Addressing 2010

mets-primary-copyYesterday, Jayson Stark wrote an absolute must-read about the Mets at  Stark spoke with people around the game from scouts to executives who dish on the various and familiar problems for Mets fans.

Stark, given the shallow pool of free agent talent and the assumption that the Mets spending will be limited this coming off-season reasonably suggests that the Mets must improve via trade.

And Stark suggests not trading for talented players but “gritty” players:

Here’s where this gets complicated. This is a team that doesn’t just need to make a trade to patch a hole or two. It’s a team many baseball people think needs a massive chemistry transplant.

Let me be perfectly clear: this is wrong. The Mets lost in 2009 because they didn’t have enough talent to make up for their injured stars.  The Mets lost in 2008 because their bullpen would have been one of the worst in history for a playoff team.  Remember, Luis Ayala attempted to close games.  These are talent problems, not chemistry problems.  Would bringing in talented, gritty players help?  Absolutely.  Would bringing in gritty players help?  Not unless they’re really talented.

Stark also bounces the idea of trading one of the Mets core of Beltran, Wright, Reyes or Santana this off-season, concluding that Reyes or Beltran are the only viable options.  Imagining a scenario where the Mets can get a blockbuster package back for either player, with their value at its lowest point in years, is nearly impossible. This is simply not the time to sell on Reyes or Beltran.

At, Ted Berg, who I almost always agree with also tackles the Mets 2010 planning.  He argues that the Mets recent trades of youngsters (See: Santana, Putz) has left the team short on major league caliber players which forces the team into overspending to bring in role players like Alex Cora for $2.5 million.  There’s a minor fallacy here, I think in that, even after trading youngsters away, the Mets didn’t have to spend $2.5 million on Alex Cora; $1 million or so would have netted an equivalent substitute.

So, Ted argues, for the coming year, the Mets

“… should save their money, hold onto their prospects and spend 2010 figuring out which holes cannot be filled from within.”

This position strikes me as incomplete, although not Jayson Stark level irrational (trade Reyes or Beltran when neither has value). As I understand this argument, it goes: hope and more hope.  Given the Mets elite core, new stadium and narrowing window, standing pat should be unacceptable.  It means:

1. offering arbitration to Jeff Francoeur and hoping that he hits more like his .301/.323/.503 line for the Mets in 158 AB rather than his career .269/.309/.429 hitter over the first MLB 2,636 AB.  What rationale is there to believe that this is reasonable?  Francoeur’s walk rate as a Met has declined to a career worst 2.7%, while his BABIP as a Met is .327, his best since 2007.

2. handing the LF job to Fernando Martinez and hoping the 21-year-old 1. stays healthy for the first time in his career and becomes an adequate corner OF immediately.  Remember, Martinez’s high in games played was 90 in 2008 and that includes four rehab appearances in the GCL.  He played in 74 games in 2009, culminating in a .176/.242/.275 line in 91 AB at the MLB level.

3. hoping Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans or Chris Carter, if in fact he is the PTBNL in the Billy Wagner trade form some sort of acceptable firstbase platoon.

4. hoping that Josh Thole and Omir Santos form an acceptable catching tandem.  Of the first four hopes, this actually seems the most likely to happen.

5. hoping that John Maine, Oliver Perez and Jonathan Niese are healthy and effective enough to complement Johan Santana, and that Santana himself approximates the Santana of 2008.

6. hoping that Mike Pelfrey makes the improvements he hasn’t yet to be more than a back-end starter.

That’s a lot of hope for this author’s taste.

However, hope would be better than wildly overpaying for the services of Benji Molina or Jerrod Washburn to pick two potential 2010 free agents who will likely be paid much, much more than their worth.

The Money and the Window

If healthy, the Mets really still do have a championship-caliber core, and will through 2011.  To take advantage of that window, the Mets must do everything in their power, beyond wishing upon a little star, to create a World Series caliber team in 2010 and 2011.  Following the 2011 season, three members of the core, and five players- Beltran, Reyes, K-Rod, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and K-Rod will be free agents.  Assuming the Mets pick up Reyes’ 2011 option at $11 million dollars, those five will take up $60.488 million dollars in 2011.

