Using hindsight to redo the Mets’ offseason

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

Byrdak

.688 .604
Kuo .819 .885
Romero .784 .589
Sherrill .659 .608

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.

11 comments for “Using hindsight to redo the Mets’ offseason

  1. Ron Davis
    February 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    With all his arguments being good i was all for Brydak i think he was the only wise resigning i was impressed last year major issue the Mets had was their bullpen last year at least TB was solid and a solid lefty. the rest was good arguments. i still would give IRod Pudge a minor league deal for 1 million to 1.25

    • Brian Joura
      February 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Byrdak was good last year. But a lot of that had to do with Collins’ usage pattern. If he’s going to get his LOOGY to face 65% LHB, we could use Herrera and be just as well off.

  2. srt
    February 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    You’re making a the assumption that the Mets didn’t target some of these FAs.
    You’re also making the assumption that if they did, these players would actually sign with the Mets.

    Limited funds, organization broke, future ownership in question. Doesn’t make it easy for the FO and doesn’t make it attractive to any FA that has a choice on where to sign.

    • Brian Joura
      February 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      In the second graph I acknowledged that the Mets may have been rebuffed by some players.

      Colon signed with the A’s, at least two of the LOOGYs signed with the Mariners — I don’t think they would have rejected the Mets if New York offered more money and equal (or better) playing time.

      • srt
        February 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        Oh for sure, offering more money would have been possibly the only way we could have signed some of these FAs who had a choice. The Mets outlook right now – both on the field and off – doesn’t lend itself to FAs picking them as their first choice.

        That pendulum will swing back – sometime. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.

  3. DrDooby
    February 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Why is losing a 23 year old P prospect like Stinson or Rodríguez better than losing 25 year-old Rhiner Cruz ?
    Also, had FMart been removed from the 40-man roster in November, he would still have been on waivers for all 29 teams to claim and keep.
    Also, what makes Arthur Rhodes or JC Romero a better bet for 2012 success than Byrdak ?
    And why rather have Bartolo Colon in your rotation instead of Dillon Gee ?

    If you sign a SP, I’d probably have gone with someone like Bedard or Maholm and thus some upside….

    • Brian Joura
      February 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      The age difference is one year. Cruz turned 25 after the year ended, Rodriguez turned 24 in January and Stinson will turn 24 before next season starts.

      Stinson had a 7.44 ERA and more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A. Rodriguez gave up 11 HR in 75 IP in the Class-A Florida State League, a loop known for being pitcher-friendly. Neither of these guys are likely to contribute anything for the Mets. Cruz throw 100 mph. He may not contribute anything, either, but I’d rather gamble on him than the others.

      I don’t know if Rhodes or Romero is a better bet than Byrdak. But I’d say they’re not any worse, either. Alderson could have waited until after the Rule 5 Draft to sign his LOOGY and kept a spot open on the 40-man.

      Dillon Gee had a 4.63 ERA in Triple-A and a 4.43 ERA in the majors. I don’t think it’s getting any better than that, either.

      Bedard got $4.5 million, so he was probably outside of the Mets’ price range. Maholm got even more money – $4.75 million.

  4. DaveSchneck
    February 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Brian,
    Good summary and mostly fair. Despite the payroll limitations, I give Sandy B-/C+ for this offseason, and this is due to the lack of catching and starting pitching depth. Evans/Pridie is preferred over Hairston/open 5th, but both were out of options anyhow. Byrdak provides good value at his salary. Kuo has been awesome in the past but battled personal issues like Bucholtz. Rauch was pricey but was signed early in the offseason, when Alderson paid a slight premium before the market dropped. Shoppach and Colon over Nickeas and Bautista would cost $3.5 million more but would have provided two key upgrades. Too bad they couldn’t find the extra cash.

  5. February 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Great analysis and could not agree more. I thought since day 1 the Rauch deal was pretty bad. Signing a guy like Colon makes a ton of sense statistically and from a business standpoint signing anyone with a name is better for getting fans excited than a series of sub-par relievers.

  6. TomG
    February 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Some good points, but the idea that the Mets would have been better off targeting SP instead of RP I can’t agree with. Over the last couple of years RP have been an undervalued comodity. It’s become, at least at this point in time, more cost effective to build up your bullpen then the rotation. There are always going to be unexpected hits and misses in the pen but by spending to build depth they are doing their best to maximize return on what they are spending. It’s been working for the last couple of years but this past year John Mozeliak and Jon Daniels seemed to really embrace it.

  7. Metsense
    February 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    It has been a year with Alderson and the honeymoon is over. Your ideas were superior. I especiallly like the Shoppach and Colon moves instead of Rauch. Evans and Pridie make more sense than Hairston and ? . Once Cedeno was picked up then there is no need for Turner on the team and he was an average NL second baseman that could have brought something back. For example, the Rockies wanted him early on. The lack of trades was disappointing. The Mets rule 5 maneuvering was hard for me to comprehend and your ideas made more sense. I’d be interested to hear Chris’s take on it.Thanks for an excellent thought provoking piece.

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