced to use one or two anyway

  29. Dave
    Nothing is wrong with these guys.
    Since I do not know where you live I have no idea how much you get to listen to Ron Darling.
    Ron is a very insitful guy. His opinion is that pitchers do not get to spend enough time in the minors. He also has said many times it is just as important for pitchers to learn how to deal with failure as it is success.
    The best place to learn is in the minors.
    Trying to learn at the major league level
    is just asking for trouble. Look at Pelfrey’s 2007 season. The Mets would have been better off signing a FA pitcher and letting Pelfrey spend at least the first half of that year in minors. In fact maybe the Mets would have even made the post season in 2007 if they had done this.

  30. Sadecki: Do you really think a 12 game winner in this day of babied starters will go for a mere 5 mil a year? I don’t. You are right though I remember him doing well against the Mets also. As for OP, I don’t think he’ll get 15 per, but if that’s what he demands I see Boras accepting the Mets arbitration offer and waiting for next year for the “big deal”. I’d love him for a one year deal then I’d be happy with Wolfy as the # 5. That would be a very deep rotation, assuming Maine is healthy again.
    I don’t see Niese as more than a 4 or 5 but I see Parnell as a possible closer. He has same type of stuff as Papelbon and all you need for the closer’s role is a strong mind and a strong fast ball. I don’t know his mind but I know that none of the junk in the pen last year has the mindset to close…..Papelbon closed in college but I think the Sox used him as a starter in the minors.

  31. I agree with JD about Heilman. Even assuming that Heilman’s struggles were entirely injury related and that he will be completely healthy in 09, it’s hard to see him being successful in the bullpen in NYC next season. What would be best for him would a change of scenery. But is it best for the Mets? Heilman’s trade value must be at an all time low.

    I think if you can get a decent return you trade him. But if not, maybe he should be looked at as a potential 5th starter.

    No I am not crazy (or maybe I am) but what harm would it be to let him compete for that job (he has always wanted)? There may actually be less pressure on him as a starter. As the setup guy the pressure is to be perfect, and when you get in trouble that pressure intensifies. As a starter, you can give up a run or two and still be in the game. Give up 3 runs an appearance as a reliever and you are awful, as a starter you are (well maybe not great) but decent.

  32. I saw that Juan Cruz of the Dbacks filed. I’d really take a long, serious look at him.

    Despite Omar’s love of fielding a bullpen full of castoffs, I really think Cruz could be an ideal guy to bridge the 8th-9th innings. Sign him as a setup guy and throw some incentives in there for games finished, if in fact the Mets don’t get an established closer.

    Who knows if he can do it, but he throws hard, which is always a plus.

    Also, I’ve heard the name Randy Wolf thrown about lately. I would also take a serious look at him as well. Unless something very surprising happens, CC Sabathia isn’t coming here, so I think the Mets should make an all-out assault on Derek Lowe/Perez (they’d only sign one of two at best) and then sign Wolf for the 5th starters spot.

    Santana
    Pelfrey
    Maine
    Lowe/Perez
    Wolf

    That is not a bad rotation by any means.

  33. I see the Mets trading for Javier Vazquez this off season. Perez is as good as gone, I doubt Lowe will come to the Mets either. Garland is a possibility. Niese should be in the 5 spot.

  34. IMO, only way Vazquez comes to the Mets is if they fail to sign a suitable “big-name” pitcher.

    The Mets cannot be trading valuable chips for someone like Vazquez when they could just turn around and fork over a few extra mil for Perez or Lowe.

  35. Scott,

    I agree. I like listening to Ronny and Keith talk about baseball. They both have insightful criticisms.

    As for the young guys, yes I prefer they spend more time in the minors. Perhaps Smith would be better than he is today if he had a few years down there.

    He is coming along. And yes, Pelf would have had a smoother ride if he spent a full year in AAA. I think he would also be better if his coach did not take away his second pitch and force him to throw a new pitch he had just learned against major league pitching.

    However, with all that we need to try and be better for next year, I would like to see at least one of our young pitchers up on the roster to come and pitch for one inning. They could do it slowly like Smith did with a game where we are up or down 3 runs, where the manager sends him in with the understanding that it is ok if they do good or bad.

    After all the young guys last year made major contributions. Church in the beginning and then Murphy/Evans. I cannot think of one guy who had not been with the team for a year or less who is young who did anything for us in the Pen.