Friday, November 7, 2008

Steven Goldman's Q's and my A's

On September 29 Steven Goldman wrote an article for the New York Sun(R.I.P.) entitled "Team now faces Plenty of Offseason Questions" where he wrote about and listed all of the Mets issues and questions.  The impression this article leaves on you is that they have quite a few of them.  At the end of his article he poses five questions that are integral to the Mets offseason and asks how they'd answer them.  So when I read this I thought to myself that it would be interesting to answer all these questions on this blog.  So that's what I did.  (The questions are written by Steven Goldman and answered by me):
Q: How do the Mets rebuild their troublesome bullpen, which will lack closer Billy Wagner, without falling into the trap of spending money on "names," despite ample evidence that only a very few relievers provide consistent value from season to season? 
A: I believe the Mets can simply cobble together a cheap but effective and talented bullpen of mostly younger pitchers.  I would also add a veteran presence to this group so that the young inexperienced pitchers could all learn from him. Just look at the Rays bullpen, they had a bunch of young and talented pitchers who all had different styles of pitching, i.e. a sidearmer, a fireballer, a starting pitcher. But most importantly they had Troy Percival. If you look at the Rays bullpen you'll find that some of the guys that were horrible last year were great this year(J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour). The only real difference between this year and last was them having a veteran presence their in the bullpen. So my idea to fix the Mets bullpen issues goes like this: they need a veteran presence, a closer/future closer, a fireballer, a swingman(Snoop Manuel's term for a good reliever), a lefty specialist and a long reliever that can work as a swingman if needed. How can they fix all this in one offseason? Simple, they should sign Trevor Hoffman to be the closer until midseason at the latest while mentoring the likes of Eddie Kunz, Robert Parnell, Joe Smith, Carlos Muniz and Brian Stokes. Whichever one of Eddie Kunz, Robert Parnell and Joe Smith win the eight inning job(can get both lefties and righties outwith ease) will pick up the closer title after the all-star break.  The losers(two of Kunz, Parnell and Smith) will battle for the seventh inning job.  The rest of the pitchers mentioned above will compete with one of Kunz, Parnell and Smith for the middle reliever spot while Brian Stokes and Robert Parnell battle for the long relief spot(although Parnell will probably get on of the better 3 spots).  Onto the last two spots in the bullpen.  Scott Schoeneweis needs to go. If the Mets prefer two LHers in their 'pen I would suggest going with two of Pedro Feliciano, Willie Collazo, Jason Vargas(who dominated in the Arizona Fall League), Adam Bostick and Ricardo Rincon.  If the Mets want to go with one lefty then all of those right handed pitchers mentioned above would make the team while only one of the left handed pitchers mentioned above would make it also.  The Mets were rumored to have been offered a trade of Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano for Huston Street, if this deal is still on the table I would take it and run.
Q: Should Carlos Delgado's option be picked up based on a dominant half-season which followed a year and a half of slugging hitting and worse fielding? If not, who will replace him? And what if he reverts to his 2006/first-half-2007 levels at age 37?
A: His option has already been picked up.  I would've also picked it up, but I would now explore the trade market for Delgado for a few reasons: a) Delgado could easily go back to his 2007 ways(for three months of the 2008 season he was horrible April-.204, June-.229 and August-.248).  b) Delgado is 37 and his best years are behind him it's just natural for him to decline in '09. c)There are better and cheaper options out on the free agent market(Jason Giambi) and d) Delgado doesn't get on base.  Jason Giambi is a better choice because although he can't field he's cheaper and gets on base at a higher rate.  In a supposed down year for Giambi and great year for Delgado, Giambi still trumped Delgado in OBP.  Giambi  had a lower Avg.(.247) and still had a higher OBP(.373), while Delgado had a higher Avg.(.271) but a lower OBP(.353).  Old timers would say Delgado gets more hits hence the higher Avg. and therefore he's a better player.  Because the same people that say that also say that a walk is as good as a hit. This. proves that traditional baseball people are morons because they're clearly contradicting themselves here. Whoever gets on base at a higher rate is clearly more valuable per Billy Beane and Bill James who are the more knowledgeable people.  Also Delgado might attract some serious interest and therefore it might be worth it to trade Delgado and his $12MM contract for a young, cheap and useful player and then go out and sign Jason Giambi for $8MM. If Delgado gets no interest on the trade market the Mets should just keep him and if he fails they could either promote Mike Carp(their top 1B prospect) or hand Nick Evans(a player with huge platoon splits and will probably start the year in a platoon in LF) the job.  They could also look into trading for Nick Johnson.         
Q:Ryan Church was quite productive before post-concussive syndrome shelved him for almost two months. When he returned in August, he became part of the problem, hitting .227 AVG/.315 OBA/.318 SLG with two home runs and playing through additional injuries. Should he be counted on as a regular last season? If not, can Tatis come back from a separated shoulder and do it again at age 34?
A: Tatis cannot be trusted with a starting job he will only decline.  Church should compete for one of the two corner outfield jobs along with Nick Evans, Val Pascucci and Chris Aguila.  They could also look at some interesting trade candidates(i.e. Travis Buck).
Q: How aggressively should the Mets try to bring back erratic free-agent-to-be Oliver Perez? If he does not return, how do the Mets best replace the 53 starts given to Perez and the departing Pedro Martinez? Can John Maine come back healthy and perform over a full season? Are they ready to trust Jon Niese? Will they be players for CC Sabathia, potentially picking up their second big-ticket lefty in a year?
A: I believe, that OP should only be offered arbitration and Pedro should be let go.  Therefore the Mets save money and collect to draft picks.  To replace them I'd make some bargain basement signings(i.e. Horacio Ramirez, Brad Penny) and have them compete against Jon Niese and Aaron Heilman for the two last rotation spots.  If the rumors of the Luis Castillo and Aaron Heilman for Javier Vazquez trade is true I would make that trade.  Ideally we'd want Niese to start in AAA to refine and polish is almost big league ready stuff, but if he proves ready in Spring he might as well start the year in New York.  If Heilman loses the job he'd have to be traded.     
Q: Do the Mets continue the Murphy-Evans platoon next season? Murphy's minor league statistics suggest he is not the .300 hitter he appeared to be in the majors. If he regresses, what is the fallback position?
A: I would prefer to lose(get rid of him at any cost) Luis Castillo and put Daniel Murphy at 2B full time.  Instead of being an average LF he'd be a well above average hitting 2B while giving up some defense. This is much like what the Phillies have with Chase Utley.  Murphy has great plate discipline so it'll be easier for him to adjust to the MLB, therefore even though he might not sustain his .300 Avg. he'll probably have a .370+ OBP which is superb(better than Delgado). Ideally you'd want Evans to show that he's ready to start in LF full time but that most likely won't happen.  Therefore the Mets should seriously look into acquiring a young outfielder who play defense well and gets on base.