According to the wonderful Cots, the Mets already have $90+ million dollars committed for 2010 with John Maine, Jeff Francoeur and Pedro Feliciano scheduled for arbitration.    If the Mets offer all three arbitration, the Mets’ payroll will likely sit north of $96 million to pay for a roster that has fallen short three years in a row, twice by the slimmest of margins, and one by a yawning chasm of injury-induced irrelevance.  The question is how best, given whatever budget ownership sets, to add the pieces that will make the Mets not just competitive, but championship caliber good in 2010 and 2011.

In part, a big part will be have to be a return to superstar level production by the Mets stars.

The second part cannot be answered alone by a series of hopes of varying degrees of far-fetchedness.

Is Free Agency the Answer?

Partly, but it’s a terrible class.

John Lackey says he wants AJ Burnett-type money (5 yrs/$82).  If he was pitching like 2005-2007 when he put up WARs of 5.9, 6.0 and 5.6, that would be worth it.  In 2009, John Lackey’s 2.9 WAR is equivalent to Randy Wolf’s.  He’s missed pieces of ’08 and ’09 with arm problems, this year with elbow troubles.  So, that would be $80 million for the age 31-35 seasons of a guy who has declined from his elite peak into a very good pitcher?  No thanks.  Such a contract would make the Mets better in 2010, and 2011 mind you, but the odds are that it would be an albatross at the back end.

With question marks at all three of the primary power positions, LF, RF, and 1B, the Mets would be well served to add a premium bat and there are two available:  Jason Bay’s .395 wOBA is fifth among MLB OF, while Matt Holliday’s .391 is sixth.  Bay, who will be 31 on Opening Day 2010, and Holliday who will be 30, will both want longterm deals at big money.  Both would be better five-year commitments than Lackey.  If the Mets are serious about playing playoff baseball in 2010, they must upgrade their production from the corners not manned by David Wright.    Holliday or Bay would meet this requirement.

Would Carlos Delgado come back on a short, incentive laden contract to play 1B?  Maybe.  Would he be productive after missing almost all of 2009?  Maybe.

The Minors

Lets take a look at a few of the guys close to the big leagues.


Neither Brad Holt nor Jenrry Mejia have conquered AA in the manner that would make one think they could help early in 2010.  Although scouts have had good things to say about Mejia recently, the Mets just cannot count on either for 2010 in the majors.

LHP Adam Bostick has quietly been terrific out of the Buffalo bullpen (2.61 ERA, 41 K and 17 BB in 38 IP) and murder on lefties (.222/.300/.278 with just two XBH allowed in 36 AB).  It’s small beans, but the Mets should not need to sign a free agent or make a trade for another LOOGY this offseason, when a perfectly competent one is under team control.

Ike Davis has had a great 2009, clubbing an organizational best 20 HR between advanced-A and AA as part of a .298/.381/.524 year.  He should start 2010 in AAA, but his near-readyness should be a deterrent to spending too heavily or investing in a long-term contract at 1B.

OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ late-season surge which has taken him to AA, is not enough to place him in the MLB plans for 2010.

SS/2B Ruben Tejada is blocked by Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo and doesn’t offer the pop the Mets so desperately need.  Should either need to miss significant time in the coming years however, he might prove a capable stop-gap.

The Answer

Stark is right, to a degree: there’s no easy answer.  However, the fact that there are no easy answers doesn’t mean there are no answers. Free agency cannot be a complete answer, and the contracts signed there could be long-term burdens, just as the current Mets contracts are now.  Trades will be difficult. Standing pat is one answer but it carries its own significant risks with a questionable reward.

Given that this will be the current regime’s last without a playoff berth in 2010, a quiet off-season in Flushing seems highly unlikely.

