Winter Roundtable

Well, much like the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda of Queens … the winter meetings of the fall are underway.  This is the time of year where the Mets panic their fan base as they posture to get top tier free agents at a bargain price.  I can’t and won’t believe that Omar & his band of ex GM’s and managers they’ve assembled in Flushing will settle for half baked players after such a disaster of a season.  I fully expect to see Matt Holliday in left and two decent pitchers on the staff .  For a laugh, tune into Kiner Korner if this doesn’t happen!

For what it’s worth… I smiled a little when Scott Boras called out Jeff & Fred

Posted By Nik Kolidas

Anyhow, as we look forward into 2010; the winter meetings are a great time to close the book on 2009 and look forward.  Here is the official 2010 roundtable from the gang here at KK.


Which player do you go into the offseason saying “The Mets NEED to move this guy”? 

  GENE: I don’t know if there is a particular player that I feel that way about but I certainly wouldn’t mind getting rid of Ollie 

ROB: Well, luckily the guy who I feel should be moved, Schneider, is now with the Phillies.. I think my guy would be Tim Redding. The Mets, or Omar, have this habit of looking at the most positive aspects of a player and expanding on it. Redding had a fine September, but I do not think it was a coincidence that the former Washington National did his best when the pressure was off.

EMILY: I’m not sure I’d say anyone “needs” to be moved. Sure, they could do without guys like Castillo or Perez. But I think it’s more about who is added, and less about who is taken away. 

Nik: I’d like them to let Tatis walk followed by Castillo, just to get past the “will they or won’t they trade him” business.  

There are no obvious fixes. The best free agents are flawed, but the Mets minor leagues is starting to rehabilitate but still is light. Do you want more trades or free agent signings?

GENE: It depends on who’s available via trade. If there are guys out there who will become available that can fill holes I’d rather go the trade route. 

Nik: I have absolutely no confidence in this front office and ownership.  What I’d LIKE to see is a trade for Halladay and a 2nd dependable pitcher (What I fear is Jeff signing a low level pitcher and calling him a #2) Then I’d like them to grab Sheets as a reclamation project.  No Marquis unless it’s as a 5th starter. 

EMILY: Trades!!

ROB: I feel the Mets should go the free agent route, with maybe making ONE AND ONLY ONE, big splash trade. If they can make a deal for a guy like Crawford, I’m all for it. More so than Roy Halladay because the Mets need to get younger. I’m not a tremendous fan of Matt Holliday and feel recent quotes about wanting to play in NY is for negotiations. I’m less of a fan of Bay and I already stressed my concearns with Lackey. I don’t think you give out more than 3-4 year contracts on anything other than aces anyway. Way more pitchers fall apart by the end of the contract than otherwise.

I’d like to see the Mets do a bunch of little signings. Let’s say they trade for Carl Crawford as an example. I’d be happy going into spring with the Mets signing Randy Wolf  and Jason Marquis, getting a righthanded complement to Murphy at 1b, a new utlity infielder, a 2nd backup outfielder with pagan (endy chavez?), resigning putz, and getting a 2nd lefty for the pen. The idea this offseason should be quantity, not just quality. 

Newsday’s David Lennon posted in a blog that Jason Marquis wants to be a met. He proposed offering him a 2 year 16m deal straight out of the box when free agency opens. What do you think?

EMILY: Someone who actually wants to be a Met?? Well what are we waiting for?! And a pitcher than can actually hit might be good company for Santana. But in all seriousness, the Mets need to think long and hard on this deal, less we have another Ollie-gate on our hands! 

Nik: That’s fine so long as it’s not a real contract and the money is Monopoly.   It’s such a Met move to overpay for someone off their career year.  He’ll be here forever winning 9 games a year and be team spokesman.  Help! 

GENE: No thanks..he has a career ERA of 4.48 and after getting off to a fast start this year he didn’t exactly finish strong. 

ROB: I would be open to that. I don’t necessarily do it straight out of the box first day, but if the starting pitching market seems overly expensive, i’d go for it. I wouldn’t want this obviously to be the #2 starting pitcher pickup, but i’d like to see a guy like Marquis in the back of the rotation. I think the Mets should look to two starters, and have Pelf and Maine be fighting for a rotation spot this spring with the loser in AAA or the pen.

Daniel Murphy was among the league leaders in XBH during the 2nd half, and while he had his share of errors, looked very fluid and natural at 1b for the most part, even recording a web gem of the year candidate. The Mets best position prospect is Ike Davis, a slugging power 1B whose defense is expected to be at least good. Should the Mets leave 1B alone this year, go with a short term option like Adam Laroche or a returning Delgado, or find a long term option via trade?

