Mets Need To Give Up on Veterans in 2009

I am not saying the Mets should give up on the season. A team never gives up on a season ever, even when you are the Nationals. Always try an improve your game each day, play like you are in a pennant race and work hard.

This rationale applies primarily to younger players who are still looking to impress, and not really veterans. It does not exclude all veterans, however, as Gary Sheffield, Luis Castillo and others appear to go all out.

Sheffield has been very effective this season, hitting 10 home runs and, until recently tweaking his hamstring, was the Mets most potent bat in a putrid lineup. And Castillo is doing his usual high OBP act, touching first safely at a .388 clip, a full 20 points over his career mark. Despite the angst the Met fan has with him, Castillo is doing his job, and doing it well, almost worth his $6 million salary. Even with Jose Reyes completely healthy, I always thought Castillo was good enough to be the Mets leadoff man.

Sheffield and Castillo are likely looking to impress OTHER teams right now. Reason? Who really wants to play on a crappy team, in a crappy organization when you are advancing in age and near the end? And why do they want to deal with the fickle New York fans, who boo one day and cheer you the next? The money has been made, the HOF status (most are no’s) is secured. The idea is to get another ring.

Sheffield has one RING ALREADY (1997 Florida Marlins) and Castillo has been part of two championships (1997 and 2003 Marlins). Even though his only plate appearance in 2007 as a Boston Red Sox team member resulted in a sac bunt, Alex Cora has a ring, too. 

And what are the Mets thinking? After the dismal performance in Atlanta this past weekend, the Mets are now nine games out of first place, and ten in the loss column. Have the Mets noticed how well the first place Philadelphia Phillies are playing?

While it is very difficult to replace Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, JJ Putz, etc. on the walking wounded list, the team hasn’t really replaced any of those guys with a bona fide player, especially from their own system. Omar Minaya has continually rejected the notion that farm systems are consistent winners. Instead he would rather sign retreads from other teams, and the team has suffered from that notion.

It might have just gotten to the point where the nucleus or core players are going to get as far as they have. Perhaps 2006 was as good as it gets for this group of guys.

If that is the case, the teams needs to build for a sustainable run. When environmentalists talk about sustainability (like forestation), they mean replacing what is used with newer, younger versions of the same which grows into the products currently being used. Sustainability in baseball (or any team sport) is to continually replenish as you go.  

Omar has never done that–ever. And to sustain his own career, he must begin the process of rebuilding. And you don’t rebuild by going after the Oakland A’s Matt Holliday or a scrap heap pickup like Julio Lugo. Why do the Mets need Julio Lugo? Just another idiot move by Minaya.

And why would Lugo even entertain going to the Mets? If the choice is between the Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, there is no comparison. Possible cellar dweller or possible World Series contender? Hmmm…tough choice.

The Mets need to rid themselves of as many older veteran players as they can, and obtain (via trades of these veterans) as many younger players as they can.  This is the only way Omar can save his job.

When Sheffield gets healthy and playing again, trade for a younger version of him. While Sheff is more viable in the AL, he also has shown he is not Daniel Murphy in the outfield, and could also be moved to a NL squad. Likely suitors include the Minnesota Twins (to complement their LH heavy lineup), the San Francisco Giants (trade for AA 1B Brett Pill or High A OF Roger Kieschnick) or Atlanta Braves (Matt Diaz as your power righty bat – really?). Don’t know if the Braves would be interested in having Sheff back, but they do have a recent trading history with the Mets.

And if Mark Grudzielanek does not work out with the Twins, Castillo would be a great fit for them. How about Sheff and Castillo for maybe Delmon Young (still only 23), AAA 3B Danny Valencia and  AAA 2B Steven Tolleson?

You heard it hear first. The Minnesota Twins will win the AL Central this season.

The dire situation this year and the fact that the Mets have no young depth in AAA or AA (scouts universally agree the Mets system stinks), necessitate the need to get younger very quick. Not that the above deals are easily doable but the idea is to change direction, and move away from what has made the Met organization what it has become–a waste basket of has-beens, underachievers and failures.

That means trading the veterans needed by other teams down the stretch. Some thing the Mets are not used to doing, but a direction Minaya needs to begin taking.

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