If the Mets sign Mark DeRosa it would help; he plays left field and first base. And I appreciate his style of play. The Mets should also sign Ben Sheets and Bengie Molina. But as a longtime Mets fan, I don't know whether I prefer Jason Bay now or Carl Crawford next season. Both are good players. What do you think?
-- Franklyn R., New York
In a baseball vacuum, I like DeRosa. And I think he'd be quite beneficial for the Mets, given the defensive uncertainties they may face in left and at first. I say no to Sheets (see response below) and yes to Molina, only because he's the most appealing of an unremarkable bunch of available catchers, once Rod Barajas is eliminated. The Mets have no interest in Barajas. The Bay/Crawford question you raise intrigues me. But no guarantee exists that the Mets can get their hands on either.
I like speed in the outfield, but power is necessary. The power would come a year earlier. But I think the Mets could get by with something less than Bay in left if they were healthy, if Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright match their average pre-2009 output and if the team got more offense from its catcher than it did last season.
Who would have thought that Endy Chavez's catch would be the last great moment in Mets history? The primary need of the Mets, it seems, is pitching. But they seem to have missed the boat on that one. How does a great pitcher like Johan Santana keep his edge when there is no support and no backup?
-- Ken S., Avon, Conn.
I guess this means you didn't equate Daniel Murphy's flip last season with Chavez's catch in 2006. Not to worry, I believe the Mets are scheduled for another great moment before the 50th anniversary of the Miracle of 1969.
Now, among the reasons Santana is a great pitcher is that he maintains his edge regardless of circumstances. Some pitchers see adversity as an excuse to melt. Santana regards adversity as a reason to step up. It's not all talent, Ken. See Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux.
I believe the Mets are not going to be ready to compete in 2010 or '11, so why not trade Santana for pitching prospects and Reyes and prospects or a player to be named for Hanley Ramirez, who seems more mature, great in the clubhouse and is a gamer. I like Reyes, but he is still immature, and this hand-slapping, finger-snapping and leaning, side-to-side celebrations rub the opposition and some fans the wrong way. He can keep the celebrations, I'd rather clean house of "soft" players and get real gamers in Queens.
-- Bob, address not provided
My sense of it is the Mets can compete in both years; contending for first place is a different issue though. I suspect by "compete," you mean contend. But trading Santana would be a mistake, particularly because no more than a handful of clubs -- Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and a few others -- would be willing to assume the financial obligation. And because the obligation is so great, the talent the Mets would acquire in return would be less.
Now, what makes you think the Marlins are inclined to deal Ramirez at all? And what prospects do the Mets have that would balance an exchange for an All-Star shortstop.
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Why aren't the Mets trying to trade with the Reds? The Reds are looking to dump salary money, and Bronson Arroyo would be a perfect pitcher for Citi Field, not to mention he would save the bullpen. Also acquiring catcher Ramon Hernandez would give the Mets the option to go after Joe Mauer next year, instead of overpaying for Molina. And if they could add Brandon Phillips in that trade, they would get a second baseman who can hit 20 home runs. I know it's a reach, but Luis Castillo, John Maine, Ruben Tejada and Francisco Pena to the Reds, with the Mets picking up the Reds players' salary, seems fair for both teams. Your thoughts?
-- Will A. Beacon, N.Y.
I like your thoughts on Arroyo. But Mauer? C'mon. He is a left-handed-hitting catcher who really can catch, who has won three batting titles and an American League MVP Award. Moreover, he's the most popular player in the Twins Cities since Kirby Puckett. If the Twins allow him to leave, their new ballpark will become Target (of demonstrations) Field. And you want Phillips, too? Have you heard the expressions "Guests of the devil always ask for ice water?"
With uncertainty surrounding the players injured last season and the Wilpons' desire to run a franchise like a small-market club, wouldn't it be in the best interest of the Mets to start a rebuilding phase now and look toward 2011? They should be sellers and look to replenish a depleted farm system. What is your take? I see this organization heading down the path like the New York Knicks.
-- Sal R., Utica, N.Y.
One, please let me know which small-market clubs have had the highest payroll in the National League. Two, rebuilding takes more than one year and renewing is what most clubs -- other than the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox -- do. Those three reload. Three, small-market clubs often are the sellers. You can't have it both ways -- condemn the Mets for being small market and then urge them to sell off. And four, if the Mets are on the same path as the Knicks, they'll have to walk much faster to catch up with them. In 2006, they missed the World Series by one free throw and a three-second violation.
I agree with Jeff Francoeur. The Mets need more than one big free agent. They'd be a better team with Molina, Adam LaRoche, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Orlando Hudson. Each is an upgrade from what the Mets have at those positions. They can still carry Castillo -- let him play backup or trade him during Spring Training. What do you think of this idea?
-- Hiram W., Freeport, N.Y.
I think you're a tad over the top. Carrying Castillo, as you suggest, is an expensive proposition. And if the Mets had found a trading partner, they would have moved him already. And it should be clear now that Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel -- the skipper more than the general manager -- want Murphy at first base. I like LaRoche, too, but I wonder if some of his power would be offset by Citi Field.
Why don't the Mets sign Sheets and Chien-Ming Wang and let everyone compete for starting roles? Sheets, a potential ace behind Santana, and Wang, a nasty sinkerballer when healthy, are the best options for Citi Field. I think Maine would be better in the bullpen, too.
-- Steve S., Danbury, Conn.
Sign one, OK; but bringing in two pitchers with injury histories seems unwise to me. Right now, all the potential Mets starters have issues. Why bring in two more? Wang is younger and had one real physical issue -- a debilitating one, but just one. Sheets is a disabled-list regular. The club has thought several times about Maine in the 'pen. I don't think it's an option at this point.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.