He can hit leadoff. He had a .342 on-base percentage this season, .358 for his career, has a habit of turning at-bats serial (3.97 pitch per plate appearance average) and doesn’t back down as a lefty hitter against lefty pitching. He is an excellent two-way player, a pro, a grinder and durable — he has played 147 or more games in eight of his nine seasons.
Sherman acknowledges that Markakis has flaws: his power is limited, he’s 31 and could already be in the declining years of his career, and he’s going to cost a fair amount of money – Sherman estimates three years and $40 million for a starting point.
Those are some pretty significant flaws.
But if Yasmani Tomas is too big of a risk, Michael Cuddyer is five years older and both Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz are going to get even more money, Markakis is worth a longer look.
New York Post columnist Joel Shermanreported that Mets officials have asked to be part of any trade talks involving Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, should the Colorado Rockies make either player available.
Assuming there’s something to this report besides a desire to drum up website traffic, this is very interesting.
The Mets have lowered their Opening Day payroll from $142.8 million in 2011 to $94.5 million in 2012, $93.7 million in 2013 and $85 million this year. They have $54 million already committed to four players in 2015, plus nine arbitration-eligible players including All-Star Daniel Murphy and closer Jenrry Mejia.
Tulowitzki is signed for five more years at more than $100 million, and Gonzalez has three more years remaining at $53 million. Adding one or both to the Mets’ payroll would show a willingness to spend that hasn’t really been demonstrated since they signed Jason Bay.
It would also signal that the Mets are finally ready to surround David Wright with quality players in an attempt to win now, rather than focusing on the farm system and a future that always seems just around the corner.
Carlos Beltran, one of the best hitters in New York Mets history, did not have a happy exit from the team. He still displeased that team executives said that he went for knee surgery in 2010 without their blessing, but Beltran told New York Post columnist Joel Sherman that he’s “turned the page.”
“I don’t know what they gained from what they did to me,” Beltran told Sherman. “But I know what I gained. It made me a stronger person. Look, if you are a bad guy, you are a bad guy everywhere and the people in the game know it. The people who have played with me know that is not true.”
For the past two seasons, if the New York Mets organization has had a plan, it’s been to run out the clock on bad contracts signed under Omar Minaya‘s regime.
We’ve gotten to watch a pair of teams that started off well, and dropped off the proverbial cliff at midseason.
New York Post columnist Joel Sherman says it’s time for a bold new direction and suggests that the team should trade David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese “to add eight-to-10 prospects and truly begin to address what has long been the Mets’ downfall: Lack of depth up and down the organization.”
Sherman points to a free agent market where Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke are the best of a weak class, and correctly points out that the Mets could not spend themselves into contention even with unlimited resources. He suggests that the Mets should follow the example of the Oakland Athletics:
I would point out Oakland dealt three in-their-prime players last offseason: Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. Yes, they did that because of problematic finances. But the A’s also did it because they recognized they did not have enough organizational depth to win long term even keeping that trio. They packaged each with a smaller piece and received 10 prospects back that include players such as Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick, Ryan Cook, Tommy Milone and Derek Norris that have them ahead of the Angels and in contention now.
The one problem with following that exact model is the difference in markets. If Sandy Alderson trades Wright, who becomes the face of the Mets that has to deal with the attention of the New York media? An aging, injury-plagued Johan Santana? Ike Davis, who’s trying to prove that he’s not the Dave Kingman of a new generation? Some one of the newly-acquired prospects?
If I’m going to play armchair GM, I’d look to trade Dickey this off-season. His value has never been higher, and I’m not at all convinced that it would be smart to sign him to a long-term deal that he’d be starting at age 39. I would shop Niese and Daniel Murphy while they’re still (sort of) young and cheap, but I would only move them if they brought back multiple prospects. Lucas Duda could go to any team who thought he was a good fit for them… Josh Thole and Andres Torres could just go.
And I’d try to convince Wright that he really does have the chance to win a World Series with the Mets and get him signed to a contract extension this winter. Only if that doesn’t work out would I look to trade the Mets’ only star.
The one thing that worries me is that the Mets will keep Wright and let him play out his option, essentially repeating what happened last year with Jose Reyes. That would make it all too likely that Wright would depart and leave the Mets with nothing but memories.
So I ask you: What would you do to improve the New York Mets for 2013 and beyond?
Today is also the first official day of spring training, when New York Mets pitchers and catchers report and those who were already in Port St. Lucie can move over from the minor league fields to the main ones. It’s a time for looking forward to the return of warm weather and fun evenings and afternoons spent at the ballpark.
Of course, it can’t be all about fun and games. In his Sunday column for the New York Post, Joel Sherman suggests that the Mets should consider trading David Wright and/or Ike Davis to “deepen the[ir] young talent base.” As justification, Sherman cites a belief by unnamed Mets officials that Lucas Duda’s best position is first base worry that Davis will have difficulty hitting lefties consistently, while Daniel Murphy is best suited to play third base.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson addressed the media when he arrived in Port St. Lucie, and answered a question specifically about Wright.
“There are certain decisions one takes that are a function of where a team is at a particular time,” Alderson said, as reported by Andrew Keh in the New York Times. “But if there’s anybody on the team whose performance and future is independent of the club’s performance, I think it is David.”
While that hardly sounds like a guarantee that Wright will have the chance to finish his career in a Mets uniform, I do believe he will still be a Met at the end of the 2012 season.
Wright’s contract includes a team option for 2013, but it only applies if he remains with the Mets. So any team that acquired him via trade would be getting a half-season rental. And under baseball’s new labor agreement, teams that trade for players during the season no long receive draft pick compensation if that player leaves as a free agent at the end of the year. What are the odds that Alderson could get a big enough return to justify trading his last star player under those circumstances?
Beyond that, my crystal ball is murky. So much depends on Wright’s 2012 season, how many fans come to the ballpark, the outcome of the court case against the Mets’ owners, the development of the Mets’ minor league prospects and whether the other teams in the National League East have really improved as much as they appeared to on paper.