Sandy Alderson has said that the team is essentially done adding players to the roster. That makes sense, as the 40-man roster is full and they likely will already have to make a move to add whoever wins the fifth outfield spot to the roster. So, let’s take a minute to redo the offseason, knowing what we know now.
Alderson was very limited in what he could do this offseason. But I think we can safely say that some moves didn’t work out. Also, I think it was a mistake to put all of the available money into the bullpen. Perhaps Alderson looked elsewhere and was rebuffed. Even so, there’s no way he should have spent $3.5 million on Jon Rauch.
Let’s start with the 40-man roster and the Rule 5 Draft. The Mets had 38 players on their roster, did not make a selection in the draft and lost the first overall pick. Rhiner Cruz may very well end up back on the Mets. He may be a stiff who never contributes in the majors. But at this moment in time, he was an asset that was predictably lost for next to nothing. This should be rectified.
The Mets also had four players on their 40-man for Rule 5 that they later ended up removing. Mike Baxter and Danny Herrera cleared waivers and are now back with the team. The Mets waived Fernando Martinez and lost him to the Astros and they non-tendered Ronny Paulino. I think we can safely say that all four of these players could easily have been left unprotected.
Before the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets cut ties with two low cost outfielders who could have capably filled the two reserve slots in Nick Evans and Jason Pridie. Evans can do 90 percent of what Scott Hairston can do and he would have done it at less than half of the price of Hairston’s $1.1 million deal. Hairston’s big edge on Evans is his ability to play center field but Pridie would fill that role. The Mets were 20-12 when Pridie started in center last year and he also gives the team a LH bat on the bench.
The other major change prior to Rule 5 is that I would not have signed Tim Byrdak. The LOOGY did a fine job for the Mets in 2011, in large part because Terry Collins did an excellent job limiting his exposure to RHB the final four months of the season. But there were no shortage of lefty relievers available on the market. A partial listing includes: Kuo, Mijares, Miller, Oliver, Rhodes, Romero and Sherrill. There was no reason to lock up Byrdak early and tie up a 40-man roster spot.
If we add Cruz, Evans and Pridie and remove Baxter, Byrdak, Herrera, Martinez and Paulino the Mets are at 36. The Mets may end up losing Martinez to the Astros again, but this time they have to keep him on their major league roster for a full season. Plus, we also know the organization is ready to move on, anyway.
The two-for-one trade with the Giants brings us up to 37, the addition of Frank Francisco gets us to 38 and Ronny Cedeno brings us to 39. We also have around $5 million to spend, as we did not sign either Byrdak or Rauch and saved money by keeping Evans instead of Hairston. Even though we are two relievers shy in this scenario, I still prefer to target SP with the remaining funds.
My main target would have been Bartolo Colon, who signed a one year/ $2 million deal with the A’s. Let’s say we sign Colon for $2.5 million. Gee moves to the bullpen and we have $2.5 million to bring someone in on a minor league deal, either a RH hitting catcher or another reliever. Kelly Shoppach took a $1.35 million deal in Boston and Ivan Rodriguez is still available. We’ve already discussed the LOOGYs we could have gotten.
Romero ended up signing for $750,000 with the Cardinals while Sherrill got $1.1 million from the Mariners, who also gave Kuo $500,000. Here are the overall numbers for some of our LOOGYs:
|Overall OPS allowed||Vs. LHB OPS allowed|
Kuo allowed a .423 BABIP against LHB last year, an aberration unlikely to happen again. Romero faced more RHB (70) than LHB (46) last year. If he was used like Byrdak, who got 65% of his PA versus lefties, his overall numbers would be better than Byrdak. He’s less expensive and younger. Sherrill had better numbers than Byrdak and is also younger.
If the relievers balked at signing a minor league deal, either Armando Rodriguez or Josh Stinson could be removed from the 40-man. So, let’s say Colon for $2.5 million, Shoppach for $1.5 million and Romero for $1.0 million. All get major league deals and Rodriguez and Stinson are cut from the 40-man. Here’s what we have for the same money:
The Mets end up with Colon, Cruz, Evans, Pridie, Romero and Shoppach instead of Byrdak, Hairston, Heffner, Rauch, Rodriguez and Stinson. SP and catching is improved while the bullpen and outfield are probably a wash. Plus there’s the chance that F-Mart, Rodriguez and Stinson remain in the system.
Colon had a 3.57 xFIP and a 2.9 WAR last year compared to a 4.46 xFIP and a 0.2 WAR for Gee. While Colon is another year older (39), he gets away from Yankee Stadium and the DH. Last year, Colon had a 3.45 ERA in 91.1 road innings. Gee moves back to rotation depth, a position he’s better suited for in the long run then as one of the team’s primary starters.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but I think we can look back and see that Alderson’s choices with the 40-man roster this offseason were sub-optimal.