The 2013 Mets: Choose your own misadventure

The 2012 Mets were officially eliminated from postseason contention yesterday. Despite having been unofficially eliminated many, many weeks ago, the closure that comes with mathematical elimination can be healing, in a way. It allows us to turn our attention completely toward the 2013 team (well, and football).

To start thinking about the future of the big league club in any sort of meaningful way, you have take inventory of what you have. For me, that means building a 2013 25-man roster exclusively from the pool of players over which the Mets have complete control. A roster with Scott Hairston or Kelly Shoppach or one of the Upton brothers may be where your fantasy offseason GMing ultimately takes you, but none of those guys can be there for Step 1.

Right now, at this very moment, this is what I imagine the 2013 Mets to look like. Players in italics can be optioned to the minors in 2013. I’ve decided to nontender Mike Pelfrey, Manny Acosta, Rob Johnson, and Fred Lewis, and offer arbitration (and projecting arbitration salaries) for the remaining eligible players. For simplicity’s sake, I list all pre-arb players as having $0.5M salaries.

Starting Lineup

Pos Player Bats Proj ’13 Sal Notes
C Josh Thole L $0.8M Arbitration (Super 2)
1B Ike Davis L $2.5M Arbitration (Super 2)
2B Daniel Murphy L $2.0M Arbitration
3B David Wright R $16.0M Option exercised
SS Ruben Tejada R $0.5M  
LF Jason Bay R $16.0M Under contract
CF Andres Torres S $3.5M Arbitration
RF Kirk Nieuwenhuis L $0.5M  

Bench

Pos Player Bats Proj ’13 Sal Notes
C Mike Nickeas R $0.5M  
1B/OF Lucas Duda L $0.5M  
IF Justin Turner R $0.5M  
OF Mike Baxter L $0.5M  
UT Jordany Valdespin L $0.5M  

Rotation

Pos Player Throws Proj ’13 Sal Notes
SP Johan Santana L $25.5M Under contract
SP RA Dickey R $5.0M Option exercised
SP Jon Niese L $3.0M Under contract
SP Dillon Gee R $0.5M  
SP Matt Harvey R $0.5M  

Bullpen

Pos Player Throws Proj ’13 Sal Notes
CL Frank Francisco R $6.5M Under contract
SU Bobby Parnell R $1.7M Arbitration
SU Josh Edgin L $0.5M  
MR Elvin Ramirez R $0.5M  
MR Robert Carson L $0.5M  
MR Jeurys Familia R $0.5M  
LR Jeremy Hefner R $0.5M  

I’ll give you a minute to go get a ginger ale to wash the taste of vomit out of your mouth. Okay now. The good news is that this will not be the collection of bodies the Mets trot out on Opening Day 2013. The bad news is that this team, as constructed above, costs $89.5M. I think the Mets’ 2013 Opening Day payroll is likely to be around $95M, but even if you’re more optimistic about things, anything more than $100M seems unlikely. Splitting the difference leaves you at $97.5M, an even $8M north of the group detailed above.

The point of this exercise was to put together a reasonable assessment of where the team is, where their biggest areas of need are, and what they can do about it. Anything you want to do to this roster has consequences. Don’t want Jason Bay on the team? Completely reasonable. Release him. But now you need to fill a 25-man roster spot & starting lineup spot, and you have $8M to do so. Also want to re-sign Jon Rauch? Okay, option Ramirez or Familia to Las Vegas and sign Rauch for something realistic. How about 1 year at $5M? The net cost ($5M for Rauch minus the $0.5M you save on Ramirez) brings your budget room down from $8M to $3.5M. And remember, you still have to replace Bay. Convinced by the armchair GM topic du jour that you can get a worthwhile prospect haul for Ike Davis and not lose too much by shifting Duda to 1B? Go for it. You get an extra $2.5M to play with, but you have to find a new bat for the bench (preferably someone who can man SS, unless you’re comfortable with Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin for that role… need more ginger ale?). And don’t forget that you still need a LF.

There are a lot of difficult, impactful choices facing Sandy Alderson and his crew this offseason. So far, all they’ve really been tasked with is holding things together as best they could while Hurricane Bernie’s damage was being done. But the 2013 offseason is when the process of rebuilding will start to become more visible than the process of debris removal. With more than $40M of a $90-100M payroll committed to just Jason Bay and Johan Santana, make no mistake, there’s still more demolition that needs to be done. I’m not going to write off 2013, because this is baseball and anything can happen. But competing in 2013 (as you can see above) is going to be tough. Still, come Spring Training, after the dust has settled from all the trades and non-trades, signings and non-signings, and extensions and non-extensions, we should have a better idea of where the Mets are going and how they plan to get there.

If you’re interested in Major League transactions, rules, and procedures, or if you just want to know which Mets have options left, who’s Rule 5 eligible, and who’s headed to arbitration, be sure to check out http://tpgmets.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @tpgMets.

24 comments for “The 2013 Mets: Choose your own misadventure

  1. September 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I wouldn’t nontender Acosta. His unbelievably rotten start should keep his 2013 salary reasonable and he’s proven the ability to get MLB hitters out (1.83 ERA since his recall) something Elvin Ramirez has yet to do.

