Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason of every MLB team before spring training begins in mid-February. Our series continues with the New York Mets.
2010 record: 79-83
Finish: Fourth place, NL East
2010 final payroll: $127.6 million
Estimated 2011 opening day payroll: $140 million
What we have here is a team in transition. Just not, you know, now.
After an era of reactive management choices, the Mets no longer love those decisions. In fact, sometimes they can’t stand the sight of them. Yet, they come home to those decisions every night, make small talk, and wait for the calendar pages to turn.
The Mets need a hobby. Or a puppy.
In the meantime, Citi Field change mongers will have to live with new names stenciled onto the curbs of the executive parking lot. Sandy Alderson is the general manager, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta his lieutenants, Terry Collins his field manager and patience their watchword for the 2011 season.
Sadly for Mets fans, who stood by as the Philadelphia Phillies sculpted a rotation in which the Mets’ healthiest and best pitcher might compete for the fifth spot, their club’s only retort was to acquire a new direction.
In need of pitching, in part because Johan Santana(notes) had shoulder surgery and the best anyone can say is he could be pitching by June-ish, the Mets signed left-hander Chris Capuano(notes) and right-handers Taylor Buchholz(notes) and Boof Bonser(notes). Between them, they have three Tommy John surgeries. In need of a catcher, either as a backup for Josh Thole(notes) or in a platoon, they brought in Ronny Paulino(notes).
For a city with some $350 million in combined baseball payrolls, neither the Yankees nor the Mets had particularly productive offseasons. Of the two, only the Mets will pay with their season.
And that’s something they’ll just have to live with.
There are two important points to make:
One, the roster is hardly devoid of talent.
Two, it is likely to be very different a year from now.
About $60 million comes off the payroll after 2011, unless the first half of the season is a complete disaster, at which time Alderson will start chipping away at that $60 mil at the trading deadline.
Carlos Beltran(notes) ($18.5 million in ’11), Oliver Perez(notes) ($12 million), Francisco Rodriguez ($11.5 million), Jose Reyes(notes) ($11 million) and Luis Castillo(notes) ($6 million) are in their walk years, or their final guaranteed years.
Beltran’s arthritic right knee could force him to right field. Reyes, because of leg, oblique and thyroid ailments, has played 169 games over the past two seasons. Rodriguez has recovered from thumb surgery, though rehab continues for its cause – the Citi Field altercation with his girlfriend’s father – carries all sorts of collateral damage. Castillo comes off a season in which he batted .235 and Perez appears unsalvageable.
Perez and Castillo might not make it out of spring training.
Atop those issues, Jason Bay(notes) shut down his first season in New York in late July because of a concussion, and to that point he’d hit six home runs in 348 at-bats. The Mets need him to go from concussion to percussion. And David Wright(notes) rediscovered his power stroke – from 10 homers in 2009 to 29 in 2010 – but at the cost of a career-high 161 strikeouts and the lowest on-base percentage since his rookie year.
The pitching staff is similarly hazy. Santana’s surgery makes Mike Pelfrey(notes) the stand-in ace, followed by Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey(notes) and spring tryouts. The free agency losses of Pedro Feliciano(notes) (266 appearances the past three seasons, career .214 batting average against by lefties) and Hisanori Takahashi(notes) left the bullpen equally vulnerable.
If enough turns right for the Mets, they could threaten .500. More likely, they’ll fight the Nationals for fourth place.
Mets in haiku
Bruce sang of summer
The ’walk and Madame Marie
Now Queens cries: Sandy!
Next: Seattle Mariners