“I want to play this game for as long as I can and I can’t do that with having the kind of year I had last year,” Pelfrey said. “Going into the offseason, it kind of hits you like, ‘Man, what happened?’ So you go through it, you learn from it and you try to get better. I’m more determined not to let that happen again. Obviously, I need to have a good year or . . . I might not be back.”
General manager Sandy Alderson, on WFAN today, equated the Jose Reyes departure to that “of losing somebody after a long illness … you can prepare for it, but when it happens it is a hard thing to accept.’’
With Alderson forecasting a $100-million payroll for 2012, Reyes would have been an injury risk they couldn’t afford, no matter how popular he was with the dwindling fan base.
It is team sport sure, but it can’t be forgotten the Mets only reached the playoffs one time in Reyes’ nine seasons with the team.
“I’ve been saying from the first day that the payroll was too high to sustain at the current levels of revenue,’’ Alderson said.
Signing Reyes for the $17.7 million he’ll get from the Marlins, plus the $24 million due Johan Santana, plus the $16 million for Jason Bay and $15 million for David Wright would have added up to $72.7 tied up for four players. As it is, the Mets will pay $55 million for three players, one of which – Santana – they don’t know what they’ll get.
With the Mets losing $70 million last season – that’s what they say, but they haven’t opened their books – and their debt on Citi Field and from loans taken against the team and SNY which total over $1.4 billion, it was clear keeping Reyes would have been a pipedream.
There’s a sentiment the Mets over achieved this year, but that is more a case of lessened expectations. While their desired off-season budget will preclude much activity toward improvement, that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues needing to be addressed:
DECIDE ON JOSE REYES: Actually, they already have, but aren’t ready to reveal the numbers. For public relations purposes, the Mets don’t want to appear to be pushing Reyes out the door, but it is clear he is the first domino and every thing they do revolves around him. What the Mets can’t afford to do is get strung out dealing with Reyes ultimately to have him go elsewhere and have their other options get snapped up. From the direction they take on Reyes you’ll ascertain where the Mets are immediately headed. Should they determine they can live without Reyes – or need to live without him – they will be saying there’s considerably more rebuilding to be done. Bringing him back says they believe they are ready to compete, but it makes no sense to do so if they aren’t willing to spend in other areas.
THE COACHING STAFF: With manager Terry Collins’ contract extended, there’s the matter of his staff. Once again, pitching coach Dan Warthen’s future is suspect. Last year, Mike Pelfrey lobbied hard to retain Warthen, but considering his anemic performance, he won’t carry much weight this time around.
ADD TO THE ROTATION: Pelfrey regressed and surprise Dillon Gee was the only starter with a record over .500; four of the five had ERA’s of 4.40 or higher; and the staff had a composite 1.378 WHIP. Jonathan Niese and Johan Santana have injury issues, and since there are no assurances, the Mets have little alternative but to bring back Pelfrey and Chris Capuano. There are some good names on the free agent market, notably C.J. Wilson, Rich Harden and Mark Buehrle, but they aren’t going to spend much, especially if they bring back Reyes. The Mets will likely fish from the pool where guys like Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis and Freddy Garcia swim.
FIX THE BULLPEN: The Mets used 16 arms this summer and enter the offseason with a zero reliability factor in the pen. They’d like to see Bobby Parnell win the closer job, but he allowed 89 base runners in 59.1 innings pitched. That he strikes out over one batter an inning means he has the stuff, but his command of it is erratic.
ANGEL PAGAN: Pagan took a step back, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Mets don’t tender him a contract. There are decent stopgap options in the outfield, such as Rick Ankiel, Nate McLouth and Ryan Ludwick, but again, I don’t see the Mets going in that direction. It would be good if they could plug in Fernando Martinez, but his injury history makes him unreliable.
SECOND BASE: Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips is the best available, but wants a lot and the Mets won’t go there, especially if they bring back Reyes, because what would they do with Ruben Tejada? If Reyes goes, they could go with Tejada and Justin Turner as their double play combination.
If you’re getting the impression most of the Mets off-season tinkering will come from within and be of the middle-tier cost variety, you’re right. Sandy Alderson is already on record saying he sees a budget of around $110 million, which is $30 million less than this summer.
Figure with much of that $30 million differential was in the person of Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo, then it isn’t hard to reason next summer won’t be much different than this one.
In ticking off the Mets’ priorities for the offseason, getting rid of Jason Bay isn’t on the list, regardless of how much they’d like to shed the balance of his $66 million contract.
It’s amusing to hear those who said the Mets should trade, or even release the high-priced and low-achieving left fielder.
After two non-productive seasons and $16 million due him each of the next two years – plus a $17 million option or a $3 million buyout – just who is lining up to trade for him?
And, considering how the Mets do business, you know they aren’t going to eat $35 million. Bay is here for the duration.
Whether it was trying to make a splash in the first year of Citi Field, or yielding to public opinion to add more power, the Mets clearly made the wrong decision with Bay.
And, it’s not second guessing either, because they knew Citi Field’s dimensions and their stated objective was to build with pitching, defense and speed. Bay has played better defense than expected, but he’s still not the player to take the Mets to the next level.
The Mets are now considering altering Citi Field’s dimensions to better accommodate Bay and David Wright. No doubt, their intent is to try to salvage something out of Bay’s contract because he isn’t going anywhere.
Much like it was with Oliver Perez, the Mets are saddled with a bad contract and hoping for the best. The only value Bay has to the Mets is the hope he pulls it together.
Not exactly a position of strength.
Sandy Alderson said not to expect the Mets to spend much for than $5 million last winter and he held true to his word, and still they paid out $147 million in salaries this summer. He just said the payroll will probably not be much more than $120 million next year, and that’s after taking Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo off the books and not picking up the option on Carlos Beltran.
Alderson said there’s money to re-sign Jose Reyes, but strongly suggested the Mets won’t be able to do much more than him, and this is a team with a multitude of holes, most of them pitching.
The free-agent market has several marquee names, but outside of Reyes, they won’t be big players, and current indications the Mets won’t bust a gut on their shortstop. They’ll make an offer that won’t be accepted, Reyes won’t give the Mets a hometeam discount and he’ll be gone.
There’s also a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated, and don’t expect any big spending before then. There are a lot of pending issues and unique financial circumstances surrounding this team.
I’ve been following the Mets long enough to realize nothing with them ever gets done easily and this winter won’t be an exception.