Free Agency opens up this morning; Friday November 14, and I have a plan for GM Omar Minaya of those Amazin' Mets!
I would not have picked up Carlos Delgado's option, even though he had that break out 2nd half last year...but since you did, I will keep him in my plans as well. What that means is that we will not be chasing Mark Texiera in free agency, even though a Gold Glove first baseman who hits a ton would be nice. I would recommend finding a trade partner to unload 2nd baseman Luis Castillo immediately... post haste... even if it means eating most of his ridiculous contract. Hopefully, Daniel Murphy has progressed enough on defense over the off-season that he can take over at 2nd base for Castillo. If not, then Orlando Hudson would seem to be the obvious (though expensive) choice to pursue (though my preference would be skip Hudson and pursue Cesar Itzuris or David Eckstein to play 2nd).
At SS and 3rd base we continue with the best left side of the infield in baseball, David Wright and Jose Reyes.
At Catcher it seems that Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro will continue to platoon.
In RF and CF; Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran...this continues the best defensive right 2/3 of the OF in baseball. A stretch? Maybe, but they are both Gold Glove caliber defenders. In LF comes the biggest offensive question mark for the Mets...how do we fill this hole? Manny Ramirez would be spectacular hitting in the clean-up in our lineup, but boy, the price may be prohibitive...even for the Mets. After that there are a cluster of options; Bobby Abreu, Raul Ibanez, Adam Dunn, or Juan Rivera. The C-list could perhaps be a continued platoon of Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy in left field. My personal advice here; we have skimped thus far on the Free Agents by moving Murphy to 2nd base and skipping the Texiera hunt; so splurge and chase Manny down. If the cost is too high, try and coax Abreu to Queens.
Batting order: 1. Reyes 2. Murphy 3. Wright 4. Manny 5. Beltran 6. Delgado 7. Church 8. Schneider/Castro
That takes care of the offense, now to pitching:
Billy Wagner is gone for the year, and it seems like his career may be done. The Mets would have been a playoff team last year with a more stable bullpen, so we have to shore it up. I think the Mets should start by re-signing Luis Ayala, but don't expect him to close. He worked hard late last year, and was an overall plus for the bullpen. After that, I would aggressively pursue several options; K-Rod, and Brian Fuentes topping the list. My choice here would probably be to wait on K-Rod until he realizes that the market for a BIG payday is not there and then offer him the next best deal. 3-4 years at about 13$ million a year. I would also try and bring Bobby Howry into the fold and get Aaron Heilman a shrink.
At the Starter position we are losing two starters; Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez. Now, Pedro won't exactly leave a gaping hole...though it will be nice to be free of his salary. Oliver's shoes will be harder to fill...but I say let him go. He won't be worth the cost, whatever it is. I would target Derek Lowe and CC Sabathia with the last of my free agent dollars. (Though we are going to assume CC passes, because I can't see him signing with the Mets.) The Mets get their man in Lowe, and once CC turns them down, they turn their sights on AJ Burnett and Ben Sheets. I think Burnett will be too expensive, and Sheets will sign with the Rangers...so we have to keep looking. The pitchers I would focus on are; Mark Mulder, Mark Prior, Brad Penny and Jon Garland. I think the Mets should take a shot with any combination of 2 or 3 of these guys. Remember that they would be anchoring the back end of the rotation, and that the Mets have some wiggle room financially. The first 3 of these guys could be a steal, and Garland should continue to be solid.
So what does my 25 man roster look like?
C - Brian Schneider/Ramon Castro
1B - Carlos Delgado
2B - Daniel Murphy
SS - Jose Reyes
3B - David Wright
LF - Manny Ramirez
CF - Carlos Beltran
RF - Ryan Church
SP - Johan Santana, Derek Lowe, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, Mark Mulder/Mark Prior/Brad Penny
RP - K-Rod, Heilman, Ayala, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Bobby Howry
Bench: Nick Evans, re-sign Damion Easley (cut Marlon Anderson), Fernando Tatis, Argenis Reyes, re-sign Endy Chavez
Alright, this was actually 27 guys...but I expect that Argenis Reyes would begin the year at AAA, and we would have to move a reliever...probably either, Heilman or Sanchez.
It may be a bit optimistic to hope for Manny and K-Rod but I am by nature an optimistic guy.