I haven’t written much recently for a variety of reasons. For those of you that know me, I recently started a new job and haven’t had as much free time to devote to the Mets. In addition, you may have noticed that the 2009 version of the Mets are awful. If not, I don’t know where you’ve been. The brand new stadium is near empty. Mets interns are running around the upper deck handing out free upgrade tickets to the Ebbets Club seats so they don’t look so barren on television. It’s a sad state of affairs this September in Metsville.
My attention is turning to other things now that the painful, ugly season is winding down. One of the thing that I’m turning my attention to besides the start of the NFL season this week is what the 2010 Mets will look like.
In this edition I’m thinking about the first base situation for next season. There are several assumptions this will based upon that will be debatable. And I’d like to hear your thoughts on these in the comment section. First, Carlos Delgado won’t be back next season. He’s old, he’s hurt, and his contract is over. Good riddance. Second, the Mets can’t survive another season with Daniel Murphy’s meager offense at first base. A first baseman hitting .259 with 9 HR’s and 53 RBI’s in September doesn’t work unless you’re the Pirates. Third, the Mets have about $40 million in contracts coming off the books this offseason. That means there’s plenty to spend if the payroll is static.
I know that the Mets like Murphy and I do too. How could you not like the hardest working guy on the team? But the fact is that the talent level isn’t there right now. I’m not sure what they’ll do with him next season. Maybe start him off at Triple-A and see if he can hit enough to play. This season was rough with his failed stint in left field, then a switch to first base. But the Mets are running a business and if they’re in it to win it they’ll need to make a tough decision that Murphy isn’t starting the season at first base.
This leaves us to look at potentially available alternatives. I know that everyone loves the idea of Adrian Gonzalez coming from the Padres. But he’s the only good thing going on with that franchise right now. There’s really no other reason to go to the ballpark in San Diego with Jake Peavy gone. Gonzalez has a very reasonable contract for a player of his stature. It’ll take a boatload of prospects to pry him away from the Padres, probably four top prospects. The Mets aren’t doing that again so soon after doing the same type of deal for Johan Santana.
If you look at the list of 2010 free agents, there isn’t anyone at first base that really jumps out at you. But there are some good short term solutions until minor leaguer Ike Davis is ready in a year or two. The Mets could get several players that could outperform Murphy on short-term contracts. Russell Branyan, Adam LaRoche, Hank Blalock, and hometown guy Ross Gload would all be good on a one or two year deal.
In the trade market I like Paul Konerko. He’s only got one year at $12 million left on his contract with the White Sox. He’ll be 34 years-old next year and this season he’s hitting .281 with 26 HR’s and 82 RBI’s in the much tougher American League. He could provide some solid right-handed pop in the Mets lineup. And I don’t think it would take too much to get him in a trade. The White Sox might be happy to get out from under his salary. They just took on some huge money this year in Peavy and Alex Rios.
Overall, there are some good options out there at first base. But there’s no way the Mets should even consider re-signing Delgado or gambling another season on Murphy.