What’s the top priority for Sandy Alderson this offseason?
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Howard Megdal – Waits with Linus for the Great Pumpkin to appear.
It’s got to be the outfield. I don’t see a single person on the roster for 2013 right now that is a starting-caliber major league outfielder. And most teams deploy three of them at a time.
John Coppinger – His favorite thing is to greet the trick or treaters with a chainsaw.
The top priority is improving the outfield … and it’s not close. At the all-star break the answer would have been the bullpen. But with young lefties like Edgin and Carson, an enigmatic yet talented pitcher such as Parnell, at least you have some pieces to either roll with or trade to get other pieces. There’s work to do there, perhaps re-signing Rauch to close or trading for a real closer such as Chris Perez (you could tell I’m extremely excited about the prospect of Frank Francisco closing in year two of his contract), but it’s not like the beginning of the season where dead weight such as D.J. Carrasco and Miguel Batista made their living.
The Mets need an entirely new starting outfield. Scott Hairston is a fourth outfielder and a pinch hitter on a good team, not a starter to be trusted, especially in center field. Lucas Duda is a defensive liability who I don’t think will ever hit like his size says he should. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is talented yet injury prone and has yet to prove he could adjust to a fastball on the outside corner. And Jason Bay merely exists. And there’s no options in the system that are close enough to consider for 2013. The answers have to come via trades, simply because the Mets won’t spend major money on Josh Hamilton, and the other options to spend major money on have disappointment written all over them anyway (Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, for example.) Sandy has to get creative but it can be done.
Ed Leyro – Dresses up as a giant bear for Halloween (every day, really.)
Although the bullpen was the worst in the majors this year, I believe the top priority for Sandy Alderson this offseason should be to improve the outfield. No Met outfielder has reached 70 RBI in a season since the team moved to Citi Field (Duda leads all outfielders this year with 57 RBI). How sad is it that Angel Pagan‘s 69 RBI in 2010 represent the highest RBI total for a Met outfielder since Shea Stadium closed its doors for good?
Remember in 2000 when everyone said the Mets won the pennant despite having an offensively-challenged outfield? Well, the trio of Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Derek Bell all hit at least 15 HR and drove in a minimum of 60 runs that year. Believe it or not, that’s the last time the Mets had three outfielders reach those numbers in the same season.
Bullpens are unpredictable from year to year. As bad as the relievers were this year, they could be better than expected next year. But a revolving outfield of Jason Bay, Scott Hairston, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter just can’t compete with the more powerful outfields in the league. Without a doubt, the Mets are going to need a significant change in the outfield if they want to improve in 2013.
Jon Springer – Has a part-time job where he yells “boo” at kids on the haunted trail.
It’s obvious that Sandy’s top priority is to fire Tim Teufel… uh, I mean, to get the 2013 Mets a couple of outfielders who can hit and catch. The challenge is to do so against the constraints of the budget, while also seeing to new deals for Wright (probably) and Dickey (maybe?), and hopefully, correctly figuring which of the young pitchers and/or position players are the right ones to sacrifice, since these fixes may come at a price. It’s a tough job but not something a little intellect, creativity, imagination and guts can begin to solve.
Greg Prince –Has a framed picture of Jack Skellington in his house.
The Mets are retaining the same manager who has presided over two consecutive second-half sags and the exact same coaching staff who assisted him in not successfully instructing nor inspiring his players in 2012. So I’d say Sandy Alderson’s mission is to get almost all new players. Supposedly you fire managers and coaches because you can’t off your roster. But somebody is mighty satisfied with this manager and these coaches for some reason.
In realistic terms, Alderson has to set Matt Harvey aside for safe keeping and seriously consider — while using the utmost discretion — the efficacy of every other player on the major league roster. No job shouldn’t be up for grabs to some extent. Nobody should be viewed as a sacred cow. Don’t worry about dealing “popular” players because August after August, no matter who populates it, this becomes, on merit, a very unpopular team. The essence here is ya gotta give up something to get something, so think about everything being on the table.
In conventional terms, left field, center field, right field, catcher and middle relief need the most help. But there is little to be satisfied about in general. That’s why I’m not in the mood to pat the semi-success stories of the past year on the head and install them as theoretical mainstays. We fall for that kind of thinking way too much way too often.
I guess I won’t talk about getting outfield help…
With payroll unlikely to go up, the 2013 Mets seem destined to end up in the same place as the 2012 squad – home watching the playoffs. If that’s the case, then Alderson should make every move with an eye on 2014, including a decision on who that year’s manager is going to be. Terry Collins may be coming back in 2013 but is there any reason to expect him ever to lead a team to a World Series championship? If no, then there’s no reason to bring him back in 2014.
So, Alderson should be thinking about the team’s 2014 manager. Is Wally Backman the right man for the job? If so, how are you going to keep him happy – and not have him interview for other managerial vacancies in 2013? Is Backman going to be content going back to Triple-A for another year in the bushes? Or do the Mets need to promote him to be the team’s next bench coach and give current bench coach Bob Geren some kind of honorary promotion?
If it’s not Backman, who is it going to be? None of us are clamoring to see Geren get the job. Teufel had a losing record as a minor league manager in his last seven seasons and he only managed eight. Is there anyone in the system who is on the managerial fast track? Who are the top outside candidates? Hopefully it’s someone with a proven track record in successfully running a bullpen.
Even saddled with very little talent on those late 70s, early 80s Mets, Joe Torre always had at least a decent bullpen and a couple of times it was very good. Contrast that with Collins’ work running a bullpen, which was bad in 2011 and horrible in 2012 – despite Alderson sinking most of his available budget to improve it.
Thanks to Howard, John, Ed, Jon and Greg for participating!