January 14, 2014

Why the Mets SHOULD Rely on the 2015 Free Agent Shortstop Class

I like to fancy myself someone who could be a Major League Baseball general manager. I have business experience. I have many years of baseball experience. I also have delusions of grandeur. This all adds up to me sitting on the couch planning how I would run a profession baseball franchise.

I would be the picture of patience. I would shy away from free agents almost entirely in order to build an extraordinary stable of big, strong, talented starting pitchers who were cheap and under control. In the field, I would attempt to develop as best I could, with the aim being towards creating a nice set of cost effective role players and bottom of the line-up guys. When I see my window open, let's say...a 2-3 year window where my pitching stars have all aligned, I'd go out and spend. I nab two big bats with power. I nab a speed guy in the infield. I nab a big lefty SP. I take a chance on a couple of bullpen guys, though I do not spend a lot because bullpen guys are fickle.  I hope this not only blows my window wide open, but extends it another year or two. Then at the end, when the window closes, I rid myself of the baggage as best I can in hopes of starting over again. This is how I feel a team without Yankee/Dodger/Sawx money should work.

Accordingly - I disagree with my esteemed colleague, Rob Patterson, who contends the Mets should not rely on the 2015 Free Agent Shortstop class to fill their current and future short stop needs. Let's face it - the Mets are not winning the World Series in 2014. Harvey...out. Wheeler...young. Syndergaard...nothing but a twinkle as of yet. d'Arnaud...who knows. Our window is still being set up. It has yet to open. That means there is no rush. 

Mr. Patterson points out that next year's free agent class will include names at short such as Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie and Yunel Escobar. You can add veterans Nick Punto and Mike Aviles to that list. That is an awfully deep market. While, as Mr. Patterson notes, the competition for Ramirez will be fierce and I would be betting my farm on the Yankees (especially if they get under $189M this year), the competition at the middle tier should not be as such. This off season included two big(ish) names...Stephen Drew and Johnny Peralta. Peralta signed early as he was the "big name". No other shortstop has signed for any significant money as of yet and pitchers and catchers report in a matter of weeks. Next year will be even deeper. I don't envision the competition for the Lowrie's, Cabrera's and Hardy's of the world being that difficult, particularly with a decent set of lower tier players beneath them - much like this year.

In addition to the deep market at shortstop in the 2015 free agent class, there are potential deep markets at first base, second base, and right field. I would be willing to put Nick Punto at short-stop if it meant I could take a run at Billy Butler at first. I would take Mike Aviles at short, if I also had Colby Rasmus in left and Norichika Aoki in right. The decision to get a shortstop now versus relying on a potential 2015 class does not solely rely on the short stop class. You have to factor in what else you can do. Right now, there isn't much else the Mets can do. Next year, that will not be the case.

My point is the Mets do not need a shortstop right now. Stephen Drew is a good player, but he does not a championship team make. The Mets would be better off being patient, sticking to their guns with Drew for a short cheap deal, and if he decided to go elsewhere, we have 7 short-stops and a wide array of other options next year to choose from. This at a time when Harvey will come back, Wheeler will be primed, Syndergaard will have some experience, and we will know what we have in d'Arnaud. The window opens in 2015, let's try not to jump out of it until then.

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