“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
– T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
These days, and surely in the coming weeks, we’ll see any number of plans presented for the off-season. Bold trades, intrepid signings, studied patience, firm resolve.
The plan we’ll ultimately see, I think, will be a cross between, “Crap, we’ve gotta do something!” with the time-honored, “Stay the course!”
I’m hoping for a major step in the right direction, but realistically not expecting a full-tilt, “Let’s git ‘er done.”
For us, this is the beginning of a long, collective head-scratching. A wonderment. Each day will bring new information, changed plans, decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. This conversation will carry on into the Spring. No one will be absolutely right, few will be completely wrong. Hopefully we can think about this together, try to figure it out and enjoy the process. I personally like the off-season, the armchair GM pondering the possibilities. The slow season of speculation.
That’s always the dynamic with any team, particularly the Alderson-Wilpon Mets. On one hand, as a fan you try to think about the best way to improve the situation — what you think they should do — but then you are immediately confronted with the gloomy realities of a Wilpon-owned team in the year 2013. There are three ways of thinking about this off-season, three strands that potentially merge and overlap:
- What you think the Mets should do;
- What you think the Alderson-Wilpons will do;
- What we realistically believe they could do (a middle ground).
There are moves that are bold and exciting, but an inner voice will whisper, “Never gonna happen.” That is, they are not signing Abreu. The articles speculating on Cano were always laughable and ludicrous. The Alderson-Wilpons will lack the resolve to win a high-stakes bidding war for Choo. Too many years, too much money, too many reasons to not do the thing. A lot of hoping the market comes to them. And so on, and so forth, endlessly.
Within that context, I don’t believe the Wilpons will spend great gobs of money. Even if payroll is headed in the right direction, it won’t happen in one off-season. Jason Bay’s contract did not come off the books, $15 million is still owed. David Wright’s salary just went up $9 million. They will spend, of course, but not aggressively. One guy, I think. They could get one high-priced guy. And I think he’ll come via trade.
I’ve been reading a lot about how now, with Harvey’s uncertain status, the Mets are not in a position to trade pitching.
Well, then, how in the world is that going to work?
The Mets need hitting. They need position players. We know that. Which is why I believe the first order of business would be to pursue . . . pitching.
There’s semi-affordable pitching out there this off-season. Guys who won’t cost too much, or require a lengthy commitment. One slightly-outside-the-box approach might be for the Mets to sign not one, but two, veteran pitchers. Who exactly? It depends on so many factors that I can’t even begin to say, the evolving marketplace, the decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. But there are guys named Nolasco, Lincecum, Arroyo, Burnett, Feldman, Haren, and Kazmir floating out there. Plus the lower-tier of spring training invitees, such as Harang and Matsuzaka and name-your-favorite-reclamation-project.
These guys are realistic options for this organization. Obtaining them would then give the Alderson-Wilpons the ability to trade Gee, or Niese, or Montero, or Syndergaard.
It’s the only way to get a bat. Somebody near and dear has to go.
Do I want to trade those pitchers? Of course not. But how else is this team going to acquire hitting? You really think the Alderson-Wilpons are going to pay out a big contract on Jacoby Ellsbury? Do you even think they should?
No, they’ve got to trade for a guy. Maybe Gonzalez, maybe Tulowitzki, maybe Braun, maybe Stanton. And it’s going to take a real arm or two to get it done.
This is one of the reasons why Sandy is freaking out over the uncertainty of the Matt Harvey situation. He wants to know as soon as possible, so he can make plans. Whereas for Matt Harvey, the individual, rushing to know in November doesn’t make any sense. So it’s shaping up to become an fascinating (and pivotal) soap opera, because the star pitcher and the club are currently at cross-purposes. Operating on entirely different timetables. My sense is that the Mets have to proceed as if Matt Harvey is not going to be in the rotation next year. I just can’t see counting on that.
Maybe trading Noah Syndergaard (and plus) will be enough. Maybe it’s the necessary bitter pill to swallow. Maybe that allows them to hold on to both Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee. And if that’s what it takes to secure a middle-of-the-order bat, so be it. Personally, I’d rather trade Gee or Niese. Keep Noah for a rainy day. Fill in with a stop-gap guy, bring up Noah as soon as he’s ready.
I think Alderson goes cheap at 1B and outfield and the pen. But if he comes away with one real guy — a Troy Tulowitzki, or Carlos Gonzalez — I’ll see it as progress.