Strike Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
With the Winter Meetings starting on Tuesday, I'm going to do a few pieces on free agents, strategy, and play out some scenarios that could help out the Mets now and for a few years down the line. Ideally Omar comes away with one or two major pieces in place or their deals in place shortly after these meetings.
I think the consensus of most Met fans is simple. GET BELTRAN. As much as I'd love to have Beltran, the idea of waiting for him may not be best for the team. Yes, they can afford him and yes, I'm sure Omar would love to have him, but it is not that simple. In a perfect world, the Mets get Beltran as their #3 hitter and star for the future with Reyes and Wright. They also get a slick fielding first baseman who wields a lefty bat in Doug M. or John Olerud and they solidify their rotation. The bench and pen will follow, but those aspects of the team are not as burning right now as others. The pen will most likely be solved in house with the bevy of relievers that the Mets have (and for better or worse, most likely Dejean, who I have no problem with) even though it would be nice to add a lefty and McGinley won't be around to try out for that spot which is a shame. As for the bench, I posted about it here and that is really the least of Omar's worries.
Now enter reality. Carlos Beltran will most likely be one of the last if not the last big ticket free agents to sign with a team. Now, the Mets are in a unique situation since they can go into the spring thinking they can use Floyd, Cameron, and Diaz in the outfield and if they get Beltran great, Diaz can stay at AAA until the Mets dump Floyd at the deadline to extract the most value from him. If they do not get Beltran then they have a capable outfield. Only one problem, the Mets needed to add some thump to meat of the order. In the above scenario, the Mets would have picked up a light hitting first baseman with a good mit. That will not help the team too much at all. Omar is going to have to make some quick hits to walk away with a team that is going to good for the next couple of year and not miss out on some sorely needed offense.
If you are a small or mid market team like the Indians or Tigers, you need to choose your targets and pounce fast. It is nice to be able to wait and see how the market develops, but sometimes that is luxury you cannot afford. Sometimes a team like the Tigers can catch an I-Rod after the dust settles, but that is a rarity. Look at the Indians pursuit of Clement. Right now, not many big market teams have been rumored to be clamoring for him. The Indians pegged him as their #1 priority and want to wrap it up soon before Pavano, Pedro, etc. fall off table and Clement's stock rises and the big boys get into the bidding. If a player you may be interested in is receiving serious consideration from a few teams, then do you pass him up and hope for the biggest prize this off season when you are against the odds of landing him? The Mets need to assess their chances with big time free agents, talk to their agents and base their decisions off that. If they feel that have NO chance with Beltran and he is part of their plan to pick up a slick fielding light hitting lefty to compliment him on the team and Sexson is close to a deal in Seattle, what do you do? You KNOW Sexson will help this team now and even five years down the line and you know you can nab him, do you let him go on the hopes that you beat out four or five teams more successful and with better teams in place right now than the Mets in the Beltran sweepstakes? You ahve to choose your battles. Am I saying pass on Beltran without and offer? Not necissarly, but certainly do not watch the premier hitters drop off while Beltran is still unsigned in January and possibly into February. It is a given that Boras is going to take his sweet time with the off season's biggest prize, but the Mets have a few holes that need to be addressed and outfield may or may not be one of them. If they do not find a taker for Floyd coupled with the fact that they have Diaz, that may not be of paramount concern like first base where there is no option currently. We do know that they have a big first base vacancy and a need to add some pop. So, what do you do here if you are Omar? It's nice to say "Get Beltran and get Olerud or Doug Miencladjoaf34uljncnarjalkej?#(#jl3jkj4l" but what if you do not get Beltran? Offense is a bigger priorty than pitching in my opinion. What if the market plays out and you lose out on Sexson, Delgado, and Beltran? By the time Beltran goes, Magglio, whom you could probably afford with Sexson or Delgado, and JD Drew, who has not been attached to the Mets in any rumors and will likely remain a priority for the Braves, will presumably be off the market and getting ready for press conferences with their new teams.
Omar has quite a conundrum ahead of him, but waiting will not help. If he chooses to chase Beltran, he also has to bring in a guy like Sexson and forgoe upgrading the staff any further. Make the finances work because if you miss Beltran and lose out on the other big hitters it will be another long summer at Shea. I've already outlined what I think the Mets should do, and it does not include Beltran. I do not see him coming here unless the Mets vastly overpay for his services. Money does talk, but are the Mets prepared to overpay for him to come here? It may just take something close to the silly contract that Boras is asking for. The Mets are in a bad position right now. They are not seen as great place to come and for that they have to overpay to get stars to come here. Who was the last mega star to sign here? As for Vlad, let's be real, he never wanted to come to the Mets and it was his last resort. Even if the Mets match the Angels exact offer, he was not coming. Would Sexson for $10 million be overpaying? Yes, but he, nor anyone else, would come here for market value if NY was not their top choice. Luckily Mike Cameron wanted to come here. He told the Mets he wanted X amount of dollars for X amount of years and you'll have me. You know what? No one feels that way about the Mets this off season. I think Clement can be had for around market value and so can Magglio. Clement can be swooped up before a bidding war may happen and people are leery of Magglio because of his knee. But if you were Magglio would you come to Shea on a one year contract to prove you are healthy and pad your numbers for your next big contract? Nope, he'll most likely need a three year contract with an option to land in Flushing.
Omar needs to act fast after the meetings next week for sure or else the his big splash just may be Sammy Sosa.
Tomorrow I'll take a look at the finances and what is committed for 2005 so far and how a few scenarios can work that will improve the team realistically. Omar has to have a few plans that are contingent upon different things so I'll play around with a few options and some will include Beltran.
Friday will be a post on Magglio as I've finally gotten some medical opinions on his knee and will be going over what exactly should be the biggest worry about him and if these worries can be subsided a bit.
Things are going to start happening fast.
The Mets have expressed interest in free-agent catcher Henry Blanco. And Vance Wilson can read between the lines whether the flirtation is genuine, considering the Mets seemingly have no intention of playing Jason Phillips at first base, and also have yet to deal Mike Piazza. "It's a good chance two catchers are leaving by trade or whatever," Wilson said. "I think that's how you have to take it. If the Mets plan on moving two of us, you would hate to let a guy like Henry Blanco pass." Last season, the Mets had shown interest in Oakland reliever Chad Bradford, who is pricing himself out of that market. But Phillips, offered at the time, isn't as good a fit since the A's obtained Jason Kendall. Phillips was unsure of his future, but suggested it probably wasn't a good sign that manager Willie Randolph did not return his call.
It was not a good sign that the manager did not return his call? Sure is. I would not like to see Phillips traded. I like him as the backup and still think he has some usefulness. We'll see how this plays out, but I do not like the silly notion of Blanco coming to this team. Especially since he turned down a two year $2.5 million deal from the Twins. Too much money for a backup when you have two here that will be much cheaper.