August 14, 2012
Wait…the offseason isn’t here? Oh, that’s right; it just felt like it because the Mets are 16 games out of first place and 9.5 games behind the wild card leaders. Well, might as well have a look ahead toward the offseason anyway.
Assumption: The following post assumes that the Mets will actually have any money to spend. Sure, they settled the Picard case, but they still owe money. A lot of money. The only difference now is they know how much they need to pay. But as Howie Rose said the other night, we really have no idea what the team’s budget actually will be this offseason. So, let’s make it an assumption that the Mets will have at least some money to spend on free agents after the 2012 season.
First, let’s start out by identifying the team’s major needs. The Mets need, in order of importance, a catcher, outfielder(s), and bullpen arms (Including a new LOOGY they can hopefully use more judiciously this time).
Why is the bullpen last in the priority list? Because relievers are unpredictable. Sandy Alderson acquired three relievers last offseason who had very predictable track records over their careers. Despite that, the 2012 Mets’ bullpen has become the worst in the league.
Also, the Mets don’t have a reliable starting catcher, and are parchment-paper thin in the outfield, and these positions are typically more predictable.
Here is a list of intriguing free agents that will be available this offseason according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. For the sake of this post, I will ignore those who have an option for 2013. Let’s see what’s out there.
Chris Iannetta – What does Chris Iannetta do? Gets on base. His lifetime OBP (as of this writing) is .356. Iannetta never reached his full potential in Colorado, but he’s been a solid backstop throughout his career. He’s a right-handed bat, which the Mets need, and could be had at a bargain price.
Russel Martin – Martin is 29 and on the decline. He still has some pop (or shows muscle, if you prefer), despite his traditionally low batting average. And he’s a good receiver. Martin is at a point in his career where he may slip into the “overvalued” category.
Mike Napoli – Napoli is a right-handed hitter who has legitimate power. He’s having a comparatively down year (.233/.343/.429, 17 HRs) compared to his 2011 (.320/.414/.631, 30 HRs). His recent numbers may be inflated 2011 due to the homer-friendly Rangers ballpark, but he did put up a career .251/.346/.485 line with the Angels, which is much better than anything the Mets have now at that position. In the field, he has thrown out a respectable 27% of baserunners in his career to this point. He can also play some first base. He figures to command top dollar this offseason, which may put him out of the Mets’ reach.
A.J. Pierzynski – The man can hit (.285/.325/.430), but he’s getting up there (37 years old). He’s having a great year for the White Sox this year, but at his age, you never know when he’s going to fall off the statistical cliff, especially having endured the rigors of a career behind the plate. Speaking of reputations, A.J. had a bad one when he was on the Giants, but the White Sox haven’t seemed to have a problem with his strong personality over the past seven years.
Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz, who would probably fit into the “Keep Dreaming” category anyway, have options for 2013.
Michael Bourn – Bourn is fast and can cover lots of ground in center field – two skills the Mets currently lack. He has a solid .352 OBP this year, and a league-leading 30 stolen bases. He’s coming off a strong series against the Mets at Citi Field, where he walked 4 times en route to a .988 OPS over three games. He would plug in perfectly at the top of the Mets’ lineup.
Melky Cabrera – Cabrera has had 2 straight good offensive years after a mediocre start to his career. He doesn’t have a lot of range in the OF. Rumor has it the Giants are negotiating an extension with him.
Josh Hamilton – He’s gonna cost ya. A slow June and July, possibly caused by withdrawals from giving up chewing tobacco, and his past addiction problems, may bring his price down. There’s no arguing with his past performance, however. His 162 game averages with the Rangers: .913 OPS, 36 HRs, 128 RBIs. Those numbers are inflated by the hitter’s ballpark in Arlington, but he’ll still be an offensive force. In reality, he’s probably going to be too expensive for the Mets.
Torii Hunter – At age 37, Hunter can still play. He’s currently batting .295/.347/.444. He’s hit 20 or more home runs in each of his last 6 years, and has a chance to reach that mark again. He plays a solid right field for the Angels, but doesn’t cover enough ground to play center anymore. The right-handed batter could be a short-term solution for the Mets.
Delmon Young – RH bat, quietly having a good year in Detroit. The former top prospect has flown under the radar the last couple of years.
B.J Upton – RH bat, underachiever. Covers ground in center when he decides to. His lifetime numbers are underwhelming, and he has a sub-.700 OPS this year.
Shane Victorino – Hitting in the .260s consistently lately, lost a step in the field and on the bases, but still has decent speed. Like Hunter, he would only be a stopgap solution for 2013. Also, Mets fans would probably have trouble warming to him.
Joel Peralta – Peralta has been a horse for Tampa Bay, appearing in 56 games and pitching to a 0.86 WHIP. He has 64 Ks in 49 IP. We’ll take him. How much?
Mike Adams – The 34 year-old owns a lifetime 2.20 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He got some big game experience in the playoffs with the Rangers last year.
Casey Janssen – In his last 3 years with Toronto, Janssen has an 8.6 K/9 ratio, a 2.86 ERA, and 1.14 WHIP. But then again, Ramon Ramirez’s numbers looked good before this year, too. Speaking of whom…
Ramon Ramirez – If the Mets are strapped for pocket money again this offseason, they could take a chance on Ramirez, hoping he would return to his pre-New York form.
Brandon League – Hey, the Dodgers liked him enough to trade for him this year.
Matt Lindstrom – The hard thrower with the mediocre K/9 ratio. Kind of a slightly more effective Bobby Parnell. He’s been inconsistent throughout his career, however.
Brett Myers – He has character issues, especially off the field, but has been an effective reliever for most of his career.
Peter Moylan – 3 years of 80+ appearances with the Braves probably led to a shoulder injury. There’s no questioning his past effectiveness, but how well with the submariner from Down Under recover from his injury?
Again, who knows if the Mets will even have any money to spend on free agents this winter, but if they do, any of these players can be a benefit to the team.