A Met fan’s guide to fixing a leaky ship

I’ve been reading the Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian so nautical metaphors are making a lot of sense.  In the second of twenty one novels ‘Post Captain’ Jack Aubrey is posted into the HMS Polychrest (Also known as the “Carpenter’s Mistake”) a poorly designed and poorly built ship.  In the HMS Polychrest I see an apt match for the New York Mets, which probably doesn’t make the bibliophiles too happy.

In the book, aside from the ship being designed to fire Congreve rockets, the boat was made by a disreputable shipyard who did not properly bolt the ship together.  Should the ship get into any real fighting… it would simply shake itself apart.  Also, the slow sailing vessel was armed with very heavy carronades which could do serious damage to an enemy vessel but the slow sailing Polychrest could never get close enough to use them.  Perhaps we could see the reality of the Mets lack of depth or that the offense wasn’t strong enough to take advantage of the Met’s fine starting pitchers, but the point of this post isn’t a review of the faults of the 2012 Mets.  The point of this book is how to fix a leaky ship.

After being battered in naval battles and limping along after a long and rough time at sea, a ship needs to be fixed.  Sometimes a ship needs only some tar and a few spars that got knocked away in the strong winds but other times the ship needs to be taken out of the water and have the copper bottom scraped off and replaced.  So I beg the question to my fellow Met fans… do the Mets need to patch the ship and only wait for the crew to learn to work the Great Guns more efficiently or does the HMS Metropolitan need a more thorough overhaul.

Fixing the Mets with Tar and Rope:  In the case of a baseball analogy I think I need to explain what I mean by a “Tar and Rope” fix.  What I am saying is that the Mets only need to do enough to keep the ship floating and the team will come round.  The “Tar and Rope” fix is barely a fix at all.  You wait for the bloated contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana to expire as a captain might await the departure of a blighted first lieutenant.  You secure David Wright, Ike Davis, Jon Niese and all the Prospects (Midshipmen) and try to weather the stormy seas of the 2013 season with the promise that by 2014 the future for the Mets will be great and that they’ll be sure to snap up their share of prizes.

There is a lot to be said for “Tar and Rope” and how much it could help the feeble HMS Metropolitan.  The 2013 Mets might not be much to look at but trading away R.A. Dickey (and maybe even Johan Santana if he proves healthy) could earn the Mets some quality pieces and by 2014 with Wilmer Flores, Matt Den Dekker, Zack Wheeler and money for Free Agents the Mets of 2014 could actually be pretty decent.  Yet… is pretty decent really good enough?

A Total Overhaul:  Look for a second at the Washington Nationals.  The team has a pitching staff to envy (Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmerman) and unless the Mets managed to have Harvey, Wheeler, Niese and others to all succeed to high levels the Nationals are likely to be stronger.  With their offense (Harper, Espinosa, Morse, Werth, Desmond, Zimmerman and Rendon) the Nationals have the hitting force to stay in the elite ranks for a considerable amount of time.  So… does a “Tar and Rope” fix actually vault the Mets above the Nationals in time to take advantage of the likes of Harvey and Wheeler?  Perhaps instead, the Mets need to be hauled out of the water, scraped clean and rebuilt from the beams.

What would that mean?  Trading David Wright, R.A. Dickey and almost everyone and anyone else whose maximum value is reached before 2014.  Baseball teams, like boats, need to be seasoned, so instead of looking towards 2014, we’d be looking at 2015 or 2016 and Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler leading the charge with Michael Fulmer, Domingo Tapia and Steven Matz behind them.  Wilmer Flores and MAYBE Ike Davis lead the offense which looks so vastly different that to guess who we’d have would be nearly impossible.

So, shall the Mets get out the Tar and Ropes and holy stone the ship into some semblance of glory?  Or should they pull the sinking ship from the water and fix the carpenters mistake before they meet a destructive cross wind and come apart at the seams?  What say you?

15 comments for “A Met fan’s guide to fixing a leaky ship

  1. October 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

    How can you use a picture of the Costa Concordia as a comparison to the New York Mets? Where did your sense of humanity go? That was a human tragedy where lives were lost. To compare that to a baseball team? Have the decency to take down your blog and put up a different picture. Show the world that Mets fans have more class than that.

    • 7train
      October 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

      I highly doubt that the Author or Editor’s intent was to connect this tragedy to the Mets baseball team and he is himself a human being and subject to the same sort of lapses we all are subject to on occasion. Sometimes having a sense of humanity entails forgiving others rather than condemning them for the occasional lapse.

