The first two months of the season have proven that the New York Mets have an average record with above average talent. That’s on the manager. Beyond managerial problems, the Mets have several issues on their roster. Not every problem can be solved easily but there are some quick, inexpensive solutions.
- Manager– Willie Randolph briefly lost his mind while speaking to Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record on Sunday. If Randolph can’t keep it together better than that he shouldn’t be leading this team. It’s as simple as that.
- First base– Carlos Delgado has turned into an automatic out. But even during losing streaks and blowout loses he continues to smile and yuk it up at first base with the opposing team.
- Left field– Moises Alou is a natural-born hitting machine. He’s also chronically on the disabled list.
- Second base– Luis Castillo was just signed to a four year contract prior to this season, as hard as that is to believe. His legs look like they could give out at any moment. His game depends on speed and range in the field and now he doesn’t have either.
- Bullpen– Aaron Heilman can’t figure out how to get hitters out this season. He swings back and forth between walking batters and giving up home runs. That’s a bad combination.
- Starting pitching– Pedro Martinez and El Duque on the disabled list since the beginning of the season has hurt the Mets badly. The gaping holes in the rotation have exposed Mike Pelfrey, Nelson Figueroa, and Claudio Vargas.
Wow, that’s a big list of problems! Although the list appears to be insurmountable, it’s not.
- Manager- Although I’ve heard the groundswell of support to bring in Keith Hernandez to manage this team, I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Mets need to entrust this team to someone with managerial experience. Lee Mazzilli, Larry Bowa, and Buck Showalter would make up my list of candidates. The Mets need someone with “old school” baseball values and some overt fire in their personality.
- First base– This problem is more difficult to resolve because Delgado’s paychecks are so big and his batting average is so small. He just can’t play every game anymore. The Mets will cut their losses sooner if they realize that now. Barring a trade, which seems unlikely, the Mets need to start working a right handed hitter into first base to platoon with Delgado. Damion Easley is the logical choice because he’s got a little pop in his bat. I’d rather see Easley getting five at bats against a lefty pitcher than Delgado.
- Left field– This will be the most controversial solution. Moises Alou is great when he’s in the lineup but the Mets can’t keep running him out there everyday. He breaks down too quickly. The solution is to sign Barry Bonds. Sure, it’ll bring a circus to the Mets. But the Mets already are a circus. A platoon of Bonds and Alou with the bench player having the ability to pinch hit would be fantastic. Bonds would probably sign for next to nothing to get back into the game. And the Mets don’t have to give up anything in a trade. Bonds would replace Endy Chavez on the roster who hasn’t been able to contribute any kind of offense this season. They can’t carry a purely defensive outfielder on the roster.
- Bullpen– Talk trade with the Reds or Padres. Both teams are nearly out of the playoff race already and looking to rebuild. Aaron Heilman would bring back a decent reliever in return such as Jeremy Affeldt or Heath Bell. I know that Bell doesn’t get along with Rick Peterson, but he’s a good reliever and they could make it work.
- Starting pitching– The Mets have to rely on Pedro Martinez to get back soon. That will resolve one spot in the rotation but I don’t trust Mike Pelfrey to be ready for the big leagues yet. The Mets should look for an experienced starting pitcher in the last year of his contract. For example, Shawn Estes and Randy Wolf with the Padres. Both are on one year contracts and could compete for the fifth spot in the rotation better than Claudio Vargas and Nelson Figueroa. They wouldn’t command much more than a few low level minor leaguers in a trade.
It’s getting to be that time of the season when the Mets can start talking to teams that are completely out of the playoff race such as the Padres, Reds, Mariners, Rockies, and Giants. They’ll all be willing to dump veterans making any kind of money.
It’s critical that the Mets are proactive in the market if they’re going to make personnel changes that can spark this team to perform better than a .500 record. Being in the middle of the pack in the standings is the worst possible position to be in. At least if you’re at the bottom, you can start moving veteran players via trades. Then you could start building something for next season. The Mets aren’t there and I hope they never get there.