baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Meet the Mets

The season is going about how I expected. The Mets are an almost .500 team with some top level talent and some promising young players. There are some useful veterans under affordable contracts. The new GM and front office appear to be committed to fiscal sanity, which is good for the long-term prospects of the team. The new manager seems to be changing the culture in a positive way.

Even when they are losing, they don't look horrible for the most part. The losses are generally by one run, and according to many baseball analysts, that is partially due to luck and tends to even out over the long run.

There are two major issues that are casting a cloud on the team. One is the precarious owner finance issue that will be addressed if not resolved with the selling of a minority stake in the team. The leading candidate sounds like a potential Bernie Madoff clone, which is very disturbing. My preference (as I imagine it is for most Met fans) is for the Mets to sell the team completely, to someone with sound finances and a hands-off approach to the business of baseball. The current situation is a distraction at best, and a potential disaster at worst.

The Wilpons probably won't sell unless the lawsuit against them is successful, so it's wishful thinking to expect them to sell sooner rather than later. The team can survive this situation, though, so all is not lost.

The other major issue is the recent injuries to three of the team's best young pitchers. Bobby Parnell, Jenrry Mejia, and Pedro Beato are significant pieces now and in the near future. The Mets need at least two of them to come back better than ever, or else the team will be set back significantly.

It is alarming that three of the team's hardest throwing pitchers are all injured. I would really like to see the team find a way to cut down on pitchers' injuries, using biomechanics and training methods. This is obviously a problem throughout baseball, and it will require a lot of research and experimentation to solve. The first team to find a way to significantly minimize pitching injuries will be very successful on the field.

A third issue that has already gotten a lot of attention is the debate over selling off valuable pieces before the trade deadline, both to reduce the budget and to deepen the stock of prospects and younger, cheaper players.

I think most fans are resigned to trading Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, and just want the team to get some useful players in return. My only preference with these two players is that the Mets be willing to eat enough (meaning most) of their salaries to get a significant return, rather than a salary dump in which they get little to nothing of value.

It would make sense to trade guys like Chris Young (assuming he is healthy enough to pitch again), Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, and even Jason Isringhausen, if there are any takers, of course. I would be open to releasing Willie Harris as soon as Angel Pagan comes back, as he is not playing well, and has made some questionable comments about the team's clubhouse, which makes it sounds like he doesn't really want to be here.

That leaves the more valuable players: Jose Reyes, David Wright, R. A. Dickey, Angel Pagan, and Mike Pelfrey. This is the group that will be interesting to watch. Of this group, I don't think it's a good time to trade any of them. The ones that make sense to trade if/when they start playing better are Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey.

As for Jose Reyes, I would try to sign him to a three year extension, in the range of $45-51 million dollars. I would not sign him for more than three years because I really don't think he will age well, being a strictly physical player with somewhat questionable baseball instincts. The idea of trading him now is scary, given how well he is playing, and how popular he is in New York. If other players are traded, and with all the money coming off the books next year, this contract is affordable and fair, and may be enough to entice Reyes to stay where he says he wants to be.

If he won't sign a three year contract, they would have to trade him for the best package available by the deadline. If he keeps playing the way he is playing now, some team will be willing to offer top prospects for him, especially if the Mets offer a negotiating window. There is one other option which is intriguing, and many people have already proposed this: trade him now and resign him during the off season. That would be great, as long as they don't give him more than three years.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the season, to see how the front office handles all of these issues. I have more confidence in how the team is being run than I have had in a long time.

© Judy Kamilhor 2011


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