    • September 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      That’s fair. I’ve always liked Acosta, too, FWIW. But if you keep him, you’re down from $8M in available cash (given my payroll guesswork) to something in the $7.3-7.5M range to start your offseason acquisitions.

      And again, just to be clear, this is only a starting point. I fully expect several of these guys to begin the year in the minor leagues (or with other organizations), replaced by free agents, trade acquisitions, etc. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? And I think it’s better to start like this than just by saying some of the things I’ve heard Mets fans saying lately (like, they should keep Hairston, Rauch, and Cedeno, tender Pelfrey, release Bay and nontender Torres). Just helps get a clearer picture of what moves are practical, and what the consquences are, IMO.

    • NateW
      September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

      I don’t mind Acosta being in the mix for next year, but I find it tough to think he will be worth his 40 man roster spot all through the winter. I would non-tender him, and invite him to camp for AAA… let him get his early season arson out of the way in Vegas and then call him up for the second half when he is usually much better. If he wants to go elsewhere its a risk I’ll take.

      I’m split on Torres, seemed like an easy non-tender at some point this year, but his ability to hit left hand pitching is a rare trait in this bunch of OF. If they line up with Kirk, Duda, Baxter, and Valdespin (MDD is non-factor at this point imo) against LHP its going to be no contest some nights. Even two of them and a Hairston type will not work.

  2. September 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Sorry for the back-to-back posts but are you really keeping Torres? I’d rather have the roster spot and pencil in MDD.

    • September 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      No worries. I tried to stick to players on the 40-man roster, which Den Dekker isn’t. He’s also put up some brutal contact numbers in Buffalo. His defense and power (assuming it translates) mitigate that somewhat, but it’s still a longshot that he could be immediately successful in the Majors, IMO. He’s also yet another lefthanded bat. Non-tendering Torres saves you $3.5M, so maybe on balance it helps. But I’d still prefer he be replaced by someone other than Den Dekker, who I think needs to start the year in AAA.

      • David Groveman
        September 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        I agree that Matt Den Dekker needs an additional year but I’d prefer to use Valdespin, Baxter and Nieuwenhuis in the outfield.

        • September 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm

          Valdespin, Baxter, and Kirk as the regular outfield… Yikes. I’m holding out hope that at least one member of the Mets 2013 regular OF will come via trade. But we shall see.

    • jerseymet
      September 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Agreed Torres should be not tendered.

  3. steevy
    September 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    If Jason Bay in on the team,I’m finished with the Mets.

    • September 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      I really doubt Bay will be a Met next year. I left him on there for now to make the point that it’s not just about releasing him. You have to release him, replace him, and acknowledge that not only does that move have an extra cost ($500K at minimum), but it also makes a little clearer that this “$90-100M” team is really more like a $70M or so team.

      • jerseymet
        September 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Don’t rule out Turner playing some left field. He can hit.

  4. David Groveman
    September 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Just for the sake of things, let’s imagine the Mets had money to spend on free agents.

    Mike Napoli (31): HUGE upgrade over Thole.
    Kelly Shoppach (33): Mets will likely TRY to bring him back.
    Josh Hamilton (32): He’s a lefty… but still…
    Michael Bourn (30): Another lefty, but wouldn’t it be swell to have a leadoff hitter?
    Cody Ross (32): He’s a righty and can handle center until Den Dekker is ready.

    Not counting pitching, if you gave Alderson the room to inflate the payroll to $120-$140 Mil a year you could sign 2-3 of these guys and have a darn good shot of competing with the likes of Washington, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

    • Mack Ade
      September 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      I’m sorry… I can’t do this anymore…

      I’m going to a high school football game tonight with the local baseball coach and we’re going to try and set up a tryout for 2 of his players with a scout friend of mine with the Cubs.

      Then, I’m getting ready for a big announcement later today on a new “venture” I will be part of.

      Lastly, just booked a 3-day trip in November for the South Atlantic Border Battle in Burlington, NC where 30-50 top prospects will play in front of scouts from the Braves, Cards, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox (these are the kind of weekeneds where I get my poop, guys), Royals, METS… and ME.

      I’ll write or comment on 2013, 2014, 1962, 300 BC, the space shuttle, hickies…anything but 2012.

      Mack

    • Name
      September 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Of all these guys you mentioned, the only that i think will help the Mets is Bourn.

      2011 Napoli was a total fluke, and his stats this year are not great. .230 with 19 HR’s, but he’s playing in Texas so those numbers aren’t good. if he comes to citi he’ll be like .200 with 15 HR’s. Add in the fact that he’ll want a multi year deal with at least 10 mil a season. I’d let someone else take this fool’s gold.

      Shoppach is OK to bring back if he doesn’t demand more than 2 mil. He gives you some power, but has a low average. Won’t kill you but won’t help you that much.

      Hamilton is a HELL NO. I don’t want to take on that risk. He’s super prone to injuries and who knows if he’ll relaspe under the bright lights of NY. I’d be shocked if he goes anywhere else but Texas as i’m sure a lot of teams are scared to take a risk on him. But some team will be idiots and pay him 100+ million and i’ll go ahead and shame them now.

