Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Re-engineering the Mets 

I'm shocked. I just read an article in a New York tabloid about the Mets that 1) did not mention the Mets trading the farm for a quick fix named Alfonso Soriano (Bob Klapisch); 2) did not analogize the Mets to a back-alley hole in the wall bar and the Yankees to a hopping club with velvet ropes out front (Joel Sherman); 3) nor did the author attempt to make himself the central figure of the story (Jon Heyman). Hell, unlike some NY area sports commentators (cough, Mike Francessa, cough, cough), the author even knows who David Wright is! Instead, in Alan Schwarz's (from Baseball America and ESPN) Re-engineering the Mets, we are treated to good old fashioned baseball analysis that's not only well written and funny, but interesting and informative as well. The Shea Hot Corner Axis of Evil should read this article and take some notes.

Schwarz begins by laying out what the purpose of the article is. "No one outside the Mets can know the club's exact plans, but a highly educated guess, or at least what the team ought to be doing, looks like this." Schwarz goes on to set out a plan for the Mets to contend in 2006. This may be the Jim Duquette "plan" we have heard so much about or it may not. Either way the points are all thoughtful yet debatable. And in a move that put a smile on my face, Schwarz even takes a poke at the ol' flagship station when he calls them the "Raving yahoos on WFAN." It's not clear if he is referring to the "raving yahoos" that call in to the shows or the "raving yahoos" that take the calls?

What Schwarz proposes, in essence, is nothing ground breaking: to trade some of the aging, expensive veteran players, build a solid core of home grown kids, and bring in some free agents to fill holes. While none of the specific suggestions are awful, some are debatable. For example, Schwarz proposes that the Mets deal Mike Piazza and plug up first base via free agency this offseason by signing Carlos Delgado and then wait until 2006 to sign a right fielder in Preston Wilson. I would fill those holes this upcoming offseason at the same time and be done with it. I like the Delgado suggestion although Richie Sexson, who will be a year younger and probably come cheaper, might be a smarter move. The Mets should make a strong push this offseason to plug up the gaping hole in right field by signing Carlos Beltran and if that does not work out then go after Maglio Ordonez if he has not signed back with the White Sox. Beltran will likely resist moving from CF to RF but as they say, it's all about the Benjamins. Beltran is only 27 years old, plays a Gold Glove outfield and is a perfect fit for a team trying to get younger and more athletic. Just imagine the ground that can be covered by Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran. Cliff Floyd can rest his brittle legs in left field and pick dandelions with these two in the outfield. At the same time, young Met pitchers making their way into the bigs like Scott Kazmir and Matt Peterson will sleep well at night knowing Beltran and Cameron are shagging fly balls in Shea's vast outfield behind them. So instead of waiting until 2006 for Preston Wilson and Carlos Delgado, I would make a big splash this offseason by snagging Delgado or Sexson and Beltran or Ordonez. Our pitching will not be ready until 2006, but at least the Mets will have these holes plugged up.

Regardless of whether you agree with all of the suggestions or not, the article is a refreshing departure from what we usually see in the NY rags. Besides, with the Mets playing so poorly and hope being sucked out of this season so early, how do you not love an article that looks to a promising future and ends,

Tyler Yates could very easily be the new Jesse Orosco, heaving his glove into the air after getting the last out of the World Series. But either way, our playoff run will leave DELGADO 15 and KAZMIR 21 jerseys sprouting up all over New York. Shea Stadium will be rocking again. And the ghost of Roger Cedeno will have been exorcised forever.
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