|Mets Bloated after Bad Moves||| Print ||
Written by Matt Trueblood (Contact & Archive) on March 16, 2011
That expectation can sometimes force front offices for those teams to haphazardly patch together teams with a chance to win each and every year, and it rarely works as a long-term strategy. It usually results in catastrophically bloated teams. Meet the 2011 New York Mets.
For fun, let's look at how the team would look if this were March 2005. I list the 2004 stats for the prominent players:
Oliver Perez, LHP: 196 IP, 239 K, 81 BB, 2.98 ERA
Johan Santana, LHP: 228 IP, 265 K, 54 BB, 2.61 ERA
Carlos Beltran, CF: 599 AB, .267 AVG, .367 OBP, .548 SLG, 38 HR, 42 SB
Jason Bay, LF: 411 AB, .282 AVG, .358 OBP, .550 SLG, 26 HR
Luis Castillo, 2B: 564 AB, .291 AVG, .372 OBP, 21 SB
Francisco Rodriguez, RHP: 84 IP, 123 K, 33 BB, 1.82 ERA
That makes no mention of Jose Reyes and David Wright, both of whom had very little experience as of March 2005 but would break out that season as stars at premium positions.
Of course, the Mets didn't have Santana or Perez or Bay back then. Although they had fine seasons in 2005 and 2006, there was tremendous pressure on GM Omar Minaya to keep moving forward. He may well have recognized, when he signed Rodriguez and Bay, that he was investing too heavily in past-prime players. Still, he had to demonstrate that the New York Mets were "committed to winning," As most decisions made for political or cosmetic reasons do, those signings backfired badly.
Minaya is gone, but the mess remains. The Wilpons owe all kinds of money they do not have to a number of different people, including (regrettably) several of the Mets players. The farm system is thin after years of overly aggressive advancement and trading away prospects for big names who later flopped. Reyes probably profiles best going forward out of the Mets' current players, and he almost certainly will not be with the team beyond this year.
Meanwhile, getting rid of Perez and Castillo looks almost impossible; there goes $18 million in 2011. Beltran will earn another $18 million himself, which is a fine price if he plays 135 games but stinks if he plays 65. The latter is more likely. The Mets are stuck with Bay for a while, and he only gets more expensive after a light first year in a back-loaded contract.
Rodriguez could be the biggest problem. After the ugly incident that landed him on the restricted list last September, Rodriguez is a pariah in New York and the team would love to cut free of him after the season. If he finishes 55 games, though, his massive 2012 option vests. The presumption has been that the Mets simply will not let him get to that plateau, but it is not that simple.
Until 2010, Rodriguez had finished 56 or more games in five straight years. If Rodriguez is healthy, and if no other Mets reliever steps up and pitches tangibly better, he may well do it again. If he doesn't, the MLB Players' Association will cry collusion, and they will have a pretty strong case, too.
Here are the 2010 stats for the guys listed earlier, and I've also included their 2011 salaries:
Oliver Perez, LHP: 46.1 IP, 37 K, 42 BB, 6.80 ERA; $12 million
Johan Santana, LHP: 199 IP, 144 K, 55 BB, 2.98 ERA; $22.5 million
Carlos Beltran, CF: 220 AB, .255 AVG, .341 OBP, .427 SLG, 7 HR, 3 SB; $18.5 million
Jason Bay, LF: 348 AB, .259 AVG, .347 OBP, .402 SLG, 6 HR, 10 SB; $16 million
Luis Castillo: 247 AB, .235 AVG, .337 OBP, 8 SB; $6 million
Francisco Rodriguez: 57.1 IP, 67 K, 21 BB, 2.20 ERA; $11.5 million
The Mets owe roughly $87 million this year alone to these six guys. Santana may not pitch at all this season; Bay has battled through post-concussion syndrome; and Perez and Castillo are around the bend.
The team's future is not perhaps as bleak as this analysis suggests. Ike Davis and Josh Thole scare no one but are serviceable players at their positions, while Angel Pagan and R.A. Dickey really broke out last season. Still, this team needs either a miracle or a time machine, because the good ol' days of 2005 are long gone.