      Ross has the ability to be Bay 2.0. Other than that great 2010 posteason, he’s been a 4th outfielder all his life. It’s obvious that his numbers are a product of Fenway.

      • 7train
        September 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        Agree 100%.

        Afraid that Bourne want too many years, too much money and probably would have us at the end of his list all things being equal.

        • Name
          September 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm

          Bourn is a Scott Boras client, so in the end it all comes down the money, no matter the team. I think we have seen for Carl Crawford it is a mistake to give a speed-first guy anywhere near 20 million a season. If he’ll take 3 years 45 million i might think about it. Any more years or dollars and he’s not really worth it.

  5. NormE
    September 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Chris,
    I think you’ve don a great job of illustrating why 2013, no matter what moves the team makes, will be a year of treading water.
    The belief is that you can’t call it rebuilding in NY, but that is what Alderson is doing. After 2013, with the Bay and Santana contracts gone, the money
    can be used to fill some of the holes while some of the draftees can be looked to for help. The process will continue through ’13 into’14.
    This would seem to be okay, but never underestimate the power of the Wilpons to screw it up.

    P.S.: I still believe that David Wright will be moved, or will move himself, thus freeing up some more money.
    I know that Dickey’s contract is relatively cheap, but he will never be worth more in a trade that right now. I’d at least investigate what the team
    could get back in a deal—hopefully some good minor league talent.

    • September 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks, Norm. I have mixed feelings about moving Wright and/or Dickey. They’re two of my favorite Mets players and I’d love it if they could remain Mets (specifically productive Mets) until they retire. But ultimately, more than that, I want the Mets to field a competitive tam year in and year out. So I want them to take whatever course gets them there the fastest (and for the long haul). I suppose a lot depends on the details of the extensions they’d sign and the plan for payroll going forward. But yes, if I were Sandy Alderson I would absolutely field offers for either player. No one on this team is untouchable. (Though for me, of the players on the current roster, Harvey and Niese would be pretty close. I’d need to be blown away to consider moving either of them.)

  6. September 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    If the Mets can find a way to trade Bay for nothing or a slightly less awful contract, I’m sure they can find a cheap FA/in-house outfielder to fill the void.

    However, I would probably find a way to get Pelfrey or someone else who can eat ML innings on a cheap deal so we have some depth. I don’t know if a six-man rotation makes sense or convince palm-licker that he needs to prove himself in the minors, but we can’t have a paper-thin rotation.

    • Name
      September 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      I think Mike Pelfey will only get minor league contracts because of the fact that he won’t be ready until May 2013 at least and i don’t remember a team giving a major league contract to an injured player before. And if we want someone to eat innings, i’d rather give McHugh that 500k than Mike Pelfrey 3-4 million.

  7. Metsense
    September 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    As Johnny Carson used to say “you have to buy the premise to buy the bit.” I like your premise, a very good starting point. So … I don’t tender Torres, re sign the only productive OF Hairston for Torres money, re sign Shoppach (oops there goes 2.5M), but i save .5M on Nickeas, which leaves me to resign Cedeno for 2.3 – .5 for Valdespin who starts at AAA (I’m sorry but a team needs a major league caliber defensive SS on the bench). Still have 6M to spend but I need a veteran reliever so I find one for about 3M.(Rauch is too expensive for my taste) Still got 3M so now it is time to look for some trades which is outside the paramaters of this bit but I really enjoyed the excercise. Thanks Chris, your article led to some intelligent ideas being tossed around.

    • September 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

      Thanks. My pleasure. I’d just point out that the team you’re building is awfully similar to the 2012 version. Which to some degree is kinda the point of the exercise, I guess. People expecting the team to be massively different without moving some of the more prominent existing talent away are setting themselves up for disappointment.

      • Chris F
        September 24, 2012 at 9:52 am

        I couldnt agree more Chris. This personnel on this club didnt get it done this year and wont next year. Where we have replacements or up and coming prospects, we should be open to the idea of trading present players, like Ike and Niese (Wright? RA?), that have trade value and can bring in new pieces to the puzzle. Unless the tree gets shaken pretty hard, status quo wont even get us to 82 wins. Really enjoyed your breakdown and subsequent discussion.
        Chris

        • September 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

          Thanks! Yeah, for me (and I know there are others who disagree) Niese is virtually untouchable. The contract he signed is well below market value, he’s young, he’s lefty, he’s been through the league a few times, and this year he’s shown both that he’s capable of staying healthy and effective through the rigors of a full season AND that his peripherals were not just smoke and mirrors. Those same factors, of course, are why he’d be a valuable asset on the trade market. But consider that the team controls Niese for as long as they control Harvey (through the 2018 season). Also, take a look at the farm. In terms of legitimate left-handed starting pitching prospects, they have very close to nothing. It would require a no-brainer package for me to want to move Niese. I’d listen much more intently on Davis, Wright, and Dickey. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to keep all 3 and I certainly wouldn’t give them away. But given the team’s overall talent level and their financial situation, I just have trouble seeing how that will be practical. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the front office tackles the challenge this offseason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *