Slowly but surely the New York Mets are calculating a winning formula.

First, the Wilpon’s decided to name the well-traveled and well-versed Sandy Alderson as their new general manager. They also tapped J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta to be part of their new “moneyball” team. Soon they will they hire a new manager-be it Terry Collins, Wally Backman, Clint Hurdle, etc.- and the management of the Mets will be complete.

With the front office facelift nearly complete, the focus will soon shift to the roster.

So, who stays, who goes?

At this point it seems the core will stay intact. With the Mets recently picking up Jose Reyes’ contract option, Alderson and crew seem content with going into next season with Reyes and David Wright once again as their cornerstones.

I have explored what the Mets should do with their money in an earlier post, which caused quite an uproar, and I still maintain that for this season the Mets should view it as a season of trial and error and not overspend.

That’s not to say I don’t think the Mets should be frugal, but they should go about spending rationally and responsibly. The Mets would be wise not to hurl money at top-flight free agents like Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Victor Martinez or Cliff Lee.

Instead, what they should do is explore some trades and pick up high-character and multi-purpose players.

The biggest area of concern the Mets need to address is obviously pitching. Depending on whom you talk to, the Mets need one to three starting pitchers(Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese appear to be locks as does and Johan Santana when he returns from injury), some middle relievers (especially a lefty specialist if/when Pedro Feliciano walks) and possibly a closer.

After Santana, Pelfrey and Niese, I’d like to see R.A. Dickey get another shot. He pitched exceptionally well, especially at Citi Field. If he comes cheap enough, which he should, he should get a spot. If Alderson and company feel Dickey was just a one-year wonder, than I’ll trust their judgment.

After that you can see the Mets trying to upgrade the starting rotation through free agency or trades.

A free agent who intrigues me is Jon Garland. Garland, who was wooed by the Mets last year, will likely only be seeking a one-year deal. Garland did well pitching at Petco Park last year(14 wins, 3.46 ERA) for the Padres and Citi Field’s dimensions could translate to continued success in Queens. Garland eats up innings and is a solid back end starter who will not cost all that much.

Another possible route the Mets may explore is acquiring a quality starting pitcher through a trade. One name that has come up that has whet many fan’s whistles is Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza.

With Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena practically having both feet out the door, the Rays may be heading toward another youth movement and could be looking to move some players. If so, Garza would make for an excellent addition to the Mets staff. The Mets can easily take on Garza’s current salary and if he does well with the Mets, the Mets could certainly pony up the bucks next year with Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez and Carlos Beltran’s contracts coming off the books.

The only problem with Garza is who would you have to give up for him? For Garza, the Mets should be open to the idea of packaging the likes Jenrry Mejia, Lucas Duda and/or even Ike Davis (granted if they trade him, they would address adding a 1B through free agency).

How about exploring a possible trade with the Red Sox for Daisuke Matsuzaka? Matsuzaka has two years left on his $52 million, six-year deal. What if the Mets can package Oliver Perez and/or perhaps Carlos Beltran?

Playing in Citi Field could do wonders to Matsuzaka’s confidence, and perhaps a change of scenery is what Matsuzaka needs. After all, he has not pitched all that badly. In his four years with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka has posted 46 career wins with a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.

If I were the Mets, I’d consider Matsuzaka if there is a remote chance they can get rid of Perez’s contract. That’s not likely to happen, meaning acquiring Matsuzaka would be far-fetched.

As for the rumor of adding Javier Vasquez, I say pass. Sure, Vasquez pitched well in the National League, but he is a guy who can’t handle the pressure of playing in New York. In his two stints with the Yankees, Vasquez has crumbled under the spotlight.

There is a surplus of relievers that the Mets can look to be either a closer, if they choose not to name Bobby Parnell as their next closer (if K-Rod was to depart), or use as a primary set-up man in Kevin Gregg and Brian Fuentes. Rafael Soriano is also available, but if you pursue him, you would probably have to invest a lot of money and definitely make him your closer. With the return of K-Rod being a question mark, I would think the Mets would skip on adding Soriano.

As for the offense, as I said earlier, I feel Alderson and crew will mostly keep the core intact. You can say that the Mets would need an upgrade at catcher and second base.

However, I’d like to see Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada get extended looks, and see if a new manager can get more out of them.

On offense I’d like to see some minor tweaks, like adding a veteran utility man with some character.
Looking at the list of candidates with that criteria, one name jumps out more than any: Juan Uribe. Here is a guy with a pedigree for success (just coming off a World Series championship run), comes cheap and can play almost any position. I would love to have a guy like Uribe on the Mets.

So there is my Mets Christmas list. I don’t want a lot, I just want a little. Sprinkle it with new optimism stemming from new management, and there is still chance for success in 2011.

In summary, this is how I think the Mets could manageably look like in the April. This is based on the assumption that the Mets could free themselves of Perez and Luis Castillo.

C: Thole, backup free agent (Henry Blanco again?)
2B: Tejada
SS: Reyes
3B: Wright
LF: Jason Bay
CF/RF: Beltran
RF/CF: Angel Pagan

Bench: Daniel Murphy, Juan Uribe, Chris Carter and Nick Evans.

SP: Santana(when healthy)
SP: Pelfrey
SP: Garza
SP: Niese
SP: Dickey

Bullpen: Bobby Parnell, Brian Fuentes, Manny Acosta, Ryota Igarashi, Tobi Stoner, Dan Wheeler?, open spot for K-Rod or a replacement if he is not to return.

2 comments on “Hot Stove burning for Mets

  • SteveP

    Garland is a great thought – park is made for his game.

  • Dan Stack

    Garland can be had and will be cheap. It makes sense.

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