With 2014 being touted by the Mets front office as the off-season where real change starts to happen with the roster, here are five areas that Sandy Alderson and Co. need to address this winter.
First Base: A position that was thought to be solved when Ike Davis took over the reigns, has been viewed as one of the problem areas for the New York Mets. Davis’ struggles have been well documented and he hasn’t seen the field much this year. Davis is going to either be tendered or non-tendered this off-season, and with the price-tag being rumored around $3 million dollars he has proven not worthy of that kind of money. In house options Josh Satin and Lucas Duda look like the probable favorites in a platoon role, but that has proven to not be reliable. If the Mets plan to stay in-house with Satin/Duda or Davis (all signs point to this), they should still look for outside options in free agency or in a trade. Fans will not stand another slow start from Ike Davis or poor numbers from Satin/Duda. Those three are not long-term answers, just stopgaps until the Mets can find a more reliable option for the position. Now is the time to stop putting out mediocre talent at the position and making some move towards having more stability at the position.
Shortstop: Another position where the Mets thought was taken care of with Ruben Tejada. Well a poor start to the year plus an injury landed Tejada at Triple A Las-Vegas very quickly. Then Alderson mentioned the poor work ethic that Tejada has and it seemed like Tejada’s fate was sealed. He did get called up in September, but a broken leg ended his 2013 campaign early. In his place, the baseball encyclopedia’s dream Omar Quintanilla took his place. Known for his defense and not his bat, Quintanilla came in and did just that. He played solid defense and carries a .227 BA to this point in the season. So where does that leave the Mets? It leaves them without any sort of option for 2014. Tejada’s injury could cause him to miss some time and Quintanilla’s defense doesn’t justify him playing on a daily basis. There is no choice at this position than to look outside. Most shortstops that the Mets could be looking at would need to be acquired in a trade (Elvis Andrus comes to mind).
Outfield: Well the 2013 outfield for the Mets was supposed to be the weakness of the team. The result, the Mets have found two outfielders that might have a starting job in 2014: Eric Young Jr. and Juan Lagares. Eric Young Jr (known as EY) has been a big spark since coming to the team earlier in the year. His speed, ability to get on base and good defense earned him starting duties in left field this season. Juan Lagares also added a big spark to a team that needed one. His superb defense and above-average bat has pole vaulted him from fringe prospect to 2014 starting outfield. He needs to figured out his bat a little bit more, but his defense is among the best in the game and that should earn him a starting job next season. As for EY, his struggles at the plate during the year really set his ceiling as a fourth outfielder, and that’s what he should be. He can provide a spark, but not for 162 games. In a lesser role, he can succeed and be a huge bench piece for this team. Where does that leave the other two positions? To be filled via trades and free-agency. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are two of the more popular free agent options, but might be too pricy for the Mets. It seems that the Mets are willing to part with some talent to trade for an outfielder (Carlos Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton are two of the names they have been connected two), but teams might be asking too much. But, Alderson will have to do something and cave somewhere: either pay a player a little bit more the Alderson might want to or trade some prospects away to get that big impact bat that the Mets lack.
Bullpen: An area that seems to always need improvement for the Mets. Bobby Parnell is the guy to close out games, Carlos Torres has emerged as a reliable option and there are other pieces (Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, Gonzalez German) that could earn a spot in the 2014 bullpen. Alderson has always been a guy who believes in a strong rotation, a strong and young closer and then a bunch of pieces to fill in the rest. But the Mets have some young pitching talent that don’t have a spot in the rotation that can be apart of the bullpen and not cost Alderson money. There are still going to be some spots that need to be filled and Alderson should invest some money into his bullpen. A guy on a 2 year deal would make the most sense, as stability out of a bullpen arm is hard to find. Guys like Fernando Rodney, Edward Mujica and Grant Balfour are some intriguing options.
Manager: Yes, the manager role is something that the Mets need to address this off-season. Alderson has already started talking to Terry Collins and his agent about an extension (which will be for two years), attempting to get that out-of-the-way before the free agent frenzy begins. But there is one problem: Collins isn’t the guy for the job. There are a countless number of reasons, which have been talked about here, as to why Collins should not be brought back as the manager. If this team wants to compete in 2014 and 2015 they need a manager who isn’t out-managed on a daily basis. A good manager is a huge part of building a successful franchise and should be high on the priority list this off-season.
A long grocery list for Sandy Alderson and the Mets this off-season, but with a chunk of money coming off of the books and more money to spend Alderson should have no problem getting this done. But with all the drama and rumors that circulate during the off-season, it won’t be an easy task to fix all of these areas of concern. Alderson is the guy though to get the job done and finally get the Mets back on the path to winning and competing for Word Series championships.