Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What the Mets offseason so far has in common with 1969

After the Mets won 73 games in 1968, their biggest offseason move was acquiring Wayne Garrett in the Rule 5 draft. Then again, 1969 was a miracle.

It's going to take a lot more than Henry Blanco to turn the 70-win 2009 Mets into contenders next year. But it is too early to call this offseason a failure. If the Mets end up with Jason Bay, Bengie Molina, a half-decent, not-too-pricey starter and the return to health of all the injured stars, 2010 will look a lot better than it does now.

That is, of course, a lot of ifs.

I really wanted John Lackey on the Mets, but I can understand balking at a five-year deal for a pitcher who is over 30 and has been injured at the start of the last two seasons.

ESPN's Buster Olney has a chart of the 16 starters since 1990 who signed free agent contracts of at least five years. The list has a lot more busts (Mike Hampton, Barry Zito, Chan Ho Park, Kei Igawa, Darren Dreifort, Denny Neagle) than big successes (Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and maybe Kevin Brown).

Olney adds that it is too early to judge CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Daisuke Matsuzaka's contracts.

The list does not include non-free agents who signed contract extensions, such as Johan Santana.

Even after reading the list, I still wish Lackey were a Met, but if the Mets end up with Jason Bay instead, at least it will be easier to justify giving a position player a five year deal if it comes down to that.

The most difficult thing to justify would be giving Molina, who turns 36 next season, a third year.

I also have a bad feeling about giving Joel Pineiro a big contract, just as I'm glad it was not the Mets who gave Randy Wolf almost $30M for three years.

But I don't think the Phillies' getting Roy Halladay drastically improves them, not when they had to give up Cliff Lee. Of course, the Phillies were already a good deal better than the Mets.

But with the Dodgers in disarray because of the ownership issue and the Cardinals possibly losing Matt Holliday, it is not clear how many other NL teams are a good deal better than the Mets.

There is still reason to be hopeful for 2010.


James said...
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guinness said...
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guinness said...

Hi Jon, long time no post. Although it kills me that the Phillies' got Halladay, at least they lost Cliff Lee AND their farm system is much worse now than before the trade. That's huge for the future.

Also, I think I'm the only Mets' fan that is against the pursuit of Jason Bay. Yes, he has power but it will be reduced a bit in Citi Field. More importantly, he is a fringe average defender at best. He will not be able to cover left field and I'm not sure his offense will make up for his defense at Citi Field. Finally, with Bay, Angel Pagan will no longer be starting and I loved his offense.
The Mets should have spent all their effort on starting pitcher and maybe a platoon for Murphy at 1st base. Outfield offense should have been last on the list. After all, the outfield (Pagan, Beltran and Franceour) contributed a ton on offense. They were not the issue.

Uncle Mike said...

Wow, quite a stretch comparing the 2009-10 Met offseason with that of 1968-69. But if the Mets went through an offseason without looking like no one is minding the store, now THAT would be a miracle.

But it is not too soon to judge the free-agents signings of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They have all done what their signings were meant to do: Help their teams win a World Series. As the Mets of U.S. Presidents would say, "Mission Accomplished."

Jonmouk71 said...

You forget that the Mets in the spring of '69 tried to make a deal for a slugger with Atlanta but the Braves wanted a young outfielder named Amos Otis, whom the Mets front office called "untouchable". "If there are so many untouchables on that team", said the Braves GM, "why don't they win any pennants?" The slugger the Mets tried to get? Joe Torre (who the Braves promptly traded to the Cardinals for Orlando Cepeda). When the Mets failed to get Torre, the NY papers said, "There goes the pennant!" Oh, and "untouchable" Otis was not so untouchable when he was traded the following year for Joe Foy.

Jon Lewin said...

Welcome back, Guinness! I agree with you on the Phillies farm system and the Mets making starting pitching a priority. But with Lackey off the market, I would rather see them go after Bay than overpay for the likes of Pineiro. I am also skeptical of Pagan - think his value may have peaked.
Uncle Mike, Burnett will turn out to be a bad signing, but as with Igawa, Sabathia will more than make up for it.
Jonmouk71, the most depressing fact in the 1969 book I recently reviewed for the site was that the Angels wanted Gary Gentry for Fregosi and the Mets made them settle for Nolan Ryan.

guinness said...

I agree that Pagan has peaked and his baseball IQ leaves a lot to be desired. I loved his bat but his misplays in the outfield and his baserunning was maddening. But still, production from the outfield was solid and probably the one area of the Mets' offense that really didn't need an upgrade. So why not overpay for Lackey? I feel that Minaya spent way too much time trying to woo Bay and to trade Castillo that he lost Lackey.

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