    • David Groveman
      October 29, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Isis not choose the picture. I was comparing the mets to a ship from the turn of the 19th century.

  2. October 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I’m not condemning his article.Just questioning his lack of judgement on his choice of photos.

    • David Groveman
      October 29, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Part of the issue is that there are no pictures of the HMS Polychrest.

  3. Reese Kaplan
    October 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Despite the team’s and fanbase’s preternatural insistence to retain both Wright and Dickey, the better alternative is to trade them away instead of repeating the same mistakes that got the team into its current predicament. The Niese deal is representative of how to build for the future — lock in a young player with a rising star at a team friendly rate. You keep your budget in check and retain flexibility for future trades should you decide to move that individual. I can see them doing something similar in the near future with Ike Davis, Matt Harvey and possibly even Ruben Tejada.

    Right now you deal from strength with a Cy Young Award caliber pitcher for a VERY friendly $5 million contract. Even teams not normally in the market to spend money like KC or SD would jump at a chance to land him. Granted, it’s essentially a one-year rental as there’s no guarantee he would stay or the team getting him could afford him beyond 2013, but what could he bring back in trade?

    Wright is the tougher pill to swallow. I know he posted good WAR numbers last year but it was built on an otherworldly first half (with modest power). Look at the bottom line — a .300 hitter with 20 home run power and fewer than 100 RBIs AGAIN. He is an excellent player but not a superstar. A-Rod is/was a superstar. Cabrera is a superstar. Wright flourishes when he has other hitters around him but he’s not going to carry a team on his back. Consequently I don’t want to see the Mets saddled with a 7-8 year commitment that might net only half that of decent value. Let some other team do so where maybe he will again thrive with a real lineup around him. Instead, get two Zack Wheelers or more in trade AND gain an immediate $16 million of payroll flexibility for this year to address other areas and have that ongoing flexibility for the future. In one more year Flores should be ready for 3B anyway, so you can muddle through with a combination of Murphy at 3B and Valdespin at 2B for this losing year.

  4. 7train
    October 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    As for the substance of the article I’m on board with putting her in dry dock. Recycling for scrap anyone over 32 come 2015 because what we have and the maneuverability we lack in payroll and likely production from the farm isn’t close to enough to compete with Washington, Atlanta and Philly and Philly and the Marlins have some fresh horses on the way.

    With Dickey, Wright and Santana we could hang in there for a while but but eventually will fall by the wayside. Too many teams we would compete against for the Wild Card are just flat out better, deeper and more well rounded than we are. If the idea is to stay in it for attendance purposes we’ll just stay mediocre forever and what good is that?

    If we were able to get a couple of top catching and OF candidates with an ETA of 2015-2016 we would have real competition for jobs in the Majors with depth and a piece or two to trade. In addition the cash freed up would allow us to take on a few pieces for right now that could themselves return something decent mid season 2014-2015 when the new pieces should be ready.

    It’s time to be honest with ourselves. Just because we haven’t won in so many years is no reason to put in place processes that will hamper winning in the future. In the NL we are clearly better than Colorado and Chicago, that’s it. Arizona and San Diego have monster farms, Reds have a well conceived team that just needs a tweak or two. St. Louis and SF don’t appear to be on the way downhill for a while and Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are teams we could compete against successfully but just as likely as not they beat us out.

    The only glimmer of hope to compete for a 2nd Wild Card is with NL Central teams not having Houston to beat up on 15 times a year bringing their win totals down a bit but even at that every single thing would have to go right for us just to remain in the hunt till September and that’s asking too much to be realistic.

    We have no catching or OFer’s in the Majors and we really should assume that we don’t have any close by and seek to rectify that or we run the very real risk of waiting till 2017 or 2018 or just about the time Davis, Harvey, Wheeler and Niese have to be extended for big bucks and we find ourselves in the same situation we are now with Wright being Santana and Dickey having left nothing behind for a team that really only needs 3 key pieces to be a long term contender.

  5. Name
    October 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Continuing the ship theme…

    In my view, the Mets are like a submarine. People are seeing them go down, but it’s not because of its leaky and taking on water. They will eventually be able to sink other team’s ships without them knowing and after they have done so they will proudly rise and surface.

    On a more serious note, if all are healthy, I think we have probably one of the top 3 rotations in baseball and have a good case for #1. If you have a great pitching staff and all are other parts are average, you have a chance to compete.

