House Cleaning Continues for the New York Mets

Back in October, after years of disappointment and lack of results, the Wilpons fired Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.  Their dismissals were just the beginning of a Mets house cleaning that is now being headed by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.   Alderson continued to clean up the franchise by releasing Luis Castillo on Friday.  Castillo went on to sign with the Phillies where we can only hope he continues to sulk and ruin clubhouses.  Although the dumping of Castillo was a major step forward in cleaning up the Mets, Alderson took an even bigger step today by releasing Oliver Perez.

Perez and Castillo were both players brought in by Minaya during his tenure as GM.  Not only have these players underperformed the last few seasons, but they have come to represent the failures of the New York Mets during the Omar Minaya era.  Whether it’s the collapses of 2007 and 2008 or the disasters of 2009 and 2010, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo come to mind.  This isn’t to say that the Mets’ past failures are solely the faults of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.  The recent failures committed by the Mets have been the work of many players, coaches, and executives; however, Perez and Castillo are two players who fans easily associate with these failures.

Sandy Alderson took some crucial steps in cleaning up the Mets by releasing both Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, but this work is not finished.  Even with a new management team in place, the only way for the Mets to escape the weight of recent failures is for them to continue to clean house.  There are many other players on the Mets roster that can also be associated with collapses and failures; however, none were as glaring as Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

Bye-Bye Luis Castillo

Adam Rubin tweeted just moments ago that Luis Castillo has been cut by the Mets.  Sandy Alderson will speak with the media soon.

“This was baseball decision,”Sandy Alderson said in a statement.

“I met with Terry (Collins) and made a recommendation to Jeff (Wilpon) and Jeff approved on behalf of ownership.”

Since Nobody Watches Spring Training…

Spring Training is here and that can only mean one thing: more useless analysis about players who will most likely be working at the snack bar at your local little league by the end of March. I am willing to predict that none other than my New York Mets will lead the league in gas station attendants and will be last in the league in formidable ball players. So as the Spring progresses, I will do my best to summarize the Mets spring action.

  • R.A Dickey pitched three innings of one run ball and was reported to have used his faster knuckleball.When asked about this Dickey responded ” What?”.
  • Luis Castillo went one for three with an RBI single. Castillo said he felt good out their on the field and that only his hips,arms,knees,ankles, and spleen were sore.
  • Albert Pujols went 0 for 3 striking out all three times. When asked about his struggles at the plate Pujols said, ” I was a little distracted at the plate today. Fred Wilpon asked me for twenty bucks before the game and I only had hundreds. I always try to give to the homeless.”
  • Josh Stinson blew the save today giving 2 runs in 2 innings of work. When Stinson was asked about his rough outing he said, ” My name is Russ Adams.”
  • Nick ” Buggs” Evans went two for four and is hitting well over 300 so far this spring. After the game reporters asked Evans what his expectations are for this season. Evans said, ” I just renewed the lease on my condo in Buffalo and I will be on an episode of Dr. Phil airing April 13th.
  • Cardinals Outfielder John Jay declared the Mets pitching staff unconstitutional.
  • Kevin Burkhardt was struck by a foul ball in the seventh inning. Burkhardt seems to be fine; however Jonah Schwartz still went on to check into a mental health facility.

Mets Spring Competition

        

There is a lot of competition in Mets camp this year. There is competition for the starting second base job, back end of the starting rotation, bullpen, and for the bench. Let’s break it all down:

Second Base

The Field-Brad Esmus, Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo, Justin Turner, Rebuen Tejada are all competing for the starting gig at second base. Esums, a rule 5 draft, provides some pop at the plate and can be average in the field. Murphy is continuing his tour across the diamond, this time trying to make the team as the starting second baseman. Castillo who signed a four year deal the 2007 season, was awful in 2008 and 2010, but did have a very fine season in 2009. Turner and Tejada are much more likely to spend in 2011 in the minors.

Favorite-Brad Emaus. Emaus’s combination of power at the plate and ability to field the position will land him the starting gig

Dark horse-Luis Castillo. The guy has proved us wrong before and he can do it again.