There are 41 comments

  1. big baby

    i don’t think the stark piece is a must read. it was awful. it was just a bunch of negative opinions of the mets, unsourced, and with no perspective. it was like he called up people he knew and asked them to say negative things about the mets, and then he just copy/pasted them.

    as for pelfrey, prior to his last 2 meltdowns, he had been pitching very well, with a FIP in the class of gallardo, cain, shields, etc. having a double play combination of alex cora and luis castillo is going to kill a guy who gets grounders. if the mets can hire a non-retarded pitching coach, i think pelfrey will be alright.

    anyway, for all of this doom and gloom shit, if we signed holliday and took delgado back on a 1 year deal, and even just put angel pagan in right, with santos/thole behind the plate, our team would be nasty offensively.

    would you trade holt/nieuwenhuis for nolasco? do you think that would do it? because if we did those 3 things, we’d be fine.



    looks good to me.

    if delgado goes down again, we’d still have murphy/evans, and perhaps even davis.

    we’d have fernando in AAA as depth.

    and considering the positions davis/fernando play, holliday fits perfectly in left for a long time.

    and then mejia comes up in july in a bullpen role and makes the 8th inning his little bo peep.

    ughh, i didn’t bring in any grinders :(

    1. Toby Hyde

      Yeah you definitely forgot the grinders.
      I think whether Nieu/Holt is enough for Nolasco says as much about how FL values him as much as how they value the young Metsies. I wonder how much value Nieu has to the Fish who already have Cameron Maybin.

      Maybe Holt/Allen/Merritt?

      1. big baby

        dude i talk to who sees a lot of FSL games and knows marlins scouts says one of them has a huge crush on nieuwenhuis

        i’d be reluctant to give up allen; he seems like somebody who could blow up in a big way. we wouldn’t really be getting full return on his potential.

        but you would have to give something to get something obviously.

        it just seems like nieuwenhuis’s stock is at an all time high, as opposed to allen, whose tool kit could allow him to blow up big time next year.

        i mean, of course it’s all predicated on who they value and such.

        anyway, my new plan is to get milton bradley and geovany soto. oh my god, i get hard just thinking about it.

  2. mark4212

    I agree with what you said pretty much Toby… Stark’s review seemed more like an I hate the mets lets get on the Bashing the Mets bandwagon. I talked to 3 people in baseball…. Everyone can always find someone to say something Negative. Like when Adam Rubin had quoted one scout who didn’t like Thole at all and saw him as a fringe Major league prospect.

    I 100% agree that the Mets MUST get Holliday or Bay. MUST, but i don’t know the cost but it’s a position where the mets have had over the last few years about 11 players start. This would be a Key to replacing the Production you expected from Carlos Delgado and Give you the #4 hitter and #4 impact bat the Mets desperately need.

    The Mets do need to get a Pitcher and one who could slot in the top of the rotation. This is where i disagree with you. I know Lackey has had some injury concerns the last 2 year, but he still is pitching to a 3.92 ERA in the American League with a good K ratio after his return from the DL. I would take a Major look at everything in his arm though to make sure everything looks good before committing that type of money to him. He would give the Mets a 1-2 punch they haven’t had in a long time, and would slot Oliver perez, and pelfrey more along where they should be currently in the rotation. He’s a Risk, but like Burnett was for the Yanks i believe he’s a risk you need to take.

    I am also of the ilk that wants to let Murphy hold the position at 1st next season. I think his August performance has shown he does indeed have the ability to hold his own at the big league level, and has played good defense at 1st.

  3. ravin108

    I wish I had a collection of all the “how to fix the Mets” articles written in the past 10 years for all of us to laugh at.
    I really don’t know what moves there are to be made this off-season. I’m livid that we got nothing for Billy. I’d be dreaming to think that maybe Theo would say “thanks Omar, we owe you one after that.”
    We have no clue how our injured players are going to progress this off-season, which is even more unnerving.
    I don’t think we have any prospects really to trade. Our best prospects, besides Wilmer, will all be close to MLB ready next season, which I feel will be the last chance for this “core” to get ‘er done. All these guys will be absolutely necessary to stabilize the major league team through the grind of the season.

  4. acoustic567

    I would like to see the Mets fit the team to the park a bit more. I have mixed feelings about Jason Bay. I think it’s pretty doubtful that his stats in Fenway Park with the Sox lineup would translate to Citifield. His defensive shortcomings are somewhat hidden by Fenway and would be magnified by playing LF in Citifield.

