Friday, January 23, 2009

Wilpon to Increase the Payroll?

Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon told Bloomberg news that Minaya had not approached ownership about the possibility of signing Manny Ramirez. He went on to add that ownership is giving Minaya the payroll flexibility to add both, another starting pitcher and an outfielder, the two remaining wholes that Minaya is likely to address.

The ambiguity in Wilpon’s statement is how much flexibility ownership is really giving Omar. It has been widely reported that the payroll budget for this season was similar to last season, meaning that there is about another $10 million left to spend this year, but does flexibility mean that they could bring in both a starting pitcher and an outfielder at about $10 million a year each? If so that would really give the team a lot of options.

Oliver Perez will most likely get a deal in the neighborhood of $12 million annually; the question is the number of years. Ben Sheets could probably be signed at about $6 million annually, plus incentives. Lastly Randy Wolf will probably sign for about $6-8 million.

Of the group Sheets is the best option. His contract will be heavily based on incentives, of which if he reaches means he played most of the season, and performance wise, start to start the Mets will get by far the most out of him. When healthy Sheets would be most team’s ace, and would compliment Johan Santana nicely. Furthermore, the signing of Freddy Garcia yesterday would give the Mets added protection if Sheets was injured. Perez is erratic; giving him a long-term deal is a mistake. Wolf is fine, he is an above average pitcher, but to expect a spectacular season from him would be a mistake.

Starting pitching is the top priority for the Mets, and rightly so. But if Jeff Wilpon is sincere about payroll flexibility there are a few outfielders out there that would be vast improvement to the Tatis/Murphy platoon that is likely to be in leftfield this season. The outfield market this offseason has been a strange one, as there was an over abundance of corner outfielders on the market, and very few teams interested. The Phillies already signed Raul Ibanez, and are reportedly looking at Moises Alou. Oakland traded for Matt Holiday, the Rays brought in Pat Burrell. Other than the Mets, the Dodgers, Giants and Mariners have all looked into adding an outfielder. It’s safe to assume that one of the California teams will sign Manny, and with Seattle not looking to spend too much on filling their hole. That leaves the second California team and the Mets with both Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu still available. Both are looking for deals worth about $12 million annually, but that is not going to happen in this market. Expect them to sign one year deals at a discount and test the market again next year. So if Wilpon is sincere about spending flexibility, then either one of them is an option.

Dunn is the best bet for the Mets. He appears to be less desirable because of his high strikeout totals. But he is a guaranteed 40 homers and 100 rbis, epically in the Mets lineup, and he will get on base almost 40% of the time. The main plus is that he will add stability to a lineup in much need of it. Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, and Wright are possibly are some of the streakiest hitters in the league. Dunn would bring another threatening bat to the lineup and is consistent enough to help prevent those offensive down turns that seemed to effect the Mets for two weeks at a time the past two seasons. The downside to Dunn is his defense. Beltran in center obviously has range to help out, but then again Murphy and Tatis are not exactly gold glovers either.

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