Starting Rotation

The Field-Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Dillion Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Pat Misch, and Oliver Perez are all competing for the two spots at the back end of the starting rotation. Capuano and Young are both coming off injuries and have had success in the past. Gee and Mejia who both showed talent last year, whether it was in the bullpen or rotation, figure to get a shot to crack the roster out of Spring Training. Misch will get a chance to start, but he is much better suited to serve this team out of the bullpen. Perez gets a chance simply because of his massive contract.

Favorites-Chris Capuano, Chris Young. They both have experience and have both been very good in the past.

Dark horse-Dillion Gee. Gee posted a 2.18 ERA in 35 innings for the Mets last year. If he can be half as good as he was last year during spring training, he’ll be able to earn a rotation spot.

Bullpen         

The Locks– Francisco Rodriguez, DJ Carrasco, Bobby Parnell.

The Field-Taylor Buchholz, Jason Isringhausen, Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Pat Misch, Ryota Igarashi, Blaine Boyer, Mike O’Conner, Oliver Perez, Taylor Tankersley  and about 12 other people.

Projected 2011 Bullpen– Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, DJ Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Taylor Tankersley, and Pat Misch. Parnell and Buchholz will both compete for the 8th inning role, as they both have had success in that role in the past. Beato, a rule 5 draft, has a live arm and will make the team even if it’s just so the Mets can get a longer look at him. Tankersley, a lefty, will try to fill the role of the departed Pedro Feliciano.  Misch and Carrasco both have the ability to pitch multiple innings.

Dark horse– Ryota Igarashi. Igarashi struggled in 2010, but he was a dominant reliever in Japan.

Bench

The Lock– Ronny Paulino(after his 8 game suspension is up)

The Field– Willie Harris (OF, 2B,), Scott Hairston (OF), Daniel Murphy/Brad Emaus (2B, 3B), Chin-Lung Hu (SS, 2B), Nick Evans (1B, OF),

Projected 2011 Bench- Willie Harris, Scott Hairston, Daniel Murphy, Ronny Paulino, Chin-Lung Hu. Harris’s ability to play the OF and IF will land him a job on the bench. Hairston has some pop and could be valuable as a pinch hitter late in games. Hu is a defensive specialist who can come in late in games for defense. I expect Murphy to lose the 2B job and serve as a pinch hitter.

                          

Mets Baseball is Back

The Mets ownership situation has stolen all the headlines this offseason including this story that broke last night.  With all the fuss over the Mets ownership, its easy to forget that there is a baseball season yet to be played. The Mets will play their first Grapefruit League game today against the Atlanta Braves at Digital Domain Park. The game will be available on CW 11.

The Staring Lineup will go as follows:

1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Luis Castillo 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Angel Pagan CF
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Ike Davis 1B
7. Josh Thole C
8. Scott Hairston DH
9. Fernando Martinez RF

Jenrry Mejia will start for the Mets and Taylor Buchholz, Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, John Lujan, and Armando Rodriguez are all expected to pitch.

New York Nine: The General Managers

9)  Omar Minaya

It’s truly hard to believe that Omar still has a job.  The Beltran and Pedro signings were bad, but the Perez and Castillo signings are some of the worst of all time.  The Jason Bay signing is starting to look bad now too.  Even the Santana trade is looking bad right now because of Johan’s injuries.  Not to mention the mishandling of Willie Randolph in 2008.  An overall failure of a general manager.

8)  Glen Sather

He’s drafted well, but the Redden, Brashear, Boogard, Drury, and Gomez signings were just brutal.

7)  Billy King

You can’t really say anything about King since he is new to the job.  He hasn’t done anything for the Nets so far, but by doing nothing he is automatically better than Sather and Minaya.

6)  Garth Snow

Garth has drafted well, but it’s hard not to do that when you’re bad every year.  The Islanders will eventually be good, but Snow has done nothing to speed along that process.

5)  Donnie Walsh

While Walsh did a lot to get the Knicks under the cap, he didn’t land Lebron James.  Time will tell if Walsh is remembered as a hero or a guy who build the Knicks the wrong way.  He also can’t draft at all.