    I would be interested in signing Chone Figgins, because I think he brings skills that are well suited to Citifield, in addition to having a winning resume which I still believe has value to a team.

    I agree, though, that the team definitely needs a power infusion. It’s hard to know precisely what to do about that without knowing what to expect from Wright and Beltran in 2010 in the way of power.

    1. NateW

      I like Figgins as well, but where would he play? Already lacking in power from everywhere but RF and CF Chone would probably not be enough of a bat for LF.

      Unfortunately whatever group of signings and trades we can throw together is still going to leave the team hoping for some bounce back performances, and healthy. I really think that is the only way 2010 can be a playoff season, mostly I would make moves that work for 2011 and beyond.

      Also if you think Bay would be bad in LF in Citifield then Holliday would be downright dreadful. He played like a statue out there when the Cardinals were visiting. But their bats are probably worth it.

      I like the trade for Nolasco idea, it would be a cost saving way to get the same effect as someone like Lackey. Throw the bad contact at LF instead, its a less risky deal.

  5. stickguy

    Stark had a few valid points, covered with a heaping helping of BS, sensationalism, and smoke blowing by his “sources”, some of whom seemed to be less informed about the Mets thn the average blog poster.

    Toby, your analysis seems rational, but in essence, the message is the same (or or should be the same) as every other off season: come combo of system guys, trades, and prudent FA signings to plug the holes.

    Yes, there are a lot of “ifs” this year, but every team has ifs. Starting with, will our key guys be healthy? If the answer to that is no, you aren’t likely to have a good season!

    so, assuming the core guys are back by ST (and hoping they stay on the field!), the foundation is there for a playoff run.

    And a few shrewed moves can significantly bolster the core. I agree about Lackey being a giant red flag (LT deals at big $$ to aging pitchers with injury history? Not usually a good idea!)

    But, maybe a trade for salary, as opposed to a FA signing? What if the Rays still need to clear payroll. Pena makes 10mill next year. Get him for a couple of 2nd tier porspects, and boom, a power bat and hole filled.

    Holliday I would like, but don’t see him here (too$$, or he wants to be elsewhere, or both).

    Francouer? I bet they try to ride him 1 more year.

    SP? if not lackey, the rest of the potential FAs aren’t that good, so maybe rolling dice on a Harden, or try to trade? Make it your 1 “big” trade of the season.

    So, just getting a pena, means they have to piece together catcher (santos/vet or thole is fine and cheap), and settle on a LF (I could see an evans/crter platoon, or shoot for a mid level upgrade.

    ALso, bostick and another minors arm to fill out the pen, along with losers from the #4/5 SP competition (maine/neive, etc.)

    a line up of: reyes/castillo/beltran/pena/wright/LF/francouer/C is not bad, especially if they can piece together a pitching staff.

    and, most of the parts are in house, or relatviely scrap heap. ONly big moves are trading for Pena (or equivilant) and 1 SP. Look at Marquis this year. came for peanuts, and had a good year.

  6. garik16

    Meh, I’m more on the negative side of things.

    Lets put it this way: The team’s minor league system is fairly shallow. This is pretty well known. Moreover, only a few prospects are likely to help in the next year (I suspect only Niese, Thole, Davis and MAYBE Holt if he comes out firing on all cylanders have a shot at promotion next year). The team has a ton of holes.

    Moreover, in acquiring ways to avoid such holes (FAs) the team is likely going to give up draft picks….which will continue to devastate this team in the long run. Essentially, the team faces two choices:

    Win NOW, in the next 2 years.

    I don’t think option 1 is plausible personally. So I wouldn’t mind starting #2 already. I’m actually in favor of Trading Reyes at some point next season (I figure midseason his value will be at his peak if he returns to form) for a nice group of prospects….you have to think he’d fetch a HIGH return. I’d stop paying 1 M or higher contracts for replacement level players and instead I’d use that money to sign every draft pick and every international player i can get my hands on.
    If Beltran was tradable midway through next year, I’d do that too but somehow i suspect his contract makes him untradable for the value we’d require.

    I’d go after any Japanese kid looking to follow Tazawa and skip the Japanese Major Leagues.

