Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mets Set To Acquire Delgado

The Marlins fire sale continues, with Carlos Delgado reportedly headed to Flushing in exchange for pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit and first baseman Mike Jacobs. This is all in accordance with Omar Minaya’s new plan for the Mets: overpay to win now. That may sound like a negatively connoted statement, but it’s really not.

Omar, by reputation, was usually on the selling end of such deals, having been the GM of the cash-strapped Montreal Expos for so many years. So one way of looking at this is that he’s excited to actually have a workable (and then some) budget, and is throwing cash around just because he can.

Part of a GM’s job is to figure out where the team stands, how it can benefit by the addition and subtraction of players, and assess the real chances of a pennant run. The Mets have plenty already invested in the team, and 2006 looks like the year they could peak. Pedro most likely has a Pedro-esque season left in him, but all bets are off when it comes to 2007. David Wright is entering a stage where he’ll be one of the most productive guys on the diamond. Same goes for Jose Reyes. Cliff Floyd is in the same boat as Pedro, his age punctuating his future ability with a question mark.

It just seems like an ideal situation in which to ante up a few prospects and a few dollars to bring in names that will help fill roles. Last year the Mets had holes in the bullpen, first base and second base. In the month that has passed since the World Series, Minaya has (reportedly) acquired a first baseman with a big bat, and has made a more than generous offer to top-tier closer Billy Wagner. And with the Marlins fire sale still hot, second baseman Luis Castillo could still be on the radar.

The question still remains, though: will Manny be in left field for the Mets in 2006? Signs point to no, since Manny reportedly wishes to head to the west coast, even considering the dismal Mariners as a stopping point. While adding Manny surely would multiply the Mets chances by a thousand, he’s not necessarily integral to a Mets pennant run.

Pos.2005 Starter2006 Starter
CMike PiazzaTBD
1BDoug MientkeiwiczCarlos Delgado
3BDavid WrightDavid Wright
SSJose ReyesJose Reyes
LFCliff FloydCliff Floyd
CFCarlos BeltranCarlos Beltran
RFMike CameronTBD/Xavier Nady

The first TBD will more than likely be Ramon Hernandez, who provides a combination of youth and skill (though, once again, his horrendous at bat with the tying runs on base in the top of the ninth of Game One of the NLDS has me wondering about his mental toughness). The second base hole can be filled ably by a guy like Tony Graffanino or even Mark Bellhorn. And in the outfield, there are a number of options available, though ostensibly the Mets have filled that right field position with Xavier Nady. That would all change, though, if the Mets would acquire Manny.

I’m sure Omar is far from done this off-season as he continues to construct a team with the modus operandi to “win now.” And – to take a page from Peter Gammons – if Carlos Beltran returns to his 2004 form, if Pedro still has a dominant year in him, if Jose Reyes continues his development, and if they can get productivity out of Aaron Heilman and Jay Seo, the Mets could certainly make a run ending the Braves 14-year streak.