When the New York Mets signed Jason Bay in January 2010, the organization expected the three-time All-Star outfielder to help the on-field product turn the corner following three disappointing seasons.
Fast-forward three seasons, and the final—and most embarrassing—mistake of the Omar Minaya regime is no longer on the roster. The final year of his four-year, $66 million contract won’t be spent with the Mets, although he’ll be paid his yearly salary.
Bay’s .234 batting average, .318 on-base percentage, .369 slugging percentage and .687 OPS were enough for the front office to make the decision to pay him to not play for the team.
It took three tumultuous, painful, stomach-churning years, but the burden of Bay has now been lifted from the franchise.
Now that Bay has departed for greener pastures, the time has come for general manager Sandy Alderson to take a course of action that will help the team improve on its fourth-place finish in the National League East.
Unfortunately, the Mets are smack in the middle of a rebuilding period, so fixing the team with just one acquisition or baseball move is virtually impossible.
However, by taking the right steps and making the right decisions, Alderson will be able to get the Mets back on track.
The first step is simple: re-sign David Wright.
It appears that the Mets and their franchise player aren’t on the same page when it comes to the third baseman’s new contract. His option has been exercised, meaning he will be back for next season, but the last thing the Mets want to see is for their top player to hit the open market after the 2013 season.
A failure to re-sign such a popular player would result in a media catastrophe far worse than the one caused by the brutal public relations gaffe following the Jose Reyes situation.
In Wright’s first eight seasons with the team, he has averaged 24 home runs and 97 RBI to go with a .301 batting average. The 29-year-old Norfolk native is the owner of numerous Mets records. To let him walk away would be a colossal mistake.
The Mets would essentially be a lost franchise without Wright. Take one look at the roster and it isn't hard to tell that there aren't many other players worth keeping around aside from the team's de facto captain.
Money is obviously one of the main issues for the Mets, but a failure to meet the six-time All-Star somewhere in the middle would signify that the front office has raised the white flag for the next few seasons.
Another crucial step in the early stages of the post-Jason Bay era is to quickly figure out the R.A. Dickey situation. Alderson clearly isn't sure what he wants to do with the reigning National League Cy Young winner when it comes to re-signing him or shipping him elsewhere for prospects.
While re-signing Dickey would give the Mets a clear-cut ace next season, it wouldn't be as prudent as trading the knuckleballer to a team on the cusp of competing for a World Series title.
Letting Dickey go—or trading him, rather—might not go over well with the fanbase, but it is far more understandable than letting Wright walk.
At 38 years old, it is impossible to tell how much longer Dickey will be able to pitch at such a high level, even given the fact that he relies on the knuckleball nearly all the time.
Given the financial restrictions and overall bleak forecast for the near future, there aren't many other significant moves that can be made in order for the Mets to compete in the National League anytime soon.
There is no big-name free agent who can be brought in that will make enough of a difference. A manager change isn't necessary, as the current problems the team is facing cannot possibly be traced back to Terry Collins. And for now, the front office seems set in both its ways and its personnel.
Some of the team's glaring needs should be addressed this offseason, though.
An outfielder that provides a respectable average and decent defense must be found at a reasonable price on the free-agent market because, let's face it, none of the outfield options are all too appealing at this point.
After last season's debacle, the Josh Thole experiment should be put to rest. The crop of catchers available around the league isn't anything special, but any solid backstop with some pop would be a viable alternative to Thole and his seven career homers.
Help is needed in the bullpen, as that was one of the main reasons for the team's second-half implosion. It is essentially a crapshoot when it comes to determining which bullpen arm will be successful from year to year, but scraping up pitchers from minor league affiliates isn't going to get the job done.
The Wright and Dickey situations are of paramount importance, but that doesn't mean the needs in the outfield, at the catcher position and in the bullpen can be neglected.
If Alderson fails to take action, the Mets will be hard to watch for the next few seasons.
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