    I’d put Murph at 1st again next year and hope for a prayer, start with FMart in Center and start Thole full time behind the plate, backed up by Santos.

    I’d pick up Putz’s option just for the sake of it and hoping he’ll improve his FA value through his Relief performances, and leave the bullpen as is.

    In other words, this would be the team the mets I’d have field next year:

    SS Reyes
    2B Castillo
    3B Wright
    1B Murphy
    CF Beltran
    LF FMart
    RF Nick Evans
    C Thole

    Santos/Schneider (who cares)
    4 others

    P Santana
    P Maine
    P Pelfrey
    P Perez
    P Niese

    RP Green
    RP Putz
    RP K-Rod
    RP Feliciano
    RP Bostick
    RP Figueroa
    RP Misch

    Not really a great team for next year…but its what i’d throw together and just let things improve in the minors.

    1. Toby Hyde

      With a protected draft pick this year, this is the time to go out and sign someone – like um Holliday – without sacrificing a valuable first rounder.

      1. garik16

        We still sacrifice a second round pick with this…which is still valuable.

        And I’m not convinced as per Holliday/Bay…I like both guys, but there are Defense issues with Bay and with Holliday, he’s not getting younger.

        Moreover…i still think the Wilpons are hurting financially and are going to cheapen up. If so I’d rather they be cheap on FAs than draft picks and International Signings, wouldn’t you?

      2. Toby Hyde

        Sure, a second rounder has value. I just hope that the answer isn’t to cheapen up and come up Molina/Wasburn rather than Holliday. That’s not cheap; that’s dumb.

        I also think you’re whole premise sells really short how close this team was in 06, 07 and 08. Moreover, the Mets system isn’t good enough to ignore the shortterm potential in favor of a future that might not exist.

        Sure, if Reyes and Beltran are back to their usual studly selves in 2010, but for whatever reason the Mets are out of contention on July 31, (which is highly unlikely, btw) then it’s time to move both.

      3. garik16

        Washburn is clearly the wrong answer. He benefited in Seattle from the best OF defense in the league, as he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. Our OF defense, aside from Beltran, will not be that good.

        He’s not worth the money.

        Also Molina is terrible.

        The team was really close in 2006. And if everyone stays healthy i think they may have a shot. But I don’t think everyone will stay healthy (I’m looking at Beltran here), I dont think the pitching is anywhere near as consistent and as lucky as it was in 2006, etc.

        And Here’s the question for you Toby? Your way may very well end with a 4-5 year period after 2011 where the mets are basically a barren team. Basically a repeat of 2001-2004 I guess, but I’d consider it worse.

        I’d like to shorten that period….see, Winning a championship requires a lot of luck in the playoffs. The best way to do that is to get a good young team with solid prospects and some veterans who will be around for several years in a row. For the Mets that should’ve been 2006-2008, but needless to say, this failed. Now we’re basically flailing for one of the next 2 years to be a winning one, but the odds are against us.

        So i’d start the rebuild now.


        You either do that, or negotiate for an extension to Reyes…which i doubt they’ll do. So yeah. .

      4. NateW

        The value here is that they could sign multiple type A free agents and still not lose that first round pick. The further benefit is that the Mets ‘should’ not need to sign more Type A’s in the two to three years to come.

        Signing Holliday and Lackey ( i understand the argument against him) will give the team two more core players for the next two season, and it will help ease the Mets into 2012 and forward.

        This is a much better way to go about it than constantly giving up that first round pick every year to sign one Type A to patch a hole… Saving the future first round picks by giving up this years 2nd and 3rd rounds will help rebuild the farm in the long run. With proper drafting, and some fortune, they should have some internal replacements for Beltran, Castillo, Holliday, and eventually for Reyes, Perez and others.

      1. Obama_MetFan

        We dont have to trade anybody , we are gonna get younger but we are keeping the core and stop the “trade Beltran ” thing he is the best player in the team far better than Wright so stop that right now , im getting sick with everybody saying trade Beltran- trade Reyes why not trade Wright , why not because he is a great quote or because he is white (haha) yes i said it , a lot of people rip Minaya about racism but dont realize that the media always overhype white players , they even makeup a word for them “gritty”.

