Sandy Alderson expects the Mets to be competitive next season, but did not define that to mean they’ll be in the playoff hunt. He also said he doesn’t foresee the Mets being big players in the free-agent market.
There’s nothing down below that is major league ready to drastically improve the team, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll deal any of their three biggest major league commodities – David Wright, Jose Reyes or Mike Pelfrey.
Translated: Alderson believes the Mets can be competitive with pretty much the same team they had this season if their injured players can return productive and sound, which is what Omar Minaya said last winter. The Mets won 79 games this year, two below .500, which is merely average. They would figure to improve with full and healthy seasons from Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Reyes, but there are no guarantees.
But, how much better? Ten games? That would be 89, but the NL wild card team, Atlanta, won 91 games. So, winning ten more falls short, and that’s even before considering their other issues.
The first, and most important, is the expected absence of Johan Santana. Some projections have him missing most, if not all of the season. Assuming no Santana, the Mets will need two other starters to fill out their rotation.
If the Mets go the same route as they did last winter and not add an arm in the free agent market, we’ll be looking at a front end of the the rotation with Pelfrey, Jon Niese and RA Dickey, with Dillon Gee and Pat Misch among those competing in the back end.
Other issues will be hoping for the continued development of Ike Davis, Josh Thole and Angel Pagan.
Alderson has already told us he won’t have a lot of payroll flexibility this winter, but even if he were to shed the Mets of Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo, that doesn’t mean he’ll find an extra $18 million to play with for 2011.
So far, the first impression has been a good one of Alderson, and part of that has been him being forthcoming about the obstacles.
We’re all assuming the Mets will make major moves for the 2012 season. That doesn’t mean they can’t take a step up next season. How big remains to be seen.