Friday, February 18, 2011

Who says the Mets couldn't sign Pujols?

You know, I'm getting a little tired of this.

Everyone and his brother has basically written the Mets off as a franchise at this point. The Madoff Ponzi scheme hit the Mets' principal owners hard. In that there is no doubt. There is a definite chance that it will effect the Mets organization.

A chance.

However, from everything I'm reading and hearing, pretty much the world is expecting the Mets to become the New York version of the Pittsburg Pirates. A team that will spend little and have few reasons to expect a winning future anytime soon.

This is just flat out ridiculous.

First off, even with the lack of big spending this offseason, the Mets will STILL be in the top part of payroll in the Major Leagues. The Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Cubs will have higher payrolls. That is pretty much it.

Second, the Mets may not have been SMART with money in the past, but they have not been cheap. They have often been in the mix for high profile players.

With the news that the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols have not reached an agreement on a contact extention by this past Wednesday's deadline, many people are spectulating exactly what will happen to the best player in baseball.

I, myself, still think there is a better than decent chance he will return to the Cardinals. In my opinion, the second most likely place for him is actually the Chicago Cubs.

But I've heard time and time again how the Red Sox and Yankees, along with the Angels and Rangers are all possible landing spots. This despite both the Sox and Yankees having younger, big time, long term signed 1st basemen already (yes, I think the Adrian Gonzales signing is a for-gone conclusion). The same "experts" mention the Mets and in every case dismiss any possibility that the Mets would pursue, much less be able to sign Pojols. They use the Mets inability to spend, lack of history of spending, or lack of resources as the reasons.

I say bull$*!#.

Give me a break here. Without even much research I could come up with the bare bones of a scenerio where the Mets could look to sign Pujols and still be able to field a very competitive club for years to come.

Ok, follow me here. My number projections could likely be somewhat a little low, but in all honesty are more than in the ballpark.

The Mets have $60 million coming off the books after this season. That much is known and not under debate.

However, part of this goes away when you factor in the fact that Francisco Rodriguez can trigger a fourth year in his existing 3-year deal at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games in 2011. I have no idea if that will happen or not. Somehow I get the idea that Sandy Alerson doesn't want to lay a closers $17.5 million. I do not know if that option remains if the Mets trade him in 2011. Last year was the first time since becoming a closer that K-Rod didn't finish 55 games. If he hadn't gotten into the altercation with his father-in-law he would have likely finished 55 games though. He pitched in 46 before messing up his thumb on August 14th.

So, ok... K-Rod could still be on the team and making $17.5 million. I will keep that in mind and paint the scenario as if he will be a Met in 2012.

The other notable free agents in 2012 for the Mets are Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez. There are other names coming off too, but I'll stick with the bigger ones for now.

Reyes is going to make $11 million in 2011. Let's say you resign Reyes and he gets a 6 year, $88 million dollar contract with a fairly easily obtainable (if healthy in years 5 and 6) 7th year option that would round out the whole contract at about $103 million. That is an average of roughly $14.7 million a year. Say it's $13.5 million in 2010 then the rest of the contract averages $14.9 a year. Would that be enough? Factoring in his health issues I think that is somewhere in the realm.

By letting Beltran ($18 million), Castillo ($6 million) and Perez ($12 million) go, you automatically have a $36 million set to play with for 2012. Yeah I know you're not looking to spend that all on one player and the Mets are supposedly looking to keep the payroll slightly on the south side of $140 million in 2012. No worry... you still can.

But wait! It's not REALLY $36 million free. Why? Reyes has a $2.5 million dollar raise in 2012. K-Rod gets a $3.5 raise (assuming he is still on the team). That is $31 million from your $60 million coming off the books. That leaves you actualy with $29 million left of that $60 coming off the books.

Still, no problem here.

Ok, we're going to look at this keeping not just 2012 in mind, but also 2013, 2014 and 2015 (if not 2016).

The Mets could offer Pujols a nine year, $247.5 million (averaging at $27.5 million a year).

The Reyes/Pujols/K-Rod contracts in 2012 would combine for $58.5 million. Then they could spin the very talented Ike Davis in a trade with another young pitching prospect (or more likley highly regarded Shortstop prospect Wilmer Flores since you now have another 6 years of Reyes at short anyway) for a front end of the rotation arm.

For 2012 (and going forward) you would look to have rookie Reese Havens as your 2nd baseman, Josh Thole as your catcher, Jon Neise and Dillion Gee in the rotation, Angel Pagan as your centerfielder and Lucas Duca, Fernando Martinez or Cory Vaughn in rightfield. Pagan, Thole, Neise and Gee all will have a few years of Major league experiance meaning your are really only looking at two rookies in the lineup. None of these players will make a lot of money (except possibly Pagan) for at least the first four to five years of Pujols' contract. Gee could actually find himself in the bullpen if Chris Young really works out or if Jenrry Mejia is able to crack the starting rotation.

Yes having two rookies in an everyday line up is a little scary, but look at the lineup:

Duca, Martinez or Vaughn

You also have a possible Daniel Murphy in that mix with Havens at second.

Add in a healthy Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Niese Gee/Mejia/Young and whom ever you can spin Davis/Flores for (say a Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley type) and you have a pretty good team.

That team would be right about at the $140 million mark. Most likely a somewhat over depending on raises for other players and who leaves and who else comes on. It's viable though... add in the crackshot management team of Alderson, Riccardi and Co. and it's not something you can just dismiss as impossible.

Also if the Mets keep K-Rod's option from vesting or they manage to trade him, then there is more money on the table (with someone like Bobby Parnell as a possible replacement as closer).

And do you think for a second ticket sales wouldn't go through the roof? They would. Even if the Mets raise ticket prices as a result (which they liikely would).

Citifield would become a rockin place with buzz they haven't had since the Mets traded for Mike Piazza back in 1998.

Is it likely? I didn't say that. Are my numbers off? Most likely, but I would wager they aren't TOO far off.

But could it happen?

Yeah, it could. Never say never.

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