        How we are gonna get younger ? We will have F-Mart in LF and thats a given and they gonna kept Murphy in 1b plus Santos and Thole will handle the backstop, so our lineup will be something like this :


        Its not that bad of a lineup its not that good either but my major concern is the rotation because we need a #2 starter and i think that Maine is gonna be the odd man out because of Perez contract , our rotation i think that is looking like this :


        Its a pretty weak rotation , we will need Halladay or somebody like that to balance the inconsistency of our bottom 3 .

      2. garik16

        Who said anything about not trying to win?

        I’m just not going to devastate our team’s future any more than we have already. Basically its the same team as this season just with the starters back and minus delgado.

      3. Toby Hyde

        Yes, exactly. And if you add the right guy, like Holiday, he becomes another building block for the short and medium term.

  7. garik16

    Toby, if you wanted a realistic thing the mets could do, is acquire Joel Pineiro, who is going to be a FA and is likely not a Type A Free Agent due to his performance 2 years ago. A 3 year contract for him would be awesome.

    1. Obama_MetFan

      It will be good to have Joel next year but i dont think he is a # 2 starter and we need an ace type of pitcher to balance the bottom of our rotation .

      1. garik16

        I think he’s at least a #3. Which is pretty good for a non Type A type of guy and a valuable asset to this team….the pitchfx stuff shows the improvement seems to stem from a change in pitching styles (He’s switched from mostly 4 seamers to almost entirely 2-seam fastballs with great results) and I’d think he’d be a cheap way to improve without hurting the future.

      2. Obama_MetFan

        I agree but the problem is that with Pelfrey’s inconsistency he suits well as # 3 and if Maine is healthy he is a very good # 3 and if somebody fix Perez he will be at best a # 3 , thats why i think we cant sign a 4th # 3 pitcher .

      3. NateW

        Having a bunch of #3’s is a fair way to make up for having no #2. The problem is that the back of the rotation could pitch like 3’s or 5’s. I’m not sold on Perez and the last spot in the rotation will still be a crap shoot.

        1,3,3,3,3 is better than a 1,2,3,4,5 rotation. But I think you are overrating Perez and Pelfrey a bit, and Maine a lot. Again, thats where the hope has to come into play.

      4. Toby Hyde

        No. I don’t think Lackey’s worth the cash he wants. The back end of the contract he wants should be terrifying.

  8. Chip Armonaitis

    Look you are playing out the hand the Mets finish the season with. No Holliday, No Bay.

    So Pagan/Martinez split LF, with Pagan spelling Beltran in center. They will resign Franceour, who has been a “breath of fresh air” around the team. Not sure exactly what that means – but it doesn’t sound like it is complimentary about the rest of the group.

    Reyes and Wright, and if can find a taker for Castillo, move him and grab Figgins or Hudson, or Uggla to provide pop in the lineup.

    Thole/Santos split the catching, Brian Schneider should not be on a major league roster next year.

    If you buy into logic you figure Murphy, if left alone will improve at first base to be a .280 , 15 home run guy.

    Santana, Pelphrey, Neive, Neise, Perez are the five starters, with Pat Misch and Bobby Parnell hanging around looking for starts. Keep FIggy for the pen as well. Stokes moves to the 7th, Feliciano the 8th, KRod the ninth. Save your money and let Putz and Green walk.

    Expect 83 wins, and plenty of bitching about the Wilpons, Omar and Jerry.

      1. NateW

        well, not yet…

        I would like to see him pitch in relief this month to see how he handles the quicker turn around. Maybe it suits his shoulder better…

        He should be in the competition for 5th starter spot next spring, with relief work as a backup. You could also option Maine to AAA, he has one left.

        One thing I do like about the Mets situation for next year is the internal options to fill out the pitching staff. Aside from needing another good starter they have the situation covered. No need for Redding, Livan Hernandez types, and the Tom Martins of the world to be in St. Lucie next year.

