Monday, May 4, 2009

How I Would Fix The Mets, Vol. I

Rooting for a baseball team is a strange experience. As I sit here on Monday, I feel as though the whole season is a waste because the team has no fire, no starting pitching, and no hope. And I feel as though this last weekend was a complete and utter failure.

But in reality, they're three games back from the Marlins in first place, a team that could easily finish the season 20 games under .500. The Braves are just not that good. And the Phillies are actually happy with how they're playing (but are still only two-and-a-half games up on the Mets).

And that horrible weekend? They beat up the Phillies in Philadelphia on Friday. Then a $36 starter vomitted his career all over the mound on Saturday before the team climbed back into the game and went to extra innings before losing a gut-wrencher. So they split with the Champs on the road with their two worst starting pitchers.

So I suppose you could say that the Mets are kinda sitting pretty. But I wouldn't.

If I was a master of time and space, here is how I would fix the Mets at this point in the season:
-Travel back in time and give Derek Lowe the four-year deal he wanted and let Oliver Perez go. Has there ever been a more obvious personnel move in sports history? You pass on one established veteran ace because he wants a fourth year, even though you are absolutely positive that he will win 15 games with an ERA under 4.00 in each of the next four years at New Shea, in favor of a head-case who doesn't come much cheaper ($3M per year less), and who is as likely to strike out 8 batters as he is to walk 8 batters. He might win 10 games, but could also lose 20. Currently: Perez is 1-2 with a 9.97 ERA, 21 walks and 20 K's, currently headed to the minors, bullpen or "disabled" list. Lowe is 3-1, 3.03, 28 K's and 14 walks.

-Sign Manny Ramirez for whetever he wanted. Don't even negotiate. Just give it to him, win the World Series this year and then he can implode all he wants after already won. Thanks to Deadspin for the image above.

-Without the power to go back in time, send Perez to the DL with with phantom knee injury, then send him to the minors to "rehab" until he figures out what the catcher's mitt looks like. And pray.

-Sign Ben Sheets now before anyone remembers that he is not on a team. They will need another starter down the stretch (everyone does), and while Sheets is still recovering from elbow surgery, he hasn't had an ERA over 3.82 since 2003 (2.70, 3.33, 3.82, 3.82, 3.09), and he averages a 4:1 K:walk ratio over his career. If he is signed before the draft (early June), the Mets have to send a draft pick to the Brewers, but what are the odds that that draft pick will wind up being an ace starter. He is only 30, but considered injury prone, so a one year (or 3/4 year) deal would likely be very cheap.

-Take the leash off of Jose Reyes. He should steal every single time he touches first or second base. He should do as many hand-shakes, high-fives, fist-bumps and hugs as he wants as long as he is inside the dugout. He should bunt on every other at bat and go the other way on the other ones.

-Play small ball. I don't care how much money Carlos Beltran makes, if there is a man on first with less than two outs, he's bunting. If Carlos Delgado makes an out trying to hit through the shift, he should be fined...bunt to third for God's sake! If someone does not slide and are called out, fine him. If someone fails to get a sac-fly in the air with a runner on third and less than two outs, fine him. If someone hits behind a runner or bunts and moves him up, or hits a sac-fly...he is getting paid millions of dollars to do so!

-Get an attitude and a team identity. Pitchers can save pitches by hitting guys instead of intentionally walking them (ok, bad idea perhaps, but logical). Pitchers can throw inside a lot though. Establish that early and make batters respect it. No headhunting, but if someone gets intentionally plunked, one of theirs in getting one in the hip. Take pride in defense. Make hard slides. Relievers should be competing for their jobs every game. Everyone should have to watch tape of Alex Cora play. Be the latest hustling-running-small ball team to go all the way since slugging teams never do.

-Leave Danny Murphy in left field and let him learn to play it and leave Ryan Church in right. As long as Luis Castillo is hitting, he is the second baseman. If he starts to flop again, then perhaps you think about moving Murphy there and Gary Sheffield, Jeremy Reed and Fernando Tatis can plattoon the corner outfield spot. But Murphy is not going to be a third baseman in New York for a long, long time. With his bat, he needs to be in the lineup so he needs to become adept at some other position. Left field is the most logical place. But he had beetter be taking hundreds of fly balls and line drives a day out there.

-Someone slap Carlos Beltran in the face and tell him to wake up (and maybe have him take that thing off of his temple).

-But Brian Schneider on the trade market. He is a great glove and manages pitchers very well, but he simply can't hit, and the Mets have two other catchers than can. He is the starter when he comes back from his injury, but he's on a short leash.

-Tatis needs to play more. He should be the first replacement in the outfield and at first, and probably at second as well. That way Cora is always available off the bench.

-Sean Green is not an elite middle reliever. He does not need to be pitched in key spots to justify the trade...J.J. Putz was the reason for that trade.

-Frankie Rodriguez needs to pitch more. I am all for saving guys' arms, but he has 10 appearances in 22 games. I'm not saying they should pitch him in more non-save situations, I'm saying there need to be more freaking save situations.

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