4)  Mike Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum has built the Jets into a Super Bowl contender.  Time will tell if Mike becomes one of the greatest general managers in New York sports history.

3)  Jerry Reese

Reese has drafted extremely well during his tenure with Big Blue.  He also built a Super Bowl winner in 2007.

2)  Lou Lamoriello

Despite being the general manager of a small market team, Lou lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups.  Without Lamoriello’s guidance, the Devils wouldn’t be the perennial powerhouse they are today.

1)  Brian Cashman

With four World Series wins, Brian Cashman is the best general manager in New York sports today.  Sure, he has a lot of money to work with.  At the same time, so does Omar Minaya.  Cashman has put a contender on the field every year he’s been in office.  He’s given out some bad contracts, but he’s also made some amazing trades to keep the Yankees competitive.

A Yankees Fan’s Perspective on the Mets

Being a die hard Yankee fan, I am very spoiled when it comes to baseball.  Missing the playoffs in 2008 felt like an earthquake, while most teams would consider that year a very good one.  With no emotional investment on the Mets, I can’t help myself to usually not care about the Mets’ shortcomings.  However, I could not help but to feel for Mets fans after this last week.

At the trade deadline, most fans and analysts predicted the Mets to be in the market for a starting pitcher.  After Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee were dealt, the Mets had very few options.  Still in the race, Omar Minaya was expected to do something to help the Mets’ chances at the playoffs.  As July 31 passed, the Mets made no moves besides dumping Mike Jacobs.  By not making a move, the front office slapped Mets fans in the face and threw in the white towel.

The bottom line is that missing the playoffs for four straight years is not acceptable.  With the National League’s highest payroll, the Mets should be putting a World Series caliber team on the field every year.  Despite this, Omar Minaya continues to make mistake after mistake.   I do respect Omar not jeapordizing the future by making a stupid trade, but the Mets should not be in this position to begin with.

Fixing the Mets is rather simple.  First, you fire Jerry and Omar.  Make Wally Backman or Bob Melvin the manager if you can’t get Bobby Valentine. After that, outright release Perez and Castillo.  Next, sign Cliff Lee to a long term deal or a quality arm like Javier Vazquez or Jorge De La Rosa on a one or two year deal. The goal should be to get one solid starting pitchers in the free agent market. Then, try to sign Orlando Hudson one a one year deal to play second base. If not, Tejada will do. Finally, make a play for Victor Martinez. If you can’t get him, start Thole.   Here is what the Mets would look like next season.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Hudson/Tejada
SS – Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Beltran
RF – Pagan

SP – Santana
SP – Lee/Vazquez/De La Rosa
SP – Pelfrey
SP – Neise
SP – Mejia

That would be a complete team that would put together a quality season. The key is to keep all signings short term so you don’t handicap yourself in the future. That rotation would be one of the best in baseball. Even if you can’t get Lee, you can fill the rotation with quality arms to build on the core of Santana/Pelfrey/Neise.

In 2012, Beltran’s contract would come off the books. If you haven’t released Castillo and Perez by now, they would be coming off the books. At this point, you should make a run for Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. If you can get either one of them, move Ike Davis to right field. Ike spend three-fourths of his college career there. He isn’t that fast, but you can survive with him out there.

By this time, Ruben Tejada or Reese Havens should be ready to start at second base. Kirk Nieuwenhuis could start in center or be your fourth outfielder. It all depends on whether or not Pagan keeps up his steady play. If you can’t get Gonzalez or Fielder, Davis stays at first and Pagan moves to right field.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Gonzalez/Fielder
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Pagan/Nieuwenhuis
RF – Davis

or

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Nieuwenhuis
RF – Pagan

The key to rebuilding the Mets is to be agressive and smart at the same time. Money isn’t a problem for the Mets, but smart spending could help the Mets reach the next level. Very few teams have the great core that the Mets do right now. It would be a shame to see the careers of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, and Jon Neise slip away without any postseason action.