    1. JoseRey-eh

      Chip- I think this is the plan the office winds up going with. One quick correction, though: Green isn’t expensive, he makes $400K and is either under control next year or arbitration eligible for a small raise. I’d be inclined to keep him and use him for 2 innings at a time when you’re down 4, until his arm falls off.

      1. NateW

        Green will be arbitration 1 next year, and he also has an option year remaining. Hopefully if other arms work out well in the pen Green can be demoted and be depth. Stokes, Parnell, Nieve, and Maine could all be better righty pen arms. K-Rod, Feliciano and Misch and you have a quality working bullpen with guys in AAA like Green and Bostick.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the plan they went with, but don’t expect 83 wins, it looks like like 73 wins to me…

  9. acerimusdux

    Toby, first off, thanks for a sensible look at where the Mets stand heading into next season,when most of the media is instead going for sensationalism.

    I think part of what the Mets can do may be limited by what the budget really is. Looking ahead, I think some of that young talent will be ready to begin helping in 2011, not 2010. I do think you can go from maybe an 85 win team next year (if everyone is healthy) to maybe an 89 win team by adding a guy like Holliday. The question may be whether that’s enough, whether it’s worth the cost, and whether that comes with a back end that will handicap you at some future date (2012 and on) when you otherwise might be in a stronger position to contend.

    I also wonder whether Bay is really worth near as much as Holliday. If you buy into defensive stats like UZR, it’s not close. If Bay is really as bad defensively as the stats suggest though, he might still be a candidate to sign and move to 1B. I think we need the bat, but we aren’t progressing much if it comes with Sheffield like defense in LF.

    I also think one critical move would be to bring in a better pitching coach. Heck bring back Rick Peterson, if you can’t land Dave Duncan instead. This was the one suggestion I really liked from the Stark article. Our pitching isn’t great, but it’s been far worse this year than it would have been with a decent pitching coach.

    If the plan is to go really cheap, I at least hope they don’t get stupid and do the half measures where they spend on mediocrities because they can’t afford the guys who are good. If they instead seek out some young inexpensive players with upside, I could live with that. Chris Young, who struggled some this year, but is young and still has some upside, might be a guy to try to acquire as a bench OF, if he has currently fallen out of favor. Matt Murton was another bench OFer who somehow cleared waivers and I’m not sure why no one in baseball seems to want him. I could live with watching an 83-85 win team if it’s filled with inexpensive 25-26 year olds and there really seems to be a better future on the horizon.

    What I can’t stomach is if they continue to throw money away on guys like Perez and Castillo while being too cheap to sign the guys who will actually make a difference. Or on the other side of the coin, if they do go cheap, they still need to do a decent job of evaluating upside. What we don’t need another 2004 where some genius got it into his head that Karim Garcia was a young player with upside.

    Worst case scenario, very low budget, I could see a somewhat half hearted effort, with a big sell off of talent by the trade deadline, enabling a quick reload for 2011.

    I think something like this could be a decent young skeleton of a team in 2011:

    SP Santana
    SP Pelfrey
    SP Niese
    SP Nieve
    SP Mejia

    RP K-Rod
    RP Parnell
    RP Stokes
    RP Perez
    RP Holt
    RP Niesen

    1B Davis
    2B Havens
    SS Reyes
    3B Wright
    LF Martinez
    CF Pagan
    RF Francoeur
    CA Santos

    OF Nieuwenhuis
    OF C. Young?
    IF R. Tejada
    IF D. Murphy
    CA Thole

    That’s a young team I think you really could add one good FA bat (probably in the OF) and one good SP to and have a chance to contend pretty quickly. Sure maybe all of these young guys won’t work out. But, you can also add to that talent with deadline deals next year of guys like Beltran, or Castillo, or even Maine if he’s back pitching well and looking attractive to someone, or even Delgado if you bring him back cheap as a half-year stop gap and he somehow looks attractive to a contender at the deadline.

    If the right FA or trade targets are available to make those key additions in this offseason, who will still be key contributers in 2011-2013, then go for it. But I don’t think they should feel pressured into making big moves now just to make moves. For me even Holliday, who will be 31 in 2011, could be questionable if he is getting more than a 3 year deal (which he likely is).

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