Image by Keith Allison via Flickr
As the Mets and Marlins get ready to begin the 2011 season tonight, I can’t help but think that the Mets team is going to look very different when this season ends. The financially struggling Wilpons didn’t bring in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, and Paul DePodesta to stand pat like they did all winter. There are going to be moves this season and probably some big ones.
Ike Davis looks like he’s on his way to becoming a solid, if not spectacular everyday player. David Wright is the face of the franchise and locked up in a contract until 2012 with an option for 2013. After that, things are much more in question. Is Josh Thole an everyday catcher? Will Jose Reyes sign an extension, get traded, or just play out his contract with the Mets? Are Brad Emaus or Daniel Murphy going to solidify second base?
Angel Pagan looks like a solid center fielder on the rise in his career. Scott Hairston and Willie Harris look like capable fourth and fifth outfielders. The other two-thirds of the outfield are question marks. Does Carlos Beltran have anything left that could justify all (or even a small portion) of his $18.5 million salary for this season? Will Beltran waive his no-trade clause at some point during the season? Will Jason Bay do anything productive for the Mets or is he another big free agent bust? Continue reading
I’ve been surprised to hear how many fans are very dissatisfied with the Mets this offseason. The Mets brought in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta to run the front office and develop a plan. But not much has happened since then while other teams are spending on big names like Jayson Werth, Cliff Lee, and Carl Crawford. That’s led to a lot of dissension among fans that I’ve talked to and heard from on Facebook and Twitter.
My take has been that the Mets knew for at least three years that this day would come. This is a day in which several long-term, big money contracts are coming due at the same time. Typically, that’s the making of an ugly situation which is exactly what’s happening to the Mets for next season. The confluence of the final season of contracts for Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and K-Rod is the making of a difficult season. There just isn’t the financial flexibility or players with value to be able to do anything with. We’re going to have to ride out 2011 and just hope for the best. By “best”, I mean another .500 season and maybe dump some salary in July for prospects with potential.
The new Mets front office has taken the time to explain that “Moneyball” is not a game they will be playing in Queens. Paul Depodesta and J.P. Ricciardi have even criticized Michael Lewis for his characterization of their personas. I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate being called a nerd either. Sandy Alderson, in a recent quote, told the press he would not have come to Queens if he had to instill the tactics used in Oakland.
Although I do believe the Ivy League squad running the Mets, one of the few moves made this winter seems like a chapter directly from the book. Kevin Youkilis, a key figure in the “Moneyball”, was a prime example because of his ability to walk and not strikeout. He was unappealing to most scouts because of his lack of “tools”. Billy Beane perceived “tools” a less tangible marker for a successful big leaguer. He was called fat and a bad fielder and was unnoticed through most of baseball. Nevertheless, Youk was a star in Paul Depodesta’s computer. He was a break from what a time honored scout would particularly look for.
This brings me to the Rule 5 draft. The resemblance to the the Moneyball school of thought was undeniable. J.P. Ricciardi’s familiarity with a prospect in Toronto led Sandy to scoop up Brad Emaus. Emaus has nothing flashy or exciting in his bag of tricks. He is not the “toolsy” raw talent that scouts drool over. He was brought aboard, not surprisingly, because of his ability to draw walks and not strike out. Pitch selection and on base percentage have brought him to the Mets roster.
I don’t believe the trio will be pinching pennies in years when the funds are more available. Emaus however, is an early indicator that the new regime has an idea about picking out under appreciated talent. Emaus will be the first in a list of benchmarks to judge if they can still scoop these under the radar contributors. At the very least it makes for interesting debate.