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The Mets Disappointing Offseason Thus Far

by: Bryan Zarpentine

With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in less than a month, the New York Mets are becoming dangerously close to one disappointing offseason. With each day that goes by, there is less time in which to make a move that will improve the club for 2010, and the options appear to be running out.

Now it hasn’t been all bad for the Mets this offseason. They did get the bat in left-field they so desperately needed in the form of Jason Bay, and considering the money and years it would have taken to bring Matt Holliday to Queens, Omar Minaya did bring in the best option available. Minaya has also, thus far, held onto his top prospects, which considering how top-heavy the Mets farm system is was the right thing to do. However, with spring training looming, there are areas that have yet to be addressed, moves that haven’t been made, and questions that remain unanswered, and the time to rectify all of this is running out.

For the second straight year, the Mets front office has put a considerable amount of energy into trading Luis Castillo without success. Last year’s failed attempt to trade him is easy to comprehend, but the numbers he put up in 2009 made him much more attractive in a trade than the previous year. However, it would be na├»ve to think that Mets would be able to trade Castillo without taking on another large contract; still, knowing for the second year in a row that Orlando Hudson is waiting around for the Mets to have an opening at second base and being unwilling to pull the trigger on a trade involving Castillo is a mistake. Not to mention Castillo must now come back to a team that made trading him a priority, despite the fact that he was arguably the Mets most consistent player in 2009.

The Mets have also failed to address the situation at first base. They continue to monitor Carlos Delgado’s play in winter ball, leaving Daniel Murphy unsure of what his role will be. Furthermore, all offseason there has been talk of the Mets bringing in a right-handed batter to platoon at first base. This of course is yet to happen, as candidates for this position find homes elsewhere. Whether the Mets go with Delgado or Murphy as their primary first baseman, they will need to find someone who fits this description because they are still lacking a right-handed bat off the bench (Henry Blanco doesn’t count because his offense is not the reason the Mets signed him).

Now on to the crux of everything: pitching. In the bullpen, after giving up a good deal to acquire him last offseason, the Mets allowed J.J. Putz to get away, signing elsewhere for a reasonable contract that the Mets should have been able to match or exceed. Instead they have added Kelvim Escobar, who has pitched in one game over the past two seasons and Japanese pitcher Ryota Igarashi, an unproven commodity in the major leagues, while a proven major league pitcher Octavio Dotel who stated he wanted to return to New York was given no attention. On the starters front, the Mets have yet to make any moves, most notably for the number 2 starter they so desperately need. So instead of acting, they have watched as several possibilities including Jason Marquis, Doug Davis, Rich Harden, Joel Pineiro, John Lackey, and Randy Wolf sign elsewhere, leaving them scrambling to find someone that can bolster their rotation.

But all is not lost, yet. There are still a few weeks left to make the moves necessary to make the Mets a championship contender. But they must act quickly, smartly, and efficiently. If they can find a suitor for Luis Castillo, they must not let that opportunity pass them by. The need for a right-handed bat off the bench who can also play first base is a spot that must be filled, and fortunately for Omar Minaya, the perfect candidate and former Met Xavier Nady is still available. Also lucky for the Mets, their issues with pitching can be solved with two simple acquisitions: John Smoltz in the bullpen and Ben Sheets in the starting rotation, right behind Johan Santana. While some may argue that Sheets brings in great risk due to his injury-prone past, there is no denying that he is the best starter on the market and would give the Mets a dominate 1-2 punch at the front of their rotation needed to win a championship. With these moves the Mets can turn the tide on what has been a disappointing offseason and bring a team to Citi Field that can win a championship.


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