    • norme
      October 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      Name, I hope you’re correct about the pitching staff. Top 3 or even #1? Personally I think you’re looking at it thru rose-colored glasses.
      Harvey still has to prove himself over the long haul. There may be some bumps along the way.
      Niese is a nice pitcher, perhaps a #2, but could be a #3.
      Gee, who I like a lot, is at best a #4.
      That leaves a questionable Santana, who may be gone during or after this season, and a Dickey who is a marvel, but an aging marvel.
      Wheeler has yet to throw in the majors, so we can only hope.
      Mejia is young, but has never had much success in the bigs.
      As for Familia, Hefner, McHugh there is no proof that any of them could be successful on a regular big-league basis.
      As I said, I hope you are correct and I am wrong. We’ll see.

      • Name
        October 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        I was talking about NL, AL is a different game and it’s hard to compare stats to them because of the stupid DH.

        If Healthy, Dickey and Santana can have sub-3 ERA’s. Niese could have low-mid 3 ERA. Gee will probably high 3 to low 4s. Harvey is still the biggest question mark, but most likely he will do better than Gee.

        While other teams may have a better top combo, like Philly with Halladay-Lee-Hamels, i think that the overall depth of the top 5 is one of the best, debatable though of course.

  6. Chris F
    October 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    I see very little difference between either of those options. Option 1 is wait out aweful contracts and sign Wright and RA. Option 2 is wait out the same bad contracts and trade Wright and RA. I can’t see one being a simple fixit and the other a dry dock. I favor keeping Wright and RA. In either case the Mets will largely be staffed by low value contracts and not competitive for 2-3 years. Just curious…what happens when one or more of the up and comers turns out to be a bust or gets injured?

    So why keep David Wright and RA Dickey? Wright is not just a Met, he IS the Mets. Taking on one long term contract is not going to melt this team. He is a living legacy, a leader, the “captain”. He will lead the young team through what it takes to be an MLB player and provide the necessary anchor to balance a team of kids. Did I mention he is and will be the face of this team. Trading him will be a disaster on many fronts. Is he expensive? Sure. Is he worth it? On many fronts, yes. And what about RA? Sure he might command quite a bit more than what he’s on the hook for this year and next. But in a const conscious team, where playing undervalued guys is key, who will be MORE undervalued? Here’s a guy quite possibly who will take the Cy Young Award and who will never command a Strasburg, Lincecum, Weaver, Darvish like contract because he’s late 30s and throws a circus pitch. So say we get him for 3 years when we will be competitive and for 10-12M$ per year. We would have 30M$ locked up in 2 guys, leaving 70M$ at present funding levels to round out the squad. By then when we are reaping the TV contract money, there will be more as well.

    So I say forget calling this one thing or the other and let’s just plan for being strong in 2014-2015.

    Chris

    • 7train
      October 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Wright has been leading the young players already, Duda, Kirk, Thole and those guys are all older than Trout, Harper, Profar, Brantley, Castro, Freeman, Heyward, Lawrie, Montero, Rizzo, Simmons, Stanton, Eaton, Grandal and Norris.

      Until we get a few players like those David Wright won’t be enough on his own to make a difference.

      • Chris F
        October 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        Sure. But trading him is no guarantee they are coming. And who is the field leader, the rudder, with him gone to get through a whole season? Ike? Murph? tejada? The plain fact is, both Wright and RA play critical roles on this team, and in my eyes well worth paying them for it. There is plenty of salary available to grow the team.

        • 7train
          October 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

          I’m not happy about trading them. I’d love to sign Wright and Dickey but by trading them we have a good shot to have a couple of catchers and OFers, with them we have no shot unless we wait till 2017-2018 unless Kirk, den Dekker, Lucas, Alonzo Harris and Vaughn come through. My best guess is Alonzo becomes a decent full time CFer or more likely LFer and leadoff. Vaughn a RH platoon in RF and Kirk a 4th/5th OFer and catcher we’ll go through Centeno, Pena, Forsythe and Plaweicki and wind up at best getting one to play average for a period of time and the rest below average.

          That means we’re short on starting talent, let alone bench, AAA depth, forget about having something to trade and we will just be sabotaged in years in which we’re close and those will be few and far between to begin with.

  7. Metsense
    October 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    The Mets strength, now and in the foreseeable future, is the starting pitching. As the minor league pitchers develope and there is real depth at the major league level, then begin to trade the strength for position players. If the Mets strength is pitching, then they should change course and get better defensive players. If they could field a team of 8 average offensive and defensive players without any weak links then maybe they can compete based on the strong pitching. If this minor league pitching falters, this ship is sunk.

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