ROB: Murphy showed me enough offensively and defensively to give him a shot in 2010. Of the free agents the only one who intrigues me is Delgado, simply because when healthy he does make a huge difference in the lineup. From what I read the injury he sustained shouldn’t linger into next year, so it’s possible he has one more season left. However, I’m ok with Murphy as 1B IF AND ONLY IF, the Mets sign a competent righthanded complement. 

GENE: I’d go with a short term option via trade, Lyle Overbay. I think that the Jays may make him available and if they do I think he’d be a good fit. He’s a gap hitter who plays good defense and is a FA in 2011.

EMILY: Let Murph stay where he is and grow in that position. Let’s focus our energy elsewhere… 

Nik: Why not let Murphy play and learn from Nomar Garciaparra?   I have no idea what Ike Davis is yet, but I’d be ok with him fighting for a job and maybe coming in to platoon mid year. 

Should the Mets pursue the big 3 free agents: Holliday, Bay and Lackey? 

GENE: I’d go after Holliday and Lackey and then try to make a trade for another SP.  

ROB: Pursue yes. Sign? Depends on the market. none of the three are perfect fits, so it has to be a deal the Mets feel they can deal with not just in 2010, but 2015.

EMILY: I like that the Mets are talking Holliday – I like him over Bay. Lackey could be a good addition to the rotation… 

NIK: Bay isn’t bad so long as we get two pitchers to go with him and at a reasonable price, Holliday would make me happy. Lackey has a questionable injury history.
What do you want the mets to look for in a catcher: Offensive or Defensive prowess? 

ROB: Defense, defense, and more importantly – pitch calling. Offensive catchers are a rare breed, and the Mets current starters and the prospects coming up need a guy who can help the development process at the MLB level. 

EMILY: I’d love to think we could have both, but I’ll settle on offense. Santos ‘ bat this year was a wonderful thing, and I’d like to see more of that. 

GENE: Defensive. I believe a defensive catcher always gives a team a huge advantage as being able to stop a running game, especially with the Phillies in our division, is huge.

NIK: There aren’t more than one or two guys in the majors that are any good.  I’d love someone who isn’t terrible and has some leadership.  

 How do you feel about the 1986 love the Mets/SNY is showing right now?

GENE: To be honest, I don’t really care. I mean I guess it’s nice but it doesn’t really matter to me either way. 

NIK: It’s about time.  It’s not just 86 love, it’s reaching back to the only time in the last 40 years the Mets did anything right and trying to have those guys rub off on the future.  1999-2000 was too short for me to count and in the end Benitez created a ledged..  I’d rather see those guys play at 50 than the current bunch at 25.   Younger guys are sick of hearing about 86, but if you had just lived it you’d know.  It’s the reason I can listen to Jeff Wilpon and still be a fan of this team.

ROB: I’m worried to be honest. Not so much in the broadcasting side, but I worry the Mets are making PR moves instead of hiring the best staff available. Not to take away anything from the credentials of these men, but I’d be mad if better people were past over simply because they were not former players or from rival teams. 

EMILY: Well if CitiField isn’t going to show the ’86 love, who will? I have no problem looking back to the past. At very least, it helps fans remember what greatness feels like and give hope that lightning can strike twice. 

Which player in 2010 do you have the most confidence in improving in 2010, and which do you feel the least? 

EMILY: I’m excited to watch Niese and Nieve grow, assuming they make the team. I’m nervous to see what becomes of Castillo after a surprisingly not-disappointing 2009. 

ROB: I have the most confidence in Wright, since he’s always working on his swing, and you know he’ll put in the effort to fix. If 2009 was his off year, i’m excited for his 2010.

I have the least confidence in Luis Casillo, who is probably one false step to another knee operation. I would deal him as quickly as possible whle he has any value, even if it means having a weaker option at 2b for 2010.

The Mets image is at its lowest point since the Art Howe era. The last few years have been the equivalent of being punched in the groin at the finish line of a race, and last year was like watching a prized race horse pull lame out of the gate. 

GENE: I believe the player that will improve most is Bobby Parnell. I think if he can work on his offspeed stuff then we have a guy who can be a very good setup man. As for least…….I’m not really sure, I guess I’d go with Thole. 

NIK: I think Perez has a shot if he gets his head together.  Any catchers we have at the moment are all useless sacks of shit (Baseball wise).  

What can the Mets do this offseason short of buying every free agent or firing all decision makers, to make you say I Gotta Believe in 2010?

Nik: Here is my fantasy 2010 Met situation.

  1. Dec 2009: Fred Wilpon announces his son will be moved to the dog food division and the Mets will be run by his buddy Sandy Koufax
  2. Dec 2009: Wilpons apologize for fucking with the uniform and go back to the actual Met scheme.  The logic being “If it doesn’t play in Shea and doesn’t look like the Mets, is it the Mets?”
  3. Dec 2009: Mets pull off deal for Roy Halladay.  Goodbye Pelfrey, Parnell and F Mart.
  4. Jan 2010: In a stunning move, Omar flexes his newfound power and fires Jerry Manuel.  Bobby V is brought on to take care of the clubhouse. 
  5. Jan 2010: The Mets announce Maine has been resigned and will pitch from the pen w/ prospect Brad Holt.
  6. Jan 2010: Jason Bay & dependable pitcher is signed to be the 3rd starter. 

To actually answer the question: I don’t think there is any one move that can make me feel better about this team.  Calling Toronto is a start though. 

ROB: There’s no magic cure or slogan. The Mets will be beaten on talk radio, in the papers, and in the blogoshpere until next year, and only by winning will anything get alleviated.

The only move I can think of that might make the fan base more confident about the direction of the team monetarily and in decision making is if they make a big splash in the free agent market: but not for Holliday, Bay or Lackey. I believe if the Mets went all out to sign uber international prospects Aroldis Chapman and/or Yusei Kikuchi, both 18 year olds with once-in-a-lifetime makesups, it would show the Mets are willing to spend and keeping an eye to the future of the franchise, not just the present. 

GENE: I think that if the Mets can make smart moves and show that they do have a plan for the future that I would feel more comfortable. Smart trades, smart FA signings, and no press conferences please. 

EMILY: They need to make a big move. A move that has every Mets fan checking his blackberry, switching over to SNY, or calling his buddy every 5 minutes to see if it’s a done deal. Remember 2008, waiting to see if the Santana deal was finalized? That excitement, that feeling that the next year was going to be THE year….that’s what the Mets need to do in 2010. Granted, Mets fans are also far more jaded now than they were 2 years ago – but still. Something big, something unexpected, that’s what I think we need to believe.

Does the continued presence of Jeff Wilpon shake your confidence in the team going forward?

GENE: Jeff is one of the least talented baseball people around. That said, I am not sure that his input really affects the daily operations of this team. I could be way off here, but the team has the players to win – the failure of them to execute has little to do with Jeff.

ROB: Not particularly. I think the backlash to ownership is to be expected, but I just don’t feel like they’re particularly bad or evil in comparison to any other owner. I don’t think Jeff is great, but I have so little to go by. I have no idea how many positive or negative decision – that we know of and that we don’t – he is responsible for. I feel like when things go wrong blaming ownership is the easy answer. I didn’t hear complaints on the Wilpons in 2006. I also might be one of the few that is happy ownership doesn’t listen to every whim of the fan base. I do not want a fan running the team.

NIK: Lorinda de Roulet in drag is torture as the leader of an entertainment product.  I can’t be confident with him running the show, but what choice do we have?

Do you think this team not having single uniform impacts the connection with the fan base?

GENE: Older fans maybe, but younger fans are used to this by now. I would like to see the Mets stick with one uniform (vintage) on Sundays though. This team is lacking a sense of history, and this might be a way to re-establish some.
ROB: Not at all. Jets fans right now are ecstatic about thier team despite being annoyed with them switching to the Titans uniforms a couple of times a year. The Mets had just as many uniform changes in the 99-2000 teams which were beloved by fans. The problem is the fan base doesn’t trust ownership and the players currently on the squad, while talented, lack an arrogant swagger which characterizes New Yorkers. It is why I find the backlash towards the one player who has it, Jose Reyes, so puzzling. 

NIK:  Essentially, all you have to tie different generations of fans together is the uniform.  I think without consistency, you’re consistently rewriting the book instead of adding to it.  I love the original look and would love to see it every day.  At least, I’d love to see the Ice Cream man uniforms gone.

Do you consider John Lackey a good #2 starter?

ROB: Yes, he would make a very good #2 starter. He’s polished, a workhorse, and has excellent numbers that should be good in a move to the NL. My fears with Lackey is he does have a reputation that when he is not “on” of struggling to get through a game, and the fact he tacked on so many innings early. While he’s still only in his early 30’s, after seeing how quickly other workhorses broke down in thier 30’s, I hesitate giving him a 5 year deal. I also question bringing in a groundball specialist when 2b and 1b have questions defensively.

This reminds me a bit of the troubles the Mets have made in recent years, going after the best option no matter what. Lackey is the best option, but with the franchise in such a compromising state (I can easily see next year as a rebuilding year as much as a championship caliber team) I question whether now is the right time to give a 5 year deal to such a starter when there are so many cheaper options who are greater question marks, but can be had on 1 – 2 year deals.

GENE: I didn’t until I saw him in the playoffs. He reminds me of a young Kevin Appier. He is a bulldog-type pitcher and the team could use that. His presence, though I am skeptical if the Mets will get him, would take the pressure off the rest of the staff (past Santana).

NIK: I think it depends on the rest of the rotation.  He’s kind a 2b for me in that he doesn’t stay healthy all the time and you can’t pencil him in for 16 wins.

If you could change a single thing about the front office, the stadium and the roster, one single move for each, what would it be?

NIK: Front Office- Ownership should set a payroll and let the baseball people figure out what to do with it.  The Stadium- Remove all Dodger logos from the park, The Roster- Add Roy Hallady

GENE: Front office – Bernie Madoff would be taken off the payroll. Stadium – lowering the walls is actually what I would have recommended. Roster – a power outfielder, preferrably either a righty or lefty that pulls the ball. As Utley and others showed the Mets last year, Citi is not big at all down the lines.

ROB: I’m going to take that in reverse order. For the roster, I think the Mets need a real grinder of a player. Preferably someone with playoff experience but more importantly someone who made it as a regular in the majors based on hard work and perseverence, and not natural talent. Someone who has a chip on his shoulder. Watching the Jets, I feel like they need a player with that sort of Rex Ryan style of, for lack of better word, CHUTZPAH.  Francuer is close to the player they need, but I’m looking for someone who wants to prove to the world his worth.

The other important aspect is to get a strong pitch calling catcher. I do not care about offense from the position. Pelfrey, Perez and Maine need help, and if you look up the numbers these guys did worse with Schneider than any other catcher this season. The Mets need someone who can help these guys who have talent, but lack either the control (Pelfrey), mental toughness (Ollie) and the focus ( Maine ) to take thier games up to thier potential.
I did not make the time to make a trip to Citifield, so I cannot say what needs improvements there. I find it rather funny actually the amount of complaints about the new stadium after years of complaining about Shea. I guess some things did get carried over. The one change I would recommend is putting the Mets logo somewhere outside the stadium. I passed it a few times and realized if I didn’t know what the stadium was for, I’d have no idea what franchise dwelled within. I’d also love to see some variation of the Neon Players on the outside of the stadium as well.

Finally for front office, and it sounds like the Mets might be doing this anyway, I’d steal an idea from the Yankees and try to hire a guy who is not part of the chain of command but advises it similar to Gene Micheals role. preferably a former player or a fan of the franchise, who may notice things the execs don’t, like the lack of Mets memories at Citifield to start the year. Even if the plan always was to have it added in later (and from what i’ve read it was) there was not an adequate job of letting the fan base know that. They need more than a customer relations guru, they need a fans relations guru.

The Mets Blogosphere has been exceedingly, and rightfully, extremely negative. Let’s try something different to end this Roundtable and bring up something you feel positive about the Mets going into this offseason. 
NIK:  The Shake Shack is primed for another amazing 2010.  

GENE: The Mets are a few pieces away from being a serious World Series contender. We have a good core of players we just need to add some complimentary guys. It may not happen this year but I believe good times are ahead. 

EMILY: I think…well, hope, that the front office finally “gets it”. I “think” they’re as frustrated as we are and know that this team needs a makeover more than Susan Boyle ever could  That gives me hope for this off-season. Remember the scene from Titanic, where Jack tells Rose to step up onto the ledge of the ship and close her eyes? And once she opened her eyes, it felt like she was flying – all because she trusted Jack. Well, I may be foolish like Rose was, but I trust the front office will do what’s best this year. We’re all closing our eyes this off-season and when we open them, Omar will have his hands wrapped around our waists, and we’ll be flying. Let’s go into the off-season with that horribly disturbing, yet optimistic, visual.

ROB: Here’s something nobody brings up. The Mets had a Murphy’s Law year last year. Everything that could go wrong, did. No one played beyond expectations for the full season, and few match expectations. That is EXTREMELY abnormal. Even the worst low market teams have some breaks happen. I don’t believe in karma and luck, but I do believe in the Law of Averages. The Mets core is still a solid core. With 2009 fresh in everyone’s minds I can easily picture the league taking the Mets for granted, and I can easily picture the Mets reminding everyone why they were picked to win it all a year ago.

Think about it. What are the odds that all 3 of Beltran, Reyes and Wright have subpar or injury riddled seasons again? Is it really hard to believe that one of the group of Perez, Pelf, or Maine, if not two, who had good 2008s, will rebound in 2010? It’s not the acquisitions that will make the impact, it’s the ones currently on the roster

Another GM in waiting


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