NEW YORK METS - Someone Tell The GM To Stop Treating Citi Field Like It's Some Kind Of Reliquary, And Get Back To Rebuilding A Baseball Team.
With a third of the regular season complete, the Mets are ten games under .500, with a 22-32 record - no surprise there. But getting swept in Miami by the Fish should have served as a wake-up call that all is not right in Flushing - obviously. I would feel a lot better about the general situation if only Sandy Alderson were conducting the season with greater emphasis on internal competition. My idea this season was to empty out the toy box, see which prospects were most serviceable, which were broken, and which to donate away - not pick through some other club's garbage, and display a few pieces of junk at Citi Field like it's some kind of reliquary.
Among Team Sandy are very learned people, but sometimes I'm not sure they (all of them) get it. Time is of the essence. The Mets hierarchy have been afforded plenty of time and patience on our part, and are still partaking in the last few months of their grace period. Even though 2014 is the target date for major changes with regards to baseball operations, the time to act with a strong sense of urgency towards that end is now - as should have been all season. The trade deadline looms ahead, and there still exists too many uncertainties. Think of it this way, the Mets are nine months away from Spring Training 2014. This much IS certain - if the Mets entire business model does not change by next season, as promised, there will be a hellish fan backlash, unlike the Wilpons have never suffered through before. So time is indeed of the essence.
Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel, LaTroy Hawkins, and Shaun Marcum should be deleted from this team post-haste. Then, so as to prevent a bottleneck at the door, hold off on evicting Scott Rice and Scott Atchison until the exit clears. That gives me six roster spots that I'll address shortly.
First, my plan involves collateral damage - sorry. But I ask, what is Mike Baxter's MLB value to the Mets? At Baxter's expense, I would promote Josh Satin to form a (less than full) platoon with Ike Davis at first base. Satin is twenty-eight years old, hitting .312 and slugging an even .500 at Las Vegas. Bring him up, showcase him, and attempt to trade him while his particular iron is hot. In the mean time, if Ike Davis begins another dominant second half, so be it. But instead of the old tired talk of sending Ike Davis down to Vegas, bring Satin to the Citi, and provide competition for Ike here. If Josh Satin or Ike Davis, or both are not traded, it's back to Vegas for Satin....or not. That all depends on Ike.
Truth is, the Mets couldn't promote Wilmer Flores to Flushing even if they wanted to. They have nowhere to play him. Or do they? I would include Flores in any potential major trade. However, with Ruben Tejada hurt, not to mention suffering through a horrendous season otherwise, this might be Flores' big chance to revert back to his original position of shortstop. In Monday night's AAA game between Las Vegas and Fresno, Brandon Hicks played short, while Flores played second base. On a side note, twenty-one year old 2B/SS Wilfredo Tovar is having his problems in Binghamton this season. Depending how Ruben Tejada progresses this season, the Mets should open a window for Wilmer Flores at shortstop by July or August.
Acquiring Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd to play outfield were perhaps the most counter-productive decisions of the season. Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Andrew Brown, and Jamie Hoffmann, are the AAA outfielders who perhaps should be getting the lion's share of two available positions. While in Binghamton, Cory Vaughn and Cesar Puello are blazing their own paths towards Flushing. Of course, the idea is to secure a legitimate slugger either at the trade deadline or during the off-season. In the mean time, Ankiel and Byrd, who lack any worth to the Mets, are wasting valuable playing time that needs to be invested elsewhere...now.
That leaves me with four roster spots left. Shaun Marcum's slot goes to Zack Wheeler. The last three go to the bullpen. I know LaTroy Hawkins is a somewhat serviceable reliever for us, but he too is wasting our time. Along with Rice and Atchison, I'd kindly ask them to find employment elsewhere as none of them project into the Mets future. In back-filling, I wouldn't dig too heavily into Binghamton's bullpen yet, but would consider promoting Mark Cohoon to share duties with Collin McHugh as the fifth starters, as well as making them work out of the bullpen together. I would also commence a revolving door, starting with reliever Adam Kolarek, then transition to John Church. This leaves top relievers Jack Leathersich, Jeff Walters and Chase Huchingson behind and untouched in Binghamton to continue their stellar campaigns and battling for first place. While I also still have hopes for Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia gets his spot back when he returns.
NOTE: The St. Louis Cardinals employ a system where by they place their best pitching prospects into the bullpen and let them learn on the major league level. The best pitchers graduate into the starting rotation. Just saying.
Starting now, and increasingly so by mid-summer, I'd like to see the overall effort around here focused our own first. A somewhat reconfigured 25-man roster could resemble this:
C - Travis d'Arnaud - John Buck
1B - Ike Davis - Josh Satin
2B - Daniel Murphy
SS - Ruben Tejada - Wilmer Flores
3B - David Wright
OF - Lucas Duda - Juan Lagares - Kirk Nieuwenhuis
OF - Collin Cowgill - Cory Vaughn/Cesar Puello
SP - Matt Harvey - Zack Wheeler - Jonathon Niese - Dillon Gee - Rafael Montero/Jeremy Hefner
RP - Bobby Parnell - Robert Carson - Brandon Lyon - Jeurys Familia
RP - Mark Cohoon/Collin McHugh - Adam Kolarek/John Church
25th man - Justin Turner, Greg Burke, other
This is by no means a solution. It is part of a process. The team clearly needs more enhancements that will come via trades and maybe even free agency. But looking at such players now, will give us better clarity into the 2014 season - better than we've been achieving so far.