For weeks I’ve been hoping that the Mets would settle on a direction to go for this season. There are two choices: change the manager or change the roster. The acquisition of Trot Nixon from the Arizona Diamond Backs may signal that Mets GM Omar Minaya is going to give the latter a try.
Although I hope that Minaya has decided to pursue roster changes, there are a few problems that I have with the Mets organization. First, they shouldn’t leave Willie Randolph twisting in the wind for a variety of reasons. Second, the Mets roster is going to be difficult to make significant changes to, and it will take time to implement.
Minaya has offered tepid support for Randolph twice over the last two weeks. The lack of substance to this support has left the players, and certainly Randolph, wondering when the shoe is going to drop. The Mets need to eliminate this distraction and offer full support such as, “Willie is our manager for the rest of the year” or not talk about Randolph’s job security at all. Going half way with his support isn’t helping the situation. Minaya has to be smart enough to know that.
Making significant changes to the Mets roster over the next six weeks, prior to the non-waiver trading deadline, is going to be difficult. The Mets have several areas of need: first base, outfield, and starting pitching. Minaya has a history as a wheeler-dealer, so I think he could do some things. But he’ll be hamstrung by the Mets aging, under performing big league team, and lack of big-time prospects in the minors. They nearly emptied the tank to get Johan Santana.
The good news is that the Mets have plenty of expiring contracts over the next year and a half. Nearly every player with enough service time to be a free agent has a contract that expires after 2008 or 2009. The only veterans that don’t. are the ones that the Mets want to build around anyway such as Santana, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes. Unfortunately, Luis Castillo has a bad, long term contract that would make him nearly un-tradable.
I’m not sure where Minaya is going with this… But he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him trying to improve this roster. My guess is that he’ll try to move Ramon Castro and Aaron Heilman first. They’ll have some value on the market albeit diminished by a poor season in Heilman’s case. Scott Schoenweiss and Joe Smith would also have some value to contenders. They could be replaced from within the organization.
I really liked Ken Rosenthal’s suggestion of a straight up trade of Carlos Delgado for Richie Sexson. Both are terrible defensively and have even worse seasons offensively, and they both have expiring contracts. It would serve as a change of scenery scenario for both players, give the Mets another right-handed bat which they sorely need, and just get rid of Delgado. It really irks me that he waited until the middle of June to start hustling. He must have gotten word that he was on the verge of being released. I’m convinced of that.
To summarize, I’m fine with keeping Willie as the manager. He seems like a good person with genuinely good intentions for his players and the Mets as an organization. But trying to shape this roster into a stronger position over the next six weeks is going be very difficult for Omar Minaya. If he can’t do it… the rumors may be about him getting fired next time.