Mets’ Hot Stove 2009 – Many Holes to Fill

nymets62In recent offseasons, the New York Mets have done a good job of addressing one main need. Last year, they needed a closer and signed Francisco Rodriguez. The year before, the Mets needed an ace and traded for Johan Santana. But this offseason will be much more challenging for general manager Omar Minaya. Even if all of the injured players come back healthy, the 70-92 Mets need to upgrade in numerous areas if they want to compete in 2010.

Throughout the year, there have been numerous rumors about losses to Bernie Madoff inhibiting the Mets’ ability to spend. But the Mets need to do something dramatic after their dismal season was followed by a Yankees World Series victory. As the holiday season gets underway, the Yankees clubhouse stores are packed with shoppers, while Mets merchandise is in far less demand. If the Mets fail to excite their fans during the offseason, ticket sales could suffer, even in a new ballpark.

With Billy Wagner gone and Carlos Delgado unlikely to return, the Mets already have some extra money compared to 2009 (though other players will be getting raises). So look for the Mets to acquire at least one name player. The question is, how big a name?

Here are the main areas that the Mets need to address:

No. 2 starter:

In 2009, the rotation after Johan Santana fell apart. Mike Pelfrey was considered the no. 2 starter, but that turned out to be by default. Pelfrey and Oliver Perez both regressed in 2009, while John Maine missed much of the year with injuries. Going into 2010, there is no assurance that any of these pitchers can be a no. 3 starter, much less a no. 2.

Among free agents, the top choice is John Lackey. But even if the Mets are willing to spend, they may end up going after one or more of the next tier of free agent pitchers. Staten Island native Jason Marquis would like to pitch for the Mets. The Mets are said to be interested in Randy Wolf, trying to make up for the decision last year to sign Oliver Perez instead of Wolf. The Mets have also been linked to Joel Pineiro, who pitched a complete-game shutout against the Mets last June and shut out the Mets down the stretch in 2007.

On the trade market, the Blue Jays are fielding offers for Roy Halladay. The Mets appear unlikely to have the prospects necessary to trade for the Toronto ace, but the same was true two years ago when Santana was available. Once the Red Sox and Yankees dropped out of the bidding, the Mets were able to acquire Santana. Some have speculated that the same thing could happen with Halladay.

Whether the Mets land a no. 2 or another ace such as Halladay, they still need to address the back of the rotation. Tim Redding was signed in 2009 to be the no. 5 starter and he finished the year in the rotation, but the Mets may not bring him back in 2010. Jon Niese is coming off a serious hamstring injury. Even if the Mets land a big-name pitcher, they need to acquire at least one other hurler (two if Maine does not return) who can add depth for inevitable injuries and slumps.

Power-hitting left fielder:

The Mets hit only 95 homers in 2009, far and away the worst number in the majors (The Giants were next-lowest with 122.). Even if Carlos Beltran plays a full season and David Wright regains his power stroke, the Mets still have little power coming from Angel Pagan in left field or Daniel Murphy at first base. With Ike Davis on the horizon at first, the Mets are more likely to seek a power upgrade in left.

The top free agent just happens to be a power-hitting left fielder – Matt Holliday. And another top free agent also fills the bill – onetime Met farmhand Jason Bay .

If the Mets do not land Holliday or Bay, there are not many good alternatives in the free agent pool. Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero are better off in the American League where they can DH. Jermaine Dye is in decline. Expect Johnny Damon to be linked to the Mets at some point, though it will probably turn out that agent Scott Boras is simply trying to drive up Damon’s price before the Yankees re-sign him.


The Mets let Brian Schneider leave via free agency and he signed with the Phillies. That leaves Omir Santos, who is not really a fulltime player, and Josh Thole, who probably needs some more time in the minors. The Mets signed Chris Coste, who will probably end up in the minors, and are reportedly close to acquiring 38-year-old Henry Blanco as a backup. But they are reportedly interested in a more significant upgrade at catcher. Free agents available include Benjie Molina and Rod Barajas . The Mets would seem to have less of a chance with Yorvit Torrealba after they reportedly upset the catcher by pulling their contract offer in 2007.

Second base:

Once again, the Mets are reportedly trying to trade Luis Castillo to make room for free agent Orlando Hudson. Unlike in 2008, Castillo is coming off a much better season and has one fewer year left on his contract. But with two years still to go, Castillo remains likely to remain with the Mets.

Setup man:

Last year, the Mets made what turned out to be an ill-fated trade for J.J. Putz. Now Putz is a free agent and likely to sign someplace where he will have a chance to close. So the Mets once again need a setup man.

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  1. teacher_md

    December 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Good article. I agree with most of your points. I don’t want the Mets to overpay for Holliday (Mark Texiera money) or Lackey (Johan/CC money). If the Mets can get either of them for a more reasonable price, I say do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, in a market like this, that doesn’t seem likely. Some team will be desperate enough to bite and fork out the big dough (hope it’s not the Mets). Neither Holliday or Lackey are top-notch super stars of the game (Pujols, A-Rod, Tex, CC, Johan) and they shouldn’t be paid the same. But them the question is – if we don’t get one of these two, who do we go for? I wouldn’t mind seeing Wolf, as he seems to be one of the more consistent choices. The other names that are being mentioned seem to be risky. I’d go for one of the other names but I wouldn’t overpay in dollars or contract length (Piniero, Marquis, Sheets etc.). As for left field, I like the idea of bringing in Cameron on a short-term contract. He can provide excellent “D” and some pop. Also, getting Benji Molina as a short-term fix at catcher would add some pop (he hit a bunch of homers in a pitchers park last year). So if we add Wolf, another starter, Cameron, Molina, I wonder if we would have money to go for one of the Brave’s former relievers. I would love to have a Soriano or Gonzalez at the back end. I’d like to see Murphy at 1st for another year. He has a lot of potential and if he doesn’t bloom for the Mets, he’ll do it elsewhere. I’m not in favor of trading our “prospects.” Instead lets keep them and sign free agents. The “prospects” can be traded mid-season if necessary or can be used to plug holes as injuries occur. Just my 2 cents.

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