I met Ron Darling last night at a signing for his wine. All proceeds went to the juvenile diabetes research. While that last bit is positive and uplifting, I met freaking Ron Darling! He was a gentleman, took pics with us and engaged in conversation about whatever topic people wanted to discuss.
What was more telling was waiting on line and talking to other Mets fans. We all have the same mentality, ideas and hopes for what the current version of the team needs to do in order to play those oh so meaningful, yet rare, September games with the hopeful October extension we crave.
While most in line agreed that a better shortstop and upgraded left/right fielder was the main focal point in any roster improvement, the path by which to achieve these goals varied widely.
"Niese and Gee can go...Murph too...not Murph, he's the teams best hitter. Trade Granderson, no one will take that contract...trade Syndergaard, not him...trade Montero but keep Matz..."
While the conversation revolved around those possible trade pieces and I laughed at the bottle of Giancarlo wine behind me stating we needed one of those in our lineup, I pondered the Mets decision making for this offseason.
The needs are obvious, more offense. Solution, bring in the fences and Granderson will hit seven more homers. Ok, solved...wait, not exactly. Where does the big bat in the lineup come from? The trade route is definitely the way to go since the free agent market is littered with solid yet underwhelming players that will either cost a draft pick or too much money and/or too many years. I have been the eternal optimist for this team for as long as I can remember but even I have been sucked into the glass is half empty crew these days.
Last off-season the Harvey injury seemed to alter the Mets plans as they no longer saw their young pitching depth as an asset in the trade market, rather an asset they needed to hold on too. I felt it was a more severe knee-jerk reaction than was necessary but I can sympathize with the idea. However, the Dark Knight is back, Wheeler is a year older and wiser, we are about to have the NL rookie of the year and you still have Niese, Gee, Colon, Montero, Syndergaard and at the end of this season Matz. That seems to be a pretty well stocked pitching rotation with one problem. Too many arms, not enough slots. The solution is to package some combination of a veteran arm and a young fireballer along with some semblance of position player(s) and go get another bat or two.
Offense was way down across baseball this past season which is why you can't have enough of it. The Mets have a commodity that is in demand and the time is now to sell high. No Michael Morse, no Michael Cuddyer, no Alexei Ramirez. No CarGo or Tulo, we have spent too may seasons as an infirmary to waste dollars, years and good prospects on players who can't stay healthy. Be aggressive and creative and go after some bigger fish.
I have a few examples, maybe they are unrealistic but that's what the offseason is for, ridiculous ideas and grandiose dreams. So here goes:
The ever popular Cespedes to the Mets, Stanton to the Red Sox and something to the Marlins deal is very palatable. I would gladly send Niese and/or Gee with a young pitching prospect to the Sawx for Cespedes. This one is not my idea but still a decent stab in the dark.
Cleveland's Michael Brantley would be a great addition, the Tribe could use some support in the rotation for Corey Kluber and the Mets have the arms to give them. Prying away a bat like Brantley's is about as likely as me winning the Mega Millions but why not ask?
The Royals seem to have made a few players available so why not pony up a few young arms for Alex Gordon? The Platinum glove winner would make our outfield almost impenetrable and he has a good bat. Granted, like Brantley, Gordon is left handed so this makes a trade here a bit less likely since a right handed power bat is preferable, but this is another area the Mets should research.
How about helping the Rays restock their pitching corps and seeing if they aren't too reluctant to part with Wil Myers. Yes he was a huge prospect, had a great rookie campaign but injuries set him back last year and maybe you can make a sweet enough deal to pry him away.
Granted, these are all somewhat proven, young, major league talents. I'm sure there are plenty of minor league guys at the cusp of being an "impact bat". However, the Mets do not have the luxury, in my opinion, of selling the fan base on someone who can possibly help the club in a year or two. The time is now to make your move, trade a portion of your pitching stockpile along with some veterans in the right moves, either one of those listed above or ones that none of us have thought of, to fortify this team and finally give the Citi Field faithful something to come to the ballpark for.
So the next time I meet Ron Darling or another of the Mets elder statesmen the Mets need to find the next generation of players worth going to see 30 years after they win a championship. Standing in line talking about what they accomplished sure beats standing in line shaking your head about what they always do...nothing.