Wednesday, July 13, 2011

K-Rod Gone, What's Next For 2011 And Beyond?

Yesterday, fellow Mets Fever blogger Rob Patterson stated in a post which you could read here, that rebuilding the Mets will be a difficult task. Now, that Francisco Rodiguez has been traded, what does the trade mean for 2011 and the future of the New York Mets? Despite giving us a heart attack every time he took the mound, Rodriguez was an integral part of the Mets success so far in 2011 and I don’t know if this club can remain in contention without him. With him gone, it leaves a tremendous hole in the pen. Take your pick of who will close games. Whether it be Jason Isringhausen, Pedro Beato, or Bobby Parnell, none of those options are a sure thing. If we have learned anything over the past 2 decades, having a shutdown closer is extremely important (ie. Mariano Rivera). We all knew for a long time now that Rodriguez would be moved, but the question is does this begin the waiving of the white flag for 2011, in hopes of rebuilding for 2012 and beyond? I think so.

The next piece to fall will most certainly be Carlos Beltran. Beltran’s case is completely different than that of K-Rod. Unlike K-Rod who was a salary dump, Beltran can actually bring back some pretty good talent via trade. With a weak market for offensive players, many contending teams will inquire with Sandy Alderson about Carlos Beltran, which makes the Mets bargaining position that much stronger. I am very curious to see what the Mets get in return when Beltran is finally dealt.

After Beltran, who knows who else will be traded? Guys like Jason Isringhausen, Tim Brydak, Ronny Paulino, and Scott Hairston could all help contending clubs. Alderson will have to weigh the pros and cons of dealing these players and decide what is best for the team.

So with the K-Rod move and the most likely departure of Carlos Beltran, what does the potential 2012 roster look like? Here’s a little break down of what we could be rooting for in 2012 and the payroll flexibility that Sandy Alderson now has.

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Mets are on the hook for $63.25 million going into the 2012 season. The $63.25 million consists of contracts to Johan Santana ($24 mil), Jason Bay (18.1 mil), David Wright (15.2 mil), R.A. Dickey ($4.75 mil), and D.J. Carrasco ($1.2 mil).

Now let’s take a look at the (5) players under Mets control who will be up for salary arbitration in the off-season:

Bobby Parnell – this will be Parnell’s 1st year eligible for arbitration. Currently, Parnell is pitching to the tune of a 2392 ERA and a BB/K ratio of 30/9. Assuming that he continues pitching well and his numbers don’t fluctuate too much, I would expect him to command around $1.5-2 mil when it’s time for the numbers to be submitted. Max 2012 contract - $2mil

Taylor Buchholz – Buchholz will be entering his 4th year of arbitration. Buchholz is currently on the DL dealing with depression and anxiety issues. If the Mets decide to offer him arbitration, which is not a foregone conclusion, I can’t see him getting anything more than $1 mil. Max 2012 contract- $1mil

Ronny Paulino – Paulino has done everything expected of him when the Mets signed him in the offseason despite missing a few games at the beginning of the season for PED’s. He has been the right-handed bat of the platoon at C and has produced, hitting .320, with 1 HR and 10 RBI. I would not be surprised to see Paulino dealt at the trading deadline to a team looking for some catching depth or a RH bat off the bench. However, for arguments sake, if the Mets do offer him arbitration I expect him to command around $2 mil. Max 2012 contract - $2mil

Mike Pelfrey – Pelfrey is entering his 2nd year of arbitration. In his first year of eligibility, Pelfrey and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1 year/$3.9 mil deal. If Pelfrey continues to struggle (5-8, 4.55), I can’t see him commanding much more than the near $4mil he is making this year. However, for safety reasons, let’s set his max contract at $1mil more than last year. Max 2012 contract – $5 mil

Angel pagan – Pagan’s 2012 salary can get a little tricky. Pagan and the Mets have avoided arbitration by settling each of the last 3 years on contracts. Each year, Pagan’s salary has more than doubled. This year, Pagan is making 3.5 million. Keep in mind, that number was settled after Pagan came off of a career year. With Pagan struggling thus far in 2011 (.249 BA and .326 OBP), I can see his agents and the Mets disagreeing on a price for 2012. I do not expect his salary to double like it has the last 3 years because I feel Pagan is clearly not a $7 mil player. However, he still is on pace to steal 30+ bases and score near 70 runs. Although I feel his contract will be a battle, let’s set his price tag at $6 mil. Max 2012 contract - $6 mil.

The Mets currently have 7 players on their active rosters who I feel will be on the 2012 club that are not yet eligible for salary arbitration, which means they will make the league minimum.

John Niese – 500 K

Ike Davis - 500 K

Daniel Murphy - 500 K

Josh Thole – 500 K

Pedro Beato – 500 K

Dillon Gee – 500K

Ruben Tejada – 500 K

Then there is Jose Reyes. The Mets fan base wants to bring back Reyes so desperately, that the most common T-shirt visible nowadays at Citi Field is the “Please Stay Jose” shirt from The big question of course is how much will it take to bring him back? Let’s say for hypothetical reasons the Mets do bring Reyes back at a cost of $20 mil per year.

If you add the Mets payroll obligations for 2012, plus the hypothetical salaries for players who are eligible for arbitration, plus the players who will most likely be on the 2012 roster who will make the league minimum, plus Jose Reyes’ new hypothetical contract, the Mets will be on the hook for around $102.75 mil for 17 players. According to several reports earlier in the year, Sandy Alderson said that he would like the 2012 payroll to be in the $120 million range. This will leave around $17 mil of payroll flexibility for Alderson to work with to complete his 2012 roster. Keep in mind that he must find a starting RF and a closer.

So the question is would you as a Mets fan be satisfied with a potential lineup and roster consisting of the following?

1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Angel Pagan CF

3. David Wright 3B

4. Ike Davis 1B

5. Jason Bay LF

6. Fill in the Black RF

7. Josh Thole C

8. Ruben Tejada

Starting Pitchers:

Johan Santana

R.A. Dickey

Jon Niese

Mike Pelfrey

Dillon Gee

Looking at that potential roster and knowing that Alderson has $17 mil of flexibility for 2012, I feel pretty confident that the 2012 Mets will be more than competitive. Do they have a roster comparable to the Phillies? No, but I definitely feel that this hypothetical club could make the playoffs, and once you are in the playoffs, anything can happen. Just look at the 2010 World Series Champions. Of course, several player personnel moves can drastically alter this hypothetical roster, most importantly Jose Reyes. However, if the Mets do retain Reyes I strongly feel that the 2012 New York Mets will be a team of fun and excitement, and most of all, competitive.