Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Turn the Mets Into Contenders...in 2013

A month ago, I called for the Mets to trade Jose Reyes. I still think that's the quickest and easiest way for them to compete in 2013. However, in the last few weeks, the baseball landscape - especially as it relates to the Mets - has changed.

-The Mets dealt K-Rod to the Brewers, ridding themselves of the possibility of having to pay him $17m+ for his services next year.

-The league seems keen on acquiring talent from the Mets, with Carlos Beltran leading the way.

- I could be completely off on this, but from an onlooker’s perspective, both Reyes and the Mets seem willing to work out a long-term deal.

That being said, here are the moves (in order) that Sandy Alderson and the Flushing brass should execute in order to put a competitive squad on the field in 2013:

1- Trade Carlos Beltran to the Giants for SP Zach Wheeler.

In my mind, Wheeler is the best prospect currently being discussed in trade talks for Beltran. He projects to be a solid number three starter.

Wheeler was the fifth pick in the 2009 MLB Draft

2- Trade Jason Bay to the Red Sox for SP John Lackey and SP Anthony Ranaudo.

The Bay experiment in New York and the Lackey experiment in Boston have been nothing short of train wrecks. After this season, Bay is still owed about $40m over the next two years while Lackey is owed about $46m over the next three. So, this deal would actually save the Red Sox some money long-term and make them a better team now.

Carl Crawford’s defensive talents are being wasted in left field of Fenway Park. He could easily shift to right field (yes, easily) while Bay could be hidden in left.

Bay has had previous success in Beantown, and it would stand to reason that the Red Sox would take a shot on him again since he’s only a year plus removed from being a top tier talent.

Lackey might find success in the friendly confines of Citi Field, and Ranaudo projects as a mid-rotation starter with local ties (he’s from New Jersey).

3- Trade David Wright to the Angels for OF Mike Trout.

This will likely be the most hotly debated move in this post despite it being the least likely to actually happen. I could (and might) write an entire post on why this trade makes sense from both sides, but here is a brief overview:

It would be tough to argue that Trout is not one of the best two or three prospects in the game. Wright is currently one of the best 20 players in the game. But, this isn’t the classic “win now, pay later” deal, as Wright is only 28 years old (nine years Trout’s elder). He’s also a sure thing.

The Angels have been shut out an American League-leading 11 times this season. If they have any hopes of competing this season, they need to acquire an impact bat.

The Mets could take back a dead salary or two (Fernando Rodney?) to make this more appealing dollar-wise.

Trout is also from New Jersey and I love creating deals that send at least one player into his old backyard. (For what it’s worth, Wright is from Virginia.)

4- Trade Scott Hairston, Tim Byrdak, and Taylor Bucholz to the Phillies for OF Jon Singleton.

These three guys are not in the Mets’ post-2011 plans. Getting a right fielder of the future is worth helping an enemy in the short term.

5- Trade Pedro Beato and Jason Isringhausen to the Diamondbacks for 3B Matt Davidson.

A strong bullpen is a luxury for a non-contender team but a necessity for a one with playoff aspirations. Davidson could form a nice offense-only 3B platoon with Daniel Murphy.

[These deals leave the Mets with Willie Harris, Mike Pelfrey, and RA Dickey as trade bait. Could they use these pieces to upgrade at catcher? I would love to see Yasmani Grandal in a Met uniform but doubt this would be enough to get him.]

6- Re-sign Reyes.

Just get it done.

7- Sign Brandon Phillips this offseason.

Phillips has been the first free agent in my recollection that has spoken good things about playing in Citi Field. He would sure up a position that has been a black hole since the days of Edgardo Alfonzo. He's also a good dude.

2013 Lineup / Rotation

C: Josh Thole
1B: Ike Davis
2B: Phillips
SS: Reyes
3B: Davidson / Murphy
LF: Angel Pagan
CF: Trout
RF: Singleton

SP1: Johan Santana
SP2: Matt Harvey
SP3: Wheeler
SP4: Ranaudo
SP5: Lackey / Jon Niese / Dillon Gee

Without too big of an imagination stretch, this team could compete for the NL East in two years while maintaining a reasonable payroll.

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