Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Hot Stove?

The Boston Red Sox finished off the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 Wednesday night to take the 2013 World Series crown.  In doing so, the once-cursed team won their third title in ten seasons, or one more than the Mets have won in 52 seasons.  What will the Mets have to do to win that coveted third championship?  That’s something Sandy Alderson and his Merry Men will have to address during the Hot Stove season, which is now officially underway.  It should be the most important offseason the Mets have had in nearly a decade.

The Mets need help.  Okay, let’s be honest.  They need lots of help.  They need as much help as Jaime Escalante’s students needed to master “cal-cool-us”.

First base?  According to Little Jeffy Wilpon, the Mets have a glut at first base.  Not a glut of talent at first base.  Just a glut.  I guess the next time Webster’s dictionary is updated, the word glut will be defined as “a hybrid of Lucas Duda and Ike Davis” or “the roadblock that prevents a team from pursuing a highly coveted Cuban talent”.

Second base?  Well, that’s Daniel Murphy’s position for the time being.  But now there is talk about moving Gold Glove finalist Eric Young, Jr. to second base.  For the record, Young was considered for a Gold Glove for his defensive excellence in left field, not second base.

Shortstop?  Will Ruben Tejada ever get another shot to be a starter there?  Probably not.  The Mets will have to consider trading for a shortstop that can play the position effectively on a daily basis.  Otherwise, we might see Justin Turner more than we should there.  For all I care, the Mets can trade him to the World Champion Red Sox.  His beard would fit right in.

Sorry, Justin.  Mike Napoli is not impressed.

Third base?  The Captain.  Let’s move on.

Left field?  If Eric Young doesn’t move to second base (he better not), he’ll probably stay in left to entertain the drunken Party City dwellers.  But he might be better served as a fourth outfielder, a la Endy Chavez.  The Mets need to add some pop to the lineup, and left field is one of the positions that could use some.  Lucas Duda need not apply.

Center field?  That belongs to the smooth-as-silk Juan Lagares.  Lagares proved he can handle the position, making superb catch after super catch and showing off his strong, accurate arm every time an opposing player was foolish enough to test him.  You know who else was foolish?  The people who made Andrew McCutchen and Denard Span finalists for the Gold Glove in center field over Lagares.

Right field?  Give me Choo or give me someone who’s better than whomever the Mets trotted out there last year after Byrd became the word in Pittsburgh.  Obviously, acquiring Shin-soo Choo would prove the Mets are indeed down with OBP, as his .423 on-base percentage was second in the league to teammate Joey Votto.  Choo also posted his third career 20/20 season, hitting 21 homers and stealing 20 bases.  If Eric Young, Jr. loses playing time, the Mets will have to find steals from someone other than the National League stolen base king.  Byrd was the word in 2013.  Choo should do in 2014.

Catcher?  Like it or not, the position belongs to Travis d’Arnaud.  He’ll have to perform better if he wants to be known for something other than being the Met with a large P on his back.  To back up d’Arnaud, the Mets should probably bring in a veteran player.  But if they don’t, Anthony Recker isn’t a terrible option.

Starting pitchers?  Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee form the top three.  The bottom two is where the Mets will have to be creative.  Although Rafael Montero has already made 16 starts at the Triple-A level, he will probably not get called up until June at the earliest.  And Noah Syndergaard has yet to face Triple-A hitters, so don’t expect to see him at Citi Field before the All-Star Break.  With Jenrry Mejia coming off an injury, as well as Jeremy Hefner and that Harvey guy recovering from major surgery, the Mets will need at least one and perhaps two veteran stopgaps in the rotation.  Aaron Harang did okay in his late-season tryout and so did Daisuke Matsuzaka.  If I had Wilpon blood running through my veins, I’d bring back Dice-K.  After all, how would the Mets ever sell their glut (there’s that word again) of Matsuzaka T-shirts that are left in the team store?

Dice-K's shirt is almost outselling the Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers jersey in the Mets Team Store.

Relief pitchers?  Bobby Parnell, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Rice should stay.  Scott Atchison could also stay unless the Senior League reforms and takes him as their No. 1 overall pick.  Everyone else can fade away or join the Phillies, like every other former Met eventually does, except for Frank Francisco.  He’ll be taking advantage of his soon-to-be unemployment by petitioning the Olympic committee to add chair tossing as a medal event.

Bench?  The Mets need a well-balanced bench.  It can’t be full of .260 hitters with little power and no speed.  (The fact that Justin Turner has hit exactly .260 in his career with little power and no speed should be viewed as a coincidence.  It does not reflect my personal distaste for the pie-chucker.  Supposedly.)  The non-starters should be split evenly between left-handed and right-handed hitters, with at least one speedster that can be brought in to pinch-run, one power bat, one contact bat, one utility player and one late-inning defensive replacement.  If a player can combine two of those talents, the Mets will have a better chance to compete when they eventually play another 20-inning game.

With Matt Harvey out for the 2014 campaign and many positions still up for grabs, the Mets enter the hot stove season with many pieces needed to complete what should be an interesting puzzle.  If Papa Smirk and Little Jeffy aren’t willing to keep their promise of spending money this offseason, the only thing Mets fans will have to look forward to in 2014 is not having to subject themselves to Tim McCarver’s analysis (he put the “anal” in analysis) during Saturday FOX telecasts.  As much as a Timmy-less Saturday pleases a plethora of Mets fans, we’d like a little more than that to make us not want to jump off the Shea Bridge in a Lime-A-Rita-fueled stupor.  Besides, we won’t have Frank Francisco to break our fall this year.

Let’s get cracking, Sandy!  Put some logs in the hot stove and see if you can fire up the fan base.  End this five-year fizzle by making Citi Field sizzle.  The Red Sox shouldn’t have to have all the fun in October. 


Anonymous said...

Ed, Jeff Wilpon said he left out Murphy yesterday & said he was a 2014 player who he liked. Also added Lagaras & d-Arnaud. So Murphy may be at 2nd base.(Jerry)

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

I sure hope Murphy is our second baseman. After all those positive blog posts I've written about him, I'd hate to see him go or play another position. He's settled in well at second base.