With the NL and AL play-offs in full swing, I can’t help but turn my attention this off-season to Sandy Alderson and the Mets.
On the positive side, the Mets will finally be relieved of two horrific contracts thus alleviating $18M from their payroll. Yes, the Luis Castillo/Oliver Perez albatross will finally be off the shoulders of this team, as well as the $18M they were paying Carlos Beltran.
Along the same line, another positive is that the question of whether the Mets will release, trade, or keep Perez and Castillo will no longer exist, and that will alleviate the daily repetitive questions each member of the Mets were subjected to during Spring Training.
The Mets don’t need to be bold in the sense of signing the best free agent pitcher or a super block buster trade to be more significant in 2012. What they need to do is be gutsy and creative.
Regardless of what some might think, the Mets must sign Jose Reyes. If he bolts to another team (please, not Philly!), the Mets will have much more than one hole to fill. They will have to fill the lead-off spot, his speed, his arm, his defense, his offensive production, his dugout demeanor, and many other intangibles that cannot be replaced by one player. Elvis has to find a way to keep #7 in Flushing. I don’t think the Mets should exceed a contract of 5 years. Give him the money, not the extended years; maybe 5 years $100M.
If Reyes does leave, what few fans remained during the final month of the 2011 season will be reduced even more significantly.
Another dilemma that Elvis will be faced with is the status of Wally Backman. Backman, who was a finalist for the Mets manager’s position, is not even being considered for a pro coaching position with the Mets. This doesn’t make any sense. Were his interviews last year done as a gesture to placate the Mets fans? Really makes one wonder. Why can’t Backman be Collins’ bench coach? He has many years experience managing at different levels in the minors, and has proven to be a great teacher and motivator. There are suggestions that Backman might be a candidate to be former manager Davey Johnson’s bench coach, and could take off for our nation’s capital. If this does happen, it could prove detrimental to the Mets and their future. Backman should be a part of the Mets present and future, not their past. The Mets are presently considering Larry Bowa, Jim Riggleman, and Bob Geren for the bench coaches’ position. None have a top flight resume.
Another move I would like to see the Mets GM make, and it will take a little guts, is to non-tender Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey was absolutely awful this year, and once again proved he is a mental breakdown waiting to happen. Why the Mets are so enamored of his innings pitched is beyond me. He didn’t pitch 200 innings this year, plus he had an ERA of 4.74. He threw a seasons’ worth of pitches in a mere 5 innings. The Mets need to cut ties with Big Elf and move on. Consider it a failed experiment. Can’t put him in the bullpen; can’t have your reliever throwing 25 pitches an inning.
Another position Alderson has to consider, which I think he will do, is to non-tender Angel Pagan. Pagan is an overrated OF with a poor arm. He misjudges balls constantly, doesn’t cover the ground he should, and makes poor decisions on where to throw the ball. He has a lousy arm, and is not the player you want patrolling CF.
Nieuwenhuis is coming off shoulder surgery, but would still invite him to Spring Training to see what he might be able to offer.
If neither of these two candidates can cut the mustard, maybe the Mets should go after a short term fix like Rick Ankiel. Ankiel has a mutual option for 2012 with the Nationals. They might be able to land him. He is a good CF, much better defensively than Pagan, and can handle the bat. Get Ankiel for two years, and by that time, maybe Nieuwenhuis or den Dekker will be ready.
The Mets have some huge decisions to make this off-season; much more than they had a year ago. The choices they need to make aren’t only in player personnel, but in coaching personnel. If they make the correct choices, the Mets will be taking a turn for the better. If not, we might look back at 2011 as the ‘Good ol days.’