Monday, January 21, 2013

The More Teams Change, The More The Mets Stay The Same

I try to look at the MLB Trade Rumors site as often as I can to see what the Mets and their division rivals are up to.  More often than not, I find what their fellow NL East residents are doing long before I find any new information on the Mets.  Today was no exception.

Sandy Alderson has wanted to add a new arm in the bullpen (since most of the new arms he added last off-season pitched so miserably), a new starting pitcher to replace the Cy Young Award winner he traded away, and a major league outfielder to add to the Quadruple-A players the Mets already have.

So of course, I woke up this morning hoping to find something new on MLB Trade Rumors.  I found their "Week In Review" segment and perused the list of transactions and rumors for all major league teams.  This is an example of what I found.  (Thanks to Daniel Seco at for his thorough work.  For the complete "Week In Review" list, please click here.)

  • The Rangers agreed to a five-year, $55MM extension with Matt Harrison. The contract contains an team option for a sixth year in 2018 that can become a vesting option if Harrison pitches certain innings plateaus.
  • The Nationals agreed to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28MM contract. Soriano posted a 2.26 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 35.9% ground ball rate for the Yankees this past season.
  • The Red Sox and Mike Napoli reached an agreement on a new contract. Napoli gets $5MM plus incentives for the one-year deal that could reach $13MM.
  • The Mariners, Nationals and Athletics combined on a three-team trade that will send Michael Morse to the Mariners, John Jaso to the A's and a three-player package to the Nationals that includes minor league right-handers A.J. ColeBlake Treinen and a player to be named from the Athletics. 
  • The Diamondbacks agreed to sign J.J. Putz to a one-year extension that will keep him in Arizona through 2014.The LSW Baseball client will reportedly receive a $7MM salary in 2014.
  • The Pirates agreed to sign right-hander Jeff Karstens to a one-year deal worth $2.5MM.
  • The Rockies signed Miguel Batista to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Batista, 41, posted a 4.61 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 52 2/3 innings for the Mets and Braves last season. 
  • The White Sox agreed to sign Matt Lindstrom to a one-year contract with a club option. Lindstrom, 32, pitched to a 2.68 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 47 innings for the Orioles and Diamondbacks last season.
  • The Indians signed Ryan Raburn to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Raburn averaged 15 home runs per season from 2009-11 and owns a career batting line of .256/.311/.430.
  • The Phillies signed right-hander Juan Cruz to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
  • The Marlins signed Austin Kearns to a minor league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training.

Austin Kearns, International Marlin of Mystery

I see where the defending NL East champion Nationals traded away outfielder Michael Morse to Seattle and signed closer Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal.  I also see that the Phillies signed reliever Juan Cruz and plan to invite him to Spring Training.  Heck, even the frugal Marlins signed outfielder Austin Kearns to a minor league deal.  I see many teams in the majors mentioned here.

I don't see the Mets.

Well, if you want to be technical about it, the Mets are mentioned, but only because the Rockies signed Miguel Batista off the Mets' scrap heap.

Almost every team in baseball is wheeling and dealing, signing and refining, moving and improving.  The Mets, on the other hand, are not doing anything worthy of a rhyme.  In fact, they're not doing anything at all.

Since trading R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays on December 17, the Mets have done the following:

Never mind the fact the MLB Trade Rumors didn't mention anything about the Mets making a transaction last week (Landon Powell).  All the Mets have done over the last month is sign journeyman players, including a former Met who hasn't pitched since the last time he was a Met in 2010 (Pedro Feliciano).  Sure, they've re-signed some of their own players, like Tim Byrdak and David Wright, and avoided arbitration with Bobby Parnell and Ike Davis.  But that about sums up their activity.

The Mets say they're interested in starting pitcher Carl Pavano.  They would like to remain in the mix for outfielder Michael Bourn.  They gave a look-see at closer Brian Wilson.  But I wouldn't bet all the money in Papa Smirk's piggy bank that either of those players will be receiving their fan mail at Citi Field in 2013.

"Seriously, why do you call me Papa Smirk so much?"

Sandy Alderson is asking the fans to be patient.  Although he claims that he is not sacrificing 2013 for the future, he also hasn't been doing anything to make the upcoming season more than just a battle for fourth place with the Marlins.

Alderson has acquired some good young talent since he came on board prior to the 2011 season.  Through shrewd trades, he's been able to add a number of top prospects, like Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, to name a few.  But the major league talent at Citi Field still leaves a lot to be desired.

Scott Hairston is a good outfielder and a fine hitter.  Against lefties, he's as good as they get.  It should be a no-brainer for Alderson to bring him back into the fold.  But he's waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting some more, just to get Hairston to bite on a one-year deal.  If Hairston really is seeking a two-year deal worth somewhere in the $8 million range, why wouldn't Alderson take that chance?

He already doled out two-year contracts to relievers D.J. Carrasco and Frank Francisco, but he can't do the same for an outfielder (a position the Mets desperately need to fill) who actually has produced during his time with the team?  As a famous entertainer once said, "what up with that?"

Say Hairston is signed by the Mets to a two-year deal worth $8 million ($4 million annually).  And say he doesn't produce as well as he did in 2012.  Given his history against left-handed pitching and the team control until 2014, as well as his relatively low annual salary, wouldn't he be a valuable trade commodity?  What team wouldn't want him at that price?  But if the Mets were to give him a one-year deal, he'd just be a rental for a potential playoff contender.

For the Mets, it should begin with Scott Hairston.  Then they should add pieces who are ready to contribute at the major league level.  Then, and only then, will I believe the Mets are doing something to make this season more than just a competition with the Marlins for fourth place.

Frank Cashen had a five-year plan for the Mets when he came aboard as the Mets general manager in 1980.  By year five, the team was competitive.  However, Cashen inherited a team that hadn't won 70 games since 1976 and needed a complete overhaul.  The current Mets, despite their shortcomings, have won at least 70 games in each of the last four seasons and have been in the playoff mix at the All-Star Break every year.  But they've fallen apart every season after the break and haven't truly shown any type of improvement in the last four years.

Year five for Sandy Alderson will be in 2015.  Will the Mets have what it takes to contend for an NL East title by then?  We know the teams around them aren't going to be steadfast with their major league rosters.  It's time for the Mets to change.  We already know what happens to them when they remain the same.

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