Inbox: Pondering some offseason moves
Beat reporter Marty Noble answers Mets fans' questions
Shouldn't the Mets try to build a team around speed, defense and pitching? Why Jason Bay? Why not Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady and Jon Garland or Joel Pineiro instead? Three good players who improve the team for about the same money as one "almost" very good player who doesn't even want to sign with the club.
-- Dave S., Bayside, N.Y.
-- Tom H., Yonkers, N.Y. You got me. They had ideas -- plans, I guess you could call them -- and if they followed through with them, it hasn't been apparent. They liked Cameron, who is now with the Red Sox. They spoke of Glaus, who is now with the Braves. John Lackey (Red Sox) and Wolf (Brewers) were mentioned, too. The season doesn't start for more than three months, so there is no urgency in that regard, but some of the players they had targeted no longer are available. So, if Bay declines their offer, it does seem they'll have few quality alternatives for a source of added power. And if Bengie Molina says no, they'll have no free-agent-catcher alternatives they actually want.
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Do you think that this is a trade that the Mets should look into: Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo and Francisco Cordero for Luis Castillo, Mike Pelfrey and a prospect or two, let's say Fernando Martinez? This deal would improve the Mets at second base, add a quality starter to the rotation and shore up the setup role in the bullpen. The Reds should be interested in this trade because they will be dumping a lot of salary. Is this possible?
-- Mike D., Ossining, N.Y.
-- Nick P., Howell, N.J. I doubt Bay will be more productive if he signs in December than he would be if he signs in 2010. But if the Mets intend to import a left fielder with power, they have two choices from what I can see -- Bay and Matt Holliday. And I find it inconceivable that the Mets are the only club pursuing -- or at least considering -- Bay. I was thinking of the 2000 Mets and how close they were to a World Series title. Why have the Mets strayed so far from what I used to love about them? They were a small-market club playing in a big-market city. Spending money on all these big free agents has not worked out since Mike Piazza.
-- Fred, Ashford, Conn. A few things, Fred. Piazza wasn't a free agent, but the Mets' trade for him was akin to a free-agent signing except that they paid for him with players in 1998 and $93 million, beginning in 1999. And I must quarrel with your assertion that "spending money on all these big free agents has not worked out." The Mets finished first in the National League East in 2006 and, if not for one loss in each of the two subsequent seasons, they would have have made three consecutive postseason appearances. I know they fell short in all three seasons, but to say it hasn't worked out seems to be a tad of an overstatement. Look at the Pirates, Astros, Padres, Giants, Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Nationals/Expos and even the Braves. The Mets did endure a dreadful 2009, and the previous three seasons were disappointing. But they did win an average of 91 games per season from 2006-08. And the Cardinals (2006) and Phillies (2007 and '08) did have something to do with it. Now, they haven't been operated like a small-market team since 1998, nor were they particularly close to winning the 2000 World Series. The Yankees had to win the Subway Series -- or else George Steinbrenner might have shipped them off to the Siberian League. They knew how to win, and they did. Once Timo Perez downshifted and cost the Mets a run in Game 1 -- Derek Jeter made a sensational throw that became obscured because of Perez's bonehead baserunning -- and the Yankees came back against Armando Benitez, the Mets were a changed team. And when the Yankees' scouting report on Edgardo Alfonzo proved so successful, the World Series essentially was decided. I still believe the Mets should package a trade of Oliver Perez and Castillo to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells and cash to offset the money he still is owed. Wells would hit well in Citi Field and if the money is right, they could have him for five years at about $8 or $9 million. Not bad for a guy who could use a change of scenery. What do you think?
-- Karl B., Covington, La. Wells' production has been in decline for three years, but why would any club take on Perez, even if